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Gangkar Punsum Trek: The Tallest Unclimbed Peak in the World

Gangkar Punsum, at 24,837’ Bhutan’s highest peak and the world’s highest unclimbed peak, sits astride the Tibetan border in central Bhutan.  Given the ban on mountaineering in effect in Bhutan, it is likely to remain unclimbed for the foreseeable future.  Fortunately for us, trekking to its base and viewing it up close is not banned, as it is not only high, but awesomely beautiful as well. 

We begin with a drive from Paro to Bumthang in central Bhutan.  After a day to get our hiking legs warmed up, we set off on trek, following a river course most of the way to the foot of Gangkar Punsum.  We have set aside a full day to explore the area and get some dramatic up-close views of all the peaks in the area.  We cross Tholey La, at just over 15,000’ our high point on the trek, and return to Bumthang via a different route, then drive back to Paro for our flight home.  Each departure is timed to coincide with one of Bhutan's masked dance festivals.

  • Yak Race
  • Tangbe Mani Interior
  • Punakha rice fields
  • Tiny Dancer
  • Young monks at the tsechu
  • Temple Interior
  • Gangkar Punsum's unnamed neighbors

Trekking Gangkar Punsum: Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1: Depart USA / Day 2: Bangkok overnight / Day 3: Fly Bangkok-Paro, drive to Wangdiphodrang / Day 4: Drive to Bumthang / Day 5: Day hike in Bumthang / Days 6-17: On trek / Day 17: Arrive Bumthang, lodge / Day 18: Drive Wangdiphodrang / Day 19: Drive Thimphu / Day 20: Drive Paro / Day 21: Visit Taktsang Dzong / Day 22: Fly Paro-Bangkok / Day 23: Arrive USA.

Highlights

  • High altitude wilderness
  • Less visited masked dance festival

2012 Gangkar Punsum Trek Departures

  • April 18 - May 9
  • October 13 - November 4

2013 Gangkar Punsum Trek Departures

  • April 17 - May 8
  • October 12 - November 3

Land Cost

  • From $6,600