TID – 8627 (Feb 24 – March 7,2015) Guide Kinley(Samtegang Winter Trek)
Hi Anand, – Thanks for the reminder to share a few thoughts that you can use on the Wind Horse website. To clarify, we’d prefer not to use any picture of us, but you can use our names and the following text. Here you go:
We’ve taken two tours to Bhutan with Wind Horse, and both were amazing, spectacular, inspiring, and unforgettable journeys. My wife and I love to hike, and Wind Horse helped us put together itineraries where we could explore both the nature and culture of Bhutan on foot.
Highlights of our second trip to Bhutan included a lovely steep hike to Cheri Goempa, where we saw deer and eagles, and some gorgeous day hikes to monasteries and villages in the little-visited Haa Valley. The hair-raising hike to Junyedrak hermitage overlooking the Haa Valley may test your nerves if you have a fear of heights, but it is completely amazing and a wonderful experience. Another standout hike is the moderately strenuous journey from Dochu La Pass through old-growth rhododendron forest to the hilltop monastery of Lungchuzekha– kudos to Wind Horse for sponsoring the maintenance of this wonderful trail and keeping it free from trash. We also enjoyed day hikes near Punakha and the Samtegang Trek that departed from Punakha, although it is important to realize that Samtegang is less a nature trek and more of an agricultural journey. We enjoyed this short trek the most on its second day, when the majority of our hiking was on a beautiful trail through blooming rhododendron forest rather than along roads. The hike to the Tiger’s Nest, while always crowded with people and horses, is still a can’t-miss destination. There was more trash along the trail to the Tiger’s Nest and significant trail damage the second time we hiked it– huge baskets of trash and deep ruts in the trail surface– and we believe it would make a lot of sense for the dozens of horses, who carry tourists up the mountain to the Tiger’s Nest but currently return empty of any load, to carry light loads of the accumulated garbage (mostly plastic water bottles) back down. Of course someone would have to pay for this scheme. We’d propose that anyone riding a horse up to the Tiger’s Nest pay a modest surcharge or tax, and this money could go into a fund that would pay for both packing out trash and trail maintenance. This seems like a fair solution, since the horses have a disproportionately larger impact on the condition of the trail than ordinary hikers do.
We’d definitely recommend Wind Horse as a travel company. They are well organized and are very willing to work with you to customize your journey to Bhutan. We had the same guide both times, and Kinley was very patient, thoughtful, caring, and flexible as we sometimes altered our itinerary based on weather or road conditions. Kinley is also great at explaining the historical and religious context of the amazing places that you are visiting, and he has helped us develop a profound understanding and appreciation for Bhutanese culture. Both drivers we had– Chimi and Tao– are extraordinarily skillful at navigating the challenging road conditions of Bhutan. They are also very kind people. Thanks to Wind Horse for hiring such excellent staff and for helping us organize two unforgettable journeys to Bhutan.