Bhutan Himalaya: The Snowman Trek

Bhutan’s epic Himalayan trek traversing the spine of the world’s greatest mountain range ~ 28 days
An inside joke among Bhutanese trekking guides is that once you are on “the Snowman”, there is no turning back. It would take same effort to retrace your steps as it would to complete the trek! The message is that the snowman trek bears respectful consideration and commitment to a physical regimen well before one embarks on the journey. Sometimes mule caravans and yak trains have to be changed mid-trek to transport gear. Locals who value their yaks more than plain cash can delay progress in order to rest their animals. The challenges are more than simply topographical or physical, (although you can be assured there is plenty of the latter). The Snowman Trek is a journey that demands a cheerful and flexible disposition, a strong pair of legs and a the ability to adapt. If you have those qualities, and are still interested, the rewards are many. This expedition will take you into the silent reaches of Bhutan’s interior as well as the uncharted places within yourself. The mountains and peaks, of course, are some of the most beautiful and unspoiled in the world. You will learn to discern the otherworldly sound of calving glaciers, surprise herds of elusive blue sheep moving like tan clouds over rugged slopes, watch snowdrifts rise from great peaks, meet some of the most hospitable people in the world, and glimpse a side of Bhutan that outsiders rarely see.

Maximum Elevation:

Note: general indications; exact elevations may vary.

Walking Time:
shortest: 5 to 6 hours a day.
Longest: 10 to 11 hours a day.
Average: 7 to 9 hours daily
Note: general indications; exact times may vary according to individual fitness and endurance levels.

(see Itinerary in Brief below for general indications; difficulty varies by terrain):

Bags and gear transported by mule or yak; meals and camp set-up by camp crew.

snowmantrek_471x365ITINERARY IN BRIEF
Day 1: Arrive in Paro, visit the National Museum.

Day 2: Stretch your trekking muscles with a hike to Taktshang Monastery.

Days 3 & 4: Transfer to Punakha Valley with a stop at the 10,000-foot Dochula pass and a visit to Punakha Dzong.

Days 5 through 8: Damji to Gasa Dzong and on to Laya (9 to 12 miles daily).

Day 9: Rest day and acclimation at Laya, with opportunity to explore the semi-nomadic herding community. 10 to 11 hours’ walk; requiring a 5 a.m. start) with views of Jhomulhari and Jichu Drake peaks (21 miles; can be shortened to two days of 11 miles each with a stop at Narethang).

Days 12 to 14: Tarina to Thanza (11 miles daily).

Day 15: Rest day at Thanza, with option to climb up to a high ridge for a view of the peaks and lakes.

Days 16 & 17: Thanza to Gangkar Puensum Basecamp, with some of the best views of the entire trek (12 to 16 miles daily).

Day 18: Rest day to enjoy the panoramic views around basecamp.

Days 19 to 22: Basecamp to Bumthang Dhur Hotsprings (10 miles to 16 miles daily).

Days 22 to 23: Dhur Hot Springs to Tshochhen (11 miles).

Days 24 & 25: Tshochhen to Jakar, afternoon visit to Jakar temples and monuments (7.5 to 12 miles).

Day 25: Transfer to Wangdue with a stop at Trongsa Dzong.

Days 26 and 27: Transfer to the capital and visit the Tango and Chari Buddhist colleges.

Day 28: Early morning transfer from Thimphu to Paro in time for your return flight to Bangkok or another gateway city.