The country of Bhutan which is sometimes referred to as the “land of the Thunder Dragon” is a small Kingdom that sits on the Eastern side of the vast Himalayan chain. Its perhaps best known for being one of the happiest nations in the world, using an index known as Gross National Happiness (GNH) as an indicator of the countries ongoing development.
I was lucky enough to visit this stunning county numerous times in the past when I was working closely with part of the Royal family and the Bhutanese Olympic Commission on a project. However like many things in life my own personal life journey took me away from my friends and connections there.
I was therefore very excited to put together a trip for a few special people who wanted to experience the wonder of Bhutan and in earlier this year I returned to visit this amazing country with a handful of friends and what unfolded was a magical journey over a mere 7 days.
Using the new Royal Bhutan Helicopter service we were able to access parts of the country which would normally take us many days to hike to, thus enabling us to become the first westerners to visit the remote village of Laya in winter. We trekked to and camped at the sublime Jomolhari Basecamp, spending a luxury night under the stars. While the rafting down the river to visit the famous Punakha Dzong may not have been particularly serious the near sub zero temperature of the water made the reality of falling out the raft very real.
We had gorgeous weather throughout our stay which allowed stunning views of the whole Eastern part of the Himalayas, including the highest unclimbed peak in the World which sits in Bhutan…Gangkhar Puensum (7570m) and Kanchenjunga, the 3rd Highest Mountain in the World which lies on the nearby India-Nepal border.
Through my own connections we were blessed with some amazing dinner guests from Governmental advisers, senior religious leaders to one of the Royal Princesses….my friends even had dinner with the PM and some of his senior cabinet members.
None of us will ever forget the remarkable Tigers Nest, a Monastery that is literally built on the side of a cliff some 600m above the ground. The hike up and down made totally worthwhile by the rich history and architecture of the buildings perched so high.
All of this was elevated by the country itself which is almost beyond description with its beauty, the depth of culture and the amazing people who live there.
Now that I’ve been back I’m already planning my next visit to this remarkable little country.