Chomolhari to Laya Gasa Trek
Chomolhari Laya Gasa Trek – Despite the opening up of a number of new trekking possibilities in Bhutan, this long-established route from Chomolhari to Laya and Gasa, (‘Above the Clouds’) will always rank as one of Bhutan’s finest and of the world’s great treks. The reason for this is not hard to find. It offers a great variety of trekking conditions; from picturesque farmland and forest to a breathtakingly beautiful lunar landscape, dwarfed by immense glistening peaks, abundant wildlife, including blue sheep, Takin, a wide variety of birds and the elusive snow leopard. Numerous isolated Dzongs and scattered settlements, including the outlandish village of Laya, provide a great deal of cultural interest’s en route.
This long and moderately challenging trek that traces a loop along Bhutan’s northwestern border with Tibet, is probably the most aesthetically beautiful of any trek in Himalayas.
At Wind Horse we are proud to have done this trek many times over the 18 years as a private trip, and last few years we have started to offer as part of our small group journey. Join us on this trek, and we promise you that you will return home with lasting memory and more better fitness too. It is truly once in a lifetime experience.
Day 1: Arrive in Paro Upon arrival at Paro (Bhutan) airport, you are met and transferred to the hotel. Depending on the arrival time, you may be able to see few places in the late afternoon or evening, along with a familiarization tour of Paro town. Overnight in hotel.
Day 2 & 3: Paro valley & Hike to Taktsang During this two full days, we will spend one day for touring and short walks around serene Paro valley and another day for hike up to the famous Taktsang (Tiger’s nest) monastery. These two days should provide the required acclimatisation before the trek. Overnight in hotel.
Day 4, 5 & 6: Begin trek from Shana Zam Drive north of Drugyal Dzong for about 1-2hrs along the new farm road and begin trek into Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Park. The first two days are about 3-4hrs trek each day, slowing gaining altitude. Third day trek is about 5-6hrs to Jangothang, a beautiful grassy meadow beneath the enormous east face of Chomolhari.
Day 7: Jangothang Rest day Today is a scheduled rest day, intended to aid acclimatisation before the crossing of the high passes. Jangothang is one of the most spectacular camping places in the entire Himalayas. Snow capped peaks dominate the horizon on western side, with stream running through the open valley, surrounded by yak herders villages. Option to hike up the ridge, from where there is an incredible close-up view of Chomolhari and its glaciers. The cooks will have had all day to prepare a small feast for your dinner.
Day 8: Trek to Lingshi By now, you will have well acclimated, but if you feel any attitude sickness, it is a best point from where to return back towards Paro instead of continuing on. Climb steeply up with the views of Jichu Drake, Jumolhari, Tserimkhang and the adjoining peaks into a glacial valley with many moraines, above the tree lines. You may be able to spot blue sheep on the hillsides and see mountain marmots. Cross Nyile La pass (15,970’/4870m). descend steeply to camp beside the stream near Lingshi.
Day 9: Trek Lingshi – Chebisa One of the short trekking days, but a fascinating one as as a delightful path contours the hillside, passing numerous farms with good views across the valley of the Peaks. Pass through Lingshi school and village, then through the picturesque Goyul village with beautifully designed stone houses. Leaving Goyul, the path continues along the hillside to arrive at a spectacular fairy-tale-like setting of Chebisa village, where we camp for the night
Day 10, 11, 12 & 13 : Trek to Shomuthang, Robulthang, Limithang & Laya From Chebesa, each day we cross a high pass or two and camp in the valley. These areas have no villages but we may come across nomadic yak herder’s camps. You will pass through areas that have large herds of blue sheeps. In Tsharijarithang valley, you should be able to see large number of Takins (national animal of Bhutan) in wild, among the wild yaks. Each day the mountains views are beautiful and on several occasions, you will see it really up close. Among others, you will see Mt. Gangchen Ta (6840m) Kangbum (6526m) and Tsherim Kang and the tip of Chomolhari. Around mid day of Day 13, you will arrive in a large village of Laya with the backdrop of Ganchenta and Masangang dominating the skyline. Locals are immediate to welcome and greet the visitors and you have time this afternoon to chat and wander around.
Day 14: Halt in Laya The extra day in Laya is to get some rest and to explore and meet the locals. This is one of largest isolated community of Bhutan with roughly 1500 people, who speak their own dialect and wear distinct dress. The women keep their hair long, and wear conical bamboo hats with spike at the top (traditionally Bhutanese woman have close-cropped hair). They dress in black Yak wool jacket and skirt with some colored strip. Their jewelry include array of silver teaspoons tied at the back of the hair. extra day in Laya is to get some rest and to explore and meet the locals. The village is spread out over the hillside, close to the Tibetan border at an altitude of 3700m, and it is one of the highest villages in Bhutan.
Day 15: Trek Laya – Koena -Gasa Hot Spring (Trek ends) Today is one of the long trekking day and so we must start really early; as we are trying to cover more than usual one days’ trek to avoid a muddy campsite at Koina. The new farm road has reached nearly Koina . Although the overall tendency is to descend, there are many places where the path has to climb high above the river to negotiate steep spurs. Towards the end of day, meet the vehicle and drive to Gasa Dzong and further downhill to Gasa Tsachu (Hot spring), where we make camp. Gasa Hot Spring is well known for its medicinal properties and there are several pools for you to enjoy the warm bath.
Day 16: Punakha & Wangdiphodrang Enjoy one more dip in the hot-spring before your breakfast. Then drive along the winding road, and downhill through rich subtropical jungles to Tashithang and then to Punakha, which could take about 3hrs. Once in Punakha, former winter capital of Bhutan, visit the 17th century Punakha Dzong located on the confluence of Pho and Mo Chu rivers. If time allows and if you are interested, we can also take a short hike to visit Khamsum Yuelley temple, located on a ridge, overlooking the paddies and river below. Overnight hotel in Punakha
Day 17: Thimphu Before heading out of the valley, visit some sights in Punakha & Wangdue valley. Then drive over the magnificent Dochu La Pass, with spectacular panoramic mountain views, to capital Thimphu. In the afternoon, we will take a short tour of Thimphu to familiarize, including visit of great Tashicho Dzong. Overnight hotel in Thimphu
Day 18: Thimphu sightseeing We have a full day tour of Bhutan’s capital city, which has many interesting monuments and sights to see. Towards the late afternoon, drive for about 1hr to Paro for overnight and farewell dinner.
Day 19: Departure Transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight.
TRIP SEASONSBest from end of March till May and from late Sept till beginning of November.
BEST MONTHS – April, October
GOOD MONTHS – March, May, September, November
LEAN MONTHS – June, July, August
NOT RECOMMEND – January, February, December
- Abundant wildlife such as Blue Sheep, Takin, elusive Snowleopard and many birds.
- Remote villages of Yaksa, Lingshi, Chebisa, Goyul, Laya and Gasa.
- Rich and diverse landscape and vegetation.
- Spectacular mountain scenery
- Cultural highlights and towns of western Bhutan