Soi yaksa trek
About this trek
Mar-June & Sept-Nov
Mar-June & Sept-Nov
Moderate - Hard
Highest Walking dist
Mar-June & Sept-Nov
Highest Walking Time
This trek is known by different names such as Jumolhari Trek II, Yaksa Trek, or simply the Jomolhari Loop. The highlight of this trek is the spectacular view of Mount Jumolhari from the base camp. If you simply have a desire to sight Mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake without slogging up to Lingzhi and to a high altitude, Soi Yaksa is the right trek for you.
The trek is less taxing than the Jumolhari Trek however, it still goes up to an elevation that could bring you altitude sickness. You can retrace your steps back from Jangothang base camp, crossing the turquoise Tshophu lake (4380m) and Bhonte La pass (4890m) to Drugyel Dzong. From the Thombu La pass (4380m) on the second last day, the beautiful white mountain range of Kanchenjunga in Sikkim is just rewarding.
Day 1 - Paro to Sharna Zampa
17KM | 5-6 HOURS | 300M ASCENT | 60M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 2870M
You will drive 12km north of Paro valley from your hotel to the historic Drugyel Dzong ruins at 2580m, from were your trek starts. Your trekking crew will be waiting here for you. After a brief meeting, you will walk downhill on a wide trail following the Pachhu (river), which then climbs gently traversing through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. Soon the valley widens and the route enters an area of apple orchards, traditional farmhouses and the tiny settlements of Mitshi Zampa and Sangatan. You reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2810m after walking for a while through blue pine forest. Here your trekking permit will be checked and stamped. This is the last stop before Tibet and border close to it. You will then cross Pachu River on a wooden bridge and then climb to Sharna Zampa at 2870m. Just beyond Sharna Zampa, there are several meadows surrounded by trees where you will camp for tonight.
Day 2 - Sharna Zampa to Soi Thangkha
22KM | 8-9 HOURS | 900M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 3750M
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 a 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 3 - Soi Thangkha to Jangothang Base Camp
19KM | 5-6 HOURS | 290M ASCENT | CAMP ALT 4040M
Today you will cross the tree line at 3700m and gain significant height. From the camp, your path ascends for a while till you reach the army camp. Then follow the river above the tree line enjoying the stunning view of the surrounding peaks. We walk through a very muddy section of the trail, pass a mani wall and enter yak pastures. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder’s camp. After lunch, we walk past yak herder settlements of Soe and Takethang. Common crops that people grow here are barley, potatoes and turnips. We walk our final stretch across a plateau and up a stream bed and Dangochang village to the awesome campsite of Jangothang at an altitude of 4040m. From here, the views of Mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.
Day 4 - Jangothang Acclimatization & Exploration
Today, you will spend the day tackling a four hour acclimatization hike to the north of your camp. There is practically no trail but you will climb on an open and endless slope till you see the view of Mount Jichu Drake (6989m). You can hike further up till 4890m (higher than Mount Blanc) to see beautiful views 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 the neighbouring Mount Jichu Drake. Most people show signs of mountain sickness at this altitude and it is recommended that all trekkers halt here. If you wish, you can also spend the day simply relaxing, regardless it will be a memorable day in the Himalayas.
Day 5 - Jangothang to Soi Yaksa
16KM | 6-7 HOURS | 810M ASCENT | 1090M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 3800M
The trail leads north to the last settlement in the valley and drops to Paro Chhu river. Cross the river on a wooden bridge and walk up to the Tshophu Lake (4380m), which is inhabited by ruddy-shel ducks. You will come across a second lake after you climb across a slope to a crest. Then descend into a hidden valley and climb steeply to Bonte La pass at 4890m. After the pass, the trail descends crisscrossing through yak trails down to the Dhumzo Chhu river and after walking downstream below few houses you arrive to a camp at 3800m.
Day 6 - Soi Yaksa to Thombu Shong
11KM | 4-5 HOURS | 720M ASCENT | 340M DESCENT | CAMP ALT 4180M
The trail climbs over 100m over a ridge, and then drops to another stream. After crossing this stream, the trail heads up the hillside dropping into a small valley before emerging onto a ridge. Here the route turns south, ascending past few huts to Takhung La (4520m). A short descend leads to Thombu Shong at an altitude of 4180m with few yak herder’s huts.
Day 7 - Thombu Shong to Gunitsawa to Thimphu
13KM | 4-5 HOURS | 200M ASCENT | 1650M DESCENT
Climb out of the valley to Thombu La pass at 4380m, and then drop gradually to about 4000m. The trail then makes a steep descent, switching back down the ridge and finally reach the helipad at Gunitsawa (2730m). Your vehicle will be waiting here to pick you up. Drive to Thimphu where you can celebrate your return to civilization with a refreshing shower in the hotel. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
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We visited Bhutan with the help of Bhutan Travelers. Karma and his team were terrific from the beginning. They developed a tailor made itinerary for us that combined our desire to see both historic and cultural sites and trek in the Himalaya. We visited Paro and Tigers Nest Monastery before embarking on the Soi Yaksa trek and then spend a few days in Thimphu and Punakha visiting historical and cultural sights. We could not have been happier with the trip. The trek was a real highlight thanks to the wonderful team lead by our guide Rinzin. The sights, food and accommodation were all top notch. Tips for other travellers: before the trip we asked about upgrading the standard hotels to 4 or 5 star versions which was prohibitively expensive. However, the standard hotels were of a very high standard with great facilities and food. And don’t forget the sun block.
We have selected Jomolhari Loop Trek also known as Soi Yaksa Trek + first two days of visiting sight seeings in Paro including the most visited tourist attraction the Tiger Nest temple; and last two days in Thimphu after trek. This unforgettable journey wasn’t possible without professional crew – an Assistant, a Cook, and a Horse Man. Together with Guide they demonstrated well organized cooperative team work.
By the end of our trip when we were in Thimphu, we were offered complimentary bottle of wine by Bhutan Travelers, such a nice gesture! By the end of our stay in Bhutan our only regret was that it ended too fast. Ideally would be trekking for 7 days and visiting towns for another 7 days. Well, next time then. With Bhutan Travelers for sure.