Jhomolhari Trek (15 days)
Starting at Drukgyel Dzong, Paro this trek passes through scattered hamlets and farmland into a deep and richly forested valley, which leads to a high alpine pastureland where yak herders graze their animals. The trek offers a taste of the great variety of Bhutanese landscape. The best time for this trek is April to June and September to November.
Day 01: Arrive Paro
On arrival at Paro airport, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel after completion of arrival formalities. In the evening we will visit the Paro market and town. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 02: Paro
In the morning, we will visit the Ta dzong, built in 1651 as a watchtower; it has been today transformed into the national museum. The collection inside the museum includes art, relics, religious appliques, paintings, postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, as well as a small natural history collection. Below Ta Dzong is Rinpung Dzong (Paro Dzong), “the fortress on a heap of jewels”, built in 1646, and now housing the offices of the district administration and Paro’s monk body. In the afternoon, we will visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Built by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 03: Paro – Shana (17km, 5-6 hours)
The trek starts from Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) with a short downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail then climbs gently through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. Soon the valley widens, and we reach the army post of Gunitsawa (2,810m). This is the last stop before Tibet. We continue upwards to just beyond Sharma Zampa (2,870), where there are several good camping spots in meadows surrounded by trees.
Day 04: Shana – Soi Thangkha (20km, 7-8 hours)
The trail again follows the Pa Chu (Paro river), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. After crossing a bridge to the left bank of the river, we stop for a hot lunch. Then we continue along the river, climbing upwards through rhododendron forests, and crossing the river once more before reaching our campsite (3,750m).
Day 05: Soi Thangka – Jangothang (19km, 7-8 hours)
The path ascends for a while until we reach the army camp. We then follow the river above the tree line while enjoying the stunning view of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch is served at a yak herder’s camp. A short walk from here into the valley takes us to our campsite at Jangothang (4,040 m). From here, the view of Jhomolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.
Day 06: Halt at Jangothang
Today is a relaxing day and a chance to acclimatize and walk up to the Jhomolhari glaciers and the two beautiful lakes of ‘Tshophu’. Here the route offers spectacular views of the steep ice-slopes of mount Jhomolhari and mount Jichu Drake. Overnight at camp
Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi (18km, 7-8 hours)
The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right bank. We now start our climb up to the first ridge, enjoying breathtaking view of Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. The trail then takes us across a fairly level valley floor until the climb up to Nyele-la pass (4,700m). We descend gradually from the pass to our campsite at Lingshi (4,000m), enjoying a panoramic view of the mountain peaks and Lingshi Dzong as we walk.
Day 08: Halt at Lingzhi
It is worth a visit to Lingshi Dzong. You can also make an excursion to Tshokha (Lake) i.e. to the base of Jichu Drake. During excursion you will also come across Blue Sheep and Musk Deer. Tsokha is about 4500m and the hike takes us about 4-5hours.
Day 09: Lingshi – Shodu (22km, 8-9 hours)
The Laya-Gasa route leaves the Jhomolhari trek route here. Our trail climbs up towards a small white chorten on a ridge above the camp, then turns south up the deep Mo Chu valley. The trail stays on the west side of this largely treeless valley, climbing steadily a short distance above the Mo Chu. It then crosses the river, and climbs steeply for two hours to Yeli-la (4,820m). On a clear day you can see Jhomolhari, Gangchenta, Tserimgang and Masagang from this pass. We will then descend alongside a stream to a rock shelter in the cliff face, and then continue on downstream till Shodu (4100m), where we camp in a meadow with a chorten nearby.
Day 10: Shodu – Barshong (16km, 6/-7 hours)
We are now back at the tree line, and our path follows the course of the Thimphu Chu, descending through rhododendron, juniper and mixed alpine forests. There are stunning views of rocky cliff faces and waterfalls along the way. We stop at the riverside for a hot lunch. Then the trail takes us gradually upwards to the ruins of Barshong Dzong (3600m), where we will camp nearby.
Day 11: Barshong – Dolam Kencho (15km, 5-6 hours)
The trail descends gently through dense forest of rhododendron, birch and conifer, and then drops steeply to meet the Thimphu Chu. The trail runs along the left bank of the river, climbing over ridges and descending into gullies where side streams run down into the river. The final stage of the trail climbs around a cliff face high above the Thimphu Chu, coming out onto pastureland where we camp for the night at 3,600m.
Day 12: Dolam Kencho – Dodena – Thimpu (8km, 3 hours)
The trail winds in and out of the valley above the Thimphu Chu, making a long ascent through a forest of conifer and high altitude broadleaf species to a pass at 3,510m. The trail then drops steeply down to the river, following it southward to the road head at Dodena (2,600m). Then we drive to Thimphu. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 13: Thimphu – Punakha
We will drive to Punakha on this day, the capital of medieval Bhutan and the site of the most beautiful dzongs (fortress) in Bhutan. It draws hundreds of tourists every day. You will drive through the Dochula Pass, where 108 victory stupas sit on a mound dividing the road. On a clear sky the place offers a panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain range.
After having our lunch in Punakha, we will visit the Punakha dzong, the winter residence of the chief abbot of Bhutan, Je Khenpo. The male and female river surrounds the dzong. If time permits, we will then hike to Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. Dinner at Hotel
Day 14: Thimphu Sightseeing
In the morning we will visit the National Memorial Chorten, built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and the Folk Heritage Museum. Lunch will be served at a restaurant in Thimphu. After lunch we will depart to Punakha, the medieval capital of Bhutan. The road climbs steeply through a forest of pine and cedar, festooned with hanging lichen high up near Dochula pass (3,050 m). This pass often offers panoramic view of the Himalayan mountain ranges. We will then descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Punakha and drive to your hotel and check in. Visit Punakha Dzong, the winter seat of the Je Khenpo (chief abbot of Bhutan) and the Monk Body. Dinner and overnight at the Hotel.
Day 15: Thimphu-Paro-Departure (DrukAir)
After breakfast drive to Paro international airport for your flight onward home.