Snowman Trek with Gangkar Puensum

Trip length: 26 Days
Participants: Minimum 8 people
Level: Most Difficult
Season: Mid June - Early October

Day 1: Arrive at Paro Airport

On the flight to Paro International Airport, the guests will experience breath-taking views of Mount Everest, Mount Kanchenjunga and other famous Himalayan mountain ranges, including the sacred Mount Jumolhari and Mount Jichu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be received by Mr. Sonam Peljore, CEO or the representative of Sonam Tshoey Travel together with the Guide and driver who will take you directly to the hotel for a short rest and some refresments.  Depending on the time, the guests can take a stroll around the town and visit some interesting local handicraft shops.  Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Day 2: Thimphu

Morning sightseeing in Thimphu includes: Visit to Memorial Chorten(a stupa) built in memory of the 3rd King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972.  Visit National Library which is the repository for ancient and modern texts and scriptures; Zorig Chusum the Fine Art School where 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan is being practiced and kept alive; National Institute of Traditional Medicine (where Bhutanese art of traditional herbal medicines are being taught); Folk heritage Museum (more than one century old farm house converted to a heritage museum). The great Tashichhodzong which houses the office of His Majesty the King and the Central Monastic Body including few government Ministries can be visited only after 5 p.m. in summer from March to October and winter after 4 p.m. from November to February.  Overnight in a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 3: Thimphu - Punakha/Tashithang

Drive to Punakha via Dochula pass (3,100m), through magnificent forests of azelia, daphne, rhododendron and magnolia trees. From the top of this pass one can witness the panoramic view of eastern Himalayan peaks on a clear day. Lunch will be organized in a traditional Bhutanese farm house where the guests will enjoy the hospitality of a village folk.  After lunch, you will visit the Punakha Dzong, which was once the ancient capital of Bhutan, this is also the Dzong where the Treaty with British India was signed in 1919. The Dzong is now used as the winter residence of Central Monk Body and also houses as the Administrative Centre of the District.  You will then be driven to Tashithang following Mo Chhu River.  Overnight at the camp site at Tashithang at an altitude of 1,600m.

Day 4: Tashithang - Damji - Gasa

The trek starts by the riverside, following a well-made path through semi tropical forest. This part of the area is quite wet and one has to be careful of leeches. Those who loves flower will see abundant wild orchids on the journey in this area. The day’s walk is fairly gentle climbing up to Damji village (2,250m). The path continues through sub-tropical forests and villages up to Gasa Tsachu (hot spring). The Tsachu is a famous place where people from all over the country come for bath which is believed to cure many illnesses. Night halt in a Camp below the Dzong at an altitude of 2,900m. Walking distance 6-7 hours.

Day 5: Gasa - Chamsa

After breakfast, visit the Dzong, which was built in 17th century to protect the valley against Tibetan invasion.. The path starts with stiff climb up to Bele La pass (3,700m) through bamboo shrubs, rhododendron, juniper and fir forests. Then slowly descend for about half an hour to the camp site at Chamsa at an altitude of 3,650m. Walking distance 6-7 hours.

Day 6: Chamsa - Laya

After breakfast start the trek by descending to the bank of Mo Chhu River. Picnic lunch will be served near a bridge where the guests will enjoy the sound and the freshness of the river.  After lunch climb gradually towards Laya passing the Royal Bhutan Army check point. Overnight at a camp site at an altitude 3,800m. Walking distance 8-9 hours.

Day 7: Rest day at Laya

This day is a leisure day for the guests and they are free to go around the villages visiting the houses and the people.  The guests can also bask in the sun and enjoy the scenery around the valleys and the mountains. The people of Laya are extremely friendly and will be very happy to pose for photographs. Women of Laya wear special dresses and typical bamboo hats, decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments. The guests will enjoy the cultural evening on this day as the local Laya girls will perform dances and sing songs followed by a hearty meal.  Overnight at the camp site. 

Day 8: Laya - Rodhuphu

After breakfast the trail starts leaving Laya behind and we slowly descend to the Royal Bhutan Army check point and continue to follow the river till the turn off point towards Rhoduphu. After the picnic lunch continue the climb through rhododendron shrubs till we reach the camp site at an altitude of 4,350m. Walking distance 8-9 hours.

Day 9: Rodhuphu - Tarina

This day is the longest day of the trip and the trek must start latest by 5 am by climbing to Tsimola (4,700m). Upon crossing the pass and the little summit, the guests will have fantastic view of the valley of Lunana,  and the mountains of Jumolhari and Jichu Drakey. The path is horizontal for about 4 hours until we start to climb the Ganglapachung pass (5,080m). The view from the path is breathtaking and picturesque as the whole range of mountains including Masanggang, Tsendegang and Teri Gang can be seen from here.  The trail then leads to a very long descent towards Tarina valley. The camp site will be at an altitude of 3,980m. Walking distance will be 10-11 hours.

Day 10: Tarina - Woche

After breakfast, start the trek which leads downhill through the conifer forests following the upper ridges of the Pho Chhu. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche at an altitude of 3,800m. The camp site will be at an altitude of 3,800m. Walking distance 6-7 hours.

Day 11: Woche - Lhedi

After breakfast, continue the trek through juniper and fir forests followed by rhododendron shrubs throughout the trail. Climb up to Keche La pass (4,480m) where one can enjoy the great views of the surrounding mountains. After the pass, descend towards the riverside trekking through the village with a stunning view of the Table Mountain and the adjacent mountains. Continue to follow the river till Lhedi village, which is one of the main sources of Pho Chhu.  The camp site will be at an altitude of 3,650m.  Walking distance 6-7 hours.

Day 12: Lhedi - Thanza

After breakfast, continue the trek following the river and rising gradually towards Choejong village. Cross the bridge to reach Thanza. The camp site will be at an altitude of 4,000m. Walking distance of  7-8 hours.

Day 13: Rest at Thanza

After nearly a week of trekking, this day will be a rest day for the guests.  The guests can enjoy the views of this valley and are free to walk around or climb up the ridge to enjoy the fascinating views of lakes and mountains.

Day 14: Thanza - Tshorim

After breakfast, the trek start again by climbing the ridge, overlooking the great view of the Table Mountain and the Thanza valley below. The altitude of the ridge is 4,500m and it gradually rises up to 4,650m. After the picnic lunch, trek upwards following the left side of the bridge and enjoying the views of the snow-capped mountains. Upon further climbing of the ridges, you will reach the campsite of Tshorim at an altitude of 5,125m. Walking distance 8-9 hours.

Day 15: Tshorim - Gangkar Puensum Base Camp

The trek route of this day will be one of the highlights of the entire trip and day starts with a short climb to the Tshorim Lake. Walk along the side of the Lake enjoying the panoramic view of Gophula ranges. The last climb to the Gophula pass (5,230m) is very short. After the pass descend to the base camp, walking along the ridge and enjoying the great view of Mount Gangkar Puensum. If interested, one can divert to the left side to climb up the pyramid peak for a better view or the guests are free to go down to the base camp nearby Sha Chhu at an altitude of 4,970m. Walking distance 6-7 hours.

Day 16: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp

Rest day at the base camp and enjoy the tranquility as well as the great view of the Gangkar Puensum which is the tallest virgin mountain in Bhutan.  Due to the spiritual beliefs, the government does not issue permission to climbers to climb this mountain, in fact almost all sacred mountains have not been climbed until now.

Day 17: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp - Geshe Woma

After a nice rest and a warm and hearty breakfast the previous day, the trek starts once again.  However, this time the trail is fairly easy following the Sha Chhu which gradually descends towards Geshe Woma which is at an altitude of 4,200m. Walking distance 6-7 hours.  Night halt in the camp site. 

Day 18: Geshe Woma - Warathang

After a warm breakfast, the trek continues following the Sha Chhu for about 2 and half hours until we begin the stiff climb towards Sakala.  As the visibility along the Sakala trail is rather poor, it is advised that the trekkers must use the top of the ridge to follow the right trail.  Picnic lunch will be served close to a yak herder’s camp. After the lunch and a little rest, we start uphill climb to Sakala pass which is at altitude of 4,800m. After the pass, we start to descend towards some lakes enjoying the beauty of this wonderful place.  We come across yet another beautiful scene overlooking some small lakes with the gigantic views of the mountain peaks. The camp site at an altitude of 4,000m. Walking distance 8-9 hours.

Day 19: Warathang - Dur Tsachu

After the relishing breakfast, we will start a short climb leading towards Julila pass (4,400m). After the pass, descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron shrubs, juniper and conifer forests. A short climb after the bridge leads us towards Dur Tsachu (hot spring) where it is believed that Guru Padmasambhava is supposed to have taken bath in the 8th hot spring. Walking distance 5 hours.

Day 20: Dur Tsachu - Tshochenchen

After the hot spring,  the trail leads us to a long and steady climb with of course, splendid views of mountains in Lunana. You will also come across the clear blue lakes and a yak herder’s camp at an altitude of 3,850m.  Walking distance 8-9 hours. 

Day 21: Tshochenchen - Dur Bumthang (Jakar)

After a nice breakfast, just to remind our guests, this is the last day of the trek where we will change our mode of transport from yaks to pack ponies. We will follow the Chamkhar Chhu, descending gradually although few climbs is unavoidable. Finally, the long journey on foot ends here at the Dur village and the guests will be received by Sonam Tshoey Travel's representative in a bus which will take you directly to the hotel in Bumthang.

Day 22: Bumthang

Bumthang valley is the centre for cultural and religious wealth. The hills around the valley are filled with monasteries dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava. It is also the home to one of the greatest Buddhist teacher, Pemalingpa, to whose descendants the present Wangchuck Dynasty traces its origin. Guests can explore valley by visiting, Jakar Dzong, Kurjey Lhakhang, Jambay Lhakhang and Tamshing Lhakhang. Overnight at a hotel in Bumthang. 

Day 23: Bumthang - Trongsa

After breakfast, leave for Trongsa.  As per the Bhutanese culture and tradition, every Crown Prince of Bhutan becomes the Penlop (governor) of Trongsa (known as Trongsa Penlop) before being crowned as the King of Bhutan.  The Trongsa Dzong, which was built in 1648 is a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture, which has been a traditional home for all Four Kings of Bhutan before they were crowned as King. Standing above this fortress is the Ta Dzong (Watch Tower), which once guarded this Dzong from internal rebellion and destruction by enemies.  Overnight at a hotel in Trongsa.

Day 24: Trongsa - Paro

After breakfast drive to Paro. On the way, visit Chendebji Stupa, cross Pelela pass and descend towards Wangduephodrang.  Lunch in Wangduephodrang and cross Dochula Pass.  On a clear day here, one can see the mountain ranges and the sacred mountains of Bhutan.  Slowly drive towards Paro and if time permits visit  Drukgyal Dzong, Ta Dzong (National Museum),Rinpung Dzong and Kichu Lhakhang. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Day 25: Paro

After breakfast, the bus/car will take you towards the valley where you will hike to the famous Tiger's Nest Monastery which is precariously clinged on the rock-cliff.  A vegetarian lunch will be served at the restaurant overlooking the monastery and enjoy the scenic beauty of this wonderful architecture and imagine how such an infrastructure could be built on steep cliffs like this.  Drive back to Paro later in the afternoon and explore/stroll freely in the town. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.

Day 26: Paro Depart

Depending on the Druk Air's flight timing, depart to the airport for their onward journey.  Sonam Tshoey Travel hopes that each of our valued guests carry with them wonderful and happy memories of their visit to this beautiful country.