Waking up to a gorgeous view of Mt. Jumolhari outside our tent gave us a hint of what spectacular mountain views we’d have on the rest of our trek in Bhutan.
Mt. Jumolhari is the second highest mountain in Bhutan at 7326 m. We did an 8-day trek in Jigme Dorgi National Park which took us to the base of Jumolhari and over several high-altitude mountain passes. In Bhutan you are required to hire a guide for your entire stay, including the trek. We were accompanied on the trek by a guide, chef, assistant and a horseman with 7 horses carrying all the gear including tables, chairs, a dinning tent and a toilet tent! It’s not our usual style of trekking, but the delicious meals our chef was able to create in a tent, at altitude really impressed us.
The trek started at the small village of Drugyal, 2300m, where there is an old fortress built in 1654.
We trekked for 3 days along the Paro Chhu and then Paa Chhu (Rivers), first on a dirt road and then a rocky trekking path. The trail slowly climbed 1700 m to reach Jumolhari Base Camp at 4090 m. The river valleys were broad and filled with birch, pine, willow and rhododendron trees and gave us beautiful glimpses of the surrounding high mountain peaks.
We passed small villages of potato farmers and as we got higher they became small hamlets of yak herders.
There were also many Buddhist chortens (stupas), mani walls and player flags along the trail. Mani walls have a mantra etched in to them and must be passed on your right side. The trail eventually brought us above tree-line and the huge peaks came into view.
Arriving at Jumolhari Base Camp (also called Jangothang) we were treated to an amazing view of this majestic peak.
Jangothang means land of ruins. This camp is located at the site of an ancient castle ruin. The legend is that the king wanted a mountain to be cut down so he could get an earlier sunrise. His subjects instead decided it was easier to cut off his head, so they did, and abandoned his castle.
Basecamp is surrounded by many spectacular, high elevation peaks. We spent 2 extra days here so we could explore the area more and to help acclimatize. We hiked to the top of a mountain close to camp where we had incredible views of the peaks down the valley. On our way up, we saw a dozen blue sheep that are similar to Rocky Mountain Sheep. We also saw many Golden Eagles soaring overhead and a couple of Hill Partridges.
From the summit we had a full view of Jumolhari and its moraine lakes and we got a glimpse of Mt. Jichu Drakey that we’d see more of the next day. Read about this in Part 2 (coming soon).
If you like what you read, please share it using the links below.