Jomolhari via Yaktsa Trek – Among the two Jomolhari routes, Jomolhari Trek I stands as the longer and more renowned trek in Bhutan. Spanning altitude variations from 2,500m to nearly 5,000m (the lowest and highest points of the route), this trek unveils a rich tapestry of landscapes, fauna, and flora. The pinnacle of this adventure is the breathtaking panorama of Mount Jomolhari from Jangothang, the base camp for this trek. The journey takes you to the base camp and later retraces the path to Paro through the Bhonte-La pass (16,040ft/4,890m), following a slightly more easterly trajectory. A highlight of the trek is the stretch along a lofty ridge, offering panoramic views of two valleys and ensconced by towering peaks.
Alternatively, after reaching the base camp and spending two nights there, you have the option to trace your steps back to Paro alongside the river. Opting for this route, the highest altitude attained is 4,890m at the base camp itself. While it remains a substantial hike, the leisurely pace allows you to savor the scenic beauty along the way. This adventure is suitable for individuals of moderate fitness levels and all age groups.
As you fly into the enchanting Paro valley via the country’s sole airport, you’ll be immediately struck by the pristine mountain air, verdant ridges, impressive monasteries, and the warm hospitality of the Bhutanese people adorned in their distinctive national attire. This initial view is nothing short of breathtaking.
Upon arrival at Paro airport, your designated guide from Discovery Bhutan will warmly welcome you and facilitate your smooth transition to the hotel.
The Paro valley is a treasure trove of attractions, and your afternoon itinerary encompasses visits to two significant sites. The first is Ta Dzong, a historic watchtower that was originally constructed as a defense stronghold for Rinpung Dzong during the valley conflicts of the 17th century. In 1968, Ta Dzong was reimagined as Bhutan’s National Museum, showcasing its rich heritage.
Our next destination is Rinpung Dzong, a majestic fortress constructed in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the inaugural spiritual and temporal leader of Bhutan. This Dzong continues to serve as the seat of district administration, the district court, and the monastic community. As you approach the southern side of the Dzong, you’ll encounter the Nemi Zam, a traditional cantilever bridge with a roof. Crossing this bridge provides a sweeping view of the Dzong’s architectural grandeur and a chance to tread the same path as the warriors of old.
In the evening, take a leisurely stroll down the main street, exploring local handicraft shops and perhaps indulging in refreshments at a charming café or inviting bar. This marks the beginning of your remarkable journey through Bhutan’s cultural and natural wonders.
Embarking on the hike to Taktsang, a site revered in the Buddhist sphere as the Tiger’s Nest, opens a doorway to profound spirituality. This revered location is steeped in legend – it’s said that Guru Rinpoche, astride a tigress, arrived at Taktsang and his meditation within a cave catalyzed the transformation of the entire Paro valley into a bastion of Buddhism. Today, a collection of temples clings delicately to the face of a dark cliff, elevated high above the Paro valley.
The journey commences with a 2-3 hours ascent along a steep footpath that weaves its way through captivating pine forests adorned with Spanish moss and intermittent clusters of fluttering prayer flags. The effort invested in this ascent yields a visual reward of panoramic vistas that more than justifies the climb. The visit to the monastery serves as a serene interlude, inviting introspection, before our descent to the road below.
Altitude: 2,820m/3,580m (Total Alitude Gain: 760m), Duration 8 hours, Distance 16 Km. Level of Difficulty: Long but not difficult, Muddy and bumpy path.
Following an early morning meal, we prepare for an invigorating journey ahead. A drive of approximately one and a half hours transports us to Shana, where our memorable trekking adventure begins.
Today’s trek marks the longest of our expedition, spanning eight hours as we make our way to the Soi Thangthangka campsite. The trail weaves beside the river, gradually ascending through a diverse mix of blue pine and oak trees. Later in the day, as the sun begins its descent, we find ourselves surrounded by majestic rhododendron, birch, fir, and maple trees. While the path may be bumpy and rocky, it doesn’t pose a strenuous challenge. However, rainy conditions can transform parts of the trail into a muddy passage. Throughout our journey, we’ll encounter several simple wooden bridges and occasionally the river itself will flow alongside the trail.
Around the four-hour mark of walking through a narrowing valley, we pause for a much-needed lunch break. Shing Karap and Thombuzam, resting spots at approximately 3305m, offer a perfect setting to rejuvenate. While various trails branch off in different directions, including the path leading to Tremo La—an ancient salt-trading route to Tibet—our course remains focused. As we approach the campsite, the trail ascends a ridge adorned with a chorten. Gazing beyond, the Jumolhari Mountain, standing majestically at a height of 7326m, emerges at the valley’s end. After a fulfilling eight-hour trek, we arrive at the campsite nestled in a spacious clearing, directly facing the awe-inspiring Mount Jumolhari. Witnessing the morning sun illuminate the peak of Jumolhari is a sight that truly captures the essence of nature’s beauty.
Altitude: 3580/4000m (Total Altitude Gain: 420m), Duration 4 hours, Distance 11 Km. Level of Difficulty: Short and easy.
Journey from Soi Thangthangka to Jangothang unveils a captivating ascent towards the Jomolhari Base Camp, situated at an elevation of 13,260 feet (4044m). With an altitude gain of 420 meters, this leg of the trek spans 11 kilometers and lasts about 4 hours. The level of difficulty is rated as short and easy, allowing you to relish the route’s offerings at a leisurely pace.
The trail leads you past an army outpost, a point of significance where you’re required to pause and register your entry permits, a formality efficiently managed by your guide. Meandering alongside the Pachu River, the trail passes through quaint, diminutive villages. The journey culminates at the Base Camp, Jangothang, sitting at an elevation of 4,000 meters. Gazing towards the Northeast, the commanding, rounded presence of the Jumolhari Mountain dominates the view. As the sun dips below the horizon, the silhouette of the ruined Jangothang Dzong, inhabited by majestic ravens, casts an air of mystique. This area boasts a vibrant array of birdlife. Along the way, you might spot the Fire-tailed Sunbird, Ibisbill, White-throated Dipper, Yellow-billed Chough, Rosy Pipit, Snow Pigeon, Blue-fronted Redstart, Plumbeous Water Redstart, Blood Pheasant, Snow Partridge, and many more species.
Today marks a well-deserved break to acclimate to the altitude, as well as the cooling temperatures, particularly during the night. This day presents an opportunity to explore the valley, marvel at breathtaking mountain views, and embrace the tranquil surroundings. A leisurely two-hour hike will lead you to the twin lakes of Tshophu, offering a serene interlude. For those pursuing the Lingshi variation of the trek, this day’s hike holds particular significance. The presence of the cone-shaped Jichu Drakey against the backdrop of the clear blue sky is a sight reminiscent of the Matterhorn, an awe-inspiring view that leaves an indelible impression. Many consider Jichu Drakey to be the most beautiful mountain in Bhutan.
Altitude: 4040m /Bonte La 4890m (Total Altitude Gain: 850m), & Loss 1090m Duration 5-7 hours, Distance 14.5 Km. Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Setting forth from Jangothang, we embark on a journey to Dhumzo Chhu or Chorapang, with the captivating Jomolhari Base Camp as our starting point. Passing through Bonte La at an altitude of 16,040 feet (4890m), this route offers a unique blend of altitudes and terrain. With an altitude gain of 1770 feet (540m) and an altitude loss of 3600 feet (1100m), this stretch encompasses a duration of approximately 7.5 hours, covering a distance of 21 kilometers. The level of difficulty is categorized as moderate, presenting an exciting challenge.
Throughout this day’s trek, encompassing 13 miles, you’ll encounter captivating vistas, including views of Jhomolhari and Jitchu Drake, as well as the enchanting valley leading to the Jhomolhari campsite. The trail also provides glimpses of yak herders’ tents and the tranquil Tsho Phu lakes. If luck is on your side, you might spot the elusive Snow Leopard’s footprint at the Bonte La pass. After ascending to the Bonte La pass, the highest point of the trek at 16,040 feet, take a moment to absorb the stunning panorama. Basingthang Peaks, Chatarake (Djo Drake), Jo Darkey, and the majestic Kanchenjunga—the third highest mountain in the world—all grace the horizon. The descent leads through a steep, narrow gully adorned with gravel and loose rocks, culminating at Dhmxo. The Soi Yaksey Valley unfolds with awe-inspiring rock cliffs, cascading waterfalls, deep side valleys, and snow-capped peaks, creating an ambiance of natural splendor. Your day concludes at the campsite, where you can truly immerse yourself in the serene wilderness.
Altitude: 3800m /Thombu Shong 4180m via Tagulun La 4120 (Total Altitude Gain: 740m), & Loss 420m Duration 4-5 hours, Distance 11 Km. Level of Difficulty: Long & Medium
Embarking on this rigorous day, you’ll journey from the Dhumzo Chhu campsite to Thongbue Shong, perched at an altitude of 13510 feet (4120m). This stage involves both significant altitude gains and losses, adding to the adventure. A challenging trek lasting around 4.4 hours covers a distance of 11 kilometers.
Your ascent from the camp commences through dense rhododendron, birch, and oak forests adorned with moss. The trail leads to a picturesque meadow graced by imposing Juniper trees. Further ahead, you’ll conquer Dhunge La at 15,410 feet (4700m) and subsequently Tagulun La at 14,880 feet (4540m). From these vantage points, your view expands to include Jhomolhari, Jitchu Drake, Teri Kang, and, in the distance, Kanchenjunga at 28160 feet (85840m), along with the formidable Makalu at 27,760 feet (8463m), momentarily obscuring the sightline to Mount Everest. Tonight’s destination, Thongbue camp, becomes visible against this spectacular backdrop.
The Thangbue valley, dotted with stone huts, comes alive in spring and autumn, bustling with families and a multitude of yaks, horses, dogs, and goats. Thongbue camp holds the distinction of being the second-highest camp on this remarkable trek.
Altitude: Thombu Shong 4180m /Shana Zam 2890m via Thombu La 4270(Total Altitude Gain: 150m), & Loss 1380m Duration 4-5 hours, Distance 11 Km. Level of Difficulty: Long climb down
Today’s journey encompasses traversing valleys, navigating a swampy expanse, and ascending to the commanding Thombu La at 14,005 feet (4270m). This pass offers panoramic views of several majestic mountain peaks. The ridge walk post-pass is an undeniable highlight, granting a panoramic perspective high above the valleys, characterized by a well-trodden trail and captivating vistas. Descend steeply for 2 to 3 hours, eventually arriving at Shana, where your transportation awaits to convey you back to Paro. This stage of the trek is both lengthy and rewarding, offering a blend of challenges and stunning natural beauty.
As the day transitions into evening, we’ll embark on a scenic drive to Thimphu, navigating the winding road that spans approximately an hour. Thimphu, a city characterized by its unique and distinctive attributes, stands out as one of the most intriguing capital cities globally. This vibrant hub serves as the epicenter of governance, housing the administration, Bhutan’s esteemed royal family, and diplomatic missions representing foreign nations within the country. Thimphu also assumes the role of headquarters for numerous development initiatives funded by international sources, underscoring its significance on a global scale.
Embark on a day of exploration as you uncover the cultural gems of Thimphu.
We commence at Kuensel Phodrang, renowned as Buddha Point, a location that invites you to capture breathtaking photographs and immerse yourself in the serene atmosphere of this iconic landmark. Behold the grandeur of the Buddha Dordenma statue, soaring to an impressive height of 169 feet (51 meters), offering a panoramic vista that leaves you awestruck. Delve into the intricacies of the statue’s design and bask in the tranquil surroundings that envelope it.
The next destination is the Motithang Takin Preserve, an essential wildlife sanctuary safeguarding the takin, Bhutan’s esteemed national animal. Gain insight into the creature’s cultural significance and the legend that narrates its origin.
We then venture to Dechen Phrodrang, an ancient monastery teeming with historical artifacts and treasures, offering a captivating glimpse into Bhutan’s rich heritage and cultural lineage. Engage with the spiritual sanctity of Zilukha Nunnery and interact with the devoted nuns, granting you deeper insights into the principles of Buddhism.
Our exploration leads us to the National Institute for Zorig Chusum, a school dedicated to traditional arts and crafts. Here, observe students honing their skills in disciplines such as woodworking, painting, and ceramics, carrying forward these age-old traditions.
Visit the National Post Office, a venue where you can fashion a personalized stamp adorned with your own photograph, creating a unique memento of your journey. Conclude the day with a special dinner at Babesa Village Restaurant, surrounded by the Discovery Bhutan team. This evening serves as an opportunity to review your enriching experiences in Bhutan, reflecting on the memories you’ve made.
Day 10: Departure
It’s time to say goodbye to Bhutan. Your Discovery Bhutan escort will accompany you to the airport for your onward flight. Take a moment to cherish the awe-inspiring natural beauty surrounding you and reflect upon the incredible memories and experiences you have gathered during your stay.
Bid farewell to this enchanting land, holding it dear in your heart, with the aspiration that Tashi Delek will guide you back to this extraordinary place in the future.
Health & Experience Required
Trekking in Bhutan is physically demanding because of the distance and abrupt changes in elevation. Depending on the day of the trek, you will have to walk 5-8 hours covering a distance of 10-15 kilometers daily to reach the campsites. Most of the climbs run through deep forests on rocky trails and sometimes the trails traverses through wet mud were you need agility to hop between round river stones. But if you have experience of walking long distances with a back pack and you do not have history of knee pains on descents it should not be difficult for you for trekking in Bhutan.
It is a condition of joining any of our trips that be protected against comprehensive expenses potential to incur due to medical issues or accidents (to include air ambulance, helicopter rescue, and treatment costs). Please be noted that we don’t arrange or sell insurance.