Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek is an exclusive trek in the unspoiled Land of Dragon, Bhutan, offering many lakes and mountain vistas. This 8-day Dagala Bhutan trek not just offers tranquility amidst the natural landscape but opens up to ancient monasteries and temples, giving light to the Buddhist culture. While there aren't 1000s of lakes in the trek as the name suggests, it has come metaphorically from all the mythical stories of how the place once consisted of thousands of lakes. The high mountain lakes like Utsho Tsho, Relitsho, Setsho, Hentsho, and Jagetsho lakes at Labatama are enough to entice you.
During most of the seasons on this trek, you will get the mountains, hills, and lakes all to yourself as the trail has very few or no tourists. You reach altitudes above 4,000m/13,123ft and might have to catch your breath once a while as you take a sharp and steep descend and ascends. The entire experience of visiting the pristine nature that the Bhutanese so dearly wish to preserve is a humbling experience.
This trek throws you into the arms of nature and blesses you will sight, unlike any place you have seen. From some of the highest mountain ranges to the Dzongs built late in the 15th and 17th centuries, you get the uncut beauty of Bhutan. No other experience can compare to the feeling of being disconnected from the materialistic and commercial world, then walking through remote locations with the views of the Himalayas in the backdrop. If you love to go on unique treks and, most often unbeaten, virgin track, this is the trek for you.
|Day 1||Arrival at Paro|
|Day 2||Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery hike and transfer to Thimphu – 5 km, 4 to 5 hours|
|Day 3||Trek from Genekha to Gur (3290m/10,793ft) – 7 km, 5 hours|
|Day 4||Trek from Gur to Labatama (4,300m/14,107ft) – 12 km, 6 hours|
|Day 5||Explore and Acclimatization at Labatama|
|Day 6||Trek from Labatama to Panka (4,000m/13,123ft) – 8km, 5 to 6 hours|
|Day 7||Trek from Panka to Chamgang and drive to Thimphu – 14km, 8 hours|
|Day 8||Drive from Thimphu to Paro and Final Departure|
Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek is known best for the views of mesmerizing lakes in Bhutan at a high altitude, as the name suggests. The trek takes you to an off-beat unspoiled track into the remote settings of Bhutan. Lakes, better known as 'tsho' in the local language, are the Dangala tsho trek's biggest highlight. You get to camp near Usho Tsho and visit others like Relitsho, Setsho, Hentsho, and Jagetsho Lakes. The whimsical short trek bombards you with views of some of the highest mountains like Mt. Everest, Mt, Kanchenjunga, Mt. Jichu Drake, MT. Tshering Gang, Mt. Tsende Gang, Mt. Gangche Ta, Mt. Khangbum and Mt. Masang Gang, and more. Perhaps the raw natural beauty of Bhutan is what makes this trek special.
The moderate short trek begins in Paro's valley town as you enter Bhutan through its only international airport, situated here in Paro. Even as you enter Paro, the country's natural beauty gives off a welcoming vibe with a view of mountain ranges on a clear day. At Paro, you will visit Rinpung Dzong, a Buddhist monastery, and Kichu Lakhang, a Buddhist temple. Both the monuments are noteworthy for their ancient architecture.
Then a hike to the most famous landmark of Bhutan, Tiger's Nest Monastery, sitting on the edge of a high cliff, will familiarize you with the Buddhist beliefs and the legend of Guru Rimpoche, the spiritual master of Bhutan. The 17th-century masterpiece houses four main temples and eight caves and a nearby shrine, prayer wheel, and holy cave temple, Phaphug Lakhang, being the most noteworthy.
Trek starts from the third day early in the morning after a drive to Genekha village, which is popular for producing mushrooms of a particular breed. Trek through picturesque terrace farmlands to the coniferous trees and alpine flora transitions you seamlessly to Gur campsite. The valley along this route looks spectacular.
On the fourth day, the route passes through a high ridge and into a rugged landscape. Despite the harsh land, you can spot wildflowers and asparagus growing along the way. One of the challenging parts is to cross the Paga Labsta pass at an altitude of 4,250m/13,943ft. All the tiredness is washed away when Mt. Kanchenjunga is spotted, and the Dagala mountain range a short descend from there. Entering the Labatama valley is like a blessing as you get offered many yak herder huts, mountains, and most importantly, the turquoise lake Utsho Tsho/Gewa Tsho, famous for its huge number of golden trout fishes.
One cannot get enough of Labatama as it is the main highlight of the trek. Hence, you stay a day more to explore and enjoy. You can view a series of lakes like Relitsho, Setsho, Hentsho, and Jagetsho. These blue/green lakes are known to have a high number of trout fishers. The views of the serene high-altitude mountain lakes make the entire trek exciting. Even as you depart from Labatama next on the trek, you climb to the western front of Dala Tsho lake at an altitude of 4,520m/14,829ft and observe views of mountains unlike ever. Mountains bordering Nepal and China like Mt. Everest and Nepal and India like Mt. Kanchenjunga are seen partly from the viewpoint. Other mountains in Bhutan like Mt. Jichu Drake, Mt. Tsering Gang, Mt. Gangche Ta, Mt. Khangbum, Mt. Masang Gang, and one of the highest Mt. Jumolhari are seen. Following the Doccha Chhu river on the way will lead to Panka.
The next day's trail running from Panka to Chamgang presents you with the national flower of Bhutan, the Himalayan Blue Poppy that can be found adorned in the side of the path. After climbing the Tale La pass at 4,180m/13,713ft, you observe the Dagala mountain range's panoramic views. Through a forest of birch, juniper, spruce, and the enticing rhododendron, the trail takes you to Talakha Goempa, which was built in the 15th century. A drive from Chamgang takes you to the capital city of Bhutan, Thimpu. After enjoying your evening stroll in the streets of Thimphu, you head towards the Paro international airport for your final departure on the next day.
The flight to Bhutan lands at the Paro International Airport, the only international airport in Bhutan. As you look out the window of your plane, you will see the high-standing mountains on the far horizon with green hills sitting below them. Upon your arrival, you will be greeted by our Bhutanese guide at Third Rock Adventures. After being driven to your hotel for the stay, you will be briefed about the entire trek by your guide.
Your stay at Paro can be made special by visiting the nearby landmarks famous to the valley. In the afternoon, you can visit the Rinpung Dzong. It is a large Buddhist monastery that was once a fortress to the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu school, built in the 15th century. Rinpung has been inducted into Bhutan's Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion. From there, you will pass a traditional wooden bridge and towards Kichu Lhakhang.
Kichu Lakhang is a beautiful Buddhist temple in Lango Gewog with ancient architecture. After the interesting tour, you will take a stroll in the street of Paro, which is filled with ancient architectural buildings on the side.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Paro.
After having breakfast, you will prepare for one of the most exciting sightseeing hikes in Bhutan. The Tiger's Nest Monastery, known locally as Paro Taktsang or Taktsang Palphug Monastery, is one of the thirteen caves where Guru Rimpoche meditated and practiced Vajrayana. Guru Rimpoche is a legendary tantric who, as per myth, flew on the back of a Tigress and identified this place for meditation for about three months. Guru Rimpoche is perhaps the most followed spiritual leader in Bhutan.
Tiger's Nest in Paro was built in the 17th century by Gyalse Tenzin Rabgye and has become a pilgrimage for Buddhist pilgrims. There are four main temples and eight caves. The ambiance of the monastery is amplified by the lush trees on the sides of the cliff. There is a nearby shrine and a prayer wheel, and further above it is Phaphug Lakhang, a holy cave temple. After returning from the wonderful tour, you will take a drive towards Thimphu.
Stay overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.
Today is the first day of your trek which will start early in the morning after taking a drive from your hotel to Genekha Village which takes about 45 minutes. Genekha village is perhaps best known for producing matsutake and chantarelle mushrooms.
You begin your trek with a short descends to the river. The trail runs through terraced fields and coniferous trees and other alpine flora. From there on, you will start with a climb after crossing the river. You will keep up the walk until you reach a rock platform. You will instantly spot a spectacular view of the valley. Two hours from there you will reach Gur (3290m). Gur is a wide area of yak pastures. After a short walk you reach your campsite amidst an abundance of wildflowers.
Stay overnight at camp in Gur.
Today you will begin the trek by following a trail across the high ridges. Amidst the rough and rugged landscape, you can observe the vegetation unique to Bhutan. In the spring, the best season for Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek, the wildflowers and asparagus along the way can be spotted. The rhododendron-adorned meadows are a feast to the sore eyes. A huge milestone marks the first mountain pass you cross. The Paga Labsta pass is situated at an altitude of 4,250m/13,943ft. Views of Mt. Kanchenjunga are seen from the pass.
Amplifying the experience, you will start to descend from the pass and see the entire Dagala mountain range. Along the way, you will pass by meadows and the yak herders camps. You will descend to the Labatama valley and then climb gradually. After passing through some yak herder huts, you will arrive at Utsho Tsho Lake. Utsho Tsho is also known as 'Gewa Tsho,' which translates to Turquoise Lake in English. The lake sits at an elevation of 4300m/14,107ft and is famous for the abundance of Golden Trout fishes. You are lucky enough to have your campsite just beside the lake.
Stay overnight at camp in Labatama.
The main essence of the Dagala Thousand Lakes Trek is the lakes found in Labatama. Dagala Thousand Lakes trek itinerary segregates this day to explore the nearby lakes and acclimatize against the change in altitude. On this day, you will visit a series of nearby lakes like Relitsho, Setsho, Hentsho, and Jagetsho Lakes and can engage in some trout fishing as well. These lakes are known best to have a high population of Trout fishes. Enjoy the serenity of the lakes that sit nestled between high green hills.
You will have your lunch by the lakeside while enjoying the views as well as the amazing myths about the lakes that your trekking guide will share. The chill of the wind will freshen you up, and all the tiredness from the trek will blow away as your eyes feast upon the wonderous lakes. You will return to your campsite just before dusk and prepare for the next day's trek.
Stay overnight at camp in Labatama.
On this day, you will be offered the next major highlight of the trek – the high-standing surrounding mountains. Today the trek begins after breakfast with a climb along the western side of Dala Tsho lake, which sits at an altitude of 4520m/14,829ft. From this altitude, the views seen will mesmerize you and leave you wishing for more travel time in Bhutan. A handful number of peaks can be seen in this area. Mt. Everest situated in Nepal, is also seen, perhaps the best panoramic view. Parts of Mt. Kanchenjunga, situated partly in Sikkim and partly in Nepal, comes to view. Other mountains in Bhutan like Mt. Jumolhari, Mt. Jichu Drake, Mt. Tshering Gang, Mt. Tsende Gang, Mt. Gangche Ta, Mt. Khangbum, and Mt. Masang Gang are visible.
You can climb up to an altitude of 4,720m/15,485ft for a better view of these mountains. From there, you will take a descend and eventually pass through some Yak herder huts towards Doccha Chhu river. During the winter season, the locals will have left their huts to avoid the harsh cold weather. You will stay high up on the slope while following the river until you reach Panka (4000m/13,123ft). Mind to it that there are a few ascends and descends on the way. Upon reaching your campsite, you will rest and stay there for the night.
Stay overnight at camp in Panka.
Today will be the last day of the trek as you head from Panka to Chamgang. Along the way, you will be crossing many passes, and the views of each of these passes are worth the pain in your muscles.
You will come across a different variety of Blue poppy, the Himalayan Blue poppy being the national flower of Bhutan. This species of flower named Meconopsis survives even in the most extreme freezing weather conditions.
You will have lunch at the point where the trail branches out and leads to two destinations; Talakha and Wangduephodrang. You will then continue your trek by taking a climb into the last pass of the trek, Tale La, at an elevation of 4,180m/13,713ft. The views of the Dagala range and the modern city of Thimphu can be seen. After taking in the spectacular views, you will lead through a forest of birch, juniper, spruce, and rhododendron to Talakha Goempa. It is situated at an altitude of 3080m/10,104ft and was built in the 15th century. It is a unique ancient structure made between green highlands. From there on, you will walk through an apple orchard and into the village of Chamgang. You will be driven to Thimphu from here and transferred to your hotel.
After having some refreshment, you can stroll around the streets of Thimphu, which are adorned with modern and ancient buildings. You can buy some souvenirs to take back home and also promote their local products. You can also opt to enjoy the evening with some newfound friends you have made in Bhutan throughout the trek.
Overnight stay at a hotel in Thimphu.
Early in the morning, you will pack up your belonging after gathering some amazing memories of this trek and bid farewell to Thimphu. Our coordinates will drive you to Paro International Airport. At the airport, our Bhutanese guide at Third Rock Adventures will bid you a farewell. As you board the plane, your memory will be flooded by the views of the lakes at Labatama, the snowcapped peaks, even the tough terrain adorned with wildflowers, and the architectural beauty of Dzongs.
After the wonderful Dagala Thousand Lakes trek with us, we hope that you will remember us for any other adventures in Bhutan and surrounding countries, Nepal and India, for a similar experience.