Naro 6 Passes Trek
Naro Six Pass Trek challenging trek enters the high Himalaya and has a close encounter with Chomolhari (7315m). In Naro Six Pass Trek we camp under its imposing slopes before crossing six high passes on a new and rarely travelled route ending at Thimpu. The two highest passes are Yale La (4950m) and Nyile La (4870m) with the remaining four passes ranging between 4200m and 4700m.
From the moment of arrival in Paro it is clear that Bhutan is different to anywhere else – local people resplendent in national dress welcome us outside an airport building with intricately carved woodwork in the traditional style. We acclimatise in Paro with two different day walks including the hike up to Takstang (Tiger’s nest) Monastery, perched on a cliff and a good warm up. The trek begins and we pass colourful farmhouses and spend two nights beneath Chomolhari’s east face with time for a high foray.
acclimatised, we head south across Nyile La and Yale La. From here
our route takes an interesting diversion to link up after three days
with the Druk Path Trek. The new route stays high and crosses another
four passes. It was pioneered in October 2009 by a High Places group
after bridges had been washed away on the traditional route. The Naro
Six Pass Trek is set to become a classic.
01: Arrive Paro
The flight to Paro is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world, with a constantly changing panorama of some of the highest mountains on earth. A Druk Country Explorer representative will meet you at Paro airport exit doors following customs formalities. After lunch enjoy afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the Ta Dzong Museum housing many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa. Dzong’s are large monasteries and district administrative centres, which were once strategic forts. Before dinner at the hotel there will be an orientation on Bhutanese etiquette by your guide. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is an important pilgrim site for Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Afterwards drive to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, and 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
03: Paro – Shana (5-6 Hours)
The trek begins. A short drive brings us to the end of the road at Drukgyal Dzong. While the horsemen and staff are loading the horses, we walk up to the the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647, the Dzong was destroyed by accidental fire. Its ruins were left as an evocative reminder of the great victories it was built to commemorate.
Our trek to Shana follows the Pa Chu (Paro River) and passes cultivated fields, traditional Bhutanese farmhouses and tiny picturesque villages. The forests are alive with numerous birds and brightly coloured butterflies. We camp at Shana.
17 km, 5-6 hours, 350m ascent.
04: Shana – Thangthangka (7-8 Hours)
This morning the trail follows the river Chomolhari from Thangthangka through a forested area with scattered farm houses. We climb steadily through oak, rhododendron, bamboo & fern, passing a junction where a path leads north over the Tremo La to Tibet. In former days, traders returning this way from Tibet were taxed in salt at a bridge just beyond Shana but the border is now closed.
Our camp is in a meadow at Thangthangka, 3520m. A long day, made more strenuous due to the altitude.
20 km, 7-8 hours, 770m ascent.
05: Thangthangka – Jangothang (7 Hours)
The trail slowly leaves the forest line and gradually climbs into a beautiful valley, passing Tegethang, a winter home of the yak herdsmen. Lots of yaks will be seen today before we arrive at Chomolhari’s base, Jangothang. Chomolhari (7315m) overlooks the camp and visible nearby are the ruins of an old Dzong which used to guard Bhutan against Tibetan invasions.
19 km, 7 hours, 480m ascent.
06: Jangothang (Rest Day)
A rest day – our bodies need to acclimatise and catch up with the height gain of the last two days. There are a number of good side trips from camp you can walk easily up the valley towards Chomolhari, climb the ridge behind camp to a high pedestal, or walk to a beautiful high lake with very fine views of Chomolhari ‘Goddess of the Holy Mountain’ & Jitchu Drake (6989m). Alternatively, recline in your tent and enjoy superb views from there!
07: Jangothang – Lingshi (7-8 Hours)
Our route today crosses Nyile La (4890m), ‘Sleepy Pass’, a challenging climb still dominated by Chomolhari and Jitshu Drake but with views of Tserim Gang (6526m) to the north and Gancheta (‘Great Tiger Mountain’,6840m) to the east. In these high altitudes we hope to see bearded vultures and Himalayan griffon as well as blue sheep. From the pass we descend to reach our camp – the horses tend to travel faster than us so with any luck there will be a welcome brew ready at camp.
18km, 7-8 hours+, 840m ascent.
08: Lingshi – Waleythang (8 Hours)
Today we cross the Yale La (4820m). An early start is needed, as it’s a long day with a lot of climbing. Our gentle trail along the Mo Chu River is initially dominated by Lingshi Dzong behind us, which recedes in the distance as we climb. After 3 hours we cross the river, then another 2 hours at a slow and steady pace should see us on the pass enjoying a splendid panorama including Chomolhari, Gancheta, Tserim Kang and many many others. In snow this crossing may be tougher for the horses than for us.
A steady, never too steep descent leads past slopes where blue sheep graze and we follow the Thimphu Chu on a good track to Shodu. Now our route diverges from the river and the main trail and heads off to a camp at Waleythang (4160m.)
8 hours+. 940m ascent.
09: Waleythang – Gang-Tsa (7-8 Hours)
We begin with a gentle but steady three hour climb following an old yak herders’ trail to reach Ledi La (4700m), our third pass. Dropping into the remote valley beyond, we look out for blue sheep and himalayan griffon. We follow the shoreline of a beautiful blue lake on a good trail which then threads its way beneath towering cliffs to reach our next camp by a yak herders’ shelter at Gang-tsa (3800m). A varied and satisfying day.
10: Gang-Tsa – Jigmelangtsho (6-7 Hours)
Following the valley downstream from our camp, we cross the Tango Chari Chu, thankfully on a new bridge, the old version being little more than a wobbly plank. The trail climbs across another forested ridge to drop into the next valley. A slow climb now leads through pine forest and over to the large sacred lake of Jigmelangtsho where we camp.
11: Jigmelangtsho – Lababa (6-7 Hours)
A steady climb leads to Yusa La (4380m) and we drop down over rocky terrain then climb again to Dung Tsho La (4300m) to join the Druk Path Trek the traditional route between Paro and Thimphu. We camp a little further on, either by a sheltered lake or at Labana.
There are a number of campsite on this route and your guide may decide to use different sites depending on local conditions.
12: Lababa – Thimphu (5-6 Hours)
The final pass is Labana La at 4200m from which Gangar Punsum and the rest of the Bhutan Himalaya can be seen.
From here we descend to Phajoding Monastery and Thimphu. Transfer to your hotel in Thimphu for overnight.
Approx 5 -6 hours.
13: Thimphu – Punakha
After a well earned, restful night, visit some of the highlights of Thimphu including the National Memorial Chorten, completed as a memorial stupa for the Third King who passed away in 1972 by the Royal Queen Mother and 12th century Changangkha Temple.
Afterwards drive to Punakha via Dochu-La pass (3,100 meters), which on a clear day offers an incredible view of Himalayan. The drive through the countryside affords a glimpse of everyday life in this most remote of Himalayan kingdoms. In the Dochu-La area there are vast Rhododendron forests that grow to tree size and bloom in late April/early May covering the mountains in a riot of glorious spring colour.
Punakha was the ancient capital of Bhutan. On arrival, visit Punakha Dzong, the “Palace of Great Happiness” built in 1637 by the Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter headquarters of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu to this warmer location. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver. It was here in 1907 that Bhutan’s first king was crowned.
Overnight at your hotel in Punakha/ Wangduephodrang.
14: Punakha – Paro
In the morning drive to Yabesa village and hike to through ricefields and up to Khamsum Yueley Namgyal Chorten, built by her majesty the queen Ashi Tshering Yangdon Wangchuk. Perched high on a hill on the bank of the river, the Chorten houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions. Following this, enjoy a walk to Chimi Lhakhang, temple of the Drukpa Kuenly who is also known as the Divine Madman. He inherited the Divine Madman title since he revolted against the orthodox Buddhism in his time. He taught the people that religion is an inner feeling and it’s not necessary that one should be an ordained monk. He is also considered a symbol of fertility and most childless couples go to his temple for blessing.
Enjoy some lunch before transferring to Paro. Afternoon at leisure. Overnight at your hotel in Paro.
15: Depart Paro
in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward