The Soi Yaktsa trek is a breathtaking journey through the majestic landscapes of Bhutan, where the beauty of nature meets the traditional way of life of the local semi-nomadic people. The trek takes you on a journey through the rugged mountain terrain, past cascading waterfalls, through lush valleys, and over high mountain passes, offering stunning views of the snow-capped Himalayan peaks and glacial lakes.
As you trek through remote villages, you will have the opportunity to interact with the friendly locals, learn about their unique culture and traditions, and witness their daily lives. The highlight of the trek is undoubtedly the village of Yaktsa, where you will have a chance to experience firsthand the simple and rustic lifestyle of the semi-nomadic people.
This is a trek for those seeking adventure and a true connection with nature, away from the hustle and bustle of modern life. With its awe-inspiring beauty and the rich cultural experience it offers, the Soi Yaktsa trek is sure to leave an indelible impression on your heart and soul.
Day 1: Arrival in Paro
Upon arrival at the airport, you will be greeted by a local representative who will escort you during your stay in Bhutan. As soon as you arrive in Paro, you can embark on a cultural journey to visit one of the most important iconic sites in Bhutan.
Rimpong Dzong, one of Bhutan's architectural marvels. Dzongs are historical structures strategically located across the country that serve as monasteries, administrative offices, and fortresses. The original Paro dzong dates back to 1645 but was destroyed by fire in 1907 and was promptly rebuilt in the same year. It currently houses 200 monks and the district administration. The dzong's central tower, Utse, is renowned as the most beautiful in the country. You can explore the Kuenrey, a prayer and study hall for the monks. Visitors are also permitted to take photographs in the courtyard.
Afterward, you will hike down to the old wooden bridge that was once guarded at night since it was the only entrance to the dzong in ancient times. Later, you can stroll around the town, visit local restaurants, and immerse yourself in the Bhutanese atmosphere. Overnight hotel
Day 2: Trek to Takshang
Altitude: 3150m, trek 4hrs
Today marks your warm-up hike for the upcoming trek tomorrow. You will explore one of Bhutan's most scenic and important pilgrimage sites, Takshang or Tiger's Nest, which has been a refuge for over 1200 years. The temple is perched 200 meters on a steep cliff overlooking Paro valley and has a rich history dating back to the 8th century when Guru Rimpoche, the founder of tantric Buddhism in Himalayan countries, visited the site. Legend has it that he rode on the back of a tigress and meditated in a cave for three months. Since then, numerous high Buddhist priests have come to meditate, attaining the highest levels of spirituality.
The original temple was built in the 17th century, but it was destroyed by a fire in 1998. In 2003, the temple was rebuilt to its fullest glory. It is considered the 10th holiest site in the Buddhist world. The hike to the temple will take approximately four hours, with one hour from the parking area to the tea house and another one and a half hours to the temple.
In the evening, you will visit Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest temples built in the 7th century by the Tibetan king Songchen Gyampo.
To end the day on a relaxing note, you can try the Bhutanese Jacuzzi or hot stone bath at a local farmhouse. Finally, you will spend the night at your hotel, preparing for the exciting trek ahead. Overnight hotel
Day 3: Paro – Chele la Trek – Shana
Altitude: 3988m, trek 4hrs
Start your day with a trip to the picturesque Dzongdrakha village, a charming settlement that clings to a cliff high above the Paro valley, affording visitors stunning views of the surrounding rice fields and the valley below. The village is a feast for the senses, with colorful houses and friendly locals eager to share their unique way of life with visitors.
After exploring the village, embark on a one-hour drive to the Kila Gompa monastery, which is home to around 30 nuns. The hike to the monastery is a delightful experience, offering a chance to take in the natural beauty of the area and spot some of the region's famous yaks. At the monastery, you can enjoy a cup of tea with the nuns, who are happy to share their insights and stories with visitors.
Once you've soaked up the atmosphere of Kila Gompa, continue your hike towards the Chela Pass, which sits at an altitude of 3988 meters. From here, you'll be treated to breathtaking views of the Himalayas, an awe-inspiring sight that will leave you feeling inspired and invigorated.
After the hike, head back to Paro valley and spend some time exploring the town. Stroll around the charming streets, take in the sights and sounds of this vibrant community, and perhaps even indulge in some shopping or dining at one of the many local establishments. Towards evening, drive to Shana past Drugyel dzong for overnight. Overnight camp
Day 4: Trek from Shana to Soi – Thangthangkha
Distance: 22Km, Duration: 6-8hrs, altitude: 4044m
After leaving behind the ancient fortress of Drugyel Dzong, which is a significant landmark in the history of Bhutan, you will embark on a journey along a rugged road that winds its way through the stunning natural beauty of the region. As you traverse this path, you will pass through several charming villages that are characterized by their traditional architecture and vibrant community life.
As you leave the villages behind, you will be greeted by vast expanses of lush agricultural fields, where the farmers toil tirelessly to produce crops that sustain the local population. This is a wonderful opportunity to observe the traditional farming practices of Bhutanese people and learn about the crops that are indigenous to this region.
After driving for about an hour, you will arrive at Gunitsawa, which is an important army check post that serves as a gateway to the pristine wilderness of the Bhutanese mountains. This is where your trekking adventure will truly begin, as you step out of the vehicle and take in the majestic beauty of the surrounding landscape.
It will be the longest day of the trek, with plenty of ups and downs that may leave you feeling exhausted. You will trek across the isolated farm of Shing Karap at an altitude of around 3100 meters. After some time, you will reach a cross point of trails marked by piled up rocks adorned with colorful prayer flags. If you choose the left side of the trail, it will lead you to Tibet, crossing the Tremo La pass. However, you will follow the right trail, marked by a rock with the words "way to Soi" and an arrow pointing in that direction. The steep climb, followed by a descent, will take you to a bridge, allowing you to cross the river and continue your ascent through the forest until you reach the clearing called Thongo Samba - an ideal spot for lunch.
The forest is breathtakingly beautiful, with varying vegetation. As you will be trekking at a high altitude, it is likely that you may come across yaks. However, it is important to be cautious around them as they may not be very friendly towards strangers. If you encounter yaks on the trail, maintain a safe distance and let them pass first. It is advisable to stay higher up the trail than below them.
The trail will eventually lead you to a small white stupa and a bridge. Avoid crossing the bridge as it leads to the village of Yaktsa. Half an hour from the bridge lies your campsite for the night at Soi Thangthangkha.
You can rest and recharge for the next day's trek at the campsite, surrounded by the serene beauty of the Himalayas. Overnight camp
Day 5: Soi – Thangthangkha to Jangothang
Distance: 17 Km, Duration: 4-6 hrs, altitude: 4010m
It is incredibly rewarding to rise early in the morning and bask in the glorious sight of the sun's rays illuminating the second highest peak, Chomolhari (7314m), nestled between two steep valleys. After an hour's walk along the left side of the Pa chhu or Paro River, you leave behind the tree level and venture into a breathtaking valley. The valley widens and reveals stunning views of high, snow-capped peaks. You will pass by a military campsite, which guards the border with Tibet, before encountering yaks and their winter camps.
As you continue your trek, you will come across several small houses in a place called Soia Yutey. It is worth stopping here for a cup of butter tea and lunch. The campsite is a mere few minutes' walk from the village, making it an ideal place to spend the night. Overnight camp
Day 6: Jangothang – Halt
Today, you will embark on a four-hour acclimatization hike to the north of your camp. Although there is practically no trail, you will ascend an open and seemingly endless slope until you are rewarded with a spectacular view of Mt Jichu Drakye (6989m). For those seeking a bit more adventure, there is the option to scramble even further up to 4895m - higher than Mount Blanc - to witness the breathtaking panorama of Mount Jumolhari. Along the way, keep an eye out for rare blue sheep, Himalayan rhubarb, griffon vultures, golden eagles, and the remarkable blue poppy.
Jangothang base is a flat and grassy terrain, featuring an old ruined fortress perched atop a hillock in the foreground. It is situated beneath the colossal Mount Jumolhari and its neighboring peak, Jitchu Drake. Due to the high altitude, most people experience symptoms of mountain sickness at this point, making it advisable for all trekkers to take a break here.
Whether you choose to hike or simply relax in camp, one thing is certain - today is sure to be a memorable day.
Day 7: Jangothang – Soi Yaktsa
Distance: 16Km, Duration: 6-87hrs, altitude: 3800m
The trail continues northward, leading to the last settlement in the valley before descending once more to the Paro Chhu River, where you will cross over a wooden bridge. As you continue your trek, you will encounter the turquoise Tshophu lake, which sits at an elevation of 4380 meters and is home to ruddy shelducks. After crossing a slope to a crest, you will discover a second lake. Descending into a hidden valley, you will then embark on a steep climb to reach Bonte La, the highest point of the trek at 4890 meters, where you will be rewarded with awe-inspiring mountain vistas of Basingthang (5500m) and Chatarake (5570m).
As you cross the pass, the trail descends, weaving its way along yak trails until you reach the Dhumzo Chhu River. Continuing downstream and passing by a few houses, you will finally arrive at a campsite situated at an elevation of 3800 meters.
Day 8: Soi Yaktsa – Thombu Shong
Distance: 11Km, Duration: 4-5hrs, altitude: 4180m
The journey along the trail is one of constant undulation, and the next stage is no exception. After a climb of over 100 meters up and over a ridge, the path descends to another stream. Traversing the stream, the trail then heads up the hillside, dropping into a small side valley before finally emerging onto a ridge. At this point, the path takes a southerly direction, ascending past a handful of huts until it reaches the Takhung La, a high mountain passes that towers at an impressive elevation of 4520 meters.
From the pass, a short descent takes you to the picturesque Thombu Shong, a wide and grassy area dotted with a few yak herder's huts. The serenity of this location, coupled with the stunning vistas of the surrounding mountains, make it the perfect place to take a break, relax, and soak in the beauty of the Himalayas.
Day 9: Thombu Shong – Paro
Distance: 13Km, Duration: 4-5hrs, altitude: 2730m
The ascent from the valley continues through enchanting rhododendron forests until you reach Thombu La, located at an elevation of 4380 meters. If you're lucky enough to be trekking on a clear day, you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views of some of the most prominent peaks in the Himalayas, including Mount Jumolhari, Jichu Drake, Teri Kang, and even Kanchenjunga. The beauty of these awe-inspiring mountains is a true balm for the soul, providing a welcome respite from the stresses of modern life.
After soaking in the views from the pass, the trail gradually descends to around 4000 meters. Switching back down the ridge, you'll finally arrive at the helipad situated at Gunitsawa, which sits at an elevation of 2730 meters. Here, your vehicle will be waiting to whisk you away, marking the end of your incredible trek through the magnificent Himalayan landscape. Overnight hotel
Day 10: Departure
Transfer to the airport for departure