Laya Gasa Trek
19days / 18nights
Laya Gasa trek is one of the long duration treks of Bhutan and the most splendid one. The trek goes as high as 5005m, traversing through diverse flora and fauna with an amazing views of Mount Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang. This trek is an extension of Jumolhari trek and takes you to the faraway village of Laya. You might spot Blue Poppy, Bhutan’s national flower, and the endemic blue sheep and Takins. This trek begins from the ruins of Drugyal Dzong, takes you into the unique village of Laya, offers a day at Gasa hot spring and brings you back to town.
DAY 1: ARRIVE PARO
On your flight to Paro, if the weather permits, you will be able to spot snowcapped Himalayas including mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake in Bhutan. Our guide will be waiting to receive you. You will be driven to your hotel. Later in the day you will visit Ta Dzong, originally a watch tower now converted into a museum. This 17th century old fortress holds varies display of antique collections. Next stop is the Rinpung Dzong literal translation –“fortress of heap of jewels.” Another Lhakhang you will visit is the Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most divine temple of Bhutan. Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 2: ACCLIMATIZATION HIKE TO TIGER’S NEST
Today you will hike to the famous Taktsang Goemba. The monastery has a remarkable history and even looks quite extraordinary perched on a hill side. It is believed that Guru Padmasambhava flew here to meditate on the back of a tigress. The hike is a 6 hours journey through pine forest and rhododendrons, ascending 900 meters above Paro Valley. In the evening, you can explore Paro town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 3: PARO – SHANA (TREK BEGINS)
17KM | 5-6 HOURS | 500M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 2850M
In the morning you will drive to Drukgyel Dzong, the trek start point. You will trek along the Paro Chhu River, occasionally crossing it and passing through fields, rice paddies, apple orchards, blue pine and fir forests. Soon at 2810m you reach army post of Gunitsawa where the valley widens and few settlements are visible. Finally you will climb up to 2850m to Shana Zampa and camp here amid meadows surrounded by trees.
DAY 4: SHANA – SIO THANGKHA
22KM | 7-8 HOURS | 900M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 3750M
Today you will begin your journey by climbing up and down through conifers and rhododendrons and crossing several streams. You shall reach a clearing at 3110m where you will have your lunch. After lunch, you will continue to ascend and descend a trail through forests of birch, fir, blue pine and maple trees. Further into the trek you will reach a valley above which is the beautiful view of mount Jumolhari. At 3750m is your campsite.
DAY 5: SIO THANGKHA – JANGOTHANG
19KM | 5-6 HOURS | 300M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 4050M
Today you will elevate to a high altitude, treading through muddy trails, meadows, plateaus and bridges. You will pass few settlements where villagers grow barley, potatoes, turnips and radishes. As you move from the village of Soe to Takethang and Dangochang it is common to see people herding yaks near the river banks. At 4080m, you finally reach camp at Jangothang. You can enjoy the stunning views of Mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake from here.
DAY 6: EXPLORATION OF JANGOTHANG
This is a rest day at Jangothang for acclimatization. From your campsite you can trek on an open slope towards north for four hours to get an awesome view of Jichu Drake. Ascend higher at 4750m for an exquisite view of Jumolhari. There are other options for day excursions to nearby places and lakes. You may also choose to laze around, either way be you will have a terrific time here.
DAY 7: JANGOTHANG – LINGZHI
19KM | 6-7 HOURS | 780M ASCENT | 820M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4010M
Leaving behind the last settlements, you will now ascend a trail following the stream. At 4470m you will traverse through moraines and might encounter blue sheep and marmots. Soon you will reach Ngye La pass at an altitude of 4,700m. After the pass, you will descend till Lingzhi camp (4000m) and traverse back into the forest of rhododendrons and birches. You will spot yaks and yak herders along the way. On the way down to the campsite you will get a good view of the Lingzhi Dzong.
DAY 8: LINGZHI – CHEBISA
12KM | 5-6 HOURS | 160M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 3850M
Visit the historic Lingzhi (Yugyal) Dzong. For centuries, it controlled the border between Tibet and Bhutan and was one of the main defence fortresses in the north. It sits on the hilltop overlooking the vast green hills and the meandering rivers accented by the beautiful peaks. It is a short and charming walk through villages and yak herders camp. After lunch, a short walk leads you to the beautiful Chebisa valley. It has a spectacular frozen waterfall at its head. The camp is located on the meadow opposite Chebisa at 3,850m.
DAY 9: CHEBISA – SHOUMUTHANG
17KM | 6-7 HOURS | 570M ASCENT | 290M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4130M
Start out by tackling a steep ascent towards Gogu La pass lying at an altitude of 4500m. These 4 hours will be a pleasant wildlife safari with sights of rare blue sheep on the rocks above and even rare sights of bearded vultures. After the pass, descend through the rhododendron bushes to a lunch stop. With sporadic ascents and descents along the trail, cross the stream and walk through rhododendron bushes and yak herders camp. We arrive to Shakshepasa (3980m) and then climb up a steep trail to the northern side of the valley. We arrive at our campsite Shomuthang, beside a stream at 4,250m above the sea level.
DAY 10: SHOUMOTHANG – ROBLUTHANG
17KM | 6-7 HOURS | 570M ASCENT | 290M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4130M
We trek up the valley crossing rivers and traverse through trails with Edelweiss aplenty. The snow peak called the Kang Bum is visible in the Southeast, which lies at an altitude of 6526m. We climb to Jari La pass at an altitude of 4,700m. We descend to the valley Tsheri Jathang, a camp by the river where herds of rare Himalayan Takins (the national animal of Bhutan) migrate to in the summer. We cross a stream as the footbridge is washed away often. After crossing the stream, we climb towards Robluthang; a rocky meadow camp at an altitude of 4,200m.
DAY 11: ROBLUTHANG – LINGMITHANG
19KM | 7-8 HOURS | 850M ASCENT | 870M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4140M
Climb past the ruins of a burned forest and up through boggy patches. Following the stream for some while, crossing the river and then climbing through moraine and marmot holes, you will reach at the top of Sinche La pass (5005m). You will view the astonishing panorama of the snow-capped Gangchhenta or the Tiger Mountain (6,840m) over the northern horizon. The trek then descends through rough, rocky trail following moraine into a glacial valley. Eventually we arrive at the Kango Chhu River. The path is narrow and you might have to cross a stream again. After a short walk through cedar forests with small meadows we arrive at our campsite, Lingmithang by a river (4140m). The grand Tiger Mountain towers over the campsite in the distance.
DAY 12: LINGMITHANG – LAYA
10KM | 3-4 HOURS | CAMP ALT 3850M
In the morning you wake up with a superb view of Gangchhenta peak in the distance. The walk to Laya is spotted with very beautiful views making the walk a pleasant one. You will pass a damp forest and will also view the change of vegetation as the trek progresses. You will arrive at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, at an altitude of 3,800m.
DAY 13: REST DAY AT LAYA
Travel around the Laya village. This will be a wonderful opportunity for you to visit any of the houses around. Traditional Bhutanese hospitality is a pleasant experience. Even to a perfect stranger a cup of tea and Chang (local wine) is always offered. The inhabitants of this valley are very interesting especially the women. They wear conical bamboo hats ornamented with turquoise and silver.
DAY 14: LAYA – CHAMSA
19KM | 6-7 HOURS | 50M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 3800M
Descend to the army camp. The route now follows the Mo Chhu (mother river of Punakha). Follow the river till you cross the bridge. After the bridge you will meet intermittent ascents and descents through fir and juniper forest. You will then reach the camp at Chamsa at an altitude of 3,800m.
DAY 15: CHAMSA – GASA TSHACHU
19KM | 6-7 HOURS | 300M ASCENT | 1200M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 2900M
On this walk you will be tackling the Bari La pass. You will be walking about half an hour over flat land till you arrive to the Bari La pass. The route then begins to descend, sometimes steeply through bamboo forests. It’s downhill all the way to the Gasa Tshachu (hot spring). On the way you may spot the Satyr Tragopan (Himalyan Monal) and Blood Pheasants. You will camp at Gasa Village at an altitude of 2,700m.
DAY 16: Rest day: GASA TSHACHU
Explore the village and visit the Gasa Dzong. Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal established this Dzong in the 17th century to protect the valley against Tibetan invaders. He was the first religious King of Bhutan. After your visit, descend to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring) to enjoy a hot relaxing bath in one of the springs. The Gasa Tshachu is the most popular hot spring in Bhutan. This is truly the place to unwind after the long trek.
DAY 17: GASA TSHACHU VIA DAMJI AND TASHITHANG TO PUNKHA (TREK ENDS)
After breakfast, you will drive the descending road taking you through heavily forested areas with wild orchids in abundance. You will then arrive at Damji Village which lies at an altitude of 2,400m. Continue downhill where you will be pleased to see high agricultural benches, luxuriant semi-tropical gorge with banana trees and creepers aplenty. You will follow the Mo Chhu through the thick forest till you reach Tashithang (1,620m) and then further down for 15km where you will arrive to Punakha.
DAY 18: PUNAKHA – PARO
After breakfast, you will drive to Paro via Dochula Pass. On the way, visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. You will stop in Thimphu for lunch. Later in the evening, you will drive to Paro. In the evening, you will visit a traditional Bhutanese farmhouse to experience the life of a Bhutanese farmer and if you wish you can sit down for a dinner with a local family enjoying an “emadatse” a dish made up of cheese and chillies. Overnight hotel in Paro.
DAY 19: DEPART PARO
After your breakfast, you will be driven to the airport for departure. Our representative will bid you goodbye.
- Government levy
- All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner)
- Tea and snacks
- Accommodations on 3-4 star hotels
- Visa fee
- Entrance fees
- Guide services
- Air fares
- Tips and gratitude
- Insurance of all kinds
- Drinks and beverages
- Internet bills
- Other personal bills.
- Down parka
- Warm fleece jacket
- Comfortable trekking boot (we like lowa)
- Lightweight shoes
- Rain gears
- 4 pair trekking socks
- 2 long sleeve capilene shirts
- 2 capilene bottoms (mid & heavy weight)
- 2 trekking shirts (non-cotton is best!)
- Trekking pants (zip off shorts are nice)
- 1 pair shorts
- 1 bandana
- Warm gloves
- Flip flop (or similar camp shoes)
- Warm hat
- Sun hat
- 2 pair sunglasses
- Small daypack
- Warm sleeping bag (negative 8-10 degree celcius)
- Trekking poles
- Mud guard
- Headlamp and a normal torch
- Camera and extra batteries
- 2-liter water bottle (if camelback, bring also a nalgene)
- Insulated drinking mug
- Small towel
- Various size plastic bags to keep gear dry and separate
- Anti bacterial hand gel for disinfecting hands
- Medical kit that includes – aspirin, motion sickness tablets,cough drops, diamox,
bites/burn cream and small bandage.Warm sleeping bag (negative 8-10 degree celcius)
- Lightweight toilet articles (shampoo, soap-travel size)
- Sunscreen, lip screen and insect repellent
- Water purification tablets (iodine or chlorine)
- High calorie snacks and energy bars
- Prescription medications
- Some books to read at camp
Our tour packages do not include insurance of all kinds. Its recommended that you purchase insurance form your country. Insurance cover for loss of baggages, flight cancellation, accidents or rescue operation by helicopter in the event you get stranded on mountains due to weather or altitude sickness.
HOW DO WE CARRY OUT TREK?
All our treks are arranged as camping trips. You will be sleeping in a tent pitched at designated campsite. You will have group of staff comprising of your guide, assistants and horsemen. We do not use human porters. Your trekking supplies and equipment will be carried by horses. At higher altitudes, we use yaks for the transportation. Hot meals cooked by our veteran trek-chefs will be provided during treks. Your assistant will carry a hot-packed lunch during the day. Some trekkers augment that our trekking foods are sometimes better than city hotels.
CHANGE OF ITINERARY
At times change of itinerary may be necessary under unavoidable circumstances such as due to act of god or Force majeur such as heavy rains, blockage of trail due floods, land slides or destruction of bridges because of heavy rains. On such event Bhutan Travelers shall not be held responsible. If you wish to change your Itinerary due to some or your own reasons, we can try all means to accommodate change but it must be based on availability of hotels. During peak season hotels get sold out.
CHANGES DUE TO LAST MINUTE CANCELLATION
For any last minute cancellation or cancellation made on services after arrival in Bhutan will be subject to fees and penalties. We depend on other parties such as hoteliers and airlines, which are governed by their own set of cancellation rules. The flight canceled less than 3 days from your departure date, you will be liable for fee of US $20 per ticket. For any hotels cancelled on arrival in Bhutan, you will also be liable fees as per the cancellation rules of respective hotels.
Altitude sickness can hit any trekkers irrespective of age, experience and time. For all our trek some level of experience is required but not mandatory. Some trekkers who were even without an experience have fared well in our treks. We had children doing ours treks and people as old as 72 years completing Snowman Trek. You must cooperate with your guide and be honest in confiding any symptoms you develop. Our guides are trained to handle any situations on the mountains. As a precautionary measures, you will have to walk slow on gradually ascending trail, eat well, drink lots of water and fluids on trail.
You must take care of your own personal belongings and equipment supplied by the company. To keep our horses light, we maintain weight limit on trek and do not carry any extra tents and equipment. If you tear your tent out of sheer carelessness or ignorance, you will have to do the trek with holes on your tent. Always ask your guide and assistants for help if you need to clean your tents or get rid of lump of snows on your tent.
Prior to confirmation of a trip, we specify whats included in the package and what is not. Sleeping bag is not included in our package cost. We do not supply sleeping bags. You must bring in your own sleeping bag. There is a rental house that rents out sleeping bag. Please check rental fee with us before you confirm your trip. The reason why we do not supply sleeping bag is because the quality of bags that are found in our market does not match those of yours. So we suggest you bring your own from your country. Most of our trek demands sleeping bag minimum of 8-10 degree celsius.