Chele La and the Haa Valley

Our travels today took us to the highest pass in Bhutan. At almost 14,000 feet, the pass is the first one we went over that is above the tree line. In most cases in Bhutan, you cannot get above the tree line! With peaks over 12,000 feet with dense, jungle-like qualities, it’s kind of strange to finally see the world above the trees and brush.

At the pass, we hiked up to a couple of unnamed peaks covered in prayer flags. The wind whipped from the south and clouds gathered on the Himalayas to the west. It was easy to see Tibet from this high perch and we took in the scene, a little out of breath, but eager to see the landscape.

Let's call Carter excited!
Let’s call Carter excited!
The Haa Valley below Chele La Pass.
The Haa Valley below Chele La Pass.

Once we gathered at the bus for the trip into the Haa valley, we stopped for tea, lunch along the rode, and then into the valley.

The thing about the Haa valley is that it is remote even though its only 67 km from Paro. You would think the town would be covered in tourists and yet we were the only ones there….we walked the streets, saw children coming out of their Saturday classes, and wandered into a bakery that served Chocolate Eclaires, German Chocolate Cake, and the like. What a remarkable find here in this village!

Namgay also introduced us to dried Yak cheese. You take a piece of it and put it in your mouth. It slowly softens….very slowly. In a test of wills, we tried the cheese…..my small piece took almost 2 hours to finally breakdown, Evan’s was whole 3 hours later! I think this one food item might be an acquired taste.

As the day winds to a close, we are climbing to the Tiger’s Nest tomorrow. The monastery is placed on a cliff wall about 1500 feet above the valley floor. Afterwards, a traditional stone bath awaits us in Paro!

Placing prayer flags on Chele La pass.
Placing prayer flags on Chele La pass.
The baths made of wood; hot rocks dropped into one end...
The baths made of wood; hot rocks dropped into one end…
Getting ready for the stone bath.
Getting ready for the stone bath.

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