Bhutan’s glorious bio-diversity gives it top billing as an outdoor adventure destination. What makes it even more alluring is those vast Himalayan expanses offer some of the least crowded places to enjoy truly uplifting holiday experiences. It allows us to recapture the magic of living with our planet rather than just living off it.
Breathe in that fresh, unpolluted air; soak in the soothing mosaic of greens that reach out to the horizon, share smiles and toffees with the kids in a mountain village. Simple pleasures… but ever so welcome after escaping crowded, polluted cityscapes. Your lungs, you’ll find, appear to be working better, allowing you to zip up and down hillsides with joyful energy. Sharing conversations and cultural interactions with the local mountain folk adds a fresh worldview on a lovely hop-on-hop-off mountain biking tour in the Bhutanese countryside en route to Trongsa. Grab selfies with torrential streams, misty hilltops in the distance, and local peasants.
Battle the rapids in Bhutan’s Mo and Pho Chhu Rivers, which are attracting a lot of attention from rafters in Punakha. Thrill to the exuberant rapids which can vary between Grades 1–4+. On the quieter bits mull over the gorgeous scenery drifting past you on the embankments, from where a gathering of water fowl dive into the waters for a tasty morsel.Later visit the historic Punakha Dzong, where wintering monks spend time in prayer and meditation. Located at the confluence of the two rivers, the Dzong is notable for its architectural splendour.
Tigers Nest Trek
Guru Padmasambha, the master of Bhutan’s Buddhist faith did it the unique way. To reach this vertiginous craggy spur (900m) in the Paro Valley, he flew here in the 8th century on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave for three months. Trekkers today slog up the steep trail, stopping often to mull over the guru’s choice of vehicle to reach this picnic spot where the Taktsang monastery has taken root. Gorgeous panoramas of the valley help distract you from the sweat and toil it takes to reach the top. But it’s all worth it.
Camping in a mushroom forest
Meals in Bhutan can be simple, flavourful gourmet experiences during the mushroom season. Do you know that locals actually camp out in the forest, sometimes for a month, to collect these seasonal delectable additions to the kitchen table? From July to August and September, Matsutake Mushroom (Sangay Shamu) fever grabs the foodie here. This flavourful, succulent variety grows naturally in the forest and can’t be cultivated–so it’s really prized! Your local host will provide you invaluable lessons on which mushrooms you can eat and which need to be discarded because they may be poisonous. Back in the family kitchen, you can learn how to make the popular Bhutanese cheese and mushroom dish, spiced up with the mandatory red or green chillies; it’s called shamu datsi. Then re-invent that for friends back in your family kitchen!
Bhutan’s fabulous, great open spaces are an alluring temptation for many repeat visits. This Himalayan country offers a beautiful experience of the significant link between man and nature for an organic outlook for survival in these days of worry over climate change and its repercussions on life as we know it.