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Laya Gasa Trek

Laya Gasa Trek

NZD $8,343

Duration – 18 days / 17 nights (13 days trekking)

Highest campsite – 4460m (146320ft)

Best time to go – May to June, September to November

Difficulty – High degree of fitness, hard trekking

Tour Cost – Single: US$5,310 /  Group of 2 people: US$5,140  /  3+ people: US$4,630

The Laya Gasa Trek is among the most popular treks in Bhutan. This hidden and remote journey begins from the tiny village of Gunitsawa at the northern end of the Paro valley. It is still a medium to hard trek due to the distance and altitude covered, and takes trekkers through some of the most alluring and scenic terrain and landscapes of Bhutan. On the trail you can see amazing views of the surrounding Himalayan mountain peaks like Mt. Jomolhari, Mt. Jichu Drakey, Mt. Tsherimgang, Mt. Masagang and many other high mountain peaks. As you continue to ascend and descend, you will trek through a meadow laden with wildflowers surrounded by giant trees like fur, pine, juniper and rhododendron forest.  Yak herders and their yaks at high altitude and the scattered nomadic village are some of the highlight on this trek. Along the trail you will also be able to spot some high altitude animals like blue sheep and Takin – the national animal of Bhutan.

Description

Wild Mountain Adventures

Wild Mountain Adventures is a leading adventure tour company in Bhutan, and markets their key trekking products under the Bhutan Trekker brand. Their focus is on delivering excellent customer care as you discover Bhutan and exceeding clients’ expectations through the provision of truly unique and inspirational experiences.
As passionate trekkers themselves, the team at Wild Mountain Adventure pay particular attention to the fundamental aspects and small details of planning a trekking trip. They are acutely aware of how refreshing an adventure away from home and regular routines is, and provide really flexible itineraries to meet individual and group adventurers’ needs. With highly trained and knowledgeable local staff, excellent support structures in place, and a focus on the best hospitality, you can be assured of a memorable and unforgettable experience trekking through Bhutan’s beautiful wilderness.

Detailed Itinerary

DAY 01: ARRIVAL AT PARO I 2250M

The flight into Bhutan can offer breathtaking views of the Himalayan mountain range including Mt. Everest and Mt. Kangchenjunga. After landing at the Paro international airport you will be greeted by your local tour guide. After a brief introduction you will then be led to your hotel. Enjoy the rest of today at your leisure.

DAY 02: HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST I 2950M I 04KM I 04HRS

After a leisurely breakfast in the hotel drive further north of Paro town and then embark on your somewhat arduous adventure of the day. The highlight of today is an unforgettable memory of an iconic emblem of Bhutan. The hike up to the historical Tiger’s Nest monastery is an uphill task and takes around 3-4 hours. Historically it is one of the most important pilgrimage sites in the entire Himalayas. Legend says, Guru Padmasambhava flew to the site on the back of a pregnant tigress with a mission to subdue the evil spirit dwelling in the Himalayas. He spent time meditating in the cave for three long months. Upon his blessing and prophecy the temple was built in the year 1694. After exploring the wonders and views of the Tiger’s Nest, retrace the trail back to parking area and drive to Paro. If time permits en-route visit the historical Kyichu Lhakhang.

DAY 03: GUNITSAWA – SHARNA I CAMPSITE: 2860M I 11KM I 05HRS

After your breakfast in the hotel drive further north of Paro for the first day of the multiday trek. On the way make a short visit to the historical Drukgyel Dzong. Though it lies in ruin it has a great historical significance that dates back to 17th century. If the weather is clear, from a certain point of the Dzong the view of the towering Mt. Jomolhari is visible. After the Dzong continue your drive further north till you reach the tiny village of Gunitsawa, where your long expedition begins. The trail takes you along the opposite direction of the Pachhu River and gradually leads up to the small meadow of Sharna for your camp.

DAY 04: SHARNA – THANGTHANKA I CAMPSITE: 3570M I 16KM I 06 – 07HRS

We recommend you to make an early start as there is a long distance to cover today. You will encounter numerous short ascents and descents through the rough and muddy trail. The trail takes you through a rich forest of oak, juniper, fur and rhododendron and during the day you will exit the forest and walk through a rich meadow covered in white flowers. If the weather is favourable your camping spot will provide you with another excellent view of the towering Mt. Jomolhari at the northern end of the valley.

DAY 05: THANGTHANKA – JANGOTHANG I CAMPSITE: 4080M I 15KM I 06HRS

Today you will head to one of the finest and most beautiful campsites in the entire Himalayas – the Jomolhari Base Camp. As you begin your trek at some point the trail gradually pushes you up above the Pachu River and you enter an alpine meadow with a scanty growth of forest. Yaks and the nomadic yak herder’s camp will be the highlight of the day - apart from the stunning natural beauty surrounding you. As you near the still and silent Mt. Jomolhari, the beautiful prayer flags held high in its glory and the remnant of a fortress scattered throughout the area provide a different and unique perspective of the glorious Mt. Jomo. Your campsite is located in a wide meadow with a view of Mt. Jomolhari.

DAY 06: JANGOTHANG HALT

After walking for three long continuous days, its time for you to relax and rest. On this day you can spend time in camp, acclimatizing and just enjoying the magnificent view of Mt. Jomolhari. There are several other optional day hikes available in the vicinity with the breathtaking view of Mt. Jomolhari and Jichu Drakey. One can also get to explore the glacier high altitude lakes. If you are lucky there is a high chances of spotting the wild Blue Sheep grazing nearby. If you are interested you can bring along a fishing rod and fishing license, and choose to go fishing in the high altitude glacier lake of Tshophu.

DAY 07: JANGOTHANG – LINGSHI I CAMPSITE: 4010M I 18KM I 07-08HRS

Today’s trail is one of the longest on this trek, therefore, we recommend an early start. As you begin your walk heading further north, the magnificent Mt. Jichu Drakey and Mt. Tsherimgang make their presence apparent. Crossing the small stream you will gradually push uphill for another 4 hours to Nyilila pass (4860m). As you climb, enjoy the beauty of the wide vista that is the surrounding landscape. Somewhere from this stretch you will have a great chance to spot the unique blue sheep grazing on the other side of the mountain slopes. As you near the top of Nyilila pass the sky opens up for the stunning view of the three sisters mountain peaks. Spend some quality time on the pass soaking up the pristine atmosphere. From the pass you will then descend downhill through a rough and stony path till you reach your campsite. As you continue to descend downhill you will also sight the beautiful Lingshi Dzong on a small hilltop and if the weather is clear Mt. Tsherimgang raises its presence at the northern end of the valley.

DAY 08: LINGSHI – CHEBISA I CAMPSITE: 3880M I 10KM I 05HRS

Soon after beginning your trek today, you will reach a small Chorten with a stunning view of Lingshi Dzong. Walk up to the Dzong and make a short visit inside the interior temple. It was built in 17th century. After the Dzong the trail winds through a small compact village and then gradually ascends uphill to a ridge at 4140m. From this ridge you will then descend downhill to the pleasant settlement of Goyul village at an altitude of 3870m. Crossing the village you then take several short ascents and descents en-route to finally reaching Chebisa. At your early arrival at Chebisa, explore the village and then walk further behind the village to view the stunning waterfall.

DAY 09: CHEBISA – SHOMUTHANG I CAMPSITE: 4220M I 15KM I 07HRS

We recommend an early start as you exit the wide pasturelands into an uphill climb for three hours to reach Gobula pass (4510m). Along the trail you will also be able to spot the blue sheep grazing above the trail. En-route you will also have a chance to encounter the nomadic people grazing yaks. As you descend from the pass you then reach a small stream. From here the trail gradually ascends uphill and then finally enters a U-shape valley with a small village. Here you will encounter numerous yak herders and their camps as you gradually climb uphill to your campsite at Shomuthang.

DAY 10: SHOMUTHANG – ROBLUTHANG I CAMPSITE: 4160M I 16KM I 07-08HRS

Today your trail begins with an uphill climb to Jarila pass (4750m). As you continue the uphill trail you will be accompanied by the stunning view of Mt. Khang Bum (6539m). Reaching the top of Jarila pass you will enjoy glimpses of Sinchela pass and on the northern side of the trail the giant Mt. Gangchenta (6840m) show up its beauty. Depending upon the clarity of the weather the view of Mt. Tserimgang and the tip of Mt. Jomolhari can be seen. From the pass you then gradually descend downhill to Tserijathang, a pasture known for the summer grazing ground for the rare Himalayan Takin (the national animal of Bhutan) who remain grazing in this area for nearly 4 months. From here you then gradually ascend uphill through a rocky meadow before finally reaching your campsite at Robluthang.

DAY 11: ROBLUTHANG – LIMITHANG I CAMPSITE: 4460M I 18KM I 08HRS

After an early start the trail begins with a long uphill climb to the Sinchela Pass (5005m). The pass is one of the highest passes on this trek. From the top you will then gradually descend downhill and at the far side of the pass you will have glimpses of the impressive terminal moraine and Glacier Lake at the foot of the valley. Below the moraine you will trek through the rough and rocky trail into the glacier valley and eventually to Kongochhu. From this stream you then climb a bit through rhododendron and cedar forest interspersed with small meadows and then finally reach your campsite at Limithang with a backdrop of the towering peak of Mt. Gangchenta (6840m).

DAY 12: LIMITHANG – LAYA I CAMPSITE: 3840M I 11KM I 05HRS

Today you will have a pleasant relaxing walk. Your trail begins with a downhill walk traversing through a narrow and winding river valley. The trail mostly takes you through a densely forested valley with moss and the sound of singing birds. En-route you will have an opportunity to see the stunning view of Mt. Gangchenta (6840m) and Mt. Masagang (7165m). With this stunning view you then gradually enter Laya village. Laya is the second highest settlement in Bhutan and lies at an elevation of 3,800m. Your campsite is located just below the school. If interested, we can also help you arrange a homestay program in the village.

DAY 13: LAYA HALT

After a long continuous trek, it’s now time to relax and rest. You can spend time in camp, acclimatizing and drinking. You will also have an optional program going out exploring the Laya village.

DAY 14: LAYA – KOINA I CAMPSITE: 3100M I 15KM I 06HRS

As you head off today, the trail winds through several ups and downs along the Mochhu River and then finally coming to Koina Laptsa (3300m). From this pass you then gradually drop downhill to the Koina chhu River.  After a short walk you will reach your campsite at Koina.

DAY 15: KOINA – GASA HOT SPRING I CAMPSITE: 2340M I 17KM I 08HRS

Today your trail begins with an ascent to Barila Pass (3900m), which will be your last and final climb on this trek. The trail takes you through a rich forest of fir, juniper and rhododendron. After reaching the pass your trail then descends downhill through the forest filled with bamboo. On arrival at Gasa make a short visit to Gasa Dzong, popularly known as Trashi Thongmoen Dzong. It was named after the regions protective deity. The Dzong serves as the administration center for the local people of Gasa and the monastic center for the monk body. After exploring the Dzong you then drive down to the popular Gasa Hot Springs to relax and rejuvenate.

DAY 16: GASA HOT SPRING – THIMPHU I 133KM I 05HRS

After a leisurely breakfast drive to Punakha. In Punakha visit the historical Punakha Dzong. The Dzong cuts a striking picture with its imposing walls rising up from the tumbling clear waters. It was built by Zhabdrung in the year 1637. After exploring the Dzong drive for another 9km and visit the popular Chemi Lhakhang (the temple of fertility). It dates back to the 14th century and was founded by Lama Drukpa Kuenley, popularly known as the Divine Madman. This small temple is popular amongst both locals and tourists alike. Ask your guide for the detailed history of this temple. After the temple trace your way back following the same path to the main road and then drive to your destination – Thimphu. The drive takes you through rich forests of oak and pine. Reaching the top of Dochula Pass – which is unlike any other pass in Bhutan – travel downhill on the scenic drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan

DAY 17: THIMPHU – PARO I 55KM I 01HR

The bustling and booming capital city is the cultural hub of Bhutan. It is home to the royal family and the government ministers. Before departing for Paro, explore the sights and sounds of Thimphu. Your half-day sightseeing in Thimphu includes a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, Giant Buddha Statue, Changangkha Lhakhang and traditional paper factory. If you are here during the weekends, visit the centenary vegetable market. Lunch will be served in Thimphu and after lunch drive to Paro. The drive is around 55km and will take about an hour. Overnight in Paro.

DAY 18: HOTEL – AIRPORT

After a final leisurely breakfast in the hotel, drive to Paro airport and depart to your onward destination. Here you bid adieu to your helpful Bhutanese tourist guide and driver.

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