Bumthang Owl Trek: Best Time to visit Bhutan

The Bumthang Owl Trek is one of the most sought after treks in Bhutan. It is a 3-day trek around Bumthang (north-central Bhutan) and is great for amateur trekkers t take in the unspoiled landscapes of blue pine, birch, maple, spruce, juniper, bamboo, and rhododendrons,  with opportunities to visit age-old Buddhist temples and monasteries as well as get a glimpse into local village life. All of this and the glorious views of Mt. Gangkar Puensum, which is the highest unclimbed peak in the world. The best time to visit is in the months of April and May when rhododendrons are in full bloom. Trekking through this area in autumn is a different experience altogether as there is a possibility of encountering Himalayan black bears.  For culture lovers, the best time to visit Bhutan is during the local festivals.

The trek begins at the Manchugang village and passes through the Dhur Village of the nomadic Kheps and Brokpas. The trek continues with an uphill climb through a forest of blue pine, juniper and hemlock towards the campsite at Schonath (3450m). The otherwise silent nights here are punctuated by the hooting of owls, hence, the name ‘The Owl Trek’. The following day, the trek traverses lush forests to arrive at the Drangela Pass. The day ends at a campsite at the Kitiphu Ridge (3870m), from where Mt. Gangkar Puensum (7541m), the highest unclimbed peak in the world, is clearly visible. On the final day, the trek takes you on a descending path towards the monasteries of Zambhalha, Chuedak, and Tharpaling of which Chuedak monastery is the most unusual in Bhutan, having 100 Avoloketeshvaras in the form of Chukchizhey (eleven heads) that is seen nowhere else in Bhutan. By afternoon, the trek moves along the ridge of Kikila and follows the traditional trek route between Trongsa and Bumthang (the Royal Heritage Trail) to arrive at the Jakar Dzong, which marks the end of the Bumthang Owl trek.

The trek is perfect for amateurs and graded as easy, so first-timers can definitely try this. Every trek in Bhutan is accompanied by a guide, cook, camping assistant, and a few horsemen and horses to carry gear and the Owl Trek is no different. The maximum elevation that is reached during the trek is 4000m (13123 feet above sea level). Make sure to wear hiking boots, all-terrain clothing and carry a sleeping bag, water-bottle, first-aid kit, and a de-hydration kit as essentials.

To know more about this trek in details, read here: https://www.tourgenie.com/travel-diaries/travel-blogs/bumthang-owl-trek-best-time-to-visit

Bhutan Tigers Nest

Traveling to Bhutan and not visiting the iconic Tiger’s Nest in Paro is a cardinal sin. For those who do not know, let this be your introduction to the fascinating Paro Taktsang perched precariously at a height of , 10,000 feet above sea level  in the cliffs in upper Paro Valley, Bhutan. This iconic tourist attraction was once engulfed by a mysterious fire but has been completely restored to its former glory and is by far, the most visited in Bhutan. This place is sacred to the Buddhists housing a monastery, and is so particularly to the Vajrayana sect.

There is an interesting tale revolving around its origins. It is believed that Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, who was an 8th-century Buddhist master from India and also believed to be a re-incarnation of Buddha himself, landed at Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan, on a flying tigress. He then began meditating in a cave for 4 months. It is believed that he subdued the local ‘demons’ and began the conversion of the people of Bhutan to Buddhism.

To reach the main complex, one has to undertake an arduous trek of about 2-3 hours, from the valley floor to reach the entrance of the monastery. That is why it is referred to as a ‘nest’. Mid way up, one reaches the iconic spot from where people take the customary picture with the monastery in the background. There is also a canteen there where one can have lunch. Till here, a horse can be hired, but here onwards, the journey has to be completed on foot. From the entrance, there are 700 stone steps carved into the cliff face that lead up to the monastery. Inside the monastic complex are several caves, lhakhangs, sacred objects, drubchus (holy water), and Tshogyal Pangchung (the lawn of Khandro Yeshe Tshogyal). There is also a cold cave where Padmasambabva is said to have meditated. Besides the captivating monastery, the view of the valley from up there is surreal.

There is more to know about this mystical place. Read more here: https://www.tourgenie.com/travel-diaries/travel-blogs/bhutan-tigers-nest