Hiking the Snowman Trek in the Bhutanese Himalaya is an unforgettable experience. While most treks predominantly follow valley systems, this trek’s central section traverses the North-South running drainages of Northwest Bhutan. The trekking is challenging, mountainous, and extremely diverse. The villages of Lhedi, Chozo and Thanza are among the highest and most remote settlements I’ve visited anywhere. My encounters with a handful of the approximately three thousand Layap and Lunap people, the semi-nomadic sheep and yak herders of the region, have captured my heart. They are simultaneously inquisitive, protective, and outgoing. Physically isolated from the rest of world for seven months each year as a result of winter snow blocking the high mountain passes, their robust and hardy nature allows them to survive and preserve their culture through means that few of us can imagine. Varying from thick forest, plunging river systems, alpine glacial lakes, and desolate mountain passes, this hike is a botanist’s and naturalist’s paradise. Our trek encompasses the longer, seldom completed traverse, from Drugyel Dzong near Paro to Jakar village in the Bumthang District.
Provided within Trekking Charge
* Twin sharing hotel room in three star hotels
* tent on trek
* full board, three meals per day, including all non trekking days in cities
* all guide charges, including culture tours on non trekking days
* all transportation in Bhutan
culture tour and entrance fees
* All group camping equipment and supplies
* Transportation of all personal and group equipment
* Transportation to and from Paro airport
* unique farm house dinner
Not Included within Trekking Charge
* Insurance of all kinds (medical, trip cancelation, rescue)
* Foreign Transportation to and from Paro, Bhutan
and Airport taxes
* Meals, hotels, and transportation outside of our group itinerary
* Single room supplement for hotels and tents
* Laundry and telephone charges
* Charges resulting from delays and itinerary changes beyond the control of Altitude Journeys. We recommend travel insurance to cover unexpected costs
* beverages and bottled drinks
Snowman Trek, Complete Version, 32 days in Bhutan
Depending on your Druk Air flight to Paro and the prevailing weather, one can capture breath-taking views of Mount Everest, Kangchenjunga and other well known Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Mount Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, you will be received and escorted to your hotel by our company representative.
We make an excursion to Bhutan's most revered and certainly most famous site, the Taktsang Monastery. We ascend on a forested path, climbing steeply toward the towering granite cliffs, 500 meters above the valley floor. On this cliff face, overlooking a dizzying drop off, is the historic cave, the Takstang Senge Samdup, where the Buddhist master, Padmasambhava, meditated in the 8th Century. Legend has it that he traveled there from Tibet, riding on the back of Yeshe Tsogyal, whom he had transformed into a flying tigress to enable the journey. In the evening we will enjoy a typical Bhutanese dinner. Overnight at hotel.
Drive toDrugyel Dzong where the trek begins. The trail, a jeep track at first, follows the Pachu River gently uphill through villages and agricultural fields. We walk 4 to 5 hours to reach the nights camp at Shana, just beyond an army outpost. (2800 m) 5/6 hours
The trail again follow the Pa Chu River ascending through Pine, Oak and Spruce forest. Lunch will be served at Shingkrap where you can see the one story house used by the traders. Our camp (3200 m) is just after crossing the wooden bridge recently contructed by the horsemen from the nearby village. We are surrounded by thick forest next to the Paro Chu. 4.5/5.5 hours
The trek continues through beautiful forest consisting of birch, fir, larch, maple, blue pine and rhododendron. We actually pass the regular campsite and walk an hour further to just above tree line.(3725 m) 4/5 hours
We hike up slowly, following the river, with stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch/hot noodles will be served inside a Yak herder’s camp. An easy walk, past herder’s winter homes, leads to Jangothang, 4050 m. The view of Chomolhari ((7320m) and JichuDrak (6900 m) is superb! 4/5 hours
We can explore the surrounding areas towards Chomolhari Glacier, hike to Tsophu Lake, or simply relax in camp!
Trek upwards, through wide yak pastures towards our first pass, the Nylie La (4735m). Coming over the pass on a clear day offers a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong. TsarimKhang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. Camp at Lingshi, 4150 m. 7/8 hours
This stretch is a short walk and can be done at a leisurely pace. Camp at Chebisa, 3850 m. We’ll have time to visit the village and meet some of the local people. 4/5 hours
The trekking is through high pastures and sparsely populated. Our trail leads across the Gompu La (4330m). Camp is at 3920 m on a ledge of flat ground overlooking a tributary of the Mo Chu. 6 hours
An early start is in order as we set off up towards the Jare La, 4690m. After crossing the pass, the trail descends to Tsharijathang, the valley where herds of Takin are usually seen. Our camp is at 4090m. 8 hours.
Today is a long climb to the Sinche La. After crossing the pass (4925m), the trail descends to 4085 m in Limithang. 7/8 hours
We hike along trails,actually losing a few hundred meters, to Laya village ((3770m). Our camp is in a flat field at the east end of the settlement. This settlement feels like a “big town” after what we’ve experienced the previous 12 days! We settle in for a rest day tomorrow.
We take the opportunity to visit the village and stroll through the hillside clusters of homes. Some in the group might even decide to try a typical Bhutanese outdoor bath!
We lose altitude to begin with, crossing through an army encampment. We then begin the long, steady climb up a side valley to Rodophu (4150m). Our camp is in a beautiful, open and flat area of the valley near an old trekking hut. 7/8 hours
We begin the day ascending towards the Tsemo La, our pass at about 4900 m. Rather than descend, however, we remain on a high plateau and trek across open ground until we reach our camp up on the lateral moraine of a glacier at about the same altitude as the pass (4900m). We get splendid views of Mt. GanglaKarchung directly above camp if the weather is good. 7 hours
We ascend for an hour to reach the GanglaKarchung La at 5120m. In good weather we’ll see splendid views of Jejekangphu Gang (7300 m) and Tsenda Kang (7100 m). Then we descend steeply for about 1100 m into the valley bottom. Here to sense the remoteness and commitment of reaching the Lunana district. Losing another 200 m descending along the river, we reach our camp atTarina. 3810m. 7/8 hours
A great day of trekking following the Pho Chu river through pine forest and past several spectacular waterfalls. We pass the village of Woche and climb through Juniper and fir forests. The last hourwe pass through Rhododendrons to a beautiful camp next to a green colored tarn (4400m).
We continue to ascend until reaching the Keche La (4480m) and descend to Tega village.Our route then contours left, up river, high above the East Pho Chu and eventually meetsthe valley floor. We follow up the river bed to Lhedi village (3650m) and camp. 6/7 hours
The trail continues gradually up the river bed, following the East Pho Chu to the settlement of Chozo. We will see the erosion scars of the Glacial Lake Outflow Flood as we ascend the U-shaped Lunana valley to this high and remote settlement. (3970 m)
We can explore the glacial lake where workers have been busy to insure the lake is draining on a regular basis to prevent flooding. Or we can relax and explore the village. Lunaps have made significant incomes collecting and selling the caterpillar fungus, CordycepsSinesis, to the Chinese as a potent herbal medicine.
With amazing views of Table Mountain, we make a shorter day for better acclimatization by stopping at our camp (4540 m) before reaching Tshorim campsite. 5 hours
We continue up drainages and moraines to reach the Tshorim Lake campsite at 5125 m. Views are amazing! 6 hours
A spectacular hike! We ascend in an hour to the Gophu La (5240 m) where, with good weather, we see Bhutan’s highest summit, Gangkar Puensum (7570m). Our descent takes us past lakes and across glacial debris, then follows a major lateral moraine into the main valley. We continue down the Sha Chu to our camp at Geche Woma. (4450m) 6 hours
The trail follows the Sasha Chu valley past a yak herder encampment at Minchugang (4210 m). The season is late, however, and most herders have taken their yaks to lower elevations. We camp at 4300 m. just before the Phodrang La (4652 m).
We climb the grassy slopes to the Phodrang La (4652 m), and descend a few meters to the herder’s huts (4618 m). The trail passes a lake and again ascends steeply to the Saga La (4820 m). From here we descend past two more lakes and then ascend over the Worithang La (4780 m). Our camp (4455 m) is amid several yak herder’s summer encampments.
We make a short ascent to Nephu La (4495 m) and begin the long descent to Dur Tsachu (3310 m) through dense Rhododendron, Juniper and conifer forests. After a bridge, a short climb takes us to our camp near the hot springs (3590 m). Guru Padmasambhava is said to have bathed in the 8th spring. 5 hours
From the spring, we make a long steady climb, enjoying great views of the Lunana mountains. We have a good chance of seeing Blue Sheep as we ascend 1000 m to the Gongto La (4325 m), descend to a lake (Djule Tsho 4220 m), and rise again to the Djule La (4550 m). Tsho Chenchen (3850 m) is a herder’s camp where we spend the night. 7/8 hours
The trail descends the Chamkhar Chu through the forest and eventually down through stands of bamboo. We arrive at the road head at Dur (3200 m) where we’ll be met by our vehicle and driven 40 minutes to our lodge in Bumthang District (Jakar village, 2700 m). 6 hours. We can spend the afternoon visiting the Jakar Dzong
We drive 7 – 8 hours, over the Yotong La, to Trongsa. Enroute we may visit the Trongsa Dzong, built in 1648 and a masterpiece of Bhutanese architecture. Then we drive over the Pele La and reach Punakha where we spend the night in our hotel.
In the morning we’ll have a tour of the Punakha Dzong which served as the old capital of Bhutan. This impressive structure stands between two rivers and has survived many glacial flood events over the years. In the afternoon, a 3-4 hour drive over the Dochu La takes us to the capital city, Thimpu. We have some leisure time to explore the city.
In the morning we visit the Memorial Chorten built in memory of King DorjeWangchuck, and the 15th century Changangkha monastery. In the afternoon, we will drive to Paro for our last night in Bhutan.
After an early breakfast we make the short drive to the airport for our onward flights.
(minimum 6 persons)
Based on double occupancy per tent .
Private Tent Surcharge: $375.00
Snowman Trek Dates
Our Snowman Trek for 2022 will begin from Paro, Bhutan on September 18 , 2022 and run through October 20, 2022 (subject to travel advisories, a shorter version is possible), and Snowman Trek for 2023 will begin from Paro, Bhutan on September 17 , 2023 and run through October 19, 2023. Please contact us as soon as possible to save your space in this adventure of a lifetime!