Snowman Trek – 27 Days
The Snowman Trek goes to the remote Lunana district and is considered to be one of the most difficult treks in Bhutan. Crossing dozens of high passes, many over 16,000 ft, this tough trek includes challenges of long distances, altitude, difficult weather conditions and remoteness.
It however also affords some of the most magnificent views in the Himalayas, and traverses through some unforgettable landscapes.
DAY 01: ARRIVE PARO
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth.
After passing through customs, enjoy some lunch before afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 02: THIMPHU
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, 12th century Changangkha Temple, the Zilukha Nunnery and Tashichhodzong. If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
DAY 03: THIMPHU – PUNAKHA
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit spectacular Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of Drukpa Kuenly. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
DAY 04: PUNAKHA/TASHITHANG – DAMJI
8km, 5-6 hours
The trek starts by the riverside, following a well marked path through subtropical forest. There are many wild orchids growing in this rather damp area, but be on the lookout for leeches also! Today’s walk is fairly gentle climb up to Damji village (2,400), where we camp for the night.
DAY 05: DAMJI – GASA
15 km, 6-7 hours
The path continues on through subtropical forested area and villages up to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring). The Tshachu is famous for its curative powers, and people come from all over the country to bathe here. After lunch near the spring, we have a climb up to Gasa Dzong (2,900m) where we camp overnight.
DAY 06: GASA – CHAMSA
13km, 6-7 hours
After breakfast, we visit the Gasa Dzong. Today’s trek begins with a steep climb up to Bele-La Pass (3,700m) through mixed forests. We then descend for about to our forest camp at chamsa (3,650m).
DAY 07: CHAMSA – LAYA
22 km, 8-9 hours
The trail descends to the bank of the Mo Chu. After crossing the river we have lunch by the bridge. From here it is a gradual climb up to Laya (3,800m) passing by an army camp en route. We camp at Laya.
DAY 08: LAYA
Explore Laya village. You can go and visit one of the local houses. Traditional Bhutanese hospitality is extended even to a stranger, and a cup of tea and chang (alcohol brewed from barley) is always offered.
DAY 09: LAYA – RHODOPHU
19 km, 8-9 hours
From Laya we descend to the army camp and continue following the trail along the river till the turn off point for Rhodophu. After lunch we continue climbing upwards through rhododendrons till we reach a hanging valley where there are yaks grazing (4,350m). We camp here by the river.
DAY 10: RHODOPHU – TARINA
25 km, 10-11 hours
Today’s trek is the longest of the trip and it is important to start early, around 5 am. We first climb up to Tsimo-La Pass (4,700m) where we can enjoy a superb view of Lunana, and the peaks of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. Following 4 hours of level walking, we climb up to Ganglakarchung-La Pass (5, 080).
The view from the pass is breathtaking, encompassing the whole mountain range. After crossing the pass, it is a very long descent to the Tarina valley, where we camp at 3,980m.
DAY 11: TARINA – WOCHEY
17 km, 6-7 hours
The path descends through coniferous forest, following the upper reaches of the Pho Chu .The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Wochey at 3,800m, the first village since Gasa. Camp at alt 3, 800m.
DAY 12: WOCHEY – LHEDI
17 km, 6-7 hours
Today’s trek begins with a walk through mixed forests and further ahead through rhododendron bushes. We climb up to Keche-La Pass (4,480m). We then descend enjoy mountainous views en route. We walk upstream as far as Lhedi village (3,650), where we camp overnight.
DAY 13: LHEDI – THANZA
17 km, 7-8 hours
The route continues to follow the river, rising gradually to Choejong village (the biggest village in Lunana) where we stop for lunch. After lunch, we visit the village temple, then walk for some timeto a suspension bridge to cross the river. Soon we reach our campsite at Thanza (4,000m).
DAY 14: THANZA
A welcome day of leisure, or if you are feeling really energetic, you can climb up to the ridge for yet another splendid view of the mountains.
DAY 15: THANZA – TSHORIM
19 km, 8-9 hours
Today’s trek starts with a climb up to the ridge, from where there is a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. We follow a stream through a small valley, enjoying the view of snowcapped Mountains. We then climb up out of the valley to reach our campsite at Tshorim (5,125m).
DAY 16: TSHORIM – GANGKAR PUENSUM BASE CAMP
16 km, 6-7 hours
Today’s Trek is one of the highlights of the Trip. The day starts with a short climb up to Tshorim Lake. We walk around the side of the lake, enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophula Ranges. Climb up a pyramid shaped peak for a better view or you can go directly to the base camp (4,970m) near the Sha Chu.
DAY 17: GANGKAR PUENSUM BASE CAMP
Rest day at the base camp, enjoying the great views.
DAY 18: GANGKAR PUENSUM CAMP – GESHE WOMA
14 km, 6-7 hours
Today’s trail follows along the Sha Chu and descends to Geshe Woma (4,200m) where we camp.
DAY 19: GESHE WOMA – WARATHANG
18 km, 8-9 hours
The path continues along the course of the Sha Chu until the climb to Saka-La Pass (4,800m). Visibility is poor along this part of the trail, so we must keep watching the top of the ridge in order to stay on course. Enjoy stunning views of small lakes spread below towering peaks. We camp at 4,000m.
DAY 20: WARATHANG – DHUR TSHACHU
14 km, 5 hours
A short half hour climb take us up to Juli-La (4,400m) before descending to the riverside through dense rhododendron, Juniper and conifer forests. We then cross a bridge and after a short climb reach Dhur Tshachu hot spring, where legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava bathed in the 8th century.
DAY 21: DHUR TSHACHU – TSHOCHEMCHEM
16 km, 8-9 hours
From the spring, it is a long and steady climb upwards, with great views of the mountains in Lunana. Eventually the ground levels out, and we see several beautiful deep blue lakes, yaks grazing on the surrounding Pasture, and yak herder’s camp (3,850m).
DAY 22: TSHOCHEMCHEM – DHUR (MOTOR ROAD) – BUMTHANG (JAKAR)
21 km, 13 hours
This is the last day of the trek. We must set off very early in order to reach Bumthang before dark. The path follows the Chamkhar Chu, descending gradually with few climbs. The trek ends when we reach Dhur village, where transport will meet us and drive us to the lodge in Bumthang (Jakar).
Note: Unless very fit, it is best to spread this final stage over 2 Days.
DAY 23: BUMTHANG
Bumthang is the spiritual and cultural heartland of Bhutan. Spend the day exploring the some of Bumthang’s sacred sights including Kurje Lhakhang, home to a rock featuring the imprint of Guru Rimpoche’s body, Jambay Lhakhang (7th century) and Jakar Dzong. Also visit Tamshing Monastery housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan. Overnight at your guesthouse in Bumthang.
DAY 24: BUMTHANG – TRONGSA
The journey to Trongsa takes approximately 3 hours. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty. After lunch on arrival, visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture.
Trongsa is the largest Dzong in Bhutan and the location of where the institution of monarchy in Bhutan began. Also visit the Ta Dzong located on the hill overlooking the Dzong. Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
DAY 25: TRONGSA – PARO
After breakfast, depart for Paro. On arrival, enjoy a stroll through the Paro township. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 26: PARO
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery, walking approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill. The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is spectacular. Afterwards visit other sights in Paro valley. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
DAY 27: DEPART PARO
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.