Sonam Palden is smitten by games most notably national sports of Bhutan- Archery. While growing up in beautiful Ura valley in Bumthang, unlike other kid, he played with traditional traditional bows and arrows. He completed his class 12 from Punakha in 2003. Subsequently he pursued his passion for five years that took him to national limelight. But he missed by whisker to qualify for international.
Slightly disheartened, he refocused with same intensity and passion to make a mark as a travel guide. In 2008, brandishing his guide license and dream in his eyes he joined Wind Horse , the rest as they is history…
One of the guest said, ” If not a travel guide, Sonam could be Buddhist scholar and his command over english concedes to be an Oxford educated”.
There is hardly any prize for guessing for what he does during his free time, 145 m (476 ft) between 2 wooden targets in archery ground still rules his passion with frenzy.
Love for sport is inherent in him, when Wind Horse started specialised tour like mountain Biking, he jumped into bandwagon happily, although he was doing mountain biking before but in bits and pieces, an opportunity was served on platter, it largely assisted him to hone his skill as well to live to his sporting adrenaline rushes. Whenever free he does a recce of region lying in Thimphu and leads the tour across country. The most audacious biking trip till date along with Sonam Loday, Sonam Palden was from Haa to Phuentsholing via narrow trail, through untamed vegetation and uncharted territory.
Since 2017, he is also a trained photographer and birder. His photography is mostly with birding and he joins the seasoned birding guides of Wind Horse.
What Our Guest Says about the guide
LucieNov 27 - Dec 06,2019
Village tour of Western Bhutan
My husband was not sure about the Haa valley part before the trip but after we did it, we was happy to have been there as myself. For me this was among my highlights. I wished I could have seen more of this beautiful country, the Eastern part and Southern part also, but for the time we had, we are happy of what we’ve seen. As I said to our guide Sonam, some of the visits listed in the itinerary (village visits, enjoy a tea with local people – mainly in Punakha surroundings), haven’t been done and it was a deception for me because the choice of this tour was in part because of the interactions we would have had with local people. As I told him before Haa valley, he followed the itinerary planned for this part. ;o) Also, instead of visiting the Textile Academy & Museum he brought us to a small place where we could see persons weaving. It was interesting but as we have asked a lot about different fabrics, we would have preferred visiting Textile Academy & Museum. We thought we could visit it before leaving Thimphu, but it was closed that day. Sonam told us that the reason for this choice was that we could not see people weaving at the Textile Academy & Museum. We thought it was an Academy and tourists we met on the road, told us they saw some. Anyway. Just to make sure that when something is suggested in replacement of a visit, all the information is given to the customer.
After sharing many meals with Kunmar in Nepal, on this trip, it was the opposite. It would have been great if Sonam and Tenzing/Sonam could have joined us during meals, at least in some occasions.
As for the lodge in Haa valley, it was awesome! Really! And the cook is quite a good chef. Keep this place on your list, it is such a good experience. We also liked all the hikes we did in different areas. Jean-Sebastien realized with this trip (2 tours) that he would have liked to hike more in the mountains in order to see more mountain tops. The ones we saw were breathtaking.
Finally, we also have a another comment to make because we felt not at ease of the situation and think it have given a different taste to the rest of our trip in Bhutan. When arriving at the hotel in Punakha, our guide informed us that our driver (Sonam #2 for us because the guide was also Sonam) had to leave us in order to drive a group arriving the day after and another driver (Tenzing) would replace him for the rest of our trip. While Tenzing was a good driver, very nice and helpful during the rest of our trip, we found it strange to change drivers so quickly. Also, as we didn’t know in advance, we did not have enough money to tip him on the spot and during the evening, we decided to wait at the of the trip to give him, through Sonam (guide) his tip just to sort the tipping once at the end. It seems that this situation also affected Sonam (our guide) because for the rest of the trip, he was not the smiling person and talking a lot from the beginning. Even though I’ve asked him if we have done something that could have offended him, he said no, nothing. But still, I imagine he wouldn’t say : well, yes, you didn’t give tip to Sonam (driver)… So, in the future, we would recommend, if it is possible, to avoid this kind of switch for this reason. Sonam has been good for us and gave us information regarding all our technical questions.
We didn’t know Windhorse before booking and we were a bit worried to pay the amount of money without being sure that the company really existed (many scam companies exist on the Web), but the pre-trip discussions with especially Ugen and Jambay reassured us. You have a good customer service. ;o)
Thank you all for the trips you provided to us, it has been a marvelous experience. Take care
Jean-Sebastien and Lucie
Bindu Chhachhi20 - 26 March,2019
Bindu Chhachhi20 - 26 March, 2019
Chris07 - 16, Nov, 2018
Many thanks for the perfect arrangements in Bhutan. We had a wonderful time. Hotels and lunches/dinners were marvellous. Sonam Pelden was a wonderful guide, and a super birder. Added to my life list considerably. And Jgmey was an amazing driver. Kept us feeling safe on some very interesting roads!
Jenny07 - 16, Nov, 2018
What an amazing trip to Bhutan. I’ve just returned from the most incredible 11 days in Bhutan. What a beautiful country full of the kindest, warmest people. This was a trip of a lifetime for me. My guide and driver Sonam & Sonam (The Sonams!) were simply fantastic, they catered to my every need, often going out of their way to accommodate me. I’m an avid photographer, which means that I like to get up at the crack of dawn to climb hills, they were always happy to accompany me and always ready. I learnt so much from Sonam about Bhutan, Buddhism, archery, culture, what everyday life is like for the Bhutanese. I had so much fun. There were so many highlights from my trip; the prayer flags at Chle Le la, the walk to Kila Nunnery and meeting the nuns who live such a peaceful life, meeting local people on day hikes, climbing to Tigers Nest, driving down the winding road into Punakha and the monastery there, and all that nature, it’s magnificent, it’s like nowhere else. I’ve come back to England feeling refreshed and enriched. Thank you Wind Horse for your impeccable service, you exceeded my expectations throughout every step of my trip. Bhutan is really such a special Kingdom, I’m already plotting how I can get back.
Adrian AllenJan 28 - Feb 11, 2019
I tried posting a review on this website previously without acknowledgement or being posted. My partner Daniel and myself travelled on above dates, our guide was Sonam Pelden. Although Sonam was initially pleasant and flexible, though a little bit moody on our second day, and he was helpful when I was in has hospital due to food poisoning, the last few days of our trip he seemed to lose interest and was less friendly. On his suggestion we booked an extra night at the Uma Paro, adding to an already expensive holiday. He seemed to be on more social and friendly terms with staff here than other hotels, and seemed displeased at a few criticisms we had of this hotel. He was even quite rude and condescending to Daniel a few times, saying to him as if a child ‘always speak nicely and slowly to people, even if they don’t’,. Also, when we mentioned the tip we had put aside for him of £165gbp plus £100gbp for driver, he became even less friendly. When I mentioned this to him, he said the tip was ok but said ‘some guests give less, some give more’, a very inappropriate comment. Even our tour operator said it was a very generous tip. When taking us to airport for our flight and goodbyes, there was no effort or warmth considering we’d spent two weeks with him. We travel extensively, and always respect other cultures and customs, so his attitude to us was not justified. This holiday for us was very expensive. Paid for through money left to Daniel by his father’s death, so we left Bhutan feeling very disappointed and sad, and clearly had the impression that in the end Sonam didn’t like us at all. We don’t ask for perfection, but for the cost, and high daily tourist fee, we feel we made a big mistake with this trip.
HannahSept - 28 - 04 Oct, 2018
We had a wonderful time in Bhutan, and thank you to you and all the Windhorse team for making our holiday so enjoyable. Sonam was a fantastic guide, very knowledgeable and great fun. Please pass on our special thanks to him as I was quite tired throughout the holiday and had a couple of dizzy spells and Sonam was very kind. Just before leaving the UK we found out we were expecting a baby in April next year, which was wonderful news but I was just starting to experience the sickness and fatigue that often accompanies early pregnancy. Sonam was great and was very relaxed about the schedule which allowed me to have some extra time at the hotels to rest. We have promised him that we will visit Bhutan again with our children so he can take us horse riding! We have been talking to our friends and family about how wonderful Bhutan was, and recommending the great service we received from Windhorse.
Robert10 -21 Sept,2018
I just returned from a 12 day trip to Bhutan organized by Wind Horse Tours. I cannot recommend them enough. The pre trip communication was excellent, and our guide Sonam and driver (also Sonam!) were fabulous. The roads are treacherous in many places and the driver’s skill gave me much needed confidence. Sonam the guide’s knowledge was extensive and he was a friendly outgoing person with a sense of humor. He went the extra mile when one of our party was sick, going to his room late in the evening to personally administer an herbal treatment, which our friend found very helpful. When he found out that I was into trees, he went out of his way to help me learn the different types of local trees, and took me on a nonscheduled stop to the post office to get a particular stamp with trees on it that I had been searching for.
The hotels were decent as was the food – we had been told to expect 3 star level hotels and food and that’s what we got. There are a lot of tour companies offering tours of Bhutan, but I don’t think you can go wrong with Wind Horse. Bob
Joanna Maraget Whalley26 - 12 March, 2018
Thank you we are back home safely although it was a rather painful journey for me. My bruising is still extremely painful and my daughter came from Yorkshire to meet us off the flight and to help me which is wonderful.
As far as our holiday goes I really couldn’t fault it. It was amazing and we loved every moment largely due to Sonam who must be the best guide you have. We loved him and he went out of his way to make everything perfect for us. Of course Jigme was wonderful too and they make the perfect team
When I feel better I will write something on trip advisor or something similar.
Thank you again for all your help
Diem Nyugenl3 -17, April, 2018
I traveled with my elderly parents to Bhutan and India with Windhorse in April 2018.
I cannot say enough good about them. From the time I contacted them to organize the trip, to the time they drop us at the airport, all went without a single glitch. While organizing the trip, they always answered me within 24hrs of an email and always addressed my concerns with reliable information and appropriate changes. At every step our concerns, requests, questions have been promptly answered and addressed.
The trip in itself was extremely well organized and yet very flexible. Our guide (Sonam) and driver (Dorji) were informative and always attentive to our needs and looked out for our security. They really went out of their way to make sure we were always comfortable and happy and mostly, got to see/do everything on our bucket list. They really pay attention to details. Also, my parents will be forever grateful to both of them for helping them up the Tiger’s nest – they truly treated them like their own parents, looking out for their comfort and security.
I have travelled extensively and experienced many private tours and I can whole heartedly say that his was one of the best I’ve encountered. I will have no hesitation recommending them in the future – in fact I already have started.
Maureen AllynFeb 18 - 26, 2018
We had an incredible trip with Sonam and Dawa and can’t think of a single “low moment” !!!!!
Every day was a wonderful experience.
David EitelSept 25 - Oct 10,2017
Thanks for reaching out to me. My first trip to Bhutan was fantastic. In particular, coming from Dhaka, the place was peaceful and civilised (I know I had some issues with public loos – Rebekah teased me a lot on this). Bhutan reminds me of 40-50 years ago rural Japan, though you might have no clue. I think the schedule was very good, well paced, your staff were fantastic. I have no complain. I was happy in ‘breaking records’ of going up and down of Taktsang, ha ha. I wish I could have stayed more but my holiday was very spontaneous and longer trip was not possible this time.
Hope to see you sometime on the next trip.
John HamiltonDec 11-20, 2016
We are grateful for a lifetime of memories gathered during our 9 day tour of Bhutan. Sonam our driver and Sonam our guide were both such wonderful people, it made the tour that much more special for us all. They accommodated our request to go further West and were game when we wanted even more authentic local food. Sonam our guide was incredibly knowledgeable about Bhuddhism and that helped us to understand the culture and the life philosophy that guide so much of Bhutan.
We normally hike on our own and don’t take guided tours, so we appreciated their willingness to support our desire to go to more rural areas and connect with local people. Thank you Windhorse for helping to facilitate a most wonderful vacation and learning experience!