Recommended Season: Mid April to Early June, Mid September to November
Maximum Elevation: Aprroximately 5000 meters
Difficulty: Intermediate to Experienced
The Laya-Gasa Trek is considered one of the most scenic treks in Bhutan, offering amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan. This twelve day, close to 120 km, journey begins at Shana in Paro and takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes and dense sub-tropical jungles. The first 2 days of this trek follow the same route as the Jhomolhari Loop. The trek offers awe-inspiring views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang.
Along the trail you’ll be able to spot indigenous animals such as blue sheep and Takins, the national animal of Bhutan. You will hike through remote mountain villages inhabited by Layaps (people of Laya), a distinct segment of the Bhutanese society with unique culture, traditions and appearance. The trek ends with a day of relaxation at the Gasa hot springs. Which is a welcome after walking for
Note: The sighting of the flora and fauna is seasonal.
Day 1: Arrival
Arrive at Paro airport. Sightseeing around Paro.
Day 2: Paro
ACCLIMATIZATION DAY! Hike up to Paro Taktshang (Tiger’s Nest). Walk around Paro town and prepare for the trek.
Day 3: Trek Day 1: Shana Zampa to Thang Thangkha
Distance: Approximately 17 km about 7-8 hours. Campsite Altitude: Approximately 3600 meters.
The trail starts following the Pa Chhu (Paro River), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. Hot lunch will be served after crossing the bridge towards the left side of the river. After lunch we keep following the river and climbing up through rhododendron forests and finally crossing a bridge to reach our campsite at Thang Thangkha. The southwest tip/face of Jhomolhari should be visible from the campsite.
Day 4: Trek Day 2: Thang Thangkha to Jangothang
Distance: Approximately 15 km about 6-7 hours. Campsite Altitude: Approximately 4000 meters.
The trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley, which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. The path ascends till you reach the army camp. You keep following the river down below the valley, walking above the tree line enjoying stunning views of the surrounding peaks. In this area yaks and their herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape. A short walk through the valley will take you to your campsite at Jangothang. It is considered one of the most beautiful campsites in the Himalayas. Here you will have a spectacular view of Mount Jhumolhari.
Day 5: Trek Day 3: Rest Day at Jangothang
The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jhumolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang has a perfect environment for your acclimatization. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jhumolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lay directly west, Jichu Drake to the north. Rest well, big day tomorrow.
Day 6: Trek Day 4: Jangothang to Lingzhi
Distance: Approximately 18 km about 7-8 hours. Campsite Altitude: Approximately 4000 meters.
Today will be one of the longer days of the trek. After a short distance from the camp, the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent till Nyilela pass (approx. 4,900m). From the pass, given the weather is favourable, you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang. It’s a gradual descent but a long stretch of winding trail till the camp.
Day 7: Trek Day 5: Lingzhi to Chebisa
Distance: Approximately 12 km about 5-6 hours. Campsite Altitude: Approximately 4000 meters.
Today’s walk will be one of the easiest in terms of incline and distance. Without significant gain or loss in elevation, enjoy the hike and take it easy on the trail. After leaving camp, we climb up to the Lingzhi Dzong (optional) to pay our respects and continue on. Soon we will pass the settlements of Lingzhi and Ganyul. Continuing on, we soon reach Chebisa.
Day 8: Trek Day 6: Chebisa to Shomuthang
Distance: Approximately 16 km about 6-7 hours. Campsite Altitude: Approximately 4100 meters.
Today will be a mentally challenging day, with multiple ascents and descents. We start off by climbing Gombu la pass (approx. 4400 m), about 2-3 hours of ascent from the campsite. From the pass we descent, to climb again till we reach a valley called Shakyapasa. A little further we reach our campsite.
Day 9: Trek Day 7: Shomuthang to Robluthang
Distance: Approximately 17 km about 7-8 hours. Campsite Altitude: Approximately 4100 meters.
Today and tomorrow involves high passes. We start the day early, the trail climbs up to Jare la pass (approx. 4800 m) from the campsite, this will roughly take about 2-3 hours. From the pass, the peaks of Gangchenta (tiger mountain) will be visible. We descent into the valley till we reach Tsari Jathang by the river. Wild Takins are known to migrate to this valley during the summer. We continue on by climbing gradually till we reach a rocky meadow, our campsite for the night.
Day 10: Trek Day 8: Robluthang to Lingmithang
Distance: Approximately 14 km about 6-7 hours. Campsite Altitude: Approximately 4100 meters.
After leaving leaving the trail climbs on for about 3-4 hours up till Sinche la pass (approx. 5000 m), the highest point in elevation on this trek. The trail then descends through moraines and soon reaches Kango Chhu (river) followed by the campsite for the night. Gangchenta will be towering over the campsite.
Day 11: Trek Day 9: Lingmithang to Laya
Distance: Approximately 9 km about 4-5 hours. Campsite Altitude: Approximately 3900 meters.
Following the valley downhill, the trail leads through a forested area, trees after several days above the tree line, before finally reaching Laya.
Day 12: Trek Day 10: Rest Day/Contingency Day
This is an contingency day for bad weather/injuries/rest days if needed. If everything sticks to plan, we can either use this day to spend an extra day here in Laya or at the Gasa hotsprings.
Day 13: Trek Day 11: Laya to Koina (Gasa Hot Springs)
Distance: Approximately 16 km about 6-7 hours. Night halt at the Hotspring Guesthouse.
The trail winds up and down along the river valley of Mo Chhu. Lots of ups and downs will lead you to Kohi Lapcha (approx. 3300m). The trek then drops down to the large stream of Koina Chhu. Our eleven day adventure comes to an end. The car will be waiting for us. Drive to Gasa hotsprings.
Day 14: Afternoon drive to Punakha
Distance: 75 km. Drive Time: About 3 hours.
Spend the morning hours soaking in the hotspring or gathering you luggage and sorting them out. Drive to Punakha after lunch.
Day 15: Punakha
Sightseeing around Punakha.
Day 16: Thimphu
Distance: 75 km. Drive Time: About 3 hours.
Transfer to Thimphu, the capital. Sightseeing around Thimphu
Day 17: Departure from Paro
Drive to Paro to catch you flight.