Facts and Statistics
The Snowman Trek is regarded as one of the hardest trails on earth. It is a high altitude trek that provides an incredible experience, if you are ready to take up that challenge. Trekking into the remote Lunana region takes you back to the 7th century at a time when Buddhists had just arrived on the land. Passing small villages and Buddhist monasteries, with a view of Himalayan peaks, provides amazing scenery and land that has not been changed for hundreds of years.
This trek takes you across several passes nestled on altitudes of more than 5,000 meters. Therefore, you will be able to complete the northern border with Tibet providing you with views of several unclimbed and unchanged 7000-meter peaks. The wonderful people, the pristine landscape, high altitude wildlife, turquoise- tinted lakes, and Buddhist culture are some of the highlights as you traverse Bhutan.
About the Trek
This trail ranks high among the greatest on earth. This incredible trek follows the Himalayan spine, between Bhutan and Tibet. It runs from Paro on the west to Trongsa on the east. As you trek along, you will cross more than 11 passes, five of which are above 5,000 meters above sea level while the remaining are well over 4,500.
You will also have a chance to visit the Lunana mountain kingdom, which is one of the most inhabited and remote valleys on earth. Along the way, you will journey through the mythical villages of Thanza and Laya, walk under peaks of up to seven thousand meters that include Chomolhari, the ever-astounding Jitsu Lake, and the highest unclimbed peak on earth, the Gangkar Puensum.
The incredible culture of the Himalayan Kingdom is something to look out for, as you visit the picturesque Punakha Dzong and the Takstang monastery. This is not a trek for amateurs. However, it is highly rewarding if you are a seasoned Himalayan trekker.
Hiking This Trail
Since there are only two airlines that operate into Paro from Kathmandu, seats are in high demand and limited. Therefore, to guarantee your place on a chosen departure, it is advisable to book well in advance. If possible, book a year in advance. This way, you will be able to secure your place on the plane, while ensuring that any upward ticket price adjustments will not affect you.
It is regarded as one of the most challenging in the world mainly due to the hiking altitude and length. Additionally, you have to cross 11 passes. These features are not very common in most other hiking trails. The real underfoot conditions are not very difficult. There is no scrambling involved or glaciers to cross.
Due to the remoteness of this trip, it is good to make organize your hike in a flexible manner as much as you can. Weather conditions can change any time, which will force you to change your scheduling. For more than two weeks continuously, you will be camping above 4,000 meters, making it suitable for experienced trekkers only.
Once the trek has started, chances of a rescue are limited, in case of any unforeseen circumstances. In this section of the Himalayas, it is extremely expensive and difficult, to get a rescue helicopter. Therefore, be sure of your trekking skills, before you think of booking this hiking trip. However, you will be rewarded with stunning views of snow-capped peaks, the valleys of the rhododendrons, the panoramas of the Himalayas and the tranquility offered by the secluded Buddhist temples.
Bhutan is a region that gets tricky in terms of access. Internet and TV had been banned until 1999. Additionally, you cannot travel to this region unannounced. You should have your visa ready. Before, even thinking of taking this trip, you should organize for a tour guide in advance. You cannot explore this region without a tour guide, according to regulations. This is meant to protect this Buddhist territory and to make sure that the landscape is not changed, for future generations.
Once you step into the country, there are other risks to take into account. Altitude sickness is a common concern. On top of that, the unpredictability of weather in the region can also spoil your trip just when you are about to begin. Around 50% of treks in the area have been cancelled due to unpredictable bad weather. It does not come as a surprise that since 1982 when foreigners were allowed to take the walk, only 500 people have managed to complete.
As you hike along the way, you will be accompanied by creature comforts. Mules will assist in hauling your packs and tents. However, they will be swapped with yaks at Laya, since they are more tough and hardy for the mountainous region. You will also come across the wonderful looking takins that graze in the land.
The natural scenery is not the only thing to keep you fascinated. There are numerous isolalted monasteries in nestled in the landscape such as the Dzongs that give you an in depth knowledge of Bhutan’s history. After you have completed the trek, you can spare some energy and visit Punakha Dzong that used to be the seat of the government in previous time.
The first important thing when you are in this region, is taking your time to acclimatize. As stated earlier, you will be hiking at altitudes of more than 5,000 meters. After your flight to Paro, which lies at an altitude of 2,300 meters, you should take some time to acclimatize before undertaking anything strenuous.
The second essential for this trip is selecting an appropriate tour organization. Select an organization that specializes in cultural tours, outdoor activity, and mountain trekking so that you can have a wholesome experience. It is not advisable to go without a tour company. Other essentials include well-fitting hiking boots (women’s page here), eco-friendly detergent, a first aid kit, sun glasses and other necessary hiking gear.
Despite its reputation, the Snowman Trek is not something to fear. In reality, it is a remote and wonderfully varied hike, which takes in the wonderful Himalayan scenery. It also presents you with an opportunity to observe some of the rarest wildlife in the world. if you can adapt to the altitude, ascend and descend the steep mountainsides and handle the camping, then you are definitely going to enjoy the trip.