Bhutanese women of Laya

The remote village of Laya, the highest settlement in Bhutan, is only accessible to hikers. The traditional dress for women of Laya includes conical straw hats. Many of Laya’s residents are semi-nomadic.

Photo by David Robbins

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Bhutan: The Chomolhari and Laya Trek

Journey to Bhutan’s Divine Mountain
Repertory Trip: Next Offered October 8-26, 2016

Bhutan: The Chomolhari and Laya Trek route-map

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $7795  
Length: 19 days
Arrive: Paro, Bhutan
Depart: Paro, Bhutan
Lodging: 13 nights camping, 3 nights deluxe hotels, 2 nights rustic lodges
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Hiking / Trekking
Trip Level: 13-day trek on steep trails, 5-8 hours a day, altitudes between 7,300-16,400 feet


  • Off-the-beaten-path trek to the base camp of Chomolhari, straddling the border between Tibet and Bhutan
  • Exploration Days for hikes in a sacred Himalayan realm
  • Meet the yak-herding Layap people and share the trails with them
  • Trek through untouched villages that rarely see outsiders
  • Comfortable, full-service camps

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.


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.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  It will be several years before this journey is offered again. Now is the time to go!

Our challenging trek in mystical Bhutan is one of the finest in the Himalaya, and brings you to the village of Laya (12,610'), so secluded the inhabitants have their own traditional dress and culture, and to ethereal Lingshi, with its monastery clinging to the edge of a sheer hilltop. Along the way, you’ll cross airy alpine passes and be immersed in a secluded Himalayan world of serene Buddhist temples and magical forests. The grand finale of our trek is the amazingly scenic spot called Jangothang (13,340'), the base camp right below Chomolhari (23,997'), the sacred peak that’s a mighty sentinel on Bhutan’s snow-capped Tibetan frontier.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-12, October 8 - 19, 2016
Paro / Thimphu / Punakha / Laya / Lingshi

After arriving in Paro, explore Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, and the subtropical valley of Punakha. Setting off on trek, our trails wind through rolling hillsides, then climb up through bamboo, juniper, and rhododendron forests past cascading rivers and waterfalls. At Laya (12,610'), you’ll meet the Layap, semi-nomadic yak herders whose distinctive dress, including the women’s conical bamboo hats, sets them apart from other Bhutanese. Hiking through remote villages offering warm hospitality, you’ll reach Lingshi (13,196'), whose ancient hilltop dzong offers commanding views.

Days 13-19, October 20 - 26, 2016
Jangothang / Paro

Cross a 16,000-foot pass with soaring views of the massive rock and ice peaks of Chomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tsering Kang en route to Jangothang (13,340'), the base camp for Chomolhari, Bhutan’s second highest peak. At trek’s end, return to Paro, with a day hike to Taktsang Monastery, the “Tiger’s Nest,” before departing on Day 19.

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 10,000 and 14,000 feet, with the crossing of two passes more than 16,000 feet, 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. Trails may not be well maintained and conditions can be rough.

There are dangers inherent in any expedition traveling to remote wilderness regions, especially when they involve travel to high altitude. These dangers include everything from rock falls to the possibility of a serious fall, accident, or sickness without access to means of rapid evacuation, availability of medical supplies, or adequate medical attention once provided. Our Trip Leaders and support crew are experienced veterans of trekking in the Himalaya, but it takes cooperation and flexibility from each participant to ensure a successful trek.

Every participant must understand that this trek is truly challenging—you should be in excellent physical condition. Even though trip members carry only a daypack (with camera, jacket, rain gear, water bottle, and other small necessities you may need during the day), we recommend you make a special effort to get in top physical shape 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! Walking up and down flights of stairs is also an effective way to train for the steep ascents and descents in the Himalaya. Bending your knees as you go down stairs will help strengthen your quad muscles. At least two months prior to your trek, we urge you to go on weekend day hikes that involve long uphill and downhill walking.

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

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered only every two to five years. This journey will not be offered again for several years. Now is the Time to Go!

Oct 8-26, 2016  Khandu Dorji

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$7795 (4-15 members)
Single supplement: $2295
Forced single supplement: $1995
Internal airfare: $980 (subject to change)
Bhutan Visa Fee (WT acquires visa for you): $40
more on pricing

Extension Costs
Temples of Angkor Extension
   from: $755
Laos: Luang Prabang Extension
   from: $840
Burma Extension
   from: $2595
Bangkok Extension
   from: $645
Phuket Extension
   from: $795
Chiang Mai Extension
   from: $470
Karnali Lodge Extension
   from: $1460

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations, with top quality tents on trek and lodges or hotels in towns; please note that rooms with double beds are usually not available in Bhutan. Other than the Taj Tashi and Zhiwa Ling hotels, most lodge rooms are twin-bedded.
  • 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, hotels in Bangkok, sleeping bags, airport transfers for individual arrival or departure, any meals not specified after each itinerary day, airport departure taxes, optional tipping or gratuities to leaders or staff, additional hotel nights that may be necessitated by 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.).

Arrival & Departure Information

You are responsible for your own transportation arriving to and departing from Bangkok, Thailand. For more detailed information, please download the Detailed Itinerary.

Please do not purchase your tickets until you are confirmed on the trip and have reviewed your proposed air schedule with our office. Once your tickets have been purchased, please send us a copy of your airline schedule so we can reserve your airport transfers.

2016 Departures

Meeting Place:
Paro, Bhutan
Date: Day 1

Suggested Arrival Airport:
Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)
Date & Time: At least one day prior to Day 1 of the trip
Paro, Bhutan
Date: Day 19

Suggested Airport for Departure:
Bangkok, Thailand (airport code BKK)
Suggested departure time: after 8:30 pm or the following day

Le Meridien Hotel

Le Meridien Hotel

Day 1 (1 night), Thimphu, Bhutan

Opened in 2014, Le Meridien’s brilliant white building capped with a vibrant red roof and orange-trimmed windows reveals a modern twist on ...
Click here for full description and more photos

Hotels in the Punakha Valley

Days 2 to 3 (2 nights), Punakha Valley, Bhutan

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

Chomolhari Trek Camps

Chomolhari Trek Camps

Days 4 to 16 (13 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

Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Zhiwa Ling Hotel

Days 17 to 18 (2 nights), Paro, Bhutan

Located on 10 acres in a serene setting in the green Paro Valley, the deluxe Zhiwa Ling is a wonderful example of traditional Bhutanese ...
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.

Khandu Dorji

Khandu Dorji has been guiding since 1983 and joined the WT Leader Team in 1998. Over the course of his exciting career, Khandu has trekked nearly every route in Bhutan. Formally educated in Thimphu, he also participated in a three-month intensive mountaineering course conducted by the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute, and led a mountaineering expedition with Junko Tabei, the first woman to summit Everest. With his cheerful spirit and expert knowledge of Bhutan's ancient culture and rich natural history, Khandu is a marvelous guide, whether for a trek to breathtaking Jangothang, base camp of sacred Mt. Chomohari--he has trekked the route 60 times and counting!--or our cultural and hiking adventures throughout the sacred kingdom of Bhutan. He subscribes to the philosophy of "Gross National Happiness" and thoroughly enjoys the role of Trip Leader, sharing his pristine homeland and fostering cross-cultural connections for his trip members by visiting with Bhutanese families inside their homes. Khandu's own travels have taken him to many places outside Bhutan, including Switzerland, the UK, Japan, Singapore, and Thailand, but he's equally happy at home with family, or playing a friendly match of dha (archery), Bhutan's national sport.

Upcoming Trips:

Festivals of Bhutan, March 16-25, 2016
Bhutan: The Chomolhari and Laya Trek, October 8-26, 2016

Client Testimonials:

No extra job too much No question too silly Jeff J., Saint Helena, CA
Festivals of Bhutan
Khandu was beyond amazing—knowledgeable, caring, passionate about Bhutan. It was a privilege to have him as our leader. Felice Z., Stamford, CT
The Chomolhari Trek

Optional Extensions

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


Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2


angkor wat cambodia temples

Temples of Angkor Extension

Exploring the Glories of a Bygone Khmer Civilization

Cultural Adventures
4 days  -  Level 2


Laos: Luang Prabang Extension

Gilded Temples and Traditional Buddhist Culture of Laos

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 2


Burma Extension

Yangon and Bagan

Cultural Adventures
6 days  -  Level 2


Karnali Lodge Extension

Exploring Bardia National Park

Photography, Safaris, Walking, Wildlife & Natural History
4 days  -  Level 1


wat arun bangkok thailand

Bangkok Extension

Discover the Beautiful Cultural Monuments of Bangkok

Cultural Adventures
3 days  -  Level 1

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