We loved walking through the small townships and visiting the local stores.
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.
Renay & Peter B
Norman Gardens, Queensland, Australian
Travelled with us on
Dec 02 - 14, 2014
Thimphu - Hotel Druk
Punakha - Meri Phuensum Resort
Bumthang - Mountain Resort
Trongsa - Yangkhil Resort
Gangtey - Hotel Dewachen
Punakha - Meri Phuensum Resort
Paro - Tashi Namgay Resort