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Jomolhari Trek

Himalayan paradise

12 nights / 13 days

(6 days of trekking including a rest day)

Level of difficulty 3.5 out of 5

Embark on an extraordinary 12-day journey in Bhutan, combining the thrill of a 7-day trek with an immersive 5-day cultural tour. Explore the cultural wonders of Bhutan as you visit ancient dzongs and mountain monasteries, engaging with local communities and immersing yourself in the rich heritage of the country. The Jomolhari trek is a stunning trek, conquering high passes like Nyele La and Yale Pass, while marvelling at the beauty of the twin lakes. For the more adventurous, there's even an option to trek to Bonte La at an altitude of 5005m. Camp beneath the sacred peak of Jomolhari where we spend two days to relax and soak in the awe-inspiring views of the Himalayas at Jomolhari base camp, fully supported by an experienced trekking team. This comprehensive itinerary promises an unforgettable adventure, combining the best of Bhutan's breathtaking trekking experiences and cultural exploration.

Highest Altitude Trekked

Shinchen La 4850m

Average Walking Distance per Day

17 km

Average Walking Time per Day

7 hours

Meals on Trek

B, L, D, Snacks

Jomolhari Trek Map

DAY 1: Paro (2250m)

Arrival & Welcome

Your friendly tour guide will be eagerly awaiting your arrival with your surname written on a plaque outside the exit doors at Paro International Airport. You will be driven to your hotel to unpack and enjoy a cup of tea then head out for some sightseeing if you wish. Note: Depending on the time of arrival, certain destinations below may have to be forgone if your arrival time is in the afternoon. This will be discussed during the booking process. We will take a short drive to see the Drukgyel dzong (fortress) with its stunning forest and mountain vistas. This dzong (the name literally translates to ‘the fortress of the victorious Drukpas’) was built after the victory over the Tibetan – Mongols in 1649. Then onto Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples in Bhutan which is said to have been built in 7th century by a Tibetan King known as Songtsen Gampo. There is an orange tree in its grounds that quite miraculously perpetually bears fruit. After an early lunch we will visit the national museum known as Ta dzong which houses a fine collection of ancient thangka paintings, textiles, weaponry, and other artefacts. Then you are free to roam the quaint streets of Paro at your leisure as you acclimatise to the altitude. Overnight: Khangkhu resort (L, D)

DAY 2: Acclimatisation hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery 

Taktsang Monastery (3100m)

After breakfast we will embark on a hike to the renowned Taktsang monastery, famously referred to as ‘Tigers Nest’. The ascent to the viewpoint will take 1.5 hours, rewarding us with a breathtaking panoramic view of the monastery, which seemingly clings to the side of a cliff. Take a moment to rejuvenate at the Viewpoint cafeteria, soaking in the surrounding beauty. Subsequently, continue our journey towards the monastery, which entails an additional hour of walking. Legend has it that in the 8th century, Guru Rinpoche flew the distance from Tibet on the back of a tigress finally meditating in a cave here for three months. The main monastery within the present monastic complex traces its origins back to 1692. Despite suffering significant damage from a fire in 1998, Taktsang has been meticulously restored to its former grandeur. Once we have explored the monastery, we will retrace our steps, pausing for a satisfying lunch at the Viewpoint cafeteria, before continuing our descent towards the road point. Overnight: Khangkhu resort (B, L, D)

DAY 3: Shana to Thangthangka (trek begins)

21km | 7-8 hour | 770m ascent | camp alt 3500m

Prepare yourself for a challenging day of trekking with numerous ascents and descents. The trek begins by following the Pa Chu also known as the Paro River, as it winds through pine, oak, and spruce forests. After hiking continuously for 2 hours and crossing several streams we will arrive at a stone house (Shingkharap) situated at an altitude of just over 3000m. After lunch, the trek will be an uphill journey through rhododendron forests until we reach a junction at a chorten (a white inverted cup-shaped Buddhist structure). From there, we will veer left and continue along the designated trail. After 30 minutes, we will arrive at Thangthangka campsite, nestled amidst stunning alpine meadows at an altitude of 3500m. If weather permits, we may get a glimpse of Jomolhari (the best photograph can be taken from the right side of the toilets).

DAY 4: Thangthangka to Jangothang (Jomolhari Base Camp)

12km | 5-6 hours | 290m ascent | camp alt 4100m

Today will be a relatively easy day of trekking but since we will be venturing above the tree line to higher altitudes over 4000m, we will take it slowly to enjoy the scenery. The trek takes us through the Paro Chu valley, where we’ll encounter alpine meadows and patches of forest. Along the way, we will pass an army checkpoint and enjoy breathtaking views of the mountain ranges and snow-capped peaks. The landscape will feature yaks and herders’ homes, adding to the scenic beauty. We will also trek through the villages of Soe, Takethang, and Dangochang where barley, potatoes, and turnips are grown. The highlight of the day is reaching Jangothang, also known as Jomolhari base camp, a stunning campsite at 4100m known for its panoramic views of Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and the ancient ruins.

DAY 5: Acclimatisation day and rest at Jangothang

Acclimatisation hike to the twin lakes called Tsho Phu & pass called Bonte La | alt reached 4450m – 5005m 

Today, we have an exciting acclimatisation hike planned to the twin lakes called Tsho Phu (adjacent to Nyele La), situated at an altitude of 4450m. Setting off from the camp, we’ll head northward, passing through charming small settlements before embarking on a challenging eastward ascent. As we progress, a long, hidden valley will gradually reveal itself, unveiling the mesmerising sight of two stunning ice lakes nestled at its base. We’ll have the opportunity to explore the first lake and, if the group is keen, venture further to the second, where we can have magnificent views of Jomolhari I, Jomolhari II (2 of the 3 peaks of Jomolhari), and Jichu Drake peaks. Keep an eye out for herds of blue sheep, which are commonly spotted in the area. For those seeking an additional adventure, it's possible to continue onwards to the Bonte La (pass) at an altitude of 5005m, then return. After immersing ourselves in the beauty of the lakes, we will descend back down to our campsite at Jangothang, allowing for a well-deserved rest as we prepare for the days ahead. Note: At this altitude, it is common for most trekkers to experience symptoms of mountain sickness, making it imperative that we pause and rest at Jangothang. Whether you prefer to take a break and relax at the campsite or opt to go for the acclimatisation hike, it will undoubtedly be a memorable day.

DAY 6: Base camp (Jangothang) to Lingshi

21km | 4 hours | 840m ascent | 870m descent | camp alt 4100m

Starting from the camp, our journey begins with an ascent across gentle slopes of grassland and scattered vegetation, leading us to the Nyele La at an elevation of 4850m. This section of the trek is not excessively strenuous, and if this is your first Himalayan pass crossing, it’s recommended to take your time, especially during the final steeper stretches just before reaching the pass. Here, the terrain transitions from grassy slopes to loose scree and sand. The captivating views along the way, including that of Jichu Drake, will undoubtedly leave you with a feeling of total exhilaration. Upon crossing the Nyele La, we bid farewell to the sights of Jomolhari and Jichu Drake, embarking on a steep descent through dense rhododendron forests, eventually arriving at the outskirts of Lingshi village. A notable highlight in this area is the Lingshi dzong, constructed as a protective fortress against periodic incursions from Tibet, safeguarding not only Lingshi but also the surrounding villages of Bhutan.

DAY 7: Lingshi to Shodu via Yale La (4920m)

22km | 8 - 9 hours | 940m ascent | 870m descent | camp alt 4080m

Today is the most difficult day so an early start is essential. The climb starts off gradually until we reach the base of Yale La – this is where the real ascent begins towards the pass of Yale La (4920m), the highest point of our trek, offering breathtaking views of the snow-capped mountains of Bhutan, showcasing the majestic peaks of Mount Jomolhari, Jomolhari 2, Jichu Drake, and Tsheringmeigang. After conquering the pass, a lengthy descent awaits us, revealing stunning sights of a picturesque lake and rugged ridges along the way. As we approach our campsite, a small chorten is visible, marking the trail's easterly direction as it follows the winding river. The campsite awaits us at Shodu, situated at an elevation of 4080m, just after crossing a sandy slope.

DAY 8: Shodu to Barshong (trek ends)

16km| 5 - 6 hours | 500m ascent | 870m descent 

The last day of the trek follows the Thimphu Chu (river) through ancient rhododendron forests, past stunning waterfalls. The valley narrows till the path approaches the slopes where will climb to the ruins of Barshong dzong (3720m). From Barshong village, which consists of a cluster of only half a dozen houses, we will be picked up by a Bolero and driven to Thimphu, taking 2 hours along a bumpy road. Overnight: The Willows hotel (B, L, D)

DAY 9: Thimphu

Exploring Thimphu town

Today we will explore a few sites in and around the Thimphu valley. After breakfast we will make our way to the Buddha Dordenma statue at Kuenselphodrang, which towers over the city of Thimphu. It is the largest sitting statue of the Buddha in the world at a height of well over 50 metres. From here you will be able to view the whole of the Thimphu valley as well as go inside the statue that contains hundreds of smaller replica statues of the outer statue and offer prayers if you wish. We will also visit the National Memorial Chorten, completed by the Royal Queen Mother as a memorial stupa for the 3rd King who passed away in 1972. This is a wonderful place to observe the older devout Buddhist population circumambulating the chorten in their colourful national dress. We will then have a few options. We could make our way to the Textile Museum where you will be able to learn about the history of Bhutanese textiles. The museum was established in 2001 under the royal patronage of Her Majesty, the Queen Mother, Sangay Choden Wangchuck. Another option is a visit to the Zorig Chusum, the school of arts and crafts where you will be able to observe the students engaging in the 13 artistic skills or if arts is not your thing, we can visit the 12th century Changangkha temple and Zilukha nunnery and even the Takin preservation centre, the national animal of Bhutan. After lunch there will be time to wander around the streets of Thimphu. There is a craft market near the magnificent Pemako hotel where you will be able to purchase local handicrafts at a reasonable price. Numerous handicraft shops are also scattered throughout the town. For a nice cup of coffee, we recommend Ambient café which is located near the only traffic light in the whole of Bhutan which is manually operated by a traffic policeman with white gloves. There are also a handful of shops selling the traditional attire which your guide will be more than happy to take you to. You may also wish to visit the main post office which offers for sale a wide array of stamps for the avid philatelist or visit the vegetable market to observe the hustle and bustle. If you are active, there is always the option to go on a short hike to Wangditse monastery, a short distance above Thimphu town. At 4:30 pm we will regroup to visit the summer residence of the Central Monastic Body of Bhutan known as Tashichho Dzong, which is also the seat of the government of Bhutan and houses His Majesty’s office. Overnight: The Willows hotel (B, L, D)

DAY 10: Thimphu to Punakha (2.5 hours which includes stopping at Dochu La to take in the view of the Himalayas)

Onwards to Punakha over the mountain pass

Today we will be having an early start to venture to Punakha. Enroute we will pass Semtokha dzong built by the founding father of Bhutan, Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, in 1629. We will continue ascending to Dochu La (pass) to view the 108 stupas commissioned by the Queen mother, Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck, as a memorial to those who lost their lives during a conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutanese – Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalayas. Before arriving in Punakha, we will stop at Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Ngawang Choegyel in honour of Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the divine madman due to his enlightened though unusual behaviours). It’s an easy 20-minute picturesque stroll through a traditional village and across rice paddy fields. Lunch at Nobgang B & B restaurant (12:30 – 2:30pm) After lunch we will visit the winter residence of the Central Monastic Body known as Punakha dzong. This dzong was also built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel (in 1637) and was where he established his formal way of governing the land, known as the dual system of governance. Punakha dzong is one of the most breathtaking dzongs in Bhutan, situated at the confluence of two rivers. It is the second largest dzong in Bhutan after Trongsa dzong. We will enter inside the dzong as well as have time to stroll around the picturesque grounds. We will also visit the suspension bridge behind the dzong – a favourite amongst visitors. Overnight: Zhingkham resort (B, L, D)

DAY 11: Punakha

Sightseeing in Punakha & river rafting

First thing after breakfast, we will head to the upper Punakha valley to walk through lush paddy fields to the beautiful temple known as Khamsum Yuelley Namgyel Lhakhang. The leisurely walk to the temple will take around an hour. From there you will be able to enjoy stunning views of the lush green valley and meandering river. We will have a casual picnic lunch on the banks of the gushing river before we go on our 1.5-hour river rafting adventure. We will be guided by our expert river rafting team while floating down the Mo Chu (mother river). In the afternoon we will visit Wolakha nunnery, a Buddhist nun’s college where nuns can pursue studies up to a Masters level. Overnight: Zhingkham resort (B, L, D)

DAY 12: Punakha to Paro (4-5 hours)

Sightseeing & leisurely drive back to Paro

After breakfast we will depart Punakha and move westwards to the Paro district, arriving in Paro town later in the afternoon. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the view. If we are lucky, we will come across the grey langur, one of several species of primates found in Bhutan. The Bhutanese believe that seeing one is a very auspicious sign. On the way we will stop briefly at the Royal Botanical gardens at Lampelri. You will be taken to a traditional homestay where you will be able to enjoy the famous hot stone bath and local hospitality. Our host will also serve us a sumptuous Bhutanese dinner. In the evening you can enjoy free time roaming around Paro town which offers good shopping for jewellery and traditional handicrafts and houses a few quaint cafes serving locally roasted coffee. Overnight: Kichu homestay (B, L, D)

DAY 13: Paro (Departure)

Till next time

Free time to relax this morning before we leave for the airport and onward flights. In Bhutan we never say goodbye as we always believe we will have the good fortune of meeting again. So, from the team at Touch Bhutan Travel, we sincerely hope you enjoyed travelling with us. Take care until next time. (B)

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