Bhutan: Trek to Tiger Nest monastery

7th April 2013

Previous posts:
Flying to Paro
Punakha to Bumthang
Bumthang to Punakha

After many days of road travel and good food, it was time to burn some fat. Hike to Tiger Nest (Taktsang) monastery was on cards. Perched precariously on a hill top, the only way to reach the monastery is to trek. Horses are also available for people who do not prefer walking. But the catch is that they are available only for hiking up. The last 800 steps must be covered by foot as well as climbing down.

Looking at our daughter’s ‘performance’ so far, it was unlikely that she would walk 800 steps or climb down on her own. So, it was decided that it will be either me or my wife who will visit the monastery. My wife volunteered to stay back in the resort with the kid.

Travel and the trek
It was the day of “No vehicle day” in Bhutan. Practiced each month, only public transport vehicles were allowed to ply on the roads that day. Another exception was for the vehicles carrying tourist for which a permit must be obtained. So, we were allowed to go!!

A drive of about 30 minutes brought us to the starting point of the trek. We were at an altitude of about 8,500 feet ASL and the monastery is at 10,200 feet ASL. Hence it is advisable not to perform this day during the start of your Bhutan trip. Allowing some time to acclimatize would make this trek a simple task.

We have all seen how a loaded lorry struggles to climb up the road. The same lorry without a lorry goes a good speed!! Same applies to human beings!! I just had a camera and a water bottle enabling me to climb up at a good speed. Good weather and shady path added to the speed. I saw myself overtaking horses. Unlike the ones I had seen in ‘Char dham’ trip, these horses seem to be well fed and maintained.

About one hour of walking brought me to cafeteria which serves food and drinks. Here is the nice view of Taktsang monastery.

Another 30 minutes of climb and I was at the end of foot path. The path further goes down on the edge of the hill and then climbs up to the monastery. Steps are constructed and the path is well protected by railings.

Camera and mobiles are not allowed in the monastery. The lockers which were empty did not have the locks and I could not think of leaving expensive camera and mobile just in open!! But my guide convinced that they would be safe even without locks. My experience with Bhutan and its people had been great so far and I believed my guide there.

I would not get into the details of monastery as there is tons of information on the web.

Climbing down took less time but I found it difficult as it was hard on my knees. Lunch was the cafeteria on the way.

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