Jomolhari Trekking

jomolhari-trekkingThe Jomolhari trek is longer than the Jomolhari Loop – one of the most popular trekking routes in Bhutan. With altitude differences of 2250m and nearly 5000m, it offers a wide range of landscapes and flora and fauna. The highlight of this trek is the spectacular view of the mountain Jomolhari from Jomolhari Base Camp (Jangothang).

This is a horseshoe trek, which follows ancient tracks beneath the spine of mountains separating Bhutan from Tibet and then turning eastwards to descend the valley high above Thimphu, the country’s capital.

Jomolhari Trekking takes you through unspoilt villages, in beautiful valleys, which retain their ancient Tibetan Buddhist culture and then climbs through ravishing virgin forest before emerging to high summer pastures at the foot of the magnificent, sacred Jomolhari (or Chomolhari).  The route then crosses two high passes, passing two lonely Dzongs (forts) in wild desolate landscape, before dropping back to the gentler delights of the cultivated valleys.

This is a demanding expedition, with four bitter nights spent at over 4000m and two passes over 4870m, but superlatives fail to do it justice.

This trek also takes in a visit to the awe inspiring Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest) and to visit two other Dzongs in Paro on arrival.

Trek Facts

Trek: Jomolhari
Trek starts: Drukgyal Dzong (Paro)
Trek duration: 10 days/16 days including transportation
Grade: Moderate to strenuous
Maximum altitude: 4930m
Minimum altitude: 2250m
Trek ends: Thimphu

Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and a representative of Unique Nepal Adventure Trek will welcome and transfer you to your selected hotel by private vehicle.

Day 2: Fly from Kathmandu to Paro (2250m). This flight into Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights to take, as it flies past Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and many more peaks. The flight takes around an hour and a half. We will then go to our hotel and take refreshment and visit Ta Dzong (National Museum) and Paro Rinpung Dzong.

Day 3: After breakfast, we drive to Kyichu Lhakhang. King Songtsän Gampo built the Lhakhang in the 7th century AD. The associated legend is that – this is one of 108 Lhakhang’s built in a single night by the king to tame his kingdom’s borders. Return to stay for lunch, rest and prepare for the trek up to Taktsang Monastery (the “Tiger’s Nest”).

Drive to the start of the trek. Trek (or horse ride) to Taktsang Monastery (trek time is 2-3 hours depending on weather and fitness level).Taktsang is perched on a precipitous 900 meter cliff. The monastery has been restored at painstaking efforts to former glory after a fire in 1998. The legend is that Guru Padmasambhava flew to this holy place on the back of tigress to meditate. More recently, one of the most enlightened abbots in modern Bhutan history, Geshe Gendun Rinchen (1926 – 1997) also known as Draphugpa (Of the Caves), was born in a small cave by the path to the monastery. Tea and refreshments will be taken at Taktsang Café for about an hour’s rest to take photos and view the scenery. We will then descend to road point (horses cannot be ridden) and drive back to Paro to prepare for the trek.

Day 4: Drukgyal Dzong – Sharna Zampa
Distance 17 km, 4-5 hours, 360m ascent, 80m descent, camp altitude 2850m.
We first drive to Drukgyal Dzong (2580m) where the road ends. The next stop is the ancient ruins of Drukgyal Dzong (30 minutes). The Dzong is a monument to the Shabdrung’s victory against an invasion of allied Tibetan-Mongolian forces in 1649. The name “Drukgyal Dzong” thus translates to “Fortress of Victory”. The Dzong was destroyed in a fire in the 1950s. On clear days, Drukgyal is an excellent place to view the glorious mountain Jomolhari.  The trek begins with a gradual climb and the trail follows the Paro Chhu passing beautiful meadows, paddy fields and impressive farm houses. After about four hours you will reach the army post at Gunitsawa village. At the army check post your trek permit will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa.

Day 5: Sharna Zampa – Thangthangkha
Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours, 770m ascent, 10m descent, camp altitude 3610m.
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 Dorje 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 views of Jomolhari.

Day 6: Thangthangkha – Jangothang
Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480m ascent, camp altitude 4080m.
If you did not see Jomolhari last evening, you will have a great chance to get a great view this early morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley, which widens into patches of alpine meadow and sparse 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 of Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. Reaching Jangothang has one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, where you will again have a spectacular view of Jomolhari.

Day 7: Jangothang – Rest day
The rest day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari 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. You can also trek up to Tosoh or trek around the area. There are good short trekking trails in three directions. Excellent views can be had to Jomolhari and many other peaks to the west, Jichu Drake to the north and there are a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.

Day 8: Jangothang – Lingshi
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840m ascent, 870m descent, camp altitude 4010m.
After fifteen minutes from the camp, the trail climbs rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyili La pass at 4870m. Whilst on the climb you can enjoy the surroundings. You might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass you will have spectacular views of Jomolhari, Jichu Drake also known as Ts(h)erim Kang and many other names. On the way down to the camp you will pass by some of the yak herder’s tents, made from yak wool, where the herders take shelter while on the move to various pastures for their yaks. As you come down into the Lingshi basin, you get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on a clear day. Unfortunately the Dzong was damaged by an earthquake on 18th September 2012. Jichu Drake and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. The campsite is next to a stone hut you reach just before Lingshi Dzong.

Day 9: Lingshi – Shodu
Distance 22 km, 8-9 hours, 940m ascent, 920m descent, camp altitude 4080m.
The trail climbs up to the Yeli La pass at an altitude of 4930m. From the pass, on a clear day you will get an excellent view of Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Masang Gang. The trek from the pass to the campsite at Shodu is a steep downhill.

Day 10: Shodu – Barshong
Distance 16 km, 5-6 hours, 250m ascent, 670m descent, camp altitude 3710m.
The trail follows the Thimphu Chhu through rhododendron, juniper and other alpine forests, past beautiful waterfalls along the way. The valley narrows until the path takes to the slopes and you will be crossing the Thimphu River as many as six times before reaching the campsite. At the riverside you will be served hot lunch. After lunch the trail gradually ascends to the ruins of the Barshong Dzong.

Day 11: Barshong – Dolam Kencho
Distance 15 km, 4-6 hours, 290m ascent, 640m descent, camp altitude 3320m.
The trail descends down to the Thimphu Chhu river valley, through dense forests of rhododendron, birch, conifer, maples and bamboos and then ascends to pasture lands. Take a rest for lunch and then climb up to Dolam Kencho. The camp is in a meadow.

Day 12: Dolam Kencho – Dodena (Thimphu)
Distance 8 km, 3-4 hours, 500m ascent, 930m descent.
Today is the last day of trekking. The trail continues through forested areas winding up and down and through a small pass. Langurs (monkeys) can be seen along the way. In Dodena, you will exit the Jigme Dorje National Park and reach the road head next to an impressive cantilever bridge. We will then take a bus into Thimphu. Stay overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.

Day 13: Thimphu – Paro
Drive back to Paro for 4-5 hours and have an evening walk around Paro city and do some sightseeing and shopping for some souvenirs. Stay overnight at a hotel.

Day 14: Fly back to Kathmandu. Stay overnight at your selected hotel in Kathmandu.

Day 15: Souvenir and sightseeing in Kathmandu.

Day 16: A representative ofUnique Nepal Adventure Trek will drop you off at Tribhuvan International Airport by private vehicle.

Price Includes:

  • Airport pick-up and drop off by private vehicle.
  • Two nights in your selected Kathmandu hotel with breakfast.
  • All meals during the trek (lunch, dinner, breakfast and tea or coffee).
  • Accommodation in a hotel in Paro and Thimphu.
  • Accommodation in twin shared tents with mattress.
  • All necessary equipment for camping.
  • One English speaking government trained license holder and well informed trekking guide.
  • Dependent on group size, cook, kitchen boy and extra horses)
  • All expenses for guide and porters – meals, accommodation, salary, equipment, insurance, transportation (bus/flights) etc.
  • First Aid kit bag.
  • Government and local area taxes where applicable. These include Royalty fees and road permit fees.
  • Return transportation from Kathmandu to Paro by flight.
  • Transportation from Paro to the start of trek and Thimphu to Paro by private vehicle.
  • A Bhutanese visa fee, where the cost is dependent on the time of year you visit. See the link for Bhutan Information for prices.

Price Excludes:

  • Nepalese entry visa fee and departure tax. (See the ‘Visa Information’ link under ‘Trekking Info’ for current fees)
  • Travel insurance.
  • Soft and alcoholic drinks (mineral water, hot water, coke, fanta, beer, spirits, etc).
  • Snacks (Chocolate, biscuits etc).
  • Hot water, hot shower, heater charge, battery charge, phone calls and laundry service.
  • Donation, tips and personal expenses.
  • Emergency evacuation and medical equipment.
  • In case of natural calamities i.e. political unrest, cancellation of flight due to weather, landslides, etc, the extra charge will be borne by themselves.
  • Lunch and dinner in Kathmandu.
  • Please note that you cannot hire equipment and other personal items in Bhutan such as (sleeping bag, down jacket, hiking boots, etc). You must either bring these items into the country by yourself, or they can be hired from Kathmandu.