Trek to Laya Bhutan (21 days)

Bhutan village

specialTrek to Laya is one of Bhutan’s most interesting treks. The route offers superb views of snowcapped peaks including Mt. Gangchey Ta or Tiger mountain. Diverse Himalayan flora and fauna puts this trek in a league if its own. There are many chances to glimpse the Blue Sheep, Takin or even a Snow Leopard. Numerous isolated dzongs and yak herder camps give a glimpse into Bhutam’s mountain culture as does Laya, the highest settlement in Bhutan. Soak in the hot springs at Gasa Tshachu. Trek to Laya in one of the most environmentally protected areas in the world.

Note: Elevation and walking hours are noted on this sample itinerary due to the trek’s difficulty.

Day 1 – ParoArrive in Para where you will be met and driven to your hotel. In the afternoon, explore the fortress of Rinpung Dzong, dating from 1645, and walk to the Ta Dzong, a huge mediaeval watchtower which now houses the National Museum of Bhutan.

Day 2 – Paro
Morning hike up to the Taksang Monastery (Tiger’s nest). The climb up to the view point will take around 3 hours and enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Guru Padmasambava (a buddhist master) is believed to have landed on the back of a Tiger in the 8th century, and meditated for three months. The monastery was later built in this holy place in 1684.

Day 3 – Paro/Drugyel Dzong/Shana
After breakfast. drive to Drugyel Dzong which is the starting point of your trek. Hike upstream along the Pachu river through villages gradually ascending to Shana where you camp overnight. (9186 feet– 5/6 hours)

Day 4 – Shana/Soi Thangthangkha
Today follow the Pachu River ascending through pine, oak and spruce forest. Cross the wooden bridge where you break for lunch. Follow the river climbing up through rhododendron forests and finally crossing a bridge again, before reaching camp near a stone shelter. (12,467 feet–7/8 hours)

Day 5 – Soi Thangthangkha/Jangothang
The trail ascends until you reach the army camp. Then follow the river above the tree line enjoying the stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder’s camp. Then take a short walk in the valley to the camp at Jangothang. The view of Mt. Chomolhari and Jichu Drake are superb. (13,254 feet/5/6 hours)

Day 6 – Jangothang
Today is a rest day and is free to explore as you wish. Optional hike to Tshophu, walk towards the glacial lake of Chhomolhari or Jichu Drake.

Day 7 – Jangothang/Lingshi
The trail follows the stream and crosses the bridge. Climb up the ridge and enjoy stunning views of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshrim Khang mountains. Walk through the wide open valley where you have a chance to see herds of blue sheep. Climb up to the Nyele La Pass (15,419 feet ) where the view is breathtaking. After the pass it’s a gradual descent through the valley with beautiful views all around. Nearing the camp you will see the Lingshi Dzong perched atop a hill with commanding views of the valley. (13,451 feet–6/7 hours)

Day 8 – Lingshi/Chebisa
Today is an easy day walking through villages and yak herder camps. Camp tonight near a stream in Chebisa village. (12,631 feet–5/6 hours)

Day 9 – Chebisa/Shomuthang
It’s a steep climb up a ridge to Gombu La Pass, taking nearly four hours. After the pass descend to a rest stop for lunch, through rhododendron bushes. Afternoon continue trekking along the path, after crossing the stream, through more rhododendron forests and yak herders camps. Herds of Blue Sheep may be seen near the pass..(13,845–6/7 hours)

Day 10 – Shomuthang/Robluthang
The trek starts with a climb up to the Jhari La pass then descend to Tsheri Jathang Valley, the summer residence of the rare Himalayan Takin (national animal of Bhutan). From here cross the stream either by foot bridge or on foot as the bridge is often washed away. After crossing the stream, the trail climbs to Robluthang camp. (14,435 feet–7/8 hours)

Day 11 – Robluthang/Lemithang
You cross the challenging Sinche La pass (16,404 feet) with spectacular mountain views along the path. After the pass the trail descends to Lemithang, a narrow pathway crossing a stream again, possibly on foot. The last part of the trek gives you a view of Mt. Gangchey Ta (Tiger’s Mt.)peak. (13,615 feet–7/8 hours)

Day 12 – Lemithang/Laya
The walk to Laya is pleasant with incredible views. You will pass through the winding river valley and dense forests, filled with moss and singing birds. Arrive at Laya village, the highest village in Bhutan. (12,598 feet–5/6 hours)

Day 13 – Laya
Today we explore Laya. We visit a local house where traditional Bhutanese hospitality is extended and a cup of tea and Chang (local drink) is always offered. The people in this village are culturally very interesting, especially the women who wear conical bamboo hats decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments. In the evening we see traditional dancing and singing performed by local villagers around a campfire and have a chance to “sample” the local alcohol of Ara & Chang. Be careful as it is very strong!

Day 14 – Laya/Koina
We set off again on a trail which winds up and down along the river valley, through beautiful forests with great views of waterfalls, swift streams, a wonderful variety of birds, and musk deer. Camp at Koina. (10.170 feet–7/8 hrs)

Day 15 – Koina/Gasa
Ascend to the Bari La Pass and descend on the trail until you reach the lovely village of Gasa. There is a beautiful, old Dzong in Gasa, a few shops and a soccer and archery field. We stop for a brief visit and r continue down the trail for another hour to Gasa Tshachu (Hot Springs), a wonderful place to lounge after a long trek. (9514 feet–6/7hours)

Day 16 – Gasa/Punakha
The trail continues descending and ascending through a heavily forested area with wild orchids, and other beautiful flora. The road continues to be extended up this valley so it is only a hike of about 3/4 hours before we reach the road head where a vehicle will be waiting to drive you to Punakha. Overnight in hotel.

Day 17 – Punakha
See Punakha Dzong, majestically standing on an island between the confluence of the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu rivers, which is one of the most photogenic of all Bhutan’s ancient fortresses Visit the recently restored Gangteng Monastery with its extensive murals depicting the Thousand Buddhas

Day 18 – Punakha/Thimphu
Today you have a leisurely drive to Thimphu. Check in to your hotel.

Day 19 – Thimphu
Visit Changangkha Lhakang and the National Memorial Chorten. Changangkha Lhakhang. was constructed in the 15th century and is one of the oldest temples in the Thimphu Valley. It is dedicated to Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist emanation of compassion. The temple affords wonderful views over the entire valley. An evening visit to the the National Memorial Chorten offers a good chance to see the locals and their prayer service.

Day 20 – Thimphu/Paro
After breakfast visit Tango monastery and Cheri Monastery. Tango Monastery is near Cheri Mountain and was founded in the 13th century and later rebuilt in 1688. This monastery is built in the dzong fashion (a fortress like Tibetan architecture), and has a curved (semi-circular) outside wall and prominent main tower. According to religious history, the place which Cheri Monastery rests on was the first place visited by Guru Padmasambhava , the great Buddhist teacher, in the 8th century and is considered sacred ground… Cheri Monastery was built in 1620.) Afternoon drive on to Paro and check in to your hotel.

Day 21 – Depart Paro
Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

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