Far from the distractions, traffic jams and interruptions of day-to-day urban life, Bhutan is a tonic; its pace and ethos an antidote to the challenges and ills of modern-day living. Whilst tourism entrepreneurs and big brands build ever more luxurious resorts around the globe (just how many stars does one property need?!), Bhutan has quietly dug the pathways and laid the stones to rebirth the Trans Bhutan Trail: an ancient route running 250 miles across the kingdom’s pristine countryside.
There’s something simple and powerful about that which makes us love Bhutan even more. The opportunity to walk this legendary path, set to become one of the world’s greatest trekking trails, is now here, for the first time in a generation.
Originally carved more than 400 years ago, the Trans Bhutan Trail once connected several remote dzong fortresses peppered along its route, and was a pilgrimage path for Bhuddists travelling to sacred sites in western Bhutan and Tibet. Postal runners, or garps, used it to relay messages between the dzongs at extraordinary speed, helping to unite Bhutan’s remotest regions. The route fell out of use in the 1960s, and the pathways were quickly reclaimed by nature, along with many of the dzongs which lay long-abandoned by the roadside. The reconstructed trail follows its original route with only the lightest touch upon the landscape, giving you the chance to walk through areas of virgin forest and remote tundra and see some of the country’s diverse flora and fauna.
At 250 miles in length, running across the kingdom from Haa in the west to Trashigang in the east, few people will walk the full length of the Trans-Bhutan Trail as it would take a month! Handily, the route has been split into 28 bite-sized stages, and you can pick the sections you’d like to explore. Although every trek requires a reasonable level of fitness, there are no especially high pathways on this route - it’s all under 4,000m - so it’s as accessible as possible for a rugged hill route in Bhutan. The trail covers the entire scope of Bhutan’s terrain, from temperate forest to open tundra, crossing rivers and winding round hillsides, and the accommodation ranges from luxury hotels to traditional guesthouses, welcoming homestays and adventure camps with traditional hot-stone baths. Every section offers a unique experience.
The trail takes in around 400 historic and cultural sites, including several atmospheric abandoned dzongs, all set against a backdrop of forests and snow-capped Himalayan peaks. The sections east of Bumthang, where our more regular Bhutan travels usually start or finish, are particularly appealing as they promise very low footfall, immersion in community homestays and a good bit of camping. Community engagement is at the heart of this project, and every hiker on the trail supports the surrounding area via locally-sourced produce, local guides who accompany each section (along with your main guide), and nights spent at local camping bases and homestays. In addition, Bhutan’s admirable sustainable tourism requirements mean that the cost of each trip directly contributes to the development of the trail.
There are so many possible ways to explore this legendary route. As an alternative to the camps and guesthouses that highlight the rugged beauty of the Trans Bhutan Trail, trekking enthusiasts who enjoy the finer things can walk between some of the preferred - let's say, more refined - lodges in the Punakha and Phobjikha valleys, resting your limbs overnight at the equally extraordinary Gangtey Lodge and Six Senses Punakha. We’ll tailor the length of each day’s walking to suit your preferences, and you can combine a walking focus with any and all of the sites of cultural interest that first drew your attention to Bhutan. Whatever you envision, we’ll ensure you pick the perfect path.
The guide price of £3,090US$3,490 is a per person price (not including international flights) based on an staying 1 night in Thimpu, Lobesa, Punakha and Trongsa and, 2 nights in Bumthang and Paro. You will overnight in a mixture of camping, homestay and a selection of our favourite mid-range hotels. The price includes a contribution to the trails sustainable development fund, an amount that we also match.
How yours looks is up to you, our tailor-made specialists work with you to create your perfect journey.
Interest in upgrading? You can combine your camping with stays in some of Bhutan finest lodges. We particularly love blending in Bhutan Spirit Sanctuary for your final 2 nights in Paro for a total trip price of £3,790US$4,290.
Embark on an adventure, where luxury has a different meaning - here, luxury lies in the privilege of a truly transformative experience - wander between villages, along trails lined with small farms, with Nepal’s snow-capped peaks standing tall around you.