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30 Days

Snowman II

  • Max. Elevation: 5,320 m
  • Highest Camp: 5,120 m
  • Category: Difficult
  • Best Seasons: Mid-June to Mid October
  • Start: Drukgyel Dzong, Paro
  • Finish: Bumthang

The Snowman Trek is an extension of the beautiful Laya Gasa Trek and leads from Laya further into the high altitudes of the Bhutanese Himalayas. It takes tough and enduring trekkers into the Lunana region and further on to Gangkhar Puensum and Bumthang or down to Sephu in Trongsa district, depending on which route you choose.

The Snowman trek leads through the most remote areas up to very high altitudes. Trekkers have to camp in altitudes above 5,000 m more than once, and depending on the seasonal temperatures, the camps are sometimes on snow.

Embark on a Thrilling 30-Day Adventure in Bhutan: The Ultimate Guide to the Snowman Trek

Are you wondering what happens during a 30-day spectacular adventure in Bhutan? Or why you should consider taking on this challenge? Let’s dive into the Snowman Trek, a 25-day journey through Bhutan’s most secluded valleys and one of the toughest high-altitude treks globally. This trek promises an unforgettable experience for daring adventurers.

Starting from the historical Drukgyel Dzong, a short drive from Paro, this trek heads towards the majestic Jhomolhari, Bhutan’s third-highest peak at 7314m (24,135 ft.). As you journey through the Paro Chhu river valley, you’ll be mesmerized by the prelude to the breathtaking high-altitude trekking ahead. Traverse under six mountains over 7000 meters (23,100 ft.), including crossing nine passes over 4500m (15,850 ft.), making this trek both a high-altitude and a challenging endeavor.

As you pass through Buddhist monasteries and timeless villages, you’ll witness a land preserved for centuries. Bhutan’s commitment to conserving its natural and cultural history creates an authentic aura that captivates both your heart and mind. The trek offers a visual feast of blue pine, juniper, and rhododendron forests, with chances to spot the renowned Himalayan blue sheep, bearded vultures, and Himalayan griffons.

The Snowman Trek, named for its route beneath the towering peaks, is more than just a physical challenge; it’s an immersive experience into Bhutan’s pristine landscapes, warm-hearted people, and intriguing Buddhist culture. After the rigorous 30-day trek, you’ll delve into Bhutan’s cultural heritage and Buddhist traditions, journeying across the Inner Himalaya. Visit Punakha and Thimphu before concluding your journey in Paro.

This journey is not just a trek; it’s a transformative experience in one of the world’s most remote kingdoms, offering a blend of adventure, culture, and spiritual enrichment. Are you ready to take on the challenge and experience the magic of Bhutan through the Snowman Trek?

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Detailed Program

After immigration and customs formalities, the representative of Truly Bhutan will receive you. Then visit National Museum and Paro Dzong (Rinpung Dzong). A visit to a farmhouse gives an interesting glimpse into the lifestyle of a farming family.

Overnight in Paro.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

After breakfast, we hike to Kila Gompa (3.5 hours). First, drive about 45 minutes from Paro to Chele La passes (3800 m). From the road, you can walk to Kila Gompa, a nunnery inhabited by about 30 nuns, and then on past to another temple called Gorina Lhakhang (the descent will be another 1.5 hours). From here you can return to the car, which takes around 30 minutes. Evening visit farmhouses then leisure walks around Paro town.

Overnight in Paro.

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

Drukgyel Dzong – Shana Zampa (Distance 17 km, 4-5 hours, 360 m ascent, 80 m descent, camp altitude 2,850 m

Drive up to Drukgyel Dzong (2,580 m) where the road ends and the trek begins. With a gradual climb, the trail follows the Paro Chhu. After about four hours you will reach the army post at Gunitsawa village. At the army check post, your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed.

The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa.

Places and attractions:

Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, and camp altitude 3,610 m

On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley, you enter the Jigme Dorji National Park. The valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path, which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if weather permits, you will have the first great view of Mount Jumolhari.

Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, and camp altitude 4,080 m

The trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley, which widens into patches of alpine meadow and scanty growths of forest. Cross an army outpost along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. Yaks and the herder’s homes become a regular feature of the landscape.

Passing the villages Soe, Takithang, and Dangochang is another asset on this day. Reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, you will again have a spectacular view of Mount Jumolhari.

The day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow-capped mountains such as Jumolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley.

Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization. Trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area.

Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, and camp altitude 4,010 m

From the camp, the trail climbs rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascend to the Nyilila pass at 4,870 m. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Mt. Jumolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tserimgang, all of them rising above 7,000 m.

On the way down to the camp, you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tents, made from yak wool. As you come down, you get a wonderful view of Lingzhi Dzong on a clear day. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise at the north end of the valley.

The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingzhi Dzong.

Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, and camp altitude 3,880 m

Today is the shortest walking day and you can take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingzhi Dzong. Here, you have the choice of staying on the main trail or taking a diversion up to the Lingzhi Dzong (4,220 m) that sits right atop a ridge.

Lingzhi Dzong provides a great view of the valley. After Lingzhi Dzong you will be passing the villages of Lingzhi and Gangyul. Upon reaching the campsite at Chebisa with a beautiful waterfall behind the village, you will have plenty of time to visit the village houses if you feel up to it.

Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m.

You walk through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). 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 trail. After crossing the Gobu La (4,410 m), you reach Shakshepasa (3,980 m) where a helipad has been established.

Climbing from here you will finally reach the campsite at Shomuthang, above a river, which is a tributary of the Nochu River.

Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m

As the walk is a little strenuous, it is advisable to start early. Climb up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours, you will reach Jhari La (4,750 m), from where you catch the first sight of Sinche La, the pass you will have to cross the day after. The big snow peak in the north is Gangchenta (6,840 m), better known as the Great Tiger Mountain.

If the weather is clear, Tserim Kang and the top of Jumolhari will be visible. The camp by the river is called Tsheri Jathang. The valley has been declared a takin sanctuary. Climb up a little bit and you will reach the campsite at Robluthang in a rocky meadow.

Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, and camp altitude 4,140 m

After crossing Sinche La (5,005 m) – the last and highest pass on the trek in case you don’t intend to continue the Snowman trek from Laya onwards – you descend to a little stone house. Right behind the stone house, you will see an impressive terminal moraine and a glacial lake at the foot of the valley.

Below the moraine, you cross the Kango Chhu and soon reach the Limithang campsite. The peak of Gangchenta towers over the campsite even though it’s quite a distance away.

Distance 10 km, 4-5 hours, 60 m ascent, 340 m descent, camp altitude 3,840 m

Today, you walk all the way downhill along a narrow winding river valley. After a long time, you again trek partly through the deep forest. The trail leads you to the west side of Laya village. From the west of the village, you will view Gangchenta again and catch a glimpse of Masagang.

The campsite is below the school.

Places and attractions:

If you have trekked from Drukgyel Dzong you should spend a day recuperating from the trek to Laya and preparing yourself for the rest of this challenging but spectacular trek. If you have started from Tashitang/Damji (Punakha) you should also walk up to Laya to acclimatize, and not just stay at the trail junction to Lunana.

It’s worthwhile to spend one day in Laya just for the great views from Laya and its extraordinary nomadic inhabitants.

Places and attractions:

(Distance 19 km, 6-8 hours, 1,030 m ascent, 750 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m).

From Laya, we descend to an army camp and continue following the river till the turn-off point to Rhodophu. After lunch, the climb continues through rhododendron bushes till you reach the camp at Rhodophu just next to the Rhodu Chhu.

(Distance 17 km, 5-6 hours, 740 m ascent, camp altitude 4,900 m).

After following the river, you will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4,600m and then further up to Tsomo La (4,900 m). Tsomo La offers a superb view of Lunana, Mount Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, and the Tibetan border. The route then crosses a flat, barren plateau at about 5,000 m.

The campsite at Narethang is towered by the peak of Gangla Karchung (6,395 m).

(Distance 18 km, 5-6 hours, 270 m ascent, 1,200 m descent, camp altitude 3,970 m).

From the camp, you will climb for about an hour to Gangla Karchung La (5,120 m). You can see mountains including Jekangphu Gang (7,100 m), Tsenda Kang, and Teri Gang (7,300 m). The pass descends along a large moraine. Again one has great views: a massive glacier descends from Teri Kang to a deep turquoise lake at its foot. Finally, it is a very long descent through the thick rhododendron to Tarina valley, where you will find several good campsites along the Tang Chhu.

(Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 270 m ascent, 330 m descent, camp altitude 3,910 m).

The walk leads down through conifer forests following the upper ridges of the Pho Chhu and passing some impressive waterfalls. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche, a settlement of a few houses, the first village in the Lunana region.

(Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 980 m ascent, 1,190 m descent, camp altitude 3,700 m).

The trek starts through the forests. Climb up to Keche La pass (4,650 m) where one can have a great view of the surrounding mountains again. After the pass, descend to the riverside walking through a village with a stunning view of Table Mountain and others. Follow up the river till Lhedi Village which has a basic health unit, a school, and a wireless telephone connection.

Places and attractions:

In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7,100 m). Around lunchtime, you will pass the small village of Chozo (4,090 m). Reaching Thanza again you will have a great view of Table Mountain, which forms a 3,000 m high wall of snow and ice behind the village. Although you can camp directly at Thanza, most groups prefer to camp in Thoencha.

Places and attractions:

Walk around and experience some village life or climb up the ridge for fascinating views of lakes and mountains. But as it takes time to arrange new yaks (the yaks from Laya will not go further than Thanza) you might have to spend one day at Thanza anyway.

Places and attractions:

Having chosen the route to Bumthang the trek starts by climbing a ridge with a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. The ridge altitude is 4,500 m and it rises gradually up to 4,650 m. After lunch walks upwards towards the left side of the bridge to enjoy the view of snow-capped mountains.

You reach the campsite of Tshorim after climbing more ridges.

This is one of the highlights of the trek and the day starts with a short climb to the Tshorim Tsho enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophu La ranges (5,230 m). After the pass descends to the base camp, enjoy a great view of Gangkhar Puensum.

If interested, one can divert to climb up the pyramid-shaped peak for a better view or you can go down to the base camp nearby Sha Chhu.

The trail further follows the Sha Chhu and descends gradually to Geshe Woma.

The path continues following Sha Chhu for two and a half hours until the stiff climb to Saka La begins. Visibility along the Saka La trail is poor so one must see the top of the ridge for guidance. After having lunch nearby a yak herders’ camp you climb up to Saka La (4,800 m).

An hour’s climb leads to Juli La (4,700 m) then to Dhur Tsachu. These hot springs, where Guru Padmasambhava is supposed to have taken bath, might be the most stunningly beautiful hot springs in the Himalayas.

You might want to spend an extra day at Dhur Tsachu.

From the hot springs, it is a long and steady climb again with great views of the mountains in Lunana. You will also come across blue lakes and yak herder huts.

This is the last day of the trek and your porter change from yaks to horses. The path follows the Chamkhar Chhu, descending gradually with a few climbs in between. The trek ends here when you arrive at Dhur village. From here you drive to Jakar (Bumthang).

Overnight in Bumthang.

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Accommodation options:

Drive to Punakha is a scenic drive, passing many small villages, waterfalls with spectacular landscape, crossing Black mountains, the ever-changing vegetation, and finally arriving in the warm valley of Punakha. After a short rest at the hotel, we guide you to today’s highlight – Punakha Dzong.

Overnight in Punakha.

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Accommodation options:

After breakfast, drive to Thimphu via the Dochula pass (3140 m) where one can have a superb view of the Eastern Himalayas. Visit the beautiful 108 chortens built on the hill. Also, visit Druk Wangyel Temple.

After checking in at the hotel in Thimphu visit Kuensel Phodrang (tallest Buddha statue), Tashicho Dzong (fortress of the glorious religion), and Handicrafts Emporium.

Overnight in Thimphu

Places and attractions:

Accommodation options:

Drive to the airport for the flight to your onward destination. We hope to serve you again with our other exciting tour packages in the future.

  • Inclusion
  • Exclusion
  • Insurance
  • Airport pick-up and drop-off by private vehicle.
  • 3-star accommodation (4 & 5 stars may require an additional premium update).
  • Bhutan visa fee – including all necessary processing
  • Route Permit
  • Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan
  • A licensed Bhutanese tour guide
  • All land transportation by private vehicle
  • Camping equipment and haulage for trekking tours
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • Monuments entrance fees where applicable
  • Drinking water
  • All internal taxes and charges
  • A sustainable development fee of $200. (This sustainable development fee goes towards free education, free healthcare, and poverty alleviation, along with the building of infrastructure.)
  • Airfare & Travel Insurance
  • Expenses of personal nature, Tips to guides and drivers
  • Expenses occurred due to unavoidable events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.

Package does not include insurance of any kinds, and that you are required to obtain separate coverage from your home country before your trip begins.

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