Lingshi, Laya, Gasa Trek (19 nights/20 days)

Day 01: Arrive Paro (by Druk Air)

The flight to Paro, Bhutan’s only international airport is considered by many as one of the most spectacular, as it offers a view of the lofty Himalayas and some of the highest peaks in the world, including Mount Everest. As you disembark, our guide will receive you at the airport after you have cleared customs and visa. We will check into the hotel and after you have rested enough, we can visit the Ta dzong, a 17th century watchtower that is today transformed into the national museum. If we have time, we will stroll through Paro town. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 02: Paro, Hike to Taktshang and Paro sightseeing

We will drive to Drugyel dzong, which lies 16 kilometers from Paro town. After being destroyed by fire in 1951, the fortress remained in ruins and today it is undergoing reconstruction. The fortress holds great historical significance, as it was from here that Bhutan was able to repel a number of Tibetan invasions. Then in the morning we will drive up to the base of Taktshang monastery, Bhutan’s most iconic symbol. After hiking up to the monastery for about an hour and a half, you will reach a cafeteria, which offers a good resting place and the view of the monastery. This is the site where the Indian tantric master Guru Padmasambhava flew on a flying tigress in the wrathful manifestation of Dorji Drolo. We then walk back to the road point and then visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan and visit Paro Rinpung Dzong, built in 17th century to defend the valley against Tibetan invaders. Dinner and overnight at Hotel.

Day 03: Paro – Shana (Start of Trek)

Our trek to Shana starts at Drugyel Dzong following the Pachu River and we pass cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly colored butterflies. Overnight at camp Shana. Altitude 2,820 m; Distance 14 km; Time 5 -6 hours.

Day 04: Shana – Thangthangka.

The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. It narrows and closes in and the trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction en route, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter. Altitude 3,610 m; distance 21 km; time 7-8 hours.

Day 05: Thangthangka (Halt).

In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen to day before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. Altitude: 4,115 m; Distance: 15 km; Time: 5-6 hours.

Day 06: Jangothang (Halt).

A rest day. A chance to acclimatize and walk up to the Jumolhari glacier or to the lakes in the opposite direction.

Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi.

A good day’s walk to day with spectacular view of Jhomolhari, Jichu Drakey and the Tserim Gang. We start climbing straight away and after some three to four hours reach the Nyelela Pass (4,700 m). After the Pass we descend to a circular hut just below Lingshi, where we camp. Coming down from Lingshi we get our first view of the truly mystical Dzong, a high hill. Altitude: 4,010 m; Distance: 17 kms; Time: 6-7 hours.

Day 08: Lingshi – Chebisa.

This is a magical day. Leaving Lingshi behind we gently climb to reach another delightful village, Gom Yu, which is set right below a 300m cliff. Another hour walk brings us to a lovely little valley with a huge waterfall at one end of the Shangri La village of Chebisa, where we camp by side of the river. The walk is very leisurely with plenty of reasons and opportunities to linger. Altitude: 3,780 m; Distance: 12 kms; Time: 4-5 hours.

Day 09: Chebisa – Shomuthang.

We start with quite a stiff climb through high pastures up the Gokula pass (4,320 m) before we drop through forests of dwarf rhododendron. We climb gradually and head to the camp near a riverbed. Altitude: 3,890 m; Distance: 17 kms; Time: 6-7 hours.

Day 10: Shomuthang – Robluthang.

A long haul over the Jarela Pass at 4,640m where we once again get stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains above us. We drop down a forest trail to the Tsarithang valley, where herds of Takin roam, then cross a knee deep river before climbing up Robluthang where we camp. Altitude: 4,100 m; Distance: 22 kms; Time: 7-8 hours.

Day 11: Robluthang – Lemithang.

This is one of the hardest part of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela Pass at 4,870 m and are rewarded with stunning views of mountains, including the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. On a clear day practically all the mountains on the northern border are visible. Eagles, griffin vulture, blue sheep and yaks abound in this area. We descend down to camp on a lovely spot by the riverbank. Altitude: 4,040 m; Distance: kms; Time: 6-7 hours.

Day 12: Lemithang – Laya.

We walk along the river, one of the tributaries of the Mochu and through a forest of rhododendron and silver fir and then enter the village of Laya. The people of Laya are famous for their vertical stripe yak hair clothing and their strange conical bamboo hats. The women wear their hair long and with lavish jewelry. The features of the people are even more Tibetan/Mongolian than the Bhutanese who live in the central valleys. The rest of the day is spent at leisure or visiting village houses and mixing with the villagers. Good views of the Masangang and the other peaks. Altitude: 3,880m; Distance: 10 kms; Time: 4-5 hours.

Day 13: Laya (Halt).

We have a rest day at Laya and an opportunity to meet the local people.

Day 14: Laya – Koena

Descend to the valley and follow the Mo Chu through heavily forested areas. Overnight in the camp at Koena. Distance: 20 kms; Time: 5-6 hours.

Day 15: Koena – Gasa Tshachu.

We begin today with a gradual climb to Yalela Pass (3,740m) and then descend again to Gasa. After reaching camp you can visit Gasa Dzong, which is an outpost fort, guarding the trade route to Tiber. Down by the riverside is Gasa Tshachhu (hot spring), worth a dip. Overnight halt at Gasa Tshachhu. Distance: 22 kms; Time: 5- 6 hours.

Day 16: Gasa Tsachu – Goem Damji.

The path continuous descending and ascending, through heavily forested areas and lots of wild orchids. Camp nearby the village. Altitude: 2,200m; distance: 25 kms; Time: 4-5 hours.

Day 17: Goem Damji – Tashithang – Punakha.

Today is the last trekking day. Continue following the Mo Chu down through the heavily forested area till you reach Tashithang (alt:1,620m ). We will be waiting to drive you to Punakha. Overnight at the hotel in Punakha.

Day 18: Punakha – Thimphu

In the morning, we will visit the Punakha dzong, the winter seat of the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body, remarkably located between the rivers of the Mo (Female) Chu and Pho (Male) Chu. After that we will depart for Thimphu over Dochula Pass (3,050 m). We will then check in at the hotel in Thimphu. After lunch a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, then visit National Library, which is stocked with priceless ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and also visit the Folks heritage Museum, which is dedicated to connecting people to the Bhutanese rural past through exhibition of items and artifacts used in rural households. We will also visit the Textile Museum, where the art of traditional weaving is still kept alive and preserved through exhibition and has a good collection of old textiles which are rich in its color and design. Other highlights include a visit to the Handicrafts Emporium, which has all types of Bhutanese handicrafts for sale. In the evening we will stroll through the Thimphu’s main town for some last minute shopping. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 19: Thimphu – Paro – Departure (by Druk Air).

After breakfast drive to Paro in order to catch your flight onwards where our representatives will bid you farewell and a happy journey back home.