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Laya Linshi Trek

Day 1: Arrival in Paro

On this flight the views of the Everest, Kanchen Junga and other Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drakey in Bhutan are awesome. On arrival in Paro our guide will receive you and check you into your hotel. After lunch we will see the rich history of Bhutan exhibited in the 17th century National Museum. The Paro Dzong, a massive fortress built in the 17th century now houses the monastic body. A tour of this beautiful Dzong will introduce us to the unique aspects of the Bhutanese Buddhism. A lovely stroll downhill from the Dzong over an old cantilever bridge wraps up an eventful first day in this magical kingdom.

Overnight in Paro | Altitude: 2200m

 

Day 2: Paro sightseeing

Taktsang or the tiger’s nest temple is the most revered temple to the Buddhist. This magical temple clings to a vertical granite cliff 800m above the valley. Legend has it that in the 8th century, Guru Rimpochey, a tantric master flew here on the back of a tigress and meditated in a cave around which the temple is built. A hike to this temple will take up most of our morning. In the afternoon, we will host a special Buddhist prayer ceremony at the beautiful 1200 year old Kyichu Lhakhang Temple, to bring us good luck for the rest of the journey.

Overnight in Paro | Altitude: 2200m

Day 3: Start of the Laya Lingshi Trek

Paro to Shana, Distance: 15km

Walking time: 6hrs

Sleeping altitude: 2800m

The Drugyal Dzong was built in 1654 by the Shabdrung to commemorate one of the many war victories against the Tibetans. Over the centuries, it guarded the trail from Tibet into the Paro valley. We will be met at this historic site by our trekking crew for the start of our trek. Follow the Paro Chu upstream through the village of Tshento on a dirt road for about an hour. We will have lunch in a friend’s house on the trail. Just before reaching our camp, we will have to pass through an army check post, where your guide will produce your trekking permit.

Day 4| Shana to Thangthangkha

Distance: 21km

Walking time: 8hrs

Sleeping altitude: 3630m

The trail from Shana to Thangthangkha is a very rocky series of small ups and downs along the Paro Chu and can be very muddy if it rains. About 2 ½ hours into the trek, you will come at a junction where a trail branches to go to Tibet. Don’t go to Tibet!

Day 5| Thangthangkha to Jangothang

Distance: 16km

Walking time: 6hrs

Sleeping altitude: 4090m

Today you will come across small sparse settlements, and herds of yaks. You will also be crossing the tree line (4000m). Our camp at Jangothang will bring us face to face with the majestic Jumolhari. Jangothang means the land of ruins; you will see ruins of some old settlements, which no one seems to know much about.

Day 6| Jangothang Halt

Acclimatization and rest day. A good optional hike is to climb to the Tshophu Lake at 4300m, which is about 2h from Jangothang.

Day 7| Jangothang to Lingshi

Distance: 17km

Walking time: 7hrs

Sleeping altitude: 4090m

Pass to cross: Nyele La, 4890m

Heading uphill from Jangothang we cross the first of the many passes. 4 hours of uphill climbing will take us over the very windy Nyele La pass at 4090m. Scree makes it a little tricky to go down the pass on the other side. Lingshi dzong will soon be visible in a distance.

Day 8| Lingshi to Chebisa

Distance: 12km

Walking time: 5hrs

Sleeping altitude: 3880m

Since today’s hike will not be as long, we can afford to wander around a bit. We will start off by visiting the Lingshi dzong, built on a commanding hill by the Shabdrung in the 1600s. About 3 hours into our trek is the dramatic village of Gangyul, surrounded by a natural amphitheatre of cliffs. Our camp is in windy Chebisa, a small village with 2 storey stone houses.

Day 9| Chebisa to Shakaypasa

Distance: 16km

Walking time: 6hrs

Pass to cross: Goku La, 4350m

Sleeping altitude: 3880m

2 hours of climbing from Chebisa will get us over the Goku La pass at 4350m. From the pass we descend into a rhododendron filled valley, and continue past some yak herder camps to Shakaypasa.

Day 10| Shakaypasa to Tsheringyangu

Distance: 17km

Walking time: 7hrs

Pass to cross: Jari La, 4747m

Sleeping altitude: 4000m

An early morning start will get us on the way to Jari La pass at 4747m. From the pass, it’s all the way downhill into the picturesque valley of Tsharijatha where herds of takin (the national animal of Bhutan) are normally seen in the summers. From here a small climb will take us to our camp at Tsheringyangu.

Day 11| Tsheringyangu to Limithang

Distance: 18km

Walking time: 7hrs

Pass to cross: Sinche La, 5005m

Sleeping altitude: 3890m

Snow Leopard country. Being highly elusive animals, it is very rare to spot one but their paw marks can be seen occasionally. Starting early, a strenuous hike will get us over the Sinchey La, the highest pass on our trek. Descending to Limithang we’ll see the snow covered peak of Gangchenta (6840m) and the glacially carved Gangchenta valley. Gangchenta means Great Tiger Mountain.

Day 12| Limithang to Laya

Distance: 10km

Walking time: 5hrs

Sleeping altitude: 3840m

Since we are nearing Laya, we will come across Layaps going to tend to their yaks. We will be entering Laya from the west, through narrow cobble stone paths between houses, to camp in the wheat field that belongs to a friend.

Day 13| Laya Halt

Rest day. Explore Laya.

Day 14| Laya to Koina

Distance: 16km

Walking time: 6hrs

Sleeping altitude: 3010m

2 hours downhill from Laya is Taktsimakhang, a small army check post. A little further from the army camp the trail branches and the left trail is to go to Lunana, on the Snowman trek. Koina has often been described as the worst camp site in Bhutan, especially when it rains.

Day 15| Koina to Gasa Tshachu (Hot spring)

Distance: 18km

Walking time: 7hrs

Sleeping altitude: 2200m

Junipers and spruce give way to pine trees. The circular Gasa dzong can be seen as you as you climb down the very rocky trail. Despite its remoteness and lack of motor roads, Gasa is an administrative district, with the office of the district governor in the Gasa dzong. The hot springs are a good 1½ hour downhill from the dzong.

Day 16| Gasa Tshachu to Punakha

Distance: 17km

Walking time: 7hrs

Last day of the trek. Gasa dzong can be seen as you look back. After lunch at the village of Damji, a further 2 hours and our trekking crew will wave us goodbye at Kabina, where our transport will be waiting for us. From Kabina, it is about 2 hours’ drive on a dirt road to our hotel in Punakha.

Overnight in Punakha | Altitude: 1250m

Day 17| Punakha to Thimphu (2.5 Hrs)

Punakha was the capital of Bhutan until the 1950s. Today, the central monk body moves to Punakha in the winter when it gets too cold in Thimphu. With a climate almost tropical in the summer, the valley is blessed with an abundance of fruits and rice. We will visit the magnificent Punakha Dzong which without doubt showcases the finest example of Bhutanese arts and crafts. After the Dzong, we will drive to the capital, Thimphu, over the Dochu La pass (3000m). Overnight in Thimphu | Altitude: 2300m

Day 18| Thimphu to Paro (1.5 Hrs)

Continue exploring Thimphu until lunch. After lunch, drive to Paro in the afternoon. Farewell dinner in the town.

Overnight in Paro | Altitude: 2200m

Day 19| Departure