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 could only imagine—dramatic mountains with Buddhist monasteries perched high in the cliffs, crystalline rivers that few have seen and deep jungle with exotic animals. 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 Lower Drangme Chhu and Pho 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 Lower Drangme Chhugorge is perhaps one of the finest sections of Class II-III whitewater in the world, with beautiful scenic views and untouched forests carving through terrain only the most adventurous travelers have experienced. The turquoise Pho Chhu meanders through a wide open valley, full of rice fields and farmhouses en route to the impressive Punakha Dzong.
Bhutan’s Majestic and Preserved Wilderness
Thirty-five percent of Bhutan is covered in protected forests, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. 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.
Why Choose O.A.R.S. for a Bhutan Adventure?
Traveling to an unfamiliar country doesn’t have to be challenging. With more than a combined 150 years of experience in the adventure travel industry, our staff of knowledgeable adventurers has taken out the guesswork and added our guarantee. A trip to Bhutan with O.A.R.S. is a true adventure into the unknown. But as you travel through pristine wilderness, explore far-off monasteries and villages and raft some of the most isolated river canyons in the world, you can be confident you’re traveling with one of the most trusted and experienced adventure travel companies in the world.
For more than 45 years, O.A.R.S. has led travelers of all ages and abilities to some of the most stunning locations on the planet. We thrive on creating adventures that take you off the beaten path and away from the crowds to magical landscapes, rivers and coastlines. National Geographic, Outside, Men’s Journal and Sunset magazines along with NBC, CNBC, Forbes Traveler and SmarterTravel.com have all recognized O.A.R.S. for serving up some of the “Best Trips on the Planet.”
We also provide the best guide-to-guest ratio in the adventure travel business so you can feel at ease from the moment you step off the plane, to every new experience that awaits you on our Bhutan adventure. Going above and beyond at any chance, our friendly local guides will ensure your questions are answered and your concerns are given the personal attention you deserve, all while sharing their extensive knowledge of the culture, landscape, wildlife, and ecosystem.
We believe it is a fundamental part of ecotourism is to work with local guides while at the same time bringing our wealth of experience to the table. Our like-minded partners in Bhutan realize they are accountable to O.A.R.S. high standards, so you can rest assured you will be in good hands.