Saga La Trek


Saga La Trek 7Days/6Nights

TB 20060906 Saga La

This trip is a combination of visits to religious monuments, fortresses (dzongs), sacred pilgrimage sites and a short trek.

Trek information: Duration: 2-3 Days. Total Distance: 23kms/14.3miles. Maximum Altitude: 3720m. Grade: Easy. This 2-3 day trek is also called “the Haa Planter’s Trail, harking back to the time when it was used by rice planters from Haa on their way to help people in Paro who relied heavily on their labour/workforce during the planting season ( May- June). In return, the people of Haa received red rice after the autumn harvest. The trek is easy, starting in the Upper reaches of the Haa Valley and ending near Drukgyal Dzong in Paro.

Day1: Arrive in Bhutan

The flight into Bhutan takes you over the Himalayas, offering glimpse of the highest glacial peaks. On arrival at the airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your local guide-for the whole trip, will receive and transfer you to the hotel.

After check-in and refreshments/lunch, explore the Paro province by visiting the National Museum housed in a 17th century watch tower which will serve as a great introduction to Bhutan.

Then visit the Rinpund dzong the medieval provincial capital fortress the watch tower protected for three hundred years of civil strife. After the visit to the dzong, take a short walk down to Nyemi Zampa (cantilever bridge) that connects the valley to the dzong.

Stroll around the Paro town in the evening.

O/N at Hotel in Paro. Elevation: 2,300m.

Day2: Paro Halt

After breakfast, before the sun gets too hot, hike to Taktsang (literally translated as Tiger’s Nest). Built in the 1600’s, this incredible monastery/temple clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. History states that Guru Rinpoche, the Tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan arrived here on the back of a flying tigress. Looking at the monastery/temple flying tigress doesn’t seem so impossible after all. The trail to the monastery/temple climbs through pine and rhododendron forest, lichens overhanging fromtrees above notifies that you are walking along pristine forest surrounded with clean, fresh air without pollution. It takes 5 hours in total to hike and visit the shrines inside.

After the hike, visit the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong at the north corner of the valley, on a clear day there is a great view of the Jumolhari (7,315m), in the distant north.

On the way back to the hotel visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, founded by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo to overcome a giant ogress who was lying over the Himalayas preventing the spread of Buddhism.

O/N at Hotel in Paro. Elevation: 2,300m.

Day3: Paro-Haa,

Today, we drive to the Haa valley over the Chelela Pass (3,890m), Haa valley, though being very near to Paro is one of the less frequented districts by tourist in the country.

En route visit the Kila Goemba (nunnery, about 35 female Buddhist practitioners), The Lhakhang Karpo/ Lhakhang Nagpo, both dating back from the 7th century.

O/N at Hotel in Haa. Elevation: 2,700m.

Day 4: Yangtong-Khadey Gom. 8kms, 4-5 hours, 500m ascent

After breakfast, drive to Yangtong 12kms away from our hotel, there we meet the camp crew and the horsemen waiting for us to start the trek. The start point at Yatong is a big meadow next to the Haa Chhu with a chorten and some prayer flags dedicated to the local deity, “ The Powerful Chundu”. The trail climbs steeply to Yangtong Goemba, dedicated to ‘Guru Rinpoche and his Eight Manifestations’, after the goemba, the trail is gradual back to the main trail below the Saga La. The Makhang Chhu flows through Talung and the three villages, Chenka Gom, Chenka Wom, and Lango. The trail then winds through the fields fenced with stone walls to keep away the wild animals, climbing to Chagdo Zam (named after the Iron Bridge Builder), and then to a rock with twin eyes and a distorted mouth. This is the camp of Khadey Gom 3235m.O/N in camp/tent.

Day 5: Khadey Gom to Dongney Tsho. 8kms, 485m ascent, 520m descent.

A gradual hike of an hour through meadows and coniferous forest, followed by two hours of climb to the Saga La pass 3720m with a small chorten. From the pass, on a clear day there is a fantastic view on both sides, towards Paro (east), includes the sacred Mt. Jumolhari (7315m/23,993ft), Chaterake (5570m/18,270ft), and down below the Drukgyal Dzong and the Taktsang. To the west the peaks of Haa forming the border with Tibet can be seen. A two hour of descend through mix forest of conifers and rhododendron brings you to the campsite of Dongney Tsho 3200m. O/N in camp/tent.

Day 06: Dongney Tsho to Drukgyal Dzong. 7kms, 620m descent.

The first part of the trail is steep downhill for hour and a half till Genchu Zam, and then through a small beautiful village with eight households and a templeon the left side of the trail; Chodeyphu, set picturesquely at the base of the Laumpa Bjara (Foggy Mountain), inhabited by mountain goats. Another hour from this village will take you to Balakha Chhu where the ancient Haa Planters Trail ends, your driver and the car will be waitng for you to drive you to the hotel.

O/N at Hotel in Paro. Elevation: 2,300m.

Day7: Departure

After breakfast drive to the airport for your onward destination.


Bumthang Owl Trek


TB 20080522 Bumthang Owl

Total Distance: 22kms. Duration: 3 Days 2 Nights. Grade: Moderate. Altitude Gain: 970m. Altitude Loss:  770m. The Bumthang Owl Trek offers an invigorating experience of the culture and environment of the country. It is a moderate 3-day hiking route which starts from Menchugang and ends at jakar dzong or Tharpaling.

The trail has an abundance of flora and fauna, and the panoramic views of the valleys beneath the hills. This trek could be a substitute for the Bumthang Cultural Trek that has been deteriorated to a great degree by farm road constructions.

Day 01. Menchugang to Scho-nath. 10kms, 6-7 hours, 550m ascent.

Drive to Menchugang 2,900m and visit the biggest village of Dhur in Bumthang at an elevation of 2,900m. The village consists of about 75 households with a recorded population of around 800 people. The single village has three types of inhabitants, the Kheps (tax payers) having cattle and farmland, Brokpas (nomads) having yaks and a third group having either.

This village has two different dialects, the usual Bumthangkha and Brok ked (nomadic dialect). A walk above the village to get an overall view of the village is interesting. After visiting the village descent down to the river crossing it on a suspension bridge and up to the road where the trail takes a left turn following a stream gradually uphill through pine forest, bamboo, and finally fir trees just below the camp.

Camp altitude 3,450m.

Overnight at camp/tent.

Day 02. Scho-nath to Kitiphu. 8kms, 5-6 hours, 420m ascent. Hardly any descent.

The trail climbs on the other side of the camp on the left making small turns through rhododendrons, fir spruce and hemlock and birch. Bamboos are the main undergrowth of this wild forest. Rhododendrons are in bloom during the months of April and May.

It takes roughly about two hours to the pass at Drangela 3,600m. Then the trail is gradual with little descents till a yak herders camp, where the trail starts to climb to Kitiphu quite steeply. Camp altitude 3,870m.

Overnight at camp/tent.

Day 03. Kitiphu to Tharpaling 5.5kms, 3-4hours, 10m ascent, 770 descent.

After breakfast hike up to the top of the Kitiphu ridge 4,000m to get a glance of the Highest Unclimbed Peak, Gangkar Puensum 7,541. From the top there are great views of the Gyetsa valley under Chumey  and Dhur village under the Chokhor valley. After your pictures, descent down to the main trail and then to a pass from where Tharpaling is visible. There is also an image of Longchen Rabjampa, the great Tibetian Dzogchen who meditated and lived at Tharpaling 3,100m. From the pass there is a trail going to Lamey Goemba over the Kikila pass, if you want to end at Jakar.

Overnight either at the Monastery Guest House or Hotel in Bumthang.     




Laya Gasa Trek


TB 20150505 Laya Gasa

Total Distance: 66kms. Duration: 5 Days (including a day rest at Laya). Grade: Moderate. Altitude Gain: 2780m. Altitude Loss: 2780m. While mountain weather can always provide an unpleasant surprise or two, this trek is timed to fit the narrow window in the fall when classic Himalayan weather should prevail: crisp cool days and cold nights, with lots of opportunities to view the Bhutan Himalaya up-close.

This trek takes us up the Mo Chhu River valley. Further up the valley, at the border with Tibet, we come to the charming village of Laya, a favorite of many experienced trekkers. Set at the feet of some of Bhutan’s most dramatic spires, Laya is home to a warm and friendly people whose dress and customs set them apart from the Bhutanese mainstream.

Day 01. Gasa to Koina. 14kms, 6-7 hours, 1710m ascent, 900m descent.

Visit the Tashi Thongmoen Dzong in Gasa, built in 1646 after the Zhabdrung’s victory over the Tibetians. The dzong defended the country from the Tibetian invasions in the 17th and 18th century. Then set off for a full morning of ascending to the Bari La pass 3900m, after the pass it’s a gradual, long, slow descend to the camp at Koina 3050m.

Overnight at Camp.

Day 02. Koina to Laya. 19kms, 6-7 hours, 1070m ascent, 260m descent.

Work your way up the even smaller and more powerful river this morning, crossing it and other small tributaries. There are short up and downs, but there are some steep sections. The afternoon walk is easier till the army out-post, here the trail begins its ascent to the village of Laya 3840m.

Overnight at Camp.

Day 03. Laya Halt. Explore Laya.

Going  around the villages visiting houses and the people. Laya people are friendly and will happily pose for photographs. Women of Laya wear special dress and typical bamboo hats, decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments. Cultural show in the evening performed by the locals are a feast for your eyes. Or one can do many hikes up to the ridge behind the village or towards the Tiger Mountain.

Overnight at Camp/Tent.

Day 04. Laya to Koina. 19kms, 6-7 hours, 260m ascent, 1070m descent.

The trail leaves Laya through fields and clusters of houses. Descend through the village entrance porch or arch chorten (khonying) housing protective deities. Cross two rivers, Zamdo Nangi Chhu and Togtserkhagi Chhu, both fed by Masa Gang glacier. After the army out-post the trail descends following the Mo Chhu. At the end of the final climb the trail rounds a ridge into the side valley. At the pass, Kohi Laptsa 3300m, and then drop to camp at Koina 3050m.

Overnight at Camp/tent.

Day 05. Koina to Gasa. 14kms, 6-7 hours, 900m ascent, 1710m descent.

 After crossing the Koina Chhu, start a long climb through an enormous sub tropical forest. If misty the atmosphere can become very eerie, and the gorge transforms something out of a fairytale. On the other side of the gorge is one of the few places where the tiger and the snow leopard share the same territory. The pass for today Bari La 3900m, then the trail descents down to a viewpoint from where you can view the magnificent Gasa dzong with Kangbum 6526m in the background. From here it is another hour to get to the small town of Gasa 2770m,  if you are interested in the hot springs drop another hour to the Gasa Tshachu 2240m. An evening here would be great to relax after the trek and soak in the spring, water temperature is 40 degrees centigrade, which is comfortably warm not scalding.

Overnight at camp/tent.

Day 06. Gasa to Punakha. Drive to Punakha.      



Bumthang Cultural Trek


Total Distance: 44kms. Duration: 3 days 2 nights. Grade: Easy. Altitude Gain: 920m ascent. Altitude Loss: 670m. Bumthang Cultural Trek is an easy 3 days trek with only one pass, the Phepe La, involving a 500m climb. The start of the trek is few kilometres drive up the unpaved road  from Kurjey at Thangbi 2,540m.

TB 20130927 Bumthang Cultural

Day 01. Thangbi to Sambithang. 10kms, 3 hours, 170m ascent.

The trail follows a broad ledge above the river past a 70 m long painted mani wall and a khonying with a mandala painted on the ceiling. Just beyond the chorten is a trail junction, take the one to the right which leads to a suspension bridge across the Chamkhar Chhu. Follow the right bank of the river through pleasant meadows and forest of blue pine and scrub, bringing you to the Zangling Lhakhang which is on the left. It is another 20 minutes of walk to the camp at Sambithang2,800m. Overnight at camp.

Day 02. Sambithang to Ogyen Chholing. 18kms, 6-7 hours, 750m ascent, 670m descent.

Hike across the meadows, with lot of dwarf bamboo and several little streams to cross. Then the trail cuts across the top of some fields, goes over a small hill and down to a stream. After crossing the stream the trail starts climbing to Phepe La 3,360m, crossing back and forth across stream on a series of slippery logs and stones. The pass is marked with some prayer flags and a little stone shrineto Kizum. 16kms,  offering no views since the forest is thick with birch and fir trees. On the other side the trail leads down to a stream at 3,200m and continues downhill to a large stream with a wooden bridge near the village of Tahung. Further down is Gamling village noted for its yathra weaving. Then it starts climbing onto a ridge reaching four chortens and several houses at 2,760m. Ogyen Chholing is on top of the hill to the right. Overnight at camp.

Day 03. Ogyen Chholing to Chamkhar Valley.