Beautiful Laya Gasa Trek
Summary: Extension of Jumolhari trek considered most beautiful treks in Bhutan passes through far-flung nomadic Village Laya and offersdiverse flora and fauna and opportunity to spot blue sheep.
Season: April to June, September to November
Duration: 13 days
Start: Drukgyal DzongParo
End: Damji Punakha
Difficulty rating: Medium – Hard
Maximum elevation: Shingchen La pass 5005m
Day 1: Bangkok-Paro
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. Later in the afternoon, you can visit the Paro Dzong. It was built in 1646 and now houses government offices and religious institutions, as do all the Dzongs (forts) currently. You’ll cross a traditional wooden bridge on the way to the Dzong. Afterward you will visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. In the evening you can stroll through the Paro market and town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 2: Acclimatization hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up on the mountain. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. After having explored the monastery, you will hike down to Paro valley. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Paro-Shana (Trek starts)
17KM / 5-6 HOURS / 360M ASCENT 80M DESCENT
Drive up to Drukgyal Dzong where the road ends and start the trek by following the river gently uphill through a narrowing valley of paddy fields. You will find plenty of traditional farmhouses in a purely rural setting. The campsite is just beyond an army outpost. Alt. 2800m, Distance – 17 km and time 5-6 hours.
Day 4: Shana-Soe Thangthangkha
22KM / 7-8 HOURS / 770 ASCENT 10M DESCENT
Continue uphill through the river valley, which narrows and closes in after some distance. The trail then winds up and down along the drainage. Most of the trail actually is downhill after the initial climb. The campsite is located in a meadow with stone shelter. Alt. Approx. 3400m, distance 15 km, time 4-5 hours.
Day 5: Thangthangkha-Jangothang
19KM / 5-6 HOURS / 480M ASCENT
Walk up along the Pachu (Paro River), pass a small army outpost where the valley begins to widen again. You can now clearly view the high ridges and the snow-capped mountains all around and also see the yaks and the yak herder’s winter homes. Camp beneath a ruined fortress at the base of the Jumolhari Mountain. Alt. 4040m. Distance 19 km and time 5-6 hours.
Day 6: Rest day at Jangothang (Base Camp)
Today is a rest and acclimatization for the next day’s highest climb on this trek. You will hike to explore nearby mountains and lakes.
Day 7: Jangothang-Lingshi
18KM / 6-7 HOURS / 840M ASCENT 870M DESCENT
Walk up toward the pass through a wide pastureland. Depending on the season you are there, you might find some yak herders in their camping tents along the way. As you come down after the pass to the Lingshi basin, you will see some beautiful views of the Lingshi Dzong, valley, Tserim Kang (mountain) and its descending glaciers at the north end of the valley. Camp in a stone shelter with a built-in fire pit or in the tent. Alt. 4150m. Distance 19 km. Time 5-6 hours.
Day 8: Lingshi-Chebisa
10KM / 5-6 HOURS / 280M ASCENT 410M DESCENT
Today is the shortest walking day and you can really take it easy. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa, you can visit the village houses if you feel up to it. Alt. 3850m. Distance 12 km. Time 3-4 hours.
Day 9: Chebisa-Shomuthang
17KM / 6-7 HOURS / 890M ASCENT 540M DESCENT
You will walk through a wide pastureland towards Gobu-la (pass). On the way, you will see few people herding the yaks. After crossing the Gobu -la (Alt. 4350m) descend down to the valley. The campsite is on a bench above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu river. Alt. 4260. Distance 17 km. Time 5-6 hours.
Day 10: Shomuthang-Robluthang
18KM / 5-7 HOURS / 700M ASCENT 760M DESCENT
As the walk is little strenuous, it is advisable to start little early. After crossing the Jerela (pass) alt. 4600m you come down to Tsharijathang valley where you can normally see herds of Takins. Camp at Tsharijathang. Alt.4390m. Distance 15 km. Time 6-7 hours.
Day 11: Robluthang-Lingmithang
19KM / 6-7 HOURS / 850M ASCENT 870M DESCENT
After crossing the Shingela pass, alt. 4900m, you come down and follow the valley. Lingmithang is under the Laya District and you will see people dressed in typical Laya costume with long pointed bamboo hats on their head. Camp at Lingmithang. Alt. 4140m. Distance 19 km. Time 6-7 hours.
Day 12: Lingmithang-Laya
10KM / 4-5 HOURS / 60M ASCENT 340M DESCENT
Today, you walk all the way downhill along a narrow winding river valley. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. Campsite is on a high flat bench above the Laya village. Alt. 3850m. Distance 10 km. Time 3-4 hours.
Day 13: Laya Halt
Rest and explore the Laya village.
Day 14: Laya-Koena
19KM / 6-7 HOURS / 260M ASCENT 1070M DESCENT
The trail winds up and down along the river valley avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and waterfalls. Camp at Alt. 3800m. Distance 19 km. Time 6-7 hours.
Day 15: Koena-Gasa (Trek ends)
14KM / 6-7 HOURS / 900M ASCENT 1710M DESCENT
You cross the Babela pass, Alt.3740m, after which the trail is all the way down till you reach the campsite which is close to Gasa Dzong. Alt. 2900m. Distance 17 km. Time 6-7 hours.
Day 16: Gasa Hot Spring
Today you will relax in the hot spring. The Gasa Tsachu is one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan. Camp at Gasa Tsachu.
Day 17: Gasa Hot Spring-Punakha, excursion to Wangdue
Today you will drive to Punakha on unpaved roads. The drive is through the high agricultural benches above the Mochu (Chu means River) into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees and creepers. Check into hotel on arrival. Afterwards you will visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. After lunch, drive to Wangdue. You can visit the Wangdue Dzong, the 17th century monuments. It sits atop a high ridge between the Puna Tsangchu and the Dang Chu. The place is also known for its fine bamboo works, slate and stone carvings. You can visit the Rinchengang village on the opposite side of the river, which is a unique cluster of houses made up of mud. The people of this village are of Indian origin who originally were brought into Bhutan as constriction workers of the Dzong. In the evening, drive back to Punakha. Overnight hotel in Punakha.
Day 18: Punakha-Thimphu
Today you will drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. On the way, you will stop at Metshina Village and take a 20-minute walk through the rice fields to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple dedicated to the Devine Madman or Lama Drukpa Kuenley. If you wish, receive the blessing from the Lama’s wooden phallus! Continue drive to Thimphu with a stop for tea at Dochu La (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. You will also visit the new Druk Wangyel Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. Check into your hotel on arrival. In the afternoon, you will visit the busy Weekend Market at the bank of Thimphu River where people from nearby villages come here to sell their farm products. You can stroll through the market to see the variety of food of the country, including basket upon basket of fiery chilies, fresh cheese, and mangoes. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. It’s fun to wander the aisle, taking in the bustling atmosphere of the market. Perhaps this market scene offers wonderful opportunity for photographs and to mingle with local people. In the evening, you can stroll through Thimphu city and absorb the lifestyle of the people. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 19: Thimphu-Paro
After breakfast you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972); Changangkha Monastery, traditional paper factory, Tashichodzong, the main secretariat building. This massive structure houses part of the government ministries, the office of the King and living quarters of the Chief Abbot and monks. You will then drive to Kuenselphodrang overlooking Thimphu valley and where giant Buddha statue is under construction. 169 feet statue is reputed to be the largest bronze Buddha statue in the world. Later in the afternoon, you will drive to Paro. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 20: Paro departure
After breakfast, drive to airport for departure. Our representative will bid you farewell