Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. Until recently, the tiny Asian kingdom of Bhutan remained tucked away in total isolation from the rest of the world. That segregation helped to preserve its deep Buddhist traditions, the importance of family and pristine landscapes. One of 43 landlocked countries in the world, the word “Bhutan” translates to “Land of the Thunder Dragon” and earned the name because of the fierce storms that often roll in from the Himalayas.
Tourism arrived here less than four decades ago. Bhutan’s strategy of “low volume, high quality” tourism has made it a highly regarded destination among discerning travelers. Shrouded in mystery, Bhutan is a place that can remind us of the true meaning of cultural authenticity and travelling off the beaten path.
The hermit kingdom has preserved its rich cultural identity throughout years of isolation. Did you know Bhutan is the only nation in the world where the sale of tobacco is banned! Bhutan is also one of the last countries in the world to introduce television to its people. The government lifted a ban on TV—and on the internet—only 11 years ago. Bhutan is the first country in the world with specific constitutional obligations on its people to protect the environment. Among its requirements: At least 60 percent of the nation must remain under forest cover at all times.
Thimpu is one of just two capital cities in Asia that does not have a single traffic light. (The other is Pyongyang, North Korea.) There was such public outcry when local officials installed a single signal that it was quickly removed, and a traffic officer was re-assigned to the intersection. The capital of one of the world’s most intriguing destinations, Thimphu combines a natural small-town feel with a new commercial exuberance that constantly challenges the country’s natural conservatism and juxtapositions the charm of old with the shiny of new.
Every one has heard of Mount Everest but Bhutan has its own behemoth. Gangkhar Puensum is the highest point in Bhutan—and a strong candidate for the highest unclimbed mountain in the world at close to 25,000 feet. Ever since 1994, Bhutan has expressly prohibited climbing on the mountain due not only to the lack of available rescue services in the area, but mainly because of a local custom which held the peaks sacred as they were the homes of holy spirits.
If unexpected attractions is what you are after then look no further than the town of Punakha which is home to one of the most unusual shrines in Buddhism. Chimi Lhakhang is dedicated to Drukpa Kunley, a tantric Buddhist saint known for his unconventional approach to religion. Lookout for the murals and carvings depicting the male phallus.
Sex was Kunley’s way of blessing devotees and he’s rumoured to have made love to more than 5,000 women, preaching that sex would help devotees on the path to enlightenment. Chimi Lhakhang is more than just a village shrine, it’s a fertility pilgrimage site for those wishing to have children.
While Bhutan is one of the smallest countries in the world, its cultural diversity and richness are profound. A strong emphasis is laid on the preservation of its unique culture and by protecting it. Make this experience yours – join our small group tour Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet. Contact us today!
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This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.