2 independent reviews for Bhutan trekking tour

Reviews for Bhutan trekking tour

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review 2 Jan 2020

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Trekking was fantastic, very quiet, we went in November (the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery was busy). The scenery, climate, remote unspoilt nature and culture of Bhutan was fantastic. It was perfect going to places/monasteries that were only accessible on foot as it meant that there were no large groups there. You can easily trek for hours and meet nobody except a few yak hearders. On the roads we saw fairly large buses full of tourists but they appeared to only go to the main attractions en masse. It was perfect going as a couple as it was super flexible on where you went and how long you spent at a particular site. The guide and driver were absolutely excellent. I highly recommend this operator which the vacation was booked through (via Responsible Travel). Highly recommend hot stone bath but don't go to a fancy spa. We went to a farm at night and it was good fun seeing the stars whilst in a wooden bath. Final highlight was the landing and take off at Paro airport, not for the faint hearted! We had crystal clear views of Everest on the way back to Delhi. Highly recommend tracking down the local archery arena. We went in Thimpu and it was fascinating to watch, it's their national sport.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

If accommodation is important to you then upgrade and ask specifically which accommodation you will be allocated prior to confirming the booking so that you can check it out in advance. We stayed in four different hotels over 10 night. With hindsight we wished we had camped. The quality was highly variable, two hotels were very good, two weren't. The food was highly repetitive, catering for "foreign tourists" and only just palatable in some cases. We are well travelled and not fussy eaters. Ask your guide/driver to take you out of the hotel to eat at local restaurants, we did and it was much better. They are free to do this, so unless very eat outside of the hotel. Probably stating the obvious but best to leave as early as possible for Tiger's Nest Monastery, it does get busy. Ask your guide to visit the two other monasteries that are further up the mountain...nobody there and views are spectacular. Go in November, weather was perfect and we saw the first black-necked cranes arriving in the Phobjikha Valley. You need to be relatively fit to enjoy this trek as there are some super steep inclines and you can be trekking uphill for a few hours. We saw a lot of people not on trekking vacations really struggling at Tiger's Nest. We spent virtually no money so be aware that whilst the initial cost seems high that's basically it. Exchanging cash is easy and is only really needed for the tips at the end but drivers/guides are happy to accept any currency. ATMs virtually non-existent. Bring ear plugs...dog barking in some places is from dusk to dawn. Locals call them "solar dogs" as they sleep in the sun during the day and go wild at night. If you suffer from motion/car sickness then take some medication with you. The surfaces of the roads are ok but because Bhutan is so mountainous you can be on extremely high, winding roads with no safety barriers for a few hours at a time. Try the sweetcorn they sell at the side of the roads. Take everything you need such as sun lotion with you. There are no shops as such other than some selling tourist stuff in the larger towns. Go with an open mind and remember that Bhutan is very much a developing country. Allow at least 2 hours to get through immigration if traveling via Delhi, queues were horrendous at peak times.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes tourism is the biggest earner after exporting hydropower but there isn't a great deal to buy and as the food is included then really it was only the hotels and tour operator that directly benefitted. However, there is a tourist tax as part of the daily rate and that goes to support education, healthcare etc. Our guide and driver were meticulous about picking up any litter they came across on the treks (not that there was much) so it is in the national psyche to keep Bhutan unspoilt. Unfortunately water was always supplied in plastic bottles. Unfortunately, the carbon footprint of this vacation is super high due to the flights and using cars to transport small groups around.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Excellent, dropped a star on the rating because the accommodation was very variable (but always clean and with functioning facilities). We are considering going back to another area of Bhutan but camping rather than staying in hotels and would use Responsible Travel again. One point for improvement would be that there is no additional travel information supplied other that what is on the website. Some more detail on the basics such as the logistics, currency etc would be useful.

review 27 Apr 2017

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

Walking to Tigers Nest Monastery and feeling truly involved in the customs and beliefs of the Bhutanese people.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Do some light reading on Buddhism before you go and be prepared for the long journeys by car, eg, music, etc

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Absolutely as we always ate in local restaurants, bought from local shops etc

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

The most extraordinary and special experience. The tour was seamlessly co-ordinated, informed and our tour operator had listened to my requests to upgrade my hotels in some areas.

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