He hiked there this April, on his own (because the other two people on the trek dropped out on Day 2) for two weeks, with a team of Bhutan guides, only one of whom spoke any English. Most of the expedition, arranged through Blue Poppy was on foot, though they rode mules occasionally. Bill learned some useful phrases in Dzongkha, and even learned a song in that language, which he sang to us!
The Canadians landed at Paro, on a flight from Bangkok that stopped at a small airport in India on the way, and from Paro they drove uphill for hours in a rattly jeep, to the start of their trek. Everyone has heard of Shangri-La, the fictional Utopia of the Himalayas, but what is not so commonly known is that "La" means a pass through the mountains. The altitude is so high that it is essential to know where the passes are. The Himalayas make Bhutan virtually inaccessible from the north and dense jungle makes it inaccessible from the south, so it's a self-contained country. Forests of toxic rhododendrons deter exploration; even the local people cannot find a way through them. In the summer the rivers flood and wash away the rickety bridges. Winter is obviously impossible for travelling. In autumn early snow is a great danger, so the only relatively safe time to see the wilds of Bhutan is in the spring, when Bill was there.
The long trek ended at a village that had hot springs and communal bathing in huts. He talked of a "mud field" and imagined the women's three day hike up and down a muddy trail when their babies due, and then returning a month later carrying the babies on their backs.
|Tiger's Nest Monastery (Wikipedia)|