Pema Dhendup is the one among the few young guns at Wind Horse Tour, Bhutan. He possess an infectious smile and exuberance that rub off to child and old alike. Unwarily, he has a mature head on his young shoulder and it is most conspicuous when he is among guests, untying knots of religion and its intricate iconography with ease and dexterity.
It took him to many different regions in the country to finish his school as his father’s job demanded. This helped to pick up different local dialects of the region. Currently, this stand in good stead for him. In 2011, he completed his Degree in Arts with history as major from Darjeeling, a hill station in India. He knew what he wanted and it was such a easy choice to opt for guide training. He led his first group 2013 at Wind Horse Tours and the rest the guests’ feedbacks and testimonial itself speak volumes.
He harbours a new found passion for birds, which was ignited when he was doing a tour with bird enthusiast and the similar history with the cycling.
What Our Guest Says about the guide
Monika KomerakFeb 21 -March 04,2019
Minna CaseFeb 21 - March 04, 2019
First of all I want to let you know how much I enjoyed this trip and my visit to Bhutan. Amazing country and people! Beautiful scenery!
Pema, Yeshey and Gudut were top notch! They went above and beyond in making sure we had a fantastic experience. And always with a smile and in the most sincere way. I would give them a 10 out of 10 rating! I think of them as my brother’s now.
All the staff that were part of our trek – the chef, 2nd chef, helpers etc.were so great! The food was really delicious and the service fantastic. I felt like I was at a first class resort! The bonfires at night were a perfect ending for each day and the time when we got socialize not only with our co-travelers but with the crew. The trek was my favorite part of the trip.
A few suggestions:
*Make sure everyone has cash with them (rupees or Bhutanese ngultrum). We ran in to the issue of having access to cash when needing to pay/tip the local porters etc. Luckily some of us had extra cash to lend to others. We found that ATMs are not very reliable once we found one. Often out of service or not connecting with foreign cards. Very important to know so you can prepare and bring local currency or rupees with you. Also important to let travelers know that the Bhutanese currency can not be used outside of Bhutan like the Indian rupees can.
*The trip program is wonderful but it would have been nice to have some more free time, especially the days we were in towns etc. There were a few times when I felt very rushed. It may not be necessary to visit every temple, Dzong etc.
JenniferFeb 21 -March 04, 2019
In mid Febuary into early March; we were a group of 11. (10:1 women to men, ages 39->71yrs.). Along with 3 male guides from Wind Horse Tour and Trek. Some of us were picked up at the airport in Guwahati, by Yeshi. He saw us before we saw him!
As a group, we all walked into Bhutan by way of Gelephu. What a stark difference between the chaos and pollution of India to the calm and relative clean of Bhutan. My favorite part of our adventure was the trek; although the rest of the trip was amazing and beautiful as well. Our trekking crew from Wind Horse were kind, fun and gracious hosts.The meals on our trek were the best! Chili Cheese! Villagers from homes near places we were walking by; greeted us with local oranges and arra (local rice wine). Some would also be porters for our camping equipment, (bedrolls, tents, kitchen and seating). We would do a kind of walking leap frog with them on the trail.
The hotels and restaurants, we visited along our way to Thimpu (and Tiger’s Nest!), got progressively more populated. So by the time we got to Tiger’s Nest, I felt Our guides- Pema Dendup and Yeshi Penjor, as well as our very skilled driver Gudu Mahat gently prepared us for our last big hike together. They absolutely made my experience of Bhutan! Knowledgeable and passionate about sharing in their home’s culture, rich history, hospitality and Yeti stories. They were playful and curious about each of us, as we were of them. Pema and Yeshi even learned how to make snow angels!
We stayed in Bhutan for 11 days. I have memories to last a life time and new stories to tell. Wind Horse Trek, and our beloved guides absolutely made my experience a positive, life changing adventure. Thank you so very much!
CB GoldsteinFeb 21 -March 04,2019
Some highlights that were possible because of the flexibility & willingness of Pema, Yeshe & Gudu.Visiting with village people especially the first camping night when they came down to our bonfire at dinner & we celebrated together a birthday of one of our group. One woman made her a scarf, 3 young girls choreographed a few dances to Bhutanese music. Chef made a bday cake. It was very festive & wonderful. The lovely tents having been set up, in all of our camping nights was a blessing & accommodations were way more sophisticated than expected.
In another village we were all invited into a home of an extended family who served us tea & baked rice goodies. All spontaneous & very loving & out of the blue.
Saving the puppies was a highlight. It could not have been implemented without the gracious permission & help from P,Y & G. I can’t praise them enough!!!!!!
Some of us were interested in the 1/2 marathon that was being held close to hotel on departing day. They arranged it so that we could stop & participate in the cheering on of the first finalists. Same with an archery meet. We passed by, had interest so we stopped & watched.
Compliments to our cooking crew who were excellent!!!! 3 hot meals a day with snacks & all very very good. I wondered what the media meant when they said you don’t go to Bhutan for the food. I was expecting not to be able to eat anything. We all commented on how much better our camping food was than the hotels. Don’t get me wrong. Choice of hotels was great.
I was not prepared for the difficulty of the climbing. I had been sick in India & less in shape than I thought. Also the oldest of the group.
Excuses aside, I loved the hiking but was humiliated (I guess that’s a personal issue. Was very difficult to not measure up). Once again Pema & Yeshe were there for me & Gudu also on the Tiger’s Nest climb. I only made it 1/2 way which was disappointing (again personal-ego)
So, this is just a little more of details of tour.
We all felt so taken care of being treated like royalty really. Dream come true.
THANK YOU very much for gifting me / us with your BEAUTIFUL BOOK of Bhutan & car sticker.
Book is magnificent & I will proudly drive around with sticker.
Janet Margaret08 -20 Nov, 2018
The whole process of booking and arranging my personalised trip to Bhutan was very efficient and enabled me to include visits I was personally interested in. My guide, Tshering Dhendup, was very knowledgeable about the history and places we visited and if he didn’t know any answer to my innumerable questions, he soon found out from other staff members. He particularly went out of his way to source a book highlighting the Arts and Crafts of Bhutan for me and arranging a visit to a school where his cousin was a teacher. He was happy to rearrange a day’s programme in order for us to make a 5 hour trek down the Haa valley when he realised that I was particularly wishing to make longer walks. Our young driver, Sonam, was wonderful – very courteous and kind, really looking after me and an excellent driver on the difficult, windy roads. Highlights definitely were: The Black Crane Festival, and seeing and hearing these amazng birds; camping on the Bumdra trek and approaching Tiger Nest from behind; the beauty and silence of the forests; the friendly courteous people; the hot stone bath!; the school visit; joining the women packing the incense sticks in the incense factory, Thimpu; the stay in Chimi and cooking with Doka; the excellent National and Textile Museums; buying a kira from the woman who had woven it and wearing it at the Crane festival and when we attended a Buddhist wedding ceremony of a young couple arranged for them by their guide –a wonderful, unforgettable experience!
Although I really enjoyed my visit to Bhutan, there were a few arrangements I was disappointed with. I realise I am probably an unusual tourist in that the plush 4* hotels are not my cup of tea although I realise they were chosen to show the best the country can offer. Being on my own, I found the large restaurants impersonal and with most other guests in large groups, eating there was an isolating experience. I should have thought at the beginning that my 3 nights’ stay in Paro would be in a similar hotel and ask if it was possible to alter my booking to a smaller guest house or home stay. Outside of Thimpu and Paro, however, it was easier to chat to other travellers and share experiences.
I had asked for ‘homestay’ during the rest of my trip in order to experience Bhutanese life and meet the people. However, only the Chimi Lankhakhang Farmhouse at Punakha met my expectations. Here the owner Doga was a delight and we shared harvesting vegetables and helping in the kitchen to prepare them and making momos and chilli paste! Although beautifully preserved, her farmhouse was still typical and I loved my stay there. The other two although, originally a traditional farmhouse were more like guest houses with a larger number of guests and one didn’t feel as though you were sharing in the family’s lives in the same way.
Most places where we stayed or stopped for lunch tended to serve ‘Western’ style food – (yuk! Cornflakes and fried eggs for breakfast!) and I often tried to ask for Bhutanese food and always chose it at the buffet meals. This often meant that Sonam and Tshering did not share their meal with me as they did not like tasteless vegetables!!! As with the large hotels this meant eating on my own (a factor, unfortunately, I had not considered when arranging my holiday). I did note that many other guides did share their meals and often stayed with their guests at the end of the day rather than leaving them as mine did – sometimes as early as 4p.m. It led to a very long evening. Sometimes they didn’t even stay at the same place (e.g at Chimi) and it was with another guest’s guide and driver that we spent the time in the kitchen and all ate together.
I was very lucky to visit a school as there is a new ruling that permission now has to be obtained beforehand from the District Education Officer. It was only as we were in Tshering’s village visiting his home and family, that as he was known and his cousin taught in the village school, I was able to do so. N.B. This should be considered in the future for any other request for a school visit.
One of my main reasons for my trip was to trek in the forests and mountains. It was only just before leaving and the full itinerary sent in large print, (rather than as the previous e-mails) and I was preparing my folder for each day, that I realised there was more sight-seeing and a great deal of driving than I had expected. This was my own short-sightedness. We were able to organise an extra day’s trek in the Haa valley which helped but on my return, I discovered there were in fact many other lower-lying treks in the valleys we visited that could have been included. I know I agreed to the itinerary which had been altered to include some of the visits I wished to make but it might be advisable to initially ascertain more accurately guests’ expectations. I remember Baz asking whether I was happy for so many days homestay and agreeing that on my last trekking holiday in Nepal, I had stayed for almost a week in people’s homes where the facilities were really basic and a true reflection of how the Gurung people really lived. I was expecting a similar experience.
I hope these reflections will be helpful in your future planning.
Rut NeleOct 21 - Nov 02, 2018
We had a great trip, fantastic weather, good hotels and a wonderful trek. Thanks for checking on us.
Program was pretty good, not too hectic yet a lot of impressions – just as we wanted it.
The team was also great, no complaints. Super driver Jigme (!) , super trek team (cook was amazing) and a guide that was really fun to be with.
So all in all I believe a real good trip, well organized and no complaints. Thanks.
One thing perhaps as an improvement area – while we did like to be around with “Timepass”, our guide (he is a fun guy to be with) – we had at times the feeling that he really has been doing it so often, that there is no more attention to detail. Example: when you arrive at a campsite and everything is new to you, e.g. on a first day, you would want some guidance – what’s next, can we have a little walk, is there anything around to see, what should we be mindful of. Instead he just vanished in his tent after arrival and we were sort of left to ourselves. That was not a problem for us, we managed to do some walks and took care of ourselves, but it may be an issue for others. A bit of guidance and leadership there might make a difference. Same goes for the explanation in monasteries and other sights. We found ourselves at times listening to other group’s guides because Timepass really did not share much relevant information… it was very quick and superficial. If we were into culture and religion, we would have been rather disappointed.
Just a few thoughts to share with you. Nevertheless, it was a fun trip and everything went well. Thanks as well for you and your support.
Sorab19 - 24 Oct, 2018
Our Party of 4 visited Bhutan in October 2018. Our Guide, Pema Gyeltshen was always attentive, very punctual & professional and always helpful. When we went to Tiger’s Nest Monastery, his calm demeanour and knowledge of the terrain helped us immensely. We descended when it was dark and it would have been very difficult without his help. Our Driver Dawa Tshring drove long distances carefully & never kept us waiting. We always felt safe with his driving. Thank you for making our trip enjoyable and memorable.
Marcie Kaplan07 -20,Oct,2018
I hope the tipping issue went ok…if anything, I tipped high…but for great service, so ok with me.
The trip went very well, from my perspective. I was so excited to cross that high pass! I don’t know if you heard about the eldest queen mother visit in the monastery. She said it was “auspicious” that no one else signed up for the tour, and she turned out to be right. I had trouble on parts of the descents—(a) I HATE exposure and (b) trail rocky, scree, “kneebanger,” slippery that I needed to do slowly to protect knees and out of fear I’d slip & injure myself. Pema galantly helped out e.g., on big, difficult steps, holding my hand so I could put weight on his hand and ease myself down. The last day it took me 6 hours to do the 5,000’ descent. I felt bad that extra 2 hours ate into the crews’ free afternoon and probably drove Pema and Dechen nuts. But anyway I made it. The crew was very solicitous of my every need on the trek. They couldn’t have been nicer. They even let me eat in the warm kitchen tent—the dining tent was too cold.
Thomas Micheal LutzMarch 31 - 5 April, 2018
I have traveled a lot–around 130 countries–and I almost never use an organized tour. I thought I didn’t like them. But this trip changed my mind. Mr. Pema, my guide, was impeccable, as was my driver, Mr. Ugee. They anticipated my every need, were beautifully friendly and polite and quite interesting people. I felt like I was traveling with friends. Mr. Pema was very skillful and knowledgeable as a guide to both the sites and the culture, and we had philosophical as well as historical conversations of some depth.
Windhorse made all the arrangements painless, kept in touch just enough, and everything, top to bottom, was perfectly done. The wifi in hotel rooms, as it is in many countries with a similar economic base, left something to be desired, but that was outside their control, and I’m sure it will continue to improve as the tourist infrastructure continues to grow. My only wish was that I had been able to stay longer and go further into the country.
Thomas H BatesNov 07 - Nov 20
Gaetan P.M. Labat.18 -29 Sept,2017
“Our trip to Bhutan was globally above expectation and will stay in our minds for a long time. The program was perfect, except for the last night planned in thimpu, but Pema kindly changed it on our request (to Paro).
We were also satisfied of our guide and driver who always did their best to answer our needs and expectations. We particularly had a lot of fun playing darts and archery with them the last day: this kind of event should be included in all your trips!
We were also satisfied of the entire process with wind horse and will recommend it if some friends want to discover Bhutan.”
Nilza TizukoMarch, 2-11, 2017
Visiting Bhutan was the trip of a lifetime.
I loved the Bhutanese people, always kind and smiling, the atmosphere at the temples and monasteries, the architecture, the artwork (paintings, sculptures, carving, etc), nature (mountains and valleys, rhododendrum starting to bloom !!), ….
I am not used to travel with an organized tour, and was a little worried, but it was much better than I could have ever imagined. I would like to thank Ugen, Jambay and all the Windhorse team, for the organization, planning, professionnalism and the excellent service. Everything went just perfect. My very special thanks to Pema, for his kindness, incredible knowledge, respect, care, and friendship. I wanted to learn the most about your country and asked so many questions. Not one remained without an answer. My special thanks to Tenzin, too, the best driver ever, I felt totally safe in the winding roads to Bhuntamg, and did not feel sick at all.
I really think your team is your most valuable asset.
I wish you all the best, this trip will always be in my best memories.
Julia LopezFeb 17-26,2017
Dear Ugen, Jambay and the whole Windhorse Team,
This is a quick note to thank you all for the support and wonderful vacation we had in Bhutan. We had very high expectations, and the trip was even better than we ever thought it could be.
It usually goes by unnoticed when absolutely everything goes right, and we wanted to recognize the effort it takes to provide an excellent service, from the booking process to the moment we left Bhutan.
Pema, besides being a great company, has incredible knowledge and social intelligence to skillfully to solve issues without us even noticing – this quality would have been missed by inattentive eyes. He was great at accommodating our every request smoothly into our schedule.
Dawa is a phenomenal driver, by far the best we’ve met. He is also a delight to be around. Such a mountainous trip could have been disastrous, and to our surprise, not once have we felt uncomfortable or motion sick. Both of them even organized a birthday party to our surprise, and it improved an already perfect day.
We are always hesitant when traveling with guides, after all, you don’t usually invite two strangers to a family trip. However, their company most definitely made our trip so much better. You have in them very valuable resources.
Please forward them our special thanks for their support, friendship and respect.
See you all soon.
David MarkSept 5-15, 2016
Apologies for not replying sooner.
Thank you for setting everything up. We were very happy with the whole experience of our Bhutan trip. We always felt we were in good hands and enjoyed the company of both Soman and our driver, Chimi. The way the schedule was arranged worked well and made us appreciate the very different and contrasting areas, from the remoteness of the village life of Jakar with the stunning open plans of the Phovjika valley [Blackneck crane valley] and the busier town life of Punakha, Thimphu and Paro. The highlights were trekking through the Bumthang and Phovjika valleys, the visit to Punakha Dzong, the archery competition in Thimphu and the trek up to the Tigers Nest.
For us, making the trip in the first two weeks of September could not have been better timed, we could really enjoy the tour without the company of other tourists! – even finding ourselves as the only guests in an 80 room hotel in Jakar! The downside of travelling when we did, was missing the stunning views of both the high passes that we drove through. On both days the weather was not in our favour and the mountains shrouded in cloud. However this was a small price to pay for the advantages that we enjoyed in so often being the only tourists that were being shown around the many temples and sites.
Many thanks for arranging such a memorable trip and we look forward to returning.
Martin HFeb 7 - 16, 2016
Flexible Bhutan Tour
This trip was honestly so much more amazing in real life, and far exceeded my original (high)expectations. Thanks to everyone in the office at Windhorse who were always efficient and helpful in answering questions over e-mail, and willing to be flexible and build the itinerary round what I wanted to achieve – this is their greatest strength. They were always willing to say what could be done, while occasionally respectfully reining in my more extreme suggestions, which I now realise after my visit were at times too ambitious for the travel infrastructure of the country.
Obviously particular mention for Pema & Tenzing with whom I spent most time on the trip itself. Pema particularly is a skilled and very caring guide, who went out of his way to be helpful at all times, and was very knowledgeable about Bhutan in a way that really helped me to understand and appreciate the country and culture. Tenzing was a very safe and reliable driver.
Altogether an amazing team and an amazing experience – I will definitely come back to Bhutan, and definitely use Windhorse when I do!