Guide – Culture, Trek & Nature
Growth in Tourism in Bhutan has also its share of impact on young minds. With tourists freely moving around, the curiosities to know them, talk to them holds ground firmly on young minds . Namgay is one among many youth whose imagination was captured by razzmatazz of tourism.
He has his career goal cut out, he could have easily opted for some comfortable desk jobs, after passing out in flying colours from prestigious St Joseph college Darjeeling in 2010 but he chose to pursue his dream, he loved to be in field, among the guests, so it was only matter of time to enroll for guiding course.
His first foray into job was in 2013 at Wind Horse Tours and still he is going great guns. Feed Backs from guests that he led are great testimonial to his dedication.
He prodigiously read books that open up new frontiers and interaction with guests coupled with sound command of English takes his outlook towards learning and experiences altogether to different height.
What Our Guest Says about the guide
Marcie16 - 30 Oct,2019
It’s taken me almost 2 months to post but finally the day has arrived! With my guide Namgay and driver Jigme, I had a wonderful 2-week trip in Bhutan (last half of Oct., 2019). (Last year I did the Jomolhari trek.) This year’s trip was a custom tour, with some trekking (Owl trek), lots of hiking (thank you, Namgay, for finding great trails no matter where we were, always surprising me that you knew of yet another one, and tailoring all hikes to my wishes), lots of driving since we visited remote areas of Eastern Bhutan (thank you Jigme for your excellent driving, including in some challenging situations–I always felt safe and in good hands), and visiting towns, homes, monasteries, dzongs…the list goes on! I got a real taste of Bhutan hospitality, by which I mean, people (including Namgay and Jigme, both of whom were always sensitive to my wishes and needs) bending over backwards to give me what I wanted. (That meal you guys cooked for me–including the fish you knew I loved, Namgay, and Jigme’s delicious yak cheese & egg dish–I am so glad I have a picture of that plate so I can always look at it and salivate :)). Thank you, both of you, and all the Bhutanese who were so kind to me. It was a treat to get to more remote places this year and get more familiar with this extraordinary country.
Marlene R HOct 05 - 18,2019
I’m so glad that you were in Bhutan while we were there. Everyone was happy to meet you and have the opportunity to talk about Bhutan.
Your tour was terrific, you planned it perfectly. We know that problems might arise on any tour but we were lucky and everything went well. Even the weather cooperated. It was forecasted that we would have rain almost every day but it was hardly a problem at all.
Namgay mentioned that Wind Horse gets top reviews for the tours but rates low on the food. I think the quality of the food is very good but I think most tourists find the food too much of the same. Most meals were buffet, which is good because there is variety, but many times the dishes were very similar. I think the meals that I enjoyed the most were when the dishes were served to us, like at the National Museum. Another suggestion would be to go to a momo restaurant. As I mentioned, I don’t know anything about your restaurants so I can’t really make good and constructive suggestions.
The hotels were all very nice and comfortable. I especially liked Hotel Druk, for its location and the food. The barking dogs were not a problem, perhaps because our rooms were away from the front of the hotel. I also liked Hotel Gangtey Palace in Paro.
The festivals were the highlights for me. It rained much of the time at the Tamshing Festival but it was still enjoyable as we were able to get under cover. It was interesting that the the festival continued, rain or shine. Then onto the larger Gangtey Festival. I enjoyed seeing the monks practice in their robes then return the next day and see them in costume, to see the difference in the crowds, the numbers and people dressed in their best. The crowds were small enough so that it wasn’t overwhelming. The National Museum in Paro is one of my favorite museums ever. It’s small and simple but so well presented. I wish I could have taken pictures to show my friends. I loved walking through the rice fields, seeing the harvesting, up to the Khamsum Yulley Chorten, another beautiful temple. Punakha Dzong is so impressive. And lastly, Tiger’s Nest Monastery was amazing to see. Richard and I did not attempt to reach it…if only we were ten years younger, but we still enjoyed viewing it and taking pictures of us with it in the background.
Your country is beautiful and I’m so happy to have the opportunity to visit Bhutan.
Thank you and your staff for wonderful experiences.
Best to you,
Mateja16 -31 Dec, 2018
Bram JacobNov 25 - Dec 02, 2018
We’re at the airport in Paro awaiting our flight out. We had a great week! Namgay took excellent care of us and we truly enjoyed the week.
Frances Roberts04 -24 Nov, 2018
Overall the trip in Bhutan was very good and at times excellent. We have summarised our feedback below:
The itinerary was what we had planned with you and it was overall more than hoped for, given the limitations of being a visitor in Bhutan. We found staying places two nights or more allowed time to experience Bhutan better and worked well. The mixture of day walking and visiting lhakhangs and dzongs/museums/textile or other crafts etc was a good balance.
Owl trek was a lovely trek, all three days; it’s altitude limited exploration at 12,000 feet was too rapid acclimatisation for myself. We were thrilled that the raptor and Himalayan monal sightings at Kichipu were exceptional and we have fantastic photos of steppe eagles. Our group, the kitchen boy saw the red panda on the first day and we had many sightings of their scats. We suggest it might work better to reverse the owl trek route as allows more time to take in the ridge views and wildlife/birds. No owls on 1st night, really not surprised given the clear evidence of frequent use of the campsite.
Manas Park trip was a disappointment; long, long days travel in the car. We did not walk some of the eco-trail from Gomphu to Manas. We just had a wildlife exploration around the park centre itself and the adjacent river area and forest on the first full day @ Manas. There is very little to see and our guide was reluctant to explore more than 200 yards or so on the footpaths around the NP centre given his conversation with Ranger. In fact the ranger said that a wildlife photographer had been in their camp for 2 weeks and not photographed anything, a fact that he seemed rather pleased with.
We would say do not offer this option at all as unless you actively engage in the local Gomphu to Manas trail in part. As visitors you end spending all the time by the road; walking and camping, entirely understandable however there was another option of the trail we did not access and the block seemed to be the guide.
There was another Wind horse group at the Manas camp area, who had visited Gomphu. This would probably offer a better option, however we only have the official eco-trail guide to refer to on this point. We were unable to get any information from the guide on this option.
Second full day. Given this was just to wander around unexplained locations, we suggested we depart earlier from Manas and camp closer to Tingtibi on our return. Our guide was fine with this idea which indeed then happened. He would not go and explore Gomphu/hornbills there (spotted by other WH group)/walk even though it was only nine km on a side road from the road. This option of returning earlier and closer to Tingtibi made the journey the next day to Gelephu much more bearable. This option would have been incredibly long a day and we would suggest too long, given the road state etc.
We struggled at times with the guide Namgay to let us
Spend more time
- in the lkahangs etc. we realise in some places he had a lot to get through but there were also days such as the first day in Bumthang when he had agreed with us to cut out some of the lhakhangs as too many, rushed us through the ones we had agreed then wondered what we would do after lunch!
- doing wildlife viewing e.g. along rivers or in valley spots, on the trek, Day 2/3 we really needed to go slower to take in the scenery and sightings
- walking for longer
- at times the guide was tricky to negotiate slight variations or different options; for example:
we had not realised the option to have a packed / take hot lunch with us and would have preferred this option often. We dislike eating lunches in tourist type hotels. We did eventually achieve this option and improve the experience
We did on some occasions negotiate a change or possibility of a stop to take pictures etc, this improved our exploring experience to better.
Excellent in all ways
Paro; Gantey Palace hotel was brilliant location and views with it history. Food good and staff helpful. Room warm and cosy.
Thimphu: Namgyay Hotel – excellent spacious room and town location good. Food terrible, room warm and very pleasant and quiet… no dogs heard.
Punika: lovely family hotel with good location and food ok. Warm room
Phobjika: Crane festival; room basic but sufficient; cool/to hot ana needed to use fire; run by fairly disinterested staff, food OK….. so OK/not great.
Bumgthang: Mountain Resort; room excellent, warm; food good with access to local cheese, good location as able to walk into town etc
Trongsa: Lovely family hotel; very helpful, food superb, warm and great view of Dzong.
Treks/camping: initial tent poor as too small height wise, awkward shape and staff struggled to use a complex tent that needs lots of guy rope adjustments. Moisture/ventilation issues meant the sleeping bags became wet. More icing on the inside of the tent at higher altitiudes.
We swopped to the older A frame tent for the treks and the luxury tent for two nights at Manas, both of which were excellent for our needs.
Gelephu: hotel rooms spacious and comfortable; bathroom plumbing nonfunctional, food very limited.
Driver superb for driving skills; very safe driver. Very helpful at all points. Delightful driver and very knowledgeable about English literature. Five stars; very approachable
Sadly the only weak part of the trip
- Failed to meet us arrival as no notification from office of air flight change is what we understood from him
- He had had no breaks between guiding trips. He was going from our trip to the next guiding trip with just an overnight break at home in Thimphu
- Was clearly bored with guiding; offered a bare explanation on the cultural sights and often limited time which resulted in us insisting on going back to a set of lhakhangs in Bumthang for longer. He often lacked a real interest in sharing what we were looking at especially around some of the shrines and their range of statures, paintings and the historically perspectives. For example interpretations of some of the wall paintings or the style of art work etc.
- We wanted packed lunch and drinks en route on occasions so we could drink in Bhutan; that we achieved more from Bumthang; he could be very rigid/fixed at times in attitude to timings and we had to leave a place when he said we had to leave it.
- He has done Taksin walk 18 times this year!
- He was knowledgeable on bird identification, flora but struggled on common butterflies. Fairly limited on mammal knowledge other than identification, so bird guiding skills were good. We did see a lot of birds we had not seen before and he was able to use bird calls to guide their location and identification.
- He was not easy to negotiate variations like stops on the journey as previously mentioned.
- Very helpful at the crane festival; we got a good view spot and programme itinerary.
- Bring acetazolamide on the trek and Dr Cole did get mild altitude sickness that limited her. It would have been helpful, rest did the trick.
- Bring Wind Horse books
Good at logistics so things flowed well especially around the trekking. But in summary we think he needs a break from guiding, he joined us with just a 2 hour break from the previous group and left us to take another group with 1 day’s break.
Mohan and team; trekking team
Absolutely excellent; great food and lots of drinks, tent care and our care was superb and always friendly and helpful; possible the best we have had, so please tell them.
Would do it again and recommend it except for Manas Park; we never understood why we could not camp at Gomphu and walk some of the ecotrail designed for such visitors as ourselves. WWF funded sites in Bhutan in Manas Park and Tang valley were not used; for picnics, camping or trailing; seems odd.
Overall…. Great trip, weather and well organised; the weak point was the guiding…… and we did not let this spoil the trip.
Vasanthi08 - 12, Oct, 2018
Amazing trip in Bhutan. Starting off with Bas who put together an itinerary to meet my requirements. My guide Namgay Dorji was fun and informative and I could not have felt more safer on those mountain roads with a driver like Dhanbir. An experience where the memories will stay with me forever. I’ll definitely be coming back.
MarySept 28 - Oct 16, 2018
I apologize for the gap in time it has taken me to send you feedback. Bhutan is a place I will hold dear in my heart for the rest of my life. When people ask me about my experience in Bhutan I have to say “You just have to go there.”
Our “Above the Clouds” trek was an amazing experience. First and foremost, our guide, Namgay was an expert in so many areas, including English and many other languages and dialects. Aside from being a fit trekker, he was extremely knowledgeable about birds and their calls, native flora and fauna, the geography and trails in this area of Bhutan, the history of religions and cultures of Bhutan and surrounding nations. But maybe the most important and difficult aspect of his leadership was to guide us seven older women on a safe, injury free, mentally happy long and challenging trek living in tents. Most of the women did not know each other before we started. Namgay dealt kindly with many situations involving personalities, health issues, weather conditions, and food preferences. The trail could be tricky, rocky, or muddy. Mostly because of his guidance, every aspect was a peak experience where we all joyously completed our challenging trek.
The support crew was also unbelievably polite, respectful and tolerant. Darjay, our lunch guy, gave constant encouragement and help during the hardest parts of the trek. He also served us tea, breakfast, dinner, and was helpful with filling water and polite in every single instance. He spoke English flawlessly.
The main cook, Mon, was an excellent chef! All of our meals were delicious, unique, and nutritious. He created many unique sauces. No dinner was repeated. Mon was very creative even making meals that involved baking. There was always hot food ready when we were. He worked very hard with a great crew!
The pony men were tireless experts with not only packing and unpacking their animals but putting up tents and carrying all of the heavy equipment. They too were able to run way ahead to have everything ready for us before we got to the campsite.
The countryside with the flowing river below us and the snow-capped mountains around us, the far off villages with charming people, the children, the schools were so memorable. The historic monasteries, Dzongs and many other sites were beautiful and of great interest. The hotels we stayed in at the beginning and end of our trek were elegant.
WindHorse is a great expedition company that I will highly recommend.
Therese B Class23 Sept - 16, Oct, 2018
Martin James Malley13 - 22 May,2018
Thank you for checking in with me about the trip. I have been meaning to write reviews for Tripadvisor, but there is so much in my mind I haven’t been able to get it done yet.
The trip was a peak experience of my life. My daughters (plus one boyfriend) and I loved it. Namgyel was an exceptionally good guide and he took great care of us every day. The trekking staff was excellent, especially the food service. The tents were very good in spite of difficult weather most days. I think the itinerary Windhorse prepared was perfect for our time there. We were very happy with Gangtey Palace and Hotel Druk. Namgyel was very knowledgeable an open to answering our many questions.
On the trek we had quite a bit of rain, so it wasn’t as scenic as it might have been. However, the packing list from the Windhorse web site ensured we were well equipped to deal with all of the different weather conditions we experienced. Our camping was comfortable in spite of the weather. The trek itself was more physically challenging than I had anticipated due to the altitude, but Namgyel was very good at maintaining a pace I (the oldest and least fit) could manage. When the rain did break the scenery was magnificent. On day 3 I did ask Namgyel to shorten the lake excursion due to the rain. He found a hut where we had a dry and comfortable lunch. We took some free time in the afternoon and my daughter composed a song which she sang for the yaks.
On the day after the trek we chose to take the horses to see Tiger’s Nest and to skip the climb to the temple as we were pretty worn out from the trek.
Sonam, our driver, was safe and attentive.
I particularly appreciated the quick responses to all my questions in advance of the trip. And I definitely appreciated the itinerary recommendation which got us away from tourist crowds. We only saw one other group on the entire trek (they had aborted due to weather and were returning to the start point). It was clear to me that the Windhorse staff takes maintaining the environment very seriously. I appreciate that.
Trying to think of constructive suggestions, only two very minor points come to mind. I wish there would have been a way to confirm seats on DrukAir ahead of check in at the airport. We were not able to sit together or get the preferred side of the airplane on the Delhi-Paro route. The other is that, because we arrived on a Sunday, I couldn’t exchange currency (but Namgyel found an ATM). The only problem with that was that I was never able to exchange before the trek, so had to tip the trekking staff in USD which I imagine was less convenient for them.
I will definitely recommend Windhorse (and Bhutan) to others.
Aaron Katz3 - 11, April, 2018
I really enjoyed my trip quite a lot. Namgay and Yamay were both terrific. And the support team at Wind Horse was really great and answered all my questions.
My only feedback would be that perhaps you should add a version of the trip that includes more hiking. It’s a lot of sightseeing and the day could have been broken up a bit with more walking/hiking/etc. We got back to the hotels quite early and in some of places there isn’t much to do. A lot of people I am sure enjoy the rest and relaxation but others may appreciate a longer day with more activity, and exercise.
Just a thought. Everything else was great.
John Hochstein14 -22 Feb, 2018
Jambay: It was a pleasure meeting you when we were in Paro in mid-February. We are back in the United States as of early March just in time for the end of winter in Maine with three late snowstorms totaling 65 cm of snow. But spring has finally arrived and temperatures are reaching 6 degrees Celsius during the day. The wonderful Wind Horse book on Bhutan that you gave us sits proudly on our coffee table. It’s a treasure and reminds us of our memorable trip every time we look at it.
First. Thank you for the help you, Anand along with Ugen put into arranging our 9 day tour. Having Ugen in the US made it much easier to communicate given the 12 hour time zone difference between us. The travel materials and final tour description and itinerary you sent us were first rate; as is your website.
Second. We appreciated the flexibility make reasonable schedule changes during our that our Wind Horse guides accommodated. It allowed us to visit the Uptal School for a friend and go to Taktsang a day early. I think it is a good idea to make the hike then and not wait to the last day based on our experience. It provides some leeway if weather conditions change and it gave us a day to wind down a bit before having to leave and catch our plane.
Third. There were many highlights during our tour. I will always remember the view of the snow capped Himalayas when we stopped to view them from atop the Dochula Pass, the haircut and head massage I got in Paro, our “short stroll” up to visit breathtaking Takstang, the experience of a stone bath, the black necked cranes we saw in the Phobjikha Valley, the famous Dzong in Punaka, yak cheese, looking at countryside from Khamsum Yuley Chorten, the village of Richengang, and not to be missed Dzongdrakha Gompa on our last day.
Fourth. As for hotels, overall they were fine. I put Hotel Gangtey in Paro at the top of the list. Best view, best food, best historic building, best grounds, its hot baths, and best staff. We gave it a 4+ star rating. At the other end of the scale we placed the Zingham Resort, primarily for its poor location and the fact that it seems primarily designed to handle group tours traveling by bus. But they did have the best gift shop. We rated it a 3 star..
Fifth. Lastly, our biggest thank you goes to the “Dynamic Duo”, Namgay and Sonam, for their tireless dedication during our 9 day journey. They made it interesting, educational, and fun. We very much enjoyed their company and conversation. Namgay is a outstanding guide, naturalist and most of all a wonderful teacher – not only of the places we visited and their history but also Buddhism which we learned is deeply ingrained into the very fabric of the country itself.
As for Sonam, what can I say. A knowledgeable guide in his own right with a keen eye, he drove us safely and cheerfully every day – long hours and facing challenging road conditions. We very much appreciate the special effort both he and Namgay made shepherding us up to Taktsang and back down. It made a difference. Please share the attached pictures we took with them.
Since our return home to the United States, we are taking great pleasure in talking about our trip to our friends and urging them to go – and to go with Wind Horse.
Best. John and Sue Hochstein.
Garbriel ZoppiNov 08 -17,2017
As promised I let you know our comments about the trip.
Everything was good organised, the trekking was what we expected, food was very good and people so nice.
Hotel was in the average even if we normally preferred small one, where you get in contact with the owner and the other guests, but, I know, we were too late for this kind of place.
The only one thing for our point of view that you could improve is the choice of restaurants. Namgay most of the time proposed us for lunch restaurants only for tourists.
For us find good food and nice places where seat and meet people is an important part of the holiday.
In Thimphu for example for dinner we went around for ourself and we found out the Zombala 2, very nice place full of local people with very good food and very good service.
In Paro we went to restaurant Nima, that we found out for ourself, we spend a very nice evening there.
Namgay had been a very kind and an interesting person.
Ugen, we have now returned from the wonderful trip you planned for us. Excepting an unexpected snow storm everything worked great. We enjoyed the Radisson very much for our one night layover in Delhi on the way to Bhutan, and Druk air was able to ticket our luggage directly to Chicago via our Air India flight, making that much more convenient.
Our guide Namgay was charming and a pleasure to be with.
I would be happy to share more details with you but for now I wanted to touch base and thank you again. We look forward to planing further trips with you.
Matt PiechockiDec 10 -20, 2016
Firstly, apologies for my late response. It’s been a particularly busy time at work and I’ve had 3 days off in the past month! Nevertheless, enough excuses and time for my thoughts.
I first came to know about Bhutan when reading this website about the 25 least visited countries in the world a year or two ago. I like to go off the beaten path, and the idea of an entire country with centuries of history, it’s own unique culture, people, and way of life, can exist with so many people not even knowing about it’s existence is surreal to me. Not to mention a bit unfair!
This hidden kingdom found it’s way into my mind, and once I moved to Beijing to live and work, I decided this past winter was the perfect time to visit. I like to do a little research, but not too much when I’m visiting a country, as I don’t want to have any expectations coming in. My personal opinion is that, the more expectations you have, the more likely you are to be disappointed. It’s preferable to go in with an open mind and take it as it comes. That way you’ll always be surprised and excited by what you see, and that was certainly the case with Bhutan.
The entire time, I felt as if I had secret access to a country that no one else knew about. There was a feeling that I had discovered this magical place, unbeknownst to the rest of the world. Unspoiled would be the operative word. My guide Namgay was a consummate professional, and always had answers to my barrage of questions whenever we were visiting a temple or other site. He also had a few good stories
about his youth when we visited certain sites which lent a personal touch to everything that was greatly appreciated. Our driver Chimi was a master behind the wheel and I always felt safe, even when we were winding through the vertiginous mountain ranges for hours at a time.
My personal style of travel is going solo, so I was a bit nervous that the tour would feel too “touristy” or inauthentic. My favorite moments in my travels have been when I had my own transportation and would drive around the country untethered with no set itinerary, so I was happy to see that while there was a set itinerary, there was enough time for additional diversions and side trips if I wanted. If there was every any building or site that I wished to stop at that wasn’t on the itinerary, Namgay and Chimi were extremely accommodating and did their utmost to fit it in our daily schedule. It was also very nice that when we had spare time in the evening to have the ability to freely wander around whatever area we were in. I did not feel like I was being cottled or excessively looked after, which is a big plus for me personally.
My time in Bhutan was a once in a lifetime trip, and there are several memories that will stay in my mind for a long time, perhaps forever. I have enjoyed telling people about my time there and simultaneously making them aware of this country known as Bhutan. Wind Horse Tours were great in allowing me to experience as much as of this country as possible while I was there, and I’d recommend your company to anyone without hesitation.
All the best,
Andrew J.S Sewell8 -22, Nov,2016
Thank you for your email.
Our trip was excellent in every respect and we have no hesitation in recommending a holiday in Bhutan with Wind Horse to all our friends.
From the start:
• Ugen was extremely helpful in assisting us to plan our two week trip taking into account our interests
• The pre departure information was very comprehensive and useful
• All the documentation arrived in a timely manner and Jambay answered any queries very promptly
• Our guide, Namgay, was excellent – very knowledgeable and friendly and his English was very good.
• Our drivers (Tenzin around Paro, and Chimmi for the rest of the trip) were very competent, careful drivers and the cars were extremely comfortable
• The accommodation was excellent – well located, comfortable and clean
• The food was delicious. We really enjoyed the array of fresh vegetable dishes at each meal, and our ‘picnics’ were a real treat.
• Walking through the forests and along the mountain trails.
• Visiting beautiful temples. It was very special to sit and peacefully enjoy a couple of ‘services’ at temples.
• The small Jakar Tshechu festival. We also enjoyed the Jambay Lhakhang festival, especially the black hat dance by the fire in the evening. During the day there were a large number of tourists which detracted somewhat from the ambience of the festival. At the small Jakar festival there were very few tourists and it felt more like a local celebration.
We were extremely lucky with the weather and it only rained on one night, which was of no consequence. The days were mostly clear and sunny. Our holiday was really memorable and we would love to come back one day, perhaps in rhododendron season, to see the countryside at a different time of year.
Rosemary and Andrew