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The Snowman Trek is one of the toughest treks in the world and among the finest in the Himalayas. It is said more people have summited Mt. Everest than have completed the Snowman trek. Needless to say it’s not for the faint of hearts and undertaken only by a handful of intrepid trekkers each season. But while it is hard, the challenge and experience of trekking through one of the most rugged and stunning parts of the Eastern Himalayas is a transformative experience you will not easily forget.
Fly to Bhutan's Paro Valley (7,300 ft.). Our guide will receive you and check you into your hotel. After lunch, we’ll visit the Paro Dzong, a spectacular 16th-century fortresses overlooking the Paro Valley. A lovely stroll downhill from the Paro Dzong over an old cantilever bridge will wrap up an eventful first day in this magical kingdom. Overnight in hotel.
Hike to Taktsang Lhakhang or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, the kingdom’s most iconic site. This majestic structure is poised high above the Paro valley, built dramatically on the ledge of a granite cliff face. Make the steep, strenuous trek to the temple and then hike to a nearby viewpoint, taking in a landscape dotted with pine trees, prayer flags, and ancient shrines. Enjoy lunch at the viewpoint before returning to Paro for the evening. Overnight in hotel.
Drive from Paro 4 hours till road ends past picturesque Bhutanese hamlets and then hike 2 hours through charming rhododendron and blue pine forests until we reach our first camp set in a lovely meadow beside the dazzling Paro River. If weather allows, we’ll get to see Mt. Jomolhari- the abode of the goddesses. Camp altitude at 3520m/11545 ft. Overnight at campsite.
Distance: 19km - 5 to 6 hours. An hour out of camp this morning we leave the tree line and head into the high mountains. At the halfway point of our hike, we cross Tengethang, a winter home of the migratory yaks and their herders. Past the high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks, we finally reach Jangothang, one of the most scenic campsites in the Eastern Himalayas with a spectacular theater style view of Mt. Jomolhari (7314m)- the home of the goddesses. Camp altitude at 4040m/13,250 ft. Overnight at campsite.
The first of our acclimatization days, we have many day-hiking options. The first is a 3-4 hour excursion up the ridge to the north for great views of Mt. Jichu Drake (6989m). The second is to hike up towards the head of the valley in the direction of the base of Jomolhari. 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. Overnight at campsite.
Distance: 20km - 6 to 7 hours. Heading uphill from Jangothang we cross the first of many major passes. The Nyile La pass at 4890m (16,135 ft.) is about a four hour ascent. Descending the other side we will encounter shrubs juniper and rhododendron and pass many yak herder camps. From this area on we start to see herds of blue sheep. Arriving in Lingshi we set up camp at 4150m (13,700 ft.) set over a gorgeous U-shaped valley with a great view of the Lingshi Dzong. Overnight at campsite.
Distance: 14km - 4 to 5 hours. This morning we will visit Lingshi Dzong (4220m) which sits right atop a high ridge. Also known as Yugyel Dzong in the 17th century, it was used in the past to control travel between Tibet and Bhutan. It also gives you an amazing view of the valley below. Since today’s hike will not be as long, the pace will be more relaxed. Upon reaching the camp at Chebisa (3850m / 12,600 ft.), we will have time to visit Chebisa village and see a slice of Bhutanese village life. Overnight at campsite.
Distance: 13km - 4 hours. Crossing the Gombu La pass at 4350m (14,300 ft.), we descend into a rhododendron filled valley, and continue past some yak herder camps to Shakshepasa where we camp at 3980m (13,100 ft.). Sometimes we continue on to a bigger (flatter;) camp 1.5 hours further along the trail to make the next day a little shorter. Overnight at campsite.
Distance: 18km - 7 to 8 hours. An early morning start will get us on the way to Jhari La pass at 4747m (15,600 ft.). Decending to Tsharijathang, the valley where herds of Takin (the national animal of Bhutan) are normally seen. From here we climb to our camp at Robluthang at 4160m (13,700 ft.). Overnight at campsite.
Distance: 19km - 7 to 8 hours. Starting early a strenuous hike leads to the Shinge La pass at 5005m (16,650 ft). Descending to Limithang we’ll see Mt. Gangchenta (6840m) and the glacially carved Gangchhenta valley. Gangchhenta means Great Tiger Mountain. We camp at 4140m (13,650 ft.).
Distance: 10km - 4 to 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 at 3840m (12,650 ft.).
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.
Distance: 19km - 6 to 7 hours. The trek leads gradually downhill to the Lunana trail junction, then makes a gradual climb to the camp through a forest of conifers, maple and rhododendron. The trail improves and becomes wider as we climb out of the river valley. We camp at Rodufu near a small stream at 4160m (13,645 ft.).
Distance: 16km - 8 to 9 hours. It is a long hike, first crossing the Tsimo La pass at 4950m (16,200 ft.). Descending to Narethang we pass some dwarf rhododendron and hike in the shadow of Gangla Karchung peak (6395m). We camp at 4900m (16,000 ft.).
Distance 18km - 6 to 7 hours. Climb to Karchung La pass at 5240m (17,187 ft.) and down to the glacial lakes that are the source of the Tang Chhu river. Above the lakes are the mighty peaks of Jejekangphu Gang (7300m) and Tsenda Kang (7100m). We camp at Tarina, 4020m (13,250 ft.).
Distance: 15km - 5 to 6 hours. The walk leads down through conifer forests, following the upper reaches of the Pho Chhu river. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to the village of Woche at 3940m (13,000 ft.). The trek has now entered the Lunana region. We often continue on about an hour past Woche to a spectacular campsite below the Keche La pass.
Distance: 19km - 7 to 8 hours. It’s a gradual climb from Woche to the campsite below the pass, and then gets steeper on the section up to the Keche La, at 4580m (15,100 ft.), after which it drops steeply to Thega village our usual lunch spot. The afternoon hike continues along a beautiful river valley past spectacular waterfalls to Lhedi village where we camp at 3600m (11,800 ft.). Sometimes we continue on about an hour or so beyond Lhedi village to a lovely campsite.
Distance: 19km - 6 to 7 hours. The trail climbs gradually following the main source of the Pho Chhu to Chozo village. At the small Chozo Dzong there are some lay monks. Above Chozo the valley opens as we approach Thanza village near the foot of 7100m Zogophu Gamp, which is also know as Table Mountain. We camp at Thanza, 4080m (13,300 ft.).
This day is a fantastic opportunity to interact with the hospitable local villagers, and explore the beautiful surrounding area, our farthest point in the Lunana valley. Alternatively you can relax around camp and rest up for some of the tough days ahead. As Thanza is a transfer point for horses and yaks, it is necessary to have a day here for our staff to ensure all the necessary yaks are rounded up and ready for the next day.
Distance: 8km - 4 hours. Today is a relatively short, although somewhat steep, climb to a campsite called Danji, part way up to the Jaze la pass. It will allow us to have some extra time in the morning and make a later start. The camp is around 4600m/15,000ft., with spectacular views of snow-capped peaks! It is an important acclimatization spot.
Distance: 12km - 5 hours. The first part of the day involves a climb up over three false summits to Jaze La pass at 5050m (16,570ft). From the pass it is a short downhill trek to the campsite at the lake of Tso Chena at 4800m (15,740 ft.). Keep your eyes open for blue sheep during the hike.
Distance: 14km - 4 to 5 hours. The trail has a series of gradual ups and downs between the snow-capped peaks and across the Loju La pass at 4940m (16,300 ft) before descending to camp at Jichu Dramo at 4880m (16,000 ft.).
Distance: 18km - 6 to 7 hours. We start with a hard climb to Rinchen Zoe La pass at 5290m (17,350 ft.), the highest on the trek. It is then all downhill to Chukarpo, which is just above the tree line at 4950m (16335 ft.).
Distance: 18km - 5 to 6 hours. It is a long mostly downhill walk along the river, followed by a climb up to the Um So lake at 4230m (13,950 ft.). In this lake Pema Lingpa found a number of religious treasures. Continuing downhill we camp by the lake of Thampe Tso at 4200m (13,860 ft.).
Distance: 14km - 5 hours. It is a short walk to the base of Thampe La and a steep climb to the pass at 4580m (15,100 ft.). The trek is then all downhill through rhododendron bushes to the yak pasture of Maurothang where we camp at 3550m (11,640 ft.).
Distance: 17km- 6 to 7 hour. The trail follows the Nikka Chhu through thick, lush forest that is cool and pleasant. We emerge into bamboo thickets and patchwork hillsides of crops and houses of the Sephu district. It takes us a little longer than we think to finally descend to the roadhead and a small collection of shops at Nikka Chhu itself. Our transport meets us here and we DRIVE about two hours to our overnight accommodation in Gangtey. The end of this extraordinary trek and time to get back to civilization! Overnight in hotel.
We aim to get an early start for our drive from Gangtey to Paro. The first stop is Chimi Lhakhang monastery in Punakha. The monastery is dedicated to the famous Buddhist Saint Drukpa Kuenley, also lovingly called the Divine Madman, and is located on a ridge overlooking a beautiful valley called Lobeysa. Tales of Drukpa Kuenley using his manhood to subdue demons and liberate women to heavenly abodes run abound in the country and Bhutanese, both men and women, worship and love him. If you are childless and want one, this is the monastery to go to. Drive all the way to Paro. Overnight in hotel.
Today is your last morning in Bhutan. Breakfast and then we drive you to Paro Airport for your journey back home. Our staff will bid you farewell at the airport. See you again!
This trip has an activity rating of difficult. Travelers should be physically fit and prepared for multiple hours of hiking over several days on high mountains. Excursions may include navigating uneven terrain and walking on paths with steep ascents and descents.
This trip includes two days of acclimatization in Paro before the trek and another two nights in Gangtey and Paro after the trek where you will stay in a hotel for a total of four nights. The rest of the trip (23 nights) will be camping along the trail.
A Bhutan Spicy Shangri-La ‘Snowman Trek’ expert will accompany this trek.
|September||GROUP OF EIGHT (MAX)||Contact us for pricing|
|October||GROUP OF EIGHT (MAX)||Contact us for pricing|
Prices are per person based and do not include international airfare to/from your destination or internal flights during the expedition. All prices and fares are quoted in U.S. dollars and subject to change.