Soi Yaksa Trek discovers the transcendental valley of Soi Yaksa nestled in between the hills and mountains of mystic Bhutan. The 12-day trek begins with a quick tour to Haa Valley, into the laps of Jumolhari mountain at Jangothang, crossing Bonte La pass towards Soi Yaksa Valley, and ends at Thimphu. Soi Yaksa Trek is also often referred concurrently to Jumolhari trek because parts of the route match, however, the second half of the trek is contemporary. It pushes you back to an ancient era with all the yak herders’ huts and Buddhist monasteries scattered in the terrain.
Some regions in the trek like Haa Valley and Soi Yaksa do not have high tourist inflow so the trail is silent and uninterrupted. You can truly enjoy the beauty of nature while you hear the birds chirping near Jangothang, feel the cool and noisy wind blowing at the height off Bonte La early in the morning, and grasp the serenity of the silent Tsho Phu lakes.
The adventure of climbing to heights beyond 4,000m/13,123ft with the chilly wind blowing right through your face at the high passes is an adventure worth remembering for the rest of your life. If you are someone who likes a bit of adventure and has the physic to see to the end of it, then the Soi Yaksa trek is for you.
|Day 1||Arrival at Paro (2,280m/7,480ft)|
|Day 2||Drive from Paro to Haa through Chele La (3,575m/11729ft)|
|Day 3||Sightseeing and Acclimatization Hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery (3,180m/10,433ft) – 5 km, 4-5 hours|
|Day 4||Trek from Drukgyal Dzong (Paro) to Shana (2,850m/9,350ft) – 17 km- 5 to 6 hours|
|Day 5||Trek from Shana to Sio Thangthangkha (3,750m/12,303ft) 21 Km- 7 to 8 hours|
|Day 6||Trek from Thangthagka to Jangothang (4,050m/13,271ft), 19 km- 5 to 6 hours|
|Day 7||Acclimatize at Jangothang (4010m/13,156ft)|
|Day 8||Jangothang to Soi Yaksa (4890m/16043 ft), 16 Km, 6-7 Hours|
|Day 9||Soi Yaksa to Thombu Shong (4180m/13,714ft), 11 Km, 4-5 Hours|
|Day 10||Thombu Shong to Gunitsawa to Thimphu (4380m/14,370ft), 13 Km, 4-5 Hours|
|Day 11||Sightseeing tour at Thimphu|
|Day 12||Drive from Thimphu to Paro and final departure|
Soi Yaksa Trek is an unparallel trek that takes you across adventures of crossing high passes, sleeping on Base Camp, and enjoying the tricky mountainsides in the highest trails. Perhaps the main highlights of the trek are - a day hike to the nearest viewpoint in the lap of Mt. Jumolhari at Jangothang and crossing the tough yet enjoyable Bonte La pass at the altitude of 4,890m/16,043ft to reach Soi Yaksey.
While the trek route matches that of the Jumolhari trek, on half of the route, one cannot contest that the other half is unlike any other trek in Bhutan. You get to observe the views of Mt. Jumolhari and Jhichu Drake throughout the route while Mt. Kanchenjunga, and Teri Kang around the end.
Soi Yaksa trek begins with your arrival at the valley town of Paro where you will be welcomed and driven to your hotel. On this day you will visit the Buddhist monasteries and temples like Rinpung Dzong a UNESCO Tentative List inclusion and Buddhist temple Kichu Lakhang. After enjoying the architecture, the next day leads you on a different trip which is indeed refreshing and enticing. A long drive takes you to the small Haa Valley, low in tourism, high in rice production. On the way, you will cross the highest motorable pass in Chele La at the elevation of 3,575m/11,729ft. From the Bondey Haa highway, you head back to your hotel in Paro for the night.
A short drive from Paro Leads you to Shana from where a few wooden bridges take you to Thangthangkha. From heron, you start getting clear views of Mt. Jumolhori, the star of most treks in the area. On the next day, you lead on towards the base camp of Mt. Jumolhari, Jangothang where you cross alpine meadows and army check posts. On the way, you are blessed to spot the village life of Sio, Takethang, and Dangochang. The base camp situated at 4,050m/13,287ft is the best thing about the day as it gives you the desired views of Jumolhari and Jichu Drake. You will stay for a day at the base camp to enjoy more panoramic views of the mountains that you cannot get enough of.
The next day takes you past yak herders’ tents through a flower-adorned meadow and towards Tsho Phu Lakes. We will camp beside the first Tsho Phu lake. The other twin Tsho Phu is located further above which you can hike towards later in the evening. From there, on the next day, you begin the best part of your trek by crossing the Bonte La pass, the highest point of our trek at an elevation of 4890m. As difficult as the trek is, the views are to the same degree. From the high point, you descend to enter the Soi Yaksey valley to the Dhumzo Chhu riverside.
The trail walks past small habitations from Dhumzo Chhu and into Thombu Shong. Near the camp you can spot the yak herder’s huts, traditionally built. The campsite at Thombu Shong is of second-highest elevation for this trek. At the altitude of 4380m, you will pass the Thombu la trek on the other day and head towards Shana which will be the final trekking day. You can enjoy the views of the high mountains partially enveloped by mist, from the high camp. From Shana, you will be driven to Paro valley for the night. On the next day, you will head to Thimphu on a long drive. Upon reaching Thimphu you can enjoy around the main street of Norzim Lam and buy some souvenirs.
You will stay an extra day at Thimphu to go sightseeing around the prominent landmarks. 1974 built King’s Memorial Chorten, giant Buddha Dordenma Statue near the riverside of Kuenselphodrang, and the visit to the Folk Heritage Museum will keep you occupied throughout the day. You can also visit the Tashichho Dzong- housing the throne room and office of the king, in the afternoon. After enjoying the lovely 12 days of Soi Yaksa Trek, you will head back to Paro International Airport for your departure homeward.
You will arrive at the land of Thunder Dragon through the Paro International Airport. As you watch over your window, the views of the majestic Himalayas and rolling hills will be visible at the first site nearing Paro. Our representatives of Third Rock Adventures will greet you upon touching the airport. From there on you will be transferred to your hotel at Paro. After having some refreshment at your hotel, you can hop on your easy outfit and head out for an excursion.
Paro valley is home to some of the oldest Buddhist monasteries and temples. Visiting the Rinpung Dzong monastery in the afternoon will bring you a little closer to the ancient architecture. Rinpung was once a fortress to the Drukpa Lineage of the Kagyu School which has now been inducted into Bhutan’s Tentative List for UNESCO inclusion. You can also visit the Kichu Lakhang, another famous sightseeing spot, a Buddhist temple in Lango Gewog. After visiting these lovely architectural wonders, you will eventually go back to your hotel while strolling by the streets with age-old buildings and some new buildings, matched perfectly along the sides.
Overnight stay at your hotel in Paro.
On this day, you will have breakfast and head for a lovely long drive through Chele La to reach Haa. You will be amazed to see your driver passing through Chele La since it is a pass at an altitude of 3988m. It is the highest point where vehicles can cross the route. The road is narrow and steep and may be filled with snow in the winter season. Rest assured, your driver is experienced enough to take the sharp turns and utter drops. As you reach the pass you can instantly see the face of Mt. Jumolhari and the prayer flags fluttering with the wind in the nearby village.
Following the Bondey-Haa Highway, you will reach Haa valley. Situated on the west of the Bhutan border, Haa valley is known for its high rice production. Haa is known also as the Hidden Land Rice Valley. Haa is known for the Haa Dzong. There is a post office in Haa that you can visit. In the Haa valley, you will visit the Katsho village block to understand the Bhutanese people's traditional lifestyle. As there aren’t many hotels in the area due to low tourist inflow, we will head back to Paro for the night.
Overnight in Paro.
This is a special day as you get to visit one of the most popular landmarks in Bhutan. The hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery begins early in the morning after breakfast. On the hike to the monastery, you will find a forest of pine where you can hear the sounds of birds chirping and prayer flags fluttering.
The Tiger’s Nest Monastery also known locally as Paro Taktasang or Taktsang Palphug, is a mystical place sitting on the edge of a high cliff surrounded by mist. As per the mythical belief, Guru Rimpoche/Padmasambhava flew on the back of a tigress and identified the caves of the monastery as a place of solitude. It is believed that he then meditated for 3 months in this monastery. Padmasambhava is known to be the mystical tantric who introduced Buddhism to Bhutan. The monastery was built in 1684 by the Penlop of Paro and has since become a place of worship for Buddhist pilgrims. After the one-of-a-kind experience, you will head back to your hotel at Paro for an overnight stay.
Overnight in Paro.
Today is the start of your trekking days. After having breakfast, you will head towards Drukgyal Dzong. It is a Buddhist monastery in the upper part of Paro, now an ancient ruin (Please delete this sentence). You will walk along the Pachu River then along the rice terrace and millet fields. Along the route, you will pass through small villages with traditional houses. After Mitsizamp, the farms eventually disappear into the trail that leads through high trees towards Zakhapang after a steady ascend.
You continue to trek through blue pine forests, apple orchards and reach Gunitsawa village. You will pass through an army post along the way. Just beyond, you will check into your campsite at Shana. The campsite is a wide space nestled between pine forests. Near the campsite is a swiftly flowing river.
You will rest in the camp overnight.
This is one of the days you will experience the Jumolhari trek difficulty as it is one of the longest days of your trek spanning a distance of around 21 km. After a heavy breakfast, you will follow the trail that leads to the river. The trek takes a gradual ascend through a lush forest of blue pine, oak, rhododendron trees, birch and fir. Eventually, you will begin walking through the rocky and bumpy path and pass wooden bridges.
You will reach Thombu zam from where there are many other trails branched to other trekking destinations. After passing up a ridge with a chorten you will reach your campsite. You can instantly spot the amazing Jumolhari Mountain from the end of the valley. Jumolhari is one of the world’s highest mountain at an altitude of 7,326m/24,035ft.
The spacious camp faces Jumolhari and is an ideal place to rest for the night after a long trek. Overnight at camp.
Today you will begin your trek from Thangthagkha and head towards the base camp of Mt. Jumolhari; Jangothang. For a while in the beginning, the trail takes an ascend through an alpine meadow until reaching the army camp. At the army post, you will have to register your permit. The Pachu river above the tree line is to be followed to reach the camp. Along the way, you will pass through a few villages of Sio, Takethang, and Dangochang.
You will have to go through a tough trail, however, at the end of the day, the trek is entirely worth it. Jangothang Base Camp at 4,050m/13,271ft gives a view of Mt. Jumolhari through the sunset. You will come across Jumolhari Temple on the south side of the mountain. The flora and fauna along the road add to the beauty of the base camp. Birds like Yellow-billed Chough, White-Throated Dipper, and Snow Patridge might have been seen along the way.
Jichu Drake and Jumolhari sit perfectly as you rest for the night at your camp.
This is a perfect day to acclimatize your body against the change in altitude. You will not just stay at your camp but head out for a short hike as well on this day. Your day starts by having a good breakfast and then heading out to Tso Phu Lake.
The views of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake are seen at full sight from here. Mt. Jumolhari is sacred to the Tibetian Buddhist. As per the ancient belief, it is an abode of the protector goddess of Tibet and Bhutan. You will trek further up and check out the nearby ruins of the old fortress. The nearby areas are also equally beautiful and rich in livestock. On the short hiking trail, you will come across the national flower of Bhutan-Himalayan Blue Poppy. Also, on the way, Golden Eagles and Himalayan Rhubarb can be seen. After reaching the height, you will be tired and wanting to head back to your camp for an overnight stay.
The trail leads north to the last settlement in the valley and drops to the Paro Chhu, crossing it on a wooden bridge. Passing the Tshophu Lake (4380 meters), you will climb up steeply to Bonte La pass at 4890 meters, the highest point of this trek route. After the pass, the trail descends crisscrossing through yak trails down to the Dhumzo Chhu and after walking downstream below few houses you arrive to a camp at 3800 meters.
Overnight at camp.
The trail climbs over 100m over a ridge, and then drops to another stream. After crossing this stream, the trail heads up the hillside dropping into a small valley before emerging onto a ridge. Here the route turns south, ascending past few huts to Takhung La (4520 m). A short descend leads to Thombu Shong (4180m) with few yak herder’s huts.
Overnight at camp.
Climb up from valley to Thombu La at 4380m, and then drop gradually to about 4000m. The trail then makes a steep descent, switch backing down the ridge, finally reaching the helipad at Gunitsawa (2730m).
From Gunitsawa, you will be picked up by our crew and taken to Thimphu for the overnight stay at the hotel.
Today you will wake up, have some breakfast, and prepare for the sightseeing trip around Thimphu. Perhaps the most famous sightseeing place for a tourist is the King’s Memorial Chorten. The Kings Memorial is located in Doeboom Lam and was built in 1974. With its golden spires above the front porch and huge prayer wheels, it has been marked as a prominent landmark. The giant Buddha Dordenma Statue is another marvel in Bhutan located at Kuenselphodrang, Thimphu. The large bronze statue is 54m/177ft tall and also houses one hundred smaller bronze buddha statues. You can also add the Folk Heritage Museum to your list. It was opened in 2001 and displays articles, artifacts, equipment, and tools relevant to the Bhutanese culture and traditions.
Later in the afternoon, after having breakfast visit a nearby paper factory and also the Tashichho Dzong near the banks of Wang Chu. Since 1968, it has been the seat of the Bhutanese government as it houses most of the government departments and most importantly the throne room and office of the king.
After having some exciting sightseeing tour around Thimphu, head back to the Hotel. On the way down the street, you can also buy some souvenirs to take back home.
Overnight stay at hotel.
On this day we will sadly have to say goodbye as it marks the final day of your stay at Thimphu. Our coordinates from Third Rock Adventures will drop you off at the Paro International Airport and bid Farwell. We hope that as you board on the plane towards home, you remember all the wonderful memories you had crossing the high pass of Bonte La, gasping at the vistas of Mt. Jumolhari and Jichu Drake, and getting mesmerized by the serene Tsho Phu Lakes.
We hope that you had an amazing time with us in the Soi Yaksa Trek. If you wish you might even extend your travel to the neighboring countries of Nepal and India for a similar escapade.