WALKING & TREKKING IN BHUTAN
Trekking Holidays in Bhutan
Trekking in Bhutan offers you the opportunity to visit remote mountainous regions of the Eastern Himalaya. Along the way we pass through deep forest and walk high up into the alpine zone. We follow trails between scattered villages only accessible by foot or on horseback. We travel along old routes from the period when there was trading between Bhutan and Tibet. There are views of some of the highest mountains in the Himalaya. These are Chomolhari (7,326m), Jitchu Drake (6.970m), Masang Kang (7,194m) and Gangkar Punsum (7,541m).
The Mountain Company has been operating treks in Bhutan since 2005. Over the years we have organised ten successful Lunana Snowman treks. Our Managing Director, Roland Hunter, has walked most of the trekking routes in Bhutan including the Snowman trek. View our AITO Traveller Reviews for feedback on our Himalayan walking holidays in Bhutan. With this track record we are known as one of the best trekking companies in Bhutan. Find out more about us and Our Operations.
What are the best trekking routes in Bhutan?
Bhutan has trekking routes including several variations of the epic 28 day Lunana Snowman. Chomolhari Base Camp trek and Laya Gasa trek are shorter itineraries starting on the same trail as Snowman. The Snowman trek traverses northern Bhutan along the border with Tibet. It covers 356km and crosses eight Himalayan mountain passes. The views are spectacular with many unnamed peaks along the Bhutan and Tibet border. The Mountain Company has organised ten successful Lunana Snowman treks since 2008. Our itinerary is the best for acclimatisation, safety and enjoyment. We now include one night in Paro and two nights in Haa Valley before starting the trek for essential acclimatisation.
Druk Path trek and Kitiphu Ridge also known as the Owl trek are shorter trips with superb views of the Bhutan Himalaya. These itineraries also include time to see the major sights of the country while staying at hotels. This combination means you experience a Himalaya trek and a cultural tour of Bhutan.
What are the best remote treks in Bhutan?
The Snowman trail visits a remote trekking place in Bhutan called Lunana. Laya Gasa is a popular trek starting on the same trail as Snowman. Yet the best section of Snowman is in the remote areas after Laya village in Lunana and towards Bumthang. Some of the best mountain trekking and hiking in Bhutan is in remote places away from the busier treks.
In November 2019 we organised a reconnaissance to find new remote treks in Bhutan. We sent one of our International leaders, Ade Summers, to walk Haa Valley Pilgrims and Dagana & Lawagu Pass. Both of these trekking itineraries are rarely walked by other groups. Based on his positive feedback we have now added these remote treks in Bhutan to our portfolio.
How does trekking in Bhutan compare with trekking in Nepal?
All treks in Bhutan are camping style as there are no teahouse lodges like trekking in Nepal. It is not possible to travel independently in the Bhutan Himalaya. Whereas many people trek independently on the trails of Nepal. The regulations in Bhutan state that you must organise your trek using an operator. We will process your Bhutan visa and organise the logistics of your trek.
There is a far lower number of trekkers in Bhutan compared to Nepal. Most visitors to Bhutan go on a cultural tour and do not hike in the mountains. Trekking and camping in Bhutan is an incredible experience. Along the way you see pristine wilderness, traditional villages and the Himalaya.
Is there mountaineering and mountain climbing in Bhutan?
Mountain climbing is not allowed in Bhutan. This is out of respect for the locals as Bhutanese people believe that the mountains are sacred and the abode of the gods. The last mountaineering expedition was by a British team in 1986 to Mount Gangkar Punsum. At an altitude of 7,570m this is the highest unclimbed peak in the world. You get fine views of this mountain on both the Lunana Snowman and Kitiphu Ridge treks.
When is the best time to go hiking in Bhutan?
Based on our experience we have chosen the best times of year for our Bhutan treks. Like in Nepal the peak trekking seasons are in Spring and Autumn seasons. For most treks the best months are in April, October and November. We describe the weather and conditions for our treks in the Trip Dossiers downloadable from our website.
For Lunana Snowman we start earlier in Autumn season than for other treks in Bhutan. The Snowman trek is 28 days and this is longer than the weather window with the best weather and conditions. We start this trek towards the end of the monsoon in late September. This means we can trek into and out of Lunana before the winter snows block the high mountain passes.
As described in our Blog article When is the best time to go trekking in Nepal Himalaya? The monsoon withdraws from the Himalaya from West to East. As Bhutan is further East than Nepal the monsoon recedes later in Autumn and arrives earlier in Spring. The monsoon has heavy rain and low clouds so we do not recommend a visit during the Summer months.
What to wear for walking in Bhutan?
We have written tailored kit lists for our treks in Bhutan. The kit lists are included in our Trip Dossiers downloadable from our website. Having this personal equipment is mandatory. This is for the safety of everyone in the group and to ensure a successful trek. The group leader may check your gear in Paro before departure for the trek.
You should come prepared for rain at any time of year and an umbrella is a good piece of kit to bring with you. The rainy weather makes the trails through the forests very muddy and it is a good idea to bring gaiters with you. The muddiest sections of Snowman are on the trail to Chomolhari Base Camp and at the end of the trek to the road head.
How to get ready for a hiking holiday in Bhutan?
After choosing your Himalayan trip then we will support you as you prepare for departure. We will send our Bhutan Pre Trip Information document to help you get ready. This guidance includes sections on visas, changing money, hotels, restaurants and culture. We will also send our Trekking Fitness Plan to provide ideas of how to get fit for a trekking holiday in Bhutan. You can download the Trip Dossier from our website with trip specific information. This includes kit list, weather and conditions, risk assessment, typical day on trek and suggested maps & books.
What are the best books and maps?
As a part of the preparations for your walking holiday in Bhutan it is a good idea to get some books about the country. The best ones are:
Bhutan A Trekker's Guide. By Bart Jordans, published by Cicerone.
Beneath Blossom Rain. Discovering Bhutan on the Toughest Trek in the World. By Kevin Grange
Pocket Guide to the Birds of Bhutan. By Grimmett R, Inskipp C & T.
Bhutan, An Illustrated Guide. By Françoise Pommaret, Odyssey Guides.
There are not any good maps of the mountains in Bhutan. The best one available is Bhutan Himalaya. 1:390,000 by Nepal maps. We have added our trekking itineraries onto Google maps. You can see these on our trek web pages.
TRIP STYLE FOR TREKKING IN BHUTAN
All of our treks in Bhutan are Camping style. This is a fully supported trek where our cooks will cater for all of your meals. We provide group equipment including personal tents, mess tents, kitchen tent and toilet tent.View Camping trips in Bhutan