Trip Reports

Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu – or why it’s great the airport is in Paro

Bhutan’s capital, Thimphu – or why it’s great the airport is in Paro

It’s funny, because the time it took me to pick up the story of the third, and final, day in Bhutan was almost as much as it took me to rest from the crazy climb to the Tiger’s Nest. But one perseveres, and one eventually succeeds, or something of the sort… so here comes the story of the final day of the trip.

Climbing the impossible: Bhutan’s Tiger’s Nest, or “how did they get all those stones up there in the first place?!”

Climbing the impossible: Bhutan’s Tiger’s Nest, or “how did they get all those stones up there in the first place?!”

So a little bit of background is in order, I suppose. Tiger's Nest is a Buddhist monastery, considered to be the holiest Buddhist site in all of Bhutan. It's situated at 10,000 feet (about 3,400 meters) above sea level, and the parking lot is about 2,000 meters, so that's more or less a 1.4km elevation change. The trek length is 4.5 kms, most of it pretty much up, up, up. None of the things I've read about Tiger's Nest mention the trek – everyone talks about how beautiful it is, how spectacular it is, and all that. Nobody actually talks about getting there. So like, I knew there was a trek to do. I also knew you could ride horses halfway up, which I consider cheating. What I didn't know is just how hard this trek is. The previous night during our drunken debauchery with the tour company's owner, he mentioned that there was a shortcut; that it was "harder", but made the trek "shorter". Since I am not one to ever shy away from a challenge, I demanded we take the shortcut. My guide looked very skeptical, but acquiesced… and so off we went.

A world of mystery and wonder: Bhutan, the happiest country on Earth

A world of mystery and wonder: Bhutan, the happiest country on Earth

About two weeks back I went to a place that I’ve always wanted to go to (actually, that might not be a very descriptive statement, as there are many places I’ve wanted to go that I’ve ended up going to, and yet more that I’ve not even been to yet, so in and of itself, this sentence means nothing). The impetus for this trip, though, was a conversation with a good friend in which he pointed out that if I’m going to Delhi, there are a number of these places within easy reach – somehow, Bhutan has always been a “far-away” destination for me, but indeed, it’s barely two hours away from Delhi, and so going there isn’t exactly difficult once you’re all the way over there. There were only two complications; getting there was by far the biggest one.