chomolhari bhutan hiking trekking tour

Chomolhari, Bhutan’s Sacred Mountain

The mighty ramparts of Chomolhari (23,997’), Bhutan’s second highest mountain, rise above the hikers’ base camp at Jangothang. Our spectacular trek leads to Jangothang for incredible views of this sacred peak.

Photo by Bobby Model

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Bhutan: The Chomolhari Trek route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $5795  
Length: 13 days
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 4 nights in deluxe hotels, 8 nights full-service camping
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Hiking / Trekking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: 8-day trek on steep trails, 5-8 hours a day, altitudes between 8,500-16,039 feet
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Highlights

  • Camp below Chomolhari with a special Exploration Day for day hikes in a sacred Himalayan realm
  • Meet nomadic families with their herds of shaggy yaks
  • Enjoy the Zhiwa Ling Hotel in Paro and Taj Tashi Hotel in Thimphu


Fantastic trip with rigorous hikes, beautiful campsites, and lots of exposure to the culture, which added a nice dimension.Anne K.—New York

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Mount Chomolhari (23,997'), sacred abode of the goddess Chomo, stands as a mighty sentinel on Bhutan’s snow-capped Tibetan frontier, reigning over countless icy summits and deep, magical forests where Himalayan blue sheep and snow leopard roam. This amazing trek is one of our favorites, bringing us through traditional hamlets, wild rhododendron forests, and alpine meadows to Jangothang, our spectacular camp right at the base of Chomolhari, with a return trek via the remote Yaksa Valley (“Valley of Yaks”). The Bhutanese have long protected their natural surroundings and their mountains are truly pristine, with a wealth of flora and fauna unrivaled in the Himalaya. This is a rare chance to experience superb trekking in an enchanting realm.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-3
Paro / Taktsang

We fly to Bhutan’s emerald-green Paro Valley, where our warm-up hikes include a walk up to the famed monastic retreat of Taktsang, the Tiger’s Nest, built into a sheer cliff face 2,700 feet above the Paro Valley. Padmasambhava, the great 8th century Buddhist saint, is thought to have landed at this spot after flying over the mountains from Tibet on the back of a tigress, thus bringing the teachings of Buddhism to Bhutan. On Day 3, we head to our first camp.

Days 4-10
Chomolhari Trek / Jangothang / Yaksa Valley

Few travelers ever have the privilege of even visiting Bhutan, let alone trekking in its pristine mountains. With our Bhutanese camp staff and horsemen, we hike along rushing streams through deep forests of rhododendron and oak, then up into alpine country where herdsmen graze their yaks. When we reach Jangothang (13,340') at the base of Chomolhari, the magnificent ramparts of this sacred mountain seem close enough to touch. The vision of Soi Dzong, a ruined fortress built to guard against invasion from Tibet, adds to the mystique of the setting, and we may be able to spot wildlife such as musk deer and blue sheep. After an Exploration Day to savor the grandeur, our route crosses the 16,039-foot Bhongte La Pass into endless valleys where yak herders roam.

Days 11-13
Thimphu / Paro

Our explorations include Bhutan’s school for traditional arts and the bustling weekend market. At our hotel’s spa, optional hot-stone baths, a Bhutanese tradition, are the perfect post-trek indulgence. After an overnight in Paro, we depart on Day 13.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

What the Trip is Like

This trek is Level 6, Very Strenuous. The rating takes into account the distances hiked each day and the fact that on several days, trail conditions can be very muddy, with rocky pitches that make progress difficult. In addition, most hiking is between 8,000 and 14,000 feet, with the crossing of Bhongtela Pass at 16,039 feet on Day 7, which adds to the strenuous nature of the hiking. For the most part, you can hike at your own speed; the group will spread out along the trail during the day to cover about 6 to 10 miles per day (4-8 hours of hiking). There are significant elevation gains and losses each day, often 2,000 to 3,000 feet, as our trail contours up and down steep hillsides. Trip members carry only a daypack for jacket, water bottle, camera, and whatever you like to have with you on the trail. Pack animals carry our camping equipment, and a camp cook prepares all meals. On trek, we use Ferrino Snowbound 3 tents.

You must make a special effort to get in good physical condition for the trip by hiking, running, swimming, bicycling, or engaging in other forms of aerobic exercise well beyond your normal routine. Many activities get heart and lungs into shape, but the most effective way of getting fit for hiking is to hike! We recommend any aerobic activities that cause you to break a sweat for at least 20 minutes at least three times a week, beginning a couple of months before departure. Walking up and down flights of stairs is also an effective way to train for the steep ascents and descents in the Himalaya. Weekend hikes that involve long sections of uphill and downhill walking are great for conditioning your legs.

For this trek, we require your doctor sign the Wilderness Travel Medical Form. Once Wilderness Travel has confirmed your place on the trip roster, no refunds beyond our standard fees will be made if your physician refuses to sign the form. It is very important that you and your physician fully agree that you are physically capable of undertaking a strenuous trek, and equally important that you undertake proper conditioning prior to the trek.

The Trip Leader has the right to disqualify any member from the trip at any time if it is medically necessary, to avoid endangering the group, or if the participant in question is physically unfit for the rigors of the trip. Refunds are not given under such circumstances.
    
Hiking distances on trek are normally measured in hours, not miles, since maps aren’t really accurate enough to assess how far we walk up and down winding mountain trails. The typical trekking day begins shortly after 6 am with “bed tea” and warm washing water brought to each tent. We are served a light breakfast while the camp crew packs our gear. We begin walking by 7:00 to 8:00 am, stopping around 11:00 am for lunch and a good rest. Our afternoon walk begins around 1 pm; we arrive at camp by tea time (about 4:30 pm). Dinner is served around 6:30 pm.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

2015
Oct 4-16, 2015  Kipchu Dorji

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$5795 (4-15 members)
Single supplement: $1580
Forced single supplement: $1280
Internal airfare: $995 (subject to change)
Bhutan Visa Fee (WT acquires visa for you): $40
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Tharu Lodge Extension
   from: $660
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $490
Temples of Angkor Extension
   from: $850

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations, with top quality tents on trek and deluxe hotels in Paro and Thimphu
  • All meals included
  • Government taxes and trekking fees
  • Land transportation, airport transfers for passengers as noted
  • Camp staff, cooks, and group camping and cooking equipment including dining tent, sleeping tents, sleeping pads, toilet tent (with toilet seat), and shower tent (for occasional shower, if there is time and availability of water). Sleeping bags for the trek are not included.

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

International airfare, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, hotels in Bangkok, sleeping bags, airport transfers for individual arrival or departure, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations (if any), travel insurance, or passports and visas; and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $500
120 days prior to departure: 20% of trip cost
60 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

More than 90 days prior to departure: None
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Internal Airfare Payment, Change, and Cancellation Fee Schedule:* Payment for Internal Air will be collected from each trip member approximately three to six months (or even more) prior to departure, depending on flight availability and seasonal ticketing deadlines. Once issued, internal air tickets are subject to a $100 per person fee for any changes or cancellation until 60 days prior to the trip. Within 60 days of the trip, all tickets are non-refundable. The name on your tickets must match your passport exactly, and any name changes are subject to these same fees. We therefore request that you send us a scanned copy of your passport photo page immediately upon reserving your trip. Internal Air payments and cancellation fees are in addition to Trip Cost payments and cancellation fees as noted above.

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Hotels in Paro

Days 1 to 2 (2 nights),
Day 12 (1 night), Paro, Bhutan

In Paro we stay at one of the following properties based on availability and choice of accommodation:

Chomolhari Trek Camps

Chomolhari Trek Camps

Days 3 to 10 (8 nights), Himalayas, Bhutan

We make hiking and camping in Bhutan as comfortable as it can get! On the trail, you are accompanied by our experienced team of trail guides, and ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Taj Tashi Hotel

Taj Tashi Hotel

Day 11 (1 night), Thimphu, Bhutan

Part of the venerable Taj group of hotels in India, this 66-room hotel has all the conveniences of a luxury hotel, while at the same time reflects ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Extension Accommodations

If you would like to view the accommodations offered with our extensions options:

Note: Listed above are our signature accommodations for this trip. Although it is highly unlikely, we may make substitutions when necessary.

Kipchu Dorji

Kipchu Dorji, whose name translates to “Calm Water Thunderbolt,” was born in the village of Katsho in Bhutan's little-visited Haa Valley. Kipchu attended Dr. Graham’s School in Kalimpong, India, and completed his professional training back in Bhutan, with studies in Buddhist iconography, culture, history, and botany. When Bhutan's doors were first opened to outsiders in the late 70’s, Kipchu was at the frontier as one of the first official guides to his country. In addition to his decades of experience as a Trip Leader, Kipchu has also traveled to England and Nepal for advanced trek leadership training. He has led countless WT trips throughout Bhutan since 1985, certainly earning the rank of one our most experienced—and beloved!—Trip Leaders. Kipchu shares the rhythm of daily life in Bhutan with his travelers, through personal welcomes in villages and farmhouses and tastes of the traditional Bhutanese food (be careful—the national favorite, chili-yak cheese ema datse, is fiery!). Equally appreciated for his caring nature, deep wisdom, and attention to detail, Kipchu leads our remote treks, hiking trips, and cultural adventures, and when he's not on the trail, you'll likely find him visiting his farm in Haa, practicing archery, or birdwatching with his children.

Upcoming Trips:

Festivals of Bhutan, November 6-15, 2014
Bhutan: The Chomolhari Trek, October 4-16, 2015
Festivals of Bhutan, November 6-15, 2015

Client Testimonials:


Kipchu is the best trip leader I have ever traveled with. He brought the local culture to life, making things easy to understand, and he has a wonderful calm spirit and great sense of humor. Kim M., Phoenix AZ
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu must be the dean of Bhutan trip leaders. He was exceptional in every aspect you could think. Susasn M., Pittsburgh PA
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu Dorji has a great sense of humor, patience, and modesty—the best guide I’ve ever had. Ann D., Santa Fe NM
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu Dorji is a gracious and mindful host and guide, with great attention to detail. He has an easy interaction with staff and guests alike. Alix B., New York NY, Bhutan: The Chomolhari Trek Kipchu was gentle, but firm, tactful, and so caring. A very wise man with a lovely sense of humor. Lorian J., Mamaroneck, NY
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu made this trip. Wise, caring, thoughtful, and sensitive. One of the best trip leaders I’ve had in the seven walking trips I’ve taken. Joel J., Mamaroneck, NY
Hiker’s Bhutan
Kipchu made this trip an experience I will never forget. He is charming, knowledgeable, and warm. Joanne L, Long Beach CA
Hiker's Bhutan
We’re such fans—what can I say! Susan C., Florence, MA Kipchu is one of the best guides I have had throughout my travels—extremely professional with attention to detail and true warmth and care. I will never forget how special he made this trip for our group. Karen M., Danbury, CT
Hidden Bhutan
Kipchu's attention to details, vast knowledge, and patience really made the trip. Bee Y., Brussels, Belgium
Hidden Bhutan
Kipchu was fabulous and a terrific representative for his country. Scot R., Dalhart, TX
Festivals of Bhutan
Kipchu was a marvelous guide. He was extremely well organized, very knowledgeable, attentive to all our needs and requests, and a charming person. Julia K., Bend, OR
Festivals of Bhutan
Kipchu was first-rate and I felt privileged to have him as our trip leader. He also knew so much that I felt at ease in asking him any question. Melodie M., Seattle, WA
Festivals of Bhutan
Kipchu was absolutely a treasure. He was knowledgeable about everything Bhutan (culture, history, religion, flora, and fauna). He was kind and helpful and a truly delightful person. Ellen K., Boulder, CO
Hiker's Journey to Bhutan

Optional Extensions

If you would like to continue your adventure, we offer the following extensions:

Cambodia

angkor wat cambodia temples

Temples of Angkor Extension

Exploring the Glories of a Bygone Khmer Civilization

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 2

Nepal

Tharu Lodge Extension

Cultural Encounters, Jungle Walks, Elephant Rides

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History, Photography
3 days  -  Level 1

Thailand

Chiang Mai Extension

Explore the Wonders of Northern Thailand

Cultural Adventures, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
3 days  -  Level 2

Phuket Extension

Explore a Jewel Set in the Andaman Sea

Cultural Adventures, Sea Kayaking
4 days  -  Level 2

Client Comments

Fantastic trip with rigorous hikes, beautiful campsites, and lots of exposure to the culture, which added a nice dimension. Anne K., New York A most excellent introduction to Bhutan, its landscape, and its people. Challenging physically, but very worth the effort every step! Alix B., New York, NY Unforgettable trek and very emotional for me, as I had imagined myself there for so long. SUPER! Anita C., Indianola, WA Our Trip Leader was absolutely awesome. His knowledge of all things Bhutanese and his easy way of sharing his knowledge absolutely made the trip for me. Pam G., Boulder, CO
The trip was wonderful overall. Incredible scenery, great staff and interaction with local people in both the cities and the countryside. The food quality and variety in camp was surprising and delightful. Rob C., Concord, MA Outstanding trip. I feel so lucky to have done it. Superbly organized but still with plenty of adventure. The camp staff was great too. Inge K., Concord, MA