Here at Rothschild Safaris, we’re all excited about Bhutan right now.
Why? This beautiful country offers travelers an opportunity to take a step back in time, coming face-to-face with ancient culture and a mystical, etherial backdrop. This deeply Buddhist land, but it is not a museum. Here you can see, feel and touch history for a truly unique experience. But at the same time, cities across Bhutan are modernizing and evolving. It’s this dichotomy that we love.
If you are keen to explore this land, here are some not-to-miss highlights of Bhutan.
This charming town, on the banks of the Paro Chhu in a beautiful valley, is colorful and the kind of town one immediately feels is full of history and legends. To the north, Mount Chamolhari (Mountain of the Goddess), reigns in white glory and the waters from its “five sisters” peaks passes through deep gorges, finally meeting in the end to form the Paro Chu river that nourishes nearby rice fields and apple and peach orchards.
Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, has retained a small-town feel despite recent commercial development. However, this juxtaposition of old and new, crimson-robed monks and businessmen rushing to work, remain part of Thimpu’s charm.
In addition to its traditional Buddhist buildings and immersion opportunities, Thimpu has plenty of restaurants, bars and cafes from which to relax and take in the sights.
Punakha, known for its towering, whitewashed walls, was the second Dzong to be built in Bhutan and it served as the capital and seat of government until the mid-1950s. In fact, all of Bhutan’s kings have been crowned here.
This history of Punakha is fascinating. A smaller building called Dzong Chug (Small Dzong) housed a statue of the Buddha in this same location as early as 1326. The gold dome on the six-story tall utse, or tower, was built in 1676 by local ruler Gyaltsen Tenzin Rabgye and interestingly, a brass roof for the dzong was a gift of the seventh Dalai Lama, Kelzang Gyatso.
Phobjikha, a massive glacial valley on the western slopes of the Black Mountains, bordering the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, is home to a large flock of black-necked cranes and one of the most important wildlife preserves in the region. In addition to cranes, expect to spot muntjacs (barking deer), wild boars, sambars, serows, Himalayan black bears, leopards and red foxes in Phobjikha.
Bumthang is the central region of Bhutan, and considered to be the cultural heartland of Bhutan thanks to the high concentration of ancient temples and sacred sites in the area. The Bumthang region encompasses four major valleys: Chokhor, Tang, Ura and Chhume. The Ura Valley is particularly beautiful and a wonderful place to hike. Here, you can take in not only the spectacular landscape but also experience culture here as you hike from charming village to village.
Interested in traveling to Bhutan in 2017? Here are a few of our favorite itineraries to get the conversation started. Have a look and then contact us to customize your adventure.