My first Jomolhari Base Camp Trek experience, a journey within and beyond

Email

Find out what to expect on a 5-day Jomolhari Base Camp Trek itinerary

With elevations that reach almost 5,000 meters above sea level and the trekking route passing through exquisite alpine scenery, several semi-nomadic villages and grassy meadows, Jomolhari Trek is one of the most premier and popular treks in Bhutan

When my friends invited me for the Jomolhari Trek, it was the easiest yes I have responded to.

Although an avid and a regular hiker, I had never done any trekking before. Jomolhari Trek was my first experience and we were doing the Jomolhari Base Camp Trek (from Shana in Paro to Jomolhari Base camp and back via the same route to Paro in 5 days). I felt ecstatic mixed with a fair share of anxiety in anticipation of the unknown.

If you're contemplating to embark on a Jomolhari Trek, here’s what to expect on the 5-Day Jomolhari Base Camp Trek:

Day 1: Shana Zampa, Paro Valley to Thangthangkha 

We were picked at the wee hours of the morning from Paro town. After 2 hours drive, we reached Shana Zampa. We breakfasted on fried rice and ezay (chilli sauce ) with hot suja at a simple restaurant in Shana while our horses were loaded.

Figure 1: The trail after Shana with horses carrying our load

The thick forested trail was along the banks of a swift-flowing Paa Chu river. We kept walking over numerous wooden bridges crossing and recrossing the river till we reached Thangthangkha – no steep climbs. There was no specific attraction on this trail but the gentle walk with the continued sound of the cascading river in the background put us in a meditative stance giving us ample time to think and reflect. 

Figure 2: The many bridges we had to cross

After about six hours (the most we would walk on this trek), we reached Thangthangkha. A single house with many mini sheds in a meadow greeted us. It was a shop where it had a guest house – a two-room wooden cabin.  

Thangthangka gave us the first peek at Mount Jomolhari – snowcapped and sneaking at us from a distance with that sunset glow. It was spectacular! 

Figure 3: First view of Jomolhari peak from Thangthangkha

The night sky brimmed full with stars and spread far and beyond – it was so starry that it was almost magical. 

Day 2: Thangthangkha to Jangothang 

On the second day, we set off to Jangothang via the Gewog Center of Soe Valley. This part of the trek gave us the first glimpse of the nomadic lifestyle. We passed villages of traditional houses – sending smoke into the day sky from their chimneys giving a warm fuzzy feeling from within to a cold weathered body. Yaks and horses were a common sight. The highland kittens were extremely adorable. 

Figure 4: View on route Thangthangkha to Jangothang

It was a relatively short but rugged trek of four hours in open pastureland and then we arrived at Damgochang. This appeared the center stage of Soe Valley: the gup’s office, the hospital and the school were here. Called the ‘School Among Snow Leopards’, there were a total of nine students and a teacher. 

Figure 5: Soe School Students

Another 30 minutes walk from here, and we reached the Jomolhari base campsite, where we would pitch our tent below the sacred peak of Jomolhari. Enclosed in a valley, the ground is levelled for camping. The left side had ruins – said to be of the Dzong in which a king lived. The right side had a lifted spot with chortens from which you could see the sunrise and its golden rays fall first on Mount Jomolhari and then on Mount Jichu Drakey in the early (lucky!) mornings. A photographer’s paradise for pictures.

Figure 6: View of Mt Jomolhari from the sunrise spot in Base Camp

Figure 7: The ruin and the view of Mt Jomolhari from the Base Camp

10 minutes walk beyond the camping site and we were in a village – a village of three houses. We were there for two nights. We settled in with a hot serving of suja and scrumptious fresh yak cheese. 

Figure 8: Yak cheese

Day 3: Jangothang Halt: Sightseeing 

The third day was the rest and rejuvenating day with sightseeing. 

Figure 9: Mt Jichu Drakey View

We started the day early with an hour and a half of steep climb before it melted into meadows cupped on each side by glistening sharp rocky ridges. Half an hour through this picturesque pasture leads you to the first of the Twin Lake (Tshophu Lakes). With its glassy still surface, it showcased water’s most mesmerizing quality. 

Figure 10: First of the Twin Lakes

About 20 minutes further up was the second lake. With a sitting area and a camping place, it was no less awe-inspiring. The lakes were filled with brown trouts. We were told that the lake completely freezes in winter giving a heavenly ice skating image. 

If you were lucky, you could spot Himalayan Snow Leopard and other Himalayan animals like Blue Sheep and Marmots in the area.  

This was also the time the altitude heat me and tired me than the 7 hours of the day before!

In the afternoon, our guide took us on short hikes into the upper slope of the mountain to view Jichu Drakey from the glacier lake which is the source of Pachhu river. 

Figure 11: Source of Pachu river lake

Day 4 & 5: Back to Paro via Thangthangkha

On the fourth day, we started our return to Paro. We halted the 4th night in Thangthangkha and the fifth day back to Shana where a car was waiting for us to be dropped at Paro town. 

One of the most sought-after trekking destinations in Bhutan, this thrilling trekking adventure takes you to the base camp of Mount Jomolhari – one of the most sacred Himalayan mountains in the country. Treated to the views of majestic mountains, myriad flora and fauna and stunning lakes the experience took me a little closer to what Bhutan stood for and my roots in the country. 

The cool mountain breeze blowing on my face awakened in me a sense of serenity. The vastness of the landscape humbled me to accept that I am just a small part of the universe and that we are all interconnected. Jomolhari Trek is indeed ‘a perfect package to explore Bhutan to its fullest’ and the base camp trek is not as strenuous. It could be done by anyone if you were a regular hiker. 



Related Posts

Mt. Jomolhari in Every Trekkers Bucket list Around the World

Hundreds of tourist’s trek to wake up at the base of Jomolhari (Jangothang) to see the most spectacular Mt. Jomolhari,...

Nov 26, 2020 12:21

Get ready for the upcoming record-breaking longest East meets...

With the revival and restoration of the historic east-west trails, long-distance trekking is going to be a new tourism...

Jan 25, 2021 10:53

Bhutan revises its tourism policy to redefine High Value Low...

Visitors to Bhutan will now have to pay more than triple the previous Sustainable Development Fees (SDF).

Jul 20, 2022 21:44

Join #mybhutanmemories campaign now to win FREE flight tickets to...

All you have to do is to share your fond memories of Bhutan.

Jun 19, 2022 21:52

Trace the footsteps of the Divine Madman on this hiking trail

There is no better way to connect spiritually with Drukpa Kuenley, the “Divine Madman”. The trail will take you downhill...

Apr 28, 2022 22:30

Been to Bhutan before? Stand a chance to win FREE flight tickets...

If you’ve been to Bhutan before, we want to hear your story.

Apr 15, 2022 19:49

Latest

News

CNN lists Tergo-La trek among 23 of the world's best hiking trails

CNN travel recently published a list of “23 of the world’s best hiking trails” for their “Monthly Ticket” travel series.

Jul 28, 2022 19:25

Bhutan revised entrance fees for historical monuments and sacred sites

Aside from the Tiger's Nest Monastery, tourists are now required to pay Nu. 1000 entrance fees to various sacred sites in the kingdom.

Jul 18, 2022 18:51

Features

A French's connection and deep love for Bhutan

We talked to Dr Francoise Pommaret about French Friends of Bhutan and the France-Bhutan relationship.

Jul 12, 2022 20:36

7 interesting facts about the roads in Bhutan

Did you know that there are no traffic lights in the Kingdom?

Jun 15, 2022 21:52

Business

The enormous role of hydropower in Bhutan

Bhutan uses hydropower to conserve the environment, produce electricity, and achieve economic self-reliance.

Jan 25, 2022 11:43

Online businesses are becoming more and more popular in Bhutan

Even though the Internet was developed in the 1960s, the tiny Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan was only introduced to it in June 1999.

Jan 20, 2022 12:41

Sports

More Bhutanese youths are engaged in football

Sitting at the 186th position in the FIFA rankings, Bhutan looks to improve its rankings in the years to come.

Aug 03, 2022 20:19

BOB Bhutan Premier League is coming back soon with a bang

There’s an atmosphere of excitement and anticipation growing in the valleys of Bhutan as football fans in the country await what appears to...

Jul 24, 2022 14:47

Travel

Bhutan revises its tourism policy to redefine High Value Low Volume tourism

Visitors to Bhutan will now have to pay more than triple the previous Sustainable Development Fees (SDF).

Jul 20, 2022 21:44

Join #mybhutanmemories campaign now to win FREE flight tickets to Bhutan!

All you have to do is to share your fond memories of Bhutan.

Jun 19, 2022 21:52

Lifestyle

Chillies, a spicy affair in Bhutan

The Bhutanese love it hot.

Jun 07, 2022 23:55

Bhutan is traditionally a matriarchal society

Women are the decision-makers at home, but something is keeping them from public life.

May 27, 2022 22:14

COVID-19

A detailed summary of Bhutan's COVID-19 management and plans moving forward

With offices and all businesses open, movement of vehicles allowed and critical services resumed from 21st March 2022, Bhutan braces for a...

Mar 22, 2022 11:23

Vaccinated tourists to undergo 5-day quarantine in Bhutan from April 25

What you need to know about entering Bhutan from April 25.

Mar 14, 2022 14:21

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!

Download Daily Bhutan Mobile App

Connecting with us just got easier!