Our trek to majestic Chomolhari (23,977') and the unique villages of Laya and Lingshi is one of the great journeys of the Himalaya. You’ll cross breathtaking passes to reach superbly isolated Laya and follow remote paths to Lingshi, with its ethereal clifftop monastery. Sharing the trails with yak herders, you’ll be surrounded by some of the most pristine and biodiverse landscapes in Bhutan, with a chance to see bharal (Himalayan blue sheep) and Bhutan’s national animal, the sturdy takin. Arriving at Chomolhari, sacred abode of the goddess Chomo and forbidden to climbers, feast your eyes on a picture-perfect panorama from the amphitheater setting of Jangothang (13,340'), the mountain’s spectacularly located base camp.
Paro (7,500') / Thimphu (7,600') / Punakha (4,300')
Arrive in Paro, explore Thimphu, Bhutan’s diminutive capital city, then travel to the subtropical valley of Punakha, where we hike to charming hilltop monasteries and visit imposing 17th century Punakha Dzong, set at the confluence of two rushing rivers.
Laya (12,610') / Chebisa / Lingshi (13,156')
Setting off on trek, our trail winds through rolling hillsides, then climbs up through bamboo, juniper, and rhododendron forests. Reaching Laya (12,610'), one of the highest settlements in Bhutan, we meet its yak-herding residents. With their own language and distinctive clothing, including conical bamboo hats with a center spike, they are a fascinating traditional people. We cross a high pass to reach remote Lingshi (13,156'), whose 500-year-old hilltop dzong (temple) is home to a dozen monks. A descent through high pastures where shaggy yaks graze brings us to the dramatic Chebisa Valley, with its huge waterfall and idyllic village.
Jangothang (13,340') / Paro
We cross a 16,000-foot pass with soaring views of three massive ice peaks (Chomolhari, Jichu Drake, and Tsering Kang) en route to our base camp at Jangothang (13,340'). Enjoy an Exploration Day here to savor the Himalayan grandeur. The vision of Soi Dzong, a ruined fortress built to guard Bhutan against invasion from Tibet, adds to the mystique of the setting, and we may be able to spot wildlife including musk deer, Himalayan blue sheep, and many species of birds. At trek’s end, return to Paro, with a day hike to Taktsang Monastery, the Tiger’s Nest, before departing on Day 19.