|Arrival on:||Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA)|
|Meals:||Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner + Tea or Coffee|
|Best Season:||Spring and Autumn|
|Accommodation:||Best lodge/Tea house|
Lunana Snowman Trek is a difficult and long Trek which takes 25 days and it requires not only excellent health but also a high spirit of adventure as it passes through five passes over 5,000 meters (16,400 ft.). It s starts off taking the same route as the Laya Trek starting from the Punakha Valley. It is the most difficult and challenging region of Bhutan to reach, lying at 4,000 meters (13,000 ft.) at the foot of the peaks that rise to 7,000 meters (23,000 ft.). The inhabitants are farmer-herders who are famous for thier hardy character shaped by adapting to the harsh conditions. The given itinerary of Lunana Snowman Trek is a sample, intended to give you a general idea of the likely trip schedule. Numerous factors such as weather, road conditions, the physical ability of the participants etc may dictate itenirary changes either before departure or while on the trail. we reserve the right to change this schedule in the interest of the trip participant’s safety, comfort and general well being. Recommendations: The trek is very strenous and demands top physical form. A physical fitness check-up is a must. Even the experienced trekker should prepare for 2 to 3 months prior to the trek. For more info, CONTACT US
As your flight lands in Paro .You will meet our representative at the airport and will be driven to Thimphu.Check into your hotel.If time permits Sight Seeing in Paro. Overnight In Hotel.
You leave the hotel and walk up a hill to a village. You continue trekking along forested ridges until you reach Kyichu. Here you will visit the ancient temple of Kyichu Lhakang, one of the oldest in Bhutan, which was one of 108 temples built by Songtsen Gampo an important early Tibetan king, to pin down the Bon demon that was thought to hover over the whole of Tibet. You go down to the road where our vehicle will take you to the setting-off point at Shana for the trek to Chomolhari base camp . You may need to walk the final hour or so down the track as the road is not always in the best of condition.Overnight: Camp
The route follows the river in heavily-forested country, with isolated farmhouses and plenty of wildlife. The Bhutanese advise you to walk in pairs as there are bears in this area. You pass a junction en-route, where another path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. Spencer Chapman crossed the Tremo La in 1937 on his way to climb Chomolhari. Overnight: Camp
It is worth getting up early to photograph the dawn colours on Bhutan’s second highest mountain, Chomolhari, which is framed at the end of the valley. After about an hour’s walk, you slowly leave the forest line and gradually climb into a beautiful valley, passing Tengethang, a winter home of Yak herdsmen. You should see lots of yaks today before you arrive at a large round hut, which is the base camp for Chomolhari. The 7,314m/23,997ft high mountain overlooks the camp and nearby there are the ruins of an old fortress, which used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasion.Overnight: Camp
Today you will the have chance to acclimatise and walk up to the Chomolhari glacier ( If the path is in condition) or to visit some lakes in the opposite direction. On the walk to the lakes it is not unusual to see Blue Sheep plus birds of prey, also keep your eyes peeled for Marmot. There is time to relax in the afternoon. Here you usually transfer your luggage to yaks.Overnight: Camp
You will have a good day’s walking today with spectacular views of several stunning Himalayan peaks, including Jitchu Drake, 6,850m/22,470ft, and Tsering Kang, 6,994m/22,946ft. You start climbing straight away and after some 3-4 hours reach the Nyelela Pass at an altitude of 4,694m/15,400ft. You pass yak herders’ pastures and will see, if they are still in the area, their camps. Coming down to Lingshi there are the first views of a dzong atop its 600ft/183m high hill. The Dzong is still standing despite being badly damaged by an earthquake which has made it too dangerous to visit. Overnight: Camp
This is a magical day. Leaving Lingshi behind, you contour and climb gently to reach another delightful village, Gang Yul which is set right below a 300m/1,000ft cliff. Another hour’s walking brings you to a lovely little valley with a huge waterfall at one end and the Shangri-la village of Chebisa, where you camp by the side of the river. Very leisurely walking today, with plenty of reasons and opportunities to linger.Overnight: Camp
A walk up to the chorten en route to the waterfall before breakfast is recommended for lovely early morning views of the valley. You will have quite a stiff climb up to the Gobula at 4,349m/14,268ft, before dropping to a deserted valley and crossing a river to camp alongside it.
Note: You may, if time and energy allow, opt to go onto a higher camp site just below the Jarela Pass which makes the next day a lot more do-able. Overnight: Camp
There is now a long haul over the Jarela at 4,599m/15,088ft, where once again you get stunning all-round views and the mountain of Tsering Kang 6,994m/22,946ft. You drop steeply down a forest trail to the Tcharijathang Valley, where herds of Takin are said to roam at certain times of the year and then cross a knee-deep river before climbing up to Robulathang where you camp.Overnight: Camp
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. You climb slowly up to the Shingela, which takes some 5 hours, to be rewarded with stunning views of mountains, including the spectacular Gangchentak 6,794m/22,290ft at the head of the valley. On a clear day, almost all the mountains on the northern border are clearly visible, 10-20 miles distant. Eagles, Griffin Vultures, Blue Sheep and yak abound in this area and on your descent you may once again see nomadic yak-herders. On the way down you will pass a glacial lake that recently burst through the moraine that contained it; the remains of the flood damage are still evident. You camp in a lovely spot by the river bank.Overnight: Camp
You will have a relatively leisurely walk today alongside the river to reach the largest village on the trek, though the walk does entail quite a bit of ascent and decent and quite a stiff climb. The people of Laya are famous for their vertically striped yak-hair clothing and strange conical bamboo hats. The women wear their hair long and have a great deal of turquoise and jade jewellery. The features of the people are even more Tibetan/Mongolian than the Bhutanese who live in the central valleys. The rest of the day is spent at leisure or visiting the village. Good views of Masagang, 7,165m/23,507ft, and other peaks. Overnight: Camp
During your rest day there will be an opportunity to meet local people. Hot stone baths are also on offer, something not to be missed.Overnight: Camp
You descend from the village a long way down into the start of the gorge. Look out for the ancient wooden gateway leaving the village. It is an hour, or two to reach the small army post of Taksaka. After a further half hour down the gorge you turn left, 3,240m/10,630ft, and start to head east towards Lunana. This is the start of your journey to Lunana proper.
Turning east you gradually climb through forest to a clearing with the remains of an old hut. There may be nomads camped near here. You proceed in and out of the tree line, all the time climbing gradually into a high altitude valley with an impressive river and rapids. Eventually, you enter a flat-bottomed valley ringed with rocky mountains. This is a long hard day and if the weather is inclement can be quite a challenge.Overnight: Camp
2-3 hours walking brings you to a small pass called the Tsome La, 4,709m/15,450ft. You are now in a region that is totally remote and exceedingly beautiful and as the day wears on the views and remoteness become even more acute. After the pass the route crosses an undulating series of ridges and then contours around a large mountainside; you may see a yak herders camp below. On and on, closer and closer to Gangla Karchung, until it rises sheer in front of you. This is one of the few mountains in Bhutan that has been climbed – in this case by a French expedition. The campsite below the face is spectacular.Overnight: Camp
The climb up to the pass is rewarded by wonderful views of the glacial lakes and Kang Bum, 7,100m/23,294ft, hemmed in by moraine dams at the head of the first of the Lunana valleys. These lakes are the source of the Po Chu and are like snakes twisting down the valley. The path then runs down through a wide belt of rhododendron and is extremely steep and slippery. It is a long decent. A choice of various camp sites are available amongst stunted heather.Overnight: Camp
A pleasant walk down the valley past a clearing named Tarina. The valley is hemmed in by rock walls and rocky peaks on all sides. Every half mile, spectacular waterfalls come thundering into the valley with its pine clad hillsides. The valley itself is a mass of colourful heather, flowers, brushwood, with no sign of human habitation. Finally, there is a steep climb through the forest at the end of the valley and contouring round to the first Lunana village of Woche. There are only thirteen households in Woche. You may possibly visit a house and have yak butter tea and be given an interesting talk by your guide into aspects of the way of life for the people of Lunana. You will certainly be treated with great hospitality.Overnight: Camp
From the the camp site near the river there is a steep haul to cross the Kashe La, 4,435m/14,550ft. On the way you pass a sacred lake, a beautiful pea green colour, into which you should not throw stones as this will anger the spirit of the lake. Continuing, there is a huge cairn of stones and prayer flags on the pass before walking down the other side quite steeply, to the little village of Tegar. Watch out for the very pretty chorten just before the village. Again, take pleasure in watching and participating in Bhutanese family life before carrying on towards the day’s stop at Lhedi. The path now contours high above another big river, eventually dropping to it. There is a particularly exciting cantilever bridge over a roaring torrent coming down between two cliffs. Lhedi is a string of houses on a terrace high above the river, rock walls behind and terraced fields in front.Overnight: Camp
There is an interesting little temple above Lhedi, which is well worth the climb, before starting off towards the upper valleys of Lunana. On a previous trip we were lent the services of a 10 year old boy who guided us for the day and we stayed with his relatives overnight. Firstly, you follow the river for several hours to a junction of valleys, the main river flowing out of a much higher plateau down through numerous rapids. You cross another exciting cantilever bridge, to a large chorten where you stop for lunch. Once into the upper valley it broadens right out flat, with the river forming lakes and broad reaches and shortly afterwards you arrive at the village of Chozo. This is the only village that has a dzong in Lunana, which is well worth a detour to take a peek at. The people of Lunana are very superstitious and have very strong beliefs in the spirits of seven Tibetan brothers who many hundreds of years previously were defeated in a battle in Tibet. Each of these spirits dwells in their own locality in Lunana. The most powerful, Chumna, lives in a wood near the dzong of Chozo.
Carrying on across the plain, (look out for the large area of rippled sand) you eventually reach another rise into an even higher upper valley. Here there is a big village split either side of the river. To the north are the rock-walls behind which is the 7,300m/24,000ft Table Mountain and to the south are more snowy mountains. Again the village people are friendly, although they see very few westerners. Thanza is the largest village in Lunana.Overnight: Camp
The rest day today will be well-earned and extremely welcome. You may wish to do a few personal chores before spending time wandering around the village, meeting people and discovering something of the hard way of life of these remote tribes-people.Overnight: Camp
You will climb steadily for an hour to a cairn, undoubtedly sad to be leaving Thanza, but full of excitement about crossing the Gophu La. Looking back down the valley, Chozo and its dzong can be picked out and as it is an early start, smoke will still be drifting off the roofs of all the houses in the villages below. You carry on now, up a valley, more rapids and minor waterfalls, towards a large, pointed rock peak at its head. Slowly, but surely you come opposite the granite mountain, to have lunch in a circular low stone wall shelter. Carrying on, the scenery becomes more magnificent, until you camp near a lake surrounded by snowy peaks. This camp can be very cold at night though.Overnight: Camp
This surely must be one of the most beautiful trek days anywhere in the Himalaya. Try to see the sunrise, as the pink colours on the high snows are really fabulous. It is, in fact, not far to climb to the main pass, skirting around the edges of lakes, which, on a still day, mirror the ice-fluted peaks that you are passing between. As you come to the Gophu La, the highest mountain in Bhutan, Gangkar Punsum, 7,550m/24,770ft, towers above the horizon. It seems to be a piece of earth elevated to a higher, purer plain and is completely dazzling. It is a long and tiring descent to Geshe Woma. This is just a camping place with old fires and semi-stone shelters and wind breaks, in a deep valley below the pass. Coming down into the valley look back and see a ‘Rupert Bear’ peak framed at the end – perfectly conical and if you are lucky, ringed with cloud. Overnight: Camp
The path follows on down the valley now, completely uninhabited, before a track leads back up the hillside to a small plateau. From there it climbs for 45 minutes to the lunch spot. After a welcome rest you cross a small pass and wind down to some yak herder huts. You then cross a narrow defile, past a large slope of sand, perhaps part of the old Tethyan Ocean. Coming to the top of the slope you are faced with an amazingly beautiful lake, locked in by a circle of rocky peaks, with a path contouring up and around to a col, the Saga La Pass. From this pass you drop down to a wonderful camp site, next to a small lake, with cliffs and rocky peaks all around. This is long day and the leader may consider splitting it.Overnight: Camp
A fabulous day as you strike out for a week into the mainly uninhabited stretch of mountains between you and the road head. There are many blue sheep in this area. From camp it is steeply, but easily, down for an hour to a bridge. Stop and enjoy watching the yaks cross over. It is now a lovely afternoon climbing slowly up to a small ‘pass’ above the camp at Demsho Wom. The climb takes about 3½ hours including a brief lunch stop. As you get higher there is a great vertical cliff on your right. To your left is a stream cascading over the lip of a valley above and crashing down steep rapids. Looking back you can see the other side you have just descended, and the horizon is a line of snow peaks and cliffs. The granite ridges produce odd shaped towers, unusual spires, mushrooms of rock and great cantilevered flakes. There are the sounds of Himalayan pheasants and choughs, and rhododendron everywhere. You also get views of the Saga La Pass. The path contours improbably and rises to a small pass. Camp lies just below, next to the stream. A huge valley meanders off to your right with more intriguing peaks and cliffs.Overnight: Camp
The yaks are gathered and you’re off again. In 2016 the yak men had names for all the yaks. One recalcitrant one was call Psycho! What a day! Another big challenge. 45 mins from camp you come to a large lake, Demsho Lake, and above that two smaller lakes. Now you turn right for the pass which may be snow covered. In 2016 we saw the tracks of fox and snow leopard. Just near the pass we saw, close to, a small rodent-like creature with ears like small saucers. We also saw three deer sprinting across the snow. Below the pass is a huge, beautiful valley containing two big lakes, one behind the other. You are so far from civilisation now. The air is clean and clear and nature is completely unspoilt. A magical place. From the end of the second lake you come to a ‘lip’ in the valley which falls away below you. The stream is like a snake heading off into the distance. Further down you come to some hillocks on your left and behind one of these is a yak herder’s summer hut. Overnight: Camp
To begin with you will probably want to do a bit of clothes washing and maybe take a shower, write diaries and general admin stuff. There are several possibilities for local exploration. A good objective is to walk to the top of the long hill above camp to the east. The summit is 4,655m/15,272ft and gives fantastic views. It takes about 2 hours from camp. A beautiful lozenge shape lake lies below. There are other possibilities too, but we advise against trying to climb the sharper looking summit to the east as this involves some rock climbing!Overnight: Camp
A grand day! You leave the lovely camp at Meluthang behind with its yak hut on the hill and its resident ravens, and it is steeply downhill for less than an hour to a bridge. After this it is a steep zig zag climb of 250m for an hour to then follow a traverse around a bowl in the mountains which climbs to a ‘pass’ and a small cairn. There is then a slanting descent to above a most beautiful lake. It is hemmed in by mountains and granite cliffs and is a lovely colour of green. The path goes around the lake, but several hundred feet above it, eventually climbing up and out of this bowl with big drops below, to a level grassy platform. This platform gives the most wonderful views of the massive main valley stretching several days hard walking in either direction. Hugely impressive! The mountains you have passed through are stacked on the horizon. Leading off the main valley are many side valleys, and right opposite is the valley where Tshering Dorji, Pem Dem, their son Wangchuk and their herd of yaks live. Beyond their valley is the one Namgay lives in, and beyond that again are various other valleys that the herders from the Tongsa region inhabit in the summer. It is said there is a path that leads to Gangkar Punsum heading north, but for humans only; it is too difficult for animals. That must be something!! After soaking up the view the path traverses around the mountainside to a small bowl with room to camp. If the weather is kind the sunset and sunrise from this eyrie are sensational. Overnight: Camp
Worth getting up early for the fiery orange sunrise over the peaks to the east and north. In 2016 it was here that a 4 year old yak was given its first load. He did not like it at all and ran around bucking and jumping much to everyone’s amusement. A steep short path leads to a small unmarked pass, and then there is a very fine path to the left of the mountain leading to the Khemi La marked by a cairn and prayer flags. One hour to the pass. Fantastic views on both sides of un-named, un-climbed mountains on both sides of the pass in an un-known area. Our guide and our cook had been this way previously with friends and came upon a herd of thirty Takin here. It is now three hours to the river far below (3,560m/11,680ft). As you get nearer the river there is a massive rock wall on your right. The bridge and the ferocious rapids stun and amaze, and lunch will probably be taken near here. Then it is a long ascent through giant moss encrusted rhododendron with a thundering stream to the left. A 565m climb brings you to a huge lake penned in by mountains. The sting in the tail is another forty minutes to a great camp above the lake.Overnight: Camp
Above camp is another lake which is traversed on the east to enter a small cwm. Half an hour to the lake, half an hour to the top of the cwm. Now the climb to the pass begins in earnest. The pass could well be snow covered. Again to reach the Chachi La Pass is about an hour from the head of the cwm. Great exultation on reaching the pass, the last big crossing! Many a group photo is needed here. If there is snow on the pass then again you may well see evidence of wild animals. Wonderful, wonderful views and on a clear day you can see Gangkar Punsum and many, many of the biggest peaks on the border with Tibet. There is a great colossus of a black rock peak looming over the pass too. Now begins the big descent. An hour brings you above a lake fed by a stream in the shape of a serpent. Civilisation approaches! First a summer village of 13 huts, and at the bottom of the valley another 7 huts. Then you reach a junction with the main path coming from Lunana. This is the route many parties use. Five and a half hours from last night’s camp to this point. Fifteen minutes more and you reach the first shop, but it is still an hour to the flat campsite of Maurothang. Here in 2016 one of the yak men cut his leg to the bone by accident and we had to turn the Mess Tent into an Operating Theatre to clean the wound and stitch it up!Overnight: Camp
The last day’s trekking! It is a long walk down the valley, mainly through forest. The path is pretty ‘bouldery’ and focus is needed. After the first hour you cross the main river to the left bank. Another forty five minutes brings you to a rather odd pagoda. Several more bridges and forested paths lie ahead with ever increasing signs of human habitation. Finally you come to the end of the trek at the Wangchuck Centennial National Park sign and transport awaits. In 2016 four or five of our yak herders wrestled with several of their yaks tilting their heads up so that they could pour down their throats a full bottle of olive oil ‘to keep them strong’ and we all laughed long and loud!! All aboard the magic bus to hot baths, warm comfortable beds and beer in Punakha
The Dzong was built in 1637 by the unifier Zhabdrung Ngwang Namgyal and it was named as Pungthang Dechen Phodrang (Palace of Great Happiness). The Dzong is beautifully located in between the two rivers called Pho (male) and Mo (female) chhu (river). The Dzong is surrounded by stories and myths, and you just have to ask your guide or local people they will have some great stories of the past. It was the capital of Bhutan till 1955. The establishment of the Wangchuck dynasty on 17th December, 1907 took place here and the first National Assembly was also held in the Dzong in 1953. Punakha dzong continues to be the winter residence of the Je Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the central monk body.The war materials captured during the Tibetan invasion can be found in the dzong.
Chimi Lhakhang, is a small 15th century temple famous for its fertility endowments/rites due to the blessings of Lam Drukpa Kuenley in west known as Devine Mad Man. The temple sits on a hillock shaped, as only Drukpa Kuenley could describe it “like a woman’s breast”. The word ‘Chimi’translates as “No Dog” and is traced to the story of how Drukpa kuenley subdued the demoness of Dochula. Apparently, Lam Drukpa Kuenley had followed the demoness of Dochula down to the velley of Punakha and Wangdue. It is believed that the demons had disguised herself into a form of dog. He then subdued the dog and buried it under a mound of earth, marking the place with a stupa and making a prophecy that a temple would be built on the spot in future.
The temple houses the Lam’s iron bow and arrow, a small altar chorten made by the Lam himself and some of his personal effects scriptures. A wooden effigy of Drukpa Kuenley’s male organ is used to bless pilgrims, particularly childless couples or those who have suffered miscarriages or early deaths of their children. Children born under such circumstances under the patronage of Drukpa Kuenley are often named Kuenley or Chimi in honor of the saint and the place.After visiting Chimi lhakhang you will have lunch in a restaurant facing the lhakhang. After lunch we drive back to Paro.Driving hour is 3.5hrs.
If time permits,on your way to Paro visit Tashicheo dzong in Thimphu. Tashichhodzong, the “fortress of the glorious religion” was initially erected in 1702 and restored by the Third King in 1950s. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body. You can visit this Dzong after office hours on weekdays and on weekends from 9am to 5.30pm. Over night in hotel.
After an early breakfast visit the Tiger’s nest(Taktshang)Hike up to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face,high above the Paro valley.The Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.
Kyichu Lhakhang: This Lhakhang(monastery),built in the 7th century, is one of the two oldest and most sacred shrines in Bhutan (the other being Jambey Lhakhang in Bumthang). Kyichu Lhakhang is composed of twin temples. The first temple was built by the Tibetan king, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century. In 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, arranged for a second temple to be built alongside the first one, in same style.
Rinpung Dzong: Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the “fortress of the heap of jewels“stands on a hill above Paro Township. The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge (called the Nemi Zam) and then up a paved stone path running alongside the imposing outer walls. The valley’s annual springtime religious festival, the Paro Tsechu, takes place in the courtyard of the Dzong and on the dance ground on the hillside above.Overnight In Hotel.
After breakfast,around 9.45am drive to airport for your onward destination.Our representative will help you with exit formalities and bid you farewell.
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