The Kingdom of Bhutan – or Land of the Thunder Dragon as it’s locally known – is geographically isolated by the immense Himalayan Mountains, effortlessly falls under the category of most beautiful travel destinations in the world and this especially ideal for hikers and mountaineers.
The landscape gives away an overwhelming range of verdant alpine valleys, towering snow-capped peaks, and glacial rivers, bordering China to the north, and divided from Nepal by India’s province of Sikkim. Bhutan offers the nearest thing possible to a window back in time though it’s roughly the size of Switzerland, with only ten percent of its population.
When in Bhutan, one may see the novice monks climb over rickety wooden bridges and prayer wheels can be found on every corner as well adults and children are required to wear traditional dress to work and school.
The natural environment is the greatest draw to this Buddhist country. It provides Incredible treks into the wilderness, can range from day hikes to month long expeditions which require bringing oxygen tanks and yaks. Bird-watchers and horticulturalists will be enthralled at the outstanding number of species of birds and flowers viewed in the spring and summer months for those less inclined to push themselves to their physical limits.
Travelers will be touched by the warmth and generosity of its people, the charisma of its art and architecture, and the elegance of its natural beauty no matter their reason for visiting Bhutan.
The gravity-defying Taktsang Monastery (or Tiger’s Nest Temple) is the greatest site in Paro and is precariously clinging to a sheer cliff wall, overlooking the valley below. Reaching through lush pine forest, the fairly steep 90-minute hike up the mountain, and can be lightened by renting a pony and handler. A breathtaking and absolutely unforgettable experience for anyone once at the top the view of the monastery hidden behind prayer flags and wreathed in swirling mist.
One must go to the School of Traditional Arts to witness young students busy at work weaving, painting, sculpting, and wood carving stunning pieces of Buddhist artwork. Take a stop in at the beautiful National Library building if you have time, where sacred religious texts and manuscripts are being protected and preserved for future generations.
Serious trekking in Bhutan is not for the faint-hearted, as one may encounter soaring snow-capped peaks reaching well about 7000 meters. It even takes 24 days and requires weeks spent at altitudes over 4000 meters to reach the Snowman Trek, the most difficult route of all. Jomolhari trek, the most popular trek, takes a little over a week, and bring hikers through alpine pastures and yak herders on their daily rounds.
Although the window for high-altitude trekking is regulated to a few weeks in April and October, spring and Fall are both good times to visit. There will always be something magical about going on a trip to one of the world’s most remote kingdoms no matter what season you choose to visit.