Bhutan's Chomolhari Trek and the Thimpu Festival
Bhutan, Trek & Walk, 14 days - from £2,495 (land only) - from €2,995 (land only) - from $4,095 (land only)
- Trekking in the Land of the Thunder Dragon
- The picturesque Tsho Phu lakes
- Chomolhari and Jitchu Drake
- Taktsang Monastery - the Tigers Nest
- The spectacular Thimpu Festival
North of the idyllic settlement of Paro, with its dramatic, cliff-side Taktsang Monastery, the pristine valley of the Paro Chu provides a passage between Himalayan foothills to the high peaks on the border with Tibet. This excellent new trek follows the river upstream for 3 days to the meadows at Jangothang, the basecamp for Chomolhari. Then, after a day for exploration above this camp, we turn away from the valley trail and climb to the picturesque Tsho Phu lakes. From here, we ascend to cross the airy Bonte La (4890m) and have increasingly impressive views of Chomolhari and of the imposing spire of Jitchu Drake. At high level now, we trek via hidden valleys and along scenic ridges to reach the stunning campsite on the yak pastures of Thongbu, before descending on herders' trails to Drugyel Dzong. Few trekking groups have completed this superb circuit, which is one of the best short treks in Bhutan. This departure of the Chomolhari trek also visits the Thimpu Tsechu.
The Thimpu Tsechu (Festival)
Religious festivals are taken very seriously by the Bhutanese, who have an unquestioning faith in their religion. However, in addition to gaining a great deal of religious merit from attending a festival, the Bhutanese also derive much enjoyment. They dress in their best clothes and jewellery, make an effort to mix with their friends and acquaintances, eat and drink to excess, and generally have a good time. One of the most important festivals in the Bhutanese calendar is the Thimpu Tsechu which takes place each autumn. We have arranged for our September Chomolhari trek to coincide with this festival. We will have plenty of opportunity to watch the colourful masked dancers whirling and leaping, and also the equally colourful audience dressed in their finest Khos and Khias. Within the festival ground are many stalls, selling everything from cooking utensils to exotic jewellery and you will also find stalls offering strange and delicious food, and there's even a beer tent.
Is this holiday for you?
Trekking conditions on this circuit are nowhere particularly difficult, since the trail has been well prepared for the ponies or yaks which are traditionally used to carry supplies on the route. In general this trek offers relatively easy walking conditions, as there are no glaciers to negotiate although we may encounter snow on some of the passes. However, the trekking is quite sustained and does involve some long days and the crossing of three passes over 4000 metres, including the Bonte La at 4890 metres. A good level of fitness is required. This route presents a great variety of landscape types; from fertile and intensively terraced farmland, through some of the finest mixed forest in the world, to open, alpine pastureland and high mountain valleys and passes.