Day 01. Arrive Paro 2280 meters:
Upon arrival at Paro airport, you will be received by the Representative from Yak Holidays and transfer to the hotel.
After lunch, we visit:
- Ta Dzong built in 1649, an ancient watch tower to protect the Dzong below which now houses the National Museum of Bhutan. This unusual building is in a conch shape with 2.5m thick wall. The most interesting and revered treasure on the third floor is a Stone egg laid by a mule.
- The Rimpung Dzong built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. Rimpung literally means “The heap of Jewels”. The Dzong presently functions as the administrative centre of Paro district.
In the evening, free to stroll in the town for shopping and photography.
Dinner and over night in Hotel.
Day 02. Paro Sightseeing – Hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tiger’s Nest):
- After breakfast, a short drive to Satsam Chorten and start the hike. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. The primary temple was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684 by the Penlop of Paro Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Rimpoche, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favourite consort.
After Lunch, visit to the ruins of the Drukgyal Dzong built in 1647 by the great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental fire.
On the way back, visit Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo.
- Srongsen Gampo was a Tibetan king who married a Chinese princess, Wenchen in 641. In 659, He decided to build 108 Temples in a single day to pin the Ogress to the earth forever and, at the same time, convert the Tibetan people to Buddhism. Six of these Temples lie in Bhutan, most prominent of them are Jambay Lhakhang in Bumthang and Kichu Lhakhang in Paro. Kichu Lhakhang is said to hold the left foot of the Ogress and Jambay Lhakhang pins the left knee.
In the evening, drive to Shana (22 kms. 2 hour drive). Dinner and overnight at the camp.
Day 03. Shana – Thangthangka (Start of Laya Gasa Trek):
The Laya gasa trek trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. It narrows and closes in and the trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter.
Altitude: 3610 m; Distance 22 Km; Time 7 – 8 hours, Ascent: 770 meters, Descent: 10 meters.
Day 04. Thangthangka – Jangothang:
In the morning, after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of Yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. Dinner and overnight in camp.
Altitude: 4080 m; Distance 19 Km; Time 5 – 6 hours, 480 meters Ascent
Day 05. Jangothang:
Rest day at Jangothang, enjoy the superb view all around.
For Day hikes, you have 3 options on this day at Jangothang.
- Hike to Jumolhari Glacier which is around 4 ½ hours (Back and forth)
- Hike to Jichu Drake Glacier which is around 3 hours (Back and Forth).
- Walk up the mountain between Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, the summit is at 5200 meters with a great view of both the mountains. This is 8 hours (Back and forth).
Day 06. Jangothang – Lingshi:
A good day’s walk today with spectacular views of the Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and the Tserim Gang. We start climbing straight away and after some 3 to 4 hours reach the Nyelela pass (4,700 m). After the pass we descend to a circular hut just below Lingshi, where we camp. Coming down from Lingshi we obtain our first views of the truly mystical Dzong atop a high hill. Dinner and overnight in camp.
Altitude 4000 m; Distance 17 km; Time 6 – 7 hours.
Day 07. Lingshi – Chebisa:
This is a magical day. After we leave Lingshi, we gently climb gently to reach another delightful village, Gom Yu, which is set right below a 300 m cliff. Another hour walk brings us to a lovely little valley with a huge waterfall at one end of the Shangri La village of Chebisa, where we camp by the side of the river. The walk is an easy one. Dinner and overnight in camp.
Camp site at an altitude of 3880 m; Distance 10 km; Time 5 – 6 hours, Ascent: 280 meters, Descent: 410 meters.
Day 08. Chebisa – Shomuthang:
We start with quite a stiff climb through high pastures up the Gokula pass (4,320 m) before we drop through forests of dwarf rhododendron. We climb gradually and head down to the camp near a riverbed.
Camp at Altitude 4220 m; Distance17 km; Time 6-7 hours, Ascent 890 meters, Descent 540 meters.
Day 09. Shomuthang – Robluthang:
A long haul over the Jarela pass at 4,640 m where we once again get stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains above us. 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.
Camp at Altitude: 4,160 m; Distance 18 km; Time 6 – 7 hours, Ascent 700 meters, Descent 760 meters.
Day 10. Robluthang – Lemithang:
This is one of the hardest days of the Laya Gasa trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela pass at 4,870 m. and are rewarded with stunning views of mountains, including the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. On a clear day practically all the mountains on the northern border are visible. Eagles, griffin vultures, blue sheep and yaks abound in this area. We descend down to camp on a lovely spot by the riverbank.
Camp at Altitude 4,140 meters; Distance: 19 km; Time 6-7 hours. Ascent 850 meters, Descent 870 meters.
Day 11. Lemithang – Laya:
We walk along the river, one of the tributaries of the Mochu and through a forest of rhododendron and silver fir and then enter the village of Laya. The people of Laya are famous for their vertical stripe yak hair clothing and their strange conical bamboo hats. The women wear their hair long and with great deal of turquoise and jade jewelry. The features of the people are even more Tibetan/ Mongolian than the Bhutanese who live in the central valleys The rest of the day is spent at leisure or visiting village houses and mixing with the villagers. Good views of the Masagang and the other peaks.
Camp at Altitude3840m; Distance10 kms; Time 4-5hours, Ascent 60 meters, Descent 340 meters.
Day 12. Laya (Halt):
We have a rest day at Laya and an opportunity to meet the local people.
Day 13. Laya – Koena:
The rail winds along the river valley offers breathtaking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and waterfalls. Dinner and over night in camp.
Camp at Altitude 3050 meters; Distance19 km; Time 6-7 hours, 260 meters Ascent, Descent 1070 meters
Day 14. Koena – Gasa Tsachu (End of Laya Gasa Trek):
Today is the last day of Laya Gasa trek. We gradually climb up to Balela pass at 3,740 m and then descend to Gasa village. The first sight of the Gasa Dzong perched on the hillside over the village is one of the sights of the trip. We then drop steeply down to the river for an hour and camp near the Hot Spring a chance for a good hot bath!
Camp at Altitude: 2,638 m; Distance 14 km; Time: 6-7 hours, Ascent 900 meters, Descent 1710 meters.
Day 15: Gasa Tsachu – Punakha (47 kms):
After the breakfast, drive to Punakha. On the way, hike to Khamsung Yulley Namgyal Choling Monastery (short hike 45 minutes).
- Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions.
After lunch, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male river) and Mo Chu (Female river). Punakha is the winter residence of Je-Khenpo (The Chief Abbot of Bhutan) and 3rd King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck convened the First National Assembly here in 1952.
In the evening, walk the longest Suspension bridge in Bhutan (160 meters).
- The Punakha Suspension Bridge is considered the longest of its kind in Bhutan. It is located in the Punakha district and it connects the two sides of the Po Chhu river. You will get a great view of the river, valley, temple, and a good boost of adrenaline as well. In the early years, the bridge was made for the Lamas of Punakha Dzong (temple) who crossed the river very often to visit nearby villages. Today it serves both for locals and tourists who want to visit the temple.
Dinner and over night in Hotel.
Day 16. Punakha – Wangdiphodrang – Thimphu (90 Kms):
After breakfast, drive to Thimphu via Wangdiphodrang. On the way, visit Chimi Lhakhang built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (Popularly known as “The Divine Madman”), in the year 1499. He subdued the demons with his “Magical Thunder bolt” and built the temple on top of a hillock. The Temple is also known as “the Temple of Fertility”.
- View the Wangdiphodrang Dzong built in 1638 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. This Dzong was razed by fire in 2012 and is under construction now. The Legend relates that as the people were searching for the site of the Dzong; four ravens were seen flying away in four directions. The Dzong is situated at the confluence of Mo Chu and Tang Chu rivers.
Lunch at Dochula cafeteria.
After lunch, Lungchutse hike (Short hike – 3 hours): This is one of the most rejuvenating and picturesque hikes in the Thimphu region. It can be done as a loop starting from Dochula and finishing at Hongtsho village with Lungchutse temple and Trashigang temple visit.
You can also see Gasa Dzong, as a tiny white speck in a sea of green almost 50 kilometres to the north. Trashigang Goemba was built in 1786 by the 12th Je Khenpo (The Chief Abbot of Bhutan). It is an important mediation centre, and houses statues of several Je Khenpos who meditated here.
- You vehicle will pick you up at Hongtsho and drive to Thimphu.
In the evening,
- Visit to the Tashichho Dzong, seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan).
Then free to stroll in the town.
Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 17. Thimphu sightseeing – Paro (56 kms. 1 hour):
After breakfast, visit to:
- Visit to the National Memorial Chorten (1974) built in honor of our 3rdKing, late His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck (The Father of Modern Bhutan). The paintings and statues give a rare insight into Bhutanese culture.
- Tallest Statue of sitting Buddha (51.5 meters) at Kuenselphodrang, Changangkha Lhakhang, Takin Preserve center, Sangaygang view point, and the Dupthop Lhakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan.
Lunch at Simple Bhutan Museum restaurant, where you can enjoy typical Bhutanese dishes, Ara (Local wine), witness Folk dances, visit to the Folk Museum and many more.
Then drive to Paro.
- On the way, view Tamchog Monastery built by Thangthong Gyalpo (Popularly known as Lama Chazampa, which literally means, the Iron Bridge builder) in the 15thThang Thong Gyalpo (1385 – 1464) was a wonder working saint from Tibet who came to Bhutan in 1433 looking for Iron Ore. He built 108 bridges across Tibet and Bhutan, out of which 8 were built in Bhutan. His only surviving bridge is in Duksum (Tashi Yangtse in Eastern Bhutan).
Dinner and overnight in Hotel.
Day 18. Paro (Departure):
After breakfast, drive to the airport and farewell.