The essence of the Chele La Pass and Kila Goemba hike
A fluttering line of prayer flags leads the way on the highest road pass in the mountainous kingdom of Bhutan, the Chele La Pass, at a dizzying 3 988m (13 084ft) above sea level. This two-hour drive provides spectacular scenery along this rugged mountain road to the start of the hiking trail to the Kila Goemba, a cliffside nunnery. At this high altitude, the temperate drops and the air becomes clearer as you 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 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 314m (23 996ft), Jichu Drake at 6 794m (22 290ft) and the world’s third highest mountain, Kangchenjunga, at 8 586m (28 170ft) will be revealed as you climb. In addition to the views, keep an eye out for a variety of mountain birds, including the elusive blood pheasant.
Enjoy 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 many armed god of compassion housed in the temple and continue down the forest trail onto the main road, where your vehicle will be waiting for you.