Himalaya Karakoram Travel Bhutan
Explore what truly sets Bhutan apart from anywhere else and discover one of the most remote kingdoms on earth. Whether you are looking for a day hike or a gruelling 31 day adventure, Bhutan has it all. Pristine mountain lakes, imposing glaciers and some of the world’s most endangered species await you in the mountainous amphitheatre of the Himalayas.
This list of Treks offers any type of Trek, from easy to difficult and with various durations. For all Treks we recommend a minimum of two days for acclimatisation before starting the Trek. If you are interested in any of the Treks below, we can design for you a combination of trekking and cultural sightseeing.
Although the trek is possible throughout the winter, the best time for the Gangte Trek is between March-May and September-November. It is a short and relatively easy trek with several beautiful villages and monasteries en route. The trail winds through forests of juniper, bamboo, magnolia and rhododendrons and over small streams of cold, clear mountain water. This trek is an excellent choice for those visitors not accustomed to trekking in the mountains as it offers beautiful views of the country with mostly gentle, forested slopes. The best time for this trek is between September-May.
Day 1: Phobjikha – Zasa, Distance 15 km, 6-7 hours, 610 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,130 m. The Trek starts near the village of Tabiting. The trail winds through meadows and fields and the climb takes you through a mixed forest of juniper, bamboo, magnolia and rhododendron to Tsele La (3430m). From here you descend into the Juge Kangkha Chhu valley. Further on, the path leads to Gogona, well known for its “Gogona Cheese” production. The campsite is a bit further on besides a small stream in a yak pasture called Zasa.
Day 2: Zasa – Chorten Karpo, Distance 16 km, 5-7 hours, 450 m ascent, 860 m descent, camp altitude 3,330 m. A gentle climb leads to Shobe La pass (3,480m). The descent from the pass leads to a wide valley, surrounded by beautiful mountain ranges. Below the route one can see Khothokha, a village with about 60 houses. You finally reach the campsite by climbing gently up till you see four chortens in a forest of blue pine.
Day 3: Chorten Karpo – Tikke Zampa, Distance 12km, four to five hours, 120m ascent, 1,340m descent. From the camp you climb till you reach a forest road. From here it’s an easy walk up to a little ridge at 2,800m. The walk down back into the valley leads you through Bhutan’s best bird watching areas.
Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek
This six day trek takes you into an area adorned with a multitude of pristine, crystal clear lakes. As you walk amidst the shimmering lakes you’ll be treated to stunning views of the entire Himalayan mountain range and some of the world’s highest peaks including Mt. Everest, Jomolhari, Masang Gang, Jichu Drake, Gangche Ta and many more. During the trek an entire day will be dedicated to visiting some of the more picturesque lakes, fishing and resting.
The trail also takes you through several Bhutanese villages so you can get a good idea of traditional Bhutanese village life as you make your way back from the lakes. While this is a somewhat strenuous trek, it is well worth the effort because of the tranquility and beauty of natural landscape that you will enjoy during the journey. The best time to embark on this trek is between April-June or September –October.
Day 1: Gynekha – Gur, Distance 7 km, 5 hours, 550 m ascent, 210 m descent, camp altitude 3,290 m. The trek starts at beautiful Gynekha village and begins with a short descent to the river. After crossing the river you start climbing until you reach a huge rock platform from where you have a picturesque view of the valley below. After another two hours you reach Gur, an area of yak pastures located just below the main trail.
Day 2: Gur – Labatama, Distance 12 km, 5 hours, 1,220 m ascent, 110 m descent, camp altitude 4,300 m. On the second day, the trail takes you across the high ridges from where you can truly appreciate the rugged beauty of your surroundings and the mountain vegetation. The path winds through refreshing meadows adorned with wild flowers and asparagus (in spring).
Day 3: Labatama – This day will be dedicated to relaxing and recuperating at Labatama. It is an ideal to taker an excursion to any of three nearby lakes: Reli Tsho, Hen Tsho and Jama Tsho. Hikers are encouraged to take the opportunity to engage in some trout fishing as the location is ideal. Permits are required for fishing so you should request your tour operator to make the necessary arrangements beforehand.
Day 4: Labatama – Panka, Distance 8 km, 6-7 hours, 260 m ascent, 520 m descent, camp altitude 4,000 m. The trail climbs along the western side of Dala Tsho up to a saddle at 4,520m. From here onwards you will have a fantastic view of the majestic Himalayan peaks all through the descent. The mountain peaks visible include Mt. Everest (Nepal), Mt. Kanchenjunga (Sikkim), Mt. Jomolhari, Mt. Jichu Drake, Mt. Tshering Gang.
Day 5: Panka – Talakha, Distance 8 km, 5-6 hours, 180 m ascent, 110 m descent, camp altitude 3,080 m. This day entails the crossing of several passes but none of them require a major climb. You should keep your eyes open for different varieties of blue poppy (June-July) and mountain birds while in this area. After crossing the last pass, Tale La (4,180m) you start a long descent to Talakha Gompa.
Day 6: Talakha – Chamgang, Distance 6 km, 3 hours, 440 m descent. From the monastery it’s a short walk down to the feeder road which will lead you to the village of Chamgang.
Nabji Korphu Trek
This one week trek offers a short, easy and enjoyable journey around scenic Trongsa Dzongkhag. The climate is warm and pleasant as the trail stays between 1000-1500m in altitude and there is a wide array of flora and fauna observable along the route including the rare Golden Langur, Red Pandas, Himalayan Black Bears, Rhesus Monkeys, Rufous-necked Hornbills and Clouded Leopards.
Hikers on this trek will have plenty of opportunity to experience traditional rural life as they will spend nights in the villages of Nabji, Korphu and Nyimshong. Nabji is an idyllic village surrounded by verdant paddy fields and the villagers of Korphu are famed for their hospitality. Nyimshong is a good place to observe some of the local culture as the women often put together cultural shows full of singing and dancing for visitors. This is the perfect trek for visitors looking to learn about and experience traditional rural life firsthand while enjoying the natural beauty and biodiversity of Bhutan. The best time to embark on this trek is in winter, between October-April.
Day 1: Tongtongphey – Jangbi Village, Distance 7-9.5 km, 3-4 hours, altitude range 1,000 m – 1,350 m.
After an early breakfast at your hotel, you can take some time to wander around Trongsa town, taking a visit to the Dzong or the museum at the Watchtower of Trongsa. The museum will definitely captivate visitors with its myriad collections of antiques and artefacts. A 2 hour drive from the town along the Zhemgang highway brings you to the starting point of the Trek in Tongtongphey. You can also augment your itinerary with a visit to Kuenga Rabten palace, an important heritage in Bhutanese history. After arming yourself with information about the trek from the information booth, the village guide steers you down to the Mangdi river where you cross a suspension bridge. On this stretch of the journey the rare Golden Langurs, an endangered species of primates are abundant and almost impossible to miss. You will come in contact with the Monpas who are believed to be the first inhabitants of Bhutan. A glimpse into their lifestyle coupled with mythical legends about their origins further validates this claim. The campsite in Jangbi stands on the valley sill, which offers a wonderful view of the Mangdi valley. If you still have some energy you can watch a local cultural program or even better, take part in it.
Day 2: Jangbi Village – Kudra Village, Distance 13-14.5 km, 6 hours, altitude range 1,350 m – 1,500 m. The morning allows you to further interact with the Monpas. Before you proceed, you can also pay a visit to the orchid garden that houses around 75 different varieties of orchids. The trail to Kudra is especially interesting as it passes stone imprints of Guru Rinpoche’s footprints, dagger and phallus. Lunch is served just before you arrive at Phrumzur, one of the Monpa villages. After a quick visit to the village Lhakhang in Phrumzur and you then proceed to the campsite in Kudra. En route, you’ll encounter another small Monpa village called Lekpogang, after which, the campsite in Kudra is just an hour’s walk. The campsite offers a bird’s-eye-view of Nyimshong village and also of Zhemgang town.
Day 3: Kudra Village – Nabji Village, Distance 11-14 km, circa 5-7 hours, altitude range 1,500 m – 1,300 m. This part of the trek is a collage of streams, waterfalls and thick forests that will give you an invigorating feeling of being out in the wild. Animals such as Himalayan Squirrels, Rhesus Mecaques, and small snakes are often spotted along the trail. Himalayan black bears, Red pandas, tigers and Clouded leopards are also present this region. Upon arrival at the holy tree in Nabji, the villagers will give you a warm reception. Nabji is a beautiful village with paddy fields circling the clustered houses. You can also hike to the community school and enjoy a game of football or volleyball with the local school children.
Day 4: Nabji Village – Korphu Village, Distance 9.5-13 km, 2-3 hours, altitude range 1300 m – 1500 m. En route to Korphu, Nabji temple is located amidst verdant paddy fields. Inside, there is a stone pillar on which Guru Rinpoche imprinted the thumbs of two warring kings as a symbol of resolution after bringing about peace. Korphu is situated on a mountaintop at an altitude of 1,500m. The most striking thing about Korphu is that the people exemplify hospitality almost treating you like royalty. You have the option of being welcomed with a traditional ‘Chipdrel’ procession and a ‘Marchang’ ceremony. These ceremonies are typically reserved for royalty but here the villagers will greet you by singing these traditional songs of praise and wellbeing. They also perform the traditional ‘Tashi Labey’ dance to bid you farewell. The villagers can explain and demonstrate and even allow you to participate in the quintessential Bhutanese games of ‘Khuru’, ‘Dego’, ‘Sok-sum’, and ‘Gee-dum’. You can also visit the village temple that houses sacred relics of Pema Lingpa, the most famous Terton or ‘Treasure revealer’ in Bhutan. Lunch can be provided in the village campsite which also provides a spectacular bird’s-eye view of Nabji and other surrounding areas.
Day 5: Korphu Village – Nimshong Village, Distance 11-12 km, 4-6 hours, altitude range 1,500 m – 1,300 m. The hike from Korphu to Nyimshong is pleasant and arguably the best location for bird watching as it is home to over 395 avian species. The elusive Rufous Necked Hornbill has its nesting holes adjacent to the trail. The walk is interspaced with waterfalls and, streams and cantilever bridges. The evening brings you to Nyimshong village. The campsite is equipped with an amphitheatre. The women of Nyimshong have a penchant for singing and dancing and often put on cultural shows for visitors.
Day 6: Nimshong Village – Road, Distance 5-6km, 2 hours, altitude range 1,300 m – 1,000 m. You begin by descending towards the Mangdi River. You are likely to see Herons, River-lapwings and even Golden Langurs in this region. A steep hour-long climb will bring you to the road from where your driver will drive you back to Trongsa.
Punakha Winter Trek
This is a short and easy trek through Punakha, the ancient capital of Bhutan. The altitude of the trail covers almost a thousand meters in range but the slopes are mostly gradual and should not present hikers with much difficulty. This hike follows the old foot trail from Thimphu to Punakha passes through several villages, forests and rice fields. It offers incredible views of Phajoding Monastery and crosses through Sinchula Pass. Hikers will also camp near Chorten Ningpo, an ancient chorten linked to Bhutan’s favourite patron saint, The Divine Madman Lam Drukpa Kuenley. Due to the low altitude and warm climate of the area, this hike is available all winter but the best times to go are between March-May and September-November.
Day 1: Chamina – Dopshing Pang, 7-8 hours, ascends 3,400m. Drive north up the valley towards Dechencholing Palace, following the Thimphu Chhu, crossing the bridge after the army camp and before a beautiful monastery. Follow the unsealed road just above Chamina village. The hikes starts here. From this point, if the weather is clear, you can see Phajoding monastery, which is located just above Thimphu. After 2 km, you can see Thinleygang village, Talo Monastery and the motor highway towards the ancient capital of Bhutan, Punakha. The trek from the pass is more or less downhill until you reach the campsite.
Day 2: Dopshing Pang – Chorten Ningpo, 8 hours, camp altitude 2,700 m. The trek to Chorten Ningpo is rather gradual and will take trekkers through thick forests, villages and rice fields.
Bumthang Cultural Trek
Day 1: Toktu Zampa – Ngang Lhakhang, Distance 12 km, 4-5 hours, 170 m ascent, camp altitude 2,800 m The route follows the Chamkhar Chu, a river known for trout and stops for lunch at Thangbi Lhakhang. From here the trek enters the Ngang Yul (Land of the Swan) at the centre of which lies the Ngang Lhakhang (Swan Temple). The valley was once populated by swans, and hence the name Ngang Yul.
Day 2: Ngang Lhakhang – Tahung, Distance 16 km, 6 hours, 750 m ascent, 670 m descent, camp altitude 2,720 m You’ll begin the day by crossing verdant meadows and with a beautiful view of the valley below. Then you climb gradually to Phephe La (3,360m), the highest point of the trek route. The trail passes through beautiful forested areas where many stops can be made to enjoy the natural beauty of your surroundings. The path leads you downhill into a broad valley. Amongst several possible camping sites the most likely one is uphill behind the village of Tahung.
Day 3: Tahung – Mesithang, Distance 16 km, 4-5 hours, 230 m descent The trail follows the Tang Chu, another trout-filled river. On the bank of the river is the Tang Rimpoche’s Lhakhang. The trek will pass the Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) and lead you to Tang Ogyencholing. Ogyencholing Palace houses the only privately owned museum in Bhutan and has all manner of traditional artifacts on display. From here you will soon reach the road head.
Bumthang Owl Trek
This three day trek around Bumthang offers both fantastic views of an unspoiled natural environment endowed with a diverse array of flora and fauna as well as an opportunity to visit ancient Buddhist temples and monasteries. The trail takes you though forests of blue pine, birch, maple, spruce, juniper, bamboo and a beautiful, rugged landscape draped in countless varieties of rhododendrons. As you walk along the tranquil ridges and mountains of Bumthang you will be treated to unparalleled views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, the highest unclimbed peak in the world. There is an abundance of avian wildlife in this area and pheasants such as the beautiful Himalayan Tragopan are a common sight around April-May. One of the best times to undertake this trek is in late spring, between April and early June when the rhododendrons are in full bloom. When trekking through this area in autumn there is a possibility of encountering Himalayan Black bears so caution should be exercised. If it is possible to schedule your trek during one of the local festivals you will be able to enjoy additional insight into the traditions and culture of this region.
Day 1: Manchugang – Dhur Village. The trek starts from Manchugang and takes you to Dhur village (2900m). The inhabitants of the village are the nomadic Kheps and Brokpas. This village has two distinct dialects, the Bumthang Kha and the Brokke a language spoken by the nomads. Near the river is a traditional water-driven flour mill which used to be a source of livelihood for the people of Dhur village. The trek resumes with an uphill climb through blue pine forests towards the campsite at Schonath (3450m) which is covered in hemlock and juniper trees. The otherwise silent nights are punctuated with the hooting of owls, hence the name ‘The Owl Trek’.
Day 2: Dhur Village – Drangela Pass. The second day of this trek is mainly through lush forests of hemlock, fir, spruce and many species of rhododendrons which are in full bloom during the months of April and May. The trail also takes you through the forests of bamboo which is the main undergrowth in this area. After few hours of walking you will arrive at the Drangela Pass (3600m). Climbing up the Kitiphu ridge brings you to the campsite for the night at an altitude of about 3870m. From this point you can have a fresh view of snow capped mountains and valleys underneath. This is also when you can view the mount Gangkarpunsum (7541m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world.
Day 3: Drangela Pass – Tharpaling Monastry. On day three you descend towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak and Tharpaling. Chuedak monastery has 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) where you may pray for yourself and all living beings. Towards the afternoon the trek will take you along the ridge of Kikila and following the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) through scenic hills and forests. Finally you will have the best view of Jakar Dzong and come to end of the trek at Bumthang.
Duer Hot Springs Trek
This is one of the most challenging treks available in Bhutan and its route partially overlaps with the trail of the legendary Snowman Trek, the most difficult trek in the world. This grueling nine day journey will take you up to the Duer Hotsprings, arguably the most beautiful hot springs in the Himalayas. The trail has numerous steep ascents and descents and ranges from altitudes between 3000-4700m. However despite the difficulty this trek is well worth the effort as it will take you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in Bhutan. You’ll journey through forests of spruce, hemlock, juniper and maple, through regions populated by herds of Blue Sheep, Musk Deer and even Himalayan Black Bears. An entire day will be dedicated to resting in the hotsprings. The periods between March to April and September to November are the best times to take on this challenging route.
Day 1: Duer – Gorsum, Distance 18 km, six to seven hours, 380m ascent, camp altitude 3,120m The trek route follows the Yoleng Chhu, a river known for its abundance of trout. The trail from Bumthang to Gorsum is a gradual climb.
Day 2: Gorsum – Lungsum, Distance 12 km, five hours, 40m ascent, camp altitude 3,160m The trail leads through a dense forest of Spruce, Hemlock, Cypress, Juniper and Maple. It ascends gradually to the campsite.
Day 3: Lungsum – Tsochenchen, Distance 15 km, -six to seven hours, 620 m ascent camp altitude 3,780m The vegetation along the route is similar to places crossed the previous day. Near the campsite the vegetation thins out and the camp is made above tree line.
Day 4: Tsochenchen – Duer Tsachu, Distance 18 km, eight to nine hours, 1,340m ascent, 1,530m descent, camp altitude 3,590m The trek from Tsochenchen is uphill all the way until Juli La (4,700m). If the day is clear, you will have a great view of the surrounding mountains from the pass. After crossing the pass, the trail descends to a lake at 4,220m, then climbs again to Gokthong La (4,640m). From here the path is steep descent until the campsite. Musk deer, herds of blue sheep and Himalayan bears are sometimes seen along the route.
Day 5: Duer Tsachu. As the highlight of the trek, today will be spent resting at the Duer Tsachu. After a late breakfast, relax in the rejuvenating hot springs or take a leisurely hike around surrounding areas.
Day 6: Duer Tsachu – Tsochenchen, Distance 18km, eight to nine hours, 1,530m ascent, 1,340m descent, camp altitude 3,780m Return by the same route taken on day four. The journey will be even tougher than before as there is slightly more climbing than descending.
Day 7: Tsochenchen – Lungsum, Distance 15 km, five hours, 620 m descent, camp altitude 3,160m Return by the route taken on day three.
Day 8: Lungsum – Gorsum, Distance 12 km, four hours, 40m descent, camp altitude 3,120m The trail descends gradually from the campsite. It leads through dense forest of Spruce, Hemlock, Cypress, Juniper and Maple.
Day 9: Gorsum – Duer Village, Distance 18km, six hours, 380m descent From Gorsum the trail descends gradually until the bridge near Duer village, where you reach the road head.