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Laya Gasa Trek

Laya Gasa trek. Besides the unforgettable views of Mount Jomolhari, the trek offers spectacular views on Jichu Drake and Gangchhenta (Great Tiger Mountain). Between Jangothang and Laya the trail hardly goes below 4,000m and one has good opportunities to spot blue sheep or even takin. Some beautiful Bhutanese mountain villages, the unique culture and appearance of the Layaps (people of Laya district) and finally a day of relaxation at the Gasa hot springs add to an extremely rewarding trekking experience. All in all, the Laya Gasa Trek is considered to be the most beautiful trek of Bhutan, only to be beaten by the tough Snowman Trek.

 

Trip Level:

Easy

Destination:

Bhutan

Starts At:

Paro

Ends At:

Paro

Outline Itinerary

Day 01: Paro, arrival
Day 02: Paro - Taktsang Monastery `Tigers Nest` 
Day 03: Paro - Shana
Day 04: Shana - Thangthangkha
Day 05: Thangthangkha - Jangothang 
Day 06: Jangothang - restday or dayhike
Day 07: Jangothang - Lingshi
Day 08: Lingshi - Chebisa
Day 09: Chebisa - Shomuthang
Day 10: Shomuthang - Robluthang
Day 11: Robluthang - Limithang
Day 12: Limithang - Laya
Day 13: Laya - Koina
Day 14: Koina - Gasa
Day 15: Gasa - Damji
Day 16: Damji - Trashitang
Day 17: Trashitang - Punakha - Thimphu
Day 18: Thimphu
Day 19: Paro, departure

Day 01  Arrive at Paro Airport: The flight into Paro brings breathtaking views of the Himalayan Mountains. If the weather permits you will be able to see Mt Everest (8848m, 29,198ft) and other Himalayan mountains. The landing, flying through the Paro valley between the 4000 metre high mountains, starts your day in an unforgettable way! Your Bhutanese representative from Himalayan Rock will greet you on arrival and drive you through the beautiful valley of Paro to the hotel you will be staying.

This beautiful valley is home to many Bhutan`s oldest monasteries and temples. The country`s only airport is in Paro. The valley is also home to Mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.

Later visit:
Ta Dzong: Means watch tower. It served as a watch tower during the 17th century to guard the region from the Tibetan invasion. It was converted to the National Museum in 1968. It houses a fine collection of Bhutanese art, relics, religious thankas.

Kichu Lhakhang (Monastery): It is one of the two most sacred and the oldest temples in Bhutan. It was built in 7th century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.

Rimpung Dzong: Means fortress of the heap of jewels. It was built during the time of Zhabdrung (deeply revered to this day as dynamic political and spiritual leader) in 1644. It houses both administrative and monastic bodies.

Overnight at Hotel Olathang, Paro: Located away from the town overlooking Paro valley. Peaceful surrounding, warm and comfortable room, good service and good meals.

Day 02 Paro Morning take an acclimatization hike to the famous Taktsang Monastery (Tiger`s nest): This is Bhutan`s most recognizable cultural icon perched 800m, 2640ft up a seemingly sheer cliff. Although it was tragically and mysteriously consumed by fire in April 1998 it has now been restored to its former glory.

Visit Farmhouse: Bhutan is justly NOT famous for its cuisine, which is somewhat predictable. Eating at a local farmhouse at least gives a slightly different variation.

Overnight at Hotel Olathang, Paro.

Day 03 Drive Paro to Shana: Drive to the end of the motor road at Drukgyel Dzong to begin the trek. Today`s trail follows the river uphill through a narrow agricultural valley as far as the border army camp at about 2890 m, 9480ft. (15 km, 9.3miles, 5 hrs walk)

Day 04 Shana - Thangthangkha: The path from Shana ascends through the river valley with pine and rhododendron forests.  On the way, there is a fantastic view of Mount Jomolhari.  We will camp in a meadow with a stone shelter at an altitude of about 3575m, 11,730ft. (22 km, 13.6 miles, 6 to 7 hours walk).

Day 05 Thangthangkha - Jangothang: The trail continues to follow the river and passes a small army post where the valley begins to widen again.  Views of high ridges and snow-capped peaks can be seen on all sides.  At this altitude (about 4040 meters) it is possible to see yaks and yak herders. Camp is beneath a ruined fortress at the base of Mount Jomolhari. Altitude: 4044m, 13,260ft. (17 km, 10.5 miles, 5 hours walk.

Day 06 Jangothang: It`s possible to walk to Tsophu and fish or hike in various directions: towards Mount Jomolhari and its subsidiary to the west, Jichu Drake to the north and unclaimed summits and ridges to the east.

Day 07 Jangothang - Lingshi: The trail climbs gradually to Nyili La Pass (4680 m). Broad yak pastures can be seen along the length of the route.  If the weather is clear, there is an excellent view of Lingshi Dzong as we descend into the Lingshi basin.  Tserim Kang and its descending glaciers can be seen at the north end of the valley. The Lingshi area has 118 households and about 300-400 people, some of whom live a great distance from Lingshi. There also used to be some Tibetan refugees. (5 to 6 hrs walk, distance 21km). We camp at an altitude of  4010 m, 13,150ft.

Day 08 Lingshi - Chebisa: Leaving Lingshi village behind, the most pleasant walk of the whole trek starts on a wide trail located high above the valley floor. The hill sides are partly covered by the medicinal plants. The track descends into a side valley to a village called Goyok. Take time to study the yak people when they take the luggage and saddles off their animals. The yaks are then chased up the hill so that they graze their way down to camp during the night. Altitude: 3990m, 13,090ft.  (3 to 4 hours, distance 16km, 10miles).

Day 09 Chebisa - Shomuthang: Beware of the dogs while crossing the village. After the village a stiff, steep climb of about 450m up a grassy slope leads to a peak called Inela. During the climb you might see herds of blue sheep, bearded vulture. Later the hike descends through a forest on a wet trail. Camp by the river. (Altitude: 4000m, 13,120ft, 14 km, 8.7 miles, 5 hours walk).

Day 10 Shomuthang - Robluthang: The day starts with a climb of about 200m, after which the trail levels and changes from a southerly to an easterly direction. The area is full of Yak herder huts. You will come across a swampy area where there is a big river, where the bridge will be hopefully found in place. The herders have to rebuild the bridge almost every year, so be prepared to wade the river, which can be cold and powerful depending on the time of the year. A steep 40 minutes climb will lead to a nice campsite. Altitude: 4160m, 13645ft. (16 km, 10 miles, 7 hrs walk).

Day 11 Robluthang - Limithang: Start early so as to enjoy the best possible view from the pass. The trail crosses some small streams and you will come across a platform with lots of prayer flags. From here a large glacial valley opens up leading to the east and finally to today`s pass. When you follow the trail you will hear shrill noises which are of marmots, whose holes can be seen everywhere. The hill sides here are covered with medicinal plants. The campsite is through a beautiful cedar forest, with Great Tiger Mountain looming over camp. Altitude: 4160m, 13645ft above sea level. (16 kms, 10miles, 7 hours walk).

Day 12 Limithang - Laya: You will follow the valley down parallel to the Timuchang Chhu through a cedar and then fir forest. Yak people from Laya might overtake with their yaks carrying loads of smuggled goods. About 30 minutes before reaching Laya, there is a clear split in the trail. The left fork is better. After some small ups and downs and crossing a ridge you reach a chorten and a prosperous Laya village appears before you. Altitude: 3800m, 12465ft above sea level. (9 kms, 5.5miles, 4 hours walk)

Day 13 Laya - Koina: The trail leaves Laya through fields and clusters of houses. Descend through the village entrance porch or arch chorten and pass through some beautiful woodland. After the army camp, descend on a good trail. Once you reach the bottom of the valley (10496ft/3200m) a good, wide, flat trail follows the Mo Chhu(River). At the end of the final climb (150m) the trail rounds a ridge into the side valley to a campsite. Altitude: 3240m, 10627ft above sea level. (16 kms, 10miles, 6 hours walk).

Day 14 Koina - Gasa: Today`s trail is a long climb through an enormous subtropical forest. If misty the atmosphere can become very eerie, and the gorge transforms into something out of a fairytale. On the other side is a territory for snow leopard and tiger. After a short flat trail a long descent to Gasa village streets. Altitude: 2220m, 7282ft above sea level. (12 kms, 7.4 miles, 6 hours walk)

Day 15 Gasa - Damji: After leaving the camp in Gasa the trail again disappears into mixed jungle/forest with many orchids. Overnight camp in Damji. Altitude: 7380ft, 2250m. (Distance: 9.3 miles, 15 km. 5 hrs walk).

Day 16 Damji - Trashithang: The trek begins through semi - tropical forest with a great variety of flora and fauna. You will also come across high agricultural terraces above the Mo Chu (the female river) into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees. A vehicle will be waiting at Trashithang to take you to Punakha where you will be staying.

Overnight at Hotel Meri Phuensum, Punakha: Located on the hill top, away from the town. Warm and comfortable room, good view with lots of flower around, good service and good meals.

Day 17  Trashitang - Punakha - Thimphu: Thimphu is a bustling town on the banks of the Thimphu Chhu and set gloriously in the hills of the Thimphu valley. It is home to the Bhutanese Royal Family, the Royal Government to several foreign missions and development projects. Bhutan's only golf course, a nine-hole circuit, is situated next to the magnificent Tashicho Dzong.

Morning visit;
Morning hike to Kham Sum Yule Lhakhang (Monastery): It was built by HRH Azhi (Queen) Tshering Pem Wangchuck for a successful rule during the reign of the present King Jigme Khesar Namgyal Wangchuck. (option for meditation).

Punakha Dzong (fortress): Built in 1637 by Zhabdrung which is remarkably located between the rivers of Mo (Female) Chu (river) and Pho (Male) Chu.

Later drive to the capital city Thimphu (2 hours 30 minutes drive)

Evening: Includes Night in `downtown` Thimphu, Evening Meal with music and dancing. 

Overnight at Hotel Dragon Roots, Thimphu: Located in the middle of the town, nice room, comfortable, very good service and good meals.

Day 18 Thimphu: Morning visit, The weekend market: Market days are absolutely central to the lives of the Bhutanese, but there are many reasons to visit other than the delicious fresh food on offer every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Morning hike to Cheri Monastery: Hike about 2hrs leds to Cheri Goemba (Cheri Dorji Dhen) 

Memorial Chorten: This particular chorten was constructed in 1974 as a memorial for the third King of the country, King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck, who is regarded as the father of modern Bhutan.

Tashichho Dzong: The `Fortress of the glorious religion` houses the throne room of His Majesty the King, the main secretariat building and the central monk body.

Mini zoo: Here we can see Bhutan's national animal known as Takin. This is an extremely rare member of the goat family.

Sangaygang view point: Needless to say, this is THE place to take your camera and capture the essence of a remarkable country.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it is also known as the Lover`s Point! 

Overnight at Hotel Dragon Roots, Thimphu. 

Day 19 Thimphu - Paro Airport: Early breakfast at the hotel and then drive from Thimphu to the Paro airport to board the flight. Your escort from Himalayan Rock will assist you with exit formalities and bid you farewell.

ACCOMMODATION: The hotels used in this holiday are the best government appointed hotels in the country and equate roughly to 3 star standards. All have private bathrooms and are comfortable and well-appointed. There are a few independent luxury hotels, which can be used on request. Tents for the trek are imported from Nepal and are of a high standard.

Cost Include

  • 3 meals a day
  • Accommodation on twin sharing basis
  • Transportation within the country 
  • Guide services sightseeing 
  • On trek accommodation in tents (dining tent, kitchen tent, toilet tent, member tents)
  • Sleeping mattress
  • Cook and helper
  • Ponies or yaks to carry the supplies 

Cost Exclude

  • Transportation to and from Bhutan 
  • Bhutan visa ($ 40 per person)
  • Bhutan tourist tax ($ 10 per person)
  • Tips, personal expenses and insurances
  • Sleeping bags
  • Bar bills, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks

Trekking Equipment Checklist

The weather can be cold, unpredictable and challenging while in the mountains. Hence the travelers need to be prepared to cope up with the weather. While you can take the different kind of equipment to make things comfortable for you, there are some basic things that you must carry with you for completion of the trek in comfortable manner.

Sun Hat
Fleece/Wool hat that covers ears
Sunglasses
Scarf to cover face (dust/wind)

Upper Body:
At least 4 pair of T-shirts
2 lightweight thermal tops
2 Merino/Fleece long shelve tops
Water and wind proof shell jacket
Down Jacket
Raincoat (Poncho)

Lower Body:
Under garments
Hiking shorts
Lightweight walking pants
Light weight thermal leggings
Fleece or tracksuit pants
Water and wind proof pants

Feet:
At least 4 pairs of  thick warm wool hiking socks
Hiking boots (with spare laces)
Walking sneakers
Sandals
Walking poles (Walking Stick)
Hands:
Lightweight fleece gloves
Water and wind proof gloves

Note: Sleeping bags come handy in case of difficult circumstances. We recommend every trekkers to take one with them while on the mountains. You can bring your own or it can be hired here.