Laya Gasa Trek is considered one of the most scenic long distance treks in Bhutan. Running along the border with Tibet, the trek offers amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan.
The trek begins at Drukgyel in Paro and takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows and high mountain passes with awe-inspiring views of Mount Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang. You will trek through remote semi-nomadic village of Laya with unique culture, traditions and appearance. You will also see indigenous animals such as blue sheep and Takins along the trail. From Laya, we descend to Gasa, where you will have a day of relaxation at the hot spring to rejuvenate yourself.
Day 1: Arrive Paro
Flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular in all the Himalayas. One can see Mt. Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu as well as other peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drakey and Tsrim Gang. The first gift from Bhutan will be the cool, clean fresh air as you step out of the plane.
On arrival at Paro airport and after visa formalities you will be received by our representatives and transferred to the hotel. Evening take a stroll around town’s main street. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 2: Paro
Begin this day with a short drive to the ruined fortress of Drugyel dzong which still attracts visitors due to the strategic location of the fort. From this fort Bhutanese repelled several invasions by Tibetan armies. Nearby visit traditional Bhutanese Farm House which offers good insight into lifestyle of local people. Then take an excursion to Taktsang Monastery, the spot where Guru Rinpoche arrived on the back of a tigress and meditated. The temple is perched on a sheer rock face. The excursion to monastery’s view point takes about 5 hours for round trip. While return to Paro town visit enroute Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom. Overnight at the hotel in Paro.
Day 3: Paro – Shana, 17 km, 5 / 6 hours
Our trek to Shana starts at Drukgyal Dzong. At first you have to walk down to the level of the Paro river, the path runs on the left (western) side of the river. The trail then climbs gently through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. Later on we come to apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens, and we reach the army post of Gunitsawa (2,810m). This is the last stop before Tibet. We continue upwards to just beyond Sharma Zampa (2,870m), where there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees.
Day 4: Shana – Soi Thangthangkha, 20 km, 7 / 8 hours
Continue uphill through the river valley. It narrows and closes in and the trail winds up and down along the drainage. After crossing a bridge to the left bank of the river, we stop for a hot lunch. Then we continue along the river, climbing upwards through rhododendron forests, and crossing the river once more before reaching our campsite (3,750m).
Day 5: Soi Thangthangkha – Jangothang, 19 km, 7 / 8 hours
The path ascends for a while until we reach the army camp. We then follow the river above the tree line, enjoying stunning views of the surrounding peaks. Lunch will probably be at one of these camps beneath a ruined fortress at the base of Chomolhari. A short walk from here into the valley takes us to our campsite at Jangothang (4,040 m). From here, the views of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.
Day 6: Jangothang – Lingshi, 18 km, 7 / 8 hours
The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right bank. We now start our climb up to the first ridge, enjoying breathtaking views of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tserimgang. The trail then takes us across a fairly level valley floor until the climb up to Nyele-la pass (4,700m). We descend gradually from the pass to our campsite at Lingshi (4,000m), enjoying a panoramic view of the mountain peaks and Lingshi Dzong as we walk.
Day 7: Lingshi – Chebisa, 10 km, 5/6 hours
Today is an easier day compare to day before, as we climb past Lingshi dzong, perched on the hill top with a commanding view of green hills, the winding river and magnificent peaks. It is a pleasant walk through villages and yak herders camp. After lunch, a short walk will take you to Chebisa village. Camp by the side of the stream at an altitude of 3,850m.
Day 8: Chebisa – Shomuthang, 17 km, 6/7 hours
The day begins with stiff climb to Gomby La (4,450m). On the way, you will see few people herding the yaks. After crossing the Gomby -la, it is a long descent to a stream at 4,170m. Later the trail again climbs over a small ridge through a cedar forest. It is a long climb over the ridge, then the trail descends on a muddy path into main Jholethang valley in a deep forest of fir and birch. Afternoon, the trail traverses high above the valley floor on stream right to Chachim, a yak pasture at 4,260m. The camp at 4,250m is in a cluster of brush beside a stream at the bottom of the valley.
Day 9: Shoumuthang – Robluthang, 18 km, 6/7 hours
The trek starts with a climb up to the Jhari La pass at an altitude of 4,700m. Then descend to Tsheri Jathang valley, the summer residence of the rare Himalayan Takin (national animal of Bhutan). From here we may have to cross the stream as the foot bridge is often washed away. After crossing the stream towards the left, the trail climbs to reach Robluthang camp at an altitude of 4,400m.
Day 10: Roluthang – Limithang, 19 km, 7/8 hours
It is a long climb up to Shinjela pass (5,000 m), the last and highest pass en route. You may be able to spot Blue Sheep high on the slopes. From Shinjela, the descent is on a rough, rocky trail that follows moraine into another glacial valley. The last part of the trek is very interesting with fascinating view of Mt. Gangchey Ta. Campsite in a meadow at 4,140m.
Day 11: Limithang – Laya, 10 km, 4/5 hours
In the morning wake up with a superb view of Gangchey Ta peak in front of you. The walk to Laya is very pleasant with wonderful views. You will pass through a damp forest, filled with moss and singing birds. Arrive at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, at an altitude of 3,800 m.
Day 12: Laya – Chamsa, 19 km, 8/9 hours
Descend to army camp and join the Mo Chhu river. Follow the river till you cross the bridge. After the bridge it is up and down several times through juniper and fir forest until you reach the camp at Chamsa at an altitude of 3,500m.
Day 13: Chamsa – Gasa Tsachu, 14 km, 6/7 hours
Walk for about half an hour over flat land till the Bari La (3,900m). There is a small rock cairn and a few prayer flags at the pass. The route starts down again, sometimes steeply, through a bamboo forest to a stream. Later it is downhill all the way to Gasa Tsachu. Afternoon visit Gasa village and Dzong built in 17th century. Then descend to Gasa Tsachu (hot spring) for camp at an altitude of 2,200m.
Day 14: Gasa Tsachu – Damji, 18 km, 6 hours
The trail continues descending and ascending through a heavily forested area with wild orchids, and other beautiful flora. Overnight camp at altitude of 2,400m.
Day 15: Damji – Tashithang – Punakha, 16 km, 6 hours
The last days of trekking will continually follow the Mochu down through heavily forested area until you reach Tashithang at an altitude of 1,620 m. Picked up by our transport and transfer to the hotel in Punakha.
Day 16: Punakha – Thimphu (75 km, 2.1/2 hours)
After breakfast, visit Punakha Dzong and Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten. Then drive to Wangduephodrang visiting Dzong and local market.
Afternoon drive to Thimphu for overnight stay.
Day 17: Thimphu – Paro (55 km, 2hours)
Today’s full day sightseeing in Thimphu includes visit to following if time permits: Memorial Chorten, a huge stupa built in memory of the Third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972; Trashichhodzong, the seat of the Royal Government as well as the summer residence of the Head Abbot and the central monastic school; National Library, where ancient manuscripts are preserved; Arts & Crafts School, where traditional arts and crafts are still kept alive; Textile and Folk Heritage Museum; Handicrafts Emporium.
Evening drive to Paro for overnight stay.
Day 18: Paro Depart
After breakfast, transfer to Paro International Airport for flight to onward destination.