The Laya-Gasa Trek is considered one of the most scenic treks in Bhutan, offering amazing views of some of the most pristine and unspoiled landscapes in Bhutan. This fourteen day, 217 km journey begins at Drukgyel in Paro and takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes and dense sub-tropical jungles before terminating in Damji in Tashithang.
Along the trail you’ll be able to spot indigenous animals such as blue sheep and Takins, the national animal of Bhutan. You’ll travel through remote mountain villages inhabited by Layaps (people of Laya), a distinct segment of the Bhutanese society with unique culture, traditions and appearance. Thhe trek also offers a day of relaxation at the famous Gasa hot springs that is sure to rejuvenate you.
Best Season:-End of March – June and September- November.
Day 01 : Arrive Paro
Arrive and after the the immigration clearance transfer to your hotel. Later visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower. The Paro Rimpung Dzong, the center of civil and religious authority in this valley. A short walk takes you to the base of the dzong and across a traditional cantilevered, covered bridge. Overnight Hotel
Day 02: Taktsang hike
Taktsang Monastery / Tigers Nest, the most spectacular monastery and probably the most photographed one in Bhutan, in a way a symbol of Bhutan. It is said that Guru Rinpoche arrived here on the back of a tigress and meditated at this monastery hence it is called “Tiger’s Nest”. The excursion to monastery’s view point takes about 5 hours for round trip. Lunch will be served at the cafeteria, followed by a short walk back. Evening stroll Paro town for leisure. Overnight stay at hotel.
Day 03: Paro to Shana
Distance : 17km, Trek time: 5-6 hours , Ascent: 500meter , Camp altitudue: 2850M
Drive 12km north of Paro valley from your hotel to the historic Drugyal Dzong ruins at 2,580m, from were your trek starts. Your trekking crew will be waiting here for you. After a brief meeting, you will walk downhill on a wide trail following the Pachhu (river), which then climbs gently traversing through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. You reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2,810 after walking for a while through blue pine forest. Here your trekking permit will be checked and stamped. You will then cross Pachu River on a wooden bridge and then climb to Sharna Zampa at 2,870m. Just beyond Shana Zampa, there are several meadows surrounded by trees where you will camp for tonight.
Day 04 : Shana to Soi Thangthangkha
Distance: 22 km. Trek time: 7-8 hours. Ascent: 1090m. Altitude of camp: 3480m.
The trail again follows Pachhu (Paro river), ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a campsite.
Day 05 :Thangthangka – Jangothang
Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m
In the morning after passing a small army post, the trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of yak herdsmen. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp (4,115 m). High mountains overlook the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old fortress used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.
Day 06. Rest day at Jangothang
You can enjoy day hikes, you have 3 options on this day at Jangothang. Hike to Jumolhari Glacier which is around 4 ½ hours (Back and forth, or Hike to Jichu Drake Glacier which is around 3 hours (Back and Forth). Or Walk up the mountain between Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, the summit is at 5200 meters with a great view of both the mountains. This is 8 hours (Back and forth).
Day 07. Jangothang – Lingshi
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 m
We start today’s walk with spectacular views of the Jhomolhari, Jichu Drake and the Tserim Gang. We start climbing straight away and after some 3 to 4 hours reach the Nyelela pass (4,700 m). After the pass we descend to a circular hut just below Lingshi, where we camp. Coming down from Lingshi we obtain our first views of the truly mystical Dzong atop a high hill.
Day 08. Lingshi – Chebisa
Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,880 m
This is a magical day. Leaving Lingshi behind we gently climb gently to reach another delightful village, Gom Yu, which is set right below a 300 m cliff. Another hour’s walk brings us to a lovely 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. The walk is very leisurely with plenty of reasons and opportunities to linger.
Day 09. Chebisa – Shomuthang
Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m
We start with quite a stiff climb through high pastures up the Gokula pass (4,320 m) before we drop through forests of dwarf rhododendron.We climb gradually and head down to the camp near a riverbed.
Day 10. Shomuthang – Robluthang
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m
A long haul over the Jarela pass at 4,640 m where we once again get stunning views of the Himalayan Mountains above us. We drop steeply down a forest trail to the Tsarigathang valley, where herds of Takin roam, then cross a knee deep river before climbing up Robluthang where we camp.
Day 11. Robluthang – Lemithang
Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,140 m.
This is one of the hardest days of the trek. We climb slowly up to Shinchela pass at 4,870 m. and are rewarded with stunning views of mountains, including the spectacular Gang Chen Ta at the head of the valley. On a clear day practically all the mountains on the northern border are visible. Eagles, griffin vultures, blue sheep and yaks abound in this area. We descend down to camp on a lovely spot by the riverbank.
Day 12. Lemithang – Laya
Distance 10 km, 4-5 hours, 60 m ascent, 340 m descent, camp altitude 3,840 m
We walk along the river, one of the tributaries of the Mochu and through a forest of rhododendron and silver fir and then enter the village of Laya. The people of Laya are famous for their vertical stripe yak hair clothing and their strange conical bamboo hats. The women wear their hair long and with great deal of turquoise and jade jewellery. The features of the people are even more Tibetan/ Mongolian than the Bhutanese who live in the central valleys. The rest of the day is spent at leisure or visiting village houses and mixing with the villagers. Good views of the Masagang and the other peaks.
Day 13. Laya (Halt)
We have a rest day at Laya and an opportunity to meet the local people.
Day 14. Laya – Koena
Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 260 m ascent, 1,070 m descent, camp altitude 3,300 m.
Enroute we can see the breathtaking views of the crashing river, feeder streams and waterfalls. Over night at camp.
Day 15. Koena to Gasa Tsachu ( Trek ends)
Distance : Altitude 2,638m; Distance 15 kms; Time 6/7 hours
The Balela pass (3740m), Gasa village and Dzong and camp near the Hot Spring – a chance for a good, hot bath!
Day 16 : Gasa Tsachu – Goen Damji – Punakha
Morning you can enjoy the hot spring bath. After breakfast drive to Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and is situated between Pho Chu (Male river) and Mo Chu (Female river) . Check in your hotel and rest. Dinner and over night in Hotel.
Day 17 : Punakha -Thimphu:(72 Kms)
After breakfast drive to Thimphu. Enroute visit Chimi Lhakhang also called Temple of Fertility built by Lama Drukpa kuenley in 17th century. visit main attraction in Thimphu like Memorial Chorten, Dupthop Lhakhang, viewpoint of Tashichho Dzong and Takin zoo, Folk Heritage museum, Post office. Afternoon visit Trashichhodzong and later explore Thimphu town. Evening farewell dinner .
Day 18 : Departure:
Early Morning, drive to the airport.