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Trip Start from: Paro
Trip End in Paro
Max. Altitude: 4,140 m/13579ft
Minimum group Size: +2
Best Seasons: Spring (April and May), summer (June, July, and August) and Autumn (September, October, and November)
Transportation: Flight/Private Car
Accommodation: Hotel and Lodge
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Duration: 19 Days
Laya-Gasa Trek is one of the most scenic long-distance treks in Bhutan. The trek runs along the Tibetan border and offers wonderful views of some of the most perfect and untouched landscapes in Bhutan. The trek begins at Drukgyel in Paro and takes you through the peaceful alpine meadows with High Mountain passes with magnificent views of Mount Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang. This trek offers a different variety of Bhutanese landscapes, culture and is, without doubt, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled trekking areas in the entire Himalayas. Laya Gasa trekking begins at Drugyel Dzong passing through interesting villages, scattered hamlets and farmland. Vegetation zones differ from richly forested valleys to high alpine pastureland where Yak herders graze their animals. Trout fishing in a sky blue lake with wonderful views of peaks is an activity that can be done on a rest day. You will also encounter exceptional species like the blue sheep, and with any luck! The unique culture of the friendly Layap people is fascinating to experience and gives one a sense of being in a truly remote corner of our world.
After our arrival at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) in Kathmandu, a our
reprentative/staff will pick us up from the airport and take us to our hotel. We can take
rest and later visit the company office in Thamel, a popular tourist hub. However, there
will be a welcome dinner in the evening where we get to experience excellent Nepalese
After breakfast, we begin our tour of four amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These
include the architecturally rich Durbar Square, the sacred Hindu temple of Pashupati
Nath, the interesting ‘Monkey Temple’ (Swayambunath) and Buddha Nath Stupa which
is one of the largest stupas in the world. After completing our tour late in the
afternoon, we drive to High Spirit office for a brief meeting about our trek and
get to know our team leader (guide) and fellow travelers.
Arrival at Paro on national carrier Druk Air. It is the most exciting mountain flights and befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of Bhutan. In clear weather, there are magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks. On arrival, you will be welcomed by the representative of Experience Bhutan Travel at the airport, assist you with your luggage and drive through the lush valley of Paro to your hotel. Check in to the hotel and take rest until lunch time. After lunch, visit the National Museum, Paro Rinpong Dzong and Dungtse Lhakhang which is nearby the town. Stroll in the town for the rest of the evening. Overnight at Hotel.
Following breakfast, drive 15 km north through the fascinating valley of Paro and turn to the right, cross the river and drive further up till the dead end of the road from where the hike to Taktsang starts. Taktsang (tiger’s Den) monastery seems to like hanging on a cliff some 700m above the valley. It takes about 2 hours up and an hour down. In the 8th century, Guru Rimpoche flew here on the back of a tigress in one of his eight forms called Guru Dorje Drolo and meditated for 3 months in a cave and converted Paro valley into Buddhism. Later in the 17th century, the 4th temporal ruler of Bhutan Tenzin Rabgye built this present temple and named it Taktsang meaning; tiger’s nest/den in the same spot where Guru meditated. This temple is one of the most sacred and also a pilgrimage center for Buddhists from all over the world.
Stop at tourism café situated half way for refreshment. The way back is quick downhill. You can have your lunch at the café on your way back. After lunch, descend down to the valley below and drive to visit Druk Gyal Dzong (ruined fortress of victory) built in the 17th century at the time of Tibetan Invasion. En route, visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest and the most sacred temple in Bhutan built in the 7th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gompo. The legend says that he built 108 temples throughout the Himalayan regions in a single day to subdue the demoness who was terrorizing the whole of Tibet, Nepal & Bhutan. Drive back to Hotel Aman Kora Resort. BLD
Early at dawn go to witness the display of Thongdroel (huge Thanka) at the festival ground. Come back to the hotel for breakfast. After b/fast, drive to the north of the valley to Drugyel Dzong where the road ends and the trek begins, following the river gently uphill through a narrow agricultural valley, passing by village houses and agricultural land to the camp. It is a well-worn trail with lots of round stones and irrigation water running down it. Cross Gunitsawa army camp and then cross the river to the left and continue for another 20 minutes to the camp in Sharna at 2850m. Overnight in Camp. B/L/D, Distance: 17km, Time: 6 hours
Following early breakfast, continue your trail through the river valley. The river narrows and closes in and the trail winds along the drainage. It is a long hard day with many ups and downs. One should have a good balance to hop from one stone to another to avoid mud especially when it rains. The trail makes a continuous but gentle climb through oak rhododendrons and ferns, birch and firs, crossing several small streams and rivers and finally arriving to Thangthangkha campsite at 3619m. B/L/D. Distance: 20km, Time: 8-9 hours.
Folowing breakfast, continue up the Pa Chhu (river). Pass a small army post where the valley begins to widen again. Now views of high ridges and snow-capped peaks can be seen all around. You may see yak herders’ winter homes depend on time of year you are there. Camp beneath a ruined fortress at the base of Mount Jhomolhari. Distance: 16km, Time: 5-6 hours
Following breakfast, trek up to Tsophu (lake) for fishing or do any one of the three hiking excursions. Mount Jhomolhari and its subsidiary are due west, Mount Jichu Drake is to the north, and unclimbed summits and ridges are to the east. You can take pack lunch from the camp or do only half day excursions come back to camp for lunch and afternoon, relax in the tent, do wash up as you like. Overnight in camp. B/L/D.
Following your breakfast, continue to follow the trail, past yak herder’s high altitude stone house and cross the stream towards the right and start your climb all the way till you reach Nylela Pass. Wide yak pastures are visible both on the way up and down the pass. You may encounter some nomads in their yak tents depending on the time of year you are there. After about 4 hours of walk, you arrive at Nylela pass (4,870m). The pass is very windy so you need to head down quickly to avoid the chilly wind. Great views of Lingshi Dzong, Mt. Tsherim Gang are visible as you come down into the Lingshi basin. Camp inside the stone shelter or in a tent. Overnight in a tent. B/L/D, Distance: 16km, time: 5-6 hours.
Today is the shortest walking day and you can take it easy. At Chebisa village you can visit village houses. The camp site is just opposite to Chebisa village. B/L/D. 11km, 3-4 hours.
The route leads through wild high pastures. Cross Gobula Pass at an altitude of 4,440 m. From the pass, the trail descends into a side valley through a deep forest of rhododendrons and then climbs again over a small ridge passing several places where hillsides have been burned. The trail crest the ridge at 4210m then descends to a muddy path in a deep forest of fir and birch to Shakshepasa and a helipad. The trail from here goes steeply north and after some time of the hard walk, it levels and heads into a side valley passing a couple of yak huts on a river right to Chachim, a yak pasture at 4220m. The camp is in a cluster of bushes beside a stream. B/L/D. 17km, 7 hours
An early start is needed for trekking to the Jarela Pass, an altitude of 4,750 meters, then descend to Tsharijathang, the valley where takin, the national animals of Bhutan are usually seen. Overnight in camp. B/L/D. 18km, 7 hours.
This is a long hard crossing over Sinhala pass (5005m). The trail climbs through the burned forest and up the hillside through some boggy patches. Follow the stream for a while crossing to river right through a log bridge. About 5 hours from camp you will reach to the Sinchela pass. The trail from the pass is downhill and it is rocky and sometimes twists your ankles. Cross the stream to the left on a small log bridge. A short distance beyond the stream crossing is a yak pasture and a camping spot but you need to continue to a usual campsite at Limithang. B/L/D 19km, 7-8 hours.
The route descends along a closed-in winding river alley. The trail splits, with one trail following the river down. The other stays high leading to the west of Laya village. Camp overnight on a high flat bench above the east end of Laya Village. B/L/D 10km, 4-5 hours.
Following breakfast, relax and do some washing and also visit Laya village houses and experience yourself with their daily life, culture, etc. It would be interesting if our guide can arrange local girls/women to perform typical Layaps songs and dances. (It depends on their availability). A minimum fee of Nu. 300 (USD 5) per dancer would be fine. Overnight in camp at Laya. B.L.D.
The trail winds up and down along the river valley. Views of the crashing river, feeder streams and waterfalls are often past. Overnight in camp with B/L/D. 19km, 7 hours.
Cross Barila pass, altitude 3,900m and then descends all the way till near Gasa Town. Short steep uphill when nearing to Gasa. Trek to Gasa Tsachu (hot spring). The trail is steeply downhill through till you reach the hot spring. After dinner relaxes in the hot spring. Overnight in camp. B/L/D.
Follow the trail to the left gradual ascend until you reach the branch of Mo Chhu River. Cross the suspension bridge and climb up on to a hill and look back the view of Gasa Dzong. The trail is mostly downhill passing through village houses and rice field. Ay damji, you will be picked up by our vehicle and transfer to hotel in Punakha which is about 1h30m drive, just because the road is new and bumpy at most of the places, so the drive is slow. On arrival check in to the hotel. Dinner and overnight in Punakha. B/L/D.
Following breakfast, drive to visit Punakha Dzong, the most impressive Dzong in Bhutan situated in the confluence of Phochhu & Mochhu (Male & female rivers). Punakha was the former capital of Bhutan until 1955 when it was officially shifted to Thimphu. It is here in Punakha the first king was crowned in 1907. It houses both monk body and Punakha district administration. It also serves as winter resident of Chief Lama of Bhutan.
Drive north of the valley and hike for about 45 minutes crossing over a suspension bridge to new Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Chorten, a new temple, the paradise of Guru Rimpoche through the rice field and village of Niengergang. The view from the temple to the valley below is photogenic. After the temple, descend to the valley and drive back to the hotel for lunch.
After lunch, visit Wangdue valley. En route visit Chime Lhakhang dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley. It is about 20 minutes gentle walk through the rice terraces and village houses of Yoakha. This temple is the pilgrimage center for a couple who do not bear children. This temple is also called the “temple of fertility.
Towards evening, 2 hour’s drive to Thimphu (71km). These days it takes only 2 hours since the road condition is much better. You need to cross the most famous pass of Dochula at 3150m. Weather permitting; you will have panoramic views of the eastern Himalayas from the pass.
Following breakfast, visit the weekend market (Friday till Sunday) to see people from all walks of life buying and selling local as well as imported vegetables & fruits. Memorial Chorten: This is a most impressive stupa built in the memory of Bhutan’s third King by the order of Grand Queen mother Ashi Phuntsho Chhoden in 1974. It is a multi-storied stupa with numerous paintings and complex statues inside the monument provide a rare insight into the Buddhist philosophy. Every day there will be any devotees circumambulating the stupa with prayer beads in their hands. Changangkha Lhakhang: One of the oldest and most sacred temples in Thimphu valley situated on top of a knoll overlooking the Thimphu city built in 15th century dedicated to the god of compassion. Drive further up and visit the zoo to see Bhutan national animal “The Takin”. Handicrafts Emporium: It displays a wide range of products such as beautifully woven fabrics for man & women, crafted products & other decorative items. Textile Museum: This museum was inaugurated under the patronage of Queen Ashi Sangay Choden in June 2001. Many intricate designs of Bhutanese textiles are displayed here. It will also serve as a center for conservation, restoration, and documentation of Bhutanese textiles. Rest of the day, you may stroll in the town, visit craft Bazaar but souvenir shopping as you wish. Overnight at the hotel
Our guide will assist you will your luggage, bid you farewell and wish you a safe journey back home.