Bhutan Travel

Bhutan Travel

Bhutan Kuzuzangpo - Greetings! Bhutan trekking Tours Surrounded in mystery like the clouds that shroud its peaks, Bhutan has always been a mystical destination – the last Shangri-la. While ascetics, scholars, philosophers and pilgrims have been drawn to these distant rugged mountains to search for wisdom and inspiration in the country's monasteries, temples and castles this remote nation has shied away from the world's attention for centuries, only recently opening its doors to visitors. Find your own place on the nation's Index of Gross National Happiness amidst the lush scenery and sacred mountains of Bhutan.

Let yourself be swept away like the winds that snatch at the flags carrying prayers across the boundless vistas of Drukyul - the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Soar with the eagles on the resonance of haunting mantras and be dazzled by the brilliant, swirling colors of painted dragons and the flash of an arrow unleashed to its target. Hazy incense wafts into the clear brilliant sunlight of the mountain valleys from gold-roofed temples in this land of medieval Buddhist culture. Saffron and crimson monks' robes and bold-colored woodwork form a masterpiece of contrast against verdant terraced paddies and glacial alpine peaks.

Bhutan proffers a sense of peace and purity. Nestled in the heart of the Himalayas, stark and dramatic mountains form its frontiers with Tibet and India. The people here revere their king and are devoted Buddhists. Since the opening of tourism in 1974, the government has instituted a controlled tourism and development policy. It has mandated that 60% of Bhutan remain forested, preserving its pastoral charm and rich biodiversity. Billboards, plastic bags and tobacco are not allowed and all adhere to the national dress code of traditional kira and kho robes. It is perhaps the least modernized country in Asia, giving you the feeling of stepping back in time, or into a magical world where gurus ride on the backs of flying tigers. It is home to some of the most exotic animal species in the region: the takin, snow leopard, golden langur and blue sheep, although the Yeti remains a legend – and a postage stamp figure!

Dzongs – the fortified monasteries of Bhutan often rise at dizzying heights above towns built near for protection. Normally the seats of local civil and religious power, Dzongs are testimony to the wars, sieges and attempted invasions of Bhutan's past. Even the national language is called Dzongka. Buddhism is a living faith in Bhutan and Dzongs are filled with young novice monks.

Seventy per cent of Bhutan's warm and friendly people are traditional farmers and the countryside is dotted with rural villages. Wood burning stoves scent the air and hot peppers strung out to dry decorate house fronts and roof tops. While most Bhutanese food is not spicy, the national dish ema-datsi consists of chili peppers in cheese sauce; guaranteed to have your head spinning like a prayer wheel!

Tshechu – vibrant religious festivals are still an important social event for the Bhutanese and travelers often schedule their itineraries to coincide. They are an occasion for blessing, feasting and socializing. Wearing their best clothes, families pack a hearty lunch and come to watch costumed dancers acting out stories of miracles and demons with colorful masks and thundering instruments while clowns wearing long-nosed red masks run about the crowd. Datse - Archery is the national sport here. Rowdy, multi-day tournaments are as much about fun and mischief as skill. Teams vie to hit a target no bigger than a regular bull's eye. The marksmanship is superb – at 120 meters!

Thimphu is Bhutan's capital and largest city. It is home to the Royal Government and the Royal Family. There are no traffic lights and even police boxes are decorated with dragons. A stroll through this bustling city of museums and historic sites reveals an interesting combination of tradition and flashes of modernity. On the banks of the Wangchu River the palatial Tashicchodzong is the country's most impressive building, home to the National Assembly. The Memorial Chorten (religious monument) is a city landmark, a modern memorial to the late king and a monument to world peace. Simtokha Dzong, built in 1627, the oldest fortress of the kingdom is now the Institute for Language and Cultural Studies and the home of one of the largest monastic schools in the country. Indulge your curiosity at the new Folk Heritage Museum, the National Textile Museum, National Art School or even the main post office for Bhutan's famous collectible stamps. Visit the Indigenous Hospital, where traditional medicine is still practiced. In the brand-new Centenary Market you can browse among the local produce, burlap sacks of spices and baskets of betel nut and rice and shop for fine handicrafts of wood and bamboo, prayer flags, ornaments of gold, silver, coral and turquoise and beautiful hand-woven textiles.

One of Bhutan's "must see" destinations for all visitors is a pilgrimage destination for devout Buddhists; Taktsang is a collection of 13 sacred sites. Most spectacular is the Tiger's Nest – a venerated monastery clinging to vertical granite over 700 meters above the Paro Valley floor. Built in the 8th Century, legend has it that this is where the Guru Rinpoche arrived to bring Buddhism to Bhutan.

Up for more of a challenge? Adventure tours abound here; rafting, trekking and mountain biking. Renown for its variety of birds, this part of the Eastern Himalayas has been designated a biodiversity hotspot, boasting over 700 species of birds. Trekking tours are available at all altitudes and all year long. Kayak and raft up to class 5 rivers with rapids bearing names like "Wrathful Buddha" which flow through pristine, unspoiled scenery.

Trek up a mountainside or rest in the spiritual calm of flickering temple candles. Revive your spirit in this fabled realm of peaceful villages, spinning prayer wheels, smiles and kind words. Tashi Delek - Welcome, to Bhutan!