Laya Lingshi Trek - 17 days
This 17-day trek, though rigorous is quite popular because it traverses a great cross section of Bhutan as it winds from the Paro valley in Bhutanese middle hills, up to Laya and Lingshi in Northwest Bhutan which are situated above 13000 feet.
This is off the beaten trail, not many trekkers take this way into Laya, though one of the most culturally and ecologically pristine regions in the long arc of the Himalaya. The scenery along the way, passing the elegant Mount Chomolhari is awe-inspiring with views of alpine landscape with snowcapped mountains and mirrored crystal lakes dotted with yak hair tents of the migratory yak herders.
The trek begins after a short drive to the trailhead and passes through rhododendron forests and the Soi valley, home to Blue Sheep, Takin and Musk Deer, to Jangothang for unobstructed views of Mt. Chomolhari (24,000 ft.) and Mt. Jichu Drake (22,880 ft.) and on to the region of Lingshi, Bhutan’s highest administrative region. Heading north west from Lingshi we cross the Shinche La, the highest point of our trek at 16,420 ft. and trek towards the village of Laya which is located at the foot of Mt. Gangchen Ta (22, 290 ft.) affording us a good view of Mt. Masang Gang (23, 602 ft.)
Spend a day at Laya where the women wear long yak-hair costumes and strange, conical hats quite unique in Bhutan. Descend to Gasa and its hot springs where you can soak away the rigors of your trek before ending the trek at Tashithang and driving back to Thimphu and Paro.
This trek is truly off-the-beaten-track to remote villages where tourists are rare sights and a unique opportunity to witness first hand Bhutanese culture in this remote corner of an already remote country.
From US$ 4311.00
ITINERARY IN DETAIL
Day 01 Arrive Paro
Fly to Paro. In clear weather, enjoy magnificent views of the world\'s highest peaks and the lush green Paro valley (2,400m/7,992ft.) as you land. Your first experience of the Dragon Kingdom in the Paro airport would be a great presence of spiritual atmosphere. The transparent purity of the air, absence of noise, smell of pine and burning of juniper plants along with happy rustic faces with monasteries, stupas and prayer flags dotting the valley will definitely be an experience of being in a different planet.
Upon arrive at the aiport, you will be met and transferred to hotel.
Day 02 Drukgyal Dzong - Shana Zampa - 17KMS, 5-6 HRS
After early breakfast, we will drive to Drukgyal Dzong (2,580m / 8,591 ft) 16 Kms from Paro town built in 1647 by the great Shubdrung Nawang Namgyal, the Dzong was destroyed by accidental fire and left in ruins as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate.
Explore the ramparts, village and enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Chomolhari (7,314 m / 23990ft). The trek starts from here with a short downhill walk on a wide trail. After descending about 100 m, you reach the river where a primitive stone bath has been carved into the bank. Look back and see how well positioned the Dzong was to keep watch over this valley.
Continue your trek upriver through a narrow agricultural valley. Your overnight camp will be at Shana Zampa, Alt 2,870 m /9,557 ft, Overnight at camp.
Day 03 Shana Zampa - Thangtyhangkha - 22 KMS, 6-7 HRS
The trail continues its gradual climb alongside the Paro Chhu through conifers and rhododendron. In places, it is quite close to the river; if the water is high you might have to climb over a few small hills to get around places where the water has flowed onto the trail. About 15 minutes beyond Shana Zampa are the remnants of an old bridge with a house and a Chorten on the other side. At this point the route enters Jigme Dorji National Park.
The trail makes continuous, but gentle, climb on a rocky trail through Oaks, rhododendron and ferns, crossing several small streams. Your camp for tonight will be at Thangthangkha, elevation 3,630 m /12,088 ft. There is a small stone shelter and a Bhutanese style house in a cedar grove at the edge of the meadow.
Day 04 Thangthangkha - Jangothang - 19 KMS,
This is not a long day, but there is 450 m /1,498 ft elevation gain, and you will be comfortably worn out when you reach camp. Chomolhari was probably covered with clouds when you arrived last night. Be sure to get up early for a view.
Your camp will be at Jangothang, Chomolhari base camp, alt. 4,090 m /13,415 ft.
Day 05 Explore around Jangothang
Trek up to Tsophu Lake for trout fishing or there is stupendous day-hike in three directions-Chomolhari and its subsidiary is directly west, Jichu Drake to the north, un-climbed summits and ridges to the east.
Day 06 Jangothang - Lingshi - 18 KMS, 5-6 HRS
Wide Yak pastures on the way up and down the pass, possibly still some people in their Yak hair woven tents depending on the time of year. Great views of Lingshi Dzong as you come down into the Lingshi basin. If the weather is clear Mt. Tserim Kang (6789m / 22268ft) and it’s descending glaciers at the north end of the valley can be vividly seen.
Today, the highest point you will be crossing is the Nyile La Pass, alt. 4890m/16050ft). The camp is at 4010 m / 13,153 ft, near a large stone community hall that is used by both Bhutanese travelers and trekking groups.
Day 07 Lingshi -Chebisa - 10 KMS, 5-6 HRS
Cross the stream below the camp on a wooden bridge and climb up the opposite side to a Chorten just below Lingshi Dzong. In the valley to the east is a cluster of wood shingled houses which is one part of Lingshi village. If you look back at Tsering Kang you can see a very distinct rock pinnacle sticking up at the end of the east ridge. The climb is gradual and easy.
The camp site is on a meadow just opposite the Chebisa village (3880 m /12,920 ft.). Just upstream of the camp is the twin village of Chobiso.
Day 08 Chebisa - Shomuthang - 17 KMS, 6-7 HRS
The walk is through wild high pastures with few nomads and yaks. Cross Gobula Pass (4440m / 14564ft). The camp will be at a yak pasture, alt 4260 m /13973ft.
Day 09 Shomuthang - Robluthang 18 KMS, 6-7 HRS
The trail climbs from the camp up the valley, starting on river right, crossing to river left and then crossing back again at 4360 m / 14,519 ft. The white flowers are edelweiss and the snow peak visible to the south-east is Kang Bum (6526 m / 21,731 ft).
The trail climbs out of the valley through pretty desolate country up to Jhari La (4747 m /15,807 ft), about two HRS from camp. During clear weather you will also see the Mt. Gangchentag, Mt. Tserim Kang and Chomolhari. Normally you will witness herds of takin grazing on the slopes of the nearby hills. You will be camped in a rocky meadow named Robluthang at 4160m/13,13645ft.
Day 10 Robluthang- Limithang 19KMS, 6-7 HRS
This is a long, hard day, crossing Sinchu La, the last and highest pass on the trek. It’s a tough climb from here to the pass because the high altitude will slow you down considerably. Passing a false summit with a cairn, the trail levels out a little before reaching some rock cairns and prayer flags on Sinchu La (5005m / 16,417ft), about five HRS from camp. The snow covered peak of Gangchentag fills the horizon to the north.
The descent is on a rough, rocky trail that follows a moraine into another glacial valley. It’s then a short walk on a good trail through a cedar forest interspersed with small meadows to Limithang (4140m /13,786ft), a lovely camp site in a big meadow by the river. The peak of Gangchentag towers over the campsite, even though it’s quite a distance away.
Day 11 Limithang-Laya - 10 KMS, 4-5 HRS
Today its mostly downhill along a winding river, the trail splits, one going down with the river to the camp site used by the army. The other stays high and takes you into the West Side of Laya Village. We will camp on a high flat bench above the East End of the Laya village (3800m/12464ft).
Day 12 Laya - Koina 19 KMS, 6-7 HRS
Below the village the trail drops back to the river. The trail exits the village through a Khonying (arch Chorten), then passes another Chorten at Taje-kha as it descends on a muddy trail to a stream. There are a few houses near the trail, but it’s mostly deep forest all the way to the river. The route follows the Mo Chhu down stream all the way to Punakha.
Beyond the army camp the trail goes uphill, crossing a few streams and making little ups and downs. About half an hour from the army post is an inconspicuous trail junction at 3340m / 11,122ft. The route for the Snowman Trek leads uphill from here on a tiny path. The route to Gasa keeps going downstream on a muddy trail. The muddy trail stays high for about half an hour until it reaches a stone staircase, where it turns into a side valley, traversing for a bit, then dropping to a large stream.
Welcome to Koina (3050m / 10,004ft), a muddy bog in the forest by the bridge. There is a single stone house with some muddy camping places scattered around.
Day 13 Koina - Gasa Tsachu (Tsachu- Hot Spring), 14 KMS, 6-7 HRS
You may think that because you are headed downstream this trek is finished, but there’s another major ascent ahead to get over Bari La, which crosses a side ridge. Cross the bridge at Koina and start up the hill ascending to Bari La at 3900m /12,987ft. There’s a small rock cairn and a few prayer flags at the pass, then its reasonably level walk to another Chorten.
The route starts down again, sometimes steeply, through a bamboo forest to a stream. At 3080m / 10,256ft it rounds a corner where you can finally see Gasa Dzong on the opposite side of a large wooded side valley. Continue walking until you reach Gasa Tsachu (hot spring at 2240m /7,459ft), your night halt for today will be here.
Day 14 Gasa - Damji 18 KMS, 5-6 HRS
After the climb away from Gasa Tsachu the trail winds through rolling hillsides passing through fields, villages, Oak and pine forests. Gasa Dzong will be visible behind our trail, glued to the valley wall, seeming to float in space. Overnight at Camp. 2380m / 7807ft.
Day 15 Damji-Tashithang-Punakha - 16 KMS , and an hour drive to Punakha.
The trail begins a long descent to the river, first winding down gently in the jungle past a few streams, then switchbacking steeply down on a rocky trail in the shadow of a huge rock. After a long descent you will cross a wooden bridge over a side stream at 1960m /6527ft.
The trail now makes small ups and downs close to the river, passing a big cave under a rock. You may encounter rhesus monkey playing alongside the river. The main valley is still very closed in with sub-tropical vegetation such as wild banana trees, creepers and orchids. After a short walk to forestry office of Tashithang you will meet with your vehicle, which will drive you down south for an hour and will be in your hotel at Punakha.
Day 16 Punakha – Thimpu– Paro
After breakfast, continue to Thimphu. On your way back, stop at the Dochula Pass to witness the Panoramic view of Bhutan’s snow capped peaks that stretches about 200 miles long.
Continue your drive down to Thimphu, before you proceed to Paro. Overnight in hotel.
Day 17 Departure
Transfer to airport and fly out.
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