About Jomolhari Trekking
Jomolhari Trekking is one of most popular treks in Bhutan, famous for awesome views of Jomolhari, 7326m, Bhutan’s holy mountain which lies on the border of Bhutan and Tibet. The trail passes through deep and rich forests, scattered hamlets and farmland and climbs to high alpine pastures. Unlike the well-worn paths to Everest Base Camp and many other parts of the Himalaya, the hiking trails in Bhutan are refreshingly new and at times hard to distinguish. There are rocks, boulders and fallen trees to hurdle. It requires a good level physical fitness as the altitude varies from 2500m to 4930m, reaching the barren plains beneath the peaks where nights are cold.
We meet up with our crew at Drukgyel Dzong. The crew consists of a guide, one cook, an odd-job man, a horseman and several horses.
For the first two days of the Jomolhari Trekking, our caravan travels up the Par Chhu valley following a twisting trail alongside the rushing waters of the Par Chhu or Paro river, which is born glaciers of Jomalhari and flows all the way down to and past the town of Paro.
Our second campsite is in a meadow at 3600m below the awesomely perfect summit of Jomolhari, the 7326m third-highest peak in Bhutan. Its staggering height over the valley makes you feel very small. Great slabs of snow and ice hang precariously from its southern flanks.
Emerging beyond the tree line we see more of the majesty of the Bhutanese Himalaya. The green valley opens out into a dramatic corridor with scree slopes that appear to have slipped down from the ragged rock cliffs above.
The trail swings westward to reveal Jomolhari’s near neighbour, Mt. Jitchu Drake, 6989m. Its spectacular ridgelines of snow and ice fused with rock are of such divine symmetry, it seems they have been hewn by the gods. Jomolhari Base Camp is at Jangothang, 4080m, a flat grassy space near an old ruined dzong where we can look right up to the eastern flank of Jomolhari. A two hour hike up a nearby peak offers a 360-degree panorama of the whole range including Jomolhari, Jomolhari II, 6942m, Jitchu Drakye, and Tserim Kang, 6789m.
We continue from Jangothang climbing eastward out of the Par Chhu valley and into the valley of the Tsophu Lakes. The Jomolhari range reflected in the clear blue water of the lakes is like a postcard, but we can’t afford to dawdle as we must push on toward the highest point of the trek, the Bhonte La pass, 4890m. From the wind-battered summit we drop down into a yak pasture well known by shepherds to be the hunting ground of the snow leopard.The snow leopard mostly keeps out of sight, but it is common to see footprints, or evidence such as the half-eaten carcasses of yaks or other unlucky prey.
The trail heads steeply down into the Dhumzo Chhu valley to a meadow beside a tranquil river and then climbs up the other side of the valley and over the Takhung La pass, 4520m, where prayer flags flutter at the rocky crest. We descend to a sprawling grassy plateau, which is our next campsite.There is a final climb to a pass which offers views of Kangchenjunga, the world’s 3rd-highest mountain, and then a knee-crunching descent of 1600m into the Par Chhu valley, which completes the circuit of the Jomolhari Trekking.