Thursday, April 5, 2012

Trip Itineraries: Jomolhari Trek

Jomolhari Trek
This challenging trek starts at historic Drukgyel Dzong in Paro and leads you through deep forests, alpine pastureland and into Bhutan’s wide, untouched landscape as far as the pristine “Mountain of the Goddess”.

12 day/11 night tour, Paro-Shana-Soi Thangthangkha-Jangothang-Lingzi-Shodu-Barshong-Dolam Kencho-Dodena-Thimphu-Paro
Seasons: April-June and September-November
Maximum Elevation: 4,930 m
Highest Overnight Camp: 4,080 m
Total Distance: about 140 km

fresh snow on Jomolhari

Day 01 : Arrive Paro
The Druk Airways flight to Bhutan is one of the most spectacular in the world. You will experience breathtaking views of Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, your destination Jomolhari and other Himalayan peaks. Whether flying along the Himalayan range from Kathmandu or over the foothills from the southeast, each flight is a mesmerizing aeronautical feat and offers an exciting descent into the Kingdom.
On arrival at Paro airport: immigration and custom formalities and then received by your guide and transfer to your hotel.
Take a stroll around town’s main street. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 02 : Paro
Morning visit to Ta Dzong, built in 1651 as a watchtower and in 1968 inaugurated as Bhutan’s National Museum. The collection includes art, relics, religious thangkha paintings, postage stamps, coins and handicrafts, as well as a small natural history collection. Below Ta Dzong is Rinpung Dzong ( Paro Dzong), ‘the fortress of the heap of jewels’, built in 1646, and now housing the offices of the district administration and Paro’s monk body.

In the afternoon, visit Kyichu Lhakhang. Built by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century, it is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of Bhutan. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 03 : Paro – Shana
17km, 5-6 hours
The trek starts from Drukgyel Dzong (2,580m) with a short downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail then climbs gently through well maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. Later on we come to apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens, and we reach the army post of Gunitsawa (2,810m). This is the last stop before Tibet. We continue upwards to just beyond Sharma Zampa (2,870), where there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees.

Day 04 : Shana – Soi Thangthangkha
20km, 7-8 hours
The trail again follows the Pa Chu (Paro river), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. We continue along the river, climbing upwards through rhododendron forests, and crossing the river once more before reaching our campsite (3,750m).

Day 05 : Soi Thangthangka – Jangothang
19km, 7-8 hours
The path ascends for a while until we reach the army camp. We then follow the river above the tree line, enjoying stunning view of the surrounding peaks. A short walk from here into the valley takes us to our campsite at Jangothang (4,040 m). From here, the views of Jomolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.

Day 06 : Jangothang – Lingzi
18km, 7-8 hours
The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right bank. We now start our climb up to the first ridge, taking in the breathtaking view of Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. The trail then takes us across a fairly level valley floor until the climb up to Nyele-la pass (4,700m). We descend gradually from the pass to our camp site at Lingzi (4,000m), enjoying a panoramic view of the mountain peaks and Lingzi Dzong as we walk.

Day 07 : Lingzi – Shodu
22km, 8-9 hours
The Laya-Gasa route leaves the Jomolhari trek route here. Our trail climbs up towards a small white chorten on a ridge above the camp, then turns south up the deep Mo Chu valley. The trail stays on the west side of this largely treeless valley, climbing steadily a short distance above the Mo Chu. It then crosses the river, and climbs steeply for two hours to Yeli-la (4,820m). On a clear day you can see Jomolhari, Kanchenjunga, Tserimgang and Masagang from this pass. Descend alongside a stream to a rock shelter in the cliff face, and then continue on downstream till reaching Shodu (4,100m), where we camp in a meadow with a chorten in it.

Day 08 : Shodu – Barshong
16km, 6/-7 hours
We are now back at the tree line, and our path follows the course of the Thimphu Chu, descending through rhododendron, juniper and mixed alpine forests. There are stunning views of rocky cliff faces and waterfalls along the way. Then the trail takes us gradually upwards to the ruins of Barshong Dzong (3,600m), near which we camp for the night.

Day 09 : Barshong – Dolam Kencho
15km, 5-6 hours
The trail decends gently through a dense forest of rhodendron, birch and conifers, then drops steeply to meet the Thimphu Chu. The trail runs along the left bank of the river, climbing over ridges and descending into gullies where side streams run down into the river. The final stage of the trail climbs around a cliff face high above the Thimphu Chu, coming out onto pastureland where we camp for the night at 3,600m.

Day 10 : Dolam Kencho – Dodena – Thimphu
8km, 3 hours
The trail winds in and out of side valleys above the Thimphu Chu, making a long ascent through a forest of conifers and high altitude broadleaf species to a pass at 3,510m. The trail then drops steeply down to the river, following it southward to the road head at Dodena (2,600m). Our transport meets us here, and we drive to Thimphu. Overnight at hotel in Thimphu.

Day 11 : Thimphu – Paro
Full day of sightseeing in Thimpu valley visiting the following, as time permits:
National Memorial Chorten; Tashichhodzong (‘the fortress of the glorious religion’); National Library; Institute for Zorig Chusum (Bhutanese arts and crafts school) Handicrafts Emporium and more.
Evening drive to Paro. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.

Day 12 : Paro Depart
After breakfast, drive to Paro airport for flight to onward destination.

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