WILD EAST RODUNG LA TREK
While the Rodung La Trek does not ascend to very high altitudes, it is fairly challenging as the trail covers some fairly steep climbs and descents. The trail takes you from Bumthang in Central Bhutan to Trashiyangtse in the far eastern reaches of the kingdom.
The route was once an important passage for traders but has fallen into disuse now and is chiefly used as a hiking trail. The trail passes through alpine and bamboo forests, meadows and mountain passes, through villages and temples offering hikers an incredible array of biodiversity to appreciate. The hike typically takes 10 days to complete and is best pursued in winter between October- early November or in spring between April- early May.
Day 1: Jakar – Ngang Lhakhang
Distance 20 km, 6-7 hours, camp altitude 2,800 m.
The route takes you around Chamkhar Chhu, a river rich in trout. After passing Thangbi Lhakhang, a temple built by the first Karma Shamar in 13th century, you will enter Ngang Yul or ‘Swan Land” named considering that swans were once common in this region.
Day 2: Ngang Lhakhang – Ugyenchholing
Camp altitude 2,850 m.
You begin with a gradual climb to Phephe La pass (3,353m). Follow the trail until the pass takes you through a picturesque forested region. It is recommended that you allow for stops along the way to enjoy the natural beauty of the surroundings.
Day 3: Ugyen Choling – Phokphey
Distance 17 km, 5-6 hours, 920 m ascent, camp altitude 3,680 m.
Today’s walk is through bamboos, hemlock and finally up to an alpine forest. The camp is in a meadow at the head of the valley.
Day 4: Phokphey – Pemi
Distance 20 km, 6-7 hours, 480 m ascent, 1,160 m descent, camp altitude 2,950 m.
Rodung La (4,160m) is about three hours climb from the camp. From the pass you continue downhill through a gorge, overlooking scenic mountain valleys covered in lush pine forests.
Day 5: Pemi – Khaine Lakhang
Distance 21 km, 7-8 hours, 350 m ascent, 1,340 m descent, camp altitude 2,010 m.
This trail winds through the villages of Ungaar, Bulay, Kulaypang and Gomda before bringing you to Drula village and Khaine Lhakhang. One of the oldest temples in the country, it was built in the mid 7th century.
Day 6: Khaine Lakhang – Tangmachu
Distance 18 km, 6-7 hours, 520 m ascent, 810 m descent, camp altitude 1,720 m.
From your camp, the trail goes down to a stream and back to a basic health unit and a community school in Gorsam. Further on, you pass a Tibetan-style Umling Mani, built by a lama from Tibet.
Day 7: Tangmachu – Menji
Distance 16 km, 4-5 hours, 690 m ascent, 620 m descent, camp altitude 1,830 m.
After arriving at Kuri Zampa, the trek begins to gradually climb through paddy fields and villages before bringing you to Chusa.
Day 8: Menji – Pemi
Distance 20 km, 5-6 hours, 620 m ascent, camp altitude 2,450 m.
Today’s trek gets you continuing uphill through thick forests overlooking spectacular mountains. The camp is located in a forested area at an altitude of 2,400m.
Day 9: Pemi – Taupang
Distance 21 km, 7-8 hours, 1,450 m ascent, 1,450 m descent, camp altitude 2,450 m.
After climbing up to Dongla, you will descend through thick evergreen forests until you reach the campsite for the night.
Day 10: Taupang – Trashi Yangtse
Distance 24 km, 8-9 hours, 720 m descent.
Today is the longest day of the trek. It is a gradual descent to Trashi Yangtse. As you descend the chirpine and hardwood forests are slowly replaced by oak trees. The final camp of the trek is located in a subtropical forested region.