Key information: Dagala Trek
- A magnificent trek through astonishingly varied landscape, both in the forests and high above the tree line.
- A delightful, fascinating walk; demanding but doable for the reasonably fit.
- Walkopedia rating87
- Natural interest16
- Human interest8
- Negative points2
- Total rating87
- Note: Negs: Altitude
- Length: 39km/4-5 days
- Maximum Altitude: 4,530m
- Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
The Dagala, or 1,000 Lake, Trek is superb, with many of the attributes that make Bhutan so special. Magnificent, untainted forest and thriving wildlife, huge high-Himalayan views, and the (generally) thrillingly intact culture. The landscapes are astonishingly varied, but the overwhelming sense is of the silence and the vastness of this pristine land. Though it is not a huge drive from Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu, it is one of the less-walked of the established treks in western Bhutan.
The trek begins at the narrow, swaying suspension bridge at Geynizampa, just below the village of Genekha, at 2820m.
The first day, of 5km, takes around three hours, with stops. Climb steeply through mainly thick oak forest, blue pine, birch and rhododendron undercover. The forest floor is thick with moss, while the oaks drip with Old Man’s Beard. The track is well-worn and a once important trading route. After a viewpoint, looking down over the village of Genekha, the path eases until you attain a ridge in the forest at about 3330m. Descend to the Gur Camp.
The second day heads steeply up above the tree line, 12km to Labatamba (or Labatama) Camp, at 4280m, just below Utsho Lake. Views of Kanchenjunga, India’s highest peak, on the way.
Day 3: the Labajong Pass (4460m), then the even higher point at Dajatsho (4530m), affording fine views of Bhutan’s highest peaks, including the 7570m Gangkhar Puensum – said to be the highest unclimbed peak in the world – and Jomolhari (7314m). It is then a three-hour walk down to the next camp of Pangkha, through mountainsides carpeted in rhododendrons.
At Pangkha you can spend two nights before the long final trek down to the finish, making side-walks or just relaxing. Pangkha is an enclosed campsite just below Loch Pangkha.
Day 4: The final long hike traverses around and over mountainsides of thick rhododendron, then entering deep forests. The track – frequented by yaks – is steep, strewn with boulders and deeply cut into the rich red soil. The junipers are ancient, stunted. The sliver firs and spruces soar upwards of 30m with girths of 4-5m. Then oaks reappear. There’s a high point at Tale La (4180m), with views of the Dagala range and Thimphu. Finally you reach a dried up lake at Talakha Camp before the final descent into Chambang at 2640m.
See Stephen Barber’s detailed account below.
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OUR FRIENDS' EXPERIENCES
Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.
See also expedition planning, including our universal expedition checklist.
Walkopedia encourages responsible travel.
Books and Maps
Books on this walk (support us: find books using our Amazon search box)
Bhutan – Lonely Planet.
Other books (support us: find books using our Amazon search box)
Stanfords: www.stanfords.co.uk. An excellent (and user-friendly) online specialist source of worldwide maps (it is also good for guidebooks).
Best times to walk/weather
Best times to walk
April to late October, but summer is cloudy and wet. September and October for clear skies and autumn colours – but colder nights.
Generally fine in season, but come prepared for unpredictable mountain weather and cold nights.
For detailed weather information, have a look at: www.worldweather.org or www.bbc.co.uk/weather/world/country-guides
Those on organised expeditions will be transported from/to arranged start/departure points.
Entry to Bhutan is expensive, and permission is needed to enter the country and do this walk. These must be obtained through accredited expedition organisers.
See the Walk Summary above.
Possible problems, health, other warnings
Altitude: can affect some; potentially fatal. Acclimatize appropriately, come prepared to cope, be ready to evacuate people in extreme cases
Mountain weather: snow, rain, severe cold and wind are possible at any time of year. Come prepared.
Heat and strong sun. Carry enough water and protect yourself.
Harmful animals of all shapes and sizes, including snakes, stinging/biting insects and plants. Take all appropriate precautions.
This is remote country: you will have to carry all your food and other supplies and other supplies will not be readily available and help will be hard to get if things go wrong.
Health risks: this is a relatively undeveloped country, and you will not get prompt medical help of a standard available elsewhere if you become ill. Come prepared, including getting all appropriate inoculations/medications.
See also the websites in our useful links page for more detailed, and up-to-date, information.
Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and problems can arise on any walk. Many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks and possible problems. This website cannot, and does not purport to, identify all actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to a walk or a country. Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.
Make sure you have appropriate insurance.
Guided or independent?
You can only do this walk through accredited organisers.
Camping is the only option.
Other information and tips; responsible tourism and charities
Useful websites and information
There are various websites with relevant information. Here are some that we think are useful or have been recommended to us.
Other things to do in the Dagala area
Other walks in Bhutan
Other activities in Bhutan
Bhutan is magical. There is monastery and fort visiting, wildlife, white water rafting. The opportunities are endless.
Shopping, if you must
We are not a shopping website. But, anything bought from local people must be of some help to this poor area. So, wallets out!
share your experiences
Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).
Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.
Responsible travel matters, a lot. How you travel will make a real difference - for better or worse. PLEASE consider this when making plans. Read more