A short itinerary to experience the camping trek in Bhutan that takes you to the small village of Laya, the highest inhabited village in Bhutan. Virtually isolated for many years, Laya has its own culture, closely related to Tibet. This is an ideal small trek to include in a trip through Bhutan for all those who love nature, trekking and culture.
4 days / 4 nights
Overnight at highest altitude at 3840m
Local guide in English
Lodging and meals in campsite during the trek
Transfers by private vehicle
Best season April to May and September to mid-November
Surely you have seen images of women wearing a peculiar conical hat made of bamboo when looking for information about Bhutan. They are Layap women, a small ethnic group within Bhutan, with their own culture and language. Until a few years ago the Layaps lived half isolated from the world, semi-nomadic, trading with the Tibetans on the other side of the mountain and dedicated themselves to little agriculture and their herds of yaks. With the advent of tourism and slowly improving roads, however, the settlements have become permanent villages, trade with Tibet has declined, and the influence of visitors is slowly growing up.
Laya lies at the foot of the 7100-metre Tsenda-Gang and is the highest village in Bhutan at 3840 metres. The surrounding scenery is fantastic, but even more so are the hospitable locals, who are also eager to sell you anything to improve their economy. Spending a day among their cultivated fields, their houses and their smiles is worthwhile and is one more star of a trip as special as visiting Bhutan.
This small trek is in a camping tent and the material is carried by mules or yaks. We have preferred to spend the first night in Gasa, which will also be an interesting visit, avoiding camping in Koina where it is usually muddy, and to be able to go directly to Laya. On the way back we will camp in Gasa Tshachu, where we can enjoy a bath in the hot springs as a finishing touch to this short but very interesting trek.
Most of Bhutan is stunning, virtually untouched natural scenery. Permanent white peaks, yak pastures, occasional isolated and traditional villages, wildlife and unique flora. There are durations and landscapes to suit all tastes, from treks in the remote wilderness of the mountains to hikes that take you closer to a more cultural side, through villages and monasteries. Most of the routes can be done in both directions, so it is also possible to do partial round trips.
Overnight stays for most of the treks are in campsites, and yaks or mules are responsible for carrying your equipment and all the stuff for the trek, so, in a way, the old spirit of the pioneer treks is maintained, bridging distances of course. Bear in mind that there is little chance of charging the batteries of your cameras and other electronic devices, so it is advisable to carry spare batteries and perhaps a small solar charger.
Although we are still talking about a very unspoilt, lonely and wild territory, the rough-roads slowly advance following the valleys that enter the mountains to connect isolated villages, where services are very basic and difficult to reach. This naturally affects the route of the treks, especially during the first and last days, and is reducing the days of some itineraries.
Druk-Yul is what the Druk-pa, the people of the ‘land of the thunder dragon’, call Bhutan. It was one of the most isolated countries in the world until tourism was allowed in the 1970s, but there are still restricted areas of the country. This has preserved its traditions and culture from Western influence, while it has become the main attraction for tourists. And Bhutan has been able to capitalise on this with good tourist organisation and fares not suitable for all budgets.
With a very sparse population of about 700,000, Bhutan became famous for its GNH, the Gross National Happiness Index, as opposed to GDP, a concept they developed in the 1970s and included in the constitution.
Lush forests and high Himalayan peaks to the north define a majestic landscape, barely disturbed by the few existing roads, friendly and peaceful people greet the traveller embarking on the way through the so-called last Shangri-la on earth.
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