We have recently returned from an amazing 7 day visit to Bhutan.We started the research into Bhutan about a year ago and discovered that we would need to book through a Bhutanese travel company.I initially contacted six companies for information and then worked with three to prepare an itinerary.From the initial contact I got a very good feeling about Wind horse and decided to book with them.They have the advantage of having an office in the Netherlands and in Minnesota, USA.My contact was with Bas in the Netherlands office and he replied to my emails very quickly and showed such a friendly and positive attitude in his emails. After reading some other reviews of Wind horse it was obvious to us that this was the company to plan our trip.We had a rough outline of the places we wanted to see and Bas drafted up a couple of itineraries for us.We selected the hotels we preferred (the standard selection of hotels was fine rather than paying significantly more for larger US luxury chain hotels) and Wind horse provided a detailed description and their comments on our choice.We have travelled extensively and usually do all our own planning and bookings.Wind horse had no problems working with us on the final itinerary we had chosen.
With the convenience of an office in the Netherlands, we could pay the initial deposit and final payment by electronic bank transfer direct to them there, rather than try and remit the money to Bhutan. This is very convenient for UK and European travellers. We received confirmation of our hotels and once the Druk air schedule was published, Wind horse booked our flights. There were a few questions over the next few months and all these were answered promptly in detail by Bas.
A month before we were due to arrive in Bhutan, Wind horse emailed us our Bhutan visas, flight tickets and information package. Our week in Bhutan was in the middle of a month long visit to India and we flew from Delhi to Paro.The Druk air flight was excellent with spectacular views of several of the world’s highest mountains and one of the most difficult runway landings in the world, expertly executed by the Druk air captain.We also had the honour of having the King & Queen of Bhutan on our flight as they were returning from a visit to India.
On arrival in Bhutan we were met by our friendly guide Karma and our driver Tenzin. They immediately made us feel welcome in their country. The vehicle provided by Wind horse was a comfortable 4 wheel drive SUV.We started our itinerary in Thimphu at the Druk Hotel.We had seen some reviews on line about poor quality hotels and food in Bhutan but on arrival at the hotel in Thimphu we were pleasantly surprised.The accommodation was excellent and the food very tasty.In all the hotels the meals are usually buffet style with a selection of Bhutanese and Western dishes.The Druk hotel also had an extremely cosy bar and lounge area with an amazing selection of drinks. At the end of each day we discussed the next day’s itinerary with Karma and sometimes made a few changes.Occasionally we would finish our sightseeing early afternoon and return to the hotel for a short break before going out on our own to explore the area. When we started out each morning, cold bottled water was always in the vehicle.We did a lot of interesting hikes and saw some wonderful view of the Himalayas.We also visited Punakha for an overnight stay and drove from there to the Phobjikha valley to see the black necked cranes.This drive is quite long and arduous as the road to the valley is unpaved and rough in sections.The road goes through the foothills so there are also a lot of hairpin bends and steep scary drop offs.Our driver was extremely careful and we arrived in the wonderful valley.All the hotels, including those in the remoter areas provided good quality accommodation and delicious meals.The places that Wind horse selected for lunch were always excellent, with clean washroom facilities.
We returned to Paro for the final three nights and did the hike up to Tiger’s Nest Monastery. This was the highlight of our visit.It is a fairly tough climb with several hundred steps down into a canyon and then several hundred steps up the other side before finally reaching the spectacularly situated monastery but our guide made sure that we climbed at a reasonable pace and we enjoyed a break and wonderful views from the café at the halfway point.
We cannot speak highly enough of Windhorse Tours and especially Bas our contact throughout the whole process. He was even in contact with our guide while we were in Bhutan to make sure everything was going to plan.There are many tour companies offering tours to Bhutan but because of the complexities of visiting that country, it is of paramount importance that visitors choose a well-established reliable company to organise the trip and Wind horse must surely be one of the best.
In conclusion, travelling to Bhutan requires more planning and is a little more expensive to visit than some other countries in Asia but the warmth of the people and the magnificent scenery make it a truly worthwhile and memorable experience.