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Gasa
The village is north of Punakha. The headquarters of Jigme Dorje National park ist just north of the village.

The Trashi Thongmoen Dzong is now the adminsitrative center of the Dzongkhag.

Laya
Laya is a large, isolated region in the north-west of the Gasa district. Spread out over a hillside near the Tibetan border, Laya is one of the highest villages in Bhutan at 3,700 m.

Laya is Bhutan's primary yak breeding area.

The Laya-Gasa and the Snowmen treks pass trhough Laya.

Lunana
The high Lunana Valley, sprinkled with little villages peopled by folks as hardy and contented as will be found anywhere. Their warmth and hospitality will be as intense as their surprise at Lunana offers a dramatic mountain scenery, stunning snow-capped peaks and the high, wild valleys at their feet, and a hospitality of the valley's people.

ski
American skiers at the bottom of a glacier near the Tsendegang peak

An American tourist group of professional skiers who took a 'gamble' by coming to Bhutan to ski, actually skied for a few hours at the bottom of a glacier near the Tsendegang peak that lies between Laya and Lunana.

The group of five women took a modified version of the Laya-Lunana trek. On the fifth day they reached what looked like a good spot.

From a base camp they hiked for about six hours, a very difficult hike, up what they called the ridge of insanity, and skied for about two hours at 15500 ft.. The group said that they spotted a number of 'good spots' to ski but skied only on that day because the weather was perfect. There was another spot the skiers were hoping to get to, near the Gangla Karchung peak, but their horses and yaks could not make the climb up the narrow valley.

Laya girls
The tour leader said that skiing in Bhutan could be promoted in two ways. One as a adventure sport where enthusiasts could trek for a couple of days, like the group did, to a location and ski. The other could be heli-skiing where chopper services could take skiers to the designated location.

But first a lot of exploration needs to be done to locate good spots, weather studies need to be conducted and there must be trained and certified mountain guides, the skiers said. "If skiing is possible we could add it to our list of products," said department of tourism director. "As it is we are looking into diversifying products in the Ninth Plan.

It could perhaps be promoted during the winter which is a lean tourist season. But first a thorough study is called for. Manali in India which introduced heli-skiing several years ago is a big tourist draw as one of the few destinations for skiing in the Himalayas. Demand from India as well and more farmers could benefit from it than they did now.

Contributed by Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper, 2003

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