Jomolhari Trek


Jomolhari Trek is the longer one of the two Jomolhari routes and the most popular trek in Bhutan. With altitude differences of 2,500m and nearly 5,000 (lowest and the highest point of the route), it offers a wide range of landscape, fauna and flora. The highlight of this trek is the spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari from Jomolhari Base Camp, Jangothang. Nearly the whole trek goes through a small part of the Jigme Singye National Park, passing a few of the Yak herder’s settlement and the remotest region of Lingshi. One should be reasonably physically fit to enjoy the majestic mountain views, endure thin air, serenity and the wilderness of the landscape while on the trek.

Outline Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive Paro and sightseeing
Day 02: Morning Tiger’s Nest Hike and Afternoon Paro sightseeing 
Day 03: Paro- Drukgyel Dzong – Sharna Zampa  (Distance 17km, 4-5 hrs, Camp altitude 2,850m).
Day 04: Sharna Zampa – Thangthangkha (Distance 22km, 7-8 hrs, Camp altitude 3,610m).
Day 05: Thangthangkha – Jangothang (Distance 19km, 5-6 hrs, Camp altitude 4,080m)
Day 06: Halt at Jangothang 
Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi (Distance 18km, 6-7 hrs, Camp altitude 4,010m)
Day 08: Lingshi – Shodu (Distance: 22km, 8-9 hrs, Camp altitude 4,080m)
Day 09: Shodu – Barshong (Distance 16km, 5-6 hrs, Camp altitude 3,710m)
Day 10: Barshong – Dolam Kencho (Distance 15km, 4-6 hrs, Camp altitude 3,320m) 
Day 11: Dolam Kencho – Dodena - Thimphu (Distance: 8km, 3-4 hrs)
Day 12: Thimphu 
Day 13: Thimphu ­ Punakha
Day 14: Punakha ­ Paro: 4hrs / 146km. 
Day 15. Depart Paro 


Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: Arrive Paro and sightseeing
During the flight, one will experience breathtaking views of Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga (if flying from Kathmandu or Delhi) and other famous Himalayan peaks, including the sacred Chomolhari and Mount Jitchu Drake in Bhutan. On arrival at Paro International Airport, meet our representative and escorted to the hotel. After lunch visit Ta Dzong, an ancient watchtower built to defend Rinpung Dzong during inter-valley wars which now house the nation’s heritage, Bhutan’s National Museum. Then walk down the trail to visit Rinpung Dzong, the massive fortress is located on a small hill just above the Paro river (Pachu). The Dzong houses the district administration office and the District Monk body. It was built in 1645 A.D. Back to hotel. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 02: Morning Tiger’s Nest Hike and Afternoon Paro sightseeing 
In the morning hike to Taktsang Monastery. Taktsang meaning “Tiger’s Nest”, is built around a cave in which Guru Rimpoche (also known as Guru Padmasambhava) meditated. The eighth century monastery is perched on a rock overlooking a sheer drop and clings seemingly impossible to a cliff of rock at 2,950 m above the sea level.
After lunch visit Drukgyal Dzong, the ruined fortress, which was once, defended this valley from Tibetan invasions. After then proceed towards Kyichu Lhakhang (Monastery). One of the oldest monasteries in Bhutan was built in 659 A.D by King Songtsen Gampo of Tibet as one of the 108 such monasteries he built in across the Himalayas to spread Buddhism.  Evening is free. Dinner and overnight at hotel.

Day 03: Paro- Drukgyel Dzong – Sharna Zampa  (Distance 17km, 4-5 hrs, Camp altitude 2,850m).
Drive up to Drukgyel Dzong (2580m) where the motorable road ends, and the trek begins. With up and down following the Paro River, beautiful landscapes and tiny picturesque villages reach the army checkpoint at Gunitsawa village. At the checkpoint trek, permit will be checked and endorsed. The campsite is on the opposite side of the river, 1km above the military camp.

Day 04: Sharna Zampa – Thangthangkha (Distance 22km, 7-8 hrs, Camp altitude 3,610m).
On this long day, the trail continues with lots of gentle climbs up and down. After going uphill through the river valley, we enter the Jigme Dorji National Park. The valley finally narrows gradually to a mere path which descends to a meadow where a camp will be set up. From here, if the weather permits, the first great view of Mount Jomolhari can be seen. Overnight at camp.

Day 05: Thangthangkha – Jangothang (Distance 19km, 5-6 hrs, Camp altitude 4,080m)
If Mount Jomolhari was not seen last evening, today early morning there is great chance to get a great view. This morning the trek continues up the Paro Chhu valley, which widens into patches of alpine meadow with scanty forest growths. Cross an army outpost along the way and enjoy a spectacular view of high mountain ridges and snow-capped peaks. Yaks and the herders’ homes become a regular feature of the landscape. Passing the villages Soe, Takethang and Dangochang is another asset on this day. Reaching Jangothang, one of the most beautiful campsites of the Himalayas, from where again have a spectacular view of Mount Jomolhari. Overnight at camp

Day 06: Halt at Jangothang 
The day in Jangothang provides plenty of possibilities for day hikes with great views on 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 acclimatization. Trek up to Tosoh or hike around the area. There are good short hiking trails in three directions. Jumolhari and its subsidiary mountain chains in the west, Jichu Drake to the north and a number of unclimbed peaks to the east.

Day 07: Jangothang – Lingshi (Distance 18km, 6-7 hrs, Camp altitude 4,010m)
After 15 minutes from the camp, the trail climbs rapidly for about half an hour and then becomes a gradual ascend to the Nyilila pass at 4870m. While on the climb enjoy the surrounding. We might see herds of blue sheep grazing on the slopes of the mountains. From the pass we will have spectacular views of Mt. Jomolhari, Jichu Drake and Tsherimgang, all of them rising above 7000m. On the way down to the camp, we will pass by some of the yak herders’ tent, made from yak wool, where the herders take shelter while on the move to various pastures for their yaks. As we come down into the Lingshi basin, we get a wonderful view of Lingshi Dzong on a clear day. Tserimgang and its glaciers rise up at the north end of the valley. Overnight at camp. 

Day 08: Lingshi – Shodu (Distance: 22km, 8-9 hrs, Camp altitude 4,080m)
Start early and first half of the trek is mostly through treeless valley until we start ascending to Yale-la pass at 4950 m, from here Mt. Jumolhari, Mt. Tsherimgang and Mt. Masagang can be seen on clear days. Most people (Nomads) traveling between Lingshi and Thimphu use the Yale la so the trail is well marked. The descent from the pass joins the Jaradinthang Chhu which is the Thimphu Chhu. At an altitude of 4150 m is a chorten (stupa) from where the trail takes an easterly direction following the river. Overnight at camp.

Day 09: Shodu – Barshong (Distance 16km, 5-6 hrs, Camp altitude 3,710m)
The trail follows the Thimphu Chhu through rhododendron forests, past beautiful waterfalls, giant rock faces along the way. The valley narrows till the path takes to the slopes and gradually ascends to the ruins of Barshong Dzong. Overnight at camp.

Day 10: Barshong – Dolam Kencho (Distance 15km, 4-6 hrs, Camp altitude 3,320m) 
The trail descends down to the Thimphu Chhu river valley, through dense forests of rhododendron, birch, conifer, maples and bamboos and then ascends to pasture lands. The camp is in a meadow.

Day 11: Dolam Kencho – Dodena - Thimphu (Distance: 8km, 3-4 hrs)
The trail continues through forested areas winding up and down and through a small pass. Langurs (monkeys) can be seen along the way. In Dodena, we will exit the Jigme Dorji National Park and reach the road head next to an impressive cantilever bridge. Transport is waiting there and drive to Thimphu. Overnight at hotel. 

Day12. Thimphu 
After breakfast sightseeing of Thimphu valley covering Tashichho Dzong, the beautiful medieval fortress/monastery which houses most of the Government's office and King's Throne room it is also the summer residence of Je Khenpo, the Chief Abbot. National Memorial Chorten (a huge Stupa) built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned the Kingdom from 1952-1972., it serves both as a memorial to the Late King and as a monument to peace. Handicrafts Emporium where Bhutanese textiles and other arts are displayed and can be purchased. School of Traditional Paintings - Known as ‘Zorig Chusum’ where 13 traditional arts of Bhutan be trained. And then Paper Factory,  Changzamtok textile,  Nunnery,  Takin reserve. Overnight at hotel.

Day13. Thimphu ­ Punakha
After breakfast drive towards Punakha visiting Simtokha Dzong (the oldest Dzong in Bhutan built in 1629 AD) en route. We go over Dochu-La Pass at 3050m from where snow-capped eastern Himalayan ranges can be seen on a clear day. Stop at the pass to visit Druk Wangyal Chortens, 108 stupas built by the eldest Queen. Once cross the pass, the trail down into a warm fertile valley and meander along a gently flowing aquamarine river that leads to the Punakha valley. Then visit the Punakha dzong, the winter residence of the Je khempo (chief abbot).   Punakha Dzong is the most Magnificent and Largest Dzong in Bhutan located beautifully in between the two largest rivers Pho Chu (Male River) and Mo Chu (Female River), it is an outstanding structure with intense artwork. Overnight at hotel. 

Day14. Punakha ­ Paro: 4hrs / 146km. 
Morning drive to Wangduephordang and vist Wangduephordang Dzong, built in 1638. It is believed to be built on the back of the giant Elephants back and is considered one of the most important Dzongs of the 17th century as it controlled west - East and to the South. Then drive back to Thimphu. Stop at Thimphu for last minute shopping and head for Paro. Overnight at Hotel.

Day15. Depart Paro 
After breakfast you are free till departure time. Guide will drop you to airport for your onward journey.

We make arrange the departure as per your convenient date.

 

Price Includes:

  • Necessary airport, hotel and airport transfers
  • Bhutan Visa Fee
  • Hotel Accommodation on twin sharing basis in city and camping during trekking
  • Three meals per day during your stay in Bhutan.
  • Kathmandu-Paro-Kathmandu airfare
  • Airport tax
  • Entrance fees and permit
  • Overland transportation within Bhutan
  • Sightseeing as per itinerary
  • English speaking local guide
  • Trekking and Tour arrangement (fully organized trek with tents, thermal pads, blow pillow, hot-water bag, pack animals to carry luggage and additional riding pony for emergency, basic medical kit, support staff, trekking guide, cook and assistants, horseman)
  • Drinking water
  • Government royalty, tax and Fees
  • Service Charge

Price Excludes:

  • Travel Insurance
  • Beverages
  • Expenses of a personal nature
  • Personal trekking gears such as the sleeping bag, clothing, shoes etc.
  • Excess baggage
  • Tips to guides and drivers
  • Expenses occurred due to unavoidable Events i.e. road wrecks, flight delays etc.

Trekking in Bhutan Vs Nepal
Trekking in Bhutan is different than in Nepal.  In Nepal, most of the trekking trails run through spaced villages, encountering diversified ethnic groups.  You can also do an independent trek – arranging porters and guide yourself by not being part of large trekking groups.  On the way, you can find lodges or small tea house for your shelter if you do not wish to be in camps.  While trekking in Bhutan is a complete wilderness experience.  You will be on a guided trek sleeping at tents on designated place where there is water supply for your camp meals.  Your equipment and supplies will be carried by horses and by yaks on higher altitudes.

The Trekking Group and staff arrangements
A trekking party typically will consist of a guide, a trek chef, a helper and a horseman with his animals. The guide plays an important role in arranging and coordinating the trek by teaming up with trek chef and other members.  A trek group of two persons will have a guide, a chef, a helper, two horsemen with 16 horses to carry supplies and equipment. We can run the trek for group of any size, but we include maximum of twelve people as we have found this to be the optimum size for a successful trip. However, if you’d like to make a group booking for more than twelve people together, we can arrange this too.

Health and Experience Required
Trekking in Bhutan is challenging.   Walking in higher altitude is physically demanding than walking in the lower altitudes; however, if you are in excellent health with average physical fitness and have positive attitude, self confidence and strong determination, you can accomplish the trek successfully. People wishing to do a trek in Bhutan should not worry about altitude and potential heart problems. There is no evidence that altitude is likely to bring on previously undiagnosed heart diseases.

You must train intensively before head for a trek in Bhutan.  Walk up and down hills or inclines as much as possible with a backpack weighing 4-5kg to increase the strength.  If you do not have time take walks over weekends, try riding a bicycle, jogging or training intensively with exercise machine.  It is vital that you consult with your doctor before you decide and set up for the Trek. Participants with pre-existing medical conditions such as heart, lung, and blood disease should inform Black Diamond before booking the trek.

Travel Insurance
It would be best for you to make a travel insurance before the trips that will be protected against comprehensive expenses potential to incur due to medical issues or accidents (to include air ambulance, helicopter rescue, and treatment costs). Please be noted that we don't arrange or sell insurance.

Accommodation
Hotels in Bhutan are approved and classified by the government as grade A, B and C. These government approved hotels are equivalent to 3-4 star hotels elsewhere. Based on availability at the time of your booking, we provide grade A hotels in Paro and Thimphu.

Trekking in Bhutan is arranged as camping trips.  Trekkers will sleep in a tent with foam pads placed on rubber mats acting as an insulator.  We provide the best quality Nepal made A-shaped or North Face dome tents.  Your guides and helpers have their own tents as well.  Your campsites will be at a designated place where there is water to cook your meals.

In some places, there is a stone building where staff can use for cooking and trekkers can also use it for dining and shelter in emergency.

Why Us?

Black Diamond  is primarily dedicated to satisfying our travelers from around the globe. We give our best in this field because we are committed to providing you with the best services possible from our side.

Meals
During the trek, you can enjoy the large assortment of food items and our trek chef can cook pampering meals at any height and weather.  All pour trekking chefs are trained and certified by Bhutan tourism bureau and they can prepare the variety of western and Asian dishes, and they often add interesting local touches.  All food supplies are carried from the start of the trek, and food is cooked over stoves fuelled by LPG.

Equipments & Packing List
You must bring all your personal equipment with you as trekking gear is not widely available in Bhutan.  While packing for the trek, limit your baggage to 15kg. Each pack animal carries 30kg, and it’s expected that one animal will carry the luggage of two trekkers.

We provide 2-men tents, foam mattresses, eating utensils, kitchen equipment, a kitchen tent, dining tent and a toilet tent. Sleeping bags are not provided.  So bring your own because it is difficult to find sleeping bags of your specification in Bhutan.

It is best if you pack the following for your trek:

Head:
- Sun hat or scarf
- Light balaclava or warm fleece hat
- Sunglasses with UV protection

Lower Body:
- Under Garments
- Hiking shorts
- Lightweight cotton long pants
- Light and expedition weight thermal bottoms
- Fleece or wool pants (seasonal)
- Waterproof (preferably breathable fabric) shell pants

Feet:
- Thin, lightweight inner socks
- Thick, warm wool hiking socks
- Hiking boots with spare laces
- Camp shoes (sneakers and/or sandals) Gaiters for hiking in winter to the base camp

Upper Body:
- T-shirts
- Light and expedition weight thermal tops
- Fleece jacket or pullover
- Fleece Wind-Stopper jacket (optional)
- Waterproof (preferably breathable fabric) shell jacket
- Down vest and/or jacket

Hands:
- Lightweight gloves
- Heavyweight gloves or mittens with a waterproof shell outer (seasonal)

Accessories:
- Sleeping bag rated to zero degrees F
- Headlamp (e.g. Petzl Zoom) with spare bulbs and batteries
- Trekking Bags/Duffel bag
- Basic First Aid Kit
- Large plastic bags - for keeping items dry inside trek bag
- Daypack (approximately 2500 to 3000 cubic inches)
- Trekking Poles
- Water bottles
- Toiletries (Small wash towel, Toilet papers etc)
- Ear Plug (who know some people on a group are snoring)

Toiletries
- 1 medium sized quick drying towel
- Toothbrush/paste (preferably biodegradable)
- Multipurpose soap (preferably biodegradable)
- Deodorants
- Nail clippers
- Face and body moisturizer
- Feminine hygiene products
- Small mirror

Personal Hygiene
- Wet wipes (baby wipes)
- Tissue /toilet roll
- Anti bacterial hands wash

Extras/Luxuries
- Binoculars
- Reading book
- Trail Map/Guide book
- Journal & Pen
- Walkman
- Pencils and small notebooks
- Travel game i.e. chess, backgammon, scrabble
- Swimming customs 

Acclimatization
The effects of high altitude on humans are considerable. The percentage saturation of hemoglobin with oxygen determines the content of oxygen in our blood. After the human body reaches around 2,100 m (7,000 feet) above sea level, the saturation of oxyhemoglobin begins to plummet. However, the human body has both short-term and long-term adaptations to altitude that allow it to partially compensate for the lack of oxygen. Athletes use these adaptations to help their performance. There is a limit to the level of adaptation: mountaineers refer to the altitudes above 8,000 meters (26,000 ft) as the "death zone", where no human body can acclimatize.

Unforeseen events
Be prepared to take any disappointments in your end.  Despite your advance trekking plan, sometimes itineraries can be disrupted due to unforeseen factors such as blockage of route due to heavy snow or breakage of bridges due to unexpected heavy showers or sometimes trails become too icy for the horses due to rapid temperature fall.

Trail conditions
Trekking in Bhutan is physically demanding as it involves a vigorous long walk up the hillside and through mountains with harsh terrain with drastic changes in elevation.  The average height gain is  about 500m daily spread over 8km to 12km, with an odd 1000m ascent.

Campsites are sometimes spaced out over long distance, requiring you to walk seven to nine hours in a day.  However sometimes, it may be just three or four hours of brisk walking. You will often come across rocky terrain and long stretches of round river rocks, which is hard on your feet. Trails could also be muddy, and diversions are quite common.  On high passes, it’s always possible to encounter snow.

Pack animals
You will not find porters in Bhutan.  Instead of porters, horses and yaks (at higher elevations) are used in while trekking in Bhutan. They are used for carrying all food supplies, trekking gears and equipment leaving you only with a day pack.  Your day pack will consist of items you require daily such as cameras and batteries, toiletries, energy bars, and water bottles.

Losing your way
Although you are escorted by an experienced guide familiar with the route you must walk with caution for in the past, some trekkers have lost their way.  Never stray from your group and keep an eye out for signs while you trek.  Always watch for fresh lug-sole footprints of other trekkers or for arrows drawn on the trails or rocks by guides.  Dung and hoof-prints of horses can tell you that you are on the right track.  All major trekking routes have well defined trails except only a few confusing shorts cuts.  Walk through bigger trails and if your trails vanishes slowly, or find yourself ahead of rest of the trekkers, or find yourself descending when the trail should be going up, stop walking and make an attempt to call your guide or friends.

Rescue
In Bhutan, there were only a few incidences (once in a year or so) where people had to be rescued because of altitude. There are horses and men to carry back to the lower place but on higher passes, evacuation has to be done by helicopter as land evacuation will not be possible. Rescue helicopter come from Indian Air Force bases in Hasimara or Bagdogra airport, after a request sent out by a guide to the tour operator reaches the Indian forces through TBC and the Royal Bhutan Army. Fortunately, communication between the trekkers and base office has been made quicker due to the introduction of mobile networks.

Environmental Concerns
The Trekking Region in Bhutan is stunningly beautiful but equally fragile. Future generations have just as much of a right to appreciate it as we do and so the tourism industry has an obligation to protect and preserve it. We employ a 'zero impact' policy on the natural environment and the traditional communities that live there. We enforce a number of do's and don'ts, and our experienced staffs can advise you on how to minimize your impact.

Best Season
Autumn (mid Sept to mid November) and spring (March to May) are the best seasons for the trekking in Bhutan. The weather is sunny and warm, with outstanding views, but the nights are cold and can fall to freezing. Winter (Dec, Jan, Feb) is also good for trekking in Bhutan, only colder (obviously).

Additional Information
Our website contains as much information as possible about this trip. However, if you wish to discuss any aspect of this trip or your suitability for it please contact us by email. If you want to talk to us directly feel free to call us.

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