The Snowman Trek is the most difficult trek in Bhutan and one of the mist challenging and difficult trek in the world! The official snowman route starts at the Drukgyel Dzhong in Paro and continues in to Luana via Laya and Linghi, on the return journey one has 2 options either you can return back to Paro via the Nikka Chu or carry on towards Bumthang.
Number of Days Required: The trek requires about 24 day in all. But for those who want to make the trip shorter you can cut off a few days by starting the trek from Punakha. It is safe to assume that even if you start from Punakha the trek will still take you about 21 days.
Altitude: As the name suggests the Snowman Trek is a true high altitude trek. You will cross the Gangla Karchung La pass at 5230 meters which will be the highest point of your trekking route. The highest camp is at Jichhu Dramo located 5060 meters above sea level.
Difficulty: Extreme! This is definitely one of the most difficult treks in the world and requires trekkers to be at the peak of their fitness. The trek unlike many others is 3 weeks ling and spending 3 weeks out in the wilderness of the Himalayas is something not for weak hearted.
Best time to go: The best time to undertake this trek is during late September and early October. If you do so later in the month of October it might get a bit wet.
Ideally you should spend your fist 2-3 days in Bhutan acclimatizing to the country before beginning the trek. We at TravelBhutan.com recommend a 2 day halt in Thimphu before you begin this journey of a lifetime.
Day 1: Paro ( Drukgyel) to Shana
(Distance 14 kms. Time 5/6 hrs. Altitude 2,820 m, 9,250 ft)
We start our trek from the now ruing Drukgyel Dzhong in the Paro valley. The first day of the trek takes you through rice paddies and picturesque villages of the valley. The surrounding forests are full of beautiful birds and colorful butterflies. After about 6 hours trekking we reach our campsite for the night at Shana.
Day 2: Shana – Thangthangka
(Distance 21 kms. Time7/8 hrs. Altitude 3610 m,11,850 ft)
Today’s trek will be a little longer than yesterdays, as we trek along the trail through heavily forested areas of the valley with a few isolated farmhouses along the way. The trail narrows as we go farther up till we reach a junction, where another trail leads you towards Tibet via the Tremo La pass. We will be camping overnight at a meadow.
Day 3: Thangtangkha – Jangothang
(Distance 15 kms. Time 5/6 hrs. Altitude 4,115 m, 13,500 ft)
Shortly after leaving camp we will be crossing a small army outpost from where the trail leaves the tree line and ascends up to a picturesque valley, where we will stop at Tegethang for lunch at one of the huts that serves as the winter home for the areas Yak herders. During this leg of the tip you will definitely encounter a lot yak herds merrily grazing away in the meadows. We will then arrive at the Jhomolhari base camp at Jangothang, where we will set up camp for the night.
Day 4: Jangothang (Rest day)
Today your group will have a day to rest and acclimatize to the high altitude. You have to day at leisure to take in the jaw dropping views of the surrounding mountains, for those of you interested in exploring the glaciers and lakes in the surrounding regions we can take a short day hike to either the lakes or the glaciers.
Day 5: Jangothang – Lingshi
(Distance 17 kms. Time 6/7 hrs. Altitude 4,700 m. 15,400 ft)
After a well-earned break we shall now be continuing onwards. The trail continues along the river before we encounter a bridge and cross over to the other side of the river. We will then climb to a ridge from where you will be able to see a breathtaking view of the Jhomolhari, Jichhu Drake and Tsrim Ghang mountains which are some of the highest peaks in the country. Will then descend in to a flat valley before climbing back up to cross the Nyeley La Pass from descending down to towards Lingishi, where we will camp for the night.
Day 6 : Lingshi – Chebisa
(Distance 12 kms. Time 4/5 hrs. Altitude 3,780 m, 12,400 ft)
You will wake to a view of the Majestic Lingishi Dzhong, which is perched on to of a hill overlooking your camp site. Today will be a light day as we walk thought the meadows and villages. We will stop at the beautiful Goyuna village from lunch after which we will continue onwards to our camp site next to a stream at Chebisa.
Day7: Chebisa – Shomuthang
(Distance 17 km. Time 7/8 hrs. Altitude 4, 500 m, 14,800 ft)
The day starts off with a tough climb up a ridge to Gubula pass which will take nearly half of the day to reach the top. After the pass we descend to a lunch spot, through a forest of rhododendron. In the afternoon we continue along the up and down path, crossing the stream, through rhododendron forests and yak herders camps. You may have the chance to encounters herds of Blue Sheep. We will be camping for the night at Shomuthang.
Day 8: Shomuthang – Robluthang
(Distance 22 km. Time 7/8 hrs. Altitude 4,640 m, 15,200 ft)
Our day will begin with a ascent up to Jari La pass., from where we descend to Tsharijathang Valley, the summer home of Bhutan’s National Animal the Takin. We may have to wade across the stream and get a little soaked in the process, as most of the time the foot bridge across the river tends to get washed away regularly. After crossing the stream, the trail will continue to ascend till we reach our camp at Robluthang .
Day 9: Robluthang – Lemithang
(Distance 18 kms. Time 6/7 hrs. Altitude 4,870 m, 16,000 ft)
Today is one of the hardest days of the trek and the day will challenge you mentally as well a physically. Today we will climb up to the Shinche La Pass from where you will be rewarded with an absolutely stunning view of mountains and the Gang Chen Ta peak. The valley is an ideal spot to sight some beautiful birds of prey, you might get to see some rare species of the eagle and the elusive griffin vultures. We will set up our camp next to the river at the base of the valley.
Day 10: Lemithang – Laya
(Distance 10 kms. Time 4/5 hrs. Altitude 3, 880 m, 12,700 ft)
We will continue along one of the tributaries of the Mochu River towards the scenic village of Laya. The people of Laya are known for their unique vertical stripe yak hair clothing and the large peculiar bamboo hats. The women are known for their beautiful jewelry made of turquoise and jade. You will have the rest of the day at leisure to hang around with the village folk and experience their way of Life
Day 11: Laya (Rest Day)
Today you will have the whole to catch some rest, explore the village, and visit one of the village
households. The people of the village are very friendly and love to talk to travellers.
Day 12: Rhodophu – Tarina
(Distance 18 kms. Time 10/11 hrs. Altitude 5, 080 m, 16,500 ft)
This is the longest day of the trip and therefore we must being our day very early. We start at 5 am by climbing up to the Tsimola La pass. After crossing the first pass one can have a superb view of Lunana, Jumolhari and Jichu Drake mountains. The trail flattens out for another four hours till we climb up over the Gangla Karchula pass. The view from the pass is breathtaking. The whole range of mountains, including Masagang, Tsendegang, Teri Gang can be seen, after crossing the pass we begin a long descent
to the Tarina valley.
Day 13: Tarina – Woche
(Distance 17 kms. Time 6/7 hrs. Altitude 3,800 m, 12,500 ft)
After yesterday’s exertions, today will be a much lighter day. We will continue along the river till lunch time before we gently climb up to the village of Woche where we will be camping overnight.
Day 14: Woche – Lhedi
(Distance 17 kms. Time 7/8 hrs. Altitude 4,480 m, 14,500 ft)
The trek takes you through the juniper and fir forests before, we once again climb up to cross the
Keche La Pass. And then descend back down in to the valley, we will walk along the river to uour days campsite in the valley at the Lhedi village. The river that flows through this valley is the source river for the Po Chhu.
Day 15: Lhedi – Thanza
(Distance 15 kms. Time 7/8 hrs. Altitude 4,000 m, 13,000 ft)
The trek continues along the river up to the Choejong village. After lunch at the village we will go and visit the Choejong Dzhong and carry on with our journey till we reach a bridge across the river. Once across we will setup our camp at Thanza.
Day 16: Thanza- Tsorim
(Distance 18 kms. Time 8/9 hrs. Altitude 5,150 m, 16,9 00 ft.)
Today’s trek will take you up to a ridge that offers a great view of the table mountain and the Thanza Valley below. We continue our climb along ridge till be encounter the one and then the next till we reach the campsite at Tsorim.
Day 17: Tsorim – Gangkar Puensum base camp.
(Distance 16 kms. Time 6/7 hrs. Altitude 5,230 m, 17,150 ft)
Today we will reach the highest point of our journey. Our day begins with a short climb up to the
Tshorim Lake, where we walk along its shores before ascending the Gophula Pass and decend down to the base camp located along the ridge. From the camp you can enjoy an excellent view of the Gangkar Puensum Mountain, which is regarded to be the highest unconquered peak in the world. Those of you
who have huge energy reserves can take a short diversion and climb the Pyramid Peak for a better view or otherwise continue down to the base camp located near the Sha Chu River.
Day 18 : Gangkar Puensum Base camp ( Rest Day)
You have the day off to relax at the base of one of the most imposing mountains in the world.
Day 19: Base Camp – Geshe Worma
(Distance 17 kms. Time 6/8 hrs. Altitude 4,200 m, 13,800 ft.)
Finally its time to leave the beautiful mountain behind, mind you the journey is far from over. The trail follows the Sha Chu river and slowly descends down to our campsite at geshe Woma
Day 20: Geshe Woma- Warathang
(Distance 18 kms. Time 8/9 hrs. Altitude 4,800 m, 15,700 ft.)
The path further continues along the Shachu river for a couple of hours before we begin a steep climb up to the Saka La pass, visibility along this part of the trek is usually poor and we find our way using the top of the ridge for guidance. After crossing the pass we descent to the lakes followed by a short climb up to the Warthang La pass.
Day 21: Warthang – Duer Tasachu
(Distance 12 kms. Time 5 hrs. Altitude 4,400 m, 14,500 ft.)
In the morning we climb up to the Je Li La pass and then descend down to the river though dense
rhododendron, juniper and confer forests. We will then cross a bridge across the river and the climb up to the famous Duer Tsachu hotsprings. Legend has it that the Guru Rinpoche took a bath is these hot springs during his visit to Bhutan in the 8th century AD.
Day 22: Duer Tsachu- Tshochenchen
(Distance 19 kms. Time 8/9 hrs. Altitude 4,400 m, 14,500 ft.)
We will go back to the Je Li La pass before descending down to the stream flowing through the valley and after a short walk climb up along the ridge enjoying a great view of the Lunana mountains enroute.We will also come cross beautiful fest water lakes and yak herders camps before we reach our campsite at Tshochenchen.
Day 23: Tshochenchen – Duer Village
(Distance 16 kms. Time 57/8 hrs. Altitude 3,100 m, 10,000 ft.)
Today is the last and final day of your epic journey thought the great Himalayan Mountains. Take a moment out to reflect about the experience you have just had over the past 3 weeks. Today trek take you along the Chamkar Chu River to the end point of your trek at the Duer Village. Where your vehicles shall await you ,to frisk you away to a hotel for some much deserved rest and relaxation.