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Laya Gasa Trek – From farmland & subtropical forests to high passes

The Laya Gasa Trek heads northwest from Paro and offers a great variety of trekking conditions, from picturesque farmland and sub-tropical forests to alpine pastureland and high passes.

Highlights of the Laya Gasa Trek:

  • City tour and sightseeing around Paro
  • Gasa Hot springs
  • Sightseeing in Thimphu
  • Laya the second highest settlement in the country
  • Crossing the Shinchela Pass at 5,000 m
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Description

Laya Gasa Trek Itinerary – Example

The following itinerary outlines a possible itinerary for your Laya Gasa Trek.

Day 1 – Arrival in Paro

Our Bhutanese tour guide will meet you at Paro airport and transfer you to the Hotel. Free evening walk with your guide.

Overnight in Hotel.

Includes: Airport-Pick Up, Accommodation and Guide

Day 2 – Sightseeing in Paro

Day excursion and sightseeing at the Taktsang Monastery or the Tiger’s Nest, the most spectacular monastery and probably the most photographed one in Bhutan, in a way also a symbol of the country. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery, hence its name.

The excursion to monastery’s view point takes about 5 hrs for round trip. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria, followed by a short walk back. We’ll have a leisure evening to take some rest before the trekking starts the following day.

Overnight at a hotel.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation, Guide and Transport

Day 3 – Drive from Paro to Shana (2,890m) – 15 kms – 5 hrs

Drive up to Drukyel Dzong (north of Paro) where the motorable road ends. The ruins of Drukgyel Dzong with Mount Chomolhari behind – a wonderful vista for the start of our trek. The trek to Shana starts along a dirt road for 1 hr through a wide, rich, cultivated valley, beneath forest-covered mountains, following the Paro Chu (river).

Beware of the sun, which can be very fierce at this altitude. The first small settlement encountered is Tsento Zampa, where the traditional Bhutanese farmhouses with bright red chillies drying on their roofs in season. Farmers in this upper valley mostly grow red rice, potatoes and wheat.

The trek continues on the east side of the river, gently through the forests alive with numerous birds and brightly colored butterflies. After 2.5 hrs the big military camp at Gunitsawa is reached. The camp has a school and some shops, and your trekking permit will be checked at the camp entrance.

After 20 minutes through forest, you will suddenly see the camp in a big open field at Shana, near the river. Looking back from camp you can see a big snowy peak, Jo Drakey.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation, Guide and Transport

Day 4 – Trek to Thangthangka (3,575m) – 22 kms – 7 hrs

Today is a hard day, with a lot of distance to cover. The altitude gain is also above the limit. The trail after lunch is rough and stony with many rises and drops.

Following the river upstream from the campsite we pass old ruins Shana Bridge, destroyed by major flood caused by glacial lake outbursts in 1950’s. This bridge was used in the old days by travelers coming from or going to Phari in Tibet.

The trail climbs steadily through a heavily forested area of oak, rhododendron, bamboo and ferns. After crossing a small house, Shing Karap is reached. Not far after Shing Karap, we pass a junction en-route, where another path leads up the easy, forbidden pass of Tremo La and onwards to the city of Phari in Tibet. This used to be the old trading route.

The trail makes a short steep climb and descent followed by a big bridge at 3,250m, crossing to the east side of the river is Thongo Zam, a possible lunch spot. The trek to Thangthangka continues through the forest consisting of birch, fir, larch, maple and blue pine.

After a short climb we reach Seyende Zam where there is a big chorten (stupa). On clear weather we can see Mt. Chomolhari to the North. Further up about 20-30 minutes until we reach our camp in a meadow.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 5 – Trek to Jangothang ( Chomolhari Base Camp – 4,044m ) – 17 kms – 5 hrs

After enjoying the view to Chomolhari and breakfast, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Continuing until we arrive at Jangothang, Chomolhari base camp.

This valley is wide and high with mountains like Chomolhari. Jichu Drake overlooks the camp which is visibly nearby are the ruins of an old fortress.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch /Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 6 – Rest Day in Jangothang

A rest day at Chomolhari camp to acclimatize. There are some good hikes from Chomolhari camp, and is important to take one hike today. The best walk is towards the east up to the twin lakes of Tsho Phu.

From the lakes there is a spectacular view back to Chomolhari and Jichu Drake mountains. Watch out for a herd of Himalayan Blue Sheep in this valley.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 7 – Trek to Lingshi (4,010m) – 21 kms – 7 hrs

After breakfast a steep switchback trail starts climbing out of the valley into another that leads to the final climb and pass. It is a long climb about 3-4 hrs to reach the first high and very windy pass of this trek, the Nyelela Pass “sleepy pass” (4,890m).

From Nyelela Pass one you can see far towards the east-northeast into the trekking area that we will be covering over the next couple of days. Mt. Takaphu dominates the view towards the north. Gangchen Ta “Tiger Mountain” is the main mountain to be seen looking east.

Less than 30 minutes down is a flat, more sheltered area – a good lunch spot. We continue to descend passing a narrow gorge with a small river crossing. The trail leads to a viewing point from which Lingshi Dzong can be seen. Our campsite is located next to a river.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 8 – Trek to Chebisa – 16 kms – 4 hrs

This is the most pleasant walk of the whole trek. Leaving Lingshi we gently climb to another village, Gom Yu, set right below a 300m cliff. Another hour walk brings us to a little valley with a huge waterfall at one end of the Shangri La village of Chebisa, where we camp by the side of the river.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 9 – Trek to Shakya Pasang (4,000m) – 14 kms – 5 hours

The day begins with stiff climb to Gogu La (4,440m) then a long descent to a stream at 4,170m. It is a long climb over the ridge, the trail descends on a muddy path into Jholethang valley deep in the forest of fir and birch.

The trail traverses high above the valley floor on stream to Chachim, a yak pasture at 4,260m. The camp is beside a stream at the bottom of the valley.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 10 – Trek to Robkuthangd (4,160m) – 16 kms – 8 hrs

A long haul over the Jarela pass at 4,785m where we get stunning views of the Himalayan mountains. We drop steeply down a forest trail to the Tsarigathang valley, the summer residence of rare Himalayan Takin (Bhutan’s National animal).

After crossing the stream, the trail ascends till you reach Robluthang camp at altitude of 4,160m.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 11 – Trek to Limithang (4,160m) – 14 kms – 7 hours

This day is long as well as tough crossing Shinchela pass (5,000m/16,400 ft), the last and highest pass en route. You may be able to spot Blue Sheep high on the slopes, eagles, griffin vultures and yaks.

The descent is a rough and rocky trail that follows moraine into another glacial valley. The last part of the trek is very interesting with fascinating views of Mt. Gangchey Ta. Our campsite is in a meadow by the riverbank.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 12 – Trek to Laya (3,800m) – 9 kms – 4 hrs

A very pleasant walk to Laya with wonderful views along of the river, one of the tributaries of the Mochu. 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 altitude of 3,800m.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 13 – Rest day in Laya

The rest day is spent at your leisure or you can visit village houses and mixing with the Layaps. People in Laya are semi-nomadic yak-herders.

In contrast to women in the rest of the country, Laya women wear their hair long and wear a distinctive dress made of yak hair and sheep’s wool – a black skirt with brown vertical stripes, a black jacket a special conical bamboo hat.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 14 – Trek to Koina (3,240m) – 16 kms – 6 hrs

Descend to army camp and follow the Mo Chhu River till you cross the bridge after which it is up and down several times through juniper and fir forest until you reach the camp at Koina.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 15 – Trek to Gasa Hot Springs (2,220m) – 12 kms – 6 hrs

Beginning with a long climb to Balela pass (3,900m). There is a small rock cairn and a few prayer flags at the pass. The route starts down again, through a bamboo forest to a stream.

Later it is downhill all the way to Gasa Hot Springs. If time permits we will visit Gasa village and Dzong built in 17th century. Then descend to Gasa Hot Springs for camping.

Overnight at tented camps.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 16 – Trek to Damji Village, and drive to Punakha – 14 kms – 5 hours

We climb away from Gasa Tsachu (hot spring) the trail winds through the hillsides with the vista of fields, villages and forests of oak and pine. Gasa Dzong will be visible behind you glued to the valley wall, seeming afloat in space.

The trail descends from the high agricultural benches into a lush semi-tropical gorge above Damji village. Our transport meets us here, and we drive 3 hours to Punakha.

Overnight at a hotel.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 17 – Drive from Punakha – Thimphu – Paro

We visit the Punakha Dzong (the winter residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot and the central monastic body) then depart to Paro across Dochula pass. Lunch and sightseeing in Thimphu. Evening drive to Paro.

Overnight at a hotel.

Includes: Meals – Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner, Accommodation and Guide

Day 18 – Departure

Transfer to the international airport for your final departure from Bhutan.

Includes: Meals (Breakfast) and Airport-Drop

Custom Laya Gasa Trek

Customised treks which differ from this itinerary are always organisable.

For example, it’s always possible to extend your trek in order to spend more time in Paro and/or Thimphu.

Don’t hesitate to contact us in order to discuss your preferences, wants and needs. We are flexible and your personal preferences (and those of your group’s members) matter most to us when organising your Laya Gasa Trek in Bhutan.

Laya Gasa Trek Cost

Included costs

Our Laya Gasa Trek Package covers the following costs:

  • Pick up from and drop off at the hotel and the airport
  • Standard government-approved accommodation (in twin sharing rooms) for the duration of the tour
  • Full-board meals – breakfast, lunch, dinner and tea & snacks – for the duration of your stay
  • Tented accommodation and equipment during the camping trek. (We will provide fully water proof two men tents, dining tents, kitchen gear, dining table, chairs, toilet tents, shower tent etc.)
  • Drinking water for the duration of the tour
  • Licensed English-speaking Bhutanese tour guides
  • Private transportation and a designated driver within Bhutan
  • Luggage will be hauled by horses, mules or yaks at higher elevations, if required
  • Monument and museums entrance fees at all sightseeing locations detailed in the itinerary
  • Bhutan visa fees and processing assistance
  • Government royalty (35% of $200), which goes to the country’s health and education projects
  • All route access and monument entry permits and fees
  • All government taxes, official expenses and tourist service charges

Excluded costs

The following costs are excluded and not covered by our Laya Gasa Trek Package:

  • International airfare and airport departure tax
  • Your travel insurance (mandatory for the trip, see the travel insurance page)
  • Expenses of personal nature, such as laundry
  • Alcoholic and cold drinks
  • Personal clothing and equipment
  • Tips for tour guides, porters, driver, hotel lobby and in restaurants. (Tipping is expected)
  • Other expenses not mentioned in the Included costs section

Laya Gasa Trek – Trip Facts

Laya Gasa Trek Difficulty

How difficult is the Laya Gasa Trek? The Laya Gasa Trek has a moderate difficulty level and is fairly strenuous. The trek requires a fair amount of energy.

Laya Gasa Trek Altitude

The Laya Gasa Trek reaches a maximum altitude of approximately 5,000 m.

Laya Gasa Trek Best Time of Year

The best season to enjoy a Laya Gasa Trek is from March – May and from September – November.

Minimum Required Group Size

The minimum group size is 1 person.

Highlights of the Laya Gasa Trek

  • City tour and sightseeing around Paro
  • Gasa Hot springs
  • Sightseeing in Thimphu
  • Laya the second highest settlement in the country
  • Crossing the Shinchela Pass at 5,000 m.

Video 1 – Laya Gasa Trek

Video 2 – Laya Gasa Trek

Video 3 – Trek to Jangothang (Chomolhari Base Camp)

Laya Gasa Trek – Image Gallery

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