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Mieke Arendsen

It's hard to explain the deep love that I have for Asia and the Himalayas specifically. It already started long before my eyes caught sight of these magnificent mountains, when I read about these distant places and diverse cultures in college. It inspired me to study anthropology, thus gathering more knowledge about these isolated cultures. And after my first actual visit, some two decades ago, it was unstoppable. There's just something tranquilizing about the crisp mountain air, the magnificence of the vistas and the peacefulness and friendliness of the local people that blow me away every single time I visit.

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"Bhutan has a very special place in my heart, being a country where you can experience an almost-isolated culture in a very pure form. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"I have been in the travel business exploring remote corners of Asia for about two decades and still I am surprised every time."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"If I must highlight one small anecdote of what I find so typical about travelling in the Himalayas I'd like to tell about one thing that happened while trekking in Ladakh in july. As you might know, this is supposed to be the dry season. Packing lightly, I didn't bring rain gear along. You guessed it.. we were surprised by some very heavy rainfall. After an hour of trekking through the rain we reached a few farmhouses. Our guide Tashi told us it so happened that his aunt lived there. Unfortunately, she didn't seem to be at home. That did not stop Tashi to invite us into her home (of course unlocked) and to put the kettle on. He went through her storage room and just when we felt uncomfortable about him offering us her cookies, she entered the kitchen. A stunning old lady with a face so hardened by this climate. I half-expected her to scold us for invading her house, drinking her tea and eating her cookies. But her face just cracked into the biggest slime I have ever seen, delighted with the sight of her guests and her nephew. After having enjoyed her hot butter tea and completely warmed up, we moved on, but not without her insisting (and believe me, she was quite persistent!) that I took her rain coat. I staggered of course, because how would she get it back? No problem at all, she said, because another nephew would be going to the village where our cook lived, to visit the weekly market in a few days. And so it happened. Meetings like these do more than just warm your cold body - they warm your soul!"

Mieke is part of the following groups: Bhutan Travel Agents
Punakha Dzong
Highlights of Western Bhutan - 6 Days

Enjoy centuries of traditions set amid views of forests and mountains with this trip through western Bhutan. You'll start in the capital city of Thimphu to experience Bhutanese traditions as they've evolved into the modern era, then descend into the glacial valley of Phobjikha, the winter home of the black-necked crane. End your journey in the emerald Paro valley with a hike up to the famous Tiger's Nest monastery in its cliffside home.

Prayer wheels in Bhutan
Culture & Adventure in Bhutan - 7 Days

Travelers longing to experience Bhutan, the pristine and tranquil kingdom in the Himalayas, can see some of the country's best cultural sites on this 7-day itinerary. Begin your trip in the capital of Thimphu and learn how this country's ancient cultural traditions inform modern life before driving east across the spectacular Dochula Pass to the semi-tropical valley of Punakha where you will hike across suspension bridges and go river rafting. Then, continue to Ha Valley where you will sleep in a traditional farmhouse and experience Bhutanese family life before cycling to Paro and ending your trip with a tour of the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

Taktang Goenba, or Tiger's Nest
Bhutan Highlights: Thimphu, Punakha, & Paro - 6 Days

Explore the most iconic highlights of Western Bhutan on this six-day itinerary. In the capital of Thimphu, you'll see how ancient traditions coexist with modernity, and learn about Bhutanese architecture and history. Then, you'll drive across the spectacular Dochu La pass to the semi-tropical valley of Punakha, the former winter capital of the Kingdom. The tour ends at the emerald-green Paro Valley, where you will hike up to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery—a quintessential Bhutanese experience.

Bhutanese monks
Best of Bhutan - 9 Days

Until 1961, Bhutan could only be entered on horseback. Now, the "Land of the Thunder Dragon" is emerging from the mists of its self-imposed isolation. Bhutan offers high mountains and lush valleys, pristine ecology and an incredible wealth of wildlife—and on this nine-day tour, you'll get a taste of it all. From hiking trails to monasteries, views of the snow-clad Himalaya to rolling valleys and fluttering prayer flags, this comprehensive tour will introduce you to Bhutan's gentle pleasures.

Traditional Bhutanese dancers in a street performance
Best Time to Visit Bhutan

With restricted tourism numbers, Bhutan is never a busy destination. But there are distinct high and low seasons, and times when the weather is most favorable. So when is the best time to visit?