Laya Lingzhi Trek
This is the most beautiful trek in the eastern Himalayas.It skirts two of Bhutan’s most famous valleys, Paro and Thimphu, with trails passing through a great diversity of landscape and vegetation within an altitude range of 2,500m and nearly 5,000m. The scene is majestic throughout, with magnificent views of Bhutan’s most sacred mountain, Jomolhari, the abode of powerful female deity, Aum Jomo, and several other towering snow-capped peaks. The trek can be undertaken in two other variations, one shorter and the other slightly longer.
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TOUR IN BRIEF
Duration: 7-12 days
Highest Altitude: 5000 m
Season: April-June; mid Sept-mid Nov
• Great views of Mt. Jomolhari (7,300m), Jichu Drake (6794m), Tsherimgang (6,789m), Masang Gang (7165m) and a number of unclimbed peaks.
• The upper reaches of Paro and Thimphu rivers,Tshophu lake (4,380m), beautiful waterfalls, the ruins of Barshong Dzong.
• Alpine meadows, forests of rhododendron, birch, conifer, maples and bamboos; and pasture lands, blue sheep, yaks, Jigme Dorji National Park
• High mountain ridges, passes at Bhonte La (4,890 m) and Yelila (4,930m).
• The villages of Soe, Takethang, Dangochang, Jangothang (one of the most beautiful campsites in the Himalayas) and yak herder’s homes.
Camp Altitude: 2,850 meters
Today, you will prepare yourself for the upcoming trek, scheduled to start tomorrow. In the evening or after lunch, you will depart from Paro town, passing through an army checkpoint. At this checkpoint, you must validate your trek permit, provided by your tour operator. The permit will be endorsed, and you will spend the night at your designated campsite, situated alongside the river.
Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m.
Today will be a long day. You will hike through an undulating trail and then climb uphill till the valley narrows gradually to a path. You will then descend to a meadow where you will camp for the night. From your camp you can have the first view of the popular Mount Jomulhari on a clear day.
Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m.
You will continue to trek up the Paro Chhu valley. It widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty forest growths. You will also cross an army checkpoint along the way. You will see local yak herders tending the yaks. You will pass the villages of Soe, Takethang and Dangochang. You will camp at Jangothang from where you can again see Mount Jomolhari.
You will halt at Jangothang today. You have the option to do day hikes and there are trails in three directions. If you love photography, you can engage yourself in a lot of ways. Jomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lay directly west, Jichu Drake to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.This is also a good time to acclimatize.
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 m.
After the rest yesterday, you will have the energy for a long day today. After a short walk from the camp, you will hike uphill for about 30 minutes and the climb becomes more gradual till you reach the Nyilila pass at 4,870m. From here, you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them standing tall and proud above 7,000m.You could also encounter blue sheep along the way. Then you descent and you will see yak herders’ tents. You will then enter the Lingshi basin, a beautiful U-shaped valley. You can see the Lingshi Dzong on a clear day. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. You will camp next to a stone just before Lingshi Dzong.
Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,880 m.
Today will be your shortest hike. After reaching a stupabelow the Lingshi Dzong(4,220m), you can choose to stay on the main trail or take a detour up to the Lingshi Dzong. After Lingshi Dzong, you will pass the villages of Lingshi and Goyul. In Goyul village, you can see stone houses clustered together to form a small compact village,which is unusual in Bhutan where settlements are usually scattered. After you reach the capsite at Chebisa, you can choose to visit the local village. There is a beautiful waterfall behind the village.
Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m.
From your camp, you will ascent for about three hours through a pasture land toward Gogu La Pass (4,410m). You will then descend into a valley, climb uphill again for a while and descend again to Shakshepasa (3,980), a large U-shaped valley. You will climb again toll you reach your campsite at Shomuthang which is above a river.
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m.
You will start the day by climbing up the valley till you see Mount Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. You will climb again till you reach Jhari La (4,750m), from where you catch the first glimpse 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 permits, Tserim Kang and the top of Jomolhari will be visible. Herds of takin, the Bhutanese National Animal, migrate to this valley in summer and remain for about four months. The valley has been declared a takin sanctuary. You will climb again till you reach your campsite at Robluthang.
Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,140 m.
You will begin the day with an ascent of about an hour after which the trail becomes more gradual for the next 90 minutes through a boulder field. You will climb uphill again for an hour to reach the Sinche La (5,005m) – the final and highest pass on the trek if you don’t intend to continue the Snowman trek from Laya onwards. Then you descend and you can see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley. You can see classic examples of lateral moraines where the glacier has pushed rocks up both sides of the valley. Below the moraine, you will cross the Kango Chhu and reach the Limithang campsite. From the camp, you can see Mount Gangchhenta.
Today marks the final day of your trek. After a 2-hour downhill hike from Laya, you’ll encounter Taktsimakhang, a small army checkpoint. Continuing past the army camp, the trail splits, and the left path leads to Lunana on the Snowman trek, characterized by the shift from junipers and spruce to pine trees. As you descend the rugged trail, you’ll be treated to a view of the circular Gasa dzong. Remarkably, despite its remote location and the lack of motor roads, Gasa functions as an administrative district, housing the district governor’s office within the Gasa dzong. For those seeking the hot springs, they can be found about 1½ hours downhill from the dzong. Your driver will pick you up from Koina to transport you to Gasa.
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