Trip Length: 14 days
Trip Dates: October 16-29, 2018
Activity Level: Moderate to Strenuous
Explore the Himalayas and cultural highlights in Paro and Thimphu. We’ll start off with three day hikes to acclimatize, then head out for eight amazing days on the Jomolhari Trek.
• Stunning Himalayan Views
• Visit isolated villages
• Tshophu Lake Camp
• Paro Dzongs & Museum
Trip Cost: $3,990, double occupancy (all inclusive once in country)
If only two in trekking group, $30 per day additional charge for visa
Guided by Kinlay Gyeltshen and his team
Temperatures will vary greatly based on our altitude and current weather. Ranges from high 70’s, low 30’s.
Our trek will span elevations between 9,450 and 16,137 feet. Maximum elevation is 16,137 feet on Day 9.
Day 1 – Arrival to Paro Airport
During the flight in to Paro Airport, enjoy the view of Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan Mountains including the sacred Mt. Jomolhari and Mt. Jichu Drakey. Upon arrival at Paro Airport, you will be greeted by a representative of Bhutan Himalayan Experience and transported to your comfortable hotel in Thimphu. See the afternoon sights of Thimphu.
Hike to Dodedra Monastery (3.5 miles, ascend 1800 feet/550 meters) or Cheri Goemba (2.0 miles round trip, ascend 800 feet). Each hike offers amazing mountain views and a great intro into the area. We will visit the monastery and get our first glimpse of rich Bhutanese culture.
Drive from Thimphu to Paro ( 1.5 hours), breakfast in Paro and hike to the sacred monastery, the Tiger’s Nest, perched 2700 feet above the Paro Valley. It is the most spiritual place for the Bhutanese and a major pilgrimage spot. (4 miles, ascend 1650 feet/500 meters).
Kila Gompa Nunnery to Chelila Ridge hike (4.0 miles, ascend 2000 feet/600 meters). This amazing hike offers unparalleled mountain views and our first real glimpse of the high peaks and the upcoming trek. It is point-to-point so a wonderful outing above Paro with new views around every bend.
Early morning drive to Sharna Army Camp and start trek to Thangthanka camp (13 miles, 9 to 9.5 hours). We start our trek through the valley of the Paro River, which gradually narrows as the trail leads higher, winding up and down through a thick, lush forest of oak, pine, and juniper. The trail becomes very rocky, muddy, and strenuous, climbing up and down while slowly gaining altitude. As we get closer to our camp for the night, we begin to see the snow capped summit of Jomolhari (if the weather is clear), a mountain that is sacred to the Bhutanese. This is a long, hard day with lots of ups and downs and rock hopping. It can be very muddy.
Jangothang Base Camp (11.5 miles, 5.5 to 6 hours hiking). We continue following the Paro River on a demanding, rocky trail, and then the valley widens again, opening to a spectacular area surrounded by high snow capped ridges. A few yak-herding families are based in this area, and we may be lucky to pay them a visit and try some of their dried yak cheese. Camp at Jangothang (13,382′) below a ruined fortress near the base of Jomolhari.
Rest day (13,382 feet). Today is a free day to rest and explore. You can take a beautiful optional hike to Tsophu (lake) for spectacular views of Jomolhari and Jichu Drakye (you can gain altitude quickly, which is good for acclimatization). Of course, you can also opt to stay at camp, take in the views, and prepare for the challenging day ahead.
Tshophu Lake Camp (7 hours hiking) – Climb steeply up to 14,661 feet and head into a glacial valley with many moraines. As we near the ridge we can see the snowy peaks of Tsering Kang (22,268′) and Jichu Drakye (22,924′). Continue up to the Nyile La (15,980′), about four hours from camp. From here the views of Jomolhari, Jichu Drakye, and Tsering Kang are spectacular (weather permitting). We may also see Ganchey Ta (22,285′) and Masang Gang (23,500′). Return to a camp near Tshophu.
Soi Yaksa via Bhonte La (9.0 miles,7 hours hiking) From camp hike along the plateau to Tshopu (14,300′), one of the two trout-filled glacial lakes we will pass on the way to Bhonte La (La translates to Pass). From here, we often see blue sheep, fat marmots, and migrating Himalayan birds, as well as incredible views of Jichu Drake, a beautiful snowcapped peak alongside Chomolhari. We continue for about one hour to Bhonte La (15,900′). We’ll drop steeply about 45 minutes to one hour to our lunch spot. After lunch we continue to make a long, steep descent to the yak-herding valley of Soi Yaksa (12,450′).
Rest day. A free day at this campsite gives us a chance to relax and possibly visit a yak herder’s home to try some traditional salt tea and dried yak cheese, or take a hike in the surrounding, remote mountain areas where large herds of blue sheep have been sighted.
Thombue (7.0 miles, 4-5 hours hiking) Our hike today starts uphill to the top of the eastern ridge of the Soi Yaksa valley. From here we can enjoy an incredible view of the amphitheater of mountains to the north toward Bhonte La. Little by little the very top of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake reappear on the distant horizon as we approach our lunch spot. After lunch, we cross Takhung La, a 14,800-foot pass with panoramic views of the eastern Himalaya (on a clear day, you can even see Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world), before descending to our camp at Taybu (13,700′) by the mid-afternoon. This area is rich pasture land for yaks, and we’ll probably see nomadic yak herders in their stone huts. (5-6 hours of hiking).
Thombue to Sharna. (9.0 miles, 4 to 5 hours) After a steep climb out of camp to 14, 150′ , we leave the remote mountain area by following a ridge. From this vantage point we get a glimpse of the Paro Valley to the south before we start our steep descent (4,500′ of elevation drop) for most of the afternoon. Drive to hotel in Paro (1.5 hours).
Visit the sites in Paro (Paro Dzong, National Museum, Dungtse Lhakhang, Kychu Lhakhang) or take a day excursion to Haa Valley. In the evening, we will enjoy a cultural show (1 hour) as our final cultural event.
Day 14 – Departure
Drive to Paro Airport for departure by Drukair.