When the Trans Bhutan Trail reopened in March 2022, it was the first time anyone had hiked this epic 403km cross-country route in 60 years.
Considered one of the world’s greatest long-distance paths, there are plenty of stories to be found on the trail – it rolls through the capital city Thimphu, valley villages, mountain temples and tiger forests, after all. But this most recent chapter in the trail’s history is one of the most exciting.
The Trans Bhutan Trail is a newly restored footpath linking Haa in the west of Bhutan with Trashigang in the east. But it’s also a social enterprise that works with local people to recover and restore the way. Our vacations here range from epic end-to-end treks
to eastern cultural explorations
Stephen Couchman is a programme director of the rebuilding of the Trans Bhutan Trail. Helping with the first survey of the trail in 2020 remains one of his lasting memories.
“I was part of one of two teams that traversed Bhutan from opposite ends of the country,” Stephen recalls. “We spent 14 days hacking our way through the old route. It was hard going, with long days often finishing well after dark.
“On the afternoon of the final day, both teams arrived in the courtyard of the Trongsa Dzong – a massive fortress strategically perched on a ridge commanding major routes... It has great historic significance in Bhutan’s history. The steps leading to the east and west gates are worn smooth by centuries of travelers – monks, armies, messengers and traders – who passed through the massive doors. It was humbling to be part of such a historic ceremony as the first trekkers to meet at this point in over 60 years.”