Accompanying my spouse who has a work trip, Bhutan - Aug 27 - Sep 8, 2019
Wow what a trip we have just had! Firstly, a huge thank you to Vishal and Sonam at Trophel Tours, and to Thinley (our guide) and Migmar (our driver) who made our 2-week trip so memorable, informative, fun, with seamless travel connections and full of chilli cheese!
From the start, organising this trip was made easy with the communication, advice and support provided by Vishal. Ric was on an invite working visa with the Ministry of Health and Vishal went out of his way to navigate the complexities of the various itineraries and different visa types Ric and I had to have in place.
The hikes that Thinley and I undertook together (while Ric was working) around Paro were fabulous, walking through pine forests and we hardly saw another soul on any of them, apart from a few local farmers, monks and friendly dogs! Thinley has a wealth of knowledge about his country, Buddhism, the history of the various monasteries, Dzongs, temples we visited and of Bhutan’s flora and fauna. He could even talk with the birds! And our very respectful driver, Migmar, was a delight to be around and we always felt in safe hands on the mountainous roads.
In the second half of our trip, Ric joined us for hikes and sightseeing in and around Punakha and Thimphu. We loved watching the national sport of archery, and even came back to Australia with a traditional bow and arrows!!
We were also lucky enough to be in Thimphu to watch the Tour of the Dragon – one of the World’s toughest mountain bike races which sees cyclists covering 268 kms, up and down 4 mountains all in one day! Even the Prime Minister of Bhutan took part.
We stayed in the 3-star Tourist hotels organised by Vishal and all were of a high standard, with scenic views of dzongs, temples or the breathtakingly beautiful countryside. All the hotels were clean and comfortable, and we were certainly well fed!
The only thing that we got wrong was the weather! Bhutan is on the same latitude as Cairo and Miami and at high altitudes and at the time of year we went (end of August/September), it was hotter and more humid than we had planned for! Be prepared to wear long sleeves to enter the zdongs and temples and also not every hotel, restaurant and/or shop takes credit cards so take in some hard currency (preferably US$).
We loved our time in Bhutan, with its proud people and strong national identify and it seems decades before its time in terms of the environment – at the Paris Climate talks, Bhutan didn’t commit to becoming carbon neutral – they committed to staying carbon negative (i.e. their forests absorb more carbon than the country emits)! It really is a special country.
We plan to come back with our family to do a 6-day hike and will certainly, without a doubt, be in touch with Vishal and Sonam and go through Trophel Tours again.