Day 01: Arrival and Sightseeing in Paro (2,250m/7,382ft)
As our flight nears Bhutan, we can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, we will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will take us to our hotel. Today, we will visit Rinpung Dzong which was built in 1646 and now houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. We will also visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country and Ta Dzong, once a fortified lookout tower but has now been changed into the National Museum. The museum has a wide assortment of ancient paintings, armors, philatelic displays and a “field of Buddhas”, which helps one visualize while meditating. Overnight in Paro.
Day 02: Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (3,180m/10,433ft) then return to Paro
After breakfast, we hike for around 2 hours to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up on the mountain. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor. Overnight in paro.
Day 03: Trek starts Paro to Shana (2,850m/9,348ft): 15 km, 5 - 6 hours
The trek starts from Drugyal Dzong at 2,580m with a downhill walk on a wide trail. We then climb gently through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. The route later enters an area of apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens and we reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2,810m. This is the last stop before Tibet. At 2,870m, just beyond Shana Zampa, there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees. Camp at an altitude of 2,850m.
Day 04: Shana to Sio Thangthangkha (3,750m/12,300 ft): 20 km, 7 - 8 hours
The trail follows Pa Chhu (Paro River), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. Hot lunch will be served after crossing a bridge towards the left side of the river. After lunch, we follow the river, climb up through rhododendron forests and finally cross another bridge and reach our campsite at an altitude of 3,750m.
Day 05: Sio Thangthangkha to Jangothang (4,040m/13,250 ft): 19 km, 7 - 8 hours
Our path ascends for a while until the army camp. Then, it follows the river above the tree line where we get to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder's camp. A short walk into the valley will take us to the camp at Jangothang at an altitude of 4,040m. From here, the views of Mt. Chomolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.
Day 06: Rest day at Jangothang Base Camp
Today, we rest and acclimatize for next day's trek. After breakfast, we take a 4-hour trip to the northern side of our camp from where we get beautiful view of the Jichu Drake Peak. We have a picnic lunch on the way. This trip will help us with acclimatization and if we are lucky we may even encounter grazing yaks and blue sheeps which makes this trip all the more amazing.
Day 07: Jangothang to Lingshi (4,000m/13,120ft): 18 km, 7 - 8 hours
The trail follows a stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right. We ascend a ridge and acquire breathtaking views of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshering Gang from the top. Then we walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Ngye La pass (4,870m/15,970ft). After crossing the pass, it is a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp. Along the way, we enjoy panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi Dzong. Camp at an altitude of 4,000m.
Day 08: Lingshi to Shodu (4,100m/13,450ft): 22km, 8 - 9 hours
The Laya Gasa route leaves the Chomolhari trek here. Instead, the route climbs towards a small white Chorten on a ridge above the camp, then turns south up the deep Mo Chhu valley. The trail stays on the west side of the largely treeless valley, climbing steadily a short distance above Mo Chhu. It then crosses the river, and climbs steeply for two hours to Yeli La pass (4,820m/15,810ft). From the pass, we see Chomolhari, Gangchen Ta, Tshering Gang and Masang Gang. We then descend alongside a stream to a shelter, and then further downstream to camp at Shodu (4,100m).
Day 09: Shodu to Barshong (3,600m/11,810ft): 16km, 6 - 7 hours
Our trail follows the Thimphu River, descending through rhododendron, juniper and other alpine forests. The view of the cliff-facing rocks and waterfalls is stunning. Hot lunches will be served by the riverside. After lunch we continue with our walk as the trail gradually ascends to the ruins of Barshong Dzong. Finally, we end today’s walk by camping at an altitude of 3,600m.
Day 10: Barshong to Dolam Kencho (3,600m/11,810ft): 15km, 5 - 6 hours
The trail descends gently through dense rhododendron, birch and conifer forests. We then descend on a steep trail to meet Thimphu Chhu River. Our trail stays on the left side of the river, climbing over ridges and descending to side streams. We then cross a steep cliff to Dolam Kencho, a camp located beautifully amidst pasturelands at an altitude of 3,600m.
Day 11: Dolam Kencho to Dodena toThimphu (2,350m /7,710ft): 8km, 3 - 4 hours: Trek ends
We walk from Dolam Kencho to Dodena then drive to Thimphu. Today, we ascend around 500m and descend around 930m. Our trail passes through forests, winding up and down through a small pass. After continuing in the southern direction we reach Dodena. From here we drive to Thimphu. In the evening, we may stroll through the streets of the capital city and get acquainted with the local lifestyle. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 12: Final Departure
Today we bid farewell to the tiny Himalayan kingdom and her friendly people. Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, we will be driven to the airport in Paro after breakfast.