Chume La Trek, a path less traveled!

Trekking in Bhutan

Designed for those who want to get off the beaten path, Chume La Trek enables travellers to hike and walk some of the most scenic trails.

This trek features a wide variety of terrain including spectacular alpine meadows, turquoise blue glacial lakes and mountain forests with breath taking views of the great Himalayan Mountains. This varied terrain provides great opportunity for wildlife spotting as well.

On this adventure holiday one need to only be in average physical condition, capable of walking fifteen or so kilometers with a daypack in a day. An experienced leader, well versed in the geography, natural history, wildlife and culture of the areas we visit, will escort you.

Day 01: Bangkok – Paro
Flying into the country’s only airport, in the beautiful Paro valley, the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress, provides a breath-taking first impression. On arrival at Paro airport, after immigration and custom formalities, your guide from Bhutan Excursions will receive you and transfer you to the hotel in Paro.

Paro is one of the most beautiful valleys in Bhutan with its slate-roofed farmhouses, graceful willow trees and rushing glacial river beneath snow-covered peaks.

Your sightseeing starts with the visit to the following places;

Kyichu Lhakhang
The Jowo Temple of Kyichu is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, originally built in the 7th century by the Tibetan Emperor Songtsen Gampo. It is considered to be one of the 108 border taming temples he built.
In 1971 HM Kesang Choden Wangchuck, the Queen of King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk, built a Guru Temple next to the old Jowo Temple, which was consecrated by HH Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. Since then, the annual rites of great accomplishment for the deities Vajrasattva, Palchen Heruka, and Vajrakilava have been held in this temple for the well being of the country under the patronage of HM Kesang Choden Wangchuck.

There is a belief that the two orange trees in the courtyard of Kyichu Lhakhang bear fruit throughout the year.

Rinpung Dzong
Built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the “fortress of the heap of jewels” stands on a hill above Paro Township.  The approach to the Dzong is through a traditional covered bridge (called the Nemi Zam) and then up a paved stone path running alongside the imposing outer walls.  The valley’s annual springtime religious festival, the Paro Tsechu, takes place in the courtyard of the Dzong and on the dance ground on the hillside above.

Drukgyel Dzong
Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal built this Dzong, with a picturesque village nestling below its ramparts in 1646, to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders.  Though largely destroyed by fire in 1951, the towering outer walls and central keep remain an imposing sight.  On a clear day, there is a splendid view of Mt. Jhomolhari from the approach road to Drukgyel Dzong.

Altitude at Paro: 2300m
Overnight: Hotel in Paro

Day 02: Hike to Tiger’s Nest
Today, we will hike to the famous cliff-hermitage called Taktsang, the “Tiger’s Nest.” This monastic retreat is built into a sheer cliff face high above the Paro valley. Legend has it that the Tibetan Buddhist saint Padmasambhava flew across the Himalayas on the back of a tiger and landed here, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. The trail to the monastery climbs through beautiful pine forest and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags.

After visiting what is known as one of the most venerated pilgrimage sites in the country, we will go off the beaten track further up to the temples that are on the hilltops above Tiger’s Nest. It’s so peaceful there and you can really communicate with nature as you enjoy the views from the top be it that of mountains or the valley. No wonder that some monks have chosen this place to meditate for the rest of their lives. They say heaven is a place on earth – perhaps this is one such place. Anyway it is as close as you can get to in a day!

Coming back, we are following a different path that takes us through the pristine thick forest of oaks and rhododendrons festooned with Spanish mosses.

Approximate walking time: 06 hours
Altitude at Paro: 2300m
Overnight: Hotel in Paro

Day 03: Paro - Jili Dzong (04 - 05 hours)
Today, we will have to make our way up gradually through the coniferous forest along the ancient trade route till Jili La Pass (3490m). It’s then just a short gentle walk down to our camp in a yak pasture (3450m). If we have time and if you are not tired with day’s walk, we can walk along the ridge that is just above our camp for the stunning view of mountains and the valleys.

Overnight: Camp at Jili Dzong (3450m)

Day 04: Jili Dzong – Jangchup Lakha (04 - 05 hours)

After a short climb the trail gets level in the meadow along the ridge for sometime before you walk downhill for a while to climb through thick alpine forest to a saddle at 3,590m. The trail then follows the ridge, making many ups and downs, along the one side of the ridge to the other, heading towards northeast to our camp at Jangchup Lakha (3,780m) yet another yak pasture.
En route you are likely to see or hear some monal pheasants, and if the weather is clear, you will be rewarded with the breathtaking views of the mount Jomolhari and its associates.

Overnight: Camp at Jangchup Lakha (3780m)

Day 05: Jangchup Lakha - Tsobcha (05 - 06 hours)
A short steep climb through the forest of junipers that starts right from the camp. Once the steep climb is over, the trail gets level for a while and then it goes gradually up and down through the thickets of dwarf rhododendrons leading up to Jangchu La (4020m). We continue to walk uphill along the ridge for about another half an hour till we get to a small flat area on the slope, used as yak herder’s camp. Be cautious of the fork here! Avoid the path that is wide and more welcoming on the right. This path goes down to Jimilangtsho Lake, following the popular Drukpath Trek. Keep left on a small path that is barely visible at first as we begin to go OFF THE BEATEN PATH from here! Our campsite, a meadow beside small lake beneath some towering rocky mountains is just about 15 minutes from the fork.

Overnight: Camp at Tsobcha (4030m)

Day 06: Tsobcha – Zangtetsho Lake (04 - 05 hours)
We start the day with a short climb through rhododendrons leading up to a couple of small lakes before we tackle the long ascent along the precarious path to Chume La (4400m) which is marked by a cairn of stones. The view from here is awesome. We can spend some time around the pass to enjoy the view. Our campsite, which is so beautiful beside the lake, is just about half an hour from here.  There are several glacial lakes in this area and some are known for having giant sized trout.

Camp: Zangtetsho Lake (4275m)

Day 07: Zangtetsho Lake – Ngabtsho (03 hours)

Start the day with a steep but short climb to Lache La (4360m) and the view from here is no less striking. One can see a chain of snow capped mountains, including world’s highest unclimbed mountain– Gangkhar Puensum (7550m) and many more in line. Lower in the valleys, if we look down we can see some beautiful lakes on both sides of this pass.

From Lache La, we can see our campsite on the other side of the valley beside another lake. It will take us not more than 02 hours to get there but before that we will have a bit of extra adventure as we climb up to the top of the rocky mountain (4700m) that is towering high above us, and that dominates this region.
Retrace the path to Lache La, and then down to Tshosumtoe, the valley with many lakes and then gradually climb up to our campsite.

Camp: Ngabtsho (4200m)

Day 08: Ngabtsho - Tsheringmae Lhabtsho (04 - 05 hours)
We traverse following the yak and its herder’s path that is rocky and narrow till Saga La (4370) with stunning view of the Himalayas towards north – east. The path then instantly descends from Saga La for about 300 meters and it’s so rocky and rough, quite difficult for our horses to tackle at times. Once completing this difficult stretch of descent, it’s then gradually up to Yangtse La (4205m) which is again marked with cairn of stones. Your camp is just about half an hour downhill from here.
Camp: Tsheringmae Lhabtsho (4025m)

Day 09: Tsheringmae Lhabtsho - Thimphu (05 - 06 hours)
It’s a short walk from the camp to Jokerim La (4100m), the last pass on this trek. From here, you can see Thimphu valley and it’s all the way downhill through the forests of Rhododendrons, Junipers, Firs, Hemlocks, Spruce and Blue pines to the finishing point of our trek.

Altitude at Thimphu: 2400m

Overnight: Hotel in Thimphu

Day 10: Paro – Bangkok
After breakfast in the hotel, drive to the airport in time to catch up your onward flight. Your escort from Bhutan Excursions will bid you farewell and soon the remote and legendary Dragon Kingdom disappears again behind its guardian mountains.