Bhutan Rafting and Himalayan Adventures
Located along the southern slope of the eastern Himalaya, Bhutan’s tourism industry is in its infancy, making it a truly off-the-beaten-path destination. Those who make the trek to this mysterious country will find a wilderness that most of us can only imagine in our wildest dreams—dramatic mountains with Buddhist monasteries perched high in the cliffs, raging rivers that few have seen and deep jungle with exotic animals many have never even heard of. But it’s not just Bhutan’s extraordinary landscape and wildlife that leaves us speechless, it’s also the country’s Buddhist monasteries and temples at every turn that truly transport us into magical land. Our adventures in Bhutan allow us to experience everything this captivating country has to offer. We’ll raft the practically unknown Drangme Chhu and Mangde Chhu, explore some of the country’s unparalleled national parks and protected areas and travel to Bumthang, the spiritual center of Bhutan where we get to lose ourselves in several of the incredible monasteries and temples that make up so much of this sacred land. Not only will a trip to Bhutan stay in your soul and memory for a lifetime, but you’ll be among a small group of people that have traveled to this land of the unknown—true adventurers.
The Hidden Rivers of Bhutan
Flowing out of the Himalaya into Bhutan are some of the world’s least explored rivers and best kept secrets. In fact, up until 2006 when the first descent of Mangde Chhu was completed, and later in 2009 with the first descent of the Drangme Chhu, Bhutan’s rivers were essentially unknown to the rest of the world. The Drangme Chhu gorge is perhaps one of the finest sections of Class IV-IV+ whitewater in the world, with beautiful scenic views and untouched forests carving through terrain only the most adventurous travelers have experienced. Similarly, the Mangde Chhu, with its invigorating Class III whitewater through black canyon walls and emerald waters among a deep jungle backdrop, appears to some as if it’s straight out of a fairy tale. Those who tackle these far-off rivers in the coming years will still be among the elite few who have explored these hidden gem rivers and experienced the early days of Bhutan’s adventure travel industry.
Bhutan’s Majestic and Preserved Wilderness
Thirty-five percent of Bhutan is covered in protected forests, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. This can largely be accredited to the country’s national religion, Buddhism, which highly values the sacredness of life. In this small, isolated country, high mountain peaks transition into lush conifer forests and eventually jungle terrain, creating a large-scale and highly diverse ecosystem that has helped give the country claim to being one of the top 10 biological hotspots in the world. The oldest protected area and Bhutan’s “Crown Jewel” is Royal Manas National Park. And it’s no surprise that Manas National Park is highly regarded in the country as it’s home to more than 365 species of birds, 900 types of plants and some of the most endangered animals on the planet, including the Royal Bengal tiger, Asian elephant, Himalayan black bear and the extremely rare golden langur. But Manas National Park is only one of the Bhutan’s seven national parks and sanctuaries. Others like Thrumshingla National Park are a bird watcher’s paradise while Jigmi Dorji National Park in the alpine region is known for its extensive trekking routes.
A Buddhist Spiritual Center
In Bhutan, one of the last surviving Buddhist kingdoms, Buddhism is alive and well. Visitors to this spiritual land may feel as if they’ve been transported to a magical place. Throughout the country, prayer flags, monks, and the sounds of bells and gongs make up daily life, while Dzongs, stupas, and monasteries dating back to the 7th century dominate the land. The country’s most famous monastery, perched more than 3,000 feet above the Paro Chhu, is known as Taktsang or Tiger’s Nest. The story of this site holds that the great Buddhist teacher, Padmasambhava, traveled through the Himalayas on the back of a flying tigress, bringing Buddhism to Bhutan. He landed at Taktsang and founded it as a meditating cave. Those that make the trek to Bhutan, inevitably make the climb to see this cliffside wonder, entering into their own sacred place along the way. It’s no coincidence then, with its deeply spiritual culture and temples and monasteries at every turn, that Bhutan is ranked among the happiest countries in the world.