- Altitude: 2500 - 4500 mts
- Best Season: March to May and September to November
A true wilderness trek to the base of the highest mountain in Bhutan. This trek combines the Kangkar Puensuem southeast route and the Menla Karchung route into one and therefore takes longer than just doing the in and out trek to basecamp.
The trek offers everything from pristine forest to alpine vegetation landscapes. The gain in altitude is gradual which makes it ideal for acclimatization as we get further into the trek and for those high altitude campsites.
Highlights of the trek are seeing Kangkar Puensuem up close, the landscape around Bamurpa (basecamp), Tsampa, Mela Karchung and Pamee Tsho and the overall experience of trekking in pure wilderness of central Bhutan.
The 12 Day Kangkar Puensum Trek:
Day 1 – Nasiphel to Kophu.
Distance: Approx. 17 km.
Time: Approx. 7-9 hours.
Start elevation: Approx. 2850 meters.
Campsite elevation: Approx. 3200 meters.
Today’s hike will be similar to the 1st day of Jhomolhari trek. The trail leads us in a northerly direction following the Chamkhar Chhu upstream. We will come across potential campsite like Tsho Zhawa and Saduk Suem along the banks of the river. The trail eventually cross the river over a suspension bridge, a little ways after crossing Saduk Suem. Our campsite is about 1-2 hours from here.
Day 2 – Kophu to Jiew Thangka.
Distance: Approx. 18 km.
Time: Approx. 7-9 hours.
Campsite elevation: Approx. 3950 meters.
Trail today starts off by gradually climbing out of the narrow gorge. Before reaching Tsampa (army outpost), if the the sky is clear, look to your left through the trees to get a first glimpse of Kangkar Puensuem’s east summit. The valleys opens up after we cross Tsampa.
There are a total of 8 herder’s camp, the 8th being basecamp (Bamurpa). We will cross two camps today, Buumjen followed by Tsawuu, our campsite is by the herder’s camp at Jiew Thangka.
Day 3 – Basecamp (Highcamp) – Jiew Thangka to Bamurpa
Distance: Approx. 13 km
Time: Approx. 5-6 hours
Campsite Elevation: Approx. 4450 meters.
We start off on rocky trails through forest of Juniper, Fir and Rhododendrons. Other literatures on the trek titles this section of the trek as ‘the trail of 1 million stones’. Before reaching the 4th herder’s camp called Zhiwa, we will get our first proper glimpse of the mountain. The trail slowly climbs through tree cover and sporadic openings that offer stunning views of the mountain. After Shingo, the 5th camp, we will be walking through wide open valleys till Bamurpa, our campsite for 2 nights.
Day 4 – Explore Bamurpa
Explore the landscape around Bamurpa. We have an array of choices today. Bamurpa is surrounded by 7, 5000 meters plus peaks. We can either cross the river and climb the ridge to the west or head closer towards Kangkar Puensuem to get a closer look.
Day 5 – Contingency Day
Keeping this extra day as a provision for bad weather, unforeseen events and circumstances. Also we can use this day to spend an extra day here at Bamurpa or at Chur Thang, whatever the group prefers.
Day 6 – Bamurpa to Tsampa
Distance: Approx. 18 km
Time: Approx. 7-8 hours.
Campsite Elevation: Approx. 3650 meters.
We retrace our way back to Tsampa through the same trail that brought us to Bamurpa.
Day 7 – High Camp – Tsampa to Weitsang
Distance: Approx. 11 km
Time: 5-6 hours.
Campsite Elevation: 4100 meters.
Day 8 – Weitsang to Chur Thang
Distance: Approx. 9 km
Time: 4-5 hours.
Day 9 – Explore
Visit Pamee Tsho and explore the landscape around camp. If the group is feeling adventurous we could also climb Menla Karchung la pass (5400 meters).
Day 10 – Chur Thang to Tsampa
Distance: Approx. 20 km
Time: 7–8 hours.
Back to Tsampa, continuing on our exit route.
Day 11 – Tsampa to Saduk Suem
Continue on our exit following the Chamkhar Chhu down stream. Our camp will be by the shed at the Saduk Suem
Day 12 – Exit Day, Saduk Suem to Nasiphel.
Trekking Rates For Bhutan
The government of Bhutan requires that a minimum standard needs to be maintained while trekking in Bhutan. You will be accompanied by your own trekking staff consisting of a professional trekking guide, cook, camping assistant and a few horsemen and horses to carry your gear; regardless of whether you’re a solo trekker or you are a part of a bigger group. All food supplies must be carried in and prepared in camp. Trekking in Bhutan can therefore be a little expensive for solo travelers and those traveling in smaller groups.
TREKKING SURCHAGE PER PERSON ON TOP OF SDF, GUIDE & VEHICLE CHARGES:
1 Pax: USD 250 Per Person Per Day
2 Pax: USD 200 Per Person Per Day
3 Pax: USD 180 Per Person Per Day
4 Pax or More: USD 160 Per Person Per Day
- 4 season mountaineering tents. (Mountain Hardware Trango ll).
- Freshly prepared meals with tea and snacks throughout the trek.
- All trekking logistics like dinning tent with utensils, chairs and tables, toilet tent, etc.
- Sleeping bag and blankets
- Fully seasoned support team.
- Portage charges.
- Filtered/boiled drinking water throughout the trek.
- Hot washing water in the mornings and evenings.
- Hot water bags for the night.
- Individual footprint foam mattress.
- Communal first aid kit (We always carry multiple oxygen canisters for emergency scenarios).
DOES NOT INCLUDE:
- Personal snacks, drinks and equipment
- Gratuity for staff.
A TYPICAL DAY ON THE TREK:
The day starts off with a wake up call, around 6-6:30 am, if you are not already awake by then. A staff will come with a bowl of warm water to wash up along with tea/coffee brought to your tent. Before heading over to the dinning tent for breakfast, usually around 7-8, we suggest you pack your overnight gear into your duffel bag and prepare for the day. During breakfast the staff will pack away the tents and ready the horses.
After breakfast, usually between 8:30-9 am, we start walking. The pace of the trek is leisurely with plenty of time to enjoy the scenery, take photos and explore the local settlements, if any. Lunch will be around noon at a favourable spot by the side of the trail. Lunch is carried by the staff.
There is usually more walking after lunch, we will always plan to cover big ascents/passes before lunch but this does not always pan out as expected. Normally we will get into camp by mid afternoon with the tents already set up by the support team. Once you arrive at camp, you will be able to wash up, change to get into your comfy camp clothes and try and get comfortable.
Tea and snacks will be served. Followed by dinner later in the evening around 7pm.
All meals are freshly prepared by our cook and kitchen team. Breakfast with fried rice, toast/pancakes with various condiments, omelettes and a range of hot drinks. Hot lunch is prepared by the kitchen crew during breakfast and packed into containers carried by the staff to be eaten on the trail. On arrival at the campsite, there will be tea and other hot drinks in the dining tent with biscuits and snacks, help yourselves. Dinner will follow with soup, meal and dessert.
ACUTE MOUNTAIN SICKNESS (AMS).
This happens due to the body’s reaction to the low air pressure (less oxygen) at high altitudes and each individual responds to this situation differently. So please ascent at your own steady pace so that you allow your body to acclimate as you gain elevation.
This is a problem for some people, especially when hiking and sleeping above 3500 meters. The onset of symptoms has no logic in the sense that you never know who will get it regardless of your previous climbs and high ascents. There is no natural way to avoid getting AMS. However, acclimatization before the trek (we recommend day hikes, climbing high and sleeping low) and staying hydrated, eating and sleeping (rest) well on the trek goes a long to keeping yourself fit and feeling good.
Usually a steady and throbbing headache at the back of your head is a telltale sign of the onset of AMS. But this is not a major concern if it does not develop further and persists. Other symptoms include: fatigue, shortness of breathe, loss of appetite, difficulty sleeping and vomiting. There is no treatment to this sickness other than letting the body rest, acclimate and cure itself. If the symptoms do not get better, we will descend in altitude.
PACKING LIST AND TIPS:
They say we pack our fears when we travel and thus all of us pack different and are each their own creatures of comfort. But the rule of thumb on treks is to keep it to the essentials and be organized.
Less things to pack in the morning means, being swift and at ease which translates to a few more cups of coffee while enjoying the morning sun.
Therefore only listing the essentials here.
- DAS BOOT: Your favourite hiking boot or shoe. One that is broken in and kept you on the trail, blister free, while hitting the gnarly stuff. A pair with good ankle support that breathes well and to a certain extent is water resistant, keeps your feet happy!
- THE FART SACK: I mean the sleeping bag. Check where and when you are going and take something that is rated lower by 5ºC than the expected temperature, just be on the warmer and safer side. Women typical tend to sleep colder than men.
- MATTRESS: A foldable and comfortable mat, ideally an inflatable mattress. After a long day, you just want some good sleep. One that can be packed away inside your duffle bag or secured on the outside with the straps (easier for us to stow away and load it onto the horses). We will provide a footprint foam mat.
- DAY PACK: Just like your boots, a backpack is something you wear almost throughout the day and the entirety of your trek. So take a pack that you are comfortable with. A 20-30 L pack is ideal, depending on the gear you carrying.
- CLOTHING: Apart from the clothes you are comfortable with, a rain jacket or a poncho that can double up as a windbreaker, is indispensable. Micro climates in the mountains are an enigma. So its always nice to be prepared, that way the rain doesn’t feel so bad and you can slog on with a grin on your face. Another essential is a down jacket, to throw over yourself while at camp after the sun goes down.
- MEDICATION: Please don’t forget you personal medication. Also a small personal first aid kit. You may never need them, but it can prove to be crucial for your wellbeing incase you do while on the trail. We will also have a common first aid with only the essential medicine and kit.
- GLOVES & BEANIES
- SUNSCREEN, SUN GLASSES AND HAT
- WATER BOTTLES
- A PACKABLE PILLOW
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