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These are my personal notes from East to West Traverse of Bhutan using the highest trails that tourists are permitted to use as at May 2010. I have edited my diary to give a clear idea of trail notes and places of interest but it’s not meant to be exhaustive. We had some terrible weather and all but one day we had rain or hail or snow. This means I didn’t get clear views of most peaks so excuse any oversights when I describe the view!

We had 6 enforced rest days while waiting for fresh pack animals to arrive, it seems this is a common problem in May to June but less so after monsoon in October to November.

Important Information

  • Place names in Bhutan can be confusing as some are used as regional or district identifiers and other places may have two or three different names. I have used local names as much as possible but please don’t be surprised if you hear alternatives.
  • Pack animals are used throughout Bhutan in preference to porterage. This can mean that even slight snowfall of 30 or 40cm can halt your trek or even change your route. It’s wise to have some spare time in any itinerary to allow for snow melt.
  • Mud can be thigh or even waist deep, which can also stop your pack animals from proceeding. If the trail is badly affected you may have to turn back.
  • There are very few route options to avoid obstacles, but ask locals if you do run into problems because there are ‘other’ trails that the tourism department would rather you didn’t know about.
  • On remote treks it is essential to carry a satellite phone, check that your trek leader has one!
  • Herder’s Huts are made of stone and have a roof of shingles, planks or stones. Herder’s Shelters do not have a roof and normally only one wall which acts as a windbreak.

Basic Itinerary:

Day 01-10 EAST BHUTAN: road trip from Samdruk Jongkhar to Trashi Yangtse then trek over Dong La and Rhodung La to Bumthang
Day 11-25 CENTRAL BHUTAN: trek over Gophu La (Snowman Trek) to Laya
Day 26-34 WEST BHUTAN: trek via Lingshi and Jomolhari to Haa then to Paro airport

  • 18 passes (three over 5000m)
  • 40,000m of ascent and descent

Drive times and distances

Haa to Paro over Chele La   68km2.5 hours
Paro to Thimpu 65km 45 minutes
Thimpu to Punakha77km2.5 hours
Paro to Taktseng car park10km30 minutes
Punakha to Bumthang210km6.5 hours
Bumthang to Trashi Yangtsi 288km10 hours
Samdruk Jongkhar to Trashigang180km9 hours
Trashigang to Trashi Yangtsi 65km2.5 hours


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