Laya Gasa Trek: Traverse remote Bhutanese passes and visit some of the highest settlements in the world

19 December, 2020 | Reccy Guide

Laya Gasa trek is an exhilarating trek in the Bhutanese Himalaya. For more than 15 days, the trekkers walk the undulating terrain along the Indo-Tibetan border to eventually descend at the charming village of Gasa. The unique selling point of this trek is that it is extremely diverse. This is because it starts, crosses, and concludes, including three to four topographies. These comprise Paro, in the beginning, while overlooking Thimphu in between, resting at Laya with Layaps, and concluding at Gasa native.

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The diversity of the trail also brings forward an assorted population, flora, and fauna. The trek starts at the most famous tourist attraction, Drukgyel Dzong, a ruined fortress. The interesting thing about the Laya Gasa Trek Bhutan is that it starts and ends at the fortresses, Drukgyel Dzong and Gasa Dzong. Apparently, in the 17th century, the first religious leader named Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal had built both the fortifications for defense against the Tibetan and Mongolian attackers.  Gasa Dzong is located within the native of Gasa, where the trek ends.

Following the Indo-Tibetan border with the Paro river, the trail surpasses alpine meadows, rhododendron, frequent ascents, and descents, until it reaches the highest settlement, Lingshi, at 4010m. The trail is similar to the Jomolhari trek, which changes the route by heading towards Thimphu city.  Owing to the arduous journey of the Jomolhari Laya Gasa Trek, an acclimatization day is kept at Jangothang basecamp. At Jangothang basecamp the views of Mt. Jomolhari (7314 m), Mt. Jichu Drake (6989 m), Tshering Ganga (6789 m), Gangkhar Puensum (7570 m) and the other snow capped ranges are bound to take your breath away. Spend your time at the Jangothang basecamp, either climbing a little higher for better views or relax in your tents. Either way, it is essential to suit the changing weather of the altitude.

Traversing a ridge overlooking a valley in the Laya Gasa TrekTraversing a ridge overlooking a valley in the Laya Gasa Trek

The Laya Gasa Trek Bhutan is unique in showcasing a variety of high-altitude settlements, which meet the requirement of yak herders. The terrain of Bhutanese Himalaya is unchanged for many years. The yak herders roam around the pasturelands grazing their sheep and yaks. Apart from the common fauna, the Laya Gasa trail is also home to the Takin, Bhutan’s national animal. If you spot an animal, which resembles cow and goat, you are unarguably staring at Takin!

Furthermore, at Linghsi village, you can check out Lingshi Dzong, an ancient fortress, built to ward off, and keep a closer check on the invaders. The trek features some of the raw natives with the folks carrying out their daily rituals and routines. How experiential it is to live with the village men and learn their local styles! At the end of the trek, the planned itinerary, especially, stores one day to explore the native of Laya. The inhabitants of Laya are known as Layaps. 

Starting from Paro, the villages of Sharna Zampa, Soi Thangka, Chebisa, Shoumothans, Robluthong, Lingmithang, and Chansa perform as significant campsites to rest at night. The frequent ascents and descents let us explore the passes like Ngye la Pass at 4700 m, Shingchen La Pass at 5005 m, Gogu La Pass at 4500 m, Jari La Pass at 4700 m, and Bari La Pass. Although these tiring uphill and downhill terrains might numb your mind, the sights of alpine flowers, Himalayan marmots, blue sheep, rhododendrons, among other natural facets will soothe your soul, and energize you to trek further.

Mesmerising Bhutanese HimalayaMesmerising Bhutanese Himalaya – Laya Gasa Trek

Besides, the trail of Jomolhari Laya Gasa trek is a path to multiple rivers along the way. Initiating with the Paro river, the trekkers across multiple streams. During the trek from Robluthang to Lingmithang campsites, you will be drenched, while crossing the streams of the Kango Chhu River. Moreover, at Lingmithan campsite, you will get a chance to see Tiger Mountain, also known as Gangchenta (3100 m).

Crossing through Cedar, Spruce, Juniper, Fir and other coniferous forests throughout the trail, trekkers finally reach the last campsite Gasa Tshachhu. A day is spent here rejuvenating in hot water springs, and strolling the local market and streets of Gasa native. Gasa Tshachhu is one of the popular tourist destinations of Bhutan.The Laya Gasa trek daily requires an average 17 km of a hike. Experiencing Bhutanese culture and Buddhist faiths, the trek indeed has been gradually garnering fame amongst the adventurists. Similar to the Snowman trek, only seasoned trekkers can plan the Jomolhari Laya Gasa trek instead of novice fellows.

View of Gangkhar PuensumGangkhar Puensum – arguably the highest unclimbed mountain of the world

The Bhutan government follows strict rules towards the permit of trekking. Indians are allowed to trek only in the Paro and Thimphu region. However, a special permit can be obtained to trek Haa valley, Bumthang, Gasa, Laya, and other protected regions of Bhutan. The permit could be applied at Thimphu’s immigration office or a trekker can get in touch with a local Bhutanese agent.

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