Hiking, Paro, Bhutan

Trek through Bhutan's highest mountain pass

Chele La Pass and Kila Goemba hike

The essence of the Chele La Pass and Kila Goemba hike

The highest road pass in the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan, the Chele La Pass lies at a dizzying 3 988 metres (13 084 feet) above sea level. In addition to the spectacular scenery, a fluttering avenue of colourful prayer flags adds to the festive atmosphere of the almost two-hour drive along this rugged mountain road to the beginning of the hiking trail to the Kila Goemba. At this high altitude, the temperate drops and the air becomes clearer as get closer to the Pass. The winter months offer particularly beautiful views of the surroundings as you pass by trickling waterfalls, dense forests and alabaster snow en route to the hiking trail. Head off in the early morning with a packed picnic basket and reach the northern head of the trail as the morning fog lifts, revealing each soaring mountain peak in quick succession.

Set off on foot into the mountains north of the pass and discover even more magnificent views, including some of the world’s highest mountain peaks. The towering Himalayan crowns of Jumolhari at 7 314 metres (23 996 feet), Jichu Drake at 6 794 metres (22 290 feet) and the world’s third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga, at 8 586 metres (28 170 feet) will be gradually revealed as you climb. In addition to the views, keep an eye out for a variety of of mountain birds, including the elusive blood pheasant.

Stop for a picnic breakfast at a stone meditation cabin high in the mountains and admire the unobstructed views in every direction before descending the slope to Kila Goemba, which is widely considered to be Bhutan’s oldest nunnery. Visit the state of the God of Compassion, which housed in the temple, and then continue down the forest trail onto the main road, where your vehicle will be waiting for you.

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