The power and beauty of the mountains is more impressive on foot than from any vehicle. Whether you take a two-night trek around the Bumthang valley or walk for three days from Thimphu to Paro or take the eight-day trek to the base of Mount Jhomolhari, the views, villages, people and experience will be unparalleled.
Awakening at dawn to the sound of the cockerel and a warming mug of tea, trekkers at higher altitudes are invariably greeted by breath-taking vistas. Few sites on earth can equal the first sunlight hitting a Himalayan mountain. Trekking during April and May in the Himalayas brings the deep reds and oranges of the rhododendron blossom.
Treks vary from short three-day walks across low altitudes to the three-week Snowman Trek that covers 356 kilometers and climbs three of the Kingdom's highest passes. Not only the overall duration but also the daily walking distances vary substantially according to the different trek routes.
is said to be the hardest trek in the world, with 12 passes between 4500 and 5300 meters, overnight stays at between 3700 to 5100 meters, 24 days, and the majority in unsettled, high alpine areas.
Laya Gasa Trek
is the first part of the Snowman Trek, starting from Paro and leaving the Snowman in Laya to descend to Punakha. Requires good endurance and leads up to high passes, one of them above 5000m, 12 – 14 days
Jomolhari Trek, Rodung La Trek
Routes in the high mountains, requiring some endurance, 6 to 10 days depending on the chosen route, partly in unsettled areas.
Bumthang Culture Trek, Gangtey Trek, Samteygang Trek, Nabji-Korphu Community based Nature Trek
simple routes from village to village, 3 – 4 days.
Bhutan offers all different levels of trekking that will suit your taste and physical fitness. To choose the right trek, see the detailed descriptions of each trek.
Trekking Between Unclimbed Peaks
Trekking in Bhutan involves walking along routes passing by 7000 metre high mountains. Such peaks are permanently covered in snow and remain unclimbed even today. Mountaineering is forbidden in Bhutan due to the Buddhist belief that all mountains are representations of holy deities and should therefore not be exposed to the disruption of mountain expeditions.
Guiding, Food and Camping
In Bhutan, all trekking supplies – camping equipment, kitchen implements, food – are all carried by pack animals. Porters are rather unusual in Bhutan with loads usually carted by horses or, in higher regions, yaks. All trekkers are accompanied by a guide, a cook and usually at least one horseman or yak herder. With the surest footing; they lead trekking groups across the passes. The horseman and cook will usually run ahead during a trekking day. They will have prepared a packed lunch for hikers and will go on to the night's resting place to set up camp.
They set up tents, cook dinner and ready the area for arriving trekkers. When trekkers reach the campsite they are greeted with a hot cup of tea and biscuits in the dining tent. After six hours on the mountains, no drink will ever taste sweeter. For dinner the cook will usually prepare a buffet of dishes that are as welcome as they are delicious.
When to Trek
For walkers the most appropriate trekking times are mid-March to mid-May and mid-September to the beginning of November. There are however also trekking routes that are better suited to Summer or Winter. Earlier in the year the light is sharper but the nights are very cold. In autumn, after the rainy season, the skies clear and the leaves begin to turn yellow. Between mid-June and mid-September one should expect regular rainfall. At altitudes beneath 2000 metres leaches can be a challenge. To find the possible and best times for each single trekking route please see the table of trekking routes and the detailed descriptions of each route on our website
|Name of the trek||Trekking Seasons|
|Dur Hot Spring Trek||G||G||G||G||G|
|Gangtey Winter Trek||G||G||G||G||G||G||G||G||G||G|
|Samtengang Winter Trek||G||G||G||G||G||G||G||G||G|
|Chele La Nature Trek||G||G||G||G||G||G||G|
|Druk Path Trek||G||G||G||G||G||G||G|
|Punakha Winter Trek||G||G||G||G||G||G||G|
|Jumolhari Trek I + II||G||G||G||G||G||G|
|Laya Gasa Trek||G||G||G||G||G||G|
|Bumthang Cultural Trek||G||G||G||G||G||G||G|
|Gasa Hot Spring Trek||G||G||G||G||G|
|Dagala Thousand Lakes||G||G||G|
|Wild East Radungla Trek||G||G||G|
Note: Normal Weather Conditions. "G" refers to good season for trekking
Although trekking gear is available in Bhutan you are advised to bring your own gear. The following list of items is necessary for all treks:
FOR ALL TREKS
- Trekking or running shoes
- Camp shoes or thongs
- Socks (polypropylene)
- Down or fiber-filled jacket
- Jumper or piled jacket
- Hiking shorts
- Waterproof jackets, poncho or umbrella
- Hiking pants
- T-shirts or blouses
- Sun hat
- Self Inflating Sleeping Mattress (optional, "normal" mats provided by Bhutanese tour operators)
- Sleeping bag
- Water bottle
- Torch, batteries and bulbs.
- Photographic Equipment
FOR TREKS ABOVE 4000M
- Mountain trekking boots
- Socks or wool to wear with boots
- Socks, light cotton for under wool socks
- Insulated pants
- Nylon windbreaker
- Nylon Wind pants
- Long underwear
- Woolen hat
- Long gaiters
- Toilet articles
- Cigarette lighter
- Small knife
- Sun block / Sun block for lips
- Laundry soap
- Medical and first aid kit
- Sewing kit
What you are supplied with
While on trek your Bhutanese tour operator will be providing you the following items:
- Two-person tent
- Trekking mattresses
- Eating utensils
- Kitchen equipments
- Other camping equipment such as dining tent, toilet tent
Health & Safety
Trekkers are warned that altitude sickness can be a serious problem at the altitudes hiked to in Bhutan. If you feel sick, dizzy or have a worsening headache, stop and drink as much water as possible. If the symptoms persist, go back down the mountain.
Bhutanese guides are trained to look out for altitude sickness and other ailments that can affect trekkers. They are expert walkers who have been trained as trekking guides and follow routes that have been walked for centuries. All trekkers are required to strictly follow trekking rules to protect the fragile environment at high altitudes.
Overview of Trekking Routes
|Name of Trek||Possible Months||No. of Days||Max. Elevation||Highest Camp||Difficulty|
|Duer Hot Spring Trek||Mar, Apr, Sep, Oct and Nov||9||4700m||3400m||medium-hard|
|Gangte Winter Trek||All except Jul and Aug||3||3480m||3330m||easy|
|Samtengang Winter Trek||All except Jul Aug and Sep||3||2000m||1980m||easy|
|Druk Path Trek||Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Sep, Oct and Nov||6||4200m||4110m||easy-medium|
|Punakha Winter Trek||Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Sep, Oct, Nov and Dec||4||3400m||3360m||easy|
|Jomolhari Trek I||Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Sep and Oct||9||4930m||4080m||medium|
|Jomolhari Trek II||Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Sep and Oct||8||4890m||4080m||medium|
|Laya Gasa Trek||Apr,May,Jun,Sep,Oct,Nov||14||5005m||4220m||medium-hard|
|Snowman Trek I||Jul,Aug,Sep||25||5320m||5050m||hard|
|Snowman Trek II||Jul,Aug,Sep||25||5320m||5120m||hard|
|Snowman Trek II||Jul,Aug,Sep||25||5320m||5120m||hard|
|Bumthang Cultural Trek||Mar,April,May,Jun,Sep,Oct,Nov||3||3360m||2800m||easy-medium|
|Gasa Hot Spring Trek||Feb,Mar,Apr,Oct,Nov,Dec||5||2430m||2250m||easy|
|Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek||May,Jun,Sep,Oct,Nov||6||4520m||4300m||medium|
|Wild East Rodung La Trek||Apr,Oct,Nov||10||4160m||3680m||medium-hard|
|Nabji-Korphu Community-based Nature Trek||Jan,Feb,Mar,Apr,Oct,Nov,Dec||5||1500m||1500m||Very easy|