How to go on Snowman Trek in Bhutan

bhutan-trek

The Snowman Trek is the longest hiking trail of Bhutan that stretches from Laya to the high Bhutanese Himalayas, created by the nation’s yak herders. It is one of the most challenging trekking trails in the world due to duration, hard weather, and altitude. 

The mixture of height, distance, temperature, and remoteness make this trek a challenging and costly journey. Even though there are subdued rates for long hikes, many individuals balk at a 24-day trek cost. Western trek firms charge over US$5000 for the trip. It is said that more bodies have summited Everest than have finished the Snowman trek.

Things to know before you begin the trip:

If you intend to hike this route, check your evacuation insurance (for an emergency). If you travel into Lunana and snow tackles the tracks, the only way out of the white devil is via helicopter, an expensive way to finish an already costly trek. Other barriers that often hamper this trek are bridges, in distant regions, that get worn away by deluges.

The Snowman trek is randomly closed because of snow and is just not possible to try during winter. This trek window is generally deemed to be from late September to mid-October; after the main storm rains, but before snow blocks the high passes. Start late, and you run the real risk of being pierced between two snow-bound passes. Don’t plan a monsoon-summer trek; this is a sad place to be during the summer rains.

This legendary track follows the Jhomolhari and Laya treks to Laya. Many walking days can be avoided by starting in Gasa (via Punakha) and trekking north over the Bari La.

There are many alternative endings to the Snowman trek. One of the most common is to walk southeast from Danji via the Gophu La and Duer Hot Springs, joining the Duer Hot Springs trek, past exceptional views of Gangkhar Puensum, to terminate at Duer in the Bumthang valley (seven to eight days from Danji): a total of 3-4 weeks. 

Snowman Trak Itinerary

  • Day 1 Arrival Paro : Arrive at Paro via air/car, and complete the immigration and custom formalities.
  • Day 2 Paro – Sharna: Start of Trek Day 1: Distance 16 km and walking time is around 6 hours- Starting at Drukgyel (2580m) and camp near Sharna Zampa (2870m). There is a continuous climb following the Paro river through the villages and valley. 
  • Day 3 Sharna – Thangthangka: Trek Day 2: Distance 20 km and walking distance are around 7 hours. Starting at Sharna Zampa (2870m) and camp at Thangthangka (3630m). The trial is a creeping ascent with plenty of ups and downs through the ferns, conifer forest, and Rhododendrons. You can see a glittering view of Mt. Jumolhari.
  • Day 4 Thangthangka – Jangothang: Trek Day 3: Distance 17 km and walking distance are around 6 hours. Starting at Thangthangka (3630m) and camp at Jangothang (4090m).
  • Day 5 Jangothang – Lingshi: Trek Day 4: Distance 18 km and walking time is around six hours. Beginning at Jangothang (4090m) and camp at Lingshi (4010m).
  • Day 6 Lingshi – Chebisa: Trek Day 5: Distance 10 km and walking time is around 6 hours. Starting at Lingshi ( 4010m). 
  • Day 7 Chebisa – Shomuthang: Trek Day 6: Distance 15km and walking time 6-7 hours. Starting at Chebisa (3880m)
  • Day 8 Shomuthang – Robluthang: Trek Day 7: Distance 18 km and walking time is around 7 hours. 
  • Day 9 Robluthang – Limithang: Trek Day 8: Distance 19 km and walking time is around 7 hours. Starting at Robluthang (4160m)
  • Day 10 Limithang – Laya: Trek Day 9: Distance 10 km and walking time is about 5 hours. Starting at Limithang (4140m)
  • Day 11 Laya – (Halt): Trek Day 10: Visit Laya village houses or hike above the camp.
  • Day 12 Laya – Rodophu: Trek Day 11: Distance 19km and walking time is around 7 hours.
  • Day 13 Rodophu – Narethang: Trek Day 12: Distance 17km and walking time is around 6 hours.
  • Day 14 Narithang – Tarina: Trek Day 13: Distance 18km and walking time is approximately 18km, and walking time is eight hours. 
  • Day 15 Tarina – Woche: Trek Day 14: Distance 17km and walking time is approx 7 hours.
  • Day 16 Woche – Lhedi: Trek Day 15: Distance 17 km and walking time is around 7 hours. 
  • Day 17 Lhedi – Thanza: Trek Day 16: Distance 17 km and walking time is approx 5-6 hours
  • Day 18 Thanza halt: Trek Day 17: Visit village houses and interact with the Raphstreng Tsho with a packed lunch. 
  • Day 19 Thanza – Tshochena: Trek Day 18: Distance 20 km and walking time is approx 8 hours.
  • Day 20 Tshochena – Jichu Dramo: Trek Day 19: Distance 14 km and walking time is around 4-5 hours.
  • Day 21 Jichu Dramo – Chukarpo: Trek Day 20: Distance 18 km and walking time is around 5-6 hours.
  • Day 22 Chukarpo – Thampe Tsho: Trek Day 21: Distance 18 km and walking time is around seven hours.
  • Day 23 Thampe Tsho – Maurothang: Trek Day 22: Distance 12 km and walking time is around 4 hours. 
  • Day 24 Maurothang – Nikachu: Trek Day 23: End of Trek: Distance 16 km and walking time is around 6 hours. 

The Trek at a Glance

  • Duration 3-4 weeks
  • Max Elevation 5320m
  • Difficulty Extremely Hard
  • Season 2 months (September to October)
  • Start Sharna Zampa
  • Finish Upper Sephu
  • Town Paro

Summary: The Snowman trek travels to the distant Lunana district and is one of the most challenging treks globally. Fewer than half the people who try this trek eventually finish it, either because of problems with heavy snowfall or altitude on the high passes.

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