Jomolhari Trek – 11 Days
This trip allows the travelers to enjoy the taste of the great variety of Bhutanese landscape, and the views from some of the major passes that we come across are breathtaking, be it of mountains or the valleys underneath. It gives you a chance to meet people, enjoy the pristine forest with rare glimpse of wildlife and observe the ancient old traditions of arts and crafts. We would be traveling through the less frequented areas of Bhutan. After your tour in the tiny town of Paro, we will take an excur sion to the famous Tiger’s Nest locally known as Taktsang Gompa, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. We start our 8 days trek to Thimphu via Base camp of Mount. Jomolhari. A medium duration trek that is probably the most trekked route in Bhutan due to its easy access, beautiful terrain and spec tacular views of the majestic snowcapped mountains. Locally known as Chomolhari (The Mountain of Goddess Chomo), believed to be the abode of Chomo goddess is one of the most beautiful and imposing mountains in the entire Himalayan region. Located at the northwestern border with Tibet, the trek to the base camp of this dome shaped mountain provides an opportunity to experience the panoramic views of some of the world’s highest peaks. Beginning from Paro valley, your trek starts with gentle ascent through Bhutan’s undisturbed forest of rhododendrons and pines. Passing through the villages with lush fields of rice, wheat, barley and crossing over the tree lines you arrive in the regions sparsely inhabited by the migrant yak herders. The trail continues through enchanting valley flanked with snowcapped peaks to the base of Mount Chomolhari and its spike shaped companion, Jichu Drake. You spend one entire day exploring the vicinity or just relaxing and enjoying the wonders of nature. You resume your trek to the Thimphu valley by crossing two major passes through the remote wilderness with abundant of wildlife, in cluding, blue sheep, Takin and variety of birds, perhaps under the surveillance of the elusive snow leopard. There will be ample of opportunities to interact with the friendly people of Bhutan and learn their philosophy of “GROSS NATIONAL HAPINESS”. After the trek, you have a day to see Bhutan’s tiny Capital city with no traffic light.
ARRIVAL DAY IN PARO
Flying into the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression.
Your guide who is going to be with you throughout your trip from Bhutan Wilderness Travels will meet you at the airport. A fifteen minute drive follows the narrow winding road to our hotel which is a traditional Bhutanese building with attractive gardens and an exceptionally peaceful atmosphere.
In the afternoon, Rinpung Dzong built in 1646 by Shabdrung, the first spiritual and temporal ruler of Bhutan, the Dzong houses the monastic body of Paro and its district administration. We will then, walk along the small main street of Paro in the evening with its typical Bhutanese shops and small lodges.
- Accommodation: Altitude at Paro 2250 meters. Overnight: Tenzinling Resorts in Paro
Today, we hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the ‘Tiger’s Nest.’ This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
After visiting what is known as one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the country, we will go off the beaten track further up to the temples that are on the hill tops above Tiger’s Nest. It’s so peaceful there and you can really communicate with nature as you enjoy the views from the top be it that of mountains or the valley. No wonder that some monks have chosen this place to meditate for their life! To go down, we are following a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons festooned with Spanish mosses.
- Accommodation: Tenzinling Resorts in Paro
DRUKGYEL DZONG / SHANA (5-6 HOURS)
Drive up to Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) where the road ends and the trek begins. With a gradual climb the trail follows the Pachu (Paro River) passing beautiful meadows, paddy fields and impressive farm houses. After about four hours you will reach the army post at Gunitsawa village. At the army check point your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa.
- Accommodation: Camp Shana (2850m)
SHANA / THANGTHANGKA (7-8 HOURS)
On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley, you enter the Jigme Dorji National Park. The valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which ascends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mount Chomolhari.
- Accommodation: Camp Thangthangka (3610m)
THANGTHANGKA / JOMOLHARI BASE CAMP ( 4-5 HOURS)
If you did not see Mount Jomolhari last evening, you will have a great chance to get a great view this early morning. This morning, the trek continues up the Pachu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow and meager growths of forest. Cross an army outpost along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. Yaks and the herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. Reaching Base Camp, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.
- Accommodation: Camp Jomolhari Base Camp (4080m)
The day at Jomolhari Base Camp provides several possibilities for day hikes with great views on lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization. Trek up to Tsophu or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jhomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lay directly west, Jichu Drake to the north and a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.
- Accommodation: Camp Jomolhari Base Camp
JOMOLHARI BASE CAMP / LINGSHI (6-7 HOURS)
After 15 min. from the camp the trail climbs rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila Pass at 4,870m. While on the climb enjoy the surrounding. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mt. Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7,000m. On the way down to the camp you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tent, made from yak wool, where the herders take shelter while on the move to various pastures for their yaks. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on a clear day. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingshi Dzong.
- Accommodation: Camp Lingshi (4010m)
LINGSHI / SHODU ( 8-9 HOURS)
The trail climbs up to the Yelila Pass at an altitude of 4,930m. From the pass, on a clear day you will get an excellent view of Jhomolhari, Tserimgang and Masanggang. The trek from the pass to the campsite at Shodu is a steep downhill.
- Accommodation: Camp Shodu (4080m)
SHODU / BARSHONG ( 5-6 HOURS)
The trail follows the Thimphu Chu (river) through fir and hemlock forests, past beautiful waterfalls along the way. The valley narrows till the path takes to the slopes and gradually ascends to the ruins of Barshong Dzong.
- Accommodation: Camp Barshong (3710m)
BARSHONG / DODENA ( 7-8 HOURS)
The trail descends down to the Thimphu Chu (river) valley, through dense forests of rhododendron, birch, conifer, maples and bamboos and then ascends to pasture lands. From here, the trail continues through forested areas winding up and down and if luck favors us, we may see some monkeys and finally reach at the road head which is next to an impressive Bhutanese cantilever bridge where our car will be waiting for us to drive to Thimphu the capital city for about half an hour.
- Accommodation: Jomolhari Hotel in Thimphu
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. Your escort will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.11TH DAY