Some guests remarked ” Travelling around in Bhutan on vehicle on its sinuous roads is itself adventure of sort” For a great trip in Bhutan, a comfortable transport and a good driver is paramount. Yamraj Karki learnt driving at a very young age. In fact his older brother Guddu, who also works in Wind Horse Tours has been instrumental in teaching this craft.
Right after passing his class 10, he knew pretty well to drive but even though he joined driving school to obtain his licence in 2005. In the same years he joined Wind Horse Tours.
What Our Guest Says about the guide
RowenaOct 17 -23, 2017
This is long overdue. My partner & I have planned our Bhutan trip since last year. We were working with another tour company when we came upon Wind Horse. Just our first phone conversation with Ugen, we knew we had to switch to Wind Horse and have not regretted our decision.
I had mixed emotions about this trip. I was excited to see this picturesque country but terrified about the trek to Tiger’s Nest. Thanks to our wonderful guide, Kinley, and our quiet driver, Yamraj, (Raj, as we called him), they put my mind at ease. Kinley, who was very knowledgeable and attentive, kept us entertained with his antics and rendition of ‘Desposito’. Raj, on the other hand, managed the winding roads of Bhutan like a pro and always made us feel safe as we drove from one site to the next.
The highlight of the trip, the trek to Tiger’s Nest, had me on pins and needles but with Raj’s help (I now call him ‘my Savior’), I made it! He patiently helped me maneuver the uphill climb and those 800 steep steps. This trip was definitely a very memorable one, not only because Bhutan is such a beautiful country…Kinley & my Savior, Raj, played a big part, as well.
I highly recommend Wind Horse and the Kinley/Raj team.
Yoon Jung K.DFeb 05 -12, 2016
Please excuse this belated note. My husband Andrew has been quite busy with work, so I decided to respond on my family’s behalf.
All in all, our 7 days in Bhutan were truly remarkable. The pastoral and rugged beauty of the country will stay with us for a long time. Our guide Tashi was the ideal match for our family of three. He was engaging and informative without being garrulous. Also, he was so thoughtful to arrange a birthday cake for our daughter on the day of our arrival because we landed in Bhutan on her 13th birthday. The royal baby was born on the same day as well, which was an unexpected honor for her!
The restaurants Tashi selected for us were fantastic; we ate very well. Also, our driver Yamraj was the consummate professional. He focused on his driving and made us feel quite safe despite the treacherous terrain. We are not sure how he maintained his calm as he drove over 6 hours from Gangtey to Thimpu on an unpaved, rocky road.
Our only regret was having asked Tashi to switch our itinerary at the end of our visit so that we could climb Taktsang the day before the scheduled date. We wanted to visit the National Museum in Paro on our last day because the museum would be open. The previous day it was scheduled to be closed due to a national holiday. Anyhow, Tashi accommodated kindly but had us still tour Thimpu rather than driving us straight to Taktsang. Anyhow, we started our hike up the mountain at 2:00pm; of course, our climb down coincided with nightfall and was quite scary for me and my daughter.
Besides the climb down in the dark, we cannot fault Tashi because we asked for the schedule change. Other than the poor timing, we had the most wonderful trip and feel fortunate to have been paired with Tashi and Yamraj. I particularly enjoyed Paro for its flowers and temperate climate; our daughter loved the chill and snow in Gangtey the most.
Thank you for arranging an unforgettable, lovely trip for us.
Renay & Peter BDec 02 - 14, 2014
TID 8556 – Private Drukyul Walking Tour- Dec 02 – 14, 2014 (Guide – Yonten)
We want to Thank Windhorse tours management and organising staff for their wonderful service and taking the time to promptly answer any and all of our questions. You were so easy and great to deal with.
We want to especially thank Yonten (Guide) and Yamraj (Driver) for a wonderful memorable holiday that we will never forget. We had been wanting and planning to visit Bhutan for over 5 years and to finally get there and enjoy it much as we had hoped was unbelievable.
We have been recommending Bhutan and Windhorse tours to everyone we talk to about our holiday and we hope to return for another trip to Bhutan in the next 5-7 years.
We loved walking through the small townships and visiting the local stores. Maybe only buying a packet of chips or a lolly of some kind but just to experience what is in a local store in another country. Just wandering the stores, streets and around the motels was good to slow down and relax.
We would recommend including some local entertainment in the tour. For us we were lucky enough to come across a local archery match (which we had highlighted as something we would like to see while we were in Bhutan) in Paro that we watched for 2 hours one morning, this was great. According to Yenten the archery was organised by a group of friends who wanted to play a match. To see both the archery and the antics the locals got up to in a game of archery was fantastic. Both my husband and I used to do archery and competed at our Country titles 2 years running; so we would have also loved to join in the competition if that was possible and had a go at “traditional barebow” Bhutanese style.
The food in Bhutan – Excellent – We can’t rave highly enough about the wonderful food. It was healthy, tasty, filling and the best vegetable and rice dishes we have ever eaten. And there was so much of it. Coming from a warm country we are not used to such big meals and had to ask to have a smaller number of dishes as we felt bad leaving food behind. With all the walking we did, and ate like kings; we didn’t put on any weight (we actually lost some). Sebastian had plenty to eat. He pretty much had one of everything on the table, apart from the chilli cheese, but he did try a small bit of that a couple of times too.
The Hotels – I cannot fault any of our hotels. They were clean, warm and had excellent service. The architecture on some of these buildings was magnificent. The rooms were huge. If there was any issue the staff were more than happy to help and had it fixed before you returned to your room that day. And again the staff and meals were excellent.
Flexibilty in itinerary
Access to the monasteries – Yenten was fabulous in arranging access to the monasteries in advance so we didn’t have to wait and waste time. There will always be times some things are not open and that is understandable. It was good to be able to walk between sites when possible this was a big plus and a great way to see the country.
Yenten – guide – Yenten was a wonderful guide. His knowledge of the monasteries and Bhutanese Buddhism was fantastic. As Buddhists we follow a different tradition but we could relate to what he was saying and it was interesting to have discussions about the differences in the two traditions.
Yenten was always so very polite and never tired of any of us asking questions or asking for assistance or help with information or language. Yenten and Peter had several discussions about life in Bhutan and these discussions are cherished. Both Renay and I are extremely grateful that Yenten was our guide. The relationship he developed with our little boy was wonderful, special and so important to us that we hope Sebastian never forgets Yenten; and hopefully Yenten is able to take away similar feelings about our family.
Yamraj – driver – Yamraj as a fantastic and skilled driver. We have never been so close to the edge of a mountain side or another truck but we were never scared and trusted in his driving and ability to negotiate every turn. He also has and great sense of humour laughing at Sebastian’s jokes. He is a very quietly spoken gentle person who had so much time for Sebastian who was keen to involve him in everything we did. We were told Yamraj was getting married later this year. Good luck to Yamraj and his future wife.
We would, without hesitation, recommend Yenten and Yamraj to family travellers.
Cooking lessons/experience – I would have loved to have learnt how to cook some of the fabulous dishes we ate. Including and especially, the chilli cheese. I know we may not be able to get the same cheese in Australia but I might have been able to find a local produce that would substitute when we got back. I should have spoken up and asked if this was possible while we were there but the staff at the hotels and restaurants seemed so keen to please that I thought I may offend by asking to visit their kitchen ☺
Meditation retreats – the possibility of including a 1day meditation day in the middle or a 2-5 day retreat the end of the trip (as an add-on).
A white/snow mountain experience – might be an attractive option for those who are on the Dec or Jan trips. In hindsight we would have loved to stay for a couple more days and experience some more snow and just take walks around town or short nature walks and relax in the bigger towns of Paro, Thimphu or Jakar.
Fly to Bumthang – We asked about the airport in Bumthang and using it instead of driving one-way to Bumthang. The idea being to fly the long drive to Bumthang and then drive the smaller hops back to Thimphu/Paro so you still get to see the countryside. The price for this compared to a lost day of travel might be a good deal for some people. We spent a lot of money just travelling from Australia to Bhutan, we would have spent a little more to make better use of the time once in Bhutan
The Hikes. The order of the hikes needs allow for travellers to slowly acclimatize to the altitude of the country as many other countries geography doesn’t give travellers any way to truly prepare for this. We would suggest a number of small climbs, like the Cheri Monastery, over the first 3-4 of days (at least one each day). Then by the middle of the tour they will have the confidence and fitness to tackle the over the pass climbs (like the Kikiphu and Sashila) and the steep uphill climbs like the Lungchuzekha Temple. We were disappointed we could not do the pass hikes, but maybe could have if we had successfully achieved a number of days of smaller climbs to acclimatize to the altitude.
For every guest
- Check with guest on arrival if they have Bhutanese Ngultrum and if not change before leaving the airport.
- Check also with guests that they have the correct electrical converter and if not arrange a place where they can buy one of these on the first day.
- A list of local events, like sporting events or local matches or music or entertainment in towns.
Margaret S.GMay 13 - 29,2015
TID 8595 -May 13 – 29,2015 (Yonten Phuntsho – Guide)
Dear Jambay, Thank you to all at Windhorse for such a wonderful trip! We all enjoyed our visit, and Yonten and Yumraj were both excellent. It was a trip of a lifetime for us, and we enjoyed seeing your beautiful country and learning about your rich history and culture. Yonten was flexible, accommodating, knowlegable and professional–he worked very hard to tailor each day to our interests in birds/animals, short hikes, cultural stops. Yumraj was a wonderfully reassuring driver.
Thanks also regarding the Druk flight from Jonkar to Paro–they tried very hard to operate the flight but weather didn’t cooperate. I really appreciate how quickly and smoothly you were able to arrange a car/driver, accomodations in Punakha, etc (we did tease poor Yumraj about having to drive back/forth from Punakha-Paro three times in three days…..). Some tour operators work well when everything goes as planned, but not all can “pinch-hit” when plans have to be changed, and Windhorse did a great job!
Please feel free to use us a s a reference for any new clients considering a trip with Windhorse–we would be happy to provide an excellent reference.
Thank-you again! Mimi
Sophie RApril,24-May 8,2015
This small word to tell you that we are very very happy to have come to Bouthan. It was a dream for a long time and we realized. You have a wonderfull country.
Rachel Tang G.March 30-April 08,2015
TID-8731, Village Tours of Western Bhutan, March 30 -April 08, Guide Sonam Palden.
Wind horse Tours has made our trip to Bhutan truly unforgettable. From my first correspondence with Mr. Jambay via email to our arrival in Bhutan, everything was absolutely outstanding in terms of organisation and professionalism. The response Mr. Jambay gave was immediate and positive and Windhorse Tours managed our expectations exceedingly well. From the accommodation to the itinerary, to the hotels and meals, Wind horse Tours was considerate and extremely proactive in thinking ahead and being immaculately organised.
As we were travelling with two children with allergies, Wind horse asked for information prior to the trip well ahead of time so the meals could be organised without any glitches. The most amazing thing about Windhorse was their guide, Mr. Sonam Pelden and driver Mr. Yamraj Chhetri. These two individuals embody the true Bhutanese spirit of generosity, compassion, patience and kindness. Mr. Yamraj was conservative and safe on the winding Bhutanese roads which are not easy to drive through at times and Mr. Sonam was funny and legendary. He was full of stories and good humor and is exceptionally awesome with children and family groups. These ambassadors of Bhutan are truly inspirational. The experience was so transformative and special which made going home extremely difficult. After Mr. Sonam and Mr. Yamraj dropped us off at the airport on our last day, Mr. Sonam, our guide told us that he would be waiting until the plane takes off in the unlikely event of a delay. That is once again, true professionalism. Windhorse is without a doubt the BEST tour company specialising in Bhutan which everyone should be using.
Ian , Patricia & Lawrence PartyMarch 9 - 15, 2015
Dear Anand, On behalf of myself and my parents Trish and Ian, I would like to thank Windhorse for such an amazing experience. Our guide Sonam and driver Hemrag went far beyond the call of duty. My mum was sick to start with, not from Bhutan but from India, and then my father was also sick, again from food poisoning in India. Sonam organised antibiotics for my mum, and then my dad ended up in hospital on a drip. Sonam organised everything, quickly and professionally. We cannot praise him highly enough.
The main reason that I was in Bhutan was to bring some of my uncle’s ashes to the country, as I am trying to take a small part of him to all the countries that he did not visit before he died. Sonam organised having his ashes made in to a Tsa Tsa stupa at a nun’s monastery, and then he hiked with me for 8 hours above the Tigers Nest, so we could put the stupa as close to God as possible at the top of the mountain. He climbed trees to hang prayer flags and generally worked as hard as he could to make my wish a reality. All during the trip he was happy to change direction when I saw something that took my eye, and without him and the great team at Windhorse our Bhutan experience would not have been such a life changing one.
When I was refused exit from India, the Windhorse team passed messages on to my parents, and also helped me with information at very unfriendly hours of the night so that I could make another plan and as a result I only missed one day of the trip. It could have been a lot worse, and it was great to know that my parents were in such capable hands. Hemrag was a very safe driver, who kept his vehicle immaculate at all times. Never once did we feel unsafe in his hands. Best wishes.
TID – 8724 Window to Bhutan (Customised) 9 March to 15 March, 2015. Sonam Loday – guide.
Leong Hui ChyiJune 2012
Bhutan have a very beautiful scenery country.. there”s a lot of antique temples, mountains, rivers,,,,
Our family trip to bhutan was great and interesting. our tour guide ” sonam” and the driver ” kamalraj” was very responsible for taking care all of us and they’re very funny:) bhutan have a very beautiful scenery country.. there”s a lot of antique temples, mountains, rivers,,,, we’re going in summer season so is quite cloudy in the morning, and can’t see the himalaya clearly. but if go for winter I thk should not be a problem… Bhutan foods are very healthy and delicious!!! we all love the red rice, beef and of course their ” green chilli with cheese..” We very enjoy the Bhutan trip!!! espeacially TIGER NEST!!! Well, very thankful to our guide and driver for bringing us to the nice places, is very memorable… thanks!
Christian JDec. 21-30, 2012
TID 607-Grand Cultural Tour of Christian & Wife (Dec. 21-30, 2012)
My wife and I had a great time in Bhutan, thank you. I chose your company because talking to Ugen on the phone was very helpful before I made the booking. I liked knowing I had someone in the US I could call with questions. We were never disappointed by your company at any point during the trip and I’m glad I went with Wind Horse. Tashi our guide and Yamraj our driver were easy to communicate with and get along with. Tashi went out of his way to help make a few special moments happen for us. He was very knowledgeable and passionate about Buddhist culture and history. At Tiger’s Nest, our guide and another person’s guide teamed up and took turns explaining things, and I could tell the difference in their knowledge of the history and meanings of things we were being shown.
John MSept 24- Oct 7, 2012
I believe it is important that all members of a tour get the same treatment. It is only fair. Several times, on my recent Drukyul Walking Tour, I found myself in rooms that were by far a lower standard or location than other members of my group. It does not seem equitable when I paid extra for a single supplement. If a hotel cannot accommodate all members with equivalent accommodation, another accommodation should be found. People should either get money back for lower standard rooms without views or the poorer rooms should be systematically distributed so no one is having to pay extra for much, much less. It just is not fair. That said, when I did share my discontent, WindHorse staff were very quick to accommodate and put me in a lovely, different hotel to make up for the quality of the room I was given in Paro and the end of our tour. I was very grateful to them for that. I would not hesitate to recommend Wind Horse. Our guide, Namgay and our driver, Yamraj, were both wonderful to travel with. They are excellent at what they do, accommodating and consistently pleasant.
Drukyul Walking Tour Sept 24- Oct 7, 2012 with extension of Nepal
(Kathmandu, Nagarkot & Namo Buddha).
Dear John, Thank you for your email with review about the trip. I apologize for any inconveniences faced during your travels. It is fact that some hotels in Bhutan have smaller and often inferior single rooms. Even among the single rooms there may be disparity and not done purposely, especially during the peak tourists season, when rooms are in shortage.Our future single traveller will be aware of it. In the same group journey, it is not practical to use two separate hotels and although we book many rooms in advance, the hotels confirm to us only late in the time and by then, they are not able to allocate enough rooms and we land up having to choose the one that gives us sufficient rooms. Such issues occur during the festival period, when everyone wants to come to Bhutan and it is not just with Wind Horse, but with every travel company. We regret any inconveniences and hope to make up, if you visit with us again. Ugen- Management
Nancy FApr 19-26, 2011.
Nancy & Richard Bhutan Introduction Tour 19 Apr-26 April 2011.
Dear Jambay and Ugan,
My husband and I are having the most amazing journey. I cannot even wait to get home to tell you how wonderful this trip is and how lucky we feel to have chosen Windhorse for our tour. The itinerary is filled with fascinating and magnificent sights and adventures. The hotels were wonderful. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful. We feel so lucky and appreciative to have had the company, guidance and expert competence of our guide, Kinley Tenzin and our driver, Yam Raj.
Kinley is a thoughtful and perceptive guide. He went out of his way to see that we had everything we could want and experience everything that we were interested in doing to the fullest. He listened to every wish that we expressed and made them all come true. For example, when I expressed my interest in astrology, he located a monk who specialized in astrological readings. When the monk advised me to get statues of particular Buddhas, he patiently and determinately took me to place after place until I found the perfect ones. Then we went to monasteries to locate a Lama who would place prayers inside the statues! I am sure that there are not many people who would take the trouble to individualize our trip the way that he has done. He made so many gestures of generosity and compassion. He has protected us and looked after us with so much care. For example, when my husband did not feel well one night, he located some cold medicine and told us to call him anytime during the night in case My husband should need medical attention or any such thing. There are so many instances of ways that he extended himself. He interpreted conversations between monks and myself, requested food preferences at each restaurants, and the list of thoughtful acts goes on and on. Kinley’s depth of knowledge about the history of Bhutan and of Buddhism is amazing. I don’t know how so much information can be retained by one person. He has been able to answer every question we asked, and informed us of so much more than we could have imagined. This journey has been a great learning experience. We have a far better understanding of the culture, the history and the goodness of the Bhutanese people.
We have never seen anybody drive with such skill and professionalism as Yam Raj. Both my husband and I are typically nervous passengers, but we both felt totally safe and secure as Yam calmly and patiently drove upon challenging roads, around cliffs and steep inclines without incidence. He was so completely focused as he drove. What a great relief, especially coming from America, where people sometimes drive with one eye on their phone as they text or talk! He didn’t take his focus off of his responsibility for a second. And coming from New York, where people can be so selfish and angry as they drive, what a wonderful change it was to watch as he considerately slowed down for others to pass. He remained alert and precise as he drove for over five hours from one place to another. We are very lucky that his hands are the ones that our lives were placed in. Plus, he is an extremely sweet, lovely person. We totally enjoyed his company.
We are so happy that we chose Windhorse for this most amazing journey. We’ll keep these wonderful memories forever. Thank you!