Haa Valley Sagala Trek
This 3-Day trek is also called ‘the Haa Planters’ Trail’, harking back to the time when it was used by rice planters from Haa on their way to help people in Paro who relied heavily on their labour during the planting season(mainly May-June). In return, the people of haa received red rice after the autumn harvest.
This trek is easy, Passing through villages in the haa valley and dense forest on the Paro side. The ascent is on good trail through forest and meadows. The descent is on a steeper trail with loose boulders, so be careful. The trek ends at the road near Drugyel Dzong. You could travel from Paro, crossing the jiley la (12,400ft/3780m) down into the Haa valley, and starts the trek on the same day.
From Yatong Valley a steep climb(150m) leads to Yantong goempa village, set on a hilltop right above camp. The big temple, surrounded by a few houses, is about 300years old and dedicated to Guru Rinpoche and his eight manifestations.
A more or less level trail through pines brings you back to the main trail to the valley below Saga la. Here the Makhang chu flows through the area called Talung. Talung has three beautiful villages-Chenkha gom, Tsheka wom and Langlo-about 80households in all. The trails winds around farmlands fence with piles of stones to protect the fields from deer and wild boar. Climb to a wooden bridge, Chagdo zam(the iron bridge), so named because locals claims that the 14th century saint Thangthong Gyelpo(iron bridge builder in Bhutan) constructed the original one. Cross more meadows and some forest until you reach a rock with twin eyes and a distorted mouth. This is the Nyelle Doem or Nyelle demon, who was subdued by the saint Thonthong Gyelpousing sword of ignorance(Raydee) to slash the demons mouth and turn it into the rock. Ever since the travelers using this ancient trail have walked in peace without fearing his ferocious demon. This holy rock is located in the Khadey Gom(upper Khadey) meadow, where the tonight’s camp is situated.
Today the climb to Saga la is on the program. A gradual hike for about 1 hr through the meadows and coniferious forests is followed by the 2 hr climb to the pass. It is customary to take a gift for the pass; either pick up a rock or break off a twig/flower to pile it on the mini stupa(chorten) built by thousands of former travelers. Once on the top of the Saga La, shout “Lhage Lo” (may god always win over evil”) and you will be blessed. On a clear day there is a fantastic view on the both sides of the pass. The view towards Paro(east) includes secret mount Jhomolhari(23,993ft/7315m), Juchu drake (18,270ft/5570m) and below in the valley the Drugyel Dzong and the sacred Taktsang monastery. Looking to the west the peaks of Haa forming the border with Tibet can be seen.
From the pass it is all downhill. Be aware of loose gravel and boulders on the trails. A good 2 hrs downhill hike through mixed conifer forests and rhododendrons will bring you to the camp in an open meadow at Dongney Tso, Surrounded with tall firs. To the left is the black Choshola Mountain: a holy place from which a lake escaped.
The first part of the today’s hike is steeply downhill fro about 1.5hr until you reach the Genchu Zam(bridge). The hike os through thick vegetation and laughing thrushes, magpies, nut crakers and pheasants are often seen. There is a beautiful small village comprised of eight households and a temple on the left side of the trail: Choedeyphu, set picturesquely at the base of the mountain Laump Jara(Foggy mountain inhabited by mountain goats) another 1 hr from the village will take you to Balakha Chu where the ancient Haa planters trail ends.