Until the 1960’s there were no roads in Bhutan and the only way to get around the kingdom was on foot. For us it remains the best way to experience the ‘real’ Bhutan.
Communications in Bhutan have vastly improved in the last few years making it more attractive to many visitors. But leave the beaten path and road behind, whether walking for a few hours or undertaking a more demanding trek, quickly leaves the majority behind and reveals a spectacular, unspoilt country steeped in ancient traditions. It’s the best way to discover an untouched place of lush yet rugged mountain beauty and fortified monasteries high in the hills shrouded in myths and legends.
The nature of Bhutan's rugged terrain and steep sided valleys, with its lack of roads and air strips, means that some treks are only for the very hardy (the Snowman Trek, reputedly the world’s toughest, is an epic 30-day journey). But if you’re looking for something just a little more manageable, we arrange private camping treks in Bhutan of up to a week or so long. We plan your trek to make sure that you’re able to walk at your own pace - Bhutanese soldiers were once made to complete the Druk Path trek in a single day, but we reckon that five or six is more like it. You have time to enjoy the wild scenery and experience that incredible feeling you only get when you're somewhere completely remote.
If you prefer not to camp there are also some really excellent day hikes in the valleys such as Haa, Punakha and Phobjikha to hillside monasteries or temples where you can meet monks, villagers and pilgrims. Set out on foot for the day from the capital and you’ll quickly discover a way of life that seems a world away from Thimphu and we recommend doing this as part of a cultural tour whenever possible.
On all our walks and treks you’ll be accompanied by a knowledgeable guide. He’ll quite probably be dressed in the traditional checked ‘gho’ tunic, and thick knee-high socks making your own trekking gear - whatever the brand - seem positively scruffy. As well providing information about the local flora, fauna and customs he’ll pepper your trek with fantastical stories of local deities, demons and mystical Buddhist beliefs, his words mingling with the sounds of jingling bells tied to your pack ponies.
From small villages in the valleys trails lead through virgin forests of blue pine, hemlock, fir, spruce and juniper, splashed bright with the blooms of rhododendron in spring, that thin to alpine pastures grazed by yaks. The trekking day tends to be longer in Bhutan than elsewhere in the Himalaya but after completing the longest part of the walk there’s a good break for lunch before pushing on to your overnight camp at a designated camping place. Read more about a typical day trekking in Bhutan. Your Bhutanese cook somehow rustles up a three course meal in semi-darkness – do ask for more chillies with your rice if you want to eat like a local - before you bed down in your dome tent beneath the gaze of snow-capped mountains and an enormous star-littered sky.
WHEN TO GO
In general the best time to trek in Bhutan is from late September to November when the skies are clear and the climate is at its best, or from March to May to enjoy rhododendrons and magnolias in bloom in the mountains. The climate is affected by altitude so there are many local variations - some lower altitude treks are best in winter. Read more about the best time to trek in Bhutan or contact us for more specific information and to plan your trek.