Best Seasons: Mid June to Mid October
Start: Drukgyel Dzong (Paro).
Finish: Duer Village (Bumthang)
The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek, and leads from Laya further into the high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. It takes tough and enduring trekkers into the Lunana region and further on to Gangkhar Puensum and Bumthang or down to Sephu in Trongsa district, depending on which route you choose. The Snowman trek leads through the most remote areas up to very high altitudes. Trekkers have to camp in altitudes above 5,000 m more than once, and depending on the seasonal temperatures, the camps are sometimes on snow.
Day 01: Arrive Paro
After immigration and customs formalities, you will be received by the representative of Pinehill Bhutan Travels. Then visit National Museum and Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong). A visit to a farm house gives an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of a farming family. Overnight in Paro.
Day 02: Paro valley
After breakfast, we hike to Kila Gompae (3.5 hours). First drive about 45 minutes from Paro to Chele La passes (3800 m). From the road you can walk to Kila Gompa, a nunnery inhabited by about 30 nuns and then on past to another temple called Gorina Lhakhang (the descent will be another 1.5 hours). From here you can return to the car, which takes around 30 minutes. Evening visit farm houses then leisure walk around Paro town. Overnight in Paro.
Day 03: Paro Valley (Drukgyel Dzong – Shana Zampa (Distance 17 km, 4-5 hours, 360 m ascent, 80 m descent, camp altitude 2,850 m).
Drive up to Drukgyel Dzong (2,580 m) where the road ends and the trek begin. With a gradual climb the trail follows the Paro Chhu. After about four hours you will reach the army post at Gunitsawa village. At the army check post 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.
Day 04: Sharna Zampa – Thangthangkha (Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m).
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 descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mount Jomolhari.
Day 05: Thangthangkha – Jangothang (Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m).
The trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley, which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty 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 Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari.
Day 06: Jangothang Halt.
The day in Jangothang provides plenty of 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 Tosoh or hike around the area.
Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi (Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 m)
From the camp the trail climbs rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascend to the Nyilila pass at 4,870 m. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7,000 m. On the way down to the camp you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tent, made from yak wool. As you come down, 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.
Day 08: Lingshi – Chebisa (Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,880 m).
Today is the shortest walking day and you can really take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong. Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a diversion up to the Lingshi Dzong (4,220 m) which sits right atop a ridge. Lingshi Dzong provides a great view over the valley. After Lingshi Dzong you will be passing the villages of Lingshi and Goyul. Upon reaching the campsite at Chebisa with a beautiful waterfall behind the village, you will have plenty of time to visit the village houses if you feel up to it.
Day 09: Chebisa – Shomuthang (Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m)
You walk through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks. There is also a great chance to spot large herds of blue sheep above the trail. After crossing the Gobu La (4,410 m), you reach Shakshepasa (3,980 m) where a helipad has been established. Climbing from here you will finally reach the campsite at Shomuthang, above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu river.
Day 10: Shomuthang – Robluthang (Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m).
As the walk is a little strenuous, it is advisable to start early. Climb up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours, you will reach Jhari La (4,750 m), from where you catch the first sight of Sinche La, the pass you will have to cross the day after. The big snow peak in the north is Gangchhenta (6,840 m), better known as the Great Tiger Mountain. If weather is clear, Tserim Kang and the top of Jumolhari will be visible. The camp by the river is called Tsheri Jathang. The valley has been declared a takin sanctuary. Climb up a little bit and you will reach the campsite at Robluthang in a rocky meadow.
Day 11: Robluthang – Limithang (Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,140 m).
After crossing Sinche La (5,005 m) – the last and highest pass on the trek in case you don’t intend to continue the Snowman trek from Laya onwards – you descend to a little stone house. Right behind the stone house you will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley. Below the moraine, you cross the Kango Chhu and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchhenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a distance away.
Day 12: Limithang – Laya (Distance 10 km, 4-5 hours, 60 m ascent, 340 m descent, camp altitude 3,840 m).
Today, you walk all the way downhill along a narrow winding river valley. After a long time, you again trek partly through deep forest. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village you will view Gangchhenta again and catch a glimpse of Masagang. The campsite is below the school.
Day 13: Acclimatization day in Laya
If you have trekked from Drukgyel Dzong you should spend a day recuperating from the trek to Laya and preparing yourself for the rest of this challenging but spectacular trek. If you have started from Tashitang/Damji (Punakha) you should also walk up to Laya to acclimatize, and not just stay at the trail junction to Lunana. It’s worthwhile to spend one day in Laya just for the great views from Laya and its extraordinary nomadic inhabitants.
Day 14: Laya – Rhoduphu (Distance 19 km, 6-8 hours, 1,030 m ascent, 750 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m).
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 you reach the camp at Roduphu just next to the Rhodu Chhu.
Day 15: Rhodophu – Narethang (Distance 17 km, 5-6 hours, 740 m ascent, camp altitude 4,900 m).
After following the river, you will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4,600m and then further up to Tsomo La (4,900 m). 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 5,000 m. The campsite at Narethang is towered by the peak of Gangla Karchung (6,395 m).
Day 16: Narethang – Tarina (Distance 18 km, 5-6 hours, 270 m ascent, 1,200 m descent, camp altitude 3,970 m).
From the camp you will climb for about an hour to Gangla Karchung La (5,120 m). You can see mountains including Jekangphu Gang (7,100 m), Tsenda Kang and Teri Gang (7,300 m). 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. Finally, it is a very long descent through thick rhododendron to Tarina valley, where you will find several good campsites along the Tang Chhu.
Day 17: Tarina – Woche (Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 270 m ascent, 330 m descent, camp altitude 3,910 m).
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.
Day 18: Woche – Lhedi (Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 980 m ascent, 1,190 m descent, camp altitude 3,700 m).
The trek starts through the forests. Climb up to Keche La pass (4,650 m) 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 which has a basic health unit, a school and a wireless telephone connection.
Day 19: Lhedi – Thanza (Distance 17 km, 7-8 hours, 450 m ascent, camp altitude 4,150 m).
In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7,100 m). Around lunchtime you will pass the small village of Chozo (4,090 m). Reaching Thanza again you will have a great view of Table Mountain, which forms a 3,000 m high wall of snow and ice behind the village. Although you can camp directly at Thanza, most groups prefer to camp in Thoencha.
Day 20: Rest day at Thanza.
Walk around and experience some village life or climb up the ridge for fascinating views of lakes and mountains. But as it takes time to arrange new yaks (the yaks from Laya will not go further than Thanza) you might have to spend one day at Thanza anyway.
Day 21: Thanza- Tshorim (8-9 hours, camp altitude 5,120 m).
Having chosen the route to Bumthang the trek starts by climbing a ridge with a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. The ridge altitude is 4,500 m and it rises gradually up to 4,650 m. After lunch walk upwards towards the left side of the bridge to enjoy the view of snow-capped mountains. You reach the campsite of Tshorim after climbing more ridges.
Day 22: Tshorim – Gangkhar Puensum Base Camp (6-7 hours, camp altitude 4,970 m).
This is one of the highlights of the trek and the day starts with a short climb to the Tshorim Tsho enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophu La ranges (5,230 m). After the pass descend to the base camp, enjoy a great view of Gangkhar Puensum. If interested, one can divert to climb up the pyramid shaped peak for a better view or you can go down to the base camp nearby Sha Chhu.
Day 23: Gangkar Puensum Base Camp – Geshe Woma (6-7 hours, camp altitude 4,200 m)
The trail further follows the Sha Chhu and descends gradually to Geshe Woma.
Day 24: Geshe Woma – Warathang (8-9 hours, camp altitude 4,000 m)
The path continues following Sha Chhu for two and a half hours until the stiff climb to Saka La begins. Visibility along the Saka La trail is poor so one must see top of the ridge for guidance. After having lunch nearby a yak herders’ camp you climb up to Saka La (4,800 m).
Day 25: Warathang – Duer Tsachu (5 hours, camp altitude 3,590 m)
An hour climb leads to Juli La (4,700 m) then to Duer Tsachu. These hot springs, where Guru Padmasambhava is supposed to have taken bath, might be the most stunningly beautiful hot springs of the Himalayas. You might want to spend an extra day at Duer Tsachu.
Day 26: Duer Tsachu – Tshochenchen (8-9 hours, camp altitude 3,850 m).
From the hot springs it is a long and steady climb again with great views of mountains in Lunana. You will also come across blue lakes and yak herder huts.
Day 27: Tshochenchen – Duer Village
This is the last day of the trek and your porter change from yaks to horses. The path follows the Chamkhar Chhu, descending gradually with a few climbs in between. The trek ends here when you arrive at Duer village. From here you drive to Jakar (Bumthang). Overnight in Bumthang.
Day 28: Drive to Punakha (210 km, 7 hours)
Drive to Punakha is a scenic drive, passing many small villages, waterfalls with spectacular landscape, crossing Black mountains, the ever-changing vegetation and finally arriving in the warm valley of Punakha. After a short rest at the hotel, we guide you to today’s highlight – Punakha Dzong. Overnight in Punakha.
Day 29: Drive to Thimphu
After breakfast, drive to Thimhu via the Dochula pass (3140 m) where one can have a superb view of the Eastern Himalayas. Visit the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill. Also visit Druk Wangyel Temple.
After checking in at the hotel in Thimphu visit Kuensel Phodrang (tallest Buddha statue), Tashichho Dzong (fortress of the glorious religion) and Handicrafts Emporium. Overnight in Thimphu
Day 30: Departure to Airport
Drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. We hope to serve you again with our other exciting tour packages in the future.