17 days Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek

jomolhari-laya-gasa-trek

The Laya-Gasa Trek is considered one of the most scenic treks in Bhutan, offering amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan.  This 14 day, 217km journey begins at Drukgyel in Paro and takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes and dense sub-tropical jungles before terminating in Damji in Tashithang.

The first 5 days of this trek follow the same route as the Jomolhari Trek I through Jigme Singye National Park and offer awe-inspiring views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang.  On the sixth day the path diverges and you will depart Lingshi for the campsite at Chebisa, a charming little village adorned with a beautiful waterfall of crystal clear water.

Along the trail you will be able to spot indigenous animals such as blue sheep and Takins, the national animal of Bhutan.  You will travel through remote mountain villages inhabited by Layaps (people of Laya), a distinct segment of the Bhutanese society with unique culture, traditions and appearances.  The trek also offers a day of relaxation at the famous Gasa hot springs that is sure to rejuvenate you.

This is one of the more difficult treks offered in Bhutan due to the high altitudes and steep ascents and descents along the path.  The best seasons to complete this challenge are in April-June and Mid-September-Mid-November.

Day 1: PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT - PARO (L/D) 

Upon arrival at Paro International airport, you will be met by your guide. In the afternoon, you will have an opportunity to explore the beautiful town of Paro.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 2: TAKTSANG MONASTERY OR TIGER’S NEST (B/L/D)

After breakfast, we will drive you to the trail head to commence a climb through beautiful pine forest. We will stop for light refreshments at the Taktsang cafeteria before walking on to the famous, Taktsang monastery or Tiger’s Nest. The primary Lhakhang or main temple was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyalse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 m into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan in 747 AD, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo from Kurtoe Singye Dzong in the east.

After lunch, visit Ta Dzong (built in 1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Rinpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”), the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley, built in 1646 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 3: PARO – GUNITSAWA VILLAGE – SHARNA ZAMPA (Distance: 40min, 80m descent, camp altitude 2580m) (B/L/D)

After breakfast, drive to Drugyal Dzong, a ruined fortress 16km from Paro town. Although it is now in ruins, this dzong has great historical importance for the people of Bhutan. It was a place where the Bhutanese finally defeated the Tibetan invasion. On a clear day you can view sacred Mt. Jomolhari (mountain of Goddess) at an altitude of 7329m.

The 10-day trek begins at Gunitsawa Village where you pass the army post.

The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa.  Dinner and overnight camping at Sharna Zampa.

Day 4: SHARNA ZAMPA – THANGTHANGKHA (Distance: 22km, 7-8hrs, 770m ascent, 10m descent, camp altitude 3610m) (B/L/D)

On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs following the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses.

After going uphill through the river valley, the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you have the first great view of Mount Jomolhari.

Dinner and overnight camping at Thangthangkha.

Day 5: THANGTHANGKHA – JANGOTHANG (Distance: 19km, 5-6hrs, 480m ascent, camp altitude 4080 m) (B/L/D)

If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning.  This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley that widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest.  You will cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area yaks and their herders’ homes become a regular feature of the landscapes.
Passing the villages of Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day.  After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.

Dinner and overnight camping at Jangothang.

Day 6: JANGOTHANG HALT (B/L/D) 

The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake.  There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley.

Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization.  You can also trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area.  There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lie directly west, Jichu Drake to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.

Dinner and overnight camping at Jangothang.

Day 7: JANGOTHANG – LINGSHI (Distance: 16km, 6-7hrs, 840m ascent, 870m descent, camp altitude 4010m) (B/L/D)

This is one of the longest days of the trek.  A short distance from the camp the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4870m.  While on the climb enjoy the surroundings.  You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains.  From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mount Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7000m.  It’s a gradual descent to the camp where you will pass by some yak herders’ tents, made from yak wool.  The herders use these tents while traveling to various pastures for their yaks.  As you come down into the Lingshi basin, a beautiful U-shaped valley, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on clear days.  Tsherimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley.  The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingshi Dzong.

Dinner and overnight camping at Lingshi.

Day 8: LINGSHI – CHEBISA (Distance: 10km, 5-6hrs, 280m ascent, 410m descent, camp altitude 3880m) (B/L/D)

Today is the shortest walking day, and you can really take it easy.  Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong.  Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a detour up to the Lingshi Dzong (4220m), which sits right atop a high ridge.  In addition to a very special atmosphere of mystic tranquility, Lingshi Dzong provides a great view over the valley.  After Lingshi Dzong you will be passing the villages of Lingshi and Goyul. In Goyul, the stone houses are clustered together to form a small compact village that is unusual in Bhutan where settlements are usually scattered.  On reaching the campsite at Chebisa you will have plenty of time to visit the village houses if you feel up to it.  There is also a beautiful waterfall located behind the village that is worth visiting.

Day 9: CHEBISA – SHOMUTHANG (Distance: 17km, 6-7hrs, 890m ascent, 540m descent, camp altitude 4220m) (B/L/D)

The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3hrs) through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La pass (4410m).  On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks.  There is also a great chance to spot large herds of blue sheep above the trail.  After crossing Gobu La pass, you descend into the valley, then climb again a little bit, before descending again to Shakshepasa (3890m), a large U-shaped valley.  Climbing from here you will finally reach the campsite at Shomuthang, above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu River.

Dinner and overnight camping at Shomuthang.

Day 10: SHOMUTHANG – ROBLUTHANG (Distance: 18km, 6-7hrs, 700m ascent, 760m descent, camp altitude 4160m) (B/L/D)

The trek begins by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6526m) and some edelweiss.  After two hours of climbing you will reach the Jhari La pass at (4750m) from where you get the first glimpse of Sinche La (5005m). We drop steeply down a forest trail to the Tsarigathang valley, where herds of Takin roam, then cross a knee deep river before climbing up Robluthang where we camp.

Dinner and overnight camping at Robluthang.

Day 11: ROBLUTHANG – LIMITHANG (Distance: 19km, 6-7hrs, 850m ascent, 870m  descent, camp altitude 4140m) (B/L/D)

The trek starts out with an initial 40-60 minutes ascent before gradually rising for another 1.5 hours through a boulder field. It is then a 1 hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La pass (5005m) – the final and highest pass on the trek if you don’t intend to continue the Snowman Trek from Laya onwards.  As you descend the far side of the pass you will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley.  You can see classic examples of lateral moraines where the glacier has pushed rocks up both sides of the valley. Below the moraine, you cross Kango Chhu and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchhenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a distance away. Eagles, griffin vultures, blue sheep and yaks abound in this area.

Dinner and overnight camping at Limithang.

Day 12: LIMITHANG – LAYA (Distance: 10km, 4-5hrs, 60m ascent, 340m descent, camp altitude 3840m) (B/L/D)

Today, you walk downhill all the way along a narrow, winding river valley.  After a long time, the trail takes you through a densely forested region. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village you will have spectacular views of Mount Gangchhenta and Masagang. In the village centre is a community school and a basic health unit with a telephone connection.

Dinner and overnight camping at below the school in Laya.

Day 13: LAYA – KOINA (Distance: 19km, 6-7hrs, 260m ascent, 1070m descent, camp altitude 3050m) (B/L/D)

The trail winds up and down along the river valley of Mo Chhu avoiding natural obstacles and affording breath-taking views of the raging river, feeder streams and waterfalls.  Lots of ups and downs will lead you to Kohi Lapcha at 3300m. The trek then drops down to the large stream of Koina Chhu, where you will find the campsite of Koina.

Dinner and overnight camping at Koina.

Day 14: KOINA – GASA (Distance: 14km, 6-7hrs, 740m ascent, 1500m descent, camp altitude 2240m) (B/L/D)

Today you will have the last major climb of the Laya-Gasa Trek.  You will cross Bari La (3740m), after which the trail descends all the way until you reach Gasa village (2770m), where you will find the first restaurants since you started from Drukyal Dzong. There also is a campsite close to Gasa Dzong.  You will have to decide whether you want to stay in Gasa village or descend for another hour to Gasa Tsachu (hot springs) and relax in the rejuvenating mineral waters. The Gasa Tsachu is one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan.

Day 15: GASA TSACHU – PUNAKHA – THIMPHU (B/L/D)

After breakfast, drive to Punakha.

After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong which was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo.
On the way, stop a while to view Chimi Lhakhang, which was built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (the Devine Madman) in the 15th century. He subdued the demoness with his “magical thunder bolt”. The temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”. Later drive to Thimphu with the journey taking about 3.5 hours via the Dochula Pass (3150m).

In the evening, visit Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body which includes the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).

Farewell dinner with traditional dance and overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.

Day 16: THIMPHU – PARO (B/L/D)

After breakfast, we will drive to Dodeyna to climb through a beautiful forest track to the Tango Monastery which overlooks a forested valley and other Buddhist retreats high in the mountains. Then we visit the National Memorial Chorten built in honor of Bhutan’s late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck before visiting the mini zoo at Motithang to see the Takin, Bhutan’s national animal. If you wish we can then visit the Handicrafts Emporium followed by shopping for souvenirs and other items in the shops of Thimphu.

In the evening, we will drive through to Paro.

Dinner and overnight at your hotel in Paro.

Day 17: PARO – PARO INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (B) 

In the morning drive to Paro International Airport where your guide will accompany you to bid you farewell.

Cost Information

Peak-Season (Mar, Apr May, Sep, Oct and Nov)
Number of days: 17 days (14 days trekking & 3 days cultural sightseeing)
Price:
US$ 6,500 single per person
US$ 6,200 twin/double per person
US$ 5,400 triple per person
Off-Season (Jan, Feb, Jun, Jul, Aug and Dec)
Number of days: 17 days (14 days trekking & 3 days cultural sightseeing)
Price:
US$ 6,200 single per person
US$ 6,000 twin/double per person
US$ 5,200 triple per person

Trekking Dates

Any date on a private basis