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Jhomolhari-The Mother Goddess Mountain Trek of Bhutan


15 days 14 nights

Code BTT36

Category Bhutan Trekking

  • Group Size 2-10 persons
  • Difficulty Level 3
  • Rating Popular
  • Highest Altitude 15,810ft ( 4,820m)
  • Trip Starts From Paro
  • Trip Ends At Thimphu
  • Type Trekking
  • Destination Paro Shana Jangothang Lingzhi Jhomolhari Barshong Thimpu
Dates & Prices

Overview

Mount Jhumolhari is a high altitude trekking but of a moderate grade. Compared with the Everest Base Camp trekking of Nepal, Mount Jhumolhari is the most famous trekking of Bhutan.

Mount Jhumolhari, also spelled as Chomolhari, (Altitude 23,996 ft./ 7,316m) means the Goddess Mountain and it reigns in glory with its five sister peaks which are the sources of Paro Chu (River) that nourishes the lush rice fields, apple and peach orchards of Paro Valley. The sacred mountain is an excellent object of respect and reverence to Bhutanese people and has one of the most popular trekking routes in the eastern Himalayas.

The trail begins at the Drugyel Dzong and follows the ancient caravan route, heading towards the base camp of Mount Jhumolhari, passing through scattered hamlets and farmland, into deep and richly forested valleys, which leads to high alpine pastureland where yak herders graze their animals. The trek offers a taste of a great variety of landscape.

The trip leads us to the remote highlands of the Lingshi, where we can meet the high altitude gypsies with nomadic style life. Sights of Yaks and the wild blue sheep on the mountains are frequent. Himalayan poppies and primulas cover the mountainside in the summer.

Although it's a high altitude trekking, it's non-technical, and one does not need a prior trekking experience but some preparation. Start jogging, cycling, uphill walking and some power exercises several months ahead of the trip. 

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01~Arrive in Paro, Bhutan

Flights to Paro, Bhutan arrive from Bangkok, New Delhi, Kolkata, Kathmandu, Mumbai, Singapore, and Dhaka but flights from Bangkok are more frequent than from other cities. After clearing immigration and custom, meet your guide and driver at the arrival gate, and then you are transferred to your hotel.

You will have time to settle in, and after lunch, your guide and driver will take you for a familiarization tour of Paro. We begin from the impressive Paro Dzong fortress, built in the 17th century that now houses the district headquarter and the district monk body. Right above on a small ridge is the Ta Dzong fortress that houses the National Museum. Ta Dzong previously served as the watchtower for the Rinpung Dzong. The museum has a collection of fine arts, paintings, thangkas, statues, and antiques. 

You will also have the option of hiking the Zuri Dzong that looms right above the Ta Dzong. It is the oldest Dzong in Bhutan and is an important Buddhist site. It is an easy hike that takes only 30 minutes and once on the top; you will enjoy a bird-eye view of the entire Paro valley. You descend the same way back or take a longer route (one hour) that finishes above Uma Paro Hotel. We meet our transport here and then transfer back to your hotel. 

Late afternoon, take a relaxing stroll through the sleepy town of Paro.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Lunch, Dinner
Day 02~A warm up hike to the Tiger's Nest Monastery

The Taktsang Monastery – the legendary Tiger's Nest – is perched some 2,000 feet up a sheer cliff overlooking the valley. It is an unforgettable hiking destination. It is a holy site where Guru Padmasambhava arrived from Tibet on the back of a tigress to defeat five anti-Buddhist demons, back in the 7th century! So, it's a significant pilgrim destination of Bhutanese people.  The first two hours of the hike brings you to a cafeteria where we stop for tea and some rest, and we will also have the first welcome view of the Taktsang Monastery. You can also take a pony ride up to this point but beyond the trail is narrow and return trip down is steep for a pony ride.

From the cafeteria, another forty-five minutes or one hour hike brings to the Taktsang Monastery proper. The return drip down will be much faster as it's all downhill.

There are quite a few attractions in Paro to visit if time allows. In the evening you can enjoy a Bhutanese traditional hot stone bath in a farmhouse. The hot stone bath is a conventional Bhutanese method to cure the muscle and joint aches; the expected cost is $30.

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 03~Trek to Shana

The trailhead at Drugyel Dzong is about 15 minutes' drive out of the town. Your crews will load up the pack animals with supplies and gears, and we begin our adventure. The trail follows the winding Paro River as it passes through the traditional farmhouses, and cultivated fields of red rice, chilies, potatoes, and millet.

Today's campsite is near the village of Shana by the Army post. (Altitude 9348 ft.). We hike the distance little more than 10 miles in about 5 hours.  Total ascent is 1181 ft and decent 262 ft.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 04~Trek from Shana to Soi Thangthangkha

The trail gradually climbs along the side of the Paro, River. The valley narrows and closes, and the path then winds along the stream. This day's trek is not so hard, but it is long, and there are many short but frequent ups and downs. From the lunch stopping point, you can see the route to Tremo La which is paved in stone and served as the main trade route to the Phari Dzong in Tibet. It was also the main invasion route of the Tibetans ages ago. You camp in a meadow with a stone shelter. On a clear day, you will see the Jumolhari Mountain.

Today, we hike 13.75 miles in 6-7 hours. We camp at Soi Thangthangka at an altitude of 11,90 ft.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~Acclimatization day.

As you are already at an altitude of 3630m/11, 906 ft., it's essential to have an additional day here for acclimatization. Drink of plenty of water and take acclimatization hike around.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~Trek from Soi Thangthangkha to Jangothang

Today is a short day, but we have a significant altitude gain of 1476 ft. The trail continues to follow the Paro River up, past a small army post, where the valley begins to widen again and you are also rewarded with the view of high ridges and snow-capped mountains of the Himalayas.

We may see some yaks grazing and also the winter homes of the yak herders. Take a chance to visit the yak herders and share a cup of yak butter tea with them. Also, you will possibly get to buy dried yak cheese-"chugo" from them. We set up camp below the ruined fortress at the base of Mount Jumolhari that has the reputation as the most beautiful camp site in Bhutan.

Today, we cover the distance of 12 miles in 6 hours. We camp at an altitude of 13, 415 ft.!

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Another acclimatization day

We have an additional day in Jangothang which is necessary for acclimatization. We will have several hiking options today: 3 to 4 hours up to a ridge that will give you a good view of Jichu Drake or to the head of the valley toward Jumolhari, or trekking up the central valley toward Jichu Drake, or to Tsophu for fishing.

Or just relax at the camp, read novels or write journals, as you wish.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~Trek to Lingshi

Today's trek takes us over the Nyile La (pass), which is at 4,890m (16.039 ft.). It's likely to be windy here. We will see the yak pastures on the way and may encounter some nomads, depending on the time of the year.

We will enjoy a great view of Lingshi Dzong further along the trail. We will always be on the lookout of some wild animals such as blue sheep and musk deer. The Tserim Gang Mountain and glaciers are at the north end of the Lingshi valley.

Today, we cover the distance of 5904 ft. in about 6 hours. We camp at an altitude of 13,152 ft.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~Explore Lingshi valley

Today, we explore the Lingshi valley and relax after the previous day's vigorous trek. We also need to prepare for another challenging day.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~ Cross Yeli Pass

A challenging day! Today, we climb the Yeli La pass at 4,820m (15 809 ft.). Enjoy the stunning views of Mount Jhumolhari, Tserim Gang, and the Masagang Mountains. After the pass, the trail descends, following a stream.

Today, we hike 14 miles in 8-9 hours! We camp at an altitude of 13, 480 ft.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 11~Trek to Barshong

The trail crosses the Thimphu River several times and winds gently up and down alongside the river. At one section of the trail, you will notice a massive steep canyon on one side and a cypress forest on the other. We will then ascend to the ruins of the Barshong Dzong.

We set up camp today just below the ruins at an altitude of 12070 ft. We walk 10 miles in about 6 hours.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 12~Trek to Dolam Kencho

The trail gradually descends through conifers and rhododendron forests, and then a steep descent brings us to the Thimphu River. Now, the path and ascends to a meadow, where we set up camp today.

Today we hike a little less than 9 miles in 6 hours. We camp at an altitude of 11.250 ft.

Overnight: Camp
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 13~Finish the trek and transfer to Thimpu

Today is the final day of trekking, and it's an easy day. The trail winds in and out of valleys above the Thimpu River and then takes a long climb through a forest of conifers and high-altitude broadleaf species up to a 3,510m (11,513 ft.). The trail then begins a steep descent to the river, following it southward to the road in the town of Dodina. We will meet our transport at Dodina, and we transfer to our hotel in Thimphu.

Today, we hike about 5 miles in 3 hours.

Check into your hotel and take rest for the balance of the day.

Overnight: Khang Residency or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 14~Thimphu Sightseeing

After breakfast, with our guide and driver, the adventures begin as we get a feel for the city. In the weekend, it's worth visiting the weekend market. Nearby is a stadium where local archers gather to practice archery. Archery is the national sport of Bhutan, and very popular among men.  

Next, visit the National Institute Zorig Chusum that offers a six years course on Bhutan's traditional arts and crafts that include painting, wood carving, embroidery, and statue making. Then, we visit the Simply Bhutan museum that resembles a village and demonstrates the Bhutanese arts, culture, and lifestyle. Here, you can try Bhutanese national costume and pose for the picture.

Next stop – the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, dispensary of traditional Bhutanese herbal and other medicines; then the Trasichoe Dzong that houses the Royal Throne, National Assembly, and the seat of Chief Abbot of the central monastic body.

Late afternoon will bring us to a grand panoramic view of the valley, followed by a short 10-minute hike through the forest to visit the Takin Sanctuary. Takin – a kind of sheep by way of antelope, is the National animal of Bhutan and believed to exist only in Bhutan Himalaya. On the way back to our hotel, we’ll stop at the Zilukha Nunnery in Drubthob Goemba, home to 40-60 Buddhist nuns.

Late afternoon, we transfer to Paro (1 hr.).

Overnight: Khangkhu Resort or similar
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 15~Depart Paro

You are transferred to the airport in time for your flight to next destination.

Meals : Breakfast

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Best available of the regular hotel accommodation in Paro and Thimphu.
  • All camping gears that includes sleeping tent with floors and fly sheet, dining tent, kitchen tent, toilet tents, dining tables, chairs, pillows, and mattresses.
  • English speaking Guide.
  • Cook and kitchen aides.
  • All intercity transfers and sightseeing by a private vehicle.
  • Pack animals and the leads for the trekking.
  • All the necessary supplies.
  • Three meals a day.
  • Bhutan visa.
  • Entrance fees.

Trip Does Not Include

  • All airfares and airport taxes.
  • Travel Insurance and emergency evacuation.
  • Personal expenses such as drinks, tipping, telephone, laundry, etc.
  • Extra expenses due to nature or unforeseen events such as flight cancellation, road blockade, no show, etc.

Trek Difficulty and Preparation

This is a moderate graded trek with maximum altitude of 4, 930 m (16,170 ft.). We camp between 2800m (8185 ft.) and 4150m (13,615 ft.) and take optional hike to 4500m (14,760 ft.). In average, we will walk 6 to 7 hrs. but some days are longer. Trail conditions are varied with frequent ups and downs. The trails become muddy and pretty miserable when it rains and passes are closed by snows around end of November. Trekkers are likely to experience mild symptoms of altitude sickness above 3000m (9840 ft.); so we allow enough time for acclimatization and the symptoms should go away in two or three days. Although previous experience is not a mandatory but some training and preparation would help a lot to build stamina and confidence. Participants should start jogging, cycling and some hill hiking etc. about a couple of months ahead of the trip. If you are buying new boots for the trek, please do wear them to get used to your feet.

What is it like a typical trekking trip in Bhutan?

A trekking day in Bhutan usually consists of five to seven hours of walking. We use ponies, or yaks for camping gears, food supplies, and your gears. We provide all the necessary camping and kitchen equipment. Camping gears include two-persons sleeping tent, toilet tent, kitchen tent, dining tables and chairs, and foam mattress. You should bring your sleeping bag on your own.

Trekking crews comprise a certified guide, a cook, and two or three aides and pack animals with their drivers. We will also have an extra pony, just in case anyone needs a ride in an emergency case. The support crew walks ahead of the trekking party each day and pitches camp before the trekkers arrive. A warm cup of tea or coffee will be waiting in the dinning tent as you arrive at the camp and it will be a welcome treat after days' trek. All meals are carefully planned and prepared. Breakfast and dinner are served freshly prepared at camp and includes a choice of, at least, four dishes. During the day a picnic lunch is served at a pleasant and scenic place. All cooking and cleaning chores are taken care of by our trek staff so you can enjoy the trek fully.

A trekking day normally begins with an early cup of tea or coffee in our tent. A jug of hot water will be provided for washing and you are expected in the breakfast table by 7 am. Breakfast is usually cereals, toasts, eggs, juice and tea or Nescafe Coffee. By 8 am, we find ourselves on the trail. Trekkers can walk on their own pace but we should still try to maintain some close proximity with others. We stop to explore the villages and temples and exchange greeting with the locals. Lunch stop is around noon to 1 pm. We are served hot fried rice or noodles or bread or boiled potatoes brought in an insulated container, unlike in Nepal where the crews take time to cook hot meal while you nap. Lunch is usually accompanied by tea from a large flask. Some days, they serve cold lunch which is simply sandwiches, fruits and cookies. Usually the day concludes between 4 to 5 pm. As we reach our campsite, we find our tents already set up and steaming cup of tea or coffee with biscuits or cookies waiting. We will have some time to write journals, or read novels or engage ourselves on photography while the crews fix dinner for us. Dinner is usually served around 7 pm. Meals usually include a rice dish, a potato dish or frequently both. The cook is trained to produce a reasonable variety of Western and Asian dishes. They often add interesting Bhutanese touches, such as cheese sauces.

Clothing and Equipment

Druk Air has only 20 kg of checked-in baggage allowance, and we expect to provide one pony for every two trekkers. Each pony carries 30kg or less. So, these things should be taken into consideration when.

Essentials Items/Not to forget

Down Jacket: We recommend down jacket as it has the advantage of being light and compressible and it can serve many functions on the trek. We can use it as a pillow at night and long car trips and wear it to bed inside our sleeping bags when it's cold. Artificial-fiber jackets filled with Polar-guard Thinsulate or Fiberfill are a good substitute for down and price wise, much cheaper.

For day walking, we recommend a Jumper or Pile Jacket. Two or three light layers of clothing, which could be jumpers, shirts or polypropylene, are better than a single dense layer. Pile jackets with polyester fleece are light, warm and easy to clean.

Sleeping Bag is a must. Choose the one for 4 seasons. We can rent them in Bhutan but cannot guarantee the quality.

Duffel Bags and Backpack: As suitcases are fragile and cannot be carried by ponies, please bring strong duffel bags which are water proof, also a spare lockable kit bag or suitcase for the city stuff that you want to leave behind in the hotel and a back pack for your personal items such as camera, wallet etc.

Mountain Trekking Boots: Bring a pair of good quality of trekking boots with ankle support. If you are buying a new pair, make sure you use them enough to make it comfortable to your feet. We recommend one extra pair of tennis or camp shoes or thongs. 

Another essential thing is a torch light with spare batteries and bulbs. Do not forget a water bottle and your preferred water purifying pills.

Other clothing

  • Jumper or sweaters.
  • Waterproof jacket, poncho or umbrella.
  • Hiking shorts (for men) and skirts (for women).
  • Nylon windbreaker (for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Nylon wind pants (for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Insulated pants (for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Long sleeved shirt.
  • Long Underwear.
  • Sun hat.
  • Gloves ((for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Gaiters (for altitude above 4000m/13,120 ft.).
  • Woolen socks and some cotton socks to wear under wool socks.

Miscellaneous Items

  • Toiletries.
  • Cigarette lighter.
  • Small knife.
  • Sunscreen (SPF 15+).
  • Towel.
  • Laundry soap.
  • Medical and first aid kit.
  • Sewing kit.
  • Bandana.
  • Goggles or sun glasses.
  • Lip guards.
  • Insect repellents.

Optional

  • Reading materials.
  • Pen and diaries.
  • Play cards.

How we dress during the day

This trip is one of the high altitude treks, and it may be cold even during the day, and so most people are comfortable on long pants, but women will be more comfortable in skirts; the most obvious reason is the ease in relieving yourself along the trail. There are long stretches where there is little chance to hide, and a skirt solves the problem.

Best Trekking Season

In general, late September to mid-November is the best trekking season in the Himalayas, and so it is in Bhutan. The second best period is from March to April. Winter is snowy, and summer is rainy and so we tend to avoid these seasons but no matter when we trek, we expect some rain at some time. During fall, nights are cold in the mountains, but the bright sun makes the day pleasant, with temperatures-in the high 20?Cs,(68? F+) falling to 4-5?C ( 40? F +) at night, in the elevation below 3500m( 11,500ft) but at higher elevation, temperatures range from about 20?C (68? F) to -10?C (14? F). Autumn has a clear sky with good visibility whereas Spring trekkers can enjoy rhododendron and orchid flowers in bonus!

High Altitude Sickness

Altitude sickness can pose a problem for trekkers crossing the high passes. Above 3000m (9,840 ft.) All trekkers are likely to experience some mild symptoms of altitude sickness that includes headache, disorientation, dizziness, restlessness and loss of appetite but our itineraries allow enough time for acclimatization and following proper measures, those symptoms should disappear in a day or two. We will not overly exert ourselves or engage on hard physical activities. We drink plenty of water and eat soup in meal.

People with existing heart, lungs, high blood pressure issues should consult their physician before signing up for this trip. Participants should be optimally conditioned and should start some exercises like jogging, cycling, swimming, hiking in hilly terrain and camping at least a couple of months ahead of the trip. Please, note that this trek should not be taken as means of losing weight.

Accommodations and meals in the towns

In the towns of Paro and Thimphu, unless we have chosen other alternatives, we will be staying in moderate to the best available accommodations which are in general small hotel with room numbers ranging 10-20. Rooms are simple with en suite bathroom with running hot and cold water. No rooms may be similar to another and so there may be disparity in the rooms. You may get a better room than others or vice versa. We do not expect our hotel to have a gift shop for "sundry" items.

All Bhutan trip includes 3 meals a day and we expect to eat most meals at our hotel, usually served in buffet that includes rice, vegetables, noodles, bread etc. Our guide can arrange some dinner at local restaurants but beware: traditional Bhutanese food always features chilies and the most popular dish is ema datshi made with large, green hot chilies in a cheese sauce.

Guides

Our guides are college educated locals, proficient in English and trained and licensed by local tourism authorities. Most importantly they are friendly and committed to delivering the best services.

International and internal airfares

You will book your international airfare on your own and provide us your flight information. We can also help you find good fares through our air ticket consolidator on your request. We will take care of internal airfares-flight from Bangkok into Paro or on the return from Kathmandu back to Bangkok. If your trip starts from Delhi or Kathmandu, we can book your internal airfare accordingly. All internal airfares are booked locally. Local airport taxes may or may not be included in the fare.

Passport and Visa

Your passport must have a remaining validity of a minimum of six months when you return from the trip, and there must be at least one blank visa page for Bhutan only. Surely, you will stop in the gateway city before and after the tour and so allow two more blank pages for the arrival and departure seals there. 

We apply for your Bhutan visa and will email you the clearance document about two or three weeks before the trip date. You need to produce this document when you check in flight for Bhutan. You will get the actual visa seal on your passport upon arrival at Paro airport.

US citizens, Canadians, and most Europeans don't need a visa for Thailand. If your gateway city is Kathmandu, you can obtain a Nepal visa on arrival. If your travel starts in India, then you need to get an Indian visa beforehand.

Note on Itinerary

Although we will do our very best to adhere to the itinerary schedule as listed; it is subject to change for numerous reasons beyond our control.

Booking deposit and payment schedule

When you are sure you are going to Bhutan, it will be wise to put your reservation in line as early as possible as there are limited flights and accommodations in Bhutan. We request US$ 300 in initial deposit along with a completed application and a passport scan. 

The second payment will be for the internal airfares, such as Bangkok-Paro and we will advise you the due date well in advance.

The final payment is due, 90-days before the trip date. The balance payment by credit card attracts an additional 3.5% fee. Personal check or cashier's check or a demand draft are welcome. If you wish to make a wire transfer, you are responsible for the bank fees at both the ends.

Cancellation and refund

If you need to withdraw from the trip, we need a notice in writing, by email or fax. The cancellation fee structure will be as follows. 

  • 180 day before departure: No fee
  • Ninety days before departure: US$ 150 (Administrative Fee).
  • 60-89 day's before departure: US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Forty-five days to 59 days before departure: US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Thirty days to 44 days before departure: US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Less than 30 days: 100%.

Travel Protection Plan

While we plan and do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless, there may be chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage etc. that may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip putting your hard earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation or medical transportation when you get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High’s Tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses and so we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.

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