Day 1: To Thongo Zamba (start of trek)
Total altitude gain: 390m/1,279ft;
Duration: 5-6 hours;
Campsite elevation: 3,200m/10,500ft;
Level of difficulty: Moderate
Past the ruined Drugyel Dzong, we drive further on a 18 km dirt road until we reach the road-head at an army post of Gunitsawa (2,810m/9,200ft), Beginning the Chomolhari trek, we walk for 5-6 hours to our first campsite at Thongo Zamba (3,200m/10,500ft). We are now trekking within Jigme Dorje National Park, the largest protected area in the country (4,350 sq kms.) which extends beyond Laya to Lunana in the east and all the territory to the south. Whilst it is a protected wilderness, the park management which is based at Gasa, has to cope with the needs of lowland farmers and semi-nomadic yak herders. There is an amazing variety of species of plants and animals in the park at both high and low altitudes. The forests are tall and thick, comprising a variety of oaks, maple, birch, larch pine and alders that will be replaced by more and more rhododendron and pines as we trek higher. There are numerous different varieties of the former, and depending on the onset of warmer temperatures after winter, flowers will be in bloom, or past bloom, as the lower altitudes flower earliest. As we climb higher the rhododendron species change from the common rhododendron arboreum (Nepal's national flower) to griffithianum and cinnabarinum. Our camp site is close by the river.
Camping…B, L, D