Monday, October 29, 2012

Classic Treks of Bhutan

Classic Treks of Bhutan



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Here is a list of the available treks - most popular treks (Jomolhari Trek, Druk Path Trek), as well as the toughest trek in the world - Snowman Trek.

Druk Path
This is a short four-day trek which leads from Thimphu to Paro or vice versa, crossing the chain of mountains that separates the two valleys. There are wonderful lakes teeming with fish at 4,000 meters (13000 ft) and spectacular rhododendrons blooming in May. During winter, when the sky is clear, there is a magnificent view over the high Himalayas, This trek can be done in all seasons, but the best time is from October to the end of May.

Bumthang - Lhuentse via Rodong La
This trek can be longer or shorter than four days. The trek leaves Ogyenchoeling in Tang and gets to Lhuentse Dzong by crossing first the Rodong La (4160 m/ 13650 ft) And then making a long arduous descent. Many lovely flowers bloom during the season , and many houses can be seen along the trail.

Bumthang Trek
This two-day trek is ideal for average walkers as the altitude does not go over 3,400m (11,155 ft) at Phephela pass between Choekhor and Tang valleys. Though there are no views of snow-capped peaks, the trek visits several villages and winds through the Bumthang countryside, giving an exceptional opportunity to be in contact with rural life. This trek can be done in October, and November or from Februuary to May. Do add another day to visit Ogyenchoelimg an its museum.

Gangtey Gonpa Trek
This is another good trek for average walkers. It takes three days, and gives you a chance to visit the isolated valleys of Gangtey Gonnpa/ Phobjikha, Gogona and Kothoka. Although this trek can be done any time from Octoner to May, it is best done in April and early May when the rhododendrons are flowering.

Punakha Trek and Samtengang Trek These two treks are perfect for beginners, and during winter. They only take three or four days, altitudes are low, at 1,500-2,000 m ( 5,000-6,500 ft), and they go through several villages.

Jomolhari Trek
This is an excellent trek for experienced walkers. It traverses Bhutan in the north, to the land of the yak herders, to the base of Mount Jomolhari, at 7,316 meters (24,000 ft) and on to remote Lingshi Dzong. There are fabulous views of the mountains and exceptional flora. You will encounter many yak herders but few villagers. The maximum altitude is 4,900 m (16,000 ft). This trek can be done from the end of April to November, with the possibility of snow during these two months. There are three possibilities for the return: take the same trail back to Paro; return to Thimphu, although the trail from Shodu to Thimphu is bad and sometimes make the trek not very pleasant; return to Paro via Yaksa, which is the most beautiful of the routes. The best time to go is October, but August and September are the best months for seeing the high altitude flora if one does not mind the rain or the occasional snow fall.

Laya Trek
This trek takes about eight days and goes from the sub-tropical Punakha valley, at 1,300m (4,265ft) up to the high Laya region, at 4,000 m ( over 13,000 ft), where yak herders live at the foot of Mount Masangang, at 7,200 m (23,620 ft). The route passes by hot springs and Gasa Dzong, and through different levels of vegetation before reaching the village of Laya, where the woman wear black yak-hair costumes and strange, conical bamboo hats. This trek combines a variety of landscapes, villagers, and beautiful views of the peaks. It can be made in May, June, September, October and November, the best season being October. It is not advisable to go during the monsoon because leeches swarm in the jungles between Tashinthang and Gasa.

Lunana Trek
This tough eighteen - day trek requires excellent health, a high spirit of adventure and self control. It starts off taking the same route as the Laya Trek. After reaching Laya, it turns eastwards and cross Ganglakarchung Pass, at 5,100m (16,730 ft), into the Lunana region where habitation is concentrated in the villagers of Thargza and Chezo. It is the most difficult region of Bhutan to reach, lying at 4,000m (13,000 ft) at the foot of peaks that soar up to 7,000 m (23,000 ft). The inhabitants are farmer-herders who are famous for their difficult character. The trek then heads south, and after crossing the Rinchenzoe Pass, at 5,220 m (17,125 ft), another possibility is to continue on to Bumthang, via the base camp of Gangkar Peunsum (7,541m) and the Dur hot springs. The trek can be done from mid-June to mid- October, but there is always the possibility of snow.

Snowman Trek
When the Jomolhari, Laya and Lunana treks are combined, you have the Snowman Trek, considered by many as the toughest trek in the world. Taking twenty four days, a total distance of 356 km (221 miles), eleven passes, three of which are more than 5,000 m (16,405 ft) and an average altitude of 4,000 m (13,125 ft), one should be warned of the strenuous efforts required on this trek, and a thorough medical check-up is highly advisable.

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