Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, also spelled as Chomolhari Laya Gasa trek, is among Bhutan’s and the world’s best treks. It offers diverse trekking conditions, from scenic farmland and forests to a stunning lunar landscape surrounded by majestic peaks. Wildlife sightings of blue sheep, Takin, various bird species, and even the elusive snow leopard are possible. Along the way, you’ll encounter isolated Dzongs, scattered settlements like Jangothang, Lingshi Chebisa, and the unique village of Laya, which provide cultural interest. This moderately challenging trek forms a loop along Bhutan’s northwestern border with Tibet and is considered the most aesthetically beautiful trek in the Himalayas.
At Wind Horse, we take pride in having organized this trek as a Private trip for over 25 years and a small group journey annually for a decade, with small modification over time with changing conditions.
Embark on the extraordinary Jomolhari Laya trek, where you will ascend above the clouds for a truly unforgettable journey and once-in-a-lifetime experience. This journey promises to forge enduring memories while enhancing your fitness.
Day 1: Arrive in Paro
Day 2: Paro Valley Tour
Day 3: In Paro Hike to Taktsang
Day 4, 5 & 6: Trek from Shana to Jangothang
Drive north of Drugyal Dzong for about 1-2hrs along the new farm road and begin trek into Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Park. The first two days are about 3-4hrs trek each day, slowing gaining altitude. Third day trek is about 5-6hrs to Jangothang, a beautiful grassy meadow beneath the enormous east face of Jomolhari.
Day 7: Jangothang Rest day (Base Camp)
Today is a scheduled rest day, intended to aid acclimatization before the crossing of the high passes. Jangothang is one of the most spectacular camping places in the entire Himalayas. Snow capped peaks dominate the horizon on western side, with stream running through the open valley, surrounded by yak herders villages. Option to hike up the ridge, from where there is an incredible close-up view of Chomolhari and its glaciers. The cooks will have had all day to prepare a small feast for your dinner.
Day 8 & 9: Trek to Lingshi & Chebisa villages
Cross Nyile La pass (4870m) to Lingshi village. And next day walk shorter distance to Chebisa. It is around these area that you see tons of blue sheeps.
Day 10, 11, 12 : Trek to Shomuthang, Robulthang & Limithang
Each day cross a high pass or two and camp in the lower valley. There are villages but one may come across nomadic yak herder’s camps. In Tsharijarithang valley, one will normally see large number of Takins (national animal of Bhutan) in wild, among the wild yaks. Each day the mountains views are beautiful and on several occasions, you will see it really up close.
Day 13 &14: In Laya
A short trek from Limithang camp brings you to Laya by midday. Locals are immediate to welcome and greet the visitors. You have time this afternoon and full day next to explore this large highland village, spread across the hillside.
Day 15: Trek Laya – Koena -Gasa Hot Spring (Trek ends)
Our final day of trekking that brings us to the nearest roadhead (Tongchudra). It is a long march downhill, but what a way to end by soaking ourselves in the popular hot springs below Gasa. Overnight in a tents or Guest House as available.
Day 16: Punakha & Wangdiphodrang
Day 17 & 18: Thimphu
Drive to the capital Thimphu and spend a day and half here to explore its many attractions
Day 19: Departure
Transfer to the airport in time for your departure flight.
- Abundant wildlife such as Blue Sheep, Takin, elusive Snowleopard and many birds.
- Remote villages of Yaksa, Lingshi, Chebisa, Goyul, Laya and Gasa.
- Rich and diverse landscape and vegetation.
- Spectacular mountain scenery
- Cultural highlights and towns of western Bhutan
- The trip is priced per person according to the number participants in a group.
$2950 + SDF for 5 or more travelers
- $3100 +SDF for 3-4 travelers
- $3800+SDF for 2 travelers
- $6250 +SDF for Single traveler including single room/tent supliment.
- $300 for Optional Single tent/room supplement.
SDF is $1800 per person for the 18 nights of this trip extra above the land cost provided.
- Accommodations in hotels as listed during the tour and in tents during the trek
- All meals
- All transfers
- Sightseeing with entrance fees.
- English Speaking Wind Horse Local Tour Leader.
- Bhutan visa including visa fees.
- SDF (Sustainable Dev. Fees)
- During the trek: Fully organized trek with all meals, and beverages. All trekking gears including Tents, Thermal mats, Blow pillow, Hot-water bag for warmth during night. Portable Altitude chambers Bag for emergencies. Pack animals to carry luggage and additional riding pony for emergency, Basic Medical Kit. Trekking staffs include first aid trained Guide, Cook, assistants and horseman.
Sleeping bags can be borrowed ! (cleaning charges will apply)
Borrow for free; trekking poles, water bottle, rain poncho, duffel bag
- Flights in and out of Bhutan.
- Travel/Medical Insurance
- Optional expenses: bar/beverages, gifts, tips
- Personal trekking gears & clothing
We had the privilege of finally taking the Above the Clouds trek we had booked before Covid. It was FABULOUS. I had expected three things: that the trek would be hard, that it would be beautiful, and that Wind Horse would take good care of us. I was not disappointed.
The trek was hard, but I expect, for me, it would have been hard at any age (I’m 67).
The scenery was spectacular. Chomolhari and Jichu Drake were elusive in the clouds early on, but by the end of the trip the sky was clear and blue and all the peaks were visible—and Yonten (our guide) made sure we went to places we could see them after the trek. Even in late October the wildflowers were abundant.
Wind Horse took great care of us. Yonten’s English, cultural knowledge, sense of humor, trekking experience and interactions with the locals were unparalleled. His consideration for our safety and comfort always came first. He patiently answered our every question, including all the (probably inappropriate!) personal ones. We could not have asked for better company.
The drivers were the BEST, regardless of the scary road conditions and traffic (dogs, cows, trucks) challenges.
The food was perfect: varied and plentiful, and the cook always made sure we had special treats for tea, drinking water and, at night, hot water bottles for our sleeping bags. The sleeping pads were thick and comfortable. The assistant cook was amazing in his strength and speed and ability to provide hot tea and lunch wherever we were on the trail.
The Bhutanese people along the way were the best part—calm, happy, helpful, smiling, curious. Even the ponies were a treat to step aside for! I’ve returned to the US with a new appreciation for the incredible kindness of the Bhutanese and hope I can reflect it in my own actions here at home. Thanks for the opportunity, Wind Horse!
RobynOct 04 -23, 2022
Thoughts about Bhutan
Sometimes I am in awe and surprised that I really went to Bhutan and experienced what I did. I think it was absolutely amazing.
My heart and spirit already jumped on the flight from Kathmandu to Paro. I found the dust, pollution and traffic congestion in Kathmandu difficult to deal with. I tried to look at it as part of an experience, but not being able to breathe properly was unpleasant. It made me appreciate clean air though and reminded me that perhaps not even that can be taken for granted.
On the flight we saw the top of Mount Everest. Wow. At the Everest Base Camp in Tibet it was too cloudy to catch sight of it, so it was great to be able to see it from the top.
Arriving at Paro Airport brought a smile to my face – actually to many passengers on the plane. Paro airport looked like a village not like an airport to me, unlike any other airport. In addition, flying into Bhutan so close and in between the mountains was a spectacle, too.
I was the last to leave the airport after taking a few photos and changing some money. Then I was greeted with a Khada by Yonten and met the other members of my group. So far I have not been a group traveller.
Arriving at the hotel in Paro made me feel in awe (again). The views from the hotel and the architecture of the hotel itself were amazing. I liked the hotel’s texture of wood, stone, plants, and its colours. The rooms reminded me of the German word ‘Stube’, which is (stereotypically) a cosy room with wooden floors and rustic furniture and has the feel of age and generations having lived in it. I prefer this style to shiny surfaces of modern places. At the hotel I already felt as if I were in a special place. I also liked the fact that Yonten and others wear traditional clothes.
When we went to the festival in Thimphu and found a spot in the crowd I actually cried. I could not believe that all of a sudden I was ‘in the middle’ of this significant cultural event in Thimphu in Bhutan. The event, the crowds and the location felt like such a different world.
The trek was an absolute highlight – every day. Again when we traversed some of the passes we had tears in our eyes – not from the wind. The beauty of the landscape, being able to get there by walking, and the views of the mountain ranges around us where overwhelming – in my book anyway.
Our team almost felt like a family. The five Americans who all knew each other actually said they welcomed me into their family. But what was very indicative was the end of our trek when we had to say good-bye to each other. I mean saying good-bye to some members of our team with whom we spent the last 12 days, who looked after us, and who we climbed over the mountain with: Sushil and Lhote, the cook and his assistants and the horsemen. We all felt very emotional. I actually think that a trek like this brings people together more than a ‘cultural tour’, which has its own appeal. It is the challenges and the beauty of the landscape that bonded us together – in my view.
One book that was recommended to me by someone I met on the bus from Kathmandu to Pokara was ‘Ancient Futures; Learning from Ladakh’ by Helena Norberg –Hodge. It seems a bit of a ‘classic.’ You have probably heard of it or already read it. She wrote about a question that was on my mind when I was in the different countries in the Himalaya region, how is it and is it possible to get the balance right between ‘traditional culture’ and modernisation. On the one hand, it is simply beautiful (for a visitor) to be able to walk to a village like Gasa, no roads, no car traffic, just paths through the mountains. On the other hand, you can absolutely understand that people in the village would look forward to a road connection, which would make it easier to access and receive supplies and medical aid, and to get to another place perhaps with an even better equipped hospital. You can imagine that with the spread of mobile phones and internet new desires emerge. Difficult. It seems (to me) that Bhutan at the moment has found a balance (a bold statement to make after having been in the country for only a couple of weeks – you may know more or better) and the idea to measure the ‘success’ of a country in terms of a happiness index rather than the gross domestic product is visionary – in my view.
Regarding my personal journey, it was a celebration of health and fitness and my 50th birthday. I was looking for a change of routine from my working life and being thrown out of my comfort zone to find out how my body and mind would deal and cope with it. I was prepared to embrace every situation and be curious about the people I would meet. I am glad that I returned in good health and ‘happy.’ How quickly a situation can change is very obvious at the moment. A health pandemic, travel restrictions, airlines going into administration, lockdowns, closed borders and a trip like we did is no longer possible. It makes me appreciate it even more.
It was good to be able to spend some time in Germany with my family after the time in the Himalayas. That was the other aspect that was important to me as part of my long service leave – spending more time especially with my parents as we live on different continents now. They are getting older and although one cannot imagine that they will not live forever, nothing stays the same. It also seemed part of a balance; to spend time after an active and full itinerary by simply going with the everyday flow of sharing meals, shopping groceries, cycling (as we do) , going on some ‘cultural excursions’, such as theatre and exhibitions, and enjoying too many coffees with cake – anyway that is our way of spending days together.
I felt very rested and energised at the same time when I returned to Australia. I seemed to have managed to recharge.
Although I went back to my old job and was hoping for some changes there, too – there had been, in fact, some good news at the end of last year, but then everything changed again due to long complicated court processes and appeals. Currently, outcomes in court determine whether and when we can progress the development of a ‘new landscape’ for the Noongar people of the Southwest of Australia. I realised though that despite the setbacks that the work that needs to be done is important.
Perhaps I also have your words in my ear that one should just go with the flow, not have too many expectations and see what happens and ‘flow’ with it. Not easy though.
Travelling is also a reminder how many different ways of life there are and it makes you question your own. When I returned to my (second) home in Western Australia I did see my environment to some extent with new eyes, not taking everything for granted and appreciating certain aspects, such as clean air, the ocean, the sun…
I hope you are well.
I am glad I have met you and shared a couple of chai with you in the street.
And, of course, thank you again, for helping me crossing the border, finding accommodation, and sharing your thoughts about travelling and being a tour operator (amongst other things).
Britta KuhlenbeckOct 08 -26,2019
I apologize for the gap in time it has taken me to send you feedback. Bhutan is a place I will hold dear in my heart for the rest of my life. When people ask me about my experience in Bhutan I have to say “You just have to go there.”
Our “Above the Clouds” trek was an amazing experience. First and foremost, our guide, Namgay was an expert in so many areas, including English and many other languages and dialects. Aside from being a fit trekker, he was extremely knowledgeable about birds and their calls, native flora and fauna, the geography and trails in this area of Bhutan, the history of religions and cultures of Bhutan and surrounding nations. But maybe the most important and difficult aspect of his leadership was to guide us seven older women on a safe, injury free, mentally happy long and challenging trek living in tents. Most of the women did not know each other before we started. Namgay dealt kindly with many situations involving personalities, health issues, weather conditions, and food preferences. The trail could be tricky, rocky, or muddy. Mostly because of his guidance, every aspect was a peak experience where we all joyously completed our challenging trek.
The support crew was also unbelievably polite, respectful and tolerant. Darjay, our lunch guy, gave constant encouragement and help during the hardest parts of the trek. He also served us tea, breakfast, dinner, and was helpful with filling water and polite in every single instance. He spoke English flawlessly.
The main cook, Mon, was an excellent chef! All of our meals were delicious, unique, and nutritious. He created many unique sauces. No dinner was repeated. Mon was very creative even making meals that involved baking. There was always hot food ready when we were. He worked very hard with a great crew!
The pony men were tireless experts with not only packing and unpacking their animals but putting up tents and carrying all of the heavy equipment. They too were able to run way ahead to have everything ready for us before we got to the campsite.
The countryside with the flowing river below us and the snow-capped mountains around us, the far off villages with charming people, the children, the schools were so memorable. The historic monasteries, Dzongs and many other sites were beautiful and of great interest. The hotels we stayed in at the beginning and end of our trek were elegant.
WindHorse is a great expedition company that I will highly recommend.
MarySept 28 - Oct 16, 2018
Therese B Class23 Sept - 16, Oct, 2018
I wanted to take a few minutes to add my personal thoughts on what Peter said about our Windhorse experience. Most importantly we all agree that in no way should our comments be judged a criticism of our guides Yonten and his crew. They worked very had to accommodate us and were always trying to enhance our experience. They were excellent!! Personally I was fascinated by and loved Bhutan and it’s people. It is a remarkable and beautiful country and I was very happy to have been able to experience it. Trekking is a good way to see that beauty. While I am glad to have done this trip I have to take a realistic examination of my total experience and that speaks to some of Peter’s points.
Trash anywhere is unsightly and trash along the trail was particularly saddening and detracted from the natural beauty. Perhaps the pony and yak herders could be compensated to pickup and haul out trash on trips where they return with unloaded livestock? The trash pits along the trail out of Laya were particularly unsightly given that this is a very scenic part of the trek, it seems far better to keep the trails picked up and trash taken out.
Maybe because our group was older we felt that there was not enough down time to enjoy our surroundings, we basically hiked all day, had dinner, went to bed, had breakfast and then hiked again all day. Shorter segments with more camp time would have given us more time to enjoy our surroundings, particularly since the bad sections of trail called for concentration of where we were putting our feet and not much time for looking around.
I very much agree that solar composting toilets should be considered where feasible. As tourism increases pit toilets will become untenable and hazardous for campers. As for camping I found the sleeping pads provided, very comfortable and the tents adequate when properly erected, sometimes the rain flys were not clear of the tent causing rain to seep through. Given that the evenings were quite cold some form of heating in the dining tent is needed. Speaking of dining, the kitchen crew did a great job! The food was plentiful, very good and the cook creative. The pizza and birthday cake were amazing and spoke to the cooks skill.
Your vehicles and driver were first rate he and Yonten worked perfectly together! In the bus we traveled safely and on time. Well done!!
My experience, (and it has taken me this long to process it), was that this was challenging for me. A lot of effort, but if I was 30 years younger I would be on the Snowman trek. I feel pleased that I was able to complete the trek. The memories of the mountain festival in Laya, the cultural insights we received in Paro and Thimphu, the beauty of Punakha will last a lifetime. Bhutan is a wonderful country and I wish it and you all the very best as we prepare for a new year.
Richard Fedrick WilsonOct 10- 28,2017
Windhorse Tours – Above the Clouds Trek – October 2017
Our group of 5 from Seattle was hastily formed in late summer 2017 for an October trip. Windhorse did an excellent job of arranging our trip on such short notice. We took the 19- day Above the Clouds Trek that involved 12 days of trekking and 5 days of visits to cultural sites. The five of us joined three other trekkers to make a group of eight. Our guide, Yonten, and driver, Gudo, were both excellent. Yonten provided in-depth explanations of Buddhist practices and beliefs as well as information on Bhutan, its people and their lifestyle. Gudo was friendly, knowledgeable and transported us safely. Our hotel accommodations were comfortable and the staff at each place was friendly and attentive.
The trek passed through interesting villages and beautiful mountain scenery. We crossed two passes at elevations over 15,000-feet and one at an elevation of 16,400-feet. The total distance covered was over 90 miles and the total elevation gained was over 20,000-feet. The trek proved to be extremely arduous for our group of 60+ year olds, all of whom had spent considerable time hiking and climbing in the Cascade Mountains. The food on our trek was healthy, nutritious, tasty and filling (and extremely low-fat). Meals were a bit repetitious which was to be expected on a self-supported trek without refrigeration but our cooks came up with several delicious surprises: a birthday cake and pizza, to name two. The entire crew of our guide, two assistant guides, two cooks and two or three horsemen provided excellent support for our group of eight trekkers. The camping equipment supplied by Windhorse was very good – good quality tents and foam mattresses. Some additional training in the pitching of the tents should have been provided. Crowded campsites were a problem and several times we had to travel an additional hour or so because of a lack of space at a campsite. We experienced some logistical problems that made our first and last days of trekking very difficult.
Be prepared for muddy and difficult trail sections, camping areas that require careful walking to avoid manure piles and partially filled, old privy holes, strenuous trekking and very cold conditions once the sun goes down. It is necessary to be flexible and to be able to tolerate some adversity. Bhutan is struggling to accommodate high tourist demand. There is a lack of permanent facilities for trekking (campsites, tent pads, toilets) that results in some very primitive conditions. The tourism experience and its impact on the countryside could both be improved with some permanent infrastructure. Despite this, the trip to Bhutan and the trek were amazing experiences that all of us will never forget.
Peter Michle BrigliaOct 10 - 28, 2017
Wind Horse was an incredibly wonderful company to work with. They catered the trip to my specific wants. Trekking with Yeshi and rest of crew was highlight- 12 days with pack horses- the planning, care, food was fantastic, never mind the most amazing scenery! I owe such thanks to the sweetest, most thoughtful crew anyone could ask for! They even gave me a surprise birthday party at 14,000 feet! This was followed by two weeks of traveling the country and visiting monasteries where we were invited in.
I hope to return and see more of the country. Everyone I met was so kind and I felt such appreciation for traveling in such a beautiful, unique, special country. I will trust Wind Horse again to help with all the details.
DeborahApril 23- May 5,2017
The 13 day ‘Above the Clouds Trek’ is a magnificent walk. I rate it more interesting, enjoyable and challenging than the Everest Base Camp walk which I completed 15 months earlier.
The trek takes you through remote and wild country. For much of the time, the trail follows along the southern edge of the Himalayas and only 2-3 hours walk from the Tibetan border. It is also the home of the snow leopard. Although it is unlikely you will see one, the realisation that you are walking in their country is exciting. I felt privileged to see the paw prints of a leopard that had walked the trail just the previous night.
The trek begins with 3 relatively easy days of gentle climbing up to the Mt Jomolhari base camp where you have a rest day for acclimatisation. This must be one of the most spectacular camping spots anywhere. Watching the sun rise, turning the face of Jomolhari (the sacred mountain) orange is unforgettable.
Enjoy the rest because during the next 6 days you will trek over 4 high passes with the highest being the Shingela Pass at 5050 metres. Making your own pace, these days are the most exhilarating of the trail. The climbing is strenuous at times, but always the views are spectacular and the time passes quickly. Before you know it, you will standing on another high pass, taking photographs of where you have come from, and looking forward to the decent down to the camp.
Unlike the Everest base camp walk, you will see very few other trekkers on this trail. Rather you will find yourself sharing the trail with villagers on the 2-3 day trip into the nearest town with their pony teams to get supplies. You will also see the yak herdsman living their traditional lives of moving the yaks higher into the mountains for the summer grass.
Along the way, the camping was as close to 5 star as would be possible for such a remote and long trek. Yonten – the guide – was knowledgable and always tuned into my needs. The cook always surprised me with the variety of foods and flavours that he was able to produce. From pizza and French fries through to soups and traditional foods, there was more than enough for me to eat.
So if you are interested in trekking in the high mountains through spectacular, remote and wild country without having to share the trail with hundreds of other trekkers, then I think you should seriously consider the ‘Above the Clouds’ trek.
Gregory John BerminghanApril 19- 09May, 2016
Above the Cloud Trek (Bhutan)
Travelling in Bhutan is fabulous and amazing, but travelling in and experiencing Bhutan with the team at Wind Horse makes the experience truly unique and memorable. The Wind Horse difference is immediately obvious; from the support you receive in designing your adventure, the range of Wind Horse exclusive walks, homestays, horse riding, cultural and adventure activities that can be used to make your itinerary uniquely yours, to the wonderfully experienced and knowledgeable guides, drivers and trekking staff who will do all they can to assist you in getting the most out of your adventure. The Wind Horse team are committed to making your experience of Bhutan the best it can be.
Bhutan Trip Feedback:
Following a truly fabulous and inspiring three-week West to East cultural adventure with Wind Horse in 2014, the decision to return to Bhutan in 2015 to complete a four week trekking focussed program that included the two week Lingshi – Laya – Gasa Trek and two weeks of cultural and day walking adventures was an easy decision.
The trip began with three days of acclimatisation activities in the Haa Valley, which was beautiful and relaxing and included visits to the Haa Mela (Indian Army Annual Fair). The Ugyen Homestay experience in Haa was terrific and the food cooked by Doley was amongst the best that any of us have eaten anywhere in Bhutan.
Words cannot begin to describe how incredible the trekking experience was. The landscapes that we trekked through were breathtakingly beautiful and differed so much with changes in altitude and aspect. The Bhutanese Himalaya are so different to other parts of the Himalaya, with greater flora and fauna biodiversity and very little human intervention. The trek itself was certainly challenging, covering approximately 250kms and crossing five high altitude passes in 14 days. You certainly went to bed each night knowing that you had earned a good night’s sleep. The support from the Wind Horse trekking team (cook, cook’s assistant and horseman) was outstanding. From making and breaking camp, to the professional and compassionate horsemanship and the incredibly delicious food produced daily, the team did all they could to make the trek as enjoyable as possible.
Following two glorious days in the Gasa hot springs soaking away any soreness from the trek, we commenced two weeks of cultural and day walking adventures. Focussing on the unique cultural aspects of Bhutan was a wonderful contrast from the trekking experience, which focussed on Bhutan’s unique environment. The homestays used for this part of the journey were terrific as they were all truly different and each of the families we stayed with welcomed us warmly and taught us so much about themselves and the area that they lived in. It was planned that we would attend two festivals, but with the assistance of local knowledge we ended up attending five different cultural festivals. Each festival was a wonderful experience and having an opportunity to just sit and enjoy the performances and the festivities with the local people was really heart-warming.
One of the greatest pleasures of my travel in Bhutan is knowing that during my one month of travel we have directly employed five people and have directly purchased goods and services from approximately one hundred small and family run businesses, which has contributed to the indirect employment of hundreds if not thousands of people. By localising the accommodation, food and other purchases we have made a real if somewhat small contribution to the development of Bhutan.
Rebekah BellOct 07 - Nov 05, 2015
It was good to talk to you while I was in Bhutan. As I said before, I really enjoyed my trip and was very happy with the standard of care I received. Although the trek had its scary moments, Yonten made sure I was looked after and he encouraged me when I needed more confidence. Things like lots of mud and bridges being washed away are out of your control and they just have to be dealt with. It adds to the adventure. All the Windhorse employees I met were a credit to your company.
The only thing I wasn’t too impressed with was the accommodation at the hot springs (although the Queen mother was staying there, so the better accommodation was taken I think). It was really filthy and I would have preferred to stay in the tent, but it was not a good place to camp. Even if the accommodation had been better, two nights was too much for me and I would have preferred to spend an extra day/night it a more appealing place like Punakha.
Apart from that minor criticism, I have no complaints about my trip and I am very glad I chose Windhorse. I will recommend Windhorse Tours to anyone I speak to who is considering a trip to Bhutan.
Above the Cloud Trek ( Sept 22- Oct 12) 2015
Kerry TSept 22- Oct 12, 2015
TID – 8769, Above the Cloud (May 25 – June 14,2015) Guide – Namgay
Dear Anand – Well! Jeremy Gansler and Paige Williams called the trek “the experience of a lifetime.” I would say it was both challenging and wonderful!
Windhorse staff were terrific- starting with our outstanding guide- Namgyel Buh, and Our cooks Ninjer and Pur Bah! I was particularly grateful to Namgyel for Arranging the personal meeting between Myself and the vice-chancellor of RUB!
I posted over 240 pics on my Facebook page – Feel free to take a look. I am entering the Journal now- there will be A link on my Facebook page- feel free to Read that once it is uploaded.
David A. G.May 25 - June 14, 2015
Above The Clouds (Jhomolari & Laya Trek) from 4 Oct to 24 Oct (TID 789)
Hi – I have safely returned from Bhutan via Thailand and am still basking in the afterglow from our wonderful experience in Bhutan with Wind Horse. Karma, Sonam, Tenzen and Rinzen were wonderful to be with and we so appreciated the opportunity to meet Jambay and Ugen at Gasa. The Wind Horse customer service was suburb and we were very impressed with the immediate response we received by email and phone. The only recommendation that we all felt necessary was for your guides to have access to solar power to re-charge their phones or have access to a satellite phone for emergency purposes. On several occasions we had to supply solar power and then we found out there was no reliable way for emergency contact if Karma’s personal phone was down.
Would you please forward the refund check of $495 to the home addresses for both Janet and I? Our US mailing address is listed below.
Thank you again for a lovely experience, and I would be more than happy to serve as a reference for this trek
Ms Joy M.R. & Janet DOct 4 -24,2014
TID 726 – April 12 – May 06, 2014
I want to thank you again for arranging our recent 14 day trek in Bhutan (April 2014). The whole trip was absolutely superb! The “Above the Clouds Trek” through Laya was just the right choice for us – challenging (but not too much) and beautiful. My ideal was to enjoy the trek while it was happening – not just in recollection afterward. As it turned out, my ideal was exceeded. I enjoyed every single day as it came. After breakfast each day it felt good to be moving again and seeing new sights. The Himalaya mountains were beautiful beyond my anticipation and the people we met were friendly and wonderful. Our guide, Pema, was knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with. He was also extremely competent. The cooks and other crew were also professional and fun to be with and get to know.
You and Windhorse provided excellent service from my initial contact a year ago through the end of the trip. I remember making inumerable phone calls with long lists of questions to you when I first started considering Windhorse. I appreciated both your patience and knowledge. As arrangements progressed (deposits, airplane reservations into Bhutan, acquisition of visas, food requests, etc.), you kept track of details and sequencing in a very cooperative and professional manner. Based upon our experience, I would recommend Windhorse very highly for others seeking treks or other kinds of trips in Bhutan.
It was delightful, though coincidence, that you came to Bhutan a couple of days before we started our trek. This gave us the opportunity to meet and to talk for a while. I enjoyed that. It is always nice to be able to put a face with a name and get to know you some.
Because some other of your potential clients may be a little older, it may be helpful that I mention that I am 71 years old. Indeed, I have been a hiker and an athlete for all my life and continue to have good health. But one of my initial questions had to do with age – was I up to it? In asking around (to Windhorse and others) I asked about their experience. All said that they had good success with older clients – older people tend to be experienced, know their limits and are self-disciplined in dealing with those limits. I did two things that helped. (1) I accelerated my conditioning hikes starting about 4 months before the trip and ended with doing 13 mile hikes, gaining 3,000 ft in 5-6 hrs on each of two consecutive days two weeks before leaving for Bhutan. I never had any difficulty with leg strength or endurance on the trek. If anything I was a somewhat over-prepared. (2) Living near Seattle, we had no opportunity to condition to altitude (Mt. Rainier is too stormy except in the summer). We (my son and three friends, ages 28-54 – a group of 5) therefore resolved to start out slow on the trek. At Windhorse’s suggestion we stayed in the Paro, Bhutan area for three days (7,000-10,000 ft. elevation) before beginning the trek. Although our trek took us to 16,000 ft twice, I had absolutely no difficulty with altitude and a few others in our group had only minor symptoms all of which were transitory. When approaching the first high pass, I kept thinking that every step was, for me, a personal best in terms of altitude and, because my 28 year old son was with me, it had an extra feeling of magic.
Whether you have a “Bucket List” or not, a trek in the Bhutanese Himalayas is magic – and especially so if you can bring one of your children.
I will be forever grateful for the experience you have given me.
Jon WApril 12 - May 06, 2014
We completed the “Above the Clouds” 14 day trek to Laya and Gasa and found it to be an incredible and very worthwhile trip. There were several days of simply spectacular Himalayan scenery and numerous cultural experiences that were simply fabulous. Bhutan was fascinating and full of contrasts– and still untouched by the tourists, which allowed for a far more intimate experience than you could get anywhere else. (We were often invited into monasteries to see the monks in prayer, invited into people’s homes for butter tea, or even challenged to a game of volleyball by the teachers in Laya.) In short, the trip was certainly worth it.
We were also pleased with Windhorse upon our arrival in Bhutan. Our guide was very personable and friendly, and the food, horses and equipment were all of a good standard. Talking to another group that also did the Laya-Gasa trek with another agency, we felt Windhorse did a superior job. I’d certainly travel with them again.
To Laya but did Chomolhari Trek
Hi Ugen!! I am still recuperating from jetlag and an accompanying cold, but I wanted you to know what a wonderful trip Ellie and I had in your beautiful country. I feel like I had stepped into a fairytale;
is so pure and lovely! Our guide, Dorji, was a wonderful guide and all crew on the trek were excellent. Our driver,Jigme, was also excellent and we miss them all very much!!! We had a few problems with late monsoon rains which I am sure you were made aware of. Several trek groups gave up and had gone down the trail before completing their trek. We chose to wait it out and then go on as much as we could; so we did not make it to Laya, which was a disappointment to me, but it had to be. The base camp and passes were wonderful and we ended up having good weather after a while. In fact, Dorji said that going over the Nyile La pass that it is rare to see the mountains without cloud cover…. It was as clear as a bell!! We are interested in possibly going back in 2007 to go to Laya, in a reverse Laya/Gasa trek for a week and then maybe go to
Eastern Bhutan. Let me know your thoughts and perhaps we can start planning it. I would love to see the remote villages with distinctive dress. Mera/ Sangtag come to mind. I will be in touch as soon as I know where I am and what day it is!! Regards, Pamela S PS…. Sorry we missed you; I had hoped we would meet at the airport before you left.
Chomolhari Laya Gasa Trek and across Eastern Bhutan
32 Days trip with Wind Horse in Bhutan – Oct & Nov 2005
And…….thanks for all the help putting the tour together for us. It was more than we had hoped. Tashi dele with Windhorse. Jerry Oyama.
I have traveled extensively in Asia and completed 5 separate treks in Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. Of all those trips, the Windhorse trip was exceptional. The guide was extremely knowledgeable and we had a fantastic time. We did both an arduous trek and did visits to monasteries and other cultural sites. When my wife developed altitude sickness on the trek, the guide made arrangements to have her carried down 3000 feet on a horse. She recovered the next day, and we completed the trek. I was very impressed with not only Bhutan, which is a gem in the Himalayas, but with Windhorse services as well. They have my highest recommendation. Oh, one suggestion. Check your itinerary carefully and try to not climb more than 1150 feet in altitude per day.
- What is the best time to do the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek (Above the clouds) ?
The trek is most commonly undertaken during two seasons: spring and autumn.
In the spring, the trek should begin after mid-March and end before mid-May. Alternatively, in the autumn season, trekkers should set out after the last week of September and conclude their journey by late November, enjoying clear days and beautiful views.
It is advisable to avoid trekking during the winter months from December to February due to potential snowfall and impassable routes for pack animals.
On the other hand, the summer months, spanning from June to September, may bring occasional rainfall but also bring the upper regions of the trek to life with vibrant flowers. These months coincide with the active season for the nomadic communities, adding a unique cultural experience to the adventure
- How would you describe the level of difficulty for the Jomolhari Laya Trek (Above the clouds trek)?
The Jomolhari Laya Trek is categorized as moderately strenuous by Wind Horse primarily due to its 12-day duration, which includes two rest days. The trek’s difficulty level varies throughout the journey. In the initial three days, you can expect relatively easy walks, averaging 3-5 hours per day. There are a couple of more demanding days when you’ll trek for a full 7-8 hours. On an average day, you’ll walk approximately 6 hours, covering a distance of around 10-15 kilometers.
Additionally, there are several mountain pass crossings, but these typically come after the fourth day of the trek. By this point, trekkers have acclimated to the altitude, and their physical condition has improved. This gradual progression in difficulty allows trekkers to adapt to the challenges, making it a manageable and rewarding adventure.
- Is previous trekking arrangement necessary for this trek ?
Prior trekking experience is not strictly necessary for the Jomolhari Laya Trek, but it can significantly enhance your preparedness and enjoyment of the journey.
One should be physically fit, and mentally prepared for weather, terrain, sleeping in the tents for a long period.
- What is the highest elevation on this trek and risk of altitude sickness on this trek?
The highest elevation reached on the Above the Clouds Jomolhari Laya Trek is 5005m at Sincela pass between Robluthang and Limithang on the 9th day of the trek.
The maximum Campsite altitude is 4,220m at Shomulthang on the 7th night of camping.
Your first crossing of the high pass is on the 5th day of the trek between Jangothang and Lingshi at Nyile La pass at 4870m.
Due to the well-planned itinerary, and gradual ascent strategies typically employed on the Jomolhari Laya Trek, the likelihood of experiencing altitude sickness is significantly reduced.
If altitude sickness were to occur, it’s likely to become noticeable by the third day of the trek at Jangothang, before embarking on the high mountain passes. This pivotal point in the journey offers trekkers a significant advantage in recognizing any symptoms and taking appropriate action. If such symptoms were to emerge, it is feasible to make a decision to retreat from the trek at this stage, potentially descending to lower altitudes for rest and recovery.
- What kind of communication options are available in case of an emergency during the Jomolhari Laya Trek?
The trek often follows or remains near cell phone towers, with some dead spots in which case there are there are Military Posts with Radios or villages with Radio communication While satellite phones and two-way radios were once carried, improved cell phone coverage has made them less necessary in recent times.
Our experienced guides are trained in basic wilderness first aid and carry essential medical supplies. They can swiftly communicate with our office in Thimphu, enabling us to contact emergency services or arrange evacuations if necessary. It’s vital for trekkers to ensure they have appropriate Travel Insurance coverage to safeguard their trekking experience.
- How can I access detailed information about trekking, camping facilities, and meals during the Jomolhari Laya Trek?
On this trek, we use high quality imported 4 season tents by leading manufacturers such as Mountain Hardware, North Face and Alps Mountaineering for sleeping.
In addition to the sleeping tent, we bring a Mess/dinning tent, also pitch simple pit toilet with a tent cover. We have a separate tent for staffs and Kitchen.
For more details about food, typical day on a trek, visit the our trekking in Bhutan page: