Bhutan - Laya - Gasa Trek

As I told Vern& Carol I have always only used AAI, and always will for these kind of trips, your the best. I've seen enough of the other companies along the way. Again, the hotels were great (important to me). Even though this was AAIs first Bhutan trip all the other little details were excellent, transportation, tents (really liked the rug they included in each tent, made it just a bit more comfortable in the wet conditions), food (the cook was really good), and all the guides and other staff was extremely friendly.

Highlights

  • Alpine Ascents has been leading Himalayan treks for over 20 years.
  • Experience the great mountain kingdom of Bhutan.
  • We led the 30 Snowman Trek through Bhutan last year.
  • Hand picked local outfitter of the finest quality.

Overview
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 the Himalaya. This fourteen day, 217 km journey begins in Paro and takes you through gorgeous alpine meadows, high mountain passes and dense sub-tropical jungles before terminating in in Tashithang.

The first five days of this trek follow the same route as the Jomolhari Trek, through Jigme Singye National Park and offer awe-inspiring views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake ( highest peak in Bhutan) and Tsherimgang. On the sixth day the path diverges and you will depart Lingshi for the camp site at Chebisa, a charming little village adorned with a beautiful waterfall.

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. The trek also offers a day of relaxation at the famous Gasa hot springs that is sure to rejuvenate you.

This is one of the more difficult treks offered in Bhutan due to the high altitudes and steep ascents and descents along the path.

Trek difficulty: Moderate to Strenuous

Scheduled Guide: Vern Tejas

Why Trek in Bhutan with Alpine Ascents?

  • As one of the world's foremost treks, one greatly benefits from the expertise of a professional mountain guide leading the trip. Most companies simply hire local outfitters.
  • Each trek is led by an Alpine Ascents Professional Mountain Guide.
  • Alpine Ascents oversees all aspects of the trek, ensuring quality hotels, tents, and food on the trail and in town.
  • In addition to our lead guide, we employ trekking guide(s), a chef, assistants and horsemen.
  • We hire horses and yaks to carry all equipment.
  • Each trek is cybercast on our website.
  • We have over 20 years of experience guiding in the Himalaya.
  • Each trekker receives an Alpine Ascents logo item.
  • Alpine Ascents office and gear staff members will respond promptly to any queries and we look to work individually with each trekker during their preparations.


Day to Day Itinerary

September 19: Depart Home Country

September 20: Transit

September 21: Arrive Paro, Elev 2280m
The flight to Paro crosses the Himalayan Mountains, affording spectacular views of the awesome peaks, including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks in Bhutan. On arrival you will be greeted by the guide and transfer to the hotel. After lunch, visit Rinpung Dzong meaning "fortress of the heap of jewels". It has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. You will walk downhill till the road point crossing the wooden bridge. Your vehicle will be waiting here to take you to Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country. In the evening, you can stroll through Paro town. Walking through the market and meeting with the people will be an enjoyable experience. Overnight hotel in Paro.

September 22: Acclimatization hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery, Elev 3180m
After breakfast hike to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, Bhutan's most famous monastery, which stands at 3180m gives you acclimatization for the next day's trek. The 8th century Spiritual Master, Guru Rinpoche is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. It is perched on the edge of a steep cliff, about 900 meters above Paro Valley. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up on the mountain. Explore the Monastery hike back to Paro. Overnight hotel in Paro.

September 23: Paro-Shana, Trek starts
Distance: 17Km / Time: 5-6 Hours / Ascent: 300m / Camp Elev: 2850m
The trek starts from Drukgyal Dzong at 2300m with a short downhill walk on a wide trail. The trail climbs gently traversing through well-maintained rice terraces and fields of millet. The route later enters an area of apple orchards and forests. Soon the valley widens and you reach the army post of Gunitsawa at 2,810m. This is the last stop before Tibet. At 2,850m, just beyond Shana Zampa, there are several good camping places in meadows surrounded by trees.

September 24: Shana-Soi Thangthangkha
Distance: 21Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Ascent: 900m / Camp Elev: 3750m
The trail again follows Pa Chhu (Paro River) ascending and descending through pine, oak and spruce forests. Hot lunch will be served after crossing the bridge towards the left side of the river. After lunch follow the river climbing up through rhododendron forests and finally crossing the bridge again, reaching to the campsite at the altitude of 3,750m.

September 25: Soi Thangthangkha-Jangothang
Distance: 19Km / Time: 4-5 Hours / Ascent: 300m / Camp Elev: 4050m
The path ascends for a while till you reach the army camp. Then follow the river above the tree line enjoying the stunning view of the surrounding peaks. Hot lunch will be served inside a yak herder's camp. A short walk into the valley will take you to the camp at Jangothang at an altitude of 4,050m. From here, the view of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake are superb.

September 26: Halt at Jangothang (Base Camp)
Today is a day of acclimatization. You may choose from four day hikes: a 3-4 hours hike up to a ridge that gives a good view of Jichu Drake; a hike up to the end of the valley, toward Jumolhari; a trek up the main valley toward Jichu Drake' or a hike to Tsophu, a pair of lakes with a good supply of brown trout. Altitude 4050m.

September 27: Jangothang-Lingshi
Distance: 19Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Ascent: 800m / Descent: 730m / Camp Elev: 4100m
The trail follows the stream for half an hour and crosses the bridge to the right side. Start the climb up to the first ridge with a breathtaking view of Jumolhari, Jichu Drake and Tshering Gang. Then walk towards the valley, almost flat for a while, until the climb to the Nyele La pass at an altitude of 4830m. After the pass, it's a gradual descent to the Lingshi camp, enjoying the panoramic view of the peaks and Lingshi Dzong.

September 28: Lingshi-Chebisa
Distance: 12Km / Time: 5-6 Hours / Ascent: 100m / Descent: 250m / Camp Elev: 3850m
Proceed ahead passing Lingshi Dzong, perched on the hilltop with a commanding view of green hills, the winding river and magnificent peaks. It is an easy day and pleasant walk through villages and yak herders camp. After lunch, a short walk will take you to Chebisa village. Camp by the side of stream at an altitude of 3,850m.

September 29: Chebisa-Shomuthang
Distance: 17Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Ascent: 570m / Descent: 290m / Camp Elev: 4130m
Today begin with a stiff climb up a ridge to Gubu La pass at an altitude of 4420m, taking nearly four hours. After the pass, descend to a lunch stop through rhododendron bushes. Afternoon continue along the up and down path, after crossing the stream, through rhododendron forests and yak herders camp. You may see herds of Blue Sheep now and then. Camp at an altitude 4130m.

September 30: Shomuthang-Robluthang
Distance: 15Km / Time: 5-6 Hours / Ascent: 620m / Descent: 590m / Camp Elev: 4160m
The trek starts with a climb to Jerela pass at altitude 4,750m. Then descend to Tasharijathang valley, the summer residence of rare Himalayan Takins (national animal of Bhutan). From here we may have to cross the stream as most of the time the footbridge is washed away. After crossing the stream towards the left, the trail ascends till you reach Robluthang camp at an altitude of 4160m.

October 1: Robluthang-Lingmithang
Distance: 19Km / Time: 7-8 Hours / Ascent: 850m / Descent: 870m / Camp Elev: 4140m
It is a long climb unto Shingela pass (alt. 5010m). The view of the mountains from the path is stunning. After the pass, descend to Lingmithang. The path is quite narrow and you may have to cross a stream again and get wet. The last part of the trek is very interesting with the view of Mt. Gangchey Ta. Arrive at campsite at altitude of 4140m.

October 2: Lingmithang-Laya
Distance: 10Km / Time: 3-4 Hours / Camp Elev: 3850m
In the morning you wake up with a superb view of Gangchey Ta peak in front of you. The walk to Laya is very pleasant with wonderful views. You will pass through a damp forest, filled with moss and singing birds. Arrive at Laya village, the second highest settlement in the country, at altitude of 3850m.

October 3: Laya-Koena
Distance: 19Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Descent: 50m / Camp Elev: 3800m
Descend to army camp and join the Mo Chhu (Mother River of Punakha). Follow the river till you cross the bridge. After the bridge it is up and down several times, through juniper and fir forests until you reach the camp at Koena at an altitude of 3,800m.

October 4 Koena-Gasa, Trek ends
Distance: 19Km / Time: 6-7 Hours / Ascent: 300m / Descent: 1200m / Camp Elev: 2900m
Walk for about half an hour over flat land till the Barila La pass (4100m). After this it is downhill all the way to Gasa Tshachu. Lunch will be served at Gasa village. After lunch visit the village. Then descend to Gasa Tshachu (hot spring) for camp at an altitude of 2900m. Enjoy the hot bath at the Hot Spring.

October 5: Gasa-Punakha
Today you will drive to Punakha on unpaved roads. The drive is through the high agricultural benches above the Mochu (Chu means River) into a lush semi-tropical gorge filled with banana trees and creepers. Check into your hotel on arrival. In the afternoon, you can visit the Punakha Dzong, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.

October 6: Punakha-Thimphu
After breakfast, you will drive to Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. On the way, you will stop at Lobesa to hike -- through rice paddies and up to the Chimi Lhakhang Temple. This temple is dedicated to the great Yogi in the 14th century known as Drukpa Kuenley, or the "Divine Madman," who is believed to bless women who seek fertility. Continue drive to Thimphu via Dochula pass (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. After lunch in Thimphu, you can stroll through Thimphu city. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.

October 7: Thimphu-Paro Depart
In the morning, you will drive to airport for departure (54 Km, 1 hour). Our representative will bid farewell.

October 8: Arrive Home Country




Schedule and Prices

September 19 - October 8, 2015

Land Costs
2015: $8,700.00
$800.00 for internal flight
Costs based on 4 Trekkers with Alpine Ascents Guide leading

Payments
$1,000.00 deposit, due with application
Balance due 120 days prior to departure.

Price Includes

  • All in country transportation excluding flight to Bhutan from Asia ( this flight must be booked with Alpine Ascents for permitting purposes
  • Hotels and lodging in Bhutan
  • Lodging costs are based on double occupancy
  • All transport fees
  • All group trekking gear
  • All meals in Bhutan
  • Park fees and permits
  • All guides
  • Pack animals to carry gear

Prices Do Not Include

  • International round-trip airfare USA-Bhutan ( Last leg must be booked with Alpine Ascents)
  • Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks
  • Single room supplement
  • All expenses incurred in the event of early departure (evac fees, transport, extra hotel nights, etc.)
  • Personal gear (see gear list)
  • Excess baggage charges and airport taxes
  • Guide and local tips
  • Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond Alpine Ascents International's control
  • Trip cancellation insurance - highly recommended
  • Visas for entering Bhutan

Note: Upon receipt of your application, you will receive additional information with regards to health, visas, immunizations, etc. We also encourage you to speak with our Program Director, Gordon Janow about your personal interests, so you may be steered towards enjoyable pre-trip research.

We Highly Recommend Trip cancellation insurance

Trek Cancellation/Refund Policy
Note: Alpine Ascents International highly recommends trip cancellation insurance for all expeditions. Due to the nature and heavy costs of government and operator permits, Alpine Ascents International must adhere to a stringent refund policy.
Each deposit, regardless of amount, includes a $200.00 non - refundable registration fee.
Full refunds, less registration fee, will be provided 120 days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
50% refunds will be provided 90 - 119 days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
No refunds will be provided 89 - days prior to course, trek and/or expedition date.
All refund requests must be made in writing and be received in our office within the deadlines stated above.
All balances are due 120 days prior to departure date unless otherwise specified.
Participants whose balances are not received by the 120 - day deadline as stated above, risk forfeiture of their place on the expedition.
Note: Alpine Ascents reserves the right to waive any fees. As we offer personalized service, we will attempt to accommodate changes and cancellations when necessary, waiving certain fees when feasible.


Trip Cancellation Insurance
As there are many unforeseen circumstances that may occur during or leading up to the trip, we highly recommend trip cancellation insurance.

In many situations, this may be the only way to receive a refund for unused services.

In brief, Trip Cancellation insurance may allow you to get reimbursement if you need to cancel your expedition when you are not entitled to a refund from Alpine Ascents.

Alpine Ascents International offers a plan in conjunction with Travelex.


 

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