Trip Name : Laya Gasa Trekking
Duration : 16 Nights / 17 Days, Max. Elevation: 5,005m
Highest Camp : 4,220m
Trip Route : Paro – Shana – Soi Thangthangkha – Jangothang – Lingshi - Chebisa – Shomuthang
– Robluthang – Lemithang Laya – Chamsa – Gasa Tshachu – Damji – Tashithang – Punakha – Thimpu – Paro
Standard : Medium to hard
Best Seasons : April to June & Mid September to Mid Nov
Group Size : 1 – 15 Pax or above
Start from : Drukgyel Dzong (Paro)
Finish in : Tashitang (Punakha)
Trip Cost : The trip cost will vary depending on the group size, duration etc. Please contact us with your details to obtain a best price offer.
This trek starts from Paro’s Drukgyel Dzong. Laya is the northern frontier remote region of Bhutan bordering with Tibet. The trek route passes through diverse geographical and cultural regions from farmland to forests and to alpine highlands. In the beginning days, the trail winds up along the Pa Chhu or Paro River entering into the lush green forests of oak and rhododendrons. The camp site near Jangothang at 4,090m unfolds spectacular views of Mount. Chomolhari (7,314m). Apart from Mt. Chomolhari, the trek passes through quite near to other high Himalayan peaks including Mt. Jichu Drake. You’ll also cross four high passes, the last and highest being the Shinje la pass at 4,900 meters. Then you’ll visit the Laya Village and Gasa, with its hilltop dzong, and the hot water springs below. Moreover, their also a possibility of sighting the highland wild animals such as the blue sheep, marmots, musk deer, the takin, and rarely, the great Himalayan bear and snow leopard.
Day-1; Arrive Paro (By Druk Air): The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Greet you on arrival, and then drive you the short distance to the Hotel.
Day-2; Paro – Shana (Start of Trek): Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong following the Paro River and we pass cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly colored butterflies. Overnight at camp Shana. Altitude 2,820m; Distance14Km; Time 5-6hours.
Day-3; Shana-Thangthangka: The 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 3610m; Distance 21 km; Time 7-8 hours.
Day-4;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 herders. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. Altitude 4,115 m; Distance 15 km; Time 5 – 6 hours.
Day-5; Jangothang (Halt): A rest day. A chance to acclimatize and walk up to the Jhomolhari glacier or to the lakes in the opposite direction.
Day-6; Jangothang – Lingshi: This day will be a good day walk with spectacular views of the Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and the Tserim Gang. Will start climbing straight away and after some 3 to 4 hours reach the Nyelela pass (4,700 m). After the pass then 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. Altitude 4000m; Distance 17 kms; Time 6 – 7 hours.
Day-7; Lingshi – Chebisa: This is a magical day. Leaving Lingshi behind we gently climb to reach another delightful village, Gom Yu, which is set right below a 300m cliff. Another hours 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 very leisurely with plenty of reasons and opportunities to linger. Altitude 3,780m; Distance 12 kms; Time 4 – 5 hours.
Day-8; Chebisa – Shomuthang: Day 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. Altitude3, 890m;Distance17kms; Time 6-7hours.
Day-9; 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. Altitude 4,100m; Distance 22 kms; Time 7 – 8 hours.
Day-10; Robluthang – Lemithang: This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela pass at 4,870m 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. Altitude 4,040m; Time 6-7hours.
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 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. Altitude3, 880m; Distance10kms; Time4-5hours.
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. Over night at camp. Altitude3, 300m; Distance 19 kms; Time 6/7hours.
Day-14. Koena – GasaTsachu: 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. Altitude: 2,638m; Distance 15 kms; Time: 6/7hours.
Day-15; Gasa Tsachu – Goen Damji – Punakha (End of Trek): After the climb away from Gasa Tsachu the trail winds through rolling hillsides with the vista of fields, villages and forests of oak and pine. Gasa Dzong will be visible behind you glued to the valley wall, seeming afloat in space. The trail descends from the high agricultural benches above the Mochu into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees, creepers and the sight of an occasional monkey. Dinner and Overnight in Hotel at Punakha.
Day-16; Punakha – Paro (72 Kms): After breakfast, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male river) and Mo Chu (Female river). For many years until the time of the second king, it served as the seat of the Government. The construction of the Dzong was foretold by Guru Rimpoche, who predicted, “…a person named Namgyal will arrive at a hill that looks like an elephant”. There was a smaller building here called Dzong Chu (Small Dzong) that housed a statue of Buddha. It is said that Shabdrung ordered the architect, Zowe Palep, to sleep in front of the statue, while Palep was sleeping, the Shabdrung took him in his dreams to Zangtopelri and showed him the palace of Guru Rimpoche. From his vision, the architect conceived the design for the new Dzong, which in keeping with the tradition, was never committed to paper. The Dzong was named Druk Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The war materials captured during the battle with Tibetans are preserved here. Punakha is still the winter residence of Je-Khenpo and King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk convened the new national Assembly here in 1952.After lunch, drive to Thimphu. Enroute visit Chimi Lhakhang also called Temple of Fertility built by Lama Drukpa kuenley in 17th century. Dinner and Overnight in Hotel at Paro.
Day-17: Departure. Early breakfast and drive to Airport.