18 NIGHTS 19 DAYS
“Laya Gasa Trek” is the most beautiful trek in Bhutan. Your camps have great natural settings with river or stream running by, views of great mountain peaks, fresh air, and rich biodiversity. The trek is also considered as half snowmen trek. Indeed most beautiful part of snow man trek falls in this stretch of trek. It is unbelievable to see some authentic mountain village on this trek still surviving intact in the pockets of mountains unaffected by modernization. In short you can say an odyssey among highland nomads.
The pictures of nomadic people of Laya are famous all over the world. They are an icon of Bhutan that is simple, innocent and happy. This trip will take you right into the hamlet and camps of Layaps. See how they live in a world as though time stood still. As you finally reach Gasa, the end of your trek, you will have the reward of dipping in Bhutan’s most popular hot spring.
Compared to Tokyo or New York, you might find Thimphu still a city in medieval period. When you venture on this trek and return to Thimphu after visiting Laya, your perspective will change forever.
Day 1: Paro
Flight into Paro brings you over breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountains. On the clear days you will be able to see Mt Everest (8849 meters) and other Himalayan range among which are the world’s unclimbed peaks of Bhutan. Landing into Paro airport is simply beautiful and life time experience. You will be greeted by your tour guide and driver from Lonely Bhutan tours.
The valley of Paro contains a wealth of attractions. In the morning, visit Ta Dzong. Once a watchtower, built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars of the 17th century, Ta Dzong was inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum in 1968. Afterwards, walk down a hillside trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, which has a long and fascinating history.
After lunch, drive up the valley to view the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong, 18 km from Paro town on the north side of the valley. It was from here that the Bhutanese repelled several invading Tibetan armies during the 17th century. Also visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the kingdom.
Day 2: Paro
Today hike to Taktshang, the Tiger nest monastery, mystically built on the sheer face of the cliff in 17th century. To the outsider the picture of Tiger nest stands as the main icon of the country. It was in 8th century; Guru Rinpoche flew to this place taking a wrathful form of Dorji Dorlo ridding a tigress believed as one of his own consort. Guru mediated in the cave for three months and was later followled by many enlightened saints from Tibet.
The hike to tiger Nest will take three hours altogether and will serve as the acclimatization trip for your trek tomorrow. The monastery stands at 3100meter about 900meter above paro valley.
Day 3: Paro – Shana (17km)
Drive to the end of the motor road at Drukgyel Dzong to begin the trek. Today’s trail follows the river uphill through a narrow agricultural valley with occasional farm lands on and off. Blue pine and oke tree can be seen throughout the trail .lunch will be served at Zankhapang. The trail keeps going further along the river on the left until you reach Gunetsawa army camp, where you have to produce the route permit. Little further from gunetsawai you cross the river to left on a suspension bridge at about 2890 m/9480ft. The shana camp is reached after a while, which is located by the the river.
Day 4: Shana – Thangthangkha (22km)
Today you have a long day, so start early. The trail from Shana ascends through the river valley with pine and rhododendron forests. The trail ascends gradually gaining height eventually arriving at Thangthangkha campsite at 3650 meter. From the camp you have wonderful view of Jumolhari peak (7340 meter), our second highest mountain.
Day 5: Thangthangkha – Jangothang (19km)
The trail continues to follow the river and passes a small army post where the valley begins to widen again. Views of high ridges and snow-capped peaks can be seen on all sides. At this altitude (about 4040 meters) it is possible to see yaks and yak herders. Jangothang camp is beneath a ruined fortress at the base of Mount Jomolhari, at an altitude of 4044 meters.
Day 6: Jangothang
As you have come a long way the other day, it is good to have rest. Besides the break day is also to give more time for acclimatization. A day at Jangothang is also the opportunity to explore the region. You can climb the ridge towards north east to reach Tshophu lake. The view of Jechudarkey is awesome from the lake area. One can also walk towards Jumolhari to see great moraines and huge glaciers. One more challenging would be to climb the huge steep ridge above your camp on right to see both view of Jumolhari and jechudarkey. The climb would take 3 to 4 hours to reach the rocky summit. After lunch relax in your camp and prepare for your trek tomorrow.
Day 7: Jangothang – Lingshi
The trail climbs gradually to Nyili La Pass (4900 meters). Broad yak pastures can be seen along the length of the route. On clear weather, there is an excellent view of Tsherim gang to north east. It is also possible to see other far mountain pass towards east that you have to go through in the next couple of days. As you descend to lingshi through vast slopy pasture land the Lingshi Dzong can be seen below. About 300-400 people live in Lingshi, a sub district of Thimphu Dzongkhag. We camp at Chashithang at an altitude of 4010 meters with great view of Jechudarkey and Tsherim gang to north.
Day 8: Lingshi – Chebisa
The trail from the camp gradually climbs to a stupa below the Dzong and descends to Lingshi Village which consists of a primary school, wireless telephone station, a basic health unit and some households. The hill sides are richly covered with medicinal plants.There is a center for medicinal plant collection set up by the government. The trail levels pleasantly and descends into a beautiful village called Gongyuel. You can keep walking through a slope to another village called Chebisa where your camp is put up at an altitude of 3990 meters.
Day 9: Chebisa – Shakyapasang
Leaving Chebisa village, the trail leads up immediately through a steep slope of grassy land for 3 hours till you reach Gogula pass at 4440 meter. During the climb you might see herds of blue sheep and Large Himalayan griffons. After the pass the trail descends gradually through thick bush of rhododendron and finally drops down to the valley of Shakepasang camp site at an altitude of 4000 meters.
Day 10: Shakyapasang – Tsheringyangu
The day starts with a climb to Jarela pass at an altitude of 4785 meter. The descend from the pass is bit steep, rocky but finally enters thick fir woods and appears out in Tsherejathang, a large reserve land for Takin ,the national animal of Bhutan. The Takin inhabits this area through out in summer and moves back to upper Punakha valley in winter. A steep 40 minutes climb will lead to a nice campsite of Tshereyangu at an Altitude of 4160 meters.
Day 11: Tsheringyangu – Lingimethang
Start early so as to enjoy the best possible view from Shinchela pass at 5000 meter. The trail crosses some small streams and you will come across a platform with lots of prayer flags. From here a large glacial valley opens up leading to the east and finally to today’s pass. When you follow the trail you will hear shrill noises which are of marmots, whose holes can be seen everywhere, the hill sides here are covered with medicinal plants. The campsite is through a beautiful cedar forest, with Great Tiger Mountain looming over your campsite at Lingimethang at an Altitude 4160 meters.
Day 12: Lingimethang – Laya
You will follow the valley down parallel to the Timuchang Chhu through a cedar and then fir forest. Yak people from Laya might overtake with their yaks carrying loads of smuggled goods. About 30 minutes before reaching Laya, there is a clear split in the trail. The left fork is better. After some small ups and downs and crossing a ridge you reach a chorten and a prosperous Laya village appears before you at an altitude of 3800 meters.
Day 13: Laya Village
You can visit some family and enjoy singchang drink which is the part of greetings in laya family. You will also come across people playing archery with traditional bows. Laya women unlike other women in the country have a very unique way of dressing themselves. If you take about 1 hour walk towards north east you will reach a view point from where you can see Lungo village and also the stunning view of masagang and Tshendagang.
Day 14: Laya – Chamsa
Today you leave laya village and head to Chamsa. Indeed as you leave the village you will notice that you have begun your descend from the the mountains. The trail leads through various coniferous woods along side mochu river. It is quite common to come across Laya people returning from Gasa with their horses packed with supplies. The Chamsa camp site is alongside the main trail and surrounded by thick silver fir and rhododendron woods. Sometimes you will be able to see mounal pheasant, taragopoon and many other bird species.
Day 15: Chamsa – Gasa
The trail to Gasa descends gently through thick woods often coming across grazing cows. Soon you will arrive at Gasa community aria with Gasa Dzong in view. You can visit the Dzong if you want.
The Gasa hot spring campsite is further below the Dzong about 30 minutes more. Here at the hot spring site you will find local people camped around for the dip. You can join the people.
Day 16: Gasa Leisurely Day
Today enjoy full day hot spring bath along with other local people. The hot spring bath has the legend of curing illness such as ulcer, skin diseases, constipation and many more.
Day 17: Gasa – Punakha
Today you will drive to Punakha and check in your hotel. In the afternoon you will visit Punakha Dzong, the palace of great happiness. In the evening you can take a shot hike to Chimi Lakhang and learn about divine mad man, a great Buddhist master, a great traveler and a great man behind the exotic legend of phallus in Bhutan.
Day 18: Punakha – Thimphu
Drive to Thimphu early for more sightseeing there. You will begin your sightseeing with Memorial Chorten, a monument built in memory of our 3rd king. You will continue to visit a giant Buddha statue, 165 feet tall claimed as the tallest Buddha statute in the world. Next you will visit a 12th century Changangkha monastery, popularly known as children’s monastery for all the childrens born in Thimphu region are considered to have received protection by the guardian of this monastry. You can see our National animal, Takin at Motithang Zoo. You can visit Art school where you will see students at work in different field of arts such as painting, sculpturing, woodcarving, weaving etc. All together in Bhutan we practice 13 different arts. You must also visit Folk heritage museum which exhibits the life style of an old Bhutanese family before Thimphu was overtaken by urban life style. Indeed if you visit farmhouse in the village you will see the same style of live and activities still followed. If you are interested you can also visit traditional medicine centre which showcases samples of various medicinal plants and its treatment. You can also visit textile museum which brings out the fascinating old time charm of traditional weaving.
Visit Tashichhodzong, “the fortress of the glorious religion”. This is the center of government and religion, site of the monarch’s throne room and seat of the Je Khenpo or Chief Abbot. Built in 1641 by Shabdrung, it was reconstructed in the 1960s in traditional Bhutanese manner, without nails or architectural plans.
Day 19: Paro Departure
Early morning your guide and driver will drive you to paro airport for your onward departure.
- Bhutan VISA fee
- Government royalty & taxes
- Dedicated English speaking tour guide
- Dedicated tour vehicle and driver
- 3-star accommodation (twin sharing)
- Daily 3 meals (B/L/D)
- Airport transfers
- Bottled water
- Entry fees to parks and monuments
- Flights to and from Bhutan
- Personal expense/shopping
- Beverages (soda/juice/alcohol)
- 4 or 5 star accommodation (extra charges will apply)
- Travel insurance
- Tips for guide and driver