• Bhutan: The Chomolhari Trek

    Trek around the sacred and spectacular peak of Chomolhari with the first company to pioneer treks in Bhutan

    Ever since 1974 when Bhutan first opened for tourism, MTS has been leading the way for trekking companies in the Himalaya, and our Chomolhari Trek is no exception. On our most popular Bhutan trek, you'll make a pilgrimage to the sacred mountain of Chomolhari and the rest of the country's beauty and culture under the wing of experienced, expert local guides—exclusive to MTS.

    best times to go: April, October - November

    departures: 6 scheduled datesview departures

    pricing: from $5,395 see detailed pricing

    The Himalaya

    Ultimate Challenge
Also great as a private trip. Call for details

Trek around the sacred and spectacular peak of Chomolhari with the first company to pioneer treks in Bhutan

Having enjoyed eras of splendid isolation from Western culture, the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan is still largely unexplored by tourists, and this memorable trek is one of our few “ultimate challenge” adventures—a must-do for every serious trekker who wants to see the Himalaya from the path less traveled! Set in the magical kingdom of Bhutan, you’ll immerse yourself in Buddhist culture by visiting its famous dzongs (citadels) and monasteries, like the “Tiger’s Nest” and “The Temple of the White Dove.” You’ll meet traditional Bhutanese monks, farmers, and yak herders while trekking for ten days through pristine forests, expansive river valleys, colorful farmland, and over snowy ridgelines and mountain passes…and with the full support of our experienced guides, talented cooks, strong horsemen, and their team of ponies, there to help you every step of the way! MTS has the longest legacy of any other tour operator here, trekking through this enchanted country since its doors were first opened to tourists nearly four decades ago. Let the Himalaya experts introduce you to this isolated wilderness on a rare adventure around Chomolhari, one of Bhutan’s most sacred peaks!
 

Activities

10 days strenuous hiking at high elevation (max. 16,200')

TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Explore the gems of Bhutan with the first travel company to pioneer treks in Bhutan
  • Immerse yourself in the richness of the culture visiting museums, dzongs (citadels), and the country’s most famous monasteries—Taktsang and Lhakhang
  • Trek over challenging terrain for ten days through the most remote pristine forests and mountains of the Himalaya
  • Meet traditional Himalayan highlanders: farmers, yak herders, and monks

Duration: 15 days Start Location: Bangkok End Location: Bangkok

Download Detailed Itinerary
Itinerary
  • Day 1 : Arrive in Bangkok (most flights arrive in the evening)

    After you arrive in Bangkok (most flights arrive in the evening), you will take a complimentary shuttle to the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel, a 10-minute ride from the airport. The hotel operates 24-hour free shuttle bus service between the terminal and the hotel that runs every 10-15 minutes.

    NOTE: Most airlines arrive late at night into Bangkok, and our flight from Bangkok to Paro departs very early the next morning. If your flight into Bangkok is delayed by even just a few hours, it would be easy to miss the group departure flight to Paro. We therefore encourage you to arrive a day or two early in Bangkok to explore this fascinating city, or to help overcome jet lag before the tour actually starts. There are many sightseeing possibilities. We’d be happy to make additional hotel reservations if requested. Additional costs will be reflected on your invoice.

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    Day 2 : Paro - Thimphu (7,725')

    Fly to Paro (7,500'), Bhutan, on Druk Air, the national airline of Bhutan. If the weather cooperates, you might have spectacular views of four of the ten highest peaks in the world—Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu, and Kanchenjunga—plus peaks in Bhutan such as Chomolhari, Jichu Drakye, and Tsering Kang. After meeting the Mountain Travel Sobek trip leader at the Paro airport, we'll drive into town for lunch. Afterward, we drive to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan. The remainder of the day is free to rest and relax.

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    Day 3 : Thimphu

    After breakfast we’ll drive to the north end of the road to Dodina (8,600') and hike an hour up a steep hill to visit Cheri Monastery, or Goemba, built in 1620 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal and established with an original staff of 30 monks. Nowadays the monastery serves as the main meditation center of the country and has more than 70 monks undergoing their three-year, three-month retreat. Inside is a silver chorten holding the ashes of the Shabdrung’s father. On our return we’ll visit Tango Goemba (another steep one-hour climb), founded in the 12th century (the present building was constructed in the 15th century). It is now a Buddhist institute for higher learning. Time permitting, we’ll visit Tashichho Dzong, seat of the royal government and central monastic body, upon our return from the hike. (1 hour driving; 4 hours hiking)

     

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    Day 4 : Thimphu – Paro (7,500')

    Our morning tour will include a visit to the School of Arts and Crafts (or “painting school”), where Bhutanese children can follow a six-year program in traditional arts, such as drawing, painting, woodcarving, and sculpture. We’ll also visit the Textile Museum, National Institute of Traditional Medicine, and Folk Heritage Museum. In the afternoon, we’ll drive back to Paro, where we’ll visit the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above the Paro Dzong. The museum’s collections include displays of spectacular thangkas (religious scroll paintings), bronze statues, and Bhutan’s beautiful stamps. Time permitting, we will also visit the Paro Dzong itself, built in 1644 by the Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal.

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    Day 5 : Paro

    Today we’ll take a steep, 2-hour hike to a teahouse, where we enjoy a great view of Taktsang Monastery (its name means “tiger’s nest”), perched on a cliff 2,700 feet above the floor of the Paro Valley. Taktsang is the most spiritual place for the Bhutanese and a major pilgrimage spot. Our hike follows a steep switchback trail through the forest. After breaking for tea and cookies, you will have the option to sit outside the building and admire the monastery and its beautiful surroundings or, if you feel energetic, to continue another hour to a closer viewpoint. Much of Taktsang was destroyed by a fire in April 1998, but it is now completely rebuilt. We’ll have some time in the afternoon to explore Paro on our own. (5 hours hiking)

  • Day 6 : Begin trek - Shana Zampa (9,450')

    The day begins with a short 15-minute drive to Drukgyel Dzong (8,500'), where our pack ponies will be loaded up with all the gear for our trek. Drugyel Dzong was built in 1960's to commemorate the victory of Bhutan over the Tibetan armies and to guard the Paro Valley against further aggressions. In 1951 it caught fire and was never repaired except for the shingled roof erected in 1985 to prevent further damage. It is now an empty shell--a place to meditate on the past. After visiting the ruins of the Dzong, we’ll walk along the Paro River, following it as it winds past traditional farmhouses with cultivated fields of red rice, chilies, potatoes, and millet. After about five to six hours of walking, we’ll arrive at our first campsite by the river near the village of Shana at 9450 feet, where the forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly colored butterflies. (10½ miles, 5½-6 hours hiking)

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    Day 7 : Soi Thangthangkha (11,840')

    We’ll continue up through the valley of the Paro River, which gradually narrows as the trail leads higher, winding up and down through a thick, lush forest of oak, pine, and juniper. The trail becomes very rocky, muddy, and strenuous, climbing up and down while slowly gaining altitude. As we get closer to our camp for the night, we’ll begin to see the snowcapped summit of Chomolhari (if the weather is clear), a mountain that is sacred to the Bhutanese. This is a long, hard day with lots of ups and downs and rock hopping; it can be very muddy. We’ll camp at Soi Thangthangkha (11,840'). (13½ miles, 9-9½ hours hiking)

  • Bct09_fam
    Day 8 : Jangothang (13,382')

    We’ll continue following the Paro River on a demanding, rocky trail, and then the valley widens again, opening to a spectacular area surrounded by high snowcapped ridges. A few yak-herding families are based in this area, and we may be lucky enough to pay them a visit and try some of their dried yak cheese. Camp at Jangothang (13,382') below a ruined fortress near the base of Chomolhari. (11½ miles, 5½-6 hours hiking)

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    Day 9 : Rest day (13,382')

    Today is a free day to rest and explore the area. You can hike to an open area where you can sit and watch the grazing blue sheep (known locally as bharal), or you can walk to a nearby glacier at the foot of Chomolhari. Of course, you can also opt to stay at camp, take in the views, and rest for the challenging day ahead.

  • Bct13_guide
    Day 10 : Soi Yaksa (12,450')

    Our trail starts with a short steep hike to Tshopu (14,300'), one of the two trout-filled glacial lakes we will pass on the way to Bhonte La (“La” means “pass”). From here, we often see blue sheep, fat marmots, and migrating Himalayan birds, as well as incredible views of Jichu Drake, a beautiful snowcapped peak alongside Chomolhari. We’ll continue for about one hour to our lunch spot below Bhonte La (16,000'). After lunch we cross the pass and make a long, steep descent to the yak-herding valley of Soi Yaksa (12,450'). There are only a few families living in the area and they produce some of the best yak-wool cloth we’ll see along the trail. Yak herders and their families will come to our camp as early as 6:00am with items to sell, such as cloth, yak tassels and ropes, jewelry, etc. (10-12 miles, 8-9 hours hiking)

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    Day 11 : Taybu (13,700')

    Our hike today starts with a very gentle uphill trail to the top of the eastern ridge of the Soi Yaksa valley. From here we can enjoy an incredible view of the amphitheater of mountains to the north. Little by little, the very top of Chomolhari and Jichu Drake reappear on the distant horizon as we approach our lunch spot. After lunch, we’ll cross Thombu La, a 15,000-foot pass with panoramic views of the eastern Himalaya (on a clear day, you can even see Kanchenjunga, the third highest mountain in the world), before descending to our camp at Taybu (13,700') by the midafternoon. This area is rich pastureland for yaks, and we’ll probably see nomadic yak herders camped in their traditional woolen tents. (7-8 miles, 5-6 hours of hiking)

  • Bct14_guide
    Day 12 : Shana (9,413')

    After a short, steep climb out of camp, we leave the remote mountain area by following a ridge. From this vantage point we get a glimpse of the Paro Valley to the south before we start our steep descent (4,500' of elevation drop) for most of the afternoon and return to Shana (9,413'), where we spent our first night of camping. (6-7 miles, 5-6 hours hiking)

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    Day 13 : End trek – Paro (7,500')

    A four- to five-hour walk brings us back to the trailhead at Drukgyel Dzong. Lunch is served upon arrival. Here, we’ll bid farewell to our staff and ponies before we board our van for the drive to Paro.

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    Day 14 : Bangkok

    Morning transfer to the Paro airport for departure on your Druk Air flight to Bangkok. Take the shuttle to the Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore this lively city. Lunch and dinner are on your own.

  • Day 15 : Fly home

    Take the hotel shuttle to the international terminal. Depart on homeward-bound flights, arriving in the U.S. the same morning or afternoon depending on your flight schedules.

    If you'd prefer to spend a bit more time in Asia, you may wish to join one of our exciting extensions in India, Vietnam, or Cambodia. Ask our Regional Specialist for details!

Download Detailed Itinerary

DATES: Best time to go: April, October - November Departures: Oct 12 - 26, 2014 Nov 8 - 22, 2014 Apr 14 - 28, 2015 Apr 21, 2015 - May 5, 2015 Oct 12 - 26, 2015 Nov 2 - 16, 2015

PRICING:

2014 Prices

$5,395 (4-12 members)
$940 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok - subject to change

$1,100 single supplement

2015 Prices

$5,595 (4-12 members)
$940 internal airfare – Bangkok/Paro/Bangkok - subject to change

$1,100 single supplement

  • Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel
    Bangkok

    The Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport is a 4 star hotel located 10 min walk from Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok. Boasting 612 comfortable and contemporary rooms, the hotel also offers 2 bars and 4 restaurants. With a 24 hr airport shuttle every 10 min from Gate 4 Level 2 and parking available, there is no better place to stay.

  • Druk Hotel
    Thimphu, Bhutan

    Experience the unique and legendary hospitality of the Bhutanese people at this fine accommodation in the midst of the Himalayas. Located in the heart of the capital city, the hotel is close to shopping, culture, and the bubbling Thimphu River.Thim

  • Zhiwa Ling Hotel
    Paro, Bhutan

    The Zhiwa Ling combines the sensibilities of a fine Bhutanese guesthouse with the best of modern comforts. Guests can enjoy a traditional outdoor hot-stone bath, a Tea House, a Meditation House, and two restaurants specializing in both contemporary international and classic Bhutanese cuisine.

Properties shown are representative of the accommodations we use on this trip, may not be inclusive of all accommodations we use, and are subject to change.

Expert leadership is the key to an exciting, unforgettable experience. Our trips feature gifted leaders for whom leading trips is a true vocation. Besides showing you wonders you’d never find on your own, they make sure everything runs smoothly and safely without a hitch. They are knowledgeable about all aspects of your trip, and take great pleasure in sharing their insights with you. More than just guides, they positively elevate your experience by being teachers, companions, and the best of friends. You’ll be in good hands with them every step of the way.

  • Namgay Dorji

    Namgay Dorji, the senior manager of our Bhutan office, has been leading treks and tours for the past nine years. He is very knowledge about the history, culture, and religion of Bhutan, has many relatives in the monk body, and looks forward to sharing his experience with you. Namgay speaks seven languages: English, Japanese, German, Spanish, Hindi, Nepalese, and Urdu; is a graduate of Bissau College, Meghalaya, India; and received his diploma in Tourism and Travel Management from the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management in Salzburg, Austria. His many personal interests include bird watching, rock climbing, trekking, and archery.

photo credits: ©Cathy Ann Taylor



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Itinerary for Bhutan: The Chomolhari Trek

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Activity Ratings

Easy

Many activities are optional and involve fairly easy travel. Trips may include short hikes of two to three hours or optional walks at low elevations. Includes less demanding sea kayaking and river rafting trips with Class I-II rapids.

Moderate

More active trips involving hiking over moderate terrain, usually - but not always - with vehicle support and at elevations less than 10,000 feet, or trips with long hiking days, multiple sea kayaking days, wilderness camping, or other invigorating activity. On many trips, you can elect to skip a day's activity, depending on logistics. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips and river rafting trips with Class III rapids.

Strenuous

Hiking and trekking over steeper or more rugged terrain or where elevations may exceed 10,000 feet - often several days in a row. Includes more demanding sea kayaking trips (4-5 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

Ultimate Challenge!

Our most demanding trips: trekking over steep, rugged terrain at high elevations (no vehicle support) or with substantial altitude gains and losses; trips to remote, extreme wilderness; mountaineering trips. Includes our most demanding sea kayaking (5-7 hours paddling a day) and river rafting trips with Class IV-V rapids.

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Departure Dates

Oct 12 - 26, 2014 Nov 8 - 22, 2014 Apr 14 - 28, 2015 Apr 21, 2015 - May 5, 2015 Oct 12 - 26, 2015 Nov 2 - 16, 2015
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