Chele La Pass Hike (Paro to Haa)

The hike from Paro up to the Chelala Pass, the highest road pass in Bhutan at 3988 meters, then down to Haa intermixes hikers between flat roads and steep inclines. During the first leg up to Chelala, hikers will be greeted with the breathtaking landscape unique to Paro. Old man's beard, lichen, marks the trail, signaling that the air here is pollution free (because of lichen's sensitivity to sulfur dioxide, it is only present in environments with little to no pollution.) Although the air is clean, breathing is labored as hikers move farther and farther up in elevation. Maneuvering through roads, valleys and steep inclines, sometimes engulfed by foliage or open valleys dotted with small houses, the trails smell of oak and wild flowers. The final leg is the toughest - hikers will have to grasp roots and exposed rocks to scramble to the top of the pass. But once there, hikers will be rewarded with the flutter of flags and bells ringing in time with the movement of the prayers. A lookout prompts viewers to stare into the deep abyss of clouds and mountains. It is pure serenity.

The descent to Haa, between flat roads and trails pointed downward, are greeted by yaks, lazily chomping on grass, staring at passerby indifferently. As hikers emerge from the yaks' grazing grounds and dense foliage, sun rays pour light onto the untouched tiny village. The houses look miniature and the pastel colored roofs make the village seem toylike. Welcome to Haa.