SNOW MAN TREK (28 Nights / 29 Days )
This legendary trek is only for the experienced. Essentially the route, which combines the Jhomolhari and Laya treks, passes through the Lunana region and ends at Nikkachu. The trek passes breath-taking landscapes, crosses over 8 passes and reaches an altitude of about 18,480 ft.
START OF TREK Drukgyal Dzong (Paro)
END OF TREK Nikachu Zam (near Trongsa)
DURATION 28 Nights / 29 Days
TREK 23 Nights / 24 Days
Day 01 Arrival at Paro (Druk Air)
Day 02 Paro
Day 03 Paro – Shana (Start of Trek)
Day 04 Shana – Thangthanka
Day 05 Thangthanka – Jangothang
Day 06 Jangothang (Halt)
Day 07 Jangothang – Lingshi
Day 08 Lingshi – Chebisa
Day 09 Chebisa – Shomuthang
Day 10 Shomuthang – Robluthang
Day 11 Robluthang – Lemithang
Day 12 Lemithang – Laya
Day 13 Laya (Halt)
Day 14 Laya – Rodophu
Day 15 Rodophu – Narithang
Day 16 Narithang – Tarina
Day 17 Tarina – Woche
Day 18 Woche – Lhedi
Day 19 Lhedi – Thanza
Day 20 Thanza (Halt)
Day 21 Thanza – Tshochena
Day 22 Tshochena – Jichu Dramo
Day 23 Jichu Dramo – Chukarpo
Day 24 Churkarpo – Tampetso
Day 25 Tampetso – Maorothang
Day 26 Maorothang – Nikachu (End of Trek)
Day 27 Nikachu – Wangdue – Thimphu
Day 28 Thimphu – Paro
Day 29 PBH – Departure (by Druk Air)
Day 01 (Arrival at Paro (By Druk Air)
The flight into Paro on our national carrier, Druk Air, is a befitting introduction to the spectacular beauty of our country. In clear weather, magnificent views of the world’s highest peaks, give way to the lush green Paro valley as you land. Your Bhutanese escort from All Bhutan Connection (ABC) will greet you on arrival, then drive you the short distance to the Hotel. Afternoon visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower, which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the Dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge. A short distance further is one of the innumerable archery grounds. (Archery is the national sport of Bhutan). If we are lucky, we may catch a match in action. The evening ends with a walk through Paro’s main shopping district.
Day 02 (Paro, Excursion to Taktsang Monastery)
A very special day, with an excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) monastery – After breakfast a short drive takes us to Satsam Chorten, from there a 2 hour horse ride till the viewpoint point of the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (cafeteria) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktsang monastery. Built in the 1600s, this incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 m into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava, the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, landed here on the back of a flying tiger. Looking at the monastery flying tigers doesn’t seem so impossible after all. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria, followed by a short walk to Satsam Chorten for the drive to the hotel.
Day 03 (Paro – Shana (Start of Trek)
Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong following the Paro River and we pass cultivated fields and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly coloured butterflies. Overnight at camp Shana. Altitude 2,820 m; Distance 14 Km; Time 5 – 6 hours.
Day 04 (Shana – Thangthangka)
The trail follows the river through a heavily forested area with a few isolated farmhouses. It narrows and closes in and the trail winds up and down along the drainage. We pass a junction enroute, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Camp is in a meadow with a stone shelter. Altitude 3610 m; Distance 21 Km; Time 7 – 8 hours.
Day 05 (Thangthangka – Jangothang)
In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lunch will be served in one of these huts. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jumolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions. Altitude 4,115 m; Distance 15 Km; Time 5 – 6 hours.
Day 06 (Jangothang (Halt)
A rest day. A chance to acclimatize and walk up to the Jumolhari glacier or to the lakes in the opposite direction.
Day 07 (Jangothang – Lingshi)
A good day’s walk today with spectacular views of the Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and the Tserim Gang. We start climbing straight away and after some 3 to 4 hours reach the Nyelela pass (4,700 m). After the pass we descend to a circular hut just below Lingshi, where we camp. Coming down from Lingshi we obtain our first views of the truly mystical Dzong atop a high hill. Altitude 4000m; Distance 17 kms; Time 6 – 7 hours.
Day 08 (Lingshi – Chebisa)
This is a magical day. Leaving Lingshi behind we gently climb gently to reach another delightful village, Gom Yu, which is set right below a 300 m cliff. Another hour’s walk brings us to a lovely little valley with a huge waterfall at one end of the Shangri La village of Chebisa, where we camp by the side of the river. The walk is very leisurely with plenty of reasons and opportunities to linger. Altitude 3,780m; Distance 12 kms; Time 4 – 5 hours.
Day 09 (Chebisa – Shomuthang)
We start with quite a stiff climb through high pastures up the Gokula pass (4,320 m) before we drop through forests of dwarf rhododendron. We climb gradually and head down to the camp near a riverbed. Altitude 3,890 m; Distance 17 kms; Time 6 – 7 hours.
Day 10 (Shomuthang – Robluthang
A long haul over the Jarela pass at 4,640 m where we once again get stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains above us. We drop steeply down a forest trail to the Tsarithang valley, where herds of takin roam, then cross a knee deep river before climbing up Robluthang where we camp. Altitude 4,100m; Distance 22 KM; Time 7 – 8 hours.
Day 11 (Robluthang – Lemithang)
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela pass at 4,870 m. and are rewarded with stunning views of mountains, including the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. On a clear day practically all the mountains on the northern border are visible. Eagles, griffin vultures, blue sheep and yaks abound in this area. We descend down to camp on a lovely spot by the riverbank. Altitude 4,040m; Distance KM; Time 6 – 7 hours.
Day 12 (Lemithang – Laya)
We walk along the river, one of the tributaries of the Mochu and through a forest of rhododendron and silver fir and then enter the village of Laya. The people of Laya are famous for they’re vertical stripe yak hair clothing and their strange conical bamboo hats. The women wear their hair long and with great deal of turquoise and jade jewellery. The features of the people are even more Tibetan/ Mongolian than the Bhutanese who live in the central valleys. The rest of the day is spent at leisure or visiting village houses and mixing with the villagers. Good views of the Masagang and the other peaks. Altitude 3,880m; Distance 10 kms; Time 4 – 5 hours.
Day 13 (Laya (Halt)
We have a rest day at Laya and an opportunity to meet the local people.
Day 14 (Laya – Roduphu)
We descend down to Tashi Makhang (army camp) and climb stiffly for an hour and then follow the river until we reach Rodophu. If weather is clear we should have great views of the Tsendey Gang group. Altitude 4,100 m; Distance 17 kms; time 6 -7 hours.
Day 15 Roduphu – Narithang
The climb to the Tsomala pass (4,720 m) is quite tough. From the pass we may lucky to see the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. We then descend and finally climb to Narithang where we camp. Altitude 4,150 m; distance 10 kms; time 4 – 5 hours.
Day 16 (Narithang – Tarina)
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to the Ganglakarchung La pass (5,100-m) which takes 3 to 4 hours and are rewarded with stunning views of Ganglakarchung, Tsendey Gang, Jejekangphu and Terigang. Finally we drop steeply down to the Tarina valley where herds of takin roam. Great views of the surrounding mountains and lakes. Altitude 3,900 m; distance 24 kms; time 8 – 9 hours.
Day 17 (Tarina – Woche)
For 3 to 4 hours we follow the river, a tributary of the Pho Chu, pass through a forest of silver pine and juniper and with a stiff climb reach Woche – the Lunana region begins from this village. Altitude 3,830 m; distance 12 km; time 4 – 5 hours.
Day 18 (Woche – Lhedi)
We climb gradually through juniper forests and then cross a river from where we have great views of Jejekangphu. A stiff climb takes us past the Yumtso and Setso lakes and up to the Keche La pass (4,490-m). We descend to Thraga village and finally reach Lhedi. Altitude 3,640 m; distance 15 kms; time 5 – 6 hours.
Day 19 (Lhedi – Thanza)
We follow the Pho Chu River through the village of Lhedi and to Chotsi dzong, which was built in the 17th century. After 3 to 4 hours we reach the beautiful village of Dhotey and Thanza where we set camp in a beautiful meadow with stunning views of Table mountain right in front of us. Altitude 4,060 m; distance 15 kms; time 5 – 6 hours.
Day 20 (Thanza (Halt)
We explore the village and mix with the people of Thanza.
Day 21 (Thanza – Tsochena)
This is a difficult trek. After crossing the Pho Chu River we climb stiffly up for 6 hours to Jazela pass (5,100m) before dropping down to Tsochena. We pass many lakes and on a clear day can see splendid views of many un-named Himalayan peaks. Altitude 4,840 m; distance 24 kms; time 8 – 9 hours.
Day 22 (Tsochena – Jichu Dramo)
A gradual climb to Lajula pass (5,000 m) and finally we reach Jichu Dramo. Altitude 4,840 m; distance 10 kms; time 4 – 5 hours.
Day 23 (Jichu Dramo – Chukarpo )
We climb gradually to the Rinchenzoe pass (5115 m), the highest along the trek with spectacular views of mountains and turquoise coloured lakes. After the pass a 5 hour hike brings us to Chukarpo where we set camp. Altitude 4,450 m; distance 18 kms; time 7 – 8 hours.
Day 24 (Chukarpo – Tempetso)
Today the trail gradually descends to the river and after a stiff climb through rhododendron, silver fir and juniper forests we reach Tempetso Lake where we set camp. Altitude 4,190 m; distance 18 kms; time 7 – 8 hours.
Day 25 (Tempetso – Maorothang)
We walk along the lake, climb up to Tampela pass (4,500 m) and finally descend to Umtso Lake and Maorothang where we set camp. Altitude 4,190 m; distance 18 kms; time 7 – 8 hours.
Day 26 (Maorothang – Nikachu (End of Trek) – Wangdue)
We follow the Nikachu through dense forests of rhododendron, silver fir and bamboo and emerge at Nikachu Bridge. Altitude 2,670 m; distance 19 kms; time 7 – 8 hours. After trek drive to Wangdue, dinner and overnight at hotel.
Day 27 (Wangdue – Punakha – Thimphu)
In the morning visit Punakha Dzong, spanning the Mo Chu and Pho Chu rivers. It is also the winter capital for the monks and the Je Khenpo (chief abbot) and after the visit drive to Thimphu. The drive over the Dochula pass (3,050 m) often offers panoramic views of the Himalayan mountain ranges. After stopping for tea and the view, we descend along a series of hairpin bends to the fertile valley of Thimphu. Lunch served at local restaurant in Thimphu and after lunch rest. Dinner and overnight at hotel in Thimphu.
Day 28 (Thimphu – Paro)
After breakfast we visit the National Library, stocked with ancient manuscripts, and the Painting School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). In the afternoon we visit the Dupthop Lakhang one of the few surviving nunneries in Bhutan and then the Tashichho Dzong seat of the national government and the Central Monastic Body including the summer residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot of Bhutan). The Tashichho Dzong is open to visitors only in winter when the Je Khenpo and the Monk Body move to Punakha, the ancient winter capital of Bhutan. Other highlights include a visit to the National Memorial Chorten built in honour of our late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk and the Handicrafts Emporium.
Day 29 Paro – Departure (by Druk Air)
We leave Thimphu early to catch your onward flight from Paro airport where our BTB representative will bid you farewell. Good-bye and happy journey back home. Tashi Delek.
Note: This itinerary is a sample, intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. Numerous factors such as weather, road conditions, the physical ability of the participants, etc., may dictate itinerary changes either before departure or while on the trail. We reserve the right to change this schedule in the interest of the trip participants’ safety, comfort and general well being.
Season: April, May, June, September, and October
Climate: Days are normally warm. Nights can at times be (general) very cool and in winter even below the freezing point. Monsoon showers in summer (heaviest in July, August) and sometimes even in spring and autumn
Group condition: Minimum 4 but individual is also acceptable
WHAT TO BRING
Personal Clothing: Practical and comfortable clothes are appropriate (according to season). Preferably cotton for summer. Woolen clothing for the evenings and winter
For Trekking: Warm sleeping bag, strong comfortable trekking boots, several pairs of socks and vests, warm clothing (especially a down jacket for higher altitudes) for the evenings, rain coat or umbrella, torch (flashlight), water flask, a hat or head scarf, sunglasses, sunscreen lotion, disinfectant tablets for water, insect repellent, antibiotic ointment and antihistamine cream for insect bites (summer).
NOTE: For trekking a load of 25 kilos is allowed
Recommendations: The trek is very strenuous and demands top physical form. A physical fitness check-up is a must. Even the experienced trekker should prepare for 2 to 3 months prior to the trek.