GHT Central Bhutan
The Central Himals of Bhutan boast some popular trekking routes, including the famous Snowman Trail, which actually isn’t as hard as some trekking companies would like you to believe!
There are some amazing views, incredible hot springs, intriguing cultures and of course, nature, nature, nature everywhere!!
Enjoy the trails! It would be incredible if you meet anyone else along the way, but if you do, be sure to greet them with a strong and healthy Kozu Zangpo La!!!
Please note that these are my personal notes from East to West Traverse of Bhutan using the highest trails that tourists are permitted to use as at May 2010. I have edited my diary to give a clear idea of trail notes and places of interest but it’s not meant to be exhaustive. We had some terrible weather and all but one day we had rain or hail or snow. This means I didn’t get clear views of most peaks so excuse any oversights when I describe the view!
We had 6 enforced rest days while waiting for fresh pack animals to arrive, it seems this is a common problem in May to June but less so after monsoon in October to November.
Simple Itinerary – cont. from East Bhutan
Day 11 Tangbe to Chochomey, 4.25hrs, 550m
Day 12 Chochomey to Kurpang, 6hrs, 700m
Day 13 Kurpang to Djule Tsho, 6.75hrs, 1260m
Day 14 Djule Tsho to Dur Tshachu, 3hrs, 1100m
Day 15 Dur Tsachu to Warthang, 5.75hrs, 1300m
Day 16 Warthang to Minchugang, 5.5hrs, 1400m
Day 17 Minchugang to Zanum, 5.5hrs, 750m
Day 18 Zanum to Tshorim, 4.5hrs, 570m
Day 19 Tshorim to Thanza, 5hrs, 1200m
Day 20 Thanza to Lhedi, 3.75 – 4.75hrs, 400m
Day 21 Lhedi to Wochey, 5.75hrs, 1570m
Day 22 Wochey to Tarina, 5.75hrs, 1000m
Day 23 Tarina to Narithang, 6.25hrs, 1400m
Day 24 Narithang to Rodophu, 4.75hrs, 700m
Day 25 Rodophu to Laya, 6hrs, 1450m
The last of the Himalayan Kingdoms, Bhutan, offers a trekking experience like nowhere else on earth. This is where tranquility and natural beauty combine into what many consider trekking perfection.
The eastern end of the Himalaya chain forms Bhutan’s northern border with China (Tibet) before it enters the wild and untamed wilderness of Arunachal Pradesh. Bhutan feels like a final frontier, where immense forests buffer and protect against potential invaders and where the mountains are both spiritual inspiration and a life sustaining resource.
Buddhism dominates every aspect of day-to-day life. Politeness and respect are never overwhelmed by anger or hostility. Life in Bhutan transcends the material as locals believe the world is full of spirits that could bring havoc if not kept happy. Perhaps that is why the King’s concept of Gross National Happiness is so important to the locals? GNH includes the world of spirits and ancestors who are venerated every day.
Self-enforced isolation for much of its history is slowly being replaced with tentative interactions with other countries. Recent satellite communications have bought email and restricted cable TV access to people who knew little about the ‘outside’ world. Many Bhutanese continue to argue against ‘westernised development’ and believe that the preservation of a way of life that embraces nature and organic living is far more important than daytime TV.
In 2010, the King announced that all of his country’s northern, mountainous regions would become national parks or conservation areas. Seen as both natural heritage and resource these forests and wilderness areas are key to the countries future eco-tourism goals and sustainable agricultural projects. With a population of less than 500,000, Bhutan has changed little since the sixteenth century and the residents intend to maintain that record.
For general country info:
book: Facts about Bhutan Land of the Thunder Dragon by Lily Wangchhuk, Absolute Bhutan Books 2008.
Treasures of the Thunder Dragon Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchhuck, Penguin 2006
Lords and Lamas Michael Peissel, Heinemann 1970
Beyond the Sky and the Earth Jamie Zeppa, Riverhead Books 1999
Trekking in Nepal, West Tibet and Bhutan Hugh Swift, Sierra Club Books 1989
Planning & Logistics
All visitors to Bhutan must use a government-authorised travel agent. There is no limit on the number of tourists that can visit the country in any year but what appear to be high costs do deter many.
Most group-based travel and trekking in Bhutan will cost between US$200 and US$250 per day (single supplement fees could apply). This includes your visa and permits, accommodation, transport and food costs (drinks are extra). Compared to tea-house trekking in Nepal this is expensive, but then again the experience is incomparably different!
Planning is simple, there are a limited number of trails visitors are allowed to use and your decision is simply, which one or combination of them you wish to follow. The trail notes on this site cover the higher sections of all of Bhutan’s ‘official’ trekking routes going beyond them is possible in some places but tricky.
Food while on trail is frequently more varied and tastier than that offered in hotels, even compared to places like Thimpu! In fact, food is probably the source of more complaints than anything else for visitors to Bhutan. If you are willing to try new dishes and keep an open mind you’ll find Bhutanese cuisine is nutritious and a great ice-breaker with the locals. If you have specific dietary needs it is essential you tell your agent well in advance.
Pack animals are used throughout Bhutan so all trails are pretty easy to follow, although the eastern section over the Dong La (between Lhuentse and Tashi Yangtsi) is very rough.
Important Note: pack animals, especially horses, can find snow covered ground difficult to cross so don’t be surprised if you are turned back on a trail after a large storm.
Food in Bhutan
My first main meal was: boiled asparagus, mixed veggies in chilli, ema datchi (boiled chilli and cheese), pork in chilli and rice. The chilli wasn’t very spicy but was unavoidable and tasted much like capsicum. Both chilli and cheese appear regularly in most dishes and for the entire trip I had them in dishes at least once a day. Continental and Indian style food were very rare, Chinese dishes made an occasional appearance, pastries and the like are only found in Paro and Thimpu. There were times I was relieved to eat some of the dehydrated meals I’d bought from home just for a change of taste. Having said that, every meal was nutricous, well cooked and on a very limited range of ingredients it would be difficult to make anything much different.
Dress CodeMid-altitude alpine clothing and camping equipment required
IncludedGHT Central Bhutan
Not IncludedSpecial PermitsTea Houses AvailablePersonal Guide