Snow Man Trek (28 nights / 29 days)
Day 01: 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 the clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Your Bhutanese escort from All Bhutan Connection (ABC) will greet you on arrival, then drive you the short distance to the Hotel. Afternoon visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. We also visit Paro Rimpung Dzong, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the first temporal ruler of Bhutan, it is now houses of the Paro monastic body and the office of the Dzongda (governor) and Thrimpon (Judge) of Paro district. A short walk takes you to the base of the Dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery grounds (archery is the national game of Bhutan). If we are lucky, we may catch a match in action. The evening ends with a walk through Paro’s main shopping district. Dinner and overnight at the hotel.
Day 02: Paro hike to Taktsang.
Drive to Drukgyal Dzong (a ruined fortress – 16 km away from paro town). The Dzong, although in ruins, holds great historical significance. It was from this fortress that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan invasions. The name means the victorious Bhutanese. This spot offers a magnificent view of Mount Chomolhari, “Mountain of Goddess” (7,329 m). drive back to Satsam Chorten to hike up to the Takstang monastery (Tiger’s nest). The hike up to the cafeteria will take around one and half hour. At the view point enjoy the stunning view of the monastery, where Gure Padmasambhava landed on the back of a Tigeress in the 8th century. After lunch at the café walk back to the road point where your car will pick you and then drive to visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, built in 7th century. This temple is said to have been built in 659 by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet. It holds down the left foot of an ogress whose body is so large that covers Bhutan and most of eastern Tibet. Evening stroll in main town of Paro. Dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 03: 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 forest are alive with numerous birds and brightly coloured butterflies. Overnight at camp Shana. Altitude 2,820 m; Distance 14 km; Time 5 -6 hours.
Day 04: 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 en route, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter. Altitude 3,610 m; distance 21 km; time 7-8 hours.
Day 05: Thangthangka – Jangothang.
In the morning after passing a small army post, the trails slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jumolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. Altitude: 4,115 m; Distance: 15 km; Time: 5-6 hours.
Day 06: Jangothang (Halt).
A rest day. A chance to acclimatize and walk up to the Jumolhari glacier or to the lakes in the opposite direction.
Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi.
A good day’s walk today with spectacular view of Jhomolhari, Jichu Drakey and the Tserim Gang. We start climbing straight away and after some three to four hours reach the Nyelela Pass (4,700 m). After the Pass we 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, a high hill. Altitude: 4,010 m; Distance: 17 kms; Time: 6-7 hours.
Day 08: 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 300 m cliff. Another hour 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 side of the river. The walk is very leisurely with plenty of reasons and opportunities to linger. Altitude: 3,780 m; Distance: 12 kms; Time: 4-5 hours.
Day 09: Chebisa – Shomuthang.
We 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 to the camp near a riverbed. Altitude: 3,890 m; Distance: 17 kms; Time: 6-7 hours.
Day 10: 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 steep down a forest trail to the Tsarithang valley, where herds of Takin roam, then cross a knee deep river before climbibg up Robluthang where we camp. Altitude: 4,100 m; Distance: 22 kms; Time: 7-8 hours.
Day 11: Robluthang – Lemithang.
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela Pass at 4,870 m 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 vulture, blue sheep and yaks abound in this area. We descend down to camp on a lovely spot by the riverbank. Altitude: 4,040 m; Distance: kms; Time: 6-7 hours.
Day 12: 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 they’re 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 jewellery. The features of the people are even more Tibetan/Mongolain 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. Altitude:3,880m; Distance: 10 kms; Time: 4-5 hours.
Day 13: Laya ( Halt).
We have a rest day at Laya and an opportunity to meet the local people.
Day 14: Laya – Roduphu.
We descend down to tashi makhang (army camp) and climbs stiffly for an hour and then follow the river until we reach Rodophu. If weather is clear we should have great views of the Tsendey Gang group. Altitude: 4,150 m; Distance: 10 kms; Time: 4-5 hours.
Day 15: Roduphu – Narithang.
The climb to the Tsomala Pass (4,720 m) is quite tough. Form the Pass we may lucky to see the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. We then descend and finally climb to Narithang where camp. Altitude: 4,150 m; Distance: 10 kms; Time: 4 – 5 hours.
Day 16: Narithang – Tarina.
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to the Ganglakarchung La Pass (5,100 m) which takes 3 to 4 hours and are rewarded with stunning views of Ganglakarchung, Tsendey Gang, Jejekangphu and Terigang. Finally we drop steeply down to the Tarina valley where herds of Takin roam. Great views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Altitude: 3,900 m; Distance: 24 km; Time: 4 – 5 hours.
Day 17: Tarina – Woche.
For 3 to 4 hours we follow the river, a tributary of the Pho Chu, pass through the forest of silver pine nad with a stiff reach woche- the Lunana region begins from this village. Altitude: 3,830 m; Distance: 12 km; Time: 4 – 5 hours.
Day 18: Woche – Lhedi.
We climb gradually through juniper forest and then a river from where we have great views of Jejekangphu. A stiff climb takes us past the Yumtso and Setso lakes and up to the Keche La Pass ( 4,490 m). we descend to Thraga village and finally reach Lhedi. Altitude: 3,640 m; Distance: 15 km; Time; 5- 6 hours.
Day 19: Lhedi – Thanza.
We follow the Pho Chu River through the village of Lhedi and to Chotsi Dzong, which was built in 17th century. After 3 to 4 hours we reach the beautiful village of Dotey and Thanza where we set camp in a beautiful meadow with stunning views of Table mountain right in front of us. Altitude: 4,060 m; Distance: 15km; Time: 5 – 6 hours.
Day 20: Thanza (Halt).
We explore the village and mix with the people of Thanza.
Day 21: Thanza – Tsochena.
This is a difficult trek. After crossing the Pho Chu river we climb stiffy up for 6 hours to Jazela Pass (5,100m) before dropping down to Tsochena. We pass mang lakes and on a clear day can see splendid views of many un-named Himalayan peaks. Altitude: 4,840 m; Distance: 24 km; Time: 8-9 hours.
Day 22: Tshochena – Jichu Dramo.
A gradual climb to Lajula Pass (5,000 m) and finally we reach Jichu Dramo. Altitude: 4,840 m; Distance: 10 km; Time: 4-5 hours.
Day 23: Jichu Dramo – Chukarpo.
We climb gradually to the Rinchenzoe Pass (5,115 m), the highest along the trek with spectacular views of maountains and turquoise colored lakes. After the Pass, a 5 hour hike brings us to Chukarpo where we set camp. Altitude: 4,450 m; Distance: 18 km; Time: 7 – 8 hours.
Day 24: Chukarpo – Tempetso.
Today the train gradually descend to the river and after a stiff climb through rhododendron, silver fir and juniper forest we reach Tempetso lake where we set camp. Altitude: 4,190 m; Distance: 18 km; Time: 7 – 8 hours.
Day 25: Tempetso – Maorothang.
We walk along the lake, climb up to Tampela Pass (4,500 m) and finally descend to Umtso Lake and Maorothomg where we set camp. Altitude: 4,190 m; Distance: 18 km; Time: 7 – 8 hours.
Day 26: Maorothang – Nikachu (End of trek).
We follow the Nikachu through dense forests of rhododendron, silver fir and bamboo and emerge at Nikachu bridge. Altitude: 2,670 m; Distance: 19 km; Time: 7-8 hours.
Day 27: Nikachu – Wangdue – Thimphu.
Early morning drive to Thimphu. We stop for lunch at Wangdue guest house. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 28: Thimphu – Paro.
After breakfast we visit the National Library, stocked with ancient manuscripts and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (scared Buddhist religious scrolls). In the afternoon we visit the Dupthop Lakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan and then the Tashichho Dzong seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). The tashichho Dzong is open to visitors only in winter when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body move to Punakha, the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. Other highlights include a visit to the National Memorial Chorten built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck and the Handicrafts Emporium.
Day 29: Paro – Departure (by Druk Air).
In the morning your Bhutanese escort from All Bhutan Connection (ABC) will bid you farewell at Paro airport. Good-bye and happy journey back home.