Laya village in Gasa is a mystical place that lies between the grand peaks of Gangchen Tag, Tshendengang and Masangang. This humbling place is one of Bhutan’s many hidden gems in the North bordering Tibet. The action packed Laya run takes place in the span of two days, where runners will cover 27km the first day and 25km the next. The route passes through the gates of Gasa Town to Panjothang and along the banks of the Mo Chhu (river). It finally ends at Langothang, Laya, on the second day. The Epic Laya run promotes running as a sport and also offers an opportunity for people to learn and experience the life of nomads.
This epic run culminates in the enchanting Royal Highland Festival. The Festival celebrates the rich culture and tradition of the Layaps, or the people of Laya, showcased through traditional songs and dances. The celebration also rejoices the unique livelihood of the nomads depicted through competitions of yaks, mastiffs and horses. An elaborate display of yak produce, highland agricultural techniques and medicinal herbs and plants remains yet another highlight of the festival.
The two-day Laya run will start from the Gasa hot springs. The route plan on the first day passes through Gasa town gates, and continues on the tarmac roads. As the route gains in altitude the tarmac road ends and gives way to a farm road. The run then climbs further uphill and ends at a makeshift campsite.
The route on the second day descends a slope towards Koina followed by a hiking path to Laya. The track runs along the Mo Chhu river and crosses it frequently. As the route continues it eventually reaches Laya village and carries on to end at the Festival grounds, marking the end of the route.
As your flight nears Bhutan, you can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, you will be greeted by a representative from Bhutan Travelers and take you to your hotel. After lunch, you will visit the Rinpung Dzong meaning “fortress of the heap of jewels”. It has a long and fascinating history. Along the wooden galleries lining the courtyard of the Rinpung Dzong are fine wall paintings illustrating Buddhist lore. You will walk downhill till the road point crossing the wooden bridge. Your vehicle will be waiting here to take you to Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest and most sacred temple in the country. In the evening, you can stroll through Paro town. Overnight hotel in Paro.
Today you will hike to Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan’s most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, hike down to the valley floor and return to Paro. Overnight hotel in Paro.
After breakfast this morning, enjoy a scenic drive to Punakha with a stop for tea at the Dochu La pass (10,170 feet), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. From the pass we drive downhill through forests of rhododendron, fir and hemlock. You will arrive in Punakha after traveling through rice field and along the bank of Punakha River. From Punakha you will drive upstream along the Mo Chhu river to Gasa. The drive is through beautiful villages of Punakha located alongside the upper Mo Chhu river valley. Arrive Gasa and overnight in Gasa.
Today you will spend a day in Gasa allowing you to get acclimatized in preparation for tomorrow’s epic run. Overnight stay in Gasa.
Today is the first day of the run spanning 27 km. Runners will start from the Gasa Hot spring and pass through the gates of Gasa town, where the crowds’ cheers will lift your spirits high for the run. As you continue the run along the tarmac roads slowly gaining elevation and then along a farm road through forests of fir, rhododendron and pine. After further climbing you will end the run at a makeshift campsite facilitated with sleeping, dining and toilet tents and showers. Spend a night in the tent.
After breakfast, you will set off for the 25 km run to Panjothang making a total elevation gain of 2000m. You will run down a slope towards Koina and then follow the natural hiking path to Laya, with stunning views of valleys, high pastures and the majestic Masangang mountain. Every once in a while you will be running across wooden bridges crossing the Mo Chhu river. On arrival to Laya village you will witness people wearing unique yak wool clothing adorned with colorful beads and conical shaped bamboo hats. You will run past Laya town finally making it to the festival grounds decorated with colorful prayer flags and crowds of Layaps, marking the end of the run. You will partake in the Royal Highland Festival and get acquainted with the cultural festival.
Today you will walk back to Koina where you will transferred back to Gasa. From Gasa you will further drive down along the Mo Chhu river through semi sub-tropical forests to Punakha. Overnight hotel in Punakha.
In the morning, visit Punakha Dzong, the former capital of Bhutan, which is stunningly situated in between the male and female rivers like an anchored ship. You will then enjoy the scenic drive to Thimphu. You will stop for lunch at Dochu La Pass (3,100 meters), where on a clear day you can get spectacular views of the Himalayas. On reaching at Dochula, visit the new Druk Wangyal Monastery, which is the only of its kind in the country with elaborate paintings depicting the lineage of the present monarchy and their visionary works. From the pass, drive downhill to Thimphu. Overnight hotel in Thimphu.
Morning, you will visit Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), Folk Heritage Museum and the world’s tallest Buddha statue at Kuenselphodrang made of bronze measuring 169 ft. Afternoon, you will visit Trashichhodzong and eveving is a free time to relax in the hotel or to stroll in Thimphu City. You can spend time visiting handicraft stores for souvenir shopping. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
Morning, after breakfast, you will drive to Paro for departure to your destination.
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