Snowman trek is considered as one of the hardest and toughest treks in the world. It start’s in Drukgyel Dzong in Paro and leads to Laya in Gasa further into Lunana region (the highest settlement) and then near the Gangkar Puensum (the highest peak) and finally into Sephu village in Trongsa (central). Since the trekking terrains and routes passes through some of the highest passes up to 5,320m, and through dreamlike vistas directly below the massive snow and ice barrier of the Himalayas along the Tibetan border. Perhaps, it is very tough for the normal trekker. However, with the stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayan makes a trekker paradise. The best time to embark on this trek is between June to mid-October.
All meals, tea and snacks, complementary bottled water in car, hotels, transport, guide, government levy, visa fee, entrance fees, permits and sightseeing. On trek includes – sleeping tents, dinning tents, toilet and shower tents, toilet seats, mats, duffle bags, cooking utensils, all meals, guide, trek chef assistants and horses.
Flight tickets, insurance, tips, drinks and beverages, sleeping bag on trek, laundry, internet, phone and other bills of personal nature.
Distance: 17km, walking time: 5-6 hours, ascent: 360m, descent: 70m, camp altitude: 2,850m
Drive up to Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) where we start our trek. With a gradual climb the trail follows the Pachu (Paro river) passing beautiful meadows, paddy fields and impressive farm houses. After about four hours we 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.
Distance: 17km, walking time: 5-6 hours, ascent: 360m, descent: 70m, camp altitude: 2,850m
On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley, we enter 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, we will have the first great view of Mount Jomolhari.
Distance: 19km, walking time: 5-6 hours, ascent: 480m, camp altitude: 4,100m
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.
Distance: 18km, walking time: 6-7 hours, ascent: 840m, descent: 870m, camp altitude: 4,010m
The trail will be uphill climb for 30 minutes and then reach a gradual ascend till the Nyilila Pass at 4,870m. On a clear day, we will have a good view of the Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7,000m. We will also see blue sheep grazing at this altitude. Then a gradual descent towards the camp would enable us to see local highlander yak herding communities living in tents made of yak wool. As we enter Lingshi, we will see the majestic Lingshi Dzong. The campsite is just before the Lingshi Dzong.
Distance: 10km, walking time: 5-6 hours, ascent: 280m, descent: 420m, camp altitude: 3,880m
Cross the stream below the camp on a wooden bridge and climb up the opposite side to a Chorten just below Lingshi Dzong. In the valley to the east is a cluster of wood shingled houses which is one part of Lingshi village. If we look back at Tsering Kang we can see a very distinct rock pinnacle sticking up at the end of the East Ridge. The climb is gradual and easy. The campsite is on a meadow just opposite the Chebisa village.
Distance: 17km, walking time: 6-7 hours, ascent: 890m, descent: 540m, camp altitude: 4,250m
This morning, we have a big uphill climb along the vast meadow till Gobula pass (4,440m). As we climb up slowly, we may see some blue sheep grazing in high yak pastures and some vultures flying high and handsome in the clear blue sky. After the Gobula pass, it is mostly downhill to our camp beside a stream through the forests of junipers and firs.
Distance: 18km, walking distance: 6-7 hour, ascent: 700m, descent: 750m, camp altitude: 4,160m
We have a short steep climb and then the trail is level before it gradually starts to climb up the valley crossing the stream for a few times. On this stretch of our trek, we can see lots of edelweiss flowers and we can also have the view of snowcapped peak to the south-east called Khang Bum (6,526m). Once we are at Jhari La (4,747m), the trail goes steep down for about two hours through dwarf rhododendrons, junipers and firs till the campsite. In the summertime, there will be hundreds of Takins (National Animal) to be seen grazing on the slopes of the nearby hills for this valley is a chosen summer home.
Distance: 19km, walking time: 6-7hours, ascent: 850m, descent: 870m, camp altitude: 4,140m
Today, we have a long, hard day, crossing Sinchu La, the last and the highest pass on the trek. It’s a tough climb from here to the pass because the high altitude will slow you down considerably. Passing a false summit with a cairn, the trail levels out a little before reaching some rock cairns and prayer flags on Sinchu La (5,005m). The descent is on a rough, rocky trail that follows a moraine into another glacial valley. It is then a short walk on a good trail through a cedar forest interspersed with small meadows to Limithang, a lovely campsite in a big meadow by the river.
Distance: 10km, walking time: 4-5 hours, ascent: 70m, descent: 340m, camp altitude: 3,480m
Today, it is mostly downhill along a winding river, the trail splits, one going down with the river to the camp site used by the army. The other stays high and takes you into the west side of Laya village. We will camp on a high flat bench above the east end of the Laya village.
Distance: 19km, walking time: 6-7 hours, ascent: 1,030m, descent: 750m, camp altitude: 4,160m
From Laya we descend to an army camp and continue following the river till the turn off point to Rhoduphu. After lunch, the climb continues through rhododendron bushes till we reach the camp at Roduphu just next to the Rhodu Chhu.
Distance: 17km, walking time: 6-7 hours, ascent: 740m, camp altitude: 4,900m
After following the river for about half an hour we will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4,600m and then further up to Tsomo La (4,900m). Tsomo La offers a superb view of Lunana, Mount Jomolhari and Jichu Drake, and the Tibetan border. The route then crosses a flat, barren plateau at about 5,000m. The campsite at Narethang is towered by the peak of Gangla Karchung (6,395m).
Distance: 18km, walking time: 6-7 hours, ascent: 270m, descent: 1,200m, camp altitude: 3,970m
From the camp we will climb for about an hour to Gangla Karchung La (5,120m). The view from the pass is breathtaking and the whole range of mountains including Jekangphu Gang (7,100m), Tsenda Kang and Teri Gang (7,300m) can be seen. The pass descends along a large moraine. Again one has great views; a massive glacier descends from Teri Kang to a deep turquoise lake at its foot. Up here a glacial lake burst through its dam in the early 1960s, causing widespread damage and partially destroying Punakha Dzong. Finally, it is a very long descent through thick rhododendron to Tarina valley, where we will find several good campsites along the Tang Chhu.
Distance: 17km, walking time: 6-7 hours, ascent: 280m, descent: 330m camp altitude: 3,910m
The walk leads down through conifer forests following the upper ridges of the Pho Chhu, passing some impressive waterfalls. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche, a settlement of a few houses, the first village in the Lunana region.
Distance: 17km, walking time: 6-7 hours, ascent: 980m, descent: 1,190m, camp altitude: 3,700m
The trek starts through juniper and fir forests, and further ahead, through rhododendron bushes. Climb up to Keche La pass (4,650m) where one can have the great view of surrounding mountains again. After the pass, descend to the riverside walking through a village with a stunning view of Table Mountain and others. Follow up the river till Lhedi Village. Lhedi has a basic health unit, a school and a wireless telephone connection.
Distance: 17km, walking time: 6-7 hours, ascent: 450m, camp altitude: 4,150m
In clear weather, we will have great views of Table Mountain (7,100m). Around lunchtime we will pass the small village of Chozo (4,090m) which has a dzong still in use. Reaching Thanza again we will have a great view of Table Mountain which forms a 3,000m high wall of snow and ice behind the village. Although there are possibilities to camp directly at Thanza, most groups prefer to camp in Thoencha.
Distance: 8km, walking time: 3-4 hours, ascent: 80m, camp altitude: 4,230m
From Thoencha, the trail climbs up to a large boulder from where we will have excellent views of Thanza, Toencha and Choso village and the surrounding mountains. After a few hours of relatively flat and easy walking, we will reach a yak meadow with some yak herder’s huts also an excellent campsite with a great chance to spot some blue sheep on the hills above. A trail junction near the campsite will give us the choice between the routes up to Gangkhar Puensum base camp, and further on to Bumthang or to Sephu in Trongsa.
Distance: 12km, walking time: 5-6 hours, ascent: 980m, descent: 240m, camp altitude: 4,970m
Having chosen the route to Sephu, the trek crosses the creek and after a long climb, we will reach Jaze La (5,150m) with spectacular panoramic mountain views. The path then descends between snow-covered peaks and a couple of small lakes to the campsite near the Shore of Tshochena Lake.
Distance: 14km, walking time: 4-5 hours, ascent: 230m, descent: 150m, camp altitude: 5,050m
We follow the bank of the blue green lake before arriving at a ridge at 5,100m, where there is another spectacular view in all directions. After going up and down over small hills to reach a glacial lake, the route descends first before climbing again up the next pass, the Loju La (5,140m). Finally after crossing a small saddle (5,100m) we will enter into a wide glacial valley from where the trail descends gradually to the campsite at Jichu Dramo.
Distance: 18km, walking time: 5-6 hours, ascent: 320m, descent: 730m, camp altitude: 4,600m
Right after leaving the camp we will climb through a moraine to Rinchen Zoe La (5,320m). Spectacular mountain scenery with Gangkhar Puensum amongst the impressive mountains is the reward for climbing the highest pass on this trek route. Rinchen Zoe Peak (5,650) towers above the pass the west. Descending from the pass, the route leads into a wide valley with several lakes and goes steeply down along a moraine to the Thamphe Chhu. Here the vegetation begins to thicken again and we will see the first real trees since Lhedi. After a couple of hours we reach the campsite at Chukarpo.
Distance: 18km, walking time: 5-6 hours, ascent: 400m, descent: 700m, camp altitude: 4,300m
The descent continues along the river till we reach the yak herder huts at Gala Pang Chhu (4010m). From here the trail climbs steeply towards Thampe Tsho, a beautiful clear turquoise lake, with the campsite next to it.
Distance: 14km, walking time: 5 hours, ascent: 330m, descent: 1,020m, camp altitude: 3,610m
From the lake we climb steeply to the last pass on our trek, the Thampe La (4,600m) with a good chance to spot some blue sheep on the way. Then the path descends to the sacred lake Om Tsho. Passing a waterfall we will reach another smaller lake 100m below to descend steeply to the Nikka Chhu. The path finally leads through mixed forest to large clearing on the banks of the river with a few yak herder huts, Maurothang.
Distance: 18km, walking time: 5-6 hours, descent: 990m
This will be the last day of an extraordinary trek and our porters will have to change from yaks to horses as the yaks will not be willing to go further down. We move on a path following the Nikka Chhu to reach a large grassy area overlooking the road and the village of Sephu. Our final destination is the road at the Nikka Chhu Bridge at Sephu, where we will find several stores (mainly selling bamboo products) and small restaurants. From the road point our company car will pick us and then we will drive to Punakha. Overnight hotel in Punakha.
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