Trek through the Himalaya via Chomolhari Basecamp at Jangothang (4040m) to the the remote village of Laya in Bhutan
Bhutan is the last bastions of Mahayana Buddhism, against the backdrop of majestic Himalayas; Buddhist Spirit permeates almost all aspects of Bhutanese culture. Prayer flags flutter on the hills, temples and dzongs dot the landscape, and religious festivals are celebrated through out the year. Due to Bhutan’s staunch conservation policies, country’s forest and environment are in pristine condition. Bhutan is one of the Biodiversity Hotspots with greater that 200 mammals, 770 birds and more than 5400 plants. Visit Bhutan with Bhutan Men Lha Adventure. Our experience, extensive contacts within the country and our personalized services would make your visit to Bhutan truly enjoyable and memorable one.
12-13 days Laya trek is offered in the clear weather seasons of spring and fall. Jumolhari, at 7,314m, is one of the highest peaks in Bhutan and is the inspiring backdrop to several days of strenuous trekking, reaching a highpoint of 4,820m.
On arrival at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport you will be received by our staff and will escort you to the Hotel, where our staff will give you a brief orientation of the Hotel, Kathmandu, Trekking, do’s and don’t and other related information that you might require while in Bhutan and Nepal.
After your first night in Kathmandu, you will be well informed on arrival about the time for your half day guided sightseeing tour in Kathmandu at places of interest.
During the flight, you will experience breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan Peaks like the sacred Jhumolhari & Jichu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
After breakfast, drive to Drugyel dzong, the ruined fortress which once defended Paro valley from Tibetan invasion. This fortress, now a burnt shell, was strategic in Bhutan’s defense against Tibetan invasion. The sacred mountain Jhumolhari (7,314 meters) can be seen in the background on a clear day. On the way back we visit the National Museum, after lunch a half-day excursion to the famous Taktsang monastery (Tiger’s Den) to the viewpoint.
After a transfer to the ruins of Drugyel Dzong, we trek northwards beside the Paro River, passing through delightful farmland and forest to reach our camp at Shana (2820m.) 5 – 6 hours trekking.
A longer trek, as we follow the river through lovely mixed forest. At a junction of 2 valleys, we turn north towards Chomolhari which is now visible. Camp at Soi Thangka. (3610m) 8 hours.
Continue our trek towards Chomolhari, passing a small herding camp and entering more open country with grazing yaks. Camp at the meadow of Jangothang (4040m) which is the base camp area for Chomolhari. 5 – 6 hours.
A day for exploration above our camp at Jangothang. There are various options for walks to gain classic views above this camp. Alternatively this may be used as a rest day.
Great views during today’s long trek, as we cross the prayer-flagged Nyele La and descend on a long pine forested ridge to a riverside camp below Lingshi Dzong.
After a morning visit to Lingshi Dzong, following a traversing path with views of the Basingthang peaks, and then descending via the picturesque village of Gang Yul to Chebisa.
The day starts with a long climb to the Gobu La, then a descent to the river and a delightful afternoon’s trek through juniper and silver birch woodland to Somothang.
An early start for the ascent to the Jhari La (4720m / 15,485ft) for superb views of the 7000 metre peak, Kang Che Da, and then descending to another river to camp at Robluthang.
Morning trek leads to a well marked yak herder’s trail, with a climb to the high point of the trek at the Shinge La (4900m / 16,075ft) then descending once again to the meadow camp at Limithang.
A shorter day on an undulating trail through the woodland with a gradual ascent to the village of Laya. Afternoon at leisure to explore the village and visit the friendly inhabitants.
Starting the trek out through the valley of the Mo Chu, there is a fair amount of up and down, before climbing away from the river to a camp at Chamsa, below the Bale La.
An hour’s climb leads to the Bale La, beyond which it is a long descend into ever-more-verdant lush forest. Visit the Gasa Dzong on route to the camp at Gasa hot springs.
A wonderful morning’s walk through the forest and farmland to reach the road head, for a drive to Thimpu via Punakha Dzong and the Dochu La to the hotel in the tiny Bhutanese capital of Thimpu.
Morning free for sightseeing in this quaint town, with the chance to visit the Tasichoedzong, before making the short drive to our hotel in the Paro Valley.
As per the flight towards respective destination either back to Kathmandu or to Delhi connecting the flight back home.
- A professional and qualified tour leader plus support crew
- Bhutan visa fee
- Flights between Kathmandu and Paro
- All transfers and land transport involved in the itinerary
- All accommodation as described
- All meals
- Full service camping on trek including all camping equipment
- 'Thermarest' inflatable camping mats whilst camping
- FREE Sleeping bag and down jacket hire is available for this holiday on request
- Travel insurance
- Nepalese visa costs
- Tips for drivers and trek staff
- Miscellaneous expenses - beer and souvenirs etc
Trekking conditions on this circuit are reasonably straightforward, since the trail has been well prepared for the ponies or yaks which are traditionally used to carry supplies on the route. In general this trek offers easy walking conditions, as there are no glaciers to negotiate and the passes that we cross should not be heavily snow covered. However, the trekking is sustained and does involve some long days and the crossing of four passes over 4500 metres, including the Shinge La at 5000 metres. There are some quite strenuous days and a good degree of fitness is a necessity. This route presents a great variety of landscape types; ranging from fertile and intensively terraced farmland, through some of the finest mixed forest in the world, to open, alpine pastureland and high mountain valleys and passes.
The group will meet at the group hotel in Kathmandu. Airport transfers are provided for all clients arriving Kathmandu on Day 1 and departing on the last day of the Itinerary and all clients with additional nights booked through us. Hotel contact details and an emergency telephone number will be provided with your booking confirmation.
All meals are included.
The Bhutanese love chillies; red, green, raw, cooked and flavouring their condiments – fans of spicy food will be in their element in Bhutan! Don’t panic if spicy food is not for you, all the hotels and restaurants in Thimpu and Paro offer a range of delicious dishes suitable for all tastes. Breakfasts whilst in hotels will consist of choice of cereal or muesli, eggs, toast, beans, sausage or bacon with tea, coffee and juices.
You can expect to be fed very well during the trekking section of you holiday. Our trekking chefs are old hands at managing camps and meals whilst in the mountains. A senior trek cook and camp manager must have a minimum of five years of training and experience to qualify for the post! Our cooks have undergone training both on Bhutanese and continental dishes and can expect to be served a wide variety of delicious food on trek. Breakfast and dinner will be taken at the camp sites, whilst lunches will generally be carried on ponies and served mid-way on the trekking route for the day. Tea and hot drinks will be provided throughout the day and you will also usually also get a wakeup call from the camp crew with a nice cup of hot Chai! Whilst on trek drinking water will be purified by boiling and will be provided regularly.
It is not recommended to drink untreated water from the taps. If you are on a trekking or cycling holiday, water is supplied to fill up your individual bottles. This will be boiled, filtered or provided in large jerry cans or 5 litre bottles. Additionally you should take purification tablets or a filter bottle (such as a Water-To-Go bottle) to treat your water when in towns or where water is not supplied. We do not encourage the purchasing of single use plastic bottles.
Whilst we can cater for vegetarians, albeit sometimes with a more limited choice, we cannot provide special diets. Due to the nature of the trips that we operate and the countries in which we operate them, it can be very hard (and sometimes impossible) to cater for a wide range of dietary choices and you may have to supplement your diet with food/snacks from home. If you have specific dietary requirements please do speak to our sales team and they will be able to advise you whether or not we will be able to offer your specific choice. Please note that we are unable to provide separate menus and cannot accept liability for any problems arising from special dietary requirements or intolerances.
This trip has 2 nights in Kathmandu, one en route to Bhutan and one on the return journey. We use a comfortable, centrally located hotel. In Bhutan, we wil also use comfortable and well located hotels.
Whilst on trek there are 12 nights full service camping where you will enjoy a full-service from our friendly camp crew. You will sleep in hardy 2 man dome tents and inflatable Thermarest mattresses are provided.
All the camp equipment and luggage will be transported between camps by ponies or yaks, you need only carry your day pack. Our camp crew will erect and dismantle the tents for you, cook, and take care of all the camp chores.
During walking days, having stayed behind to collapse camp, it is usual for the crew and the pack animals to overtake the group during the day and you will usually arrive into camp to find it already established, with your personal bags already placed into your pre-assigned tents and the kettle on!
In camp, as well as the tents used for sleeping, there will also be a mess tent, with chairs and tables, where the group will dine (and socialise into the evening), a toilet tent and even a shower tent where a bucket of hot water can be provided for you to wash with. Hot water for washing will also be provided to you in the mornings and when you arrive at the camp each day. On cold nights we’ll even provide hot water bags/bottles to keep you warm when it is time for you to retreat to your tents for the evening.
All accommodation is allocated on a twin sharing basis. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. It is possible to hire a single tent while on trek for an additional cost. (Please note single tent hire does not include single rooms in hotels). It is also normally possible to book a single room for the 2 hotel nights in Kathmandu, or extra nights if you plan to arrive early or depart later than the group trip dates (subject to availability). In Bhutan, single rooms are much more difficult to pre-book. However, if there is availability, single rooms for the 4 hotel nights in Bhutan can be arranged at an additional cost. Please note that it will not be possible to book single rooms in Bhutan for festival trips. For Single tent hire costs, Single room Supplements and additional hotel night costs please refer to our website (note that hotel prices are subject to change)
FLIGHTS TO BHUTAN
It is possible to fly to Bhutan from Kathmandu, Delhi, Bangkok and Singapore, as well as from Dhaka and several regional airports in India. Our preferred port of transit for this holiday is Kathmandu, which has daily flights to Paro and a good tourism infrastructure. In addition, Nepal visas are easily obtained on arrival and are relatively inexpensive. Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines are the only airlines operating flights to Bhutan and seats can be limited, particularly around the time of the major festivals. Early booking is essential. It is not always possible to confirm seats immediately and it is not uncommon for passengers to be ‘waitlisted’ for several weeks until their booking clears. In rare circumstances, it may be necessary to route our groups or individual clients through an alternative airport if waiting lists are not cleared in good time.
The group will be met and escorted in Kathmandu by a local representative. Once in Bhutan the group will accompanied throughout by a professional and qualified tour leader. During the trek the tour leader will be assisted by local guides and a full trek crew including cooks, baggage animals and their handlers.
This holiday involves going to very high altitude. During the course of your trip you will be spending at least one night above 4000 metres and/or trekking to 5000 metres or above. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude. Unless you have previous experience of trekking above 4000 metres you should consult one of our trekking experts before embarking on this holiday. On this trip we carry a portable altitude chamber (PAC-bag) and/or bottled oxygen for use in emergencies.
Approximately $250-300 should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including porter and trek crew tips and soft drinks etc. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash, since you will exchange the majority of this on arrival (into Nepalese rupees in Kathmandu, and Bhutanese Ngultrum at Paro Airport). Sterling, US Dollars and Euros are equally acceptable for exchange in Nepal and in Bhutan. You can withdraw cash from ATMs in Kathmandu. In Bhutan money can be easily exchanged but you cannot rely on withdrawing money from ATMs.
Tips are the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ to your local guides, drivers and trek crew. They do not form part of their wages. KE always pays local crews the best rates of pay, no matter what country they are in and any tips they receive are seen as a personal thank you from group members. For our part, we advise local teams that tips are not a duty or a prerequisite but are a bonus and entirely dependent on the service that was given. For your local guide and trek crews we recommend that you give a tip if you feel that their services have met your satisfaction. We recommend that these tips are given by the group as a whole rather than individually and you should decide as a group on how much you wish to give. As a rough guide we suggest that each group member contributes around US$150 (in local currency equivalent) to a group tipping pool.
For this holiday you should take one piece of luggage, which should be a soft and sturdy duffel bag and a daypack. Your bag on trek will be carried by porters or pack animals and should not weigh more than 15kg. It is possible to leave extra baggage at the hotel in Kathmandu and in Paro. For international flights please check your baggage allowance with your airline.
The following checklist should help you with your packing. As a general rule, you should always try to keep the weight of your equipment to a maximum of 15 kgs.
YOU MUST BRING THE FOLLOWING ITEMS:
Sleeping bag (comfort rating -15°C)*
Warm jacket (down)
Waterproof and windproof jacket
Waterproof and windproof overtrousers
Thermal baselayer leggings
Thermal baselayer shirts
Warm jacket (down)*
Scarf or buff
Warm and waterproof gloves or mittens
Daypack 30 litres
Headtorch with spare batteries
Washbag and toiletries
Sun protection (including total bloc for lips, nose etc.)
Water bottles 1 Litre (x2). (Note that the tube on camelback / platypus type systems can be prone to freezing in cold conditions) (we encourage re-filling water bottles rather than single use plastic)
Water purification tablets
Selection of dry bags (to keep luggage contents dry)
Basic First Aid Kit including: Antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), altitude (Diamox), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite). Glucose tablets and multi-vitamin tablets are also a good idea.
THE FOLLOWING ITEMS ARE OPTIONAL:
Sleeping bag liner
Swimwear (for the hotel pool in Kathmandu)
Trainers or similar
Gaiters (highly recommended due to muddy conditions)
Insect repellant – (DEET)
Pen-knife (note: always pack sharp objects in hold baggage)
Repair kit – (eg. needle, thread, duct tape)
Small padlock (to lock your luggage)
Small travel towel
Reusable cloth bag for shopping (to avoid plastic bags)
*FREE sleeping bag and down jacket hire is included in your KE holiday booking upon request.
Please make all requests at least 6 weeks prior to the trip departure date. Note all hire / rental equipment is issued in Bhutan. Please remember to allow room in your trek bag for these items.
‘Thermarest’ inflatable camping mats are provided whilst camping.
FESTIVAL DRESS CODE
The Bhutanese always come dressed in their absolute finest clothing for a festival and so you may want to bring a smarter set of clothes with you to use on the days you are attending the festivals. Long sleeves and long trousers (no jeans) are best, women might want to bring a scarf, and trainers, dirty boots or open toed sandals should not be worn where possible, hats should also be avoided and umbrellas are not acceptable.
Bhutan’s Tshechus (festivals) are religious events. The festival grounds are purified and consecrated by lamas, so when you are watching a festival you are, in essence, on the perimeter of an outdoor religious ground. The dancers, whether monks or laymen, are in a state of meditation. They believe that they transform themselves into the deities that they represent on the dance ground, generating a spiritual power, which cleanses, purifies, enlightens and blesses the spectators.We should conduct ourselves with this in mind. Out of respect, whilst watching the dances, we should not eat, drink, smoke, talk or laugh loudly at inappropriate times. You should not use flash photography or encroach on the dance space. Please be respectful when photographing dancers or onlookers.The festivals are not tourist attractions. They are genuine manifestations of religious traditions thousands of year’s old, which we are fortunate to be able to witness.
It is an essential condition of joining a holiday with Shishu Tours & Travel that you have a valid travel insurance policy to cover the cost of medical treatment and to protect the value of your holiday in the event of cancellation. When taking out insurance please ensure the policy you choose covers you for the activities and altitude included in your itinerary.
A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required for visits to Nepal. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice.
Visa information is changing all the time. Please ensure that you check for the latest advice before travel.
TRANSIT VIA INDIA
If you are travelling via India (Delhi or Calcutta) to your destination you may also require a visa for India. This may apply even if you are not leaving the airport unless your baggage has been checked all the way through to your destination. Generally, if you use the same carrier for both legs of your journey, you will not need an India Visa.
All nationalities require a visa and this can be obtained on arrival at Kathmandu Airport. The visa process is automated and this includes having your photograph taken. The visa fee is $30 for 15 days, $50 for 30 days, $125 for 90 days. The visa is FREE for children under 10 years. The visa allows multiple re-entry. Payment must be made in cash and USD, GBP or Euros are accepted. Whilst these are not now needed for the visa process, we recommend that you travel with at least 2 spare passport photographs.
You can avoid the queue for the first stage of the visa process on arrival at Kathmandu Airport by printing off this application form and completing it before you travel (you will need to attach one passport photograph to this form). If you travel with this form you can go directly to the cashier to pay for your visa.
If you have a severe allergy please inform the Shishu office before you travel. We will do all we can to help, but we cannot guarantee an allergy free environment on our trips. You will need to carry your own treatment for the allergy with you, as ‘adrenaline auto-injectors’ are not carried as standard by our leaders and staff. You should inform your leader on arrival of your allergy, and let them know where you keep your adrenaline pen.
You should contact your doctor or travel clinic to check whether you require any specific vaccinations or other preventive measures. You should be up to date with routine courses and boosters as recommended e.g. diphtheria-tetanus-polio and measles-mumps-rubella, along with hepatitis A and typhoid.
Malarial prophylaxis is not usually required for trips in the mountains, however if you are visiting rural and remote low lying areas then they might be necessary. On holidays to more remote areas you should also have a dentist check up. A good online resource is Travel Health Pro.
Dengue fever is a known risk in places visited. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take precautions to avoid mosquito bites.
The unit of currency in Nepal is the Nepalese Rupee.
The unit of currency in Bhutan is the Bhutanese Ngultrum.
It makes a lot of sense to spend some time before coming on a trekking trip getting some additional exercise. The fitter you are, after all, the more enjoyable you will find the experience. For this trip you should be comfortable with walking up to 7 hours per day or longer on some days. We would suggest that you take part in regular exercise leading up to your trip. Hill walking is the best training, but running and swimming are also good for developing cardio vascular fitness and stamina. Before departure we suggest that you try to fit in a number of long walks with a reasonable amount of ascent and descent.
There is little you can do to prepare for the altitude but if you have an excellent level of fitness this can help.
In general the climate of Bhutan is colder and damper than one would expect to find in the Himalaya of India or Nepal. The monsoon usually arrives in June, and lasts until mid September, bringing with it the heavy rainfall which is responsible for the lush vegetation which carpets much of Bhutan. March and April, as well as late September through to December are the best months to visit Bhutan. These months outside of the monsoon generally give good weather, with bright, sunny mornings and a moderate build up of cloud in the afternoons. However, mountains do produce their own weather, and rain, snow and even storms cannot be ruled out. Day-time highs of around 20°C / 68°F can be expected at altitudes around 2000 metres with average daytime temperatures at 3000 metres around 10 to 15ºC / 50 – 6ºF. Night-time temperatures at any time can reach or dip below freezing. December departures will be between 5 to 7ºC lower than the above temperature ranges and in December the overnight temperatures at our highest camps can reach –10ºC / 14ºF.
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