Trekking in Bhutan
22 multi-day treks including the Lunana 'Snowman' Trek, Jhomolhari, Druk Path and Dagala treks
By Bart Jordans
A guidebook to 22 multi-day treks in the Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, including the Jhomolhari, Druk Path and Dagala treks. The trails vary from 2 to 23 days long. The routes are mostly in western and central Bhutan, and range from easy to strenuous depending on the length, altitude and difficulty. Includes advice on cultural awareness.
SeasonsThe best seasons for most treks are spring and autumn. Low-altitude treks can be done in winter. Expect monsoon rains in the summer.
CentresMost treks start in the western part of Bhutan, in Paro. However, the guide also includes routes starting in other locations, such as Bumthang and eastern Bhutan.
DifficultyAll treks in the guide are graded. Trekking routes in Bhutan are on good trails, though most cover ground at high altitude, meaning that extra time is needed for acclimatization. No specialist climbing equipment is required.
Must SeeThe classic Lunana 'Snowman' Trek; views of Gangkar Punsum, the world's highest unclimbed massif; birds and wildlife; the rich Bhutanese culture
Boasting soaring snow-clad peaks and tranquil valleys, and a rich Buddhist culture, Bhutan is an ideal destination for trekkers wishing to experience the magic of the Himalaya without the commercialism. Although independent trekking is not permitted, it can nonetheless prove difficult to obtain information. This guide describes 22 official treks and a handful of trek variants, with comprehensive advice about planning and preparation and plentiful cultural information to enhance any visit.
You will find thorough coverage of all the practicalities, with notes on trekking seasons, outfitters, transport, accommodation and food, ethics and etiquette, equipment and medical considerations (including safety at altitude). The guide also offers a fascinating insight into Bhutanese mountain life, from local superstitions and beliefs to plants, wildlife and yak husbandry. Route description is presented alongside sketch mapping and information on local points of interest.
Included are the classic Lunana 'Snowman' Trek, the Jhomolhari and Dagala Treks, and the Druk Path, as well as many other treks – both well-established trails and other routes of a more exploratory nature, venturing into remote and seldom-visited areas of the country. Visitors to Bhutan can expect breathtaking mountain scenery and unspoilt landscapes, a vibrant culture and genuine hospitality. Trekking here is a truly unique experience, promising memories that will last a lifetime.
The thrill of Bhutan
Preparations and practicalities
Climate and trekking seasons
Organising a trek
Getting there and getting around
Accommodation and food
Environmental and cultural awareness
Equipment and maps
Using this guide
All about Bhutan
Yaks and yak herding
The formation of the mountains
Rivers and glaciers
Mountaineering in Bhutan
Buddhism and local beliefs
The Haa Valley
Trek 1 Haa Planters’ Trail
Trek 2 Nob Tshona Patta Tsho and Rigona Tsho
Trek 3 The Lunana ‘Snowman’ Trek
Trek 3A Lunana to Bumthang
Trek 4 The Jhomolhari Bonte La Circuit
Trek 5 Shana to Thimphu via Lingshi
Trek 6 Masa Gang Base Camp from Laya
Trek 7 The Druk Path Trek
The Dagala (Thousand Lakes) Trek
Trek 8 Geynikha to Talakha
Trek 8A Geynikha to Dagana
The Phobjika Valley
Trek 9 The Original Gangte Trek
Trek 9A A Southern Gangte Trek
The Black Mountains
Trek 10 The Nabji Korphu Trek
Trek 11 The Nubi Chutey Trek
Trek 12 Trongsa to Dur Tsachu
Trek 13 Bumthang to Lunana
Trek 14 Gangkar Punsum Base Camp via Dur Tsachu
Trek 15 Gangkar Punsum southeast face via Thole La
Trek 16 Gangkar Punsum southeast face and Base Camp
Trek 17 Bumthang Cultural Trek, Tang valley and Lhuntshi valley
Trek 18 Bumthang Owl Trek and the Royal Heritage Trek
Trek 19 The Ura Buli Trek
Trek 20 Rigsum Gompa to Dechhenphodrang
Trek 21 The Merak Sakteng Trek
Trek 22 The Far-Out East Bhutan Trek
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B List of maps
Appendix C Useful contacts
Appendix D Useful terms and acronyms
Appendix E Bibliography
Appendix F Acknowledgements
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Bart Jordans has been guiding and exploring treks and trekking peaks in the Himalaya, Karakoram, Hindu Kush, European Alps and on Kilimanjaro since 1984. Originally from the Netherlands, he lived in Bhutan for over four years and in Vietnam for two. He caught the bug for mountain activities early in life on annual family visits to the Alps. Bart is now a freelance trekking guide for several well-known companies. When not in the mountains he works in the outdoor gear business and writes articles on the mountains of Bhutan, for which he is a noted expert.View Guidebooks by Bart Jordans