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Snowman Trek 27 days

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  • Jyatha, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

Overview

Snowman Trek goes to the remote Lunana district and is considered to be the most difficult trek in Bhutan. The combined attributes of distance, high altitudes, weather conditions and remoteness make this a very tough trek and it should only be considered if you have experience and a good level of fitness. The Snowman Trek is subject to closure because of snow and is almost impossible during winter.

The trek starts from Paro Valley's Drukgyel Dzong at 2580 meters and passes through the remote parts of northern Bhutan. Normally, the trek takes 24 days to complete when started from Paro. However, you may save about 4 days if you begin the trek from Punakha. This trek is not for beginners, and passes through some of the highest Bhutansese passes of Gangla Karchung La at 5230m, Jaze La at 5251 m, Loju La at 5155m and Rinchenzoe La at 5332m. The trek ascends along the Pa Chu River to the remote northern district of Lunana.


Trip highlights

  • Cross high passes as you trek to the isolated region of Lunana
  • Explore the highest settlement in Bhutan – Lunana at 4450m, where ‘Lunana: a yak in the classroom’ was filmed
  • Close-up view of the magnificent snow-capped mountains and glacial lakes. Spot peaks such as Mount Jumolhari (7314m), Jichu Drake (6989m), Kangbum (6530m), Tsendhen Gang (7100m), Terim Gang (7300) and Jejegangphu Gang (7120m)
  • Encounter the rare blue sheep, Bhutan’s national flower- the blue poppy and other varied flora and fauna
  • Spend a night near the base of Gangkhar Puensum and wake up to the splendid view of this mountain
  • Visit the stunning hot spring situated in the Himalayas called Dur Tsachu. Take a relaxing dip to ease sore muscles, a wonderful treat free of cost

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: Kathmandu to Paro (2250 m.). Overnight at hotel

Fly from Kathmandu to Paro by Druk Air flight. Drive to Ta Dzong (built in1656 and renovated in 1968), an ancient watchtower which now houses the National Museum. Below the museum is the Paro Rimpung Dzong (literally meaning “Heap of Jewels”, built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the centre of civil and religious authority in this valley. Here you can see finest example of Bhutanese architecture.

Drive to see the Kichu Lhakhang, built in 659 A.D by the Tibetan king Srongsen Gampo. Visit the Drukgyal Dzong, built in 1647 by the Great Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, father and unifier of medieval Bhutan, the dzong was destroyed by accidental. Explore the ramparts and on a clear day experience an unforgettable view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7,314 m).

Day 02: A day hike to Taktsang Monastery

The hike which is all the way uphill takes about 2 /3 hours through villages and pine forests. The monastery which clings to a huge granite cliff 800 meters from the Paro valley was devastated by fire in 1998 but the Royal Government has taken immediate steps to restore the monastery to its original structure. It is believed that the great saint Padmasambhava came in the 7th century on a flying tigress and meditated in a cave for 3 months. The demons were subdued who were trying to stop the spread of Buddhism and converted the Paro valley into Buddhism. During the end of the 17 century a monastery was built on the spot where the saint meditated and it is a pilgrimage site for every Bhutanese to visit once in their life time.

Day 03: Drukgyel Dzong – Sharna Zampa – approx. 4/5 hours

Drive up to Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) where the road ends and the trek begin. With a gradual climb the trail follows the Paro Chhu passing beautiful meadows, paddy fields and impressive farm houses. After about four hours you will reach the army post at Gunitsawa village. At the army checkpost 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: Trek from Sharna Zampa to Soi Thangkha – approx. 7/8 hours

The trail again follows Pachhu (Paro river), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. After 2 hours of continuous hiking and crossing several streams, you will reach at Shingkharap, a stone house at 3110m. A hot lunch will be served after crossing the bridge towards the left side of the river. Little ahead is the trail junction – left an old trade route and invasion from Tibet and right leading to the wooden bridge (we follow the right). After climbing up through rhododendron forests and finally crossing the bridge again, we reach our camp at 3750m, which is amidst beautiful meadows.

Day 05: Trek from Soi Thangkha to Jangothang (4040 m.) – approx. 4 / 5 hours

Climb slowly for a while till you reach an army camp. Then follow the river above tree line with stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a Yak herders camp. A easy walk will reach you to Jangothang at an altitude of 4050 meters. The view of Chomolhari (7320 meters) and Jichu Drake (6900 meters) is superb. Both the mountains are still virgin peaks.

Day 06: Acclimatization day and exploration of Jangothang

Today, you will spend a day by doing four-hour acclimatization hike to the north of your camp. There is practically no trail but you will climb on a open and endless slope till you see the view of Mt Jichu Drakye (6989m). You can scramble further up till 4895m (higher than Mount Blanc) to see amazing view of Mount Jumolhari. You are likely to spot rare blue sheep, Himalayan rhubarb, griffon vultures, golden eagles and the remarkable blue poppy. Jangothang base is a flat grassy land with an old ruined fortress on a hillock in the foreground, beneath the colossal Mount Jumolhari and its neighbour Jitchu Drake. Most people show signs of mountain sickness at this altitude and it is recommended that all trekkers halt here. If you do not wish to hike but simply wish to just relax in camp, whichever option you choose, it’s certainly going to be a memorable day.

Day 07: Trek from Jangothang to Lingshi (4150 m.) – approx. 6 / 7 hours

The trail follows the stream or half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right side. Start the climb up to the first ridge with a breathtaking view of Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshering Gang. Then Walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Ngye La pass at an altitude of 4830m. After the pass, it is a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp, enjoying the panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi Dzong.

Day 08: Trek from Lingshi to Chebisa (3850 m.) – approx. 3 / 4 hours

Perched on a hilltop with breathtaking views of green hills, meandering rivers and magnificent peaks is the Lingshi Dzong. For centuries, Lingzhi Dzong was a way station for Buddhist pilgrims. It was also a defence fort against Tibetan and Mongol invaders. Today is an easy day filled with pleasant walks through villages and yak herders’ camp. After lunch, a short walk will take you to Chebisa, a charming little village adorned with a beautiful crystal clear waterfall. You will camp by the side of a stream at an altitude of 3850m.

Day 09: Trek from Chebisa to Shomuthang (3850 m.) – approx. 7 / 8 hours

Today begins with a stiff climb up a ridge to Gobu la pass 4600 meters taking nearly 3/4 hours to the top but rewarded with magnificent views of the Himalayas. This is a blue sheep area so always keep a sharp eye. After the pass descend through rhododendrons bushes and lunch will be served at a ideal spot. The path goes up down crossing streams and Yak herders camps.

Day 10: Trek from Shomuthang to Robluthang (4390 m.) – approx. 7 / 8 hours

The trek starts with a climb to Jari la pass 4650 meters. Then descend all the way through alpine forest and rhododendron shrubs to Tsharijathang a summer feeding ground for the rare Takins (national animal of Bhutan). During summer/monsoon the path is all wet so be prepared to get wet as the small wooden bridges are all washed away. After crossing the stream the trail ascends for a while till you reach the camp at 4300 meters.

Day 11: Trek from Robluthang to Limithang (4140 m.) – approx. 7 / 8 hours

Today will be an exhilarating day as you will cross the highest pass in our entire trek. You will climb all the way up through boggy patches. As you follow this trail you will be crossing streams and spotting marmot holes and moraine. You will then reach the top of Shingchen La pass (5005m). You will be greeted with the view stunning view of the snow-covered Gangchenta or the Tiger Mountain (6840m) filling the northern horizon. After taking in the view you will descend through a rough rocky trail following the moraine river valley to Kango Chhu River. You will find that the path is quite narrow and you may be expected to cross a stream again and get yourself wet. After a fresh walk through cedar forests you will finally arrive at Lingmithang (4140m). Lingmithang is a beautiful campsite, with scattered meadows by the river with Tiger Mountain (Gangchenta) towering behind your campsite.

Day 12: Trek from Limithang to Laya (3850 m.) – approx. 5 / 6 hours

Wake up with great view of Gangchey Ta mountain in front of you. The walk to Laya is pleasant passing through damp forest filled with moss and singing birds. Arrive Laya village the second highest settlements in the country at an altitude of 3850 meters.

Day 13: Rest day at Laya

Today is a day you can temper to your taste. Explore Laya village and go visit any of the houses around. Hospitality is a big part of Bhutanese tradition. Even to a perfect stranger, traditional Bhutanese hospitality is extended and a cup of tea and Chang (local, wine) is always offered. You will notice that the people in this valley are very interesting especially their attire. Women in particular have very conspicuous attire, wearing conical bamboo hats decorated with turquoise and silver ornaments.

Day 14: Trek from Laya to Roduphu (4150 m.) – approx. 6/7 hours

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: Trek from Roduphu to Narithang (4900 m.) – approx. 6/7 hours

After following the river for about half an hour you will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4,600m and then further up to Tsomo La (4,900m). 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 5,000m. The campsite at Narethang is towered by the peak of Gangla Karchung (6,395m).

Day 16: Trek from Narithang to Tarina (3970 m.) – approx. 7/8 hours

Today begin a gradual climb till you begin a steep climb over Kangla Karchung pass at 5100 meters. The view from the pass will always be remembered for a life time. The close up view of Kangla Karchung mountain is a highlight from the pass. More mountains like Masakhang, Tsendegang, Teri gang can be seen in a distance. Its all the way downhill from the pass taking almost 3 hours through dwarf rhododendron shrubs. Arrive Tarina valley filled with Juniper trees at 3900 meters.

Day 17: Trek from Tarina to Woche (3910 m.) – approx. 5/6 hours

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: Trek from Woche to Lhedi (3700 m.) – approx. 7/8 hours

The trek starts through Juniper and Fir forests and then through dwarf rhododendrons bushes. We climb up to Keche la pass at 4600 meters with wonderful mountain views. After the pass descend to the riverside passing villages and view of the table mountain. Arrive Lhedi at 3650 meters.

Day 19: Trek from Lhedi to Tanza (4150 m.) – approx. 7/8 hours

In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7,100m).Around lunchtime you will pass the small village of Chozo (4,090m) which has a dzong still in use. Reaching Thanza again you will have a great view of Table Mountain which forms a 3,000m high wall of snow and ice behind the village. Although there are possibilities to camp directly at Tanza, most groups prefer to camp in Thoencha.

Day 20: Trek from Tanza to Tshochena (4970 m.) – approx. 7/8 hours

A short climb leads you through a wide open valley till you start the steep climb to Jazela pass at 4950 meters. This climb is a bit tricky since you cannot see the top and the stairs never seem to end but you are rewarded with great views of the Table mountain and others. You will not see any trees for another 2 days. From the pass it is a gradual descend and arrive camp near a lake at 4200 meters.

Day 21: Trek from Tshochena to Jichu Dramo (5050 m.) – approx. 4 / 5 hours

You follow the bank of the blue green lake before arriving at a ridge at 5,100m, where there is another spectacular view in all directions. After going up and down over small hills to reach a glacial lake, the route descends first before climbing again up the next pass, the Loju La (5,140m). Finally after crossing a small saddle (5,100m) you will enter a wide glacial valley from where the trail descends gradually to the campsite at Jichu Dramo.

Day 22: Trek from Jichu Dramo to Chukarpo (4600 m.) – approx. 5 / 6 hours

Today you will cross the highest pass in Bhutan the Rinchenzoe pass at 5400 meters. The walk up the pass is rather gradual but could be difficult if there is snow so we suggest to start very early. The beautiful lakes and mountains seen from this high point is the most remarkable in the trek. The descend from the pass is not too steep and walk through the wide valley to the next camp located near a river at 4200 meters.

Day 23: Trek from Chukarpo to Tempesto (4300 m.) – approx. 5 / 6 hours

The descent continues along the river till you reach the yak herder huts at Gala Pang Chhu (4010m). From here the trail climbs steeply towards Thampe Tsho, a beautiful clear turquoise lake, with the campsite next to it.

Day 24: Trek from Tempesto to Marothang (3610 m.) – approx. 4/5 hours

From the lake you climb steeply to the last pass on your trek, the Thampe La (4,600m) with a good chance to spot some blue sheep on the way. Then the path descends to the sacred lake Om Thso. Passing a waterfall you will reach another, smaller lake 100m below to descend steeply to the Nikka Chhu. The path finally leads through mixed forest to large clearing on the banks of the river with a few yak herder huts, Maurothang.

Day 25: Trek from Marothang to Nicachu Zam

The trek is very pleasant today passing scattered farm houses and fields. From a distance you will see the motor road and it is sure a thrill to have challenged one of the most difficult treks in the Himalayan region. Your Agent bus will be there to receive you and drive 3 hours to Wangdi Kichu resort and enjoy the modern comfort.

Day 26: Drive to Punakha , Sightseeing, and drive to Paro via Thimpu

AM drive 45 minutes to Punakha and visit the Punakha Dzong which served as an old capital of Bhutan. This remarkable fortress is built between two rivers and has survived many glacial floods and fire. Every year during the month of February a procession known as the Punakha Serda takes place to commemorate the victory over the Tibetans. Drive 3 hours to Thimphu for lunch and proceed 2 hours to Paro via visiting the oldest building in Bhutan, the Simtokha Dzong. It now serves as a Buddhist university.

Day 27: Depart Paro

After leisurely breakfast transfer to the airport for flight to onward destination.

  • Trip facts

  • Trip duration : 27 days
  • Grade : Moderate to strenuous
  • Activity : Trekking & Sightseeing Tour
  • Starts in : Paro
  • End in : Paro
  • Max Altitude : 5050 m
  • Location Covered: Paro, Jangothang, Lingshi, Shomuthang, Limithang, Roduphu, Narithang, Woche, Tanza, Jichu Dramo, Tempesto, Marothang, Nicachu Zam
  • Best Season: Spring / Autumn

Extension Tours

Paragliding
Jungle Safari
Pokhara Tour
Rafting

Necessary Information

1. Visa to Bhutan

To travel to Bhutan, first of all, you have to obtain a passport with the valid for 6 months. Then, if you are not an Indian, Bangladesh, or Maldivian, you must have a visa and get permission via your travel agency to enter Bhutan. Also, you cannot purchase air tickets unless you can show your visa clearance.

2. Meals on Bhutan Trip

We offer 3 tasty meals while on our trips in Bhutan (breakfast, lunch and dinner).

3. Accommodation on Bhutan Trip

All the hotels we use are comfortable, clean and offer all the amenities required. We have carefully selected the best hotel in Paro, Tiumphu and major cities of Bhutan for you and your group. If you would like to select your hotel, please let us know and we'll book everything for you.

4. Transportation

We use comfortable and well-maintained 4WD Toyota land cruiser. We ensure before leaving on a trip that our vehicule are double-checked properly. Your security is our main concern and you can be sure to have a safe trip with us.

5. Climate

You can travel in Bhutan at any time of the year except during the winter which starts in December and ends in early March. During the summer, you should expect some light rainfall especially in the south of Bhutan. In the winter time, the temperature can drop down to -6 degrees Celsius while in the summer time the temperatures reach an overage of 25 degrees Celsius.

The best time to travel in Bhutan is during the Spring (March, April and May) as days are warm and clear.

6. Vaccinations

As vaccination requirements change frequently, we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to the commencement of your trip. We recommend protection against malaria, tetanus, typhoid, hepatitis and polio.

7. Insurance

Before joining the tour we recommend you take out travel insurance. This should include adequate cover for baggage, medical expenses, cancellation, helicopter evacuation and emergency repatriation. If you do not have travel insurance you must have a credit card with at least a US$5000 limit.

8. Personal Expenses

We don’t pay for your personal expenses and recommend you to bring extra money to cover meals not included in the tour, extra activities, souvenirs, tips etc. Bhutan currency: Ngultrum (Nu) There is no ATM machines in Bhutan and credit cards are usually not accepted.

9. Safety in Bhutan

It is no doubt to say that Bhutan is the safest country in the world as there is no terrorism, riots, and political turmoil. Due to the fact that most Bhutanese people are Buddhist; hence, they believe in karma and always try to do good things in life. For this reason, your Bhutan tour itineraries will be so much perfect without worrying about anything dangerous.

10. SIM card & Internet Service in Bhutan

To keep in touch with your beloved ones, or your local guide who comes along with you on your Bhutan tour itinerary, you have to own a Bhutanese SIM card. The Internet is limited in Bhutan as it just can be found in very few hotels in big towns like Thimphu and Paro; however, you still can use the internet via data servicing packages including 2G, 3G, or even 4G by the two network providers in Bhutan: Bmobile and TashiCell.

Travel With Rajbala

Since we began in the early 90s we have always strived to keep our environmental footprint as small as possible and to give back to the many villages we pass through on our trekking itineraries. Today we still embrace this responsible travel approach when devising and operating our small group travel holiday experiences in Nepal. We invite you to trek in Nepal with the Himalayan trekking specialists Raj Bala Treks and Expeditions.