The Dagala Lakes trek begins just outside Thimphu and passes close to several high altitude lakes. The route also provides stunning views of the whole Bhutanese Himalayan range, as well as Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain, in Sikkim. Although most trekking days are reasonably short, there are some steep climbs and descents.
Day 1 Thimphu – Talekha
We begin with a short drive from Thimphu to Simtokha Rigney School, where we will meet our trekking crew and load up the pack horses. The trail is through a forest of blue pine and oak until we reach Talekha Monastery, at an altitude of 2,925 metres, overlooking the Thimphu valley. After an initial steep climb, the trail levels off through the forest. After about four hours, we will reach our campsite at Talekha.
Day 2 Talekha – Japhuna
From Talekha, the trail gradually climbs up through forests of blue pine, oak and spruce. We will stop for lunch at a yak herders’ camp. From here, we will be walking above the tree line. It is another hour and half climb through high altitude plants to the Jeleze La pass, at 4,000 metres. On a clear day, there are breath-taking views of the city of Thimphu and the some of the monasteries set on the surrounding hills, such as Phajoding. To the north, the snow-covered peaks of Jhomolhari, Jechu Drake, Jom Gang, Gangchen Ta, Masagang, Tseda Gang, Table Mountain and Gangkhar Punsum fill the horizon. After the pass, the trail descends for an hour before crossing two ridges. We will spend the night at a yak herders’ camp called Japhuna, at an altitude of 3,800 metres.
Day 3 Japhuna – Jadula
The trail from Japhuna meanders up and down over ridges and down to a small valley, passing many un-named lakes. After about four hours, there is a split in the trail: one crosses the stream, while the other follows the stream. Both lead to the same destination and involve a climb through rhododendron bushes. We will arrive at another yak herders’ camp called Jadula, at an altitude of 4,100 metres. This is where we will camp for the night. From the camp, the rocky peak of Aum Jomo, the highest peak in the Dagala range, is visible.
Day 4 Jadula – Labatama
From Jadula there are two trails, one going on the left of Aum Jomo over Hetsogue Pass to Hetso-Hentso lakes and the other, to the right of Aum Jomo over Jomigue pass to Setso Yumtso lakes. We will take the path. to the right of Jomo, passing a lake called Dungka Tso. After climbing for about an hour and a half we will reach the Jomigue pass, at an altitude of 4,460 metres, from where there are sweeping views of the Eastern Himalayas. We descend from the pass for about two hours to Labatama yak herders’ camp, close to Yumtso lake. This will be our campsite for the night.
Day 5 Labatama – Halt
There are many beautiful lakes to explore in this area so we suggest a rest day here to allow for some day hikes, including to Hetso – Hentso lake, Jamatso or Relitso or, for a full day excursion, we can start early, and climb to the summit of Aum Jomo at an altitude of 5,050 metres.
Day 6 Labatama – Genekha
Today, we start with a descent from Labatama, to the Goutama winter yak pasture below the Dagala range. We then have a gradual three hour climb to the highest point for the day, Pagalaptsa, at an altitude of 4,170 metre, from where we can see the village of Genekha and the start of the Paro valley. From the pass, we drop down through the rhododendrons and back into a forest of conifers and oak, to a winter yak pasture called Goe Tama. We will camp here for the night.
Day 7. Goe Tama – Pchechu Gompa
Today is the last day of the trek. From Goe Tama, the trail descends to a bridge before climbing gradually again to the village of Genekha and on to the old monastery, Pchechu Gompa, at an altitude of 2,800 metres. Our vehicle will be waiting here to pick us up for the drive back to Paro or Thimphu