BHUTAN WALKING HOLIDAYS TRAVEL GUIDE


2 MINUTE SUMMARY

Walks to monasteries, such as Tango, Cheri and Taktsang are an opportunity to exit city streets and embark on an adventure, where meetings with monks and villagers are likely. Although Bhutan is home to the Himalayas, there are plenty of opportunities to hike at lower levels. The Bumthang and Phobjikha valleys have river trails, farming communities and fertile foothills alongside habitat for migrating black-necked cranes. Trekking trails lead through flowering rhododendron forests to unveil breathtaking views from high ridges with snow-capped peaks offering a tantalising taste of the Tibetan border. The higher you go, the more challenging the experience, but registered guides and helpers offer support and cultural insights as you walk. Staying overnight in well organised camps allows you to absorb the surroundings and catch your breath before embarking onwards and upwards over Bhutan's most spectacular peaks and passes.
Find out more in our Bhutan walking vacations travel guide.

WALKING HOLIDAYS IN BHUTAN


WHAT DOES THIS TRIP ENTAIL?

MOUNTAINS & MONASTERIES


Swiftly flowing rivers cut through deep valleys in Bhutanѝs southern Himalayan foothills against a backdrop of Jhomolhari (7,314m) in the east and Gangar Punsum (7,570m) overlooking Tibet to the north. Perched on many of Bhutanѝs peaks are some of the worldѝs most revered Buddhist monasteries (dzongs) with Taktsang Dzong (the Tigerѝs Nest) overlooking Paro Valley and Tango Dzong, just north of Thimphu, just a couple of points to head to on a walking tour of Bhutan. Guided walks help you get to grips with the history, symbolism and etiquette attached to visiting monasteries and combining a walking tour with a Buddhist festival provides the perfect path to cultural enlightenment.

SMALL GROUP OR TAILOR MADE


Unlike in Nepal, it's not possible to trek independently in Bhutan; you'll need to join a small group or tailor made walking vacation. This is because the daily tariff you pay to visit Bhutan includes a guide anyway, and the trekking routes are little used, with no accommodation or places to eat along the way. This means you'll be camping and will need local support staff and ponies to carry kit and food for the trek. So, you can trek as a solo traveler, but you can't travel independently. Traveling in a small group also allows you to meet new people, while a tailor made walking tour gives you complete control over the itinerary, but with the invaluable security of local assistance.

DAY WALKS & LONGER TREKS


There are plenty of circular treks and shorter walks in Bhutan that can easily be achieved just outside of city limits. Early morning transfers can position you right at the start of a trail head, where you can spend a day walking in Bhutan before returning to base to rest, unravel and prepare for the next day’s adventure. Point to point hiking presents longer distance trails with the Druk Path, Merak and Sakten and the Snowman, all offering more of a challenge amongst some of Bhutan’s most scintillating scenery. Time, fitness and cultural or natural interests will all determine which walk best suits you so be honest before embarking on an enjoyable experience rather than a gruelling slog.

GUIDES, COOKS & PONIES


Some of the most important people that you’ll meet whilst walking in Bhutan will be working and walking alongside you to ensure your experience runs as smoothly and as informatively as possible. Shorter day walks will still feature a local guide licensed by the Tourism Council of Bhutan whilst longer trekking experiences will include an entire crew of experienced licensed guides, camp assistants and cooks. Porters aren't used in Bhutan as readily as Nepal or Tibet and you can expect to find several sturdy ponies employed to carry equipment and food to tented outdoor campsites.

BEST TIME TO GO ON A WALKING HOLIDAY IN BHUTAN


TEMPERATURE & RAINFALL

Weather-wise you only have a couple of smallish windows to squeeze through with mid to late Oct and the second half of April the best time to go on a walking vacation in Bhutan. Jun-Aug is the monsoon season whereas Dec-Feb finds snow blocking many of the higher trails, although lowland trails can be much warmer and relatively unaffected. Sep signals the start of peak season although conditions are still wet and muddy with cloud often obscuring blue skies and mountain peaks. Trek for multiple days at high altitude and you'll see rare blue poppies flowering from May-Aug. Walks in Mar-Apr find wild primula, iris and edelweiss all below 3,000m.
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Photo Credits: [Mountains and Monasteries: Zachary Collier] [Day walks and longer treks: Xiaojun Deng] [Temp chart: Ian Cochrane]
Written by Chris Owen
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