The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek, and leads from Laya into 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 5,000m more than once, and depending on the seasonal temperatures, the camps are sometimes on snow.
The Lonely Planet describes the Snowman Trek as one of the most difficult treks of the world. The best time for Snowman Trek is summer – unlike many other high altitude treks of Bhutan. Many groups that attempt this tough trek do not finish due to problems with the high altitude or snow blocked passes. However, those who make it will remember this trek as an outstanding, beautiful and as one of the most rewarding trek of their life. In this version of the Snowman Trek, one has the possibility of spending a day or two at perhaps one of the most beautiful hot springs of the Himalayas
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. After passing through customs, enjoy some lunch before afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing, including a visit to the National Memorial Chorten, 12th century Changangkha Temple, the Zilukha Nunnery and Tashichhodzong. If your visit to Thimphu coincides with the weekend, you can walk through the Thimphu Market. Overnight at your hotel in Thimphu.
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. Visit spectacular Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. After lunch, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of Drukpa Kuenly. Overnight at your hotel in Punakha.
8km, 5-6 hours
The trek starts by the riverside, following a well marked path through subtropical forest. There are many wild orchids growing in this rather damp area, but be on the lookout for leeches also! Today’s walk is fairly gentle climb up to Damji village (2,400), where we camp for the night.
15 km, 6-7 hours
The path continues on through subtropical forested area and villages up to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring). The Tshachu is famous for its curative powers, and people come from all over the country to bathe here. After lunch near the spring, we have a climb up to Gasa Dzong (2,900m) where we camp overnight.
13km, 6-7 hours
After breakfast, we visit the Gasa Dzong. Today’s trek begins with a steep climb up to Bele-La Pass (3,700m) through mixed forests. We then descend for about to our forest camp at chamsa (3,650m).
22 km, 8-9 hours
The trail descends to the bank of the Mo Chu. After crossing the river we have lunch by the bridge. From here it is a gradual climb up to Laya (3,800m) passing by an army camp en route. We camp at Laya.
Explore Laya village. You can go and visit one of the local houses. Traditional Bhutanese hospitality is extended even to a stranger, and a cup of tea and chang (alcohol brewed from barley) is always offered.
19 km, 8-9 hours
From Laya we descend to the army camp and continue following the trail along the river till the turn off point for Rhodophu. After lunch we continue climbing upwards through rhododendrons till we reach a hanging valley where there are yaks grazing (4,350m). We camp here by the river.
25km, 10-11 hours
Today’s trek is the longest of the trip and it is important to start early, around 5 am. We first climb up to Tsimo-La Pass (4,700m) where we can enjoy a superb view of Lunana, and the peaks of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake. Following 4 hours of level walking, we climb up to Ganglakarchung-La Pass (5, 080). The view from the pass is breathtaking, encompassing the whole mountain range. After crossing the pass, it is a very long descent to the Tarina valley, where we camp at 3,980m.
17 km, 6-7 hours
The path descends through coniferous forest, following the upper reaches of the Pho Chu .The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Wochey at 3,800m, the first village since Gasa. Camp at alt 3, 800m.
17 km, 6-7 hours
Today’s trek begins with a walk through mixed forests and further ahead through rhododendron bushes. We climb up to Keche-La Pass (4,480m). We then descend enjoy mountainous views en route. We walk upstream as far as Lhedi village (3,650), where we camp overnight.
17 km, 7-8 hours
The route continues to follow the river, rising gradually to Choejong village (the biggest village in Lunana) where we stop for lunch. After lunch, we visit the village temple, then walk for some timeto a suspension bridge to cross the river. Soon we reach our campsite at Thanza (4,000m).
A welcome day of leisure, or if you are feeling really energetic, you can climb up to the ridge for yet another splendid view of the mountains.
19 km, 8-9 hours
Today’s trek starts with a climb up to the ridge, from where there is a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. We follow a stream through a small valley, enjoying the view of snowcapped Mountains. We then climb up out of the valley to reach our campsite at Tshorim (5,125m).
16 km, 6-7 hours
Today’s Trek is one of the highlights of the Trip. The day starts with a short climb up to Tshorim Lake. We walk around the side of the lake, enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophula Ranges. The final stretch up to Gophu-La Pass (5,230m) is very short. After crossing the pass, we descend to the base camp, walking along the ridge and enjoying a great view of Gangkar Puensum. Climb up a pyramid shaped peak for a better view or you can go directly to the base camp (4,970m) near the Sha Chu.
Rest day at the base camp, enjoying the great views.
Today’s trail follows along the Sha Chu and descends to Geshe Woma (4,200m) where we camp.
18 km, 8-9 hours
The path continues along the course of the Sha Chu until the climb to Saka-La Pass (4,800m). Visibility is poor along this part of the trail, so we must keep watching the top of the ridge in order to stay on course. Enjoy stunning views of small lakes spread below towering peaks. We camp at 4,000m.
14 km, 5 hours
A short half hour climb take us up to Juli-La (4,400m) before descending to the riverside through dense rhododendron, Juniper and conifer forests. We then cross a bridge and after a short climb reach Dhur Tshachu hot spring, where legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava bathed in the 8th century.
16 km, 8-9 hours
From the spring, it is a long and steady climb upwards, with great views of the mountains in Lunana. Eventually the ground levels out, and we see several beautiful deep blue lakes, yaks grazing on the surrounding Pasture, and yak herder’s camp (3,850m).
21 km, 13 hours
This is the last day of the trek. We must set off very early in order to reach Bumthang before dark. The path follows the Chamkhar Chu, descending gradually with few climbs. The trek ends when we reach Dhur village, where transport will meet us and drive us to the lodge in Bumthang (Jakar).
Note: Unless very fit, it is best to spread this final stage over 2 Days.
Bumthang is the spiritual and cultural heartland of Bhutan. Spend the day exploring the some of Bumthang’s sacred sights including Kurje Lhakhang, home to a rock featuring the imprint of Guru Rimpoche’s body, Jambay Lhakhang (7th century) and Jakar Dzong. Also visit Tamshing Monastery housing some of the oldest wall paintings in Bhutan. Overnight at your guesthouse in Bumthang.
The journey to Trongsa takes approximately 3 hours. Trongsa is the ancestral home of Bhutan’s ruling dynasty. After lunch on arrival, visit Trongsa Dzong, a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Trongsa is the largest Dzong in Bhutan and the location of where the institution of monarchy in Bhutan began. Also visit the Ta Dzong located on the hill overlooking the Dzong. Overnight at your hotel in Trongsa.
After breakfast, depart for Paro. On arrival, enjoy a stroll through the Paro township. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery, walking approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill. The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is spectacular. Afterwards visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination. Tashi Delek!