Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world. Its cultural diversity and richness are profound.
As such, strong emphasis is laid on the promotion and preservation of its unique culture. By protecting and nurturing Bhutan’s living culture it is believed that it will help guard the sovereignty of this small unique nation.
The upper yellow half signifies the secular power and authority of the king while the lower saffron-orange symbolises the practice of religion and the power of Buddhism, manifested in the tradition of Drukpa Kagyu. The dragon signifies the name and the purity of the country while the jewels in its jewelled claws stand for the wealth and perfection of the country.
Due to Bhutan’s location and unique geographical and climatic variations, it is one of the world’s last remaining biodiversity hotspots.
Bhutan pristine environment, with high rugged mountains and deep valleys, offers ecosystems that are both rich and diverse. Recognising the importance of the environment, conservation of its rich biodiversity is one of the government’s developments paradigms.
The government has enacted a law that shall maintain at least 60% of its forest cover for all time. Today, approximately 72% of the total land area of Bhutan is under forest cover and approximately 60% of the land area falls under protected areas comprising of 10 national parks and sanctuaries.
National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries
Each of Bhutan’s National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries is an essential part of the Bhutan Biological Conservation Complex – a system of national parks, protected areas and forest corridors covering 60% of the country. Each of these parks and sanctuaries has its own special character and are home to endangered animals, birds and plants.
Before reading any further we suggest you watch the following film by Travfi Films. It is not of the huge mountains and passes that we will trek but we think it captures the essence of the people and the culture of Bhutan
Great Himalayan Trail Bhutan Expedition
Dates 16 Sept -24 Oct 2017 in country dates
As part of our Great Himalayan Trail Expedition project where we intend to walk across the Himalayan Mountains in Bhutan , Two thirdsPakistan, India, and Nepal. We are doing each country as independent expeditions. We currently have two teams recruited and in training for the huge 1200 mile Nepal high altitude GHT crossing and are now recruiting some smaller teams for both Bhutan and Pakistan crossing.
Day 1: ARRIVE PARO
Collected from airport and taken to guest house
Day 2: SIGHTSEEING
Kit check etc
40mins, 80 m descent, camp altitude 2,850 m. This trek begins at Gunitsawa Village were you pass the army post. At the army checkpost your trek permit (provided by your tour operator) will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, not far from Gunitsawa
Distance 22 km, 7-8 hours, 770 m ascent, 10 m descent, camp altitude 3,610 m. On this long day, the trail continues with lots of small ups and downs. After going uphill through the river valley the valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where the camp will be.
Distance 19 km, 5-6 hours, 480 m ascent, camp altitude 4,080 m. If you did not see Mt. Jomolhari the previous evening, you will still have a chance to get a great view early this morning. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley which widens into patches of alpine meadow.
The rest and acclimatization day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow capped mountains such as Jomolhari and Jichu Drake. There are good chances to spot some blue sheep on the upper slopes of the valley. Jangothang is a perfect environment for your acclimatization.
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 840 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,010 m. This is one of the longest days of the trek. A short distance from the camp the trail begins climbing rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascent to the Nyilila pass at 4,870m.
Distance 10 km, 5-6 hours, 280 m ascent, 410 m descent, camp altitude 3,880 m. Today is the shortest walking day, and you can really take it easy. Shortly after starting you will reach a chorten below Lingshi Dzong.
Distance 17 km, 6-7 hours, 890 m ascent, 540 m descent, camp altitude 4,220 m. The morning starts with a long ascent behind Chebisa Village (2-3 hours) through a wide pastureland towards Gobu La (pass). On the way, you will see a few people herding yaks.
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 700 m ascent, 760 m descent, camp altitude 4,160 m. You begin by climbing up the valley to view Kang Bum (6,526 m) and some edelweiss. After two hours of climbing you will reach Jhari La (4,750m), from where you catch the first glimpse of Sinche La.
Distance 19 km, 6-7 hours, 850 m ascent, 870 m descent, camp altitude 4,140 m. The trek starts out with an initial 40-60mins ascent before gradually raising for another 1.5 hours through a boulder field. It is then a 1 hour steep ascent before reaching Sinche La (5,005m
Spend a day recuperating from the trek to Laya and preparing yourself for the rest of this challenging but spectacular trek.
Distance 19km, six to eight hours, 1,030m ascent, 750m descent, camp altitude 4,160m. From Laya we descend to an army camp and continue following the river till the turn off point to Rhoduphu. After lunch the climb continues through rhododendron bushes till you reach the camp at Roduphu.
Distance 17km, five to six hours, 740m ascent, camp altitude 4,900m. After following the river for about half an hour you will have a steady climb to a high open valley at 4,600m and then further up to Tsomo La (4,900m). Tsomo La offers a superb view of Lunana, Mount Jomolhari
Distance 18km, five to six hours, 270m ascent, 1,200m descent, camp altitude 3,970m. From the camp you will climb for about an hour to Gangla Karchung La (5,120m). The view from the pass is breathtaking and the whole range of mountains including Jekangphu Gang (7,100m)
Distance 17km, six to seven hours, 270m ascent, 330m descent, camp altitude 3,910m. The walk leads down through conifer forests following the upper ridges of the Pho Chhu, passing some impressive waterfalls. The trail then climbs over a ridge and drops to Woche, a settlement of a few houses.
Distance 17km, six to seven hours, 980m ascent, 1,190m descent, camp altitude 3,700m. The trek starts through juniper and fir forests, and further ahead, through rhododendron bushes. Climb up to Keche La pass (4,650m) where one can have the great view of surrounding mountains again.
Distance 17km, seven to eight hours, 450m ascent, camp altitude 4,150m. In clear weather, you will have great views of Table Mountain (7,100m). Around lunchtime you will pass the small village of Chozo (4,090m) which has a dzong still in use.
In Thanza walk around and experience some village life or climb up the ridge for fascinating views of lakes and mountains. But as it takes time to arrange new yaks (the yaks from Laya will not go further than Thanza)
Eight to nine hours, camp altitude 5,120m. Having chosen the route to Bumthang the trek starts by climbing a ridge with a great view of Table Mountain and Thanza valley below. The ridge altitude is 4,500m and it rises gradually up to 4,650m.
Six to seven hours, camp altitude 4,970m. This is one of the highlights of the trek and the day starts with a short climb to the Tshorim Thso. You walk on the side of the lake enjoying a panoramic view of the Gophu La ranges. The last climb to the Gophu La pass (5,230m) is very short
Six to seven hours, camp altitude 4,200m. The trail further follows the Sha Chhu and descends gradually to Geshe Woma.
Eight to nine hours, camp altitude 4,000m. The path continues following Sha Chhu for two and a half hours until the stiff climb to Saka La begins.
Five hours, camp altitude 3,590m. A one hour climb leads to Juli La (4,700m). After the pass, you descend to the riverside through dense rhododendron, juniper and conifer forests. After the bridge a short climb leads to Duer Tsachu. Some hot springs.
Eight to nine hours, camp altitude 3,850m. From the hot springs it is a long and steady climb again with great views of mountains in Lunana. You will also come across blue lakes and yak herder huts.
This is the last day of the trek and your porters change from yaks to horses. The path follows the Chamkhar Chhu, descending gradually with a few climbs in between. The trek ends here when you arrive at Duer village and the of phase 1 of this stunning trek.
DAY 27: Change over Day for those departing and new team members arriving move short distance to Jakar.
This second phase of the expedition is not as challenging as phase one. The route does not ascend to very high altitudes, however, it is still fairly challenging as the trail covers some fairly steep climbs and descents. The trail takes you from Bumthang in Central Bhutan to Trashiyangtse in the far eastern reaches of the kingdom.
The route was once an important trade road in the past but has fallen into disuse now and is chiefly used as a hiking trail. The trail passes through alpine and bamboo forests, meadows and mountain passes, through villages and temples offering hikers an incredible array of biodiversity to appreciate. This phase of the expedition may appeal to those who want to experience the uniqueness of Bhutan but without the extreme trekking of phase one.
Distance 20 km, 6-7 hours, camp altitude 2,800 m. The route takes you around Chamkhar Chhu, a river rich in trout. After passing Thangbi Lhakhang, a temple built by the first Karma Shamar in 13th century you will enter Ngang Yul or ‘Swan Land” named for the swans that were once common in this…
Camp altitude 2,850 m. You begin with a gradual climb to Phephe La pass (3,353m). Follow the trail until the pass takes you through a picturesque forested region. It is recommended that you allow for stops along the way to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.
Distance 17 km, 5-6 hours, 920 m ascent, camp altitude 3,680 m. Today’s walk is through bamboos, hemlock and finally up to an alpine forest. The camp is in a meadow at the head of the valley.
Distance 20 km, 6-7 hours, 480 m ascent, 1,160 m descent, camp altitude 2,950 m. Rodung La (4,160m) is about three hours climb from the camp. From the pass you then continue downhill through a gorge, overlooking scenic mountain valleys covered in lush pine forests.
Distance 21 km, 7-8 hours, 350 m ascent, 1,340 m descent, camp altitude 2,010 m. This trail winds through the villages of Ungaar, Bulay, Kulaypang and Gomda before bringing you to Drula village and Khaine Lhakhang. One of the oldest temples in the country, it was built in the mid 7th century .
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 520 m ascent, 810 m descent, camp altitude 1,720 m. From your camp, the trail goes down to a stream and back up to a basic health unit and a community school in Gorsam. Further on, you pass a Tibetan-style Umling Mani, built by a lama from Tibet.
Distance 16 km, 4-5 hours, 690 m ascent, 620 m descent, camp altitude 1,830 m. After arriving at Kuri Zampa the trek begins to gradually climb up through paddy fields and villages before bringing you to Chusa.
Distance 20 km, 5-6 hours, 620 m ascent, camp altitude 2,450 m. Today’s trek has you continue uphill through thick forests overlooking spectacular mountains. The camp is located in a forested area at an altitude of 2,400m.
Distance 21 km, 7-8 hours, 1,450 m ascent, 1,450 m descent, camp altitude 2,450 m. After climbing up to Dongla you will descend through thick evergreen forests until you reach the campsite for the night
Distance 24 km, 8-9 hours, 720 m descent. Today is the longest day of the trek. It is a gradual descent to Trashi Yangtse. As you descend the chirpine and hardwood forests are slowly replaced by oak trees. The final camp of the trek is located in a subtropical forested region.
DAY 38: and 39:
Long drive back through this stunning country to Paro
DAY 40: Depart Paro for home.
What is included ?
All guest houses on B&B basis when in Paro, in country transport to trek start and finish points, all food cooked and provided on the trekking phases, all group gear and kitchen gear, international guides , local guide and translator as well as camp cook and assistants , yaks/mules.
2 years worth of adventure activities at our parent company Splash White Water Rafting in Scotland are included to all our 1000 mile Journey Team Members. You can go rafting , canyoning, river bugging and many more adventure activities as often as you like once you are part one of the 1000 Mile Journeys teams preparing for expeditions.
What is not included?
International flights, Visa ( Visa is arranged by us and in country operator to be collected on arrival) , Compulsory rescue insurance and travel insurance, any inoculations required
Bhutan operates a policy of high value , low impact tourism which is rigidly enforced by the Government and all registered tourism operators in Bhutan. This policy is aimed at maintaining the unique culture of the country and the people. What this means is in cost terms it is a expensive country to operate in compared with other Himalayan nations in money terms, however, we believe that this policy will help maintain what makes this country so diverse and unique. There are also limited flights into Bhutan and this means we need to book at least a year in advance to secure seats.
Minimum number of team members required 6.
Full Expedition 40 days £7995
Phase 1 of Expedition 29 Days £5995 maximum 12 team members
Phase 2 of Expedition 17 Days £3995 maximum 16 team members
Deposit to book £500
2nd Payment 30 Sept 2016 £1500
Final payment 30 June 2017