Laya Gasa

Camp at Lingshi at 4,150m
  • TRIP TYPE: Trekking
  • TRIP GRADE: Strenuous
  • TRIP STYLE: Camping
  • TRIP LEADER: Local Leader
  • GROUP SIZE: 2 - 10 people
  • NEXT DEPARTURE: 21 Sep 2020

Details

Laya Gasa is one of the finest treks in the Himalaya covering a long distance across northern Bhutan along the border with Tibet.

Laya Gasa trek starts near Paro crosses four Himalayan mountain passes over 4,000m to arrive at the village of Laya, from here we descend to the hot springs at Ghasa then to the Punakha Valley followed by a drive to Thimpu. You will travel through a cross section of Bhutan landscape from picturesque farmland, forests, alpine pastures to high Himalayan passes.

There are superb mountains views of Bhutan’s most impressive peaks including Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake. Along the way you will see a number of Dzongs, these are fortress monasteries located in strategic positions along the Tibet border.

At the start of the trip we organise a visit to Haa valley for two nights in order to help essential acclimatisation before the trek. This valley offers wonderful scenic walk along trails passing through traditional villages and magnificent monasteries. This is a beautiful area adorned with pristine alpine forests and still remains one of the least visited areas in the country.

  • We are Himalayan trekking specialists and we have been operating trips in Bhutan for many years. Roland Hunter, owner and founder of The Mountain Company, has modified this itinerary based on his first-hand experience of this region.
  • Read our AITO Traveller Reviews for Laya Gasa and AITO Traveller Reviews for Lunana Snowman where our overall holiday rating is 100%. Our approach to organising trips in the Himalayas has helped The Mountain Company win awards such as 2018 Gold Award as AITO Tour Operator of the Year and 2015 Bronze Award as AITO Tour Operator of the Year.
  • Our Laya Gasa itinerary has been designed based on first-hand experience which is the best in terms of acclimatisation, safety and enjoyment. Unlike most other Laya Gasa itineraries we now include one night in Paro and two nights in Haa Valley before starting the trek for essential acclimatisation.
  • We have chosen the optimal times of year to complete this trek in Spring and Autumn seasons. If one starts later in Autumn/ Fall or earlier in Spring season there is a high chance of the passes being blocked by winter snows.
  • The Mountain Company will receive bespoke weather forecasts from EverestWeather.com and from our in house forecasting throughout the duration of this trek.
  • We send a Thuraya satellite phone on all of our treks in Bhutan. It is essential for your guide to have reliable communications with us for logistics, planning and group safety. We use GPS on Thuraya satellite phone to upload daily your location on to Google Maps so your friends and family can track your progress during the trek.
  • There will be a range of tasty meals for breakfast, lunch and supper. We give everyone in the group one chocolate or muesli bar per day (Mars, Twix, Bounty etc) and also provide biscuits at tea time. For breakfast every morning we provide fresh coffee from our Bialetti Moka coffee machine.
  • We bring a comprehensive first aid kit plus high altitude medicine, antibiotics and other medicines. There will also be a portable altitude chamber (PAC or Gamow bag).
  • Pre trip support will be given by our Operations team with first hand knowledge of Laya Gasa trek.

Route Map

Itinerary

Arrive in Paro

Lunch and Dinner

Hotel Olathang in Paro

You will be met on arrival at Paro airport and driven back to the hotel. Please provide travel plans on booking and we will arrange the pick-up and transfer.  A full trek briefing will be given in the afternoon. Please get in touch with us if you like a quote for your flight to Paro (flying from Bangkok, Singapore, Kathmandu and Delhi).

Walking 9km (4 hours)

Drive to Haa Valley (2 1/2 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Risum Resort in Haa Valley

After breakfast we will organise a walk up to the Taktsang monastery known as the “Tiger’s Nest”. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to walk through pine forest and up to the monastery perched on a cliff overlooking the valley.

After our visit to Taktsang we drive to the Chele La pass and on a clear day there is a view of Mount Chomolhari to the north. Haa Valley is a beautiful area adorned with pristine alpine forests and remains one of the least visited areas in the country. The valley offers wonderful scenic walk along trails passing through beautiful villages and magnificent monasteries.

Day walk in Haa Valley

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Risum Resort in Haa Valley

Today there are a number of options for day walks in Haa valley. Most likely we will walk through the lower village of Lechuna and continue down to the Haa Chhu (river) before crossing a wooden bridge. From here we walk up through forest up to the Jamte Gompa. After visiting the 300 year old monastery currently undergoing renovation after suffering earthquake damage we descend to Chumpa bridge and to Chuma village.

Drive to Paro and onto Shana Camp

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

We leave Haa valley and drive up to Chele La where we stop and walk along the ridge for acclimatisation. If we are lucky we will get the views again of Mount Chomolhari to the north. From the pass we drive down to Paro and then we continue past Drugyel Dzong and along a jeep track to Shana. At Shana we meet the trek crew and spend our first night in the tents before starting the trek tomorrow.

Walking for 9km (6 to 7 hours)

Walking ascent 895m

Walking descent 175m

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

From Shana camp the trail continues through rhododendron and blue pine forests. The trail is normally quite muddy in places so it is a good idea to use trekking poles and to wear gaiters. Tonight we camp in a clearing in the forest at Soi Thangthanka.

Walking for 13km (5 hours)

Walking ascent 530m

Walking descent 65m

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

After an hour or so from camp we leave the forest as we climb above the tree line into a beautiful valley. Arriving at Chomolhari Base Camp there is a superb view of Mt Chomolhari next the ruins of an old Dzong that used guard Bhutan against invasions from Tibet.

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

In order to help the acclimatisation process it is a good idea to go for a walk in the morning to higher altitude (“climb high, sleep low”). There are a number of options for a morning walk including walking up a ridge to the north for good views of Mt Jitchu Drake or to walk to the twin lakes at Tsho Phu (4,350m).

Walking for 13km (6 hours)

Walking ascent 835m

Walking descent 830m

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

Today we cross the first of the major passes, the Nyile La pass at 4,890m. It is a steady ascent to the pass on a good trail. There are views of Mt Takaphu (6,526m) to the north and Tiger Mountain to the east.

Walking for 10km (4 1/2 hours)

Walking ascent 360m

Walking descent 495m

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

After we will visit the Lingshi Dzong and then on to Lingshi. On leaving the village the trail contours high above the valley passing through hillsides covered with medicinal plants and flowers. After passing a ridge with some prayer flags, we descend into a side valley to a beautiful village called Goyok. Another hour further we arrive to Chebisa village located in a valley with a waterfall at one end.

Walking for 14km (5 hours)

Walking ascent 670m

Walking descent 550m

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

After crossing the Gombu La we descend through a hillside of rhododendrons to Shomuthang where we camp for the night.

Walking for 14km (5 hours)

Walking ascent 1,000m

Walking descent 800m

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

After an early start we climb towards the Jhare La pass where there are good views of Tiger Mountain, Mt Jitchu Drake, Takaphu and Kang Bum. Descending from the pass we arrive to Tsharijathang where herds of Takin (national animal of Bhutan) can be seen at certain times of the year.

Walking for 12.5km (7 hours)

Walking ascent 900m

Walking descent 860m

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

After a long climb to the Shinge La at 5,000m we are rewarded with stunning views of mountains including the spectacular Tiger Mountain at the head of the valley.

Walking for 10.5km (4 1/2 hours)

Walking ascent 280m

Walking descent 560m

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

Today we walk through forest alongside the river to the largest village on the trek. The Layap women wear distinctive conical bamboo hats with turquoise and jade jewellery.

Walking 12.5km (7 hours)

Drive to Punakha (3 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Camping

The trail descends from Laya to the army post at Taksaka, not far from here is the turn off for Lunana whereas we continue along the path towards Punakha. The forest along Mo Chu is lush and you have to ascend over numerous spurs as the trail descends this valley.

There is a road all the way to Koena so we now finish the trek here and then drive down the valley to Punakha.

Sightseeing in Punakha

Drive to Thimphu (2 hours)

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Gyelsa Boutique Inn in Thimphu

In the morning we will visit the Punakha Dzong, this is an impressive building and is located at the confluence of the Pho Chhu (father) and Mo Chhu (mother) rivers in the Punakha valley. This dzong is the second largest in Bhutan and was constructed by Ngawang Namgyal, 1st Zhabdrung Rinpoche, in 1637-38 so it is also the second oldest.

After we visit Chimi Lhakang also known as the fertility temple of Bhutan. Lama Drukpa Kunley, who was a highly unorthodox Buddhist saint, deeds form the basis of many local legends blesses the monastery. The temple is fondly regarded by local families as a potent fertility shrine. It takes about 20 minutes to walk across rice fields to reach the temple.

In the afternoon we leave for Thimphu by driving over the Dochu La pass at an altitude of 3,050m known as one of the finest viewpoints of Eastern Himalaya. On a clear day you can see the peaks Masangang, Tsendagang, Terigang and Gangkar Punsum (the highest unclimbed mountain in the world). On arrival to Dochu La you can get out of the car to admire the view and walk around the 108 chortens marking the summit of the pass. We then descend through beautiful forest into the Thimphu Valley.

Sightseeing in Thimphu

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Gyelsa Boutique Inn in Thimphu

You can discuss with your guide where you would like to visit in and around Thimphu. There are several places to see and the most popular are the Thimphu Dzong, Takin sanctuary (Takin is the national animal of Bhutan with the head of a goat and body of a bull), folk heritage museum, the textile weaving center and the Institute of Arts and Crafts. In the afternoon you have time to explore the town centre of Thimphu with a wide range shops, restaurants and cafes.

Fly home

Breakfast

Transfers to Paro airport for flights back home.

Dates & Prices

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2020

Dates Trip Leader Price Single Supplement: Room/Tent Availability
Dates 21 Sep 2020 to 07 Oct 2020 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$3,950pp Single Supplement:
Room/Tent
US$200pp / US$240pp
Availability 2 Left to Guarantee Book Now
Dates 08 Oct 2020 to 24 Oct 2020 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$3,950pp Single Supplement:
Room/Tent
US$200pp / US$240pp
Availability 2 Left to Guarantee Book Now

2021

Dates Trip Leader Price Single Supplement: Room/Tent Availability
Dates 15 Apr 2021 to 01 May 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$3,950pp Single Supplement:
Room/Tent
US$200pp / US$240pp
Availability 2 Left to Guarantee Book Now
Dates 20 Sep 2021 to 06 Oct 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$3,950pp Single Supplement:
Room/Tent
US$200pp / US$240pp
Availability 2 Left to Guarantee Book Now
Dates 07 Oct 2021 to 23 Oct 2021 Trip Leader Local Leader Price US$3,950pp Single Supplement:
Room/Tent
US$200pp / US$240pp
Availability 2 Left to Guarantee Book Now

For private and bespoke trip, please contact us

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What's Included

  • All transfers including airport collections at Paro.
  • Twin share hotels while in Bhutan.
  • All meals included while in Bhutan.
  • Twin share tents while on trek.
  • All trekking arrangements including permits and fees, tents, Bhutanese guide, pack animals and cook.
  • Bespoke weather forecasts from EverestWeather.com throughout the duration of this trek.
  • Thuraya satellite phone to ensure our guides have reliable communications with us for logistics, planning and group safety.
  • Full financial protection for all monies paid to us through our membership of Association of Bonded Travel Operators Trust (our ABTOT membership number is 5365) and having an Air Travel Organiser’s Licence (our ATOL number is 10921).
  • Pre departure support and advice from The Mountain Company by email, phone or face to face meetings in London. After booking with us we will send our comprehensive “Bhutan Pre Trip Information” notes.

What's Not Included

  • International flight to/from Paro (flying from Bangkok, Singapore, Kathmandu and Delhi).
  • Travel & trekking insurance.
  • Personal clothing & equipment please see Appendix for suggested kit list.
  • Tips. 
  • Other items not listed in “What is included”.

Accommodation

Hotel Olathang in Paro

Hotel Olathang is located amidst 28 acres of blue pine forest on a hill overlooking Paro valley. This hotel is designed in traditional Bhutanese style and was established in 1974 for the guests invited to the coronation of the Fourth King of Bhutan.

There are 28 rooms with attached bathroom and the cottages have an outdoor deck with chairs. There is a restaurant and bar in the main building and other facilities include a spa and a traditional hot stone bath.


Hotel Meri Puensum in Punakha

Hotel Meri Puensum is located above Punakha with good views down to the river and valley below. This property is family owned and was one of the first hotels in Punakha.

The rooms have attached bathroom and are simple yet functional. Some of the rooms have balconies overlooking the valley. There is a restaurant serving Bhutanese, Indian and Chinese with most meals are served as a buffet.


Gyelsa Boutique Inn in Thimphu

Gyelsa Boutique Inn is a family-run hotel located in the centre of Thimphu city and within walking distance of the restaurants, cafes and shops of the largest city in Bhutan.

The hotel has 6 suites and 12 twin rooms where the furniture is carved out of Himalayan wood and made in Bhutan. Every room has access to high speed wireless internet connectivity. Other facilities include a restaurant, bar and café.


Camping in Bhutan

We use A frame tents in Bhutan, these sturdy tents work well with the conditions often experienced in Bhutan and are waterproof plus have ample head room inside.

Practical Information

A Typical Day On Camping Trek

The day starts with an early morning mug of tea brought to your tent by one of the assistant guides. Before heading over to the mess tent for breakfast you will pack your overnight gear into your duffel bag. During breakfast the tents will be packed away and, after the porters have arranged their loads, they will set off on the trail in the cool of the morning. After breakfast, probably between 7am and 8am, we start walking. The pace of the trek is leisurely with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, take photos and explore the local villages. Lunch will be around 11am at a spot by the side of the trail and is prepared for us by the cooks.


There is more walking after lunch and normally you will get into camp by mid afternoon with the tents already put up by the local staff. In the evening a three course meal is served in the mess tent around 6-7pm. After supper the international leader will discuss the plan for the next day with the group. People might stay in the mess tent chatting about the day’s events for a while before retiring to their tent for the night.

While on the trek, the cook will provide good quality food in sufficient quantities.  For breakfast you are likely to get porridge or cereal, toast or chapatis, omelettes and a range of hot drinks. For our camping treks in Nepal we provide fresh coffee from our Bialetti Moka coffee machine. On arrival to camp in the afternoon you will be given tea and biscuits and a three course meal will follow later in the evening.

Communications

We bring a Thuraya satellite phone for logistical, safety and personal use. Personal calls charged at £4 (US$5 or €4.50) per minute and £2 (US$3 €4.50) to send and receive SMS text.

Clothing and Equipment List for Laya Gasa

For the safety of everyone in the group and to help ensure a successful trek, you are required to have the following items in our clothing and equipment list tailored for Laya Gasa trek.

As a reminder, the weather on this trek will vary season to season and day to day as you ascend to higher elevations. During the first couple of days on Laya Gasa trek you are likely to experience rainy and muddy conditions. You will experience the coldest temperatures in Robulathang (altitude of 4,410m) where overnight lows will be down to around -12˚C.

Each trekker should bring one backpack for gear required during the day. Your day backpack will contain items such as warm clothes, jacket, camera, water bottles, personal first aid kit and snacks. The maximum weight allowance for back pack is 5kg. The rest of your personal equipment packed in a duffel or kit bag will be carried by a porter. The maximum weight allowance for your duffel bag  is 15kg. Please ensure that your bag is marked clearly on the outside for easy identification.

We suggest you print the kit list and tick items off as you pack them then weigh your kit bag before you come on trek.

Footwear:

  • Walking boots. A pair of water repellent boots with ankle support.
  • Wool and liner socks.
  • Trainers/sneakers or sandals. Can be used on arrival to camp.

Trekking gear for crossing the passes:

  • Two trekking poles (Black Diamond poles with “Flick Lock” are best). Having two poles is mandatory as required for your safety on steep and loose sections of the trail and for walking through deep snow higher up.
  • Kahtoola Microspokes or YakTrax XTRs. These are for your safety and security when descending passes if snowy or icy conditions, for more information please take a look at: https://kahtoola.com/product/microspikes/ and https://www.yaktrax.com/product/xtr
  • A pair of knee high gaiters used to keep boots dry if walking through deep snow or on wet/ muddy ground.

 

 

Clothing:

  • Waterproof jacket and trousers (goretex or similar). For use if it rains or snows during the trek.
  • Trekking trousers. Minimum two pairs of trousers.
  • Long sleeve synthetic shirt. Minimum two shirts.
  • Micro fleece.
  • Mid to heavyweight fleece.
  • Sleeveless/ gilet or body warmer type fleece. This will help keep your core warm while not bulking when layering up. Gilet fleece can be used in combination with base layers, other fleeces and down jacket to provide maximum warmth and insulation.
  • Thermals or baselayer for top & bottom (merino wool or synthetic).
  • Fleece pants. To be worn around camp or added as an additional layer when the temperatures start to drop higher up.
  • Medium weight down jacket (eg. The North Face Nuptse jacket 700 fill).

Handwear:

  • Fleece gloves.
  • Warms mittens and/or gloves.

Headwear:

  • Wool or fleece hat.
  • Sun hat.
  • Bandana or scarf (eg. Buff Headwear check out http://www.buffwear.com).
  • Bring extra batteries.
  • The lenses need to be Category 4 rated and should have side protection or wraparound design to prevent light getting through to your eyes that could cause sun blindness.

 

Personal Equipment:

  • Sleeping bag. Maximum overnight lows at Chomolhari Base Camp will be around -12 Celsius.
  • Fleece or silk liner for your sleeping bag. A liner protects your sleeping bag from getting dirty and helps by adding extra insulation to keep you warm at night.
  • Sleeping mat (eg. Thermarest). Please note we do not provide a mat for our Bhutan treks.
  • Recommended size is 30 to 40 litres as you need to have enough space to carry water bottles, camera, snacks and extra clothing as well as micro spikes, trekking poles and down jacket for days crossing the high passes. It is also a good idea to bring a pack cover to keep the contents dry.
  • Stuff sacks for keeping your gear dry and organised. Or even better are fold- dry bags such as from Exped.
  • Two water bottles (Nalgene wide mouth bottles are the best).
  • Pee bottle. Highly recommended as means you do not have to get up to find toilet tent at night! For men you can use an old water bottle for women take a look at SheWee at http://www.shewee.com/
  • Sunscreen and lipsalve with a high SPF.
  • Insect repellent.
  • Water purification tablets (Pristine, Biox Acqua or Acqa Mira). You will be provided with boiled water at camp however if you refill water bottle at a water tap or steam during the day you should use water purifiers.
  • Favourite snack food.
  • Books, ipod and cards etc.
  • Umbrella (you are quite likely to get some rain on this trek….)
  • Camera with spare batteries and memory cards.
  • Insurance certificate.
  • Earplugs (optional).
  • Baby wipes (optional).
  • Hand sanitizer. We suggest you keep this in your day pack for use after a toilet break during the trek or before eating any snacks.

Travelling:

  • Duffle bag or large backpack for your personal gear on the trek (carried by a pack animal). Bring a small combination padlock to secure the bag.
  • Travel clothes. You will need casual clothing for air travel days and time spent in Paro and Thimphu.
  • Toiletry bag include toilet paper, soap, towel, toothbrush, etc. We provide toilet paper so you do not need to bring this with you.

Personal first aid kit:

Note: we provide a comprehensive group first aid kit but please bring personal medications and other items you might use regularly such as:

  • Any personal medications.
  • Blister treatment (Compeed patches are the best).
  • Rehydration powder eg Dioralyte.
  • Analgesics (paracetamol, ibuprofen and aspirin).
  • Plasters and zinc oxide tape.
  • Throat lozenges.
  • Diamox (helps with acclimatisation).

Threat and risk assessment for Laya Gasa

Participants should be aware trekking, mountaineering and travelling in a developing country are activities that involve a risk of personal injury or death. As a condition of booking you must accept these risks and be responsible for your own actions and involvement.

Adventure travel requires an open and flexible attitude. You may experience extreme conditions, unpredictable weather and last minute changes to the itinerary beyond our control. The ability to work in team is an important aspect of all of our trips.

As a part of our planning process we have performed a detailed threat and risk assessment for our Laya Gasa trek. It is worth pointing out all of our trips have a certain degree of risk, this is of course part of the attraction of adventure travel and why so many people choose to join this type of holiday. However by identifying the potential hazards on Laya Gasa we can assess the level of risk and implement control measures to reduce this happening.

Our full threat and risk assessment for Laya Gasa is available to clients on request. For your information we have listed below a summary of the significant risks and hazards identified by us:

  • Falls and trips resulting in physical injury eg. slipping on ice or falling off the path.
  • Altitude illness including but not limited to AMS, HACE and HAPE.
  • Severe bad weather and conditions when camping or during the day when walking.
  • Climatic injuries (dehydration, sun burn, heat exhaustion, hypothermia or heat stroke).
  • Crossing a river with no bridge resulting in drowning and/ or a fall.
  • Rock fall and landslides.
  • Snow and ice avalanches ie. while crossing high passes.
  • Lightning strike.
  • Wildlife, pack animals (eg. donkeys or horses) or stray dogs. Pack animals have been known to knock people off the path. Dogs can attack and bite, we advise you discuss rabies vaccination with your doctor.
  • Risk of fire in the hotel or lodge.
  • Endemic local diseases. We advise you discuss vaccinations with your doctor before departure.
  • Physiological injury such as heart attack, appendicitis, hernia, toothache etc. in a remote area.
  • Road traffic or flight accident.
  • Contaminated food and/ or water.

This trip visits a remote area where you are away from normal emergency services and medical facilities. In case of a serious injury requiring hospitalisation evacuation could take up to several days and may impede your ensuing recovery. Helicopters are the most usual means of evacuation, however they are not always available or they may be hindered by poor weather and flying conditions.

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