This is one of the treks that will always rank as one of Bhutan’s finest treks. The route offers fantastic mountain views at close range including Mt. Gangchey Ta (tiger mountain), mother of the female river flowing through Punakha valley. Renowned for its diversity in Himalayan flora and Fauna. Numerous isolated Dzongs and scattered settlements including the outlandish village of Laya, a unique culture of its own provide a great deal of cultural interest. Though remote, the Laya region is known for its hospitality and your time here will be delightful. The trek will end with a dip at the Gasa Tshachu (hot spring) relaxing every bone in your body and the memories of the special trek will stay with you for a lifetime.
Arrive in Paro International Airport. Upon arrival meet Asiatic Roads representative and transfer to hotel for room check in and lunch.
Pm: After lunch proceed through a beautiful valley to the watch tower or locally known as Ta-Dzong. It was housed into the National museum in the 1960s by the third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. The seven floors museum highlights various aspects of Bhutanese culture and history dating back to the 7th century. A short walk downhill to the Rinpung Dzong which serves as the administrative center and school for monks. Walk down crossing traditional old Bridge.
After early breakfast drive to hike starting point of Taktsang Monastery or the “Tiger’s Nest. The hike which is all the way uphill takes about 2 to 3 hours through villages and pine forests. The monastery which clings to a huge granite cliff 800 meters from the Paro valley was devastated by fire in 1998 but the Royal Government has taken immediate steps to restore the monastery to its original structure. It is believed that the great saint Padmasambhava came in the 7th century on a flying tigress and meditated in a cave for 3 months. The demons were subdued who were trying to stop the spread of Buddhism and converted the Paro valley into Buddhism. During the end of the 17th century a monastery was built on the spot where the saint meditated and it is a pilgrimage site for every Bhutanese to visit once in their life time. Later back to Resort for lunch.
After breakfast drive to Drugyal Dzong (Trek starting point). Where you will meet your Trek support team, after the short preparations trek begins. Initially the path goes upstream of the Pachu River through villages gradually ascending to 2,800 m at Shana camp.
Climb slowly for a while till you reach an army camp. Then follow the river above tree line with stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a Yak herders camp. A easy walk will reach you to Jangothang at an altitude of 4050 meters. The view of Chomolhari (7320 meters) and Jichu Drake (6900 meters) is superb. Both the mountains are still virgin peaks.
The trail follows the stream for half hour and crosses the bridge to the right side. Climb up the ridge and enjoy stunning views of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshrim Khang mountains. Than walk through the wide open valley sometimes coming across herds of blue sheep. The climb up to the Nyele la pass 4,700 m is not too difficult and the view is breathtaking. After the pass it’s a gradual descend and through the valley with beautiful views on all side. Nearing the camp you will see the Lingshi Dzong perched ontop of a hill with commanding view of the valley. Arrive camp at 4,100 meters near a stone shelter.
Today begins with a stiff climb up a ridge to Gobu la pass 4600 meters taking nearly 3/4 hours to the top but rewarded with magnificent views of the Himalayas. This is a blue sheep area so always keep a sharp eye. After the pass descend through rhododendrons bushes and lunch will be served at an ideal spot. The path goes up down crossing streams and Yak herders camps.
The trek starts with a climb to Jari la pass 4, 650 meters. Then descend all the way through alpine forest and rhododendron shrubs to Tsharijathang a summer feeding ground for the rare Takins (national animal of Bhutan). During summer/monsoon the path is all wet so be prepared to get wet as the small wooden bridges are all washed away. After crossing the stream the trail ascends for a while till you reach the camp at 4,300 meters.
Today will be a long climb up to Shinje la pass at 4,950 meters. The view of Gangchey ta mountain 6,800 meters from the pass is breathtaking. From the pass descend all the way with a wider view of the mountain. Arrive Limithang a wide open valley and summer grazing ground for the yaks of the Laya people.
Wake up with great view of Gangchey Ta Mountain in front of you. After breakfast the walk to Laya is pleasant passing through damp forest filled with moss and singing birds. Arrive Laya village the second highest settlements in the country at an altitude of 3,850 meters.
Explore the village by visiting the home of the laya people. Every home will welcome you with smiling faces and there is no need for invitation. A cup of butter tea, yak milk, Chang (local brewed wine made from wheat or barley) any of your choice will be offered. They are very friendly people and will happily pose for photographs. The Laya women have a dress that is unique in Bhutan. They wear the conical bamboo hats decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments and dark yak wool dress. If the group is interested in a cultural dance program by the Laya people it can be arranged.
Trek down to the army base camp and follow the river crossing small streams. During the winter months you will see the rare Takins grazing on the bamboo shoots. The trail is up and down. Camp will be near a river next to a stone shelter at 3,400 meters.
The trail ascends for some time and gradually to the Bamela pass at 3,750 meters. The path is all the way downhill till the camp. During monsoon the trail is filled with leeches but it is surprising not finding any leeches near the hot spring.
The hot spring was discovered by Guru Rinpoche and it is believed that who has faith in him can cure sickness which was impossible by modern medicine. The spring has a small shop selling beer/alcohol and is a sure way to relax after a long trek.
The walk begins through semi tropical vegetation filled with wild orchids crossing rivers and streams. Walking across huge suspension bridges and one bridge is over 150 meters in height which is all a part of the thrill. It is an easy walk and you can take your time in admiring the scenic beauty of the country side.
Commence your last day trek after the bid farewell to your trekking support team. It is all the way gradual downhill following the Mochu River through heavily forested area till you arrive Tashithang at 1,550 meters. After completion of trek board waiting vehicle and drive an hour to warm Punakha Valley, where you can check in at hotel. Rest of the day is free for most deserved rest and hot shower.
The day is for most deserved rest. If you are interested you can you can proceed for a sightseeing tour of Punakha Dzong which served as an old capital of Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is built between two rivers and has survived many glacial floods and fire. Every year during the month of February a procession known as the Punakha Serda takes place to commemorate the victory over the Tibetans. Later return back to hotel for rest and relxation.