The Snowman Trek – An Unforgettable Challenge

Updated: March 28, 2023

Bhutan's Snowman Trek is one of the hardest Himalayan treks and is considered to be one of the most difficult treks in the world! More people are said to have summitted Everest than to have completed the Snowman Trek.

On this page you will find a comprehensive and impartial guide to the Snowman Trek in Bhutan, including when to trek, difficulty and the typical itinerary for the trek. 

Snowman Trek

Route Overview

For more than a decade now, publications have emphasized the pursuit of happiness over material possessions. There should be no doubt then that when trekking through the beautiful country of Bhutan, you’ll be inundated with pure joy.  This joy is probably stemming from the fact that you have completed one of the toughest treks in the world.

The Snowman Trek is challenging for a number reasons. First of all the window in which you could complete the trek is very small. Bhutan has an incredibly long rainy season and therefore rain on the Snowman Trek is very likely. It’s advised that the first 3 weeks of October is one of the best times to start, but even then you are still competing with Mother Nature when it comes to altitude – the highest camp coming in at 5,050m – a mere 300m off the Everest Base Camp and 800m off the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

These facts will either put you off completely or drive you to dig out the inner adventure junkie character and experience crossing ten high passes over 4500m in altitude over a period of 3 to 4 weeks (depending on which route you choose), a feat since 1982 that only approximately 500 people have finished.

Mention that you’re going on the Snowman Trek to any local bartender and you might be lucky enough to get a round of drinks on the house to make your mind hazy, briefly forgetting that you’re embarking on an epic adventure involving lakes, monasteries and white capped peaks in the morning.

The Takin (the national creature of Bhutan) might give you the odd look as if he knows a little secret but it’s been recorded that the amount of international visitors to Bhutan at any one time stands at 1500 – so if you are seeking silence and anonymity of last night’s drinking habits – The Snowman Trek offers that and more.

Regional Map

The Snowman Trek cuts through a variety of regions in the north-west of Bhutan. These include, Thimphu, Paro, Gasa, Punakha and Wangdue. The map below illustrates Bhutan’s main trekking regions.


Snowman Trek Itinerary

The Snowman Trek is an extension of the Laya Gasa Trek, but is higher in altitude. As mentioned the weather is not your best friend, so sometimes you are making camp on snow. Keep those buttocks warm! There are variations on the trek, but the itinerary below is the most common.

Bear in mind that past a certain point there are no hospitals, so caution is of the utmost importance as the costs involving a helicopter will be double the price of your adventure.


Day 1: Paro, Taktsang Monastery (Hike Altitude: 3,120m)

Day 2: Paro – Shana (Altitude 9,251 feet. Distance 8.6 miles. Time 5 – 6 hours)

Day 3: Shana to Thangkthanka (11,843 feet. Distance 13 miles. Time 7 – 8 hours)

Day 4: Thangthangka – Jangothang (Altitude 13,500 feet. Distance 9.3 miles. Time 5 – 6 hours)

Day 5: Rest Day In Jangothang

Day 6: Jangothang – Lingshi (Altitude 13,123 feet. Distance 10.5 miles. Time 6 – 7 hours)

Day 7: Lingshi – Chebisa (via Gang Yul) (Altitude 12,401 feet. Distance 7.5 miles. Time 4 – 5 hours)

Day 8: Chebisa – Shomuthang (Altitude 13,100 feet. Distance 10.5 miles. Time 6 hours)

Day 9: Shomuthang – Robluthang (Altitude 13,451 feet. Distance 13.6 miles. Time 7 – 8 hours)

Day 10: Robluthang – Limithang (Altitude 13,254 feet. Distance 8.5 miles. Time 6 – 7 hours)

Day 11: Limithang – Laya (Altitude 12,729 feet. Distance 6.2 miles. Time 4 – 5 hours)

Day 12: Rest Day In Laya (Altitude 12,729 feet)

Day 13: Laya – Rodophu (Altitude 13,451 feet. Distance 10.5 miles. Time 6 – 7 hours)

Day 14: Roduphu – Narethang (Altitude 16,200 feet. Distance 6.2 miles. Time 6 – 7 hours)

Day 15: Narethang – Tarina (Altitude 12,795 feet. Distance 15 miles. Time 8 – 9 hours)

Day 16: Tarina – Woche (Altitude 12,565 feet. Distance 7.5 miles. Time 5 – 6 hours)

Day 17: Woche – Lhedi (Altitude 11,942 feet. Distance 9.3 miles. Time 6 – 7 hours)

Day 18: Lehdi – Thanza (Altitude 13,320 feet. Distance 9.3 miles. Time 6 – 7 hours)

Day 19: Rest Day In Thanza

Day 20: Thanza – Danji (Altitude 15, 000 feet. Distance 4,9 miles. Time 4 – 5 hours)

Day 21: Rest Day

Day 22: Danji to Tsochena (Altitude 16, 570 feet. Distance 7,4 miles. Time 5 – 6 hours)

Day 23: Tsochena  to Jichu Dramo (Altitude 16, 300 feet. Distance 11,1 miles. Time 4 – 5 hours)

Day 24: Jichu Dramo to Chukarpo (Altitude 16, 335 feet. Distance 11 miles. Time 6 – 7 hours)

Day 25: Chukarpo to Tampe Tso Altitude 14, 107 feet. Distance 11 miles. Time 7 – 8 hours)

Day 26: Thampe Tso to Maurothang (Altitude 15, 100 feet. Distance 8 miles. Time 5 – 6 hours)

Day 27: Maurothang to Sephu (Altitude 11 154, 107 feet. Distance 10 miles. Time 7 – 8 hours)

Guides & Guidebooks

The Snowman Trek requires vast knowledge of the route before setting out. It is highly advised that you join a trekking company who employ the use of guides who know the region. It is in this author’s experience that no one attempts the Snowman Trek by herself or himself.

We recommend Bhutan Lonely Planet as our preferred guide book.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does the Snowman Trek cost?

Are permits required for the Snowman Trek?

When is the best time to complete the Snowman Trek?

Is altitude sickness a risk?

How difficult is the Snowman Trek?

What gear do I need?

About the author 

Mark Whitman

Mark has trekked extensively in Asia, Europe, South America and Africa. He founded Mountain IQ in 2014 with the sole aim to be the best online information portal to some of the most popular mountain destinations around the world. When not writing for Mountain IQ, Mark is out exploring the outdoors with his wife!

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