Bhutan 11 – 25 November, 2023


Join us on a trip to Bhutan, known as ‘Druk Yul’ or ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, one of the most interesting countries in the world. A tiny Himalayan kingdom, of less than 800,000 souls, Bhutan is famous for a statement made by King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, in 1972 when he declared, “Gross National Happiness is more important than Gross Domestic Product.
This is mostly a cultural trip where we intend to fully immerse ourselves amongst the wonderful people. Most of the country practices Buddhism and our plan is to attend two separate and remote religious festivals. While the vast majority of visitors to Bhutan concentrate on either of the two major festivals in the capital of Thimphu or Paro in the west of the country our trip deliberately avoids this over-abundance of foreign tourists. Most trips indeed only concentrate on the more developed western region whereas we intend to cross the country from west to east exiting into Assam in India. It is truly spectacular to do so. As we travel east, on the precipitous mountain road, we appear to go further and further back in time to reach the more traditional and ‘real’ Bhutan, where the past is still the present, escaping the influences of our more familiar ‘western’ world. We will head into a region evermore rural where farm houses are decorated with huge painted phalluses on their walls in the hope of a blessed fertility to the home-owners. Our thinking is that rather than finishing the trip where accommodation becomes gradually more comfortable, but tradition less so, we wanted to ‘acclimatise’ to the culture in Paro and environs before heading east where we will have better understanding and appreciation of where we are and whom we are among. Our aim is to leave Bhutan with a deeper, more indelible memory of the incredible place that it is.
Bhutan is a country of abundant and diverse wildlife and with little heavy industry the air quality and natural areas are both vast and pristine. It is a small but burgeoning economy based on agriculture, forestry, tourism and the sale of hydro-electric power to India. Agricultural products include the famous Bhutanese red rice, the ubiquitous red chillies and dairy products, mostly from yaks. However, despite developments, traditional dress is still required in many venues which consists, for men, of a gho, a knee-length robe tied at the waist with a cloth belt and knee-length socks. Women wear an ankle-length dress, the kira, held in place at the shoulders by two identical brooches. The people are very friendly and easy to interact with, they are often seen in the countryside enjoying the national sport of archery, something we will get to try out for ourselves.