This trek is recommended for all months except July & August. It is especially beautiful in April & May, when rhododendrons are in bloom.
You can start the trek from the valley floor below Gangtey Goemba or from the Phuntsho Chholing Guest House at the eastern end of the Phobjikha valley.
Day 1: Gangtey to Gogona
15km, 6-7 hours
The trek leaves the valley at 2830km and leads south, then west through meadows and fields. It then climbs through a mixed forest of juniper, bamboo, rhododendrons and magnolia. The trail is rough and rocky and weaves through trees where pack animals have created deep muddy furrows. After crossing Tsele La (3440m) the trail crosses several meadows, and then descends through forests to Gangak (3020m). It is then a short climb to the camp at Gogona (3100m), a beautiful hilltop site overlooking a long valley. Nearby is Gogona Lhakhang and dozens of poles with white prayer flags fluttering. A 30-minute walk beyond Gogona is a hamlet where you may find homemade arra to buy. The women here weave blankets and speak a different dialect called Bjop-kha (language of the nomads).
16km, 6-7 hours
The trail winds gently up above Gogona village, past flocks of sheep and ploughed fields. Climb into a forest of firs, oak, spruce, dwarf rhododendron, miniature azaleas, cypress and juniper. A large area of this forest was burned by a fire, which was probably caused by lightning. Much of the undergrowth is daphne, the plant that is used for hand-made paper and may be identified by its yellow flowers.
A long but gradual climbs leads to Shobju La (3410m). The trail down from the past is rocky and muddy, weaving through the forest and criss- crossing a small stream. Above the trail is a small coal mine and the camp used by the minors. Eventually, at about 3000m, the trail needs a rough trek used by tractors to collect wood from the forest. Follow the road, with a few short cuts through the woods, to a sawmill and woodcutters camp at Dolonaga (2830m). Still heading down, the trail over looks the boat Khothangkha valley eventually which is a clearing, Chorten Karpo, where there are four Chortens dedicated to the four Jekhenpos who came from this area. Three of the Chortens are square, in Bhutanese style, and the fourth is Nepali style.
The best camp is in this clearing at 2790m, beside a forest of a large blue pines over looking the valley and the village of Khothangkha, comprising about 60 rustic houses.
12km, 5 hous.
A short, steep climb along a well-known path takes you to Tashi La (2800m). This is the upper terminus of the cable car” that transports wood down to Chhuzomsa, 1300m below. If you send a message ahead, you can ride the cable car down, but note the warning: ‘The Passenger who travels by Tashi La rope way will be at their own risks’.
The walk down is through a beautiful forest, with the undergrowth changing from rhododendrons and magnolia to ferns and dwarf bamboo. Experts claim that this stretch of trail is one of the finest bird-watching areas in Bhutan. Among the species found here are laughing thrush, shrike, magpie and woodpecker. The trail plunges down past steep terraced wheat fields to a cluster of houses at Whachay. The trail eventually meets the road near Tikke Zampa at 1500m. Keep your ears open for the whistle of loggers above you, which are to warn you to watch for the huge logs that they are sliding down the hillside.
The third alternative is to continue west, descending along a tree less ridge towards Wangduephodrang (Wangdi), crossing the Tang Chhu below the army camp east of town. (Trek description – courtesy: Lonely Planet guide book)
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