Trekking in Bhutan
Copyright: Claire Festel
Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dagon, is an exclusive, mysterious, and strikingly beautiful place to trek. Its ancient Buddhist culture and breathtaking scenery, from snow-capped Himalayas to temperate terraced rice paddies, make it a natural tourist attraction.
Closed to the outside world for centuries, villagers live centuries-old lifestyles and the Buddhist faith permeates all areas of life. The Buddhist spring and fall festivals and dzongs (fortress-monasteries) are major attractions. Bhutanese consider the land sacred: its landscapes remain pristine, its rivers pure, its forests intact and its mountains unclimbed.
Active tours vary from moderate walking to strenuous trekking with most itineraries designed to bring visitors into contact with the friendly locals. Treks follow ancient trade routes or trails to remote villages, temples and monasteries accessible only on foot.
This small Himalayan kingdom is located between Tibet and India. It can be accessed by air with Druk Air from Bangkok, Calcutta, Delhi and Kathmandu into Paro or overland through Phuentsholing from India.
Only a small number of visitors travel to this fascinating destination each year. Visitors must travel as part of a pre-arranged package or guided tour. The government sets all-inclusive daily rates, currently US$250 per person. International tour operators offer Bhutan tours, but we booked on line with a Bhutanese tour operator, who tailored our itinerary for our group of five. It was the trip of a lifetime.
Official website for Bhutan: http://www.kingdomofbhutan.com