A good sense of humour is the currency that prevail everywhere regardless of the time or circumstances. An asset that that has potential to make even the ordinary trip into extraordinary. Sonam Loday has this traits in abundance. This is intrinsic and come as naturally as bees to the flower. He wears it in his sleeve in every tours that he conducts and this is one aspects that steal the limelight when we receive the feedbacks from the guests.
He finished his higher secondary school in 2005. Subsequently, he was at loose end trying to find meaning to his life and career, a chance meeting with a group of tourists resurrected his passion for the trade. He did his cultural guide course in 2005 and trekking in 2007. He burn the midnight oils to complete his senior guide course in 2008. He joined Wind Horse Tours in 2009 and has led countless tours with flair and his brand of humour.
Along with great sense of humour, he is well versed on both aspects cultural as well as trek. The Horse riding course refuelled his passion for horses to a new height in 2010. He is the coordinator and manager of Wind Horse Ranch and Riding Club – a low carbon footprint product. In 2017-18, he also helped start Wind Horse Ranch in Phobjikha (Gangtey).
When it comes to giving air to his interests and passion, he has varied propensities, it ranges from being cultural and trek guide to horse manager to his new found passion – mountain biking, his new best friend. On weekend, perhaps he will be one among the many guys to come across in Thimphu biking zone. And also among the few to volunteer first for audacious Haa to Phuentsholing Trip.
What Our Guest Says about the guide
Karen E Mudd05 -20 Oct,2018
Dear Ugen, Jambay, and all Windhorse staff,
Thank you so much for everything you did to make our tour the trip of a lifetime! The only thing that I would have changed would have been to arrive a week later, as we did not know that the first week of October is National Holiday in China’s-the crowds were insane and we were unable to exchange money as all banks were closed. All of the accommodations were lovely, food was good, and the guides and drivers were simply amazing. We were so glad we chose to fly into Chengdu, instead of Beijing, to see the pandas-it was definitely worth it. Our guide in Chengdu, Tenzin, was polite, punctual, kind, and knowledgeable.
Being in Tibet surrounded by beauty, history, and powerful spirituality was life changing. Tashi(guide) and Dorje(driver) made Tibet come alive for us. Jokhang Temple, Barkhor square, Potala Palace, and the Yamdrok Tso Lake took my breath away.
We were met in Kathmandu by Bizaya(guide) and Shyam(driver) for a whirlwind day and 1/2 tour. After the peace in Tibet, the crowds, traffic, and sights of Kathmandu woke us up! We arrived during the the Dashain festival. Our first night Mahendra(with Sixth Sense tours) accompanied us to the Delights of Nepali Cuisine where we had the most fabulous tradition meal while enjoying music and dances from the 4 regions of Nepal. Highlights of day two were the Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple(we were privileged to witness several cremations on the bank of the Bagmati river).
The next morning we flew over the Himalayas for the second time-no words can describe their grandeur and arrived in Bhutan. Stepping off the plane I felt a sense of ease and peace. We me met by the most amazing, fabulous, guide and driver: SONAM and DAWA!!!!!!!!!!!! Let me just say they both deserve big raises for going above and beyond on a daily basis. Quit simple our trip to Bhutan would not have been the same without them. Each day in Bhutan was better than the day before. The scenery, history, people, sites-just everything, was beyond my wildest dreams. After climbing to Tiger’s Nest, I ended my last day with a hot stone bath and the best massage of my life. Thank you again Windhorse for making our dreams come true!
Richard Masla18 - 24 April,2018
Our group of 4 just returned from a 7 day tour of Bhutan. From the beginning of my contact with Bas, to touring the amazing countryside of Bhutan with Sonam and Tawa (guides from Bhutan). My experience was phenomenal, two thumbs up for the curtosy, kindness and professionalism of all the staff.
Nhut Tran6 - 20 March, 2018
As world travelers, my wife and I have taken several organized l tours around the world. Most of them are with a big group of people. The itinerary is usually packed with touristy spots.
However, with Wind Horse, it is totally a different level of traveling. It was the experience and culture learning that makes this trip so memorable.
We loved both Assam & Eastern Bhutan. The locals were so welcoming and very friendly everywhere we go.This would not be possible without the excellent service from the Wind Horse team.
The entire trip was so well planned and organised from A to Z. Anand, our Upper Assam tour guide, took all the worries away from us.
Majuli is such a beauty with white sand, marshland and peaceful bamboo bungalow combined with friendly people make Majuli island inviting for a remote retreat. Whereas Kazaranga is a wild life game sanctuary especially the great one-horned rhino.
In Bhutan, our two most memorable experiences are the horse back riding, trotting with Sonam in Bumthang and climbing the Tiger Nest Monastery in Paro with Pema.
There are not many tourists in the East. The road is bad but continue to be improved. Life is simpler and people are friendlier. In addition, the Wind Horse team were so flexible and accommodating.
On the last day in Paro of Bhutan, we forgot to bring our trekking walking sticks. Pema was so nice. He managed to get us 4 walking sticks from the office within a short time of notice.
The team has gone extra miles to WOW their customers. This tour has made an impact on our traveling experience. We will definitely recommend Wind Horse to others. Hope that we will have Wind Horse again on our future tours.
Trang Chhu10 -20,March, 2018
I visited Eastern Bhutan with 3 other friends and family on a custom tour with WindHorse. It was my 2nd time going with WindHorse. The first time I joined the 13-day Drukyul Walking tour and I was mesmerized by the landscape and pristine beauty of Bhutan. So I decided to come back to see Eastern Bhutan which is known to be less touristy.
Going on a tour with WindHorse one was assured the top quality of service. WindHorse prepared everything from how-to-prepare, what-to-pack, visa to greeting and touring without a hiccup. I enjoyed very much emailing with Jambay, preparing for the Bhutan trips.
We entered Eastern Bhutan from Guwahati, India. We got transferred by car from Guwahati to the border town of Bhutan, then we were handed over to the Bhutan tour guide. Due to a strike at the border of India, the WindHorse van could not reach Samdrup Jongkha on time to pick us up. The tour guide Sonam had to go by taxi all the way to Samdrup Jongkha to meet us at the time we reached the border. We were so happy to see Sonam although the van did not arrive on time. Thanks to Sonam for arriving Samdrup Jongkha on time for us.
Sonam took care of our visa at the border. Since the Windhorse van had not arrived, Sonam got us a taxi to get to the hotel. The Windhorse van arrived the hotel just a little bit after us. What a relief !
Eastern Bhutan is very low key and so much quieter with very few foreign tourists at the time we were there. Easter Bhutan is at a lower elevation thus has a subtropical weather and warmer. What stood out of Eastern Bhutan are those small villages, like Wamrong where we stopped for lunch on the day we drove from Samdrup Jongkha to Trashigang. Life was simple at those small towns
We visitied Trashigang, Trashigangtse, Rhadi, Yongkola then drove to Jakar. We visited monestaries and schools. We watched a football game at an elementary school. What a lovely experience in Bhutan.
Yongkola is a paradise for birding. I chose to stop in Yongkola not because I am a serious birder (in fact I know nothing about birds) but because I wanted to stay deep in the forest. Due to our choice to stay in Yongkola we were mistaken for serious birders and got laughed a lot on how well we were prepared for bird watching (with no bicular :-)). Yongkola is very remote, beautiful and quiet. It was exactly as I imagined. We took a long walk in the very early morning to spot birds. The air was very cold, crisp and fresh. The walk was actually on the National Highway, passing through a deep forest. Only bird chirping sounds broke through the silence of the forest. Our tour guide Sonam was very serious in spotting birds to show us but we were just happy walking on such a peaceful morning.
I was most excited when we drove from Yongkola to Jakar, on the zigzagging highway. That part of the highway was my favorite section. The scenery was outstanding. I was so excited seeing snow as we approached Thrumpsingla pass which is the 2nd highest mountain pass of Bhutan. As I love cold weather and high elevation, the snow in Thrumsingla pass really excited me. We stopped and walked out in the snow. Our tour guide Sonam and our driver Dawa hung prayer flags. It was a memorable moment.
Since I liked Jakar so much from my 1rst trip, I chose to come back to Jakar again in my 2nd trip. After the 2nd trip, I still vote Jakar my favorite destination in Bhutan due to its high attitude, beautiful and pristine scenery. As Jakar is far from Paro, it is still not yet inundated by tourist as in Western Bhutan.
Our original itinerary for Jakar was to do sightseeing and visit monasteries. However Sonam came up with a brilliant idea of giving us an introduction to horse riding in Tang valley instead. At first no one seemed to be excited about the suggestion. But the horse riding adventure turned out to be the highlight of the entire trip. Although I had some difficulties with my stubborn horse, I had to admit that horse riding was the greatest adventure. Despite the challenge of being a newbie, the ride was wonderful across beautiful meadows. The scenery up high was gorgeous. Thanks to Sonam for such a wonderful recommendation and making the effort selecting the right horse for each of us. To me, the horse riding adventure was the best event of the trip.
After Jakar, we flew to Paro, and met with another WindHorse tour guide, Tampas,, who gave us a short tour of Paro. The following morning Tampas took us up to the Tiger Nest. Learning from my prior experience, I recommended to start the climb early to avoid the heat and crowd. It was the best decision to start at 6:30am.The cold air in the morning made the walk up to the Tiger Nest so much easier. We completed the round trip in 6.5 hours at almost 2:00pm.
We concluded our private tour of Bhutan in Paro.
Sonam was very funny, knowledgeable and did not miss anything from the smallest facial reaction to hints of complaint from the customers. Sonam was an experienced horse rider and a good birder.
Tampas was also great. He carried our bottles of water and clothing in his backpack, going up and down the Tiger Nest. Thanks so much, Tampas.
I want to leave the best for last: our driver, Mr Dawa, always with a smile on his face, was the most gentle person who helped us a lot with our luggage and food on picnic days.
WindHorse service is always outstanding. One cannot expect less.
HolgerOct 14 - 26,2017
Thank you very much for the good organization and the impressive journey.
Special thanks to the driver and the guide. We have not yet seen our pictures. I hope we see each other for the ITB in Berlin
AnitaNov 13 -24, 2017
The trip was terrific. Bhutan is an amazing country. It is beautiful, wonderfully aware of the need for sustainablity, and carefully following a path to modernization while maintaining a firm hold on its culture. I don’t know of any other country so positively focused.
The plan for our trip was a great balance between seeing the many and wondrous sites, walks/hikes or other activities like archery, and free time. Our guide, Sonam was really excellent. He is extremely knowledgeable, flexible, and seems to know everyone in Bhutan. He quickly understood both our interests and our limitations and adjusted the schedule accordingly. Dawa, our driver, was a standout. He did an incredible job on the steep mountainous roads and the stretches of the National Highway that are under construction. He was also a consistent help on hikes.
We had a great time on the trip. As we had been warned, we did get bored with Bhutanese food by the end of the trip. That has nothing to do with you. Sonam was happy to schedule Indian or other kinds of food when asked.
WindHorse was an excellent agency to work with. Before we left it was easy to coordinate through the Minnesota office. Everything was planned and all the arrangements worked smoothly. Sonam was very clear that if there were any problems to let him know immediately. One evening when there was issue with a hotel, he had it solved within 10 minutes. Great job! We felt very well cared for.
I would, and will recommend WindHorse to any of my friends who are thinking of going to Bhutan.
Thanks for all your help,
Charles L McMurraySept 26 - Oct 04, 2017
First, I would like to thank you and the entire staff of Wind Horse for the effort spent to set up our tours. We greatly appreciate the way that we were kept informed from the initial booking through our final departure. Your ground staff, both guides and drivers, were always well informed.
In general both tours were very special as they took us to places that are hard to navigate and we were always visiting sites that we had only dreamed of seeing.
Suggestions would be:
1. Try to do long drives every other day … not two consecutive days. On Day 2 we spent most of the day driving From Paro to Punakha. Very enjoyable with interesting stops along the way. Day 3 we were told that the drive to Gangtey would be rough (which we knew in advance) and that it would take 4 hours each way (not 3 as in the tour outline) which was going to leave almost no free time. The three of us discussed this and quickly decided that it was too much for one day and cancelled that part of the tour. I strongly suggest that if this is definitely something that should be included in the tour that it be done over two days (one day over and the second day back).
MarisaAug 6-16, 2017
Hi Yonten and Sonam; happy to get in touch with you again.
We came back to Italy few weeks ago, after a fantastic time and custom trip in Bhutan. The travel was great, the accommodations really nice,the food excellent. We have to make a special mention of our guide, Sonam: he did an outstanding job both driving our pick-up and providing us with a lot of information, friendly, attentive, accommodating and helpful for 10 days, sometimes in very difficult moments along a road in restoration from west to east .
The country has a fascinating history based on its religion. Sonam was able to let us know this spirit and the way Bhutan and his king are trying to preserve traditions, culture, people and natural ecosystem, even though opening to the world.
We are really happy to reccomend this company foranybody that wants to arrange a travel in Bhutan.
Looking forward to planning another trip in future.
Rating: 5. By: Marisa, Andrea, Francesca, Beatrice
JenniferMay 14 - 28,2017
We planned a trip with Wind Horse for Tibet, Nepal, and Bhutan, traveling for approximately 2.5 weeks, with a local guide and driver in each of the three destinations. We opted for the Three Kingdoms Tour. Wind Horse has many different pre-packaged tours to choose from, from challenging, lengthy treks, to horseback riding adventures, to culture tours with mostly easy walks. They can also customize the trip for you depending on your preferences.
We planned this trip from the comfort of our homes in the U.S. Communications/email was fast and easy during the entire planning process. They helped us book flights to/from Bhutan and helped us obtain Bhutan visas and Tibet permits. (The Nepal visa you can get at the Kathmandu airport on your own.) They also provided us in advance with a detailed and comprehensive itinerary, along with descriptions of each region and attraction.
I will focus this review on the Bhutan portion of the trip (we love Bhutan!):
In Bhutan, we had the pleasure of having Sonam Loday as our guide and Dawa as our driver. Both are very experienced in what they do. Big thank you to Dawa as he got us everywhere safely, despite the often very narrow and bumpy roads. Also big thanks to Sonam for providing rich and detailed descriptions at every attraction so we could learn the history, custom, and culture of Bhutan. Sonam was a great pleasure to be around, personable, very funny, outgoing, and a tremendous help when we hiked Tiger’s Nest (he had to help me descend and carry our bag).
We upgraded to the 4-star hotels in all regions which was well-worth it, if that’s your cup of tea. Sonam also made sure that we got the best rooms possible.
Wind Horse is also great because even though we opted for the cultural tour of Bhutan, Wind Horse planned a few easy/moderate hikes for us so we got to see lots of nature and unbeatable sceneries (in addition to lots of temples, stupas, and monasteries).
They also provide tours in central Bhutan and eastern Bhutan, if you’d like to see the villages and more rural ways of living. This requires more trekking.
The other big plus is that they take credit cards (with an extra charge), PayPal, or you can also mail checks to their office in Minneapolis when you need to pay your fees. We thought this was safer than wiring money to some strangers overseas.
We could not have asked for a greater vacation/tour in Bhutan and I’d highly recommend Wind Horse should you decide to visit Bhutan, Tibet, or Nepal (or India).
Dianne RosseSept 24 - Oct 08, 2016
We spent 15 days in Bhutan touring the country on mountain bikes, 4 wheel drive, horseback, and day hiking. It was an adventure of a lifetime, and really made so by our guides, Sonam and Sonam, and the organization of Wind Horse Tours, Treks, & Expeditions. This was a custom trip, as it was just two of us. The people at Wind Horse were really great at putting our trip together. They were extremely flexible and had a lot of great ideas for things a bit off the beaten track. I don’t even really know how to describe it, except that every day was amazing, every accommodation was great, and we had such a amazing time. Sonam and Sonam took such good care of us, and somehow got us access to ceremonies and hidden gems, and we even got to meet the queen grandmother!
It seemed like every time we turned around we were faced with incredible views and got to see and participate in something wonderful. It was also a very active trip so we were very tired at the end of each day, and happy that we got to stay in nice hotels. The only bad thing was saying goodbye at the end of the trip because we developed a real friendship with our guides.
Bhutan the country is spectacular, the people are open, friendly, and warm, and the monasteries and tzongs are so beautiful. I highly recommend visiting Bhutan, and going with Wind Horse, especially if you are interested in a custom trip, biking, and/or a personal touch. You will love it!!
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.
Ellen KettSept 24 -Oct 08,2016
Dear Ugan and Jambay,
We just wanted to take a minute to thank you and your team (the two Sonam’s) for a wonderful adventure traveling in Bhutan,
Sonam and Sonar took such good care of us, were very professional and so much fun to be around. Traveling with people for 15 days is not easy, but we all got along so well and enjoyed each other’s company, we laughed all day every day!
We really enjoyed the cultural aspects of learning about Bhutan and it’s people, and found the people we met to be friendly and welcoming. The biking was a real adventure and gave us a unique view of the countryside. We especially enjoyed our somewhat rainy afternoon at the horse ranch and the hot bath’s after!
Thank you again for all the attention and care, we already miss Sonam and Soman, our travel buddies !
William McComasMay 21- June 06,2016
Bhutan Tour and Nepal Trek (Spring 2016)
Ugen and Jambey,
Michel and I want to thank you for the amazing job your team did in organizing our recent tour to Nepal and Bhutan. Every detail was perfectly arranged and exceeded our expectations. Our guides in Bhutan and Nepal were very knowledgeable and very pleasant and the pacing of the trip (even the trek in Nepal) was perfect. I have been traveling the world for almost 40 years (on organize trips and by myself) and your company did among the best jobs I have ever experienced. If future clients have questions about your company that I might answer, you should feel free to send them to me — be assured that I will say very nice things about WindHorse!
Anna AOct15 -25, 2015
Dear Anand and Jambay,
Sorry it took me some time to get back to you with feedback – the end of the year is always extremely busy at work.
Sorry also that I was not able to meet Jambay when he was in London – I was away the Friday Jambay suggested to meet – otherwise it would have been my pleasure. I hope we meet another time – WTM events in London are held every year!
Overall I was very pleased with my trip to Bhutan, and very happy I chose Wind Horse. I would not hesitate to recommend Wind Horse to anyone planning a trip to Bhutan, as I have already done in my blog.
It is not the world’s most read blog, but here is the link to the Bhutan post nevertheless: http://www.anjci.com/2015/12/
I have also put some photos from Bhutan here:
I must say I especially enjoyed Sonam as a guide and Tenzin as a driver. Both were a lot of fun and excellent at their respective jobs. I had a chance to compare, as two different pairs of guide/driver were taking care of me on the day I flew back to Paro from Bumthang – while Sonam and Tenzin were driving. The latters pairs were nowhere near as much fun or knowledgeable. The contractor guide in Paro actually seemed fairly uninterested in his job – the opposite of Sonam, who does guiding with utmost professionalism.
On a personal side though, I really struggled to be on a guided tour – I am used to travelling around the world either by myself or with my fiancé only, without constantly having to follow someone or depend on them. It was therefore challenging for me to be “guided”, but we worked out a schedule with Sonam when he would give me free time, which helped.
Bhutan was truly a unique experience. It was quite expensive to visit the country though, so my expectations were perhaps somewhat higher because of the high price tag. While I was not disappointed, in retrospect I would probably have considered my visit with a lot more caution. If you have any influence on the government of Bhutan, maybe you could lobby for the tourist tax to be cut : )
Otherwise, thank you very much for my great visit! I only have good memories and impressions of Wind Horse. Keep up the good work!
Sandra CNov 04 - 14, 2015
Bhutan Travel ( Nov 04- 14) 2015
This November I toured Bhutan with Wind Horse Tours, Treks and Expeditions. It was my second time travelling with them. Both tours were terrific and I hold them in the highest regard.
I organize small group tours (primarily for Baby Boomers) and much of the success of my trips is dependent on the local operator I work with. In Bhutan it is Wind Horse, and for the second consecutive year, they proved themselves to be a truly top-notch operation.
The administrative staff is responsive, helpful and always on top of things. Not surprisingly however, it is one’s guide and driver who can make the difference between a good trip and a great one. Wind Horse hires only the best of the best. Our guide this past year, Sonam Loday, was not just knowledgeable about his country and culture; he was fun to be with. Equally important, he was clearly vested in making our trip an exceptional one and constantly looked for opportunities to add value to our established itinerary. On two separate occasions he managed to have us at the right place at the right time to enjoy events that were unpublicized.
Our driver, Dorji Nidup was superb. Traversing the mountains in Bhutan is quite the experience – steep and narrow. It would be worrisome if you lacked faith in your driver, but we knew immediately that Dorji was experienced and careful, so we were able to relax and enjoy the fabulous scenery and views.
I can’t recommend Wind Horse highly enough. I’ve already booked another tour with them for next year.
Trip Dates November 4 – 14, 2015
Trip Rating *****