Soi Yaksa Trek
Summary: Trek to the base camp of Jangothang where you will have superb view of mount Jumolhari from where you will make a loop along the ridges of high mountain returning to Drugyal Dzong.
Season: March – June, September to October
Duration: 8 days
Start and End: Drugyal Dzong Paro
Difficulty rating: Medium – Hard
Maximum elevation: 4890m
Day 1: Arrive Paro
During the flight, on a clear day, you can see breathtaking views of the Himalaya Mountains, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival you will be greeted by our representative and transferred to your hotel. 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: Paro Acclimatization Hike
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, Bhutan’s most famous monastery. Guru Rinpoche (8th century saint) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress from Singye Dzong in Lhuentse to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. It is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. The hike to reach the viewpoint to the monastery makes for a nice half-day excursion. In the evening you can explore Paro Town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Paro-Shana Trek starts
17KM / 5-6 HOURS / 360M ASCENT 80M DESCENT
The trek starts from Drugyal Dzong at 2,580 m with a downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail climbs gently traverse through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. The route later enters an area of apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens and you reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2,810m. This is the last stop before Tibet. You will camp at 2,870m, just beyond Shana Zampa, at the meadows surrounded by trees.
Day 4: Shana- Sio Thangkha
22KM / 7-8 HOURS / 770 ASCENT 10M DESCENT
The trail again follows Pa Chhu ( Paro River ), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. Hot lunch will be served after crossing the bridge towards the left side of the river. After lunch follow the river climbing up through rhododendron forests and finally crossing the bridge again, reaching to the campsite at the altitude of 3,750m.
Day 5: Sio Thangkha- Jangothang
19KM / 5-6 HOURS / 480M ASCENT
The path ascends for a while till you reach the army camp. Then follow the river above the tree line enjoying the stunning view of surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder’s camp. A short walk into the valley will take you to the camp at Jangothang at an altitude of 4,040m. From here, the view of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.
Day 6: Rest day in 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 – Dhumzo
16KM / 6-7 HOURS / 850 ASCENT 1090M DESCENT
The trail leads north to the last settlement in the valley and drops to the Paro Chhu, crossing it on a wooden bridge. Walk up to the Tshophu Lake (4380 meters), which is inhabited by ruddy-shel ducks. You will come across a second lake after you climb across a slope to a crest. Then descend into a hidden valley and climb steeply to Bonte La pass at 4890 meters. After the pass, the trail descends crisscrossing through yak trails down to the Dhumzo Chhu and after walking downstream below few houses you arrive to a camp at 3800 meters.
Day 8: Dhumzo – Thombu Shong
11KM / 4-5 HOURS / 720 ASCENT 340M DESCENT
The trail climbs over 100 m over a ridge, and then drops to another stream. After crossing this stream, the trail heads up the hillside dropping into a small valley before emerging onto a ridge. Here the route turns south, ascending past few huts to Takhung La (4520 m). A short descend leads to Thombu Shong (4180 m) with few yak herder’s huts.
Day 9: Thombu Shong – Shana Zampa
13KM / 4-5 HOURS / 200M ASCENT 1650M DESCENT
Climb out of the valley to Thombu La at 4380 m, and then drop gradually to about 4000 m. The trail then makes a steep descent, switch backing down the ridge, finally reaching the helipad at Gunitsawa (2730 m).
Day 10: Shana Zampa – Drugyal Dzong Trek ends
17KM / 4-5 HOURS / 230M DESCENT
Trails leads through blue pine forests along the Paro Chhu River along farm houses, rice fields, small human settlements and then finally arrive Drugyal Dzong. Your car will be waiting to transfer you to Thimphu. If time permits, you will visit the King’s Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Changgangkha Monastery, and Trashichhodzong. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Day 11: Departure
After early breakfast, drive to Paro airport (54 km, 45 minutes) for departure.