Camping during the omolhari Laya Gasa Trek

Trek In Bhutan: Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek

Author: Lily Shanker
Date: 2019-12-12

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The Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan is considered to be one of the most scenic treks in Bhutan, as it offers amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan. This 13-day 217 km trek begins at Drukgyel in Paro, Bhutan. The trek will take you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes, and dense subtropical jungles before ending at Damji in Tashithang, Bhutan. The first 5 days of the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan, follows the same route as the Jomolhari Trek I, which goes through Jigme Singye National Park located in Central Bhutan and offers awe-inspiring views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tsherimgang. On the sixth day of the trek, the path diverges, and you will depart Lingshi for the campsite at Chebisa, which is a charming little village adorned with a beautiful waterfall of crystal-clear water.

Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Along the trail of the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, you will be able to spot indigenous animals of Bhutan such as blue sheep and takins, the national animal of Bhutan. You will trek through remote mountain villages of Central Bhutan inhabited by the Layaps (indigenous people inhabiting the high mountains of northwest Bhutan in the village of Laya), a distinct segment of the society of Bhutan who have a unique culture, traditions, and appearance. The Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan, also offers a day of relaxation at the famous Gasa hot springs that is sure to rejuvenate you.

The Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan, is one of the more difficult treks offered in Bhutan due to the high altitudes and steep ascents and descents along the trekking path. The best months to visit Bhutan to complete this trek are between April-June and mid-September-mid-November, when Bhutan experiences clear skies and a pleasant climate.

Monkey spotted during the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Spot wild animal species during the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Bhutan trek itinerary at a glance:

Day 1: Trek from Gunitsawa Village to Sharna Zampa (Bhutan)

Distance 40 km | Time 40 mins | Camp Altitude 2,850m 

The Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek begins at Gunitsawa Village (which lies at the northern end of Paro Valley in Bhutan) where you will first cross the Bhutan army check post. At the Bhutan army check post your Bhutan trek permit (which will be provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, which is not very far from Gunitsawa (Bhutan).

Day 2: Trek from Sharna Zampa to Thangthangkha (Bhutan)

Distance 22 km | Time 7-8 hours | Ascent 770 m, descent 10m | Camp Altitude 3,610m

This is a long day of the trek where the trail moves forward with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley, the valley gradually narrows to a small pathway that descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up for the night. If weather permits, you will get to see the first great view of Mt. Jomolhari (cradled in the border between Yadong County of Tibet, China, and the Thimphu district of Bhutan) from this point. Mt. Jomolhari is one of the highest mountains in Bhutan.

  A glimpse of Mt. Jomolhari during the trek (Bhutan)

A glimpse of Mt. Jomolhari during the trek (Bhutan)

Day 3: Trek from Thangthangkha to Jangothang (Bhutan)

Distance 19 km | Time 5-6 hours | Ascent 480m | Camp Altitude 4,080m

If you are not able to catch a glimpse of Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view in the early morning hours. This morning, the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley (Thimphu, Bhutan), which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest area. You will again cross an army checkpoint along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of the high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks of Bhutan. In this area, a regular feature of the landscape is the sight of yaks and their herder’s homes. Another asset of this day is the trek through the Bhutan villages of Soe, Takethang, and Dangochang. After reaching Jangothang, Bhutan, which is considered one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again get to see a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari. The mountain is sacred to Tibetan Buddhists who believe it is the abode of one of the five female protector goddesses (Jomo) of Tibet and Bhutan.

Splendid views of snow-capped mountain peaks during a trek (Bhutan)

Splendid views of snow-capped mountain peaks during the trek (Bhutan)

Day 4: Jangothang Halt (Bhutan)

The rest day in Jangothang, Bhutan provides plenty of possibilities for short day hikes, which offer great views of lakes and snow-capped mountains such as Mt. Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang, Bhutan, is a perfect place with a suitable environment for acclimatization. You can also trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are some good short hiking trails. Jomolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains lie directly to the west, Jichu Drake to the north, and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.

Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Day 5: Trek from Jangothang to Lingshi (Bhutan)

Distance 18 km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 840 m, descent 870m | Camp Altitude 4,010m

This is one of the longest days of the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan. After trekking a short distance from the camp, the trail begins to climb rapidly for about half an hour and then turns into a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m. While you are on the climb, it is best to enjoy the surroundings. The landscape of Bhutan is beautiful throughout the year. You might get to see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass, you will also get to have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tsherimgang, with all of them rising above 7,000m. After this, it is a gradual descent to the camp where you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tents, which are made from yak wool. The herders use these tents while travelling to various other pastures for their yaks. As you trek down into the Lingshi basin, a beautiful U-shaped valley of Bhutan, you will get to witness a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong (an important Drukpa Kagyu monastery and administrative center in Bhutan) on clear days. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. The campsite is next to a stone hut that you will reach just before Lingshi Dzong, Bhutan.

Lingshi Dzong, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Lingshi Dzong, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Day 6: Trek from Lingshi to Chebisa (Bhutan)

Distance 10 km | Time 5-6 hours | Ascent 280 m, descent 410m | Camp Altitude 3,880m

This day is the shortest walk of the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan. On this day of the trek, you can take it easy. Shortly after starting the trek, you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong. At this point, you will have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a detour up to the Lingshi Dzong (4,220 m), which sits right atop a high ridge. This Dzong is under reconstruction from a 2011 earthquake in Bhutan, which happened to cause damage to its central building. In addition to a very special atmosphere of mystic tranquility, Lingshi Dzong also provides a great view of the valley down below. After Lingshi Dzong you will pass the villages of Lingshi and Goyul. The stone houses in Goyul village are clustered together to form a small compact village that is quite unusual in Bhutan where generally the settlements are usually scattered. On reaching the campsite at Chebisa, you will have plenty of time so you can visit the village houses if you feel up to it. 

A village settlement, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

A village settlement, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Day 7: Trek from Chebisa to Shomuthang (Bhutan)

Distance 17 km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 890 m, descent 540m | Camp Altitude 4,220m

The morning of the trek starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 hours) through a wide pasture land that will lead you towards Gobu La (pass), Bhutan. On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks. There is also a great chance to spot large herds of blue sheep above the trekking trail. After crossing Gobu La (4,410m), you will descend into the valley and then climb up a little bit before descending again to Shakshepasa (3,980), a large U-shaped valley in Bhutan. Climb from here and you will reach the campsite at Shomuthang, situated above a river, which is a tributary of the Mo Chhu River.

Day 8: Trek from Shomuthang to Robluthang (Bhutan)

Distance 18 km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 700 m, descent 760m | Camp Altitude 4,160m

You will begin the trek on this day by climbing up the valley to see Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After 2 hours of climbing, you will reach Jhari La (4,750m) from where you will catch the first glimpse of Sinche La, the mountain pass that you will have to cross the next day. This is the highest pass on the Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan. The big snow peak in the north is called Gangchhenta at 6,840 m and is also known as the Great Tiger Mountain. If the weather is clear, Tserim Kang and the top of Jomolhari will also be visible to you. The camp by the river is called Tsheri Jathang, and it is located in a beautiful, wide, and remote valley. Herds of takin, the national animal of Bhutan, migrate to this valley in the summer season and remain for about 4 months. This valley has been declared a takin sanctuary in Bhutan. After climbing up a little bit more, you will reach the campsite at Robluthang, Bhutan, which is in a rocky meadow.

The unusual-looking Takin, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

The unusual-looking Takin, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Day 9: Trek from Robluthang to Limithang (Bhutan)

Distance 19 km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 850 m, descent 870m | Camp Altitude 4,140m

The trek begins with an initial 40-60 minutes of ascent before gradually rising for another 1.5 hours through a field of boulders. Another hour of a long steep ascent and you reach Sinche La (5,005m), which is the final and highest pass on the trek in case you do not intend to continue the Snowman Trek from Laya onwards. As you descend down the far side of the pass, you will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley. This is where classic examples of lateral moraines can be seen where the glacier has pushed rocks up both sides of the valley. Below the moraine, you will cross the Kango Chhu and then reach the Limithang campsite. 

Day 10: Trek from Limithang to Laya (Bhutan)

Distance 10 km | Time 4-5 hours | Ascent 60 m, descent 340m | Camp Altitude 3,840m

On this day of the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan, you will walk downhill all the way along a narrow, winding river valley. After a long time, the trail of the trek will take you through densely forested regions. The trekking trail will lead you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village, you will have spectacular views of Mt. Gangchhenta and catch Mt. Masagang. In the village centre of Laya, Bhutan, is a community school and a basic health unit with a telephone connection. The campsite is located below the school.

Splendid views during the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Splendid views during the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Day 11: Trek from Laya to Koina (Bhutan)

Distance 19 km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 260 m, descent 1,070m | Camp Altitude 3,050m

The trail winds up and down along the river valley of Mo Chhu, giving you breath-taking views of the raging river, feeder streams, and waterfalls. Mo Chhu is a major river in Bhutan. Lots of ups and downs will lead you to Kohi Lapcha at 3,300 m. The trek then drops down to the large stream of Koina Chhu, where you will find the campsite of Koina.

Day 12: Trek from Koina to Gasa (Bhutan)

Distance 14 km | Time 6-7 hours | Ascent 740 m, descent 1,500m | Camp Altitude 2,240m

On this day you will ascend the last major climb of the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan. You will cross Bari La (3,740m), after which the trail descends all the way until you reach Gasa village (2,770m). Here you will find the first restaurants since you started the trek from Drukgyel Dzong. There is also a campsite close to Gasa Dzong. At this point, you will have to decide whether you want to stay in Gasa village or descend for another hour to the Gasa Tsachu (hot springs) to relax in the rejuvenating mineral waters. The Gasa Tsachu is known to be one of the most popular hot springs in Bhutan.

Drukgyel Dzong, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Drukgyel Dzong, Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, Bhutan

Day 13: End of trek 

The Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek Bhutan finishes in Gasa, located in the extreme northwest of Bhutan. Gasa is an environmentally protected area of Bhutan. This remote village in Bhutan is home to a distinctive and architecturally unique Dzong.   

Bhutan trek info at a glance:

Max elevation: 5, 005 m

Min elevation: 2, 250 m

Difficulty:  Hard

Season:  April, May, June, September, October, November

No. of days: 13 days


Bhutan trek inclusions:

Every trek in Bhutan is accompanied by a guide, cook, camping assistant, and a few horsemen and horses to carry gear.


Bhutan trek essentials:

Lightweight sleeping pad

Waterproof hiking boots

Sleeping bag 

Wide mouth water bottle with a water filter (like LifeStraw)

ORS 

First aid: bandages, disinfectant, aspirin


Other famous trek routes in Bhutan:

Druk Path Trek, Bhutan: A short trek, which follows an ancient, trade route from Paro to Thimpu

Snowman Trek, Bhutan: An extension of the Laya Gasa Trek. It leads from Laya into the high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas.

Duer Hot Springs Trek, Bhutan: Follows an old expedition route to Gangkhar Puensum across several hot springs.

Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek, Bhutan: Goes through an off-beaten track as you hardly see trekkers on the trail. This short day trek passes through various shimmering high altitude lakes.

Bumthang Owl Trek, Bhutan: It is a short trek route that starts from Menchugang and ends at Jakar Dzong.


Blog posts:

Duer hot spring trek in Bhutan

Challenging trek for first timers in Bhutan

Ultimate trekking experience Sikkim

Trek Packages by TourGenie:

Drukpath trek

Discover Bhutan:




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