Bhutan is swiftly developing its reputation as a premier destination for adventure sports. Set amongst the majestic Himalayas our kingdom is the perfect location for all manner of exciting activities including Hiking, Trekking, Kayaking, Mountain Biking and Fishing. Whether it’s rafting down crystal clear, glacier-fed rivers or trekking through lush, virgin forests Bhutan offers a one-of-a-kind experience for travelers seeking adventure in an unspoiled and unexplored environment. All the necessary arrangements for adventure activities can be made through your local tour operator. They will provide you with well-trained and experienced guides to ensure your safety at all times.
The rugged, mountainous landscape of Bhutan lends itself well to both on-road or off-road mountain biking and the sport is seeing increasing popularity among both visitors and Bhutanese alike. There are a variety of biking routes available ranging from smooth journeys on paved roads to challenging off-road dirt trails that wind through rough terrain. The sport offers a certain intimacy with the environment that is seldom experienced in vehicles. With better roads replacing the old and the increasing number of off-road roads, biking is now becoming a very unique and original way of seeing and interacting with the country, people and the Bhutanese environment.
Most biking trips go through well paved roads while others trail on to dirt roads and trails. Traffic is still relatively very light and the experience very intimate. The more adventurous have the option of making side excursions for more “off-the-road” ventures if prefer. The trails accommodate most types of frames: including MTB, Hybrid, and Road, depending on your cycling style and experience. Biking trails mostly meander through small towns and villages and rural areas; it’s just you, your bike, the tour group and the agrarian and natural scenery.
There are also numerous opportunities for optional hikes with a bit of climbing thrown in. There are some challenging climbs with one in particular that is more than seven hours. You peddle the pads over two miles (3,400 meters) above sea level. Your effort is rewarded with a breathtaking view and an unforgettable experience. Riders should have an adequate level of fitness and stamina and be experienced enough in the art of mountain biking. Tours are fully supported by a van following riders. The van allows riders to rest should they require it. Many of the biking trails lead through small villages and temples which can provide interesting and informative diversions should you wish to take a break.
Kayaking and Rafting
The crystal clear rivers of Bhutan are one of the kingdom’s best kept open secrets. Fed by the glacial-melt of the Eastern Himalayas, six major rivers (Wang Chhu, Sunkosh, Puna Tsang Chhu, Mangde Chhu, Kuri Chhu and Dangme Chhu and their tributaries), have been scouted for kayaking and rafting.
They cut through high valleys and low plains to meet up with the Brahmaputra River in India. The pristine natural setting and the sheer variety of the rivers’ courses provides a unique opportunity to explore Bhutan’s beautiful wilderness. Adventurous travelers will not be disappointed by the rugged, untamed waterways of Bhutan. The rivers are plentiful with strong currents varying between slow, gentle flows in some places and powerful, raging torrents can be found throughout the country. Although adventure sports and tourism are relatively recent introductions to Bhutan, they are rapidly gaining in popularity.
The river courses available in Bhutan offer something for all visitors, regardless of experience: There are easy routes for beginners and hair-raising runs for the veterans. Besides the rafts and the kayaks, Bhutanese agents also organize walking and trekking expeditions along the scenic river banks. The best time for rafting and kayaking is from March to April and November to December.
Explore what truly sets Bhutan apart from anywhere else and discover one of the most remote kingdoms on earth.
Whether you are looking for a day hike or a gruelling 31 day adventure, Bhutan has it all. Pristine mountain lakes, imposing glaciers and some of the world’s most endangered species await you in the mountainous amphitheatre of the Himalayas.
Let us give you a selection of some of the country’s finest treks. Note: Trekking routes on this website are general guides only and may have inaccuracies. They are not to be used for navigation. Your trek guide is the expert on the route to take.
Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists. Over 670 species of birds have been recorded and many more are yet to be discovered. Around 50 species of the known birds are winter migrants. These include ducks, waders, birds of prey, thrushes, finches and buntings.
The partial migrants to Bhutan include cuckoos, swifts, bee-eaters, warblers and flycatchers. The country harbors more than 16 species of vulnerable birds. They are the Pallas’s Fish Eagle, White bellied Heron, Satyr Tragopan, Gray-bellied Tragopan, Ward’s Trogon, Blyth’s King Fisher, Yellow-rumped Honey Guide, Rufous Throated Wren Babbler, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Blyth’s Trogon, Wood Snipe, Dark-rumped Swift, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Gray-crowned Prinia and the Beautiful Nuthatch all of which breed in Bhutan.
Bhutan is home to many species of birds that are in danger of extinction, including the Imperial Heron, which is one of the fifty rarest birds in the world and the rare Black-Necked Crane, which breeds in Tibet and then migrates over the Himalayas to Bhutan during the winter months. The Cranes can be spotted in Phobjikha Valley in Western Bhutan, Bumthang in Central Bhutan and in Bumdeling in Eastern Bhutan. They migrate to these winter roosting sites in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March.
The following is a comprehensive list of the endangered birds of Bhutan:
1. Baer’s Pochard
2. Beautiful Nuthatch
3. Black-necked Stork
4. Blackish-breasted Babbler
5. Blyth’s Kingfisher
6. Chestnut-breasted Partridge
7. Dark-rumped Swift
8. Eurasian Curlew
9. Eurasian Peregrine Falcon
10. Ferruginous Duck
11. Gray-crowned Prinia
12. Great Hornbill
13. Lesser Fish-eagle
14. Palla’s Fish-eagle
15. Pallid Harrier
16. Rufous-necked Hornbill
17. Rufous-throated Wren-babbler
18. Satyr Tragopan
19. Ward’s Trogon
20. White-rumped Vulture
21. White-throated Bushcat
23. Yellow-rumped Honeyguide
24. Black-necked Crane
25. Imperial Heron
26. White-bellied Heron
SPIRITUALITY & WELLNESS
Bhutan has many activities available for those visitors seeking a place of solace, rest and recuperation. Whether it’s a session of peaceful, contemplative meditation, a relaxing soak in a mineral hot spring bath or the all-natural remedies of our traditional medicine Bhutan has just what you need to revive and rejuvenate your body and spirit. Our many meditation and mediation retreats will provide you with places of respite from the cares and stress of everyday life. Many tourists from Thailand and other Buddhist countries come to Bhutan specifically for meditation and retreat tours. Also, most hotels provide yoga sessions, retreats and meditation facilities within the hotel premises. The traditional medicine of Bhutan is known as Sowa Rigpa and dates back to the 17th century when it first spilt from it Tibetan origins. Bhutan’s natural environment, with its exceptionally rich flora has enabled the development of an unparalleled pharmacopoeia. Indigenous medicine units have been established in all 20 Dzongkhags (districts) and can provide tourists with traditional remedies for any ailments they may have. Hot springs or Tshachus as they are locally known can be found all over the Kingdom and their medicinal properties are known to cure various ailments ranging from arthritis to body aches and even sinuses.
Meditation & Retreat
As one of the last strongholds of Vajrayana Buddhism, meditation and mediation retreats are a common practice amongst Monks and Buddhist practitioners in Bhutan. Small retreat centers and hermitages are located all over the country, usually next to temples, monasteries and monastic schools.
These retreats and meditation centers provide places of respite from the cares and stress of everyday life. Devout Buddhists often venture into the mountains for months at a time to meditate. The retreats provide practitioners with the opportunity to draw upon their inner self and meditate upon the purpose of life.
Many tourists come to Bhutan for meditation and retreat tours. Some itineraries include serious meditation programs that last for days while others offer solitary retreats for few hours in the high hills and temples where the serenity and beauty of nature can be appreciated in undisturbed silence.
Tour Operators can include meditation programs in your itinerary if you are interested in trying this Bhutanese way of retreat. Additionally, most hotels also provide yoga sessions, retreats and meditation facilities within the hotel premises.
Hot Spring Therapy
In Bhutan, hot springs are known as Tshachus/menchus, and are found in many parts of the country. The medicinal properties of these hot springs have been used by the Bhutanese people for centuries to cure various ailments ranging from arthritis to body aches and even sinuses. It is a popular tradition among Bhutanese to visit hot springs during the winter months.
Tshechu is a religious festival meaning “tenth day” held annually in various temples, monasteries and dzongs throughout the country.
The Tshechu is a religious event celebrated on tenth day of a month of the lunar calendar corresponding to the birthday of Guru Rimpoche (Guru Padmasambhava). However the exact month of the Tshechu varies from place to place and temple to temple.
Tshechus are grand events where entire communities come together to witness religious mask dances, receive blessings and socialize. In addition to the mask dances, tshechus also include colorful Bhutanese dances and other forms of entertainment.
It is believed that everyone must attend a Tshechu and witness the mask dances at least once to in order to receive blessings and wash away their sins. Every mask dance performed during a Tshechu has a special meaning or a story behind it and many are based on stories and incidents from as long ago as the 8th century, during the life of Guru Padmasambhava. In monasteries, the mask dances are performed by monks and in remote villages, they are performed jointly by monks and village men.
Two of the most popular Tshechus in the country are the Paro and Thimphu Tshechus in terms of participation and audience. Besides the locals, many tourists from across the world are attracted to these unique, colorful and exciting displays of traditional culture.
FLORA & FAUNA
Nestled deep within the Himalayas, Bhutan is a treasure trove of biological diversity with an unparalleled richness of flora and fauna due to the varied altitudinal and climatic conditions present in the country. This fragile ecosystem has remained unspoiled due to the conservation efforts of the Bhutanese people and government. Today 60% of the kingdom’s total area has been designated as protected nature preserves.
Bhutan is the perfect destination for enthusiastic horticulturalists as it contains more than 60% of the common plant species found in the Eastern Himalayas. It also boasts of approximately 46 species of Rhododendrons and over 300 types of medicinal plants. Junipers, Magnolias, Orchids, Blue Poppies (the national flower), Edelweiss, Gentian, various medicinal herbs, Daphne, Giant Rhubarb, Pine and Oak trees are among the plants commonly found.
The kingdom is also home to a wide variety of animals. At higher altitudes you will come across snow leopards, blue sheep, red pandas, takin, marmots and musk deer. Leopards, gorals, gray langurs, Himalayan black bears, red pandas, sambars, wild pigs and barking deer are found in the temperate zones. The tropical forests in the south are a haven for clouded leopards, elephants, one horned Rhinoceros, water buffalos, golden langurs, gaurs, swamp deer, hog deer, horn bills and many other species. Bhutan is home to the highest altitude inhabiting Tigers in the world and they are commonly found throughout the country.
Visitors can experience the magnificent flora and fauna of Bhutan through sightseeing tours or by embarking on treks and hikes through beautiful virgin forests, pristine Himalayan Mountains and across sparkling crystal clear rivers fed by ancient mountain glaciers. Roads in Bhutan pass through the rich forests so travelers can experience the majestic natural environments of Bhutan.