One for the Bucket List: Walking with Nomads in Bhutan

Bhutan bridge to monasteryBhutan is a truly special place. This “jewel in the crown” of the majestic Himalayas has been a cultural time capsule, locked away by geography and a governmental ban on tourism until the 1970’s. Today, travelers are invited to experience a unique traditional culture with an unprecedented approach to preservation and development in the best-preserved Himalayan habitat remaining today. For some travelers, this blend of culture and mystery makes Bhutan the Holy Grail of Travel Experiences.

Yet, traveling in Bhutan poses a particular challenge. The government has imposed tight restrictions on tourism to offset its destructive cultural and environmental impacts. These controls limit a traveler’s options; every visitor to Bhutan is required to book with, and be accompanied by, a licensed Bhutanese operator. Independent travelers accustomed to blazing their own trail and making their own discoveries need to connect with the right people in Bhutan to explore the kingdom and ensure the most authentic experience possible.

That’s where Crooked Trails comes in.

Palin and Phuntsho dancing BhutanWe’ve made that connection for you in the form of Fin and Lotay at Bridge to Bhutan. Through our partnership with them, we are excited to be able to offer you a truly unique and immersive journey that very few travelers are able to experience.

This special journey takes you to the remote Haa Valley, where you’ll be tracing the trails of the Dorips, who have been migrating to their warmer village in the south every winter for hundreds of years, along their fall migration. You’ll spend an unforgettable week on a fully supported trek along the route of the annual traditional migration, a tradition that is fading fast. The nomadic journey travels through many of the picturesque pastures and meadows that dot the lush, green landscape. It’s a unique opportunity to live, learn and move with an ancient culture of people. (Click here to learn more about the fascinating Dorip people.)

You’ll also take in some of Bhutan’s finest sights, such as Tiger’s Nest Monastery, Paro and the Thimpu Teschu festival in the country’s capital – the only capital on the planet without traffic lights! While these highlights are more common on other travelers’ itineraries, your guides will bring a more personal connection to the experience, and will be able to help tailor these days to your personal Bhutan churning butterinterests. This sort of flexibility is rare in such a controlled tourism environment.

Everyone who has participated in the Trailing Nomads fall program has been extremely positive and enthusiastic upon returning. One of our travelers said:

“The visit to the Haa Valley was overall the most memorable part of the trip. We got a good introduction to what life is like for farming families in Bhutan.  We experienced life in their household, ate with them, and tried to communicate.  They were genuine, lovely, hospitable, down-to-earth people.  Grandpa, Wongchu, was a real hoot.

The choice of guide was incredibly fortuitous.  Everyday Fin tried to give us opportunities to see his country thru his eyes.  He obviously loved his country and everything it has to offer.  Fin worked very hard to throw in little extras.”

Phuntsho's aiee and aapa BhutanIf you’ve ever dreamed about seeing magical Bhutan for yourself one day, we can say without a doubt that this is perhaps the most unique and authentic opportunity you will ever have to experience it through it’s unique and wonderful people.

We are booking now for our Bhutan Trailing Nomads program, which runs September 14 – 29 and costs $3840 per person. Contact us now to learn more about this and other travel opportunities in Bhutan, or fill out our online application to grab your spot on our upcoming fall departure!

A very special thanks to Crooked Trails Fall 2011 travelers Jessica, Joanna and Kirstin who shared their photos with us!

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