Bhutan Trekking
 
Wonderful Laya Trek - 19 Days

Season: April to June and September to October
Number of Days: 19 Days
Grade: Strenuous

Day 1: Arrival at Paro International Airport:
Fly on Druk Air to Paro. Druk Air is a Bhutan national flag bearer, which has an exclusive right to fly to Bhutan from 6 other sectors. Limited flights allow only restricted number of flyers into this beautiful Himalayan Kingdom, thereby preserving and conserving valuable culture and environment that has remained intact for centuries. On clear days, during this flight, you will experience breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountains including Mt. Everest, Jichu Drak and Jumolhari in Bhutan. You will land in the beautiful valley of Paro, located at an elevation of 7,400 ft. At Paro International Airport you will be received by representative of Druk Yul Expeditions. White Khaddar or scarf with Buddhist blessings will be presented to you to be carried along your journey. Take a short drive to your hotel and check-in for lunch. After lunch visit the National Museum (Ta-Dzong), earlier a watchtower for the Rinpung Paro Dzong. It was converted into the National Museum in 1968 and stands on a strategic site on the top of hill overlooking the Paro valley. On the way back visit the Paro Rinpung Dzong. A Dzong in Bhutan is a fortress. Today there are about 20 Dzongs around the country, most built during early part of 17th century. Dzongs are the seat of the district administration as well as the home for the monastic school. This huge fortresses are equally shared, keeping in tradition from past. It was from these fortresses that the Bhutanese repelled many Tibetan and Mongol invasions. Walk down further through walled flat stone pavements, and in about 10 minutes, you will pass through beautiful ancient wooden bridge with shingle roofing, with two guardhouses on each entrance. In the evening, we will walk through the small and picturesque Paro town. Enjoy evening meal at a cozy restaurant. Our representative will conduct detailed briefing about the upcoming tour program.

Day 2: Taktsang Hike:
Drive to Ramthongkha and then hike to viewpoint of Taktsang, the Tiger's Nest (one and a half hours). This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 3,000 ft above the valley floor. The trail is broad and the walk uphill takes you a little more than a 1000ft above the Paro valley. The view of Taktsang monastery built on the cliff is a spectacular sight. It is a great pilgrim site for the Buddhists and also it is one of the most sacred sites in the Himalayan world. Beyond the viewpoint, the path is narrow and steep as it climbs to a point above the temple, from where walkers descend to the building itself. The main deity of Taktsang is Dorje Drolo, the wrathful form of Guru Rinpoche, the precious Teacher, also known as Padmasambhava. The great tantric mystic is said to have flown here on the back of a tiger, a manifestation of his consort, Yeshi Tsogyal, when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th century. The image of Dorje Drolo inside the temple is shown standing on a tiger. There are 13 sacred sites at Taktsang, and several meditation caves in the cliffs above. Here you can meditate awhile before beginning the descent. Nearby there is a teahouse, where you can stop for lunch or a snack. In the evening, visit a farmhouse in Paro. Overnight at hotel in Paro.

Day 3: Drugyel Dzong - Shana (Altitude - 2800m / 9200 ft | Distance: 17km (5-6 hours):
short drive from Paro takes us to Drugyel Dzong, and the start of our trekking route. Heading up the Paro Chhu river valley, the trail passes the small settlements of Chang Zampa and Mitshi Zampa where we will see excellent examples of Bhutanese farmhouses. We camp at Shana.

Day 4: Shana - Soi Thangthakha (Altitude - 12,664 ft / 3,860m. | Distance - 19 km (6 -7 hours):
The path leads uphill through the river valley and along the river drainage. The trail passes through conifer and rhododendron forests. On the way, there is a great view of Mount Jumolhari. Camp will be set up in a meadow with stone shelter.

Day 5: Soi Thangthakha – Jagothang (Altitude - 13,255 ft / 4,040m. | Distance - 19 km (5 - 6 hours):
Follow the river and pass a small army post where the valley begins to widen again. The view of the high ridges and snow capped peaks can be seen on all sides. At this altitude, one will also be able to see the yaks and yak herders. Camp will be set up beneath a ruined fortress at the base of Mount Jumolhari.

Day 6: Rest day in Jagothang:
The first of our acclimatization days, we have many day hiking options. The first is a three to four hour excursion up the ridge to the north for great views of Jichu Drake. The second is to hike up towards the head of the valley in the direction of Jumolhari. The third is a trek up the main valley towards the last house and onward toward Jichu Drake, this gives a great view of where we will be going in the next few days..

Day 7: Jagothang – Lingshi (Altitude - 12,844 ft / 3,915 m | Distance - 19 km (5 - 6 hours) :
he trail climbs gradually to Nyili La (Altitude - 15354 ft / 4,680 m). Wide yak pastures can be seen all along the trail. If the weather is clear, one can get a great view of the Lingshi Dzong as one descends into the Lingshi basin. Tserim Kang and its descending glaciers can be seen at the north end of the valley. Camp is in a stone shelter.

Day 8: Lingshi – Chebisa (Altitude - 3850m / 12,600 ft | Distance -14km (4 - 5 hours) :
This morning we will visit Lingshi Dzong, also known as Yugyel Dzong. In the 17th century it was used to control travel between Tibet and Bhutan. Since today’s hike will not be as long, the pace will be more relaxed. Upon reaching the camp at Chebisa, we will have time to visit Chebisa village and experience Bhutanese village life.

Day 9: Chebisa – Shakshepasa (Altitude - 3850m / 12,600 ft | Distance - 13km (4 hours):
Crossing the Gombu La at 4350m (14,300 ft), we descend into a rhododendron filled valley, and continue past some yak herder camps to Shakshepasa where we camp tonight.

Day 10: Shakshepasa - Robluthang (Altitude - 4160m / 13,700 ft | Distance - 18km (7 - 8 hours):
An early morning start will get us on the way to Jhari La at 4747m (15,600 ft). Descending to Tsharijathang, the valley where herds of Takin (the national animal of Bhutan) are normally seen. From here we climb to our tonight’s camp at Robluthang.

Day 11: Robluthang - Limithang (Altitude - 4140m / 13,650 ft | Distance - 19km (7 - 8 hours):
Starting early, a strenuous hike leads to the Shinge La at 5005m (16,650 ft). Descending to Limithang we’ll see Mt. Gangchhenta (6840m) and the glacially carved Gangchhenta valley. Gangchhenta means Great Tiger Mountain. Overnight camp at Limithang.

Day 12: Limithang - Laya (Altitude - 3840m / 12,650 ft | Distance - 10km (4 - 5 hours):
A shorter hike follows a trail in and out of a heavily wooded, uninhabited valley. Climbing up, out of the forests we will be rewarded with some great views of Gangchhenta and Masang Gang (7165m) mountains. We camp at Laya tonight.

Day 13: Rest day in Laya:
Staying in Laya for the day we will get a chance to see the village with its community school, hospital, archery field and the first shop since the Paro Valley. Laya is a unique village of about 800 people with their own language, customs and distinct dress. The women keep their hair long and wear peculiar conical bamboo hats with a bamboo spike at the top. They wear a lot of silver jewellery on their backs; on many women this display includes an array of teaspoons.

Day 14: Laya – Koina (Altitude – 3100 m | Time – 7 - 8 hours):
The trail winds up and down along the river valley, through beautiful forests with great views of waterfalls, swift streams, a wonderful variety of birds, and perhaps the musk deer if you’re lucky! The campsite at Koina is not very good as it is usually quite muddy, but it’s about the only flat ground around!

Day 15: Koina – Gasa (Time – 6 – 7 hours):
After ascending to the Bari La pass (3,850 m), the trail descends until you reach the lovely village of Gasa with a beautiful old Dzong. There are a few shops and a soccer and archery field. We can camp here or continue down the trail for another hour or so to Gasa Tsachhu (Hot Springs), a wonderful place to lounge after a long trek. Overnight at camp.

Day 16: Gasa - road head near Damji (Time – 3 – 4 hours) - Drive to Punakha:
The trail continues descending and ascending through a heavily forested area with wild orchids, and other beautiful flora. In this region, if there has been rain, there are also leeches so you have to keep an eye out for them! The road continues to be extended up this valley so it is only a hike of about 3/4 hours before we reach the road head where our vehicle will be waiting to drive us to Punakha. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 17: Punakha – Thimpu:
In Punakha this morning we will get a chance to see the Punakha Dzong (the second of Bhutan’s Dzongs to be built) which for many years served as the seat of government. The Dzong was first built in 1637 and is still one of the largest in Bhutan. After sightseeing in Punakha we will drive to Thimpu in the afternoon (about 2 hours). Overnight at the hotel.

Day 18: Thimpu (Excursion):
Today’s sightseeing in Thimpu valley includes visits to: National Memorial Chorten: The building of this landmark was envisaged by the third king, His Majesty Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, as a monument to world peace and prosperity. Completed in 1974 after his untimely death, it is a both a memorial to the late king (‘the father of modern Bhutan’), and a monument to world peace. The painting and statues inside the monument provide a deep insight into Buddhist philosophy; National Library: This holds a vast collection of Buddhist texts and manuscripts, some dating back several hundred years, as well as modern academic books mainly on Himalayan culture and religion. Institute for Zorig Chusum (commonly known as the Painting School): where student undertake a six-year course on the 13 traditional arts and crafts of Bhutan. National Institute of Traditional Medicine: where the medicinal herbs, mineral, and animals organs available in abundant in the kingdom are compounded and dispensed by traditional pharmacist and medical practitioners. This indigenous healing method is popular in entire Bhutan. Here you will have exclusive privilege of talking to a renowned traditional healer. Folk Heritage and National Textile Museums: These museums, both of which opened in 2001, provide fascinating insight into Bhutanese material culture and way of life. Handicrafts Emporium: This government-run enterprise displays a wide range of beautifully hand-woven textiles and craft products. It also carries a small collection of books on Bhutan, Buddhism and Himalayan culture.

Day 19: Departure:
Our escort will complete the departure formalities well in advance, and if need be assist you with it. Drive down to airport and check in at least 2 hours prior to flight departure schedule.
Trip ends

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