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Bhutan – Chomolhari Camping Trekking Tour

Chomolhari Aussichtspunkt in Bhutan
Bhutan Bhutan

Trekking Map

Tiger's Nest in Bhutan Paro

The Chomolhari Trek is one of the best trails to experience high-altitude passes, the mystical landscape of Bhutan and the magical mountain panoramas in a relatively short time. Mount Chomolhari, the protector of the Dragon Land, is considered a sacred mountain in Bhutan and is also known as the ‘Mistress of the Mountains of the Gods’.

He will be our companion on the trek. We pass scattered hamlets and farmland, enter dense forests and alpine pastures where the locals graze their yaks. On the way at altitudes of 3,500m to almost 5,000m, flower lovers get their money’s worth, we see rare birds, wild animals, blue sheep and witness the crystal-clear Himalayan streams with trout. From the Bonte La Pass (4,980m) we see the famous peaks of Bhutan, Mount Chomolhari (7,326m), Jichu Drake (6,794m) and Tshrim Khang (6,789m) as well as other beautiful peaks. During the hike you will spend the night in a tent, enjoy nature and be accompanied by a very experienced kitchen team.
We finally end our hike in Gunitsawa and drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. Before and after our hike we have enough time to visit the sights of Paro, Thimphu and Punakha.

This trekking tour is a demanding route that reaches a maximum altitude of 4,890m and requires very good physical fitness and sure-footedness.

The best months for the Chomolhari trek are April, May to early June, October and November.

Day 1: Arrival in Kathmandu (1,300m) and transfer to the hotel – welcome dinner
Our team will meet you at the airport and drive you to your reserved hotel. In the evening you will be invited to a tasty welcome dinner to get to know the diverse dishes of Nepali cuisine. Overnight stay in Kathmandu Guest House or similar category, (D).

Day 2: Sightseeing in Kathmandu, Boudhanath, Swayambunath, Pashupatinath
Today we will visit some of the most beautiful sights in Kathmandu. The selected locations are the Buddhist/Hindu temple Swayambhunath, also called the Monkey Temple, which is reached via a long staircase and offers great views of Kathmandu. Other important sights include the Hindu temple complex of Pashupatinath, located on the banks of the Bagmati River, with cremation grounds, and the sacred Buddhist Boudhanath Stupa, which is decorated with colorful prayer flags. Overnight stay in Kathmandu Guest House or similar, (B).

Day 3: Flight Kathmandu to Paro (2,250m) – approx.  1 hr flight and 1 ½ hour hike
Off to Bhutan. We take the plane to Paro. If the weather is clear, we should have fantastic views of much of the eastern half of the Himalayas, including the 8,000-meter peaks of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. After completing the visa formalities in Paro, we drive to our hotel. After a rest and lunch we first visit the National Museum. Towering over Paro Dzong is the Ta Dzong (watchtower), which was built in 1649 for protection and renovated in 1968 to now house the National Museum with numerous artifacts. The unusual round building is said to be shaped like a mussel shell and has 2.5 m thick walls. We then take a leisurely 1.5-hour hike along the forested hill to Zuri Dzong (2,500 m), which dates back to 1352, and then down to Uma Resort, where we will be picked up by our driver. Even though the hike doesn’t take long, it helps us acclimatize. Overnight stay in Tashi Namgyel or similar category, (B|L|D).

Day 4: Warm-up hike to Taktsang (3,100m), also known as Tiger’s Nest Monastery (3,120m) – approx. 5 hour hike
We leave the town of Paro and after a short drive we reach the starting point of the hiking trail that leads to the famous Tiger’s Nest and the Taktsang Monastery. Bhutan’s most famous monastery was recently registered as one of the holiest places in the world. Taktsang sits at 3100m above sea level, on a cliff overlooking the Paro Valley, and is said to be the place where the legendary Indian saint Guru Padma Sambhava flew from Tibet on the back of a tigress in the 8th century to defeat five demons , who opposed the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan. It is a steep climb through the forest that takes about 1½ hours to reach the tea house at the viewpoint. If you don’t want to climb any further, you can relax here while others move on. On the five-hour intensive but worthwhile mountain tour to the monastery, which covers over 900 meters in altitude, body and soul should be cleansed in equal measure, and the view of the monastery up close is also worth the effort. We recommend taking trekking shoes, trekking poles and plenty of water with you. Please note there are around 1000 steps up and down. Overnight stay in Tashi Namgyel or similar category, (B|L|D).

Day 5: Drive to Shana (2,890m) and trekking to Shingkarhap (3,150m) – approx. 4 hour hike
After about 2 hours of driving, near the village of Shana 2890 m, our crew is waiting. The luggage is loaded onto horses and then the caravan sets off. We hike deep into the green high valley of the Paro Chu. In the coming days, the kitchen team will conjure up tasty dishes using simple means. Our first night in the camp is at Shingkarhap at an altitude of 3150 m. Overnight in a tent (B|L|D).
Ascent 350 m, descent 100 m

Day 6: Trek Shingkarhap to Thangthangkha (3,590m) – 5 hours hike
We head upstream through a forest of teardrop pines. Azaleas, maples and holm oaks characterize the landscape. When the weather is nice, a short detour provides a beautiful view of the seven-thousander Chomolhari. At altitude it is important to drink enough and never overexert yourself. Your mountain guide will also advise you on this daily. In the Thangthanka camp at 3590 m we can already feel the difference in altitude. Hot tea and enough good food are good. Overnight stay in a tent (B|M|D).
Ascent 770 m, descent 10 m

Day 7: Trek Thangthangkha to Jangothang/Chomolhari Base Camp (4,080 m) – 5 to 6 hours trek
If you didn’t see Mount Chomolhari the evening before, you’ll still have the chance to enjoy a great view this morning under clear skies. This morning the hike continues up the Paro Chhu (Chu: River) valley, which widens into alpine meadows and sparse forests. Along the way, you’ll cross an army checkpoint and enjoy spectacular views of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. In this area, yaks and their herders’ houses are an integral part of the landscape. Other highlights of the hike on this day are the passages through the villages of Soe, Ta-kethang and Dangochang. After reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites in the Himalayas, you can once again enjoy spectacular views of Mount Chomol-hari. Overnight stay in a tent (B|L|D).
Ascent 490m and descent 0m

Day 8: Jangothang Halt – acclimatization day (4,080 m) – approx. 4 hours hike
The rest day in Jangothang offers numerous opportunities for day hikes with great views of lakes and snow-capped mountains such as Chomolhari (7,314m) and Jichu Drake (6,794m). On the upper slopes of the valley there is a good chance of spotting some blue sheep. Jangothang is a perfect environment for our acclimatization. We can also hike to Tosoh or explore the area. There are good hiking trails in three directions, e.g. to the Nehli Pass at 4,870 m. Chomolhari and its subsidiary mountain ranges lie directly to the west, Jichu Drake to the north and to the east there are a number of unclimbed peaks. Overnight stay in a tent (B|M|D).

Day 9: Via Bonte La (pass at 4,890 m) Trek to Soi Yaksa (3,800 m) – 6 to 7 hours hike
The path leads to a final settlement in the valley and down to Paro Chhu. Past Lake Tshophu (4,380 m) the route climbs steeply to Bonte La at 4,890 m, the highest point on this hiking route. Here we enjoy a particularly beautiful view of the mountains bordering Tibet and the surrounding mountain scenery. We climb over an alpine pasture to the sacred lake Tshophu and on to a second glacial lake. The mystical place is bordered by a waterfall at the end of the valley. The Jichu Drake (6,794) is now at its best. Yaks graze on extensive alpine meadows and blue sheep often appear in large numbers. Noble white and alpine roses, gnarled juniper trees, hemlock firs and holm oaks accompany us on our 1000 meter descent to the Yaksa camp at 3,800 m. A great campsite on a wonderful alpine meadow concludes this very special trekking day. Overnight stay in a tent (B|L|D). Ascent 870 m and descent 1,090 m

Day 10: Soi Yaksa to Thangbu Shong (4,180 m) – 4 to 5 hours
We cross the Thimpu Chu and climb to the small Lhakpa Pass 4160 m. Here we can enjoy wonderful views of beautiful mountains and lush forests. A magnificent panoramic path, lined with rhododendrons, leads into a beautiful high valley. At the Thakung Pass, 4560 m, prayer flags fluttering in the wind greet us. With a bit of luck, the eight-thousanders Kanchenjunga and Makalu will appear. But the peaks of Jichu Drake and Tse-ring Kang and the proud Chomolhari can also be seen in clear weather. Descent to Thangbu Shong camp, 4,180 m. Overnight stay in a tent (B|L|D). Ascent 720 m and descent 340 m

Day 11: Trek via Thombu-La (4,380m) to Gunitsawa (2,850m) and drive to Thimphu (2,330m) – 4 to 5 hours hike and 2 ½ hours drive
After crossing the Thombu La Pass (4,380 m), we descend 1,500 m to Gunitsawa, where our driver awaits us. Drive to Thimphu. Rest of the day free time. Overnight stay at Hotel Pelyang Boutique or similar category, (B|M|D).
Distance 13 km, ascent 200 m and descent 1,650 m

Day 12: Thimpu sightseeing and drive to Punakha (1,400m) – approx. 2 hours drive
We spend this morning visiting the main attractions in and around Thimpu, including Buddha Point, a large Buddha statue built on the hillside overlooking Thimpu. Thimpu has several museums and an art school, the post office and market are interesting, and there is a takin area above the town. Your guide will do his best to show you as much as possible in the time available and depending on opening times.
After lunch we drive to the Punakha Valley (1,220m). Punakha served as Bhutan’s capital until 1955 and is now the winter residence of the central monks’ association. During the journey we will stop at Do Chula Pass at 3,150 meters to marvel at the 108 chortens built in three levels. With a bit of luck and good weather conditions we will be able to see the main Himalayan ridge from there. Afterwards, a visit to the Mad Man’s Temple (Chimi Lhakang) is on the daily program. The temple, built in 1499, stands on a small hill in the middle of the valley. It was dedicated to the Lama Drukpa Kun-ley (1455-1529), also known as the “Divine Madman”, who gained fame for his humor, his songs and also his outrageous behavior. At an altitude of 1,350m, the temperature difference in Paro is clearly noticeable and the flora has now also changed significantly. Overnight stay at Meri Peunsom Resort or similar category, (B|L|D).

Day 13: Sightseeing in Punakha and drive to Paro (2,250m) – approx. 3 hours drive
After breakfast we visit the Punakha Dzong, one of the most famous sights in Bhutan. The main monastery/fortress at Punakha was the power base for the ancient system of reincarnated rulers. The remains of the original ruler of Bhutan, Na-wang Namgyal, are kept in a small room at the top of the tallest tower. Only the king and the head of the monastic order are allowed to enter this room. Provided the head of the monastic order and his monks are in Thimphu, it should be possible to visit the courtyards of the Punakha Dzong. After visiting the Dzong, we will be picked up by our driver for the drive back west to Paro, having lunch along the way. If we didn’t visit the Drukpa Kunley temple yesterday, there should be time today. On the way to Paro we will no doubt stop again at Dochu La Pass to once again enjoy the views of the eastern Hi-Malayan peaks if the weather is nice. If time permits, we will visit the Paro Dzong in the afternoon. Built in the 17th century, the fortress was one of Bhutan’s most massive and important, and several times managed to defend the Paro Valley from Tibetan invasions. Scenes from the 1995 film “Little Buddha” were filmed in the Dzong. Please note that the above itinerary is subject to change depending on flight times, which are generally unpredictable. Overnight stay at Hotel Tashi Namgyel or similar category, (B|L|D).

Day 14: Return flight to Kathmandu (1,300m), rest of the day free time – optional Bhakta-pur sightseeing
It’s time to say goodbye to Bhutan soon! Today you say goodbye to your guide and driver and are driven to the airport in Paro to fly to Nepal/Kathmandu. You will be picked up from Kathmandu Airport and driven to your hotel. The rest of the day can be used as freetime. Overnight stay in Kathmandu Guest House or similar, (B).

Day 15: Flight back home
Farewell and transfer to Kathmandu airport. End of the journey, (B).

We reserve the right to change the program due to special events, force majeure or weather conditions.

B = Breakfast | L = Lunch | D = Dinner

 

This tour can also be booked for your individual group at an additional cost at dates other than shown here.

German guided tour
English guided tour

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Duration: 15 days
Costs:
4.390€ per Person
Group size: min. 2 Persons (all the tour dates are guaranteed with a minimum group size of only two persons)
€ 460 for single room supplement (only for hotel accommodation, for tent overnight stays during the trek, especially during the high season, single accommodation is not available)

What’s included:

  • Airport transfers in Bhutan and Nepal
  • Flight from Kathmandu Paro–Paro-Kathmandu and 20kg free luggage
  • All relevant surface transfer
  • All hotel accommodation with breakfast in Nepal
  • English speaking Tour Guide in Nepal and Bhutan
  • All meals in Bhutan, (B|L|D)
  • Camping equipment, cook and helping personal
  • Sightseeing with entrance fees, guide and vehicle
  • Permit, National Park Entrance/Conservation Fees
  • Guide & Driver in Bhutan
  • Tourist fee per day and person, in Bhutan
  • Quality service

Not Included:

  • International Flights
  • Additional tours and meals that are not mentioned
  • Beverages
  • Personal bills
  • Visa Nepal (approx. US$ 50) and Visa Bhutan (US$40)
  • Excess baggage charge (beyond 20 Kg each)
  • Insurance (for cancellation, accident, health, emergency evacuation and loss, theft of or damage to baggage and personal effects)
  • Tips

Visa
Visa fee for Nepal is not included in the price and will be paid in the airport at arrival in Kathmandu (around US$ 50) . Two passport size photographs must be provided for the visa. At the time of the trip your passport must be valid for at least a further six months and have at least two blank pages.
These visa and passport regulations apply to EU countries, Switzerland and the USA. Other nationals should check with the relevant consular authorities.

Vaccinations
There are no vaccinations required for traveling to Bhutan at this time. However, you should be vaccinated against tetanus, hepatitis A and diphtheria. We recommend you consult your GP (general practitioner) in good time, about three months before your trip.

Insurance
Travel health insurance (with rescue costs) is essential for your own safety and a prerequisite for booking our trips. In the event of an accident in a country that requires a helicopter, it will not take off until the full cost coverage has been clarified. We strongly recommend that you take out travel cancellation insurance. Flights at bargain prices in particular cannot usually be re-booked or canceled free of charge. Complications with your health could also occur in the travel destination that force you to discontinue your trip.
We have requested ERGO (Reiseversicherung) to create various service packages for you. You can book travel cancellation insurance at www.reiseversicherung.de.

Please note: ERGO insurance can be booked by residents of Germany and Austria. Those living in other countries are requested to book their travel insurance through an insurance provider in their own country.

It should be noted that geoDiscovery Tours advises its customers to book their travel insurance via ERGO as a recommendation only, and accepts no responsibility for the contractual content between the customer and the travel insurance provider. Customers can book their travel insurance via ERGO or another provider at their own discretion.

Flying in Bhutan and Nepal
The flights booked by us, between Nepal and Bhutan are with Bhutan Air or Druk Air. The domestic flights in Nepal booked by us are with Tara Air, Yeti Air, Sita Air, Summit Air or Buddha Air.

The hotels and lodges booked by us
In Nepal and Bhutan the hotels we book are good and correspond to medium-level Western standards. Sanitary facilities are clean and functional; the hotel cuisine is adapted to Western eating habits and the food is safe to enjoy. In Nepal, there may sometimes be power cuts or no hot water available for a while. The hotel staff is generally very friendly and looks after the welfare of guests. The hotels booked by us are as follows:

In Bhutan
Thimphu: Pelyang Boutique, Phuntsho Pelri
Phobikha: Hotel Dewachen, Hotel Pobjikha
Bumthang: Hotel Kalia, Ugyen Ling
Punakha: Meri Peunsom Resort, Zinkham, River Valleys
Paro: 
Tashi Namgyel, Khanku Resort, Shomo Chuki

In Nepal
Kathmandu: Hotel Tibet/Manaslu ***+
Pokhara: Mount Kailash Resort, Lake side retreat ***
Lumbini: Hotel New Crystal ***
Chitwan: Jungle Villa Resort
Nagarkot: Nagarkot Farmhouse

Tour program
The travel program for all of our recommended tours is carefully planned. It can happen, however, that roads are closed without advance notice or are impassable, that there are waiting times of several hours because of traffic congestion or fuel shortages and that specific tourist attractions are closed for various reasons. Other restrictions such as flight delays or even cancellations due to bad weather, strikes or the health of participants may also make the implementation of the travel program more difficult or at worst make it impossible. However, our local guides are prepared for such situations and will make every effort to achieve every aspect of the program to your satisfaction. As a result the inconvenience can normally be kept to a reasonable level. Nevertheless, it must be pointed out at this juncture that for the above reasons program changes are possible at any time and cannot be influenced by the organizers. The resulting costs are borne by the traveler. We ask for your understanding.

Road Situation
Despite high mountains, steep slopes, and the deepest of valleys Bhutan has a relatively well developed network of roads. It is difficult to find a length of either straight or flat road. In some stretches one can encounter 6 to 7 bends per kilometer! Steep ascents and descents are characteristic of road travel in Bhutan and this can make traveling much slower than one may be used to. The average driving speed is 40 km per hour. Travelers need to be adaptable, however.


Trip Details

  • Duration: 15 days
  • Holiday Type: Camping / Hotel
  • Best trekking period: Oct/Nov/Apr/May/Jun
  • Difficulty: Demanding
  • Max Altitude: Bonte La Pass 4.980m
  • Group size: Min. 2 persons (all the tour dates are guaranteed with a minimum group size of only two persons)
  • Tour guide: English speaking, trained Nepalese/Bhutanese mountain guide/tour leader
  • Difficulty:
  • Fitness:
  • Price: 4.390,00 
  • Single room supplement: 460,00 €
    (only for hotel accommodation, for tent overnight stays during the trek, especially during the high season, single accommodation is not available)