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.
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.
— Kathy G., Chicago, IL
Days 1-3, Oct 1- 3, 2016
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, Oct 4-10, 2016
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, Oct 11-13, 2016
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.