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Paro International Airport
Tourists arrive at Paro International Airport
Black-necked cranes in Phobjikha

Snowman Trek

Duration: 29 days, Max. Elevation: 5,320m
Highest Camp: 5,050m
Standard: Hard
Best Seasons: Mid June to Mid October
Start: Drukgyel Dzong (Paro)
Finish: Sephu (Trongsa)

Summary:

The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek, and leads from Laya into high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. It takes tough and enduring trekkers into the Lunana region and further on to Gangkhar Puensum and Bumthang or down to Sephu in Trongsa district, depending on which route you choose. The Snowman trek leads through the most remote areas up to very high altitudes. Trekkers have to camp in altitudes above 5,000m more than once, and depending on the seasonal temperatures, the camps are sometimes on snow.

Day 1 : Arrive Paro Airport by Drukair (Bhutan)

Your introduction to our enchanting kingdom begins on a flight over the Himalayas into the lush green valley of Paro; truly one of the world’s most spectacular sights. Flying into Paro, Bhutan is a unique experience altogether. You will view the world’s highest, most majestic peaks and enjoy the view of the approaching valley with its primeval alpine forest, monasteries, temples and farmhouse nestled in splendid mountain isolation.

Welcome greeting in a Bhutanese style with Tashi Khada (white scarf) by our representative & your guide at the Airport. You will be driven to hotel for refreshment and a brief discussion on your tour program.

Paro Sights & Acclimatization Day!

Visit the Rinpung Dzong. A flagstone path rises gradually from a beautiful wooden bridge with shingle roofing and abutted by two guard houses to the Dzong. Today, this massive fortress built in 1645 AD is the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. The central tower( Utse) of the Dzong, with its superb woodwork, is one of the most beautiful in the nation.

Get blessings from the oldest temple of the kingdom, Kichu Lhakhang, for your safe & memorable Snowman adventure. This temple was built in 629AD by a Tibetan King to pin down a giant demon. There is a sacred orange tree that grew on its own at the courtyard which bears fruits on all the seasons. This tree is said to be 600 years old. In the evening, witness an archery match played by locals with lots of hue & cry. Archery is one of the best way to expand your public relations in Bhutan. Interact with the local people and stroll around the town. Overnight Paro (Alt; 2280m)

Day 2 : Start of Snowman Trek/ Drukgyel Dzong – Shana (17km/ 5-6hr)

After a wholesome breakfast, you take a short drive to the ruins of Drukgyel Dzong. En route you can spot the Tiger’s Nest glued on a rocky cliff toward the right side of the road. This point is the dead end road of Drugyel village and many trek in Bhutan starts from here. You will meet your trekking crew who had been awaiting for you at this junction.

We will walk along the Paro Chhu river valley, the trail passes the small settlements of Chang Zampa and Mitshi Zampa where we will see typical samples of Bhutanese farmhouses. Just before reaching our camp, we will have to pass through an army check post, where your guide will produce your trekking permit. We camp at Shana (2800m).

Day 3 : Sharna - Thangkthanka (22km/ 7-8hr)

As you walk from Sharna the trail continues upriver and the route winds in and out of rhododendron and blue pine forests. When we enter Jigme Dorji National Park keep your eyes open for wildlife and changes in vegitation as we continue to climb in elevation. Tonight we camp in Thangkthanka (3520m)

Day 4 : Thangthanka - Jangothang (19km/ 5-6 hr)

After an hour of walk from the campsite, we leave the tree line and head into the high mountains. At the halfway point of our hike, we cross Tengethang, a winter home of the migratory yak herders. Arriving at Jangothang (4040m) we can watch the sunset on Mt. Jhomolhari (7314m) and Mt. Jichu Drake (6989m)

Day 5 : Jangothang (Rest Day)

On this acclimatization days, we have many day-hiking options. The first is a three to four hour excursion up the ridge to the north for great views of Jichu Drake. The second is to hike up towards the head of the valley in the direction of Jhomolhari. The third is a trek up the main valley towards the last house and onward toward Jichu Drake, this gives a great view of where we will be going in the next few days. The final alternative is a fishing expedition to Tshophu, a high-altitude lake about a two hour hike away.

Day 6 : Jangothang - Lingshi (20km/ 6-7hr)

From Jangothang we head uphill to we cross the first of many major passes. The Nyile La pass at 4890m, is about a four hour ascent. Descending the other side we will encounter sparse juniper and rhododendron and pass many yak herder camps. From this area on we start to see herds of blue sheep. Arriving in Lingshi we set up camp at 4150m

Day 7 : Lingshi - Chebisa (14km/ 4-5 hr)

On rise, we will visit Lingshi Dzong, also known as Yugyel Dzong in the 17th century, it was used in the past to control travel between Tibet and Bhutan. Since today’s hike will not be as long, the pace will be more relaxed. Upon reaching the camp at Chebisa 3850m, we will have time to visit Chebisa village and see a glimpses of Bhutanese village life

Day 8 : Chebisa - Shomuthang (13km/ 4hr)

Crossing the Gombu La pass at 4350m, we descend into a rhododendron filled valley, and continue past some yak herder camps to Shakshepasa where we camp at 3980m

Day 9 : Shomuthang - Robluthang (18km/ 7-8hr)

An early morning start will get us on the way to Jhari La pass at 4747m. Decending to Tsharijathang, the valley where herds of Takin (the national animal of Bhutan) are normally seen. From here we climb to our camp at Robluthang at 4160m

Day 10 : Robluthang - Limithang (19km/ 7-8hr)

Starting early a strenuous hike leads to the Shinge La pass at 5005m. Descending to Lemithang we’ll see Mt. Gangchenta (6840m) and the glacially carved Gangchhenta valley. Gangchhenta means Great Tiger Mountain. We camp at 4140m.

Day 11 : Limithang - Laya (10km/ 4-5hr)

A shorter hike follows a trail in and out of a heavily wooded, uninhabited valley. Climbing up out of the forests we will be rewarded with some great views of Gangchhenta and Masang Gang (7165m) mountains. We camp at Laya at 3840m

Day 12 : Laya (Rest Day)

Staying in Laya for the day we will get a chance to see the village with its community school, hospital, archery field and the first shop since the Paro Valley. Laya is a unique village of about 800 people with their own language, customs and distinct dress. The women keep their hair long and wear peculiar conical bamboo hats with a bamboo spike at the top. They wear a lot of silver jewellery on their backs, on many women this display includes an array of teaspoons.

Day 13 : Laya - Roduphu (19km/ 6-7hr)

The trek leads gradually downhill to the Lunana trail junction, then makes a gradual climb to the camp through a forest of conifers, maple and rhododendron. The trail improves and becomes wider as we climb out of the river valley. We camp at Roduphu near a small stream at 4160m

Day 14 : Roduphu - Narithang (16km/ 8-9hr)

It is a long hike, first crossing the Tsimo La pass at 4950m. Descending to Narithang we pass some dwarf rhododendron and hike in the shadow of Gangla Karchung peak (6395m). We camp at 4900m

Day 15 : Narithang - Tarina (18km/ 5-6hr)

Climb to Karchung La pass at 5240m and down to the glacial lakes that are the source of the Tang Chhu river. Above the lakes are the mighty peaks of Jejekangphu Gang (7300m) and Tsenda Kang (7100m). We camp at Tarina, 4020m

Day 16 : Tarina - Woche (15km/ 5-6hr)

The walk leads down through conifer forests, following the upper reaches of the Pho Chhu river. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to the village of Woche at 3940m. The trek has now entered the Lunana region

Day 17 : Woche - Lhedi (19km/ 7-8hr)

It’s a gradual climb from Woche to the Keche La pass at 4580m, then downhill to Thega village. The hike continues to Lhedi village where we camp at 3600m

Day 18 : Lhedi - Thanza (19km/ 6-7hr)

The trail climbs gradually following the main source of the Pho Chhu to Chozo village. At the small Chozo Dzong there are some lay monks. Above Chozo the valley opens as we approach Thanza village near the foot of 7100m. Zogophu Gamp, which is also known as Table Mountain. We camp at Thanza, 4080m.

Day 19 : Thanza (Rest Day)

This day is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the hospitable local villagers, and explore the beautiful surrounding area, our farthest point in the Lunana valley. Alternatively you can relax around camp and rest up for some of the tough days ahead. As Thanza is a transfer point for horses and yaks, it is important to have a day here for our staff to ensure all the necessary yaks are rounded up by the local herders who do not operate on 'Western time'! Camp 4080m

Day 20 : Thanza – Tshorim (19km/ 8-9hr)

Today's trek starts with a climb up to the ridge, from where there is a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. We cross the ridge, and enter a small valley with a stream running through it.

We follow the stream up the valley, enjoying the view of snow capped mountains and have lunch near the bridge. WE then climb up out of the valley, crossing some small ridges, to reach our campsite at Tshorim (5,125m)

Day 21 : Tshorim - Gangkar Puensum Base Camp (16km/ 6-7hr)
Today's trek is one of the highlights of the trip. The day starts with a short climb up to the Tashorim Lake. We walk around the side of the lake, enjoying the panoramic view of Gophula ranges. The final stretch Gupho-la pass (5,230m) is very short.

After crossing the pass, we descend to the base camp, walking along the ridge and enjoying a great view of Gangkar Puensum. According to choice, you can detour left and climb up a pyramid shaped peak for a better view, or you can go directly to base camp (4,970m) near the Sha Chu, where we will set up the camp .

Day 22 : Gangkar Puensum Base Camp - Geshe Woma (14km/ 6-7hr)

The trek is not yet over. The trail follows along the Sha Chu river and descends gradually to Geshe Woma (4,200m) where we camp.

Day 23 : Geshe Woma – Warathang (18km/ 8-9hr)

The path continues along the course Sha Chu for two and half hours until the stiff climb to Saka-la begins. Visibility is poor along this part of the trail, so we must keep watching top of the ridge in order to stay on course.

We stop for lunch near a yak herder's camp, then climb up to Saka-la pass (4,800m). There are stunning views on the descent to the lakes and another short ascent leads to Wartangle-la pass (4,590m). Scenery once again is stunning with small lakes and the mountain peaks. We camp at 4,000m.

Day 24 : Warathang - Dur Tshachu (14 km/ 5hr)

A short half-hour climb takes us up to Juele-la pass (4,400m). After crossing the pass, descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forests. We then cross a bridge and after a short climb rech Dhr Tsachu hot spring, where legend has it that Guru Padsambhava bathed in the 8th century. You can soak yourself in the hot-spring and relax.

Day 25 : Dur Tshachu – Tshochenchen (16km/ 8-9hr)

From the spring, it is a long and steady climb, with a great views of the mountain ii Lunana. Eventually the ground levels out, and we see several beautiful deep blue lakes, yaks grazing on the surrounding pastures, and yak herders' camps (3,850m)

Day 26 : End of Snowman Trek/ Tshochenchen – Bumthang (21km/ 11-12hr)

This is the last day of the trek where you change from yak to pack ponies. WE must set off very early in order to reach Bumthang before dark. The path follows the Chamkhar Chu descending gradually with few climbs. The trek ends when we reach Dur village where transport will pick us up and drive to Bumthang. Dur village is known for its hot-spring. If you wish you can spend some time relaxing in the hot-spring which is known for its healing properties. Overnight in resort in Bumthang. (Alt; 2580m).

Day 27 : Landscape Tour to Wangdue & Punakha (212km/ 8hr)

After breakfast you leave Bumthang, the cultural heartland of the nation and drive to Punakha the former capital of Bhutan. The journey will take you over one of the most scenically beautiful routes in Bhutan via the Yotongla pass (3425m) & Pelela pass (3300), which is also the habitat for the Satyr peasant. Good for photography.

En route visit Trongsa Dzong with its distinctive roof. Trongsa Dzong (fortress), built in 1645, is a vast, white fortress that appears to grow directly up from the narrow green ridge on which it is constructed. It is one of the most powerful Dzongs and even today the crown prince of Bhutan must first become its Trongsa Penlop (governor) before he can become Bhutan’s King.

On arrival, visit the Punakha Dzong, "Palace of Great Happiness.” It hosts the administrative seat of the district. The Dzong lies between two rivers, the Pochu and Mochu, male and female river. It was built in 1637 AD It was here on 17th December 1907, Bhutan's first king was crowned. This ancient fortress is considered to be one of the most beautiful by many. Punakha is the winter residence of the central monastic body and its Chief Abbot.

In evening, time at your leisure. You can stroll around Wangdue Phodrang town. Overnight Punakha & Wangdue. (Alt; 1240m)

Day 28 : Thimphu Sightseeing & Paro Sojourn (145km/ 4.5hr)

Along the way, stop for tea at Dochula resort (3150m), where you can enjoy the spectacular views of the eastern Himalayan mountain range. From this point you can spot many peaks like Mt. Chomolhari, Mt. Jichu Drakey, Mt, Gangkhar Puensum, etc at a distant which you have left during you long trek. After walking around the 108 stupas on the pass drive to Thimphu.

Thimphu is a small, charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas. It is nothing like what a capital city is imagined to be. Most of the houses and buildings are painted and constructed in a modern traditional Bhutanese style.

Take a drive to Buddha Gang which offers a beautiful view of the valley of Thimphu city. Astrologers & locals believe this spot is one of the central meeting point of the sacred energy vibe of the country hence the massive statue of Buddha facing the sun. On the way down, circumambulate around the Memorial Chorten (huge stupa) built in memory of the late 3rd king. This is the favorite place for the locals of Thimphu to devote their religious practice.

Visit the Zorig Chuksum “School for Thirteen Traditional Arts and Crafts” followed by a visit to Textile Museum, Handicraft Emporium and some local shops for antiques.

Visit the Tashichhoe Dzong, the main secretariat building, the office of the King and Throne room and also the house of the State Monastic Body.

Walk around Hongkong Market/ Norzin Lam/ Central Plaza/ Clock Tower and shop for souvenir.

In evening, drive to Paro and visit a typical village home for a traditional Bhutanese style dinner accompanied by the local liquor called “Ara” (tastes somewhat like the Japanese Sake) & yak meat. Then luxuriate in the Bhutanese equivalent of a Jacuzzi called a “Chu Tse.” River rocks are heated and dunked into a large wooden tub with herbs. This type of bath is considered to have medicinal properties of healing. Overnight Paro. (Alt; 2280m)

Day 29 : Departure

Our representative will bid you farewell at the Airport. Tashi Delek!

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