Adventure Caravan

Adventure Caravan Treks different from regular commercialized trail...

Trip Grading

To show the relative difficulty of our trips, we give each of them...

Equipment List

Everest, reside within its borders. Nepal also called as the Biggest...

Mountain Courses

We provide mountain courses to enthusiastic travellers ...

Bhutan General Information

Bhutan, officially the Kingdom of Bhutan, is a landlocked state in South Asia. Tucked away in the depths of the Eastern Himalayas, the 47,000 sq km small kingdom of Bhutan, or Druk Yul, is little known and lesser visited. A forbidden land for centuries, this country was touted last year by National Geographic Adventure magazine along with Irian Jaya as one of the world's top 25 adventure destinations.

 

Still, the kingdom maintains a policy of "low volume - high quality tourism" and retains its exclusiveness in the world of travel. From high mountain peaks to deep lush valleys, from modern apartments in Thimphu to farmland barns, from meditative monks deep in prayer to fluttering prayers and vibrant, colorful festivals, Bhutan is incomparably unique. Over the last few centuries, difficult natural terrain and a self-imposed policy of isolation saw to it that life here stayed virtually unchanged. It was only in the early 1960s that Bhutan opened up its doors to the world beyond and plunged into a new age of socio-economic development.This development has, nonetheless, been slow and guarded because the government, a constitutional monarchy, has always held caution to be more valuable than reckless abandon. Wedged between China and India, the two most populous countries in the world, and being disadvantaged with little military or economic strength, Bhutan has been compelled to stay different in order to safeguard its sovereignty. The most practical way to achieve this has been to preserve and promote its unique culture. Religion is the other value system that holds the Bhutanese people together. Tantric Mahayana Buddhism of the Drukpa Kagyu sect has survived unblemished here for centuries and continues to be the officially adopted religion of the state. But it is a religion that is more about tolerance than fanaticism - the people are allowed to practise any faith of their choice. A multitude of factors have influenced the social fabric of Bhutan. Among them, religion and culture form the common thread that runs through the government, art, architecture, literature, music, indeed through the entire social fabric of the country.

 

Caught between the old world and the new, Bhutan is also a land of contrasts. Television and the internet were introduced here no longer than two years ago but we are already the third Asian country after Singapore and Hong Kong to have an entirely digital telecommunications network. To the world, Bhutan is strange. To visitors here, it is special. Almost always.

 

GEOGRAPHY

Bhutan's climate is as diverse as its land.  Depending on the altitude, area and amount of sunlight, the climate can range from bitter cold to a humid, hot tropical climate.  The precipitation that Bhutan gets between the months of June to September and averages for the year about 25 inches (650 mm). A small country covering a little over 18,000 sq mi (47,000 sq km), Bhutan's land is very varied.  Snow peaks in the Himalayas, swamps and highlands are just some of the land conditions that are found in a short range from each other.  The three main areas in Bhutan are the Great Himalayan Region, Middle Himalayan Region and the Duars. The Duars, a plain only 5-8 miles wide (8-13 km), are located along the Indian border and have a tropical climate. The northern section of the Duars is home to wildlife such as tigers and deer with its rugged, coarse terrain The southern portion of the Duars is cultivated for rice, but had at one time been a jungle filled with bamboo. The Middle Himalayan region is part of the Himalayan range that spreads down from the north and surrounds rich, broad valleys. The valleys, with their mild climate are cultivated and populated. The rainfall in this region is average, not humid and wet like the Duars. The Great Himalayan Region borders Tibet and is relatively uninhabitable. The highest peak in Bhutan is located here, Kula Kangri (4,900-9,200 ft/1,500-2,800 m). The high valleys are home to a few people, but the main inhabitants in the bitterly cold climate are Bhutanese yaks.

 

HISTORY
Not much is identified with Bhutan's history before the 7th century, which is when Buddhism was introduced.  After this time, the chronicles kept by Buddhists record Bhutan's history.  Buddhism was brought in to Bhutan when the country was ruled by feudal lords in their separate valleys, not a central government. After monks from the Kargyupa sect of Mahayana Buddhism built monasteries throughout the valleys, the Drukpa sub sect became the most popular form of religion.  A Drukpa monk, Ngawang  Namgyal, started the first formal government in 1616 - that of a theocratic government.  Namgyal was able to unite the influential Bhutanese families, this after he defeated many challengers sub sect leaders. Namgyal's government consisted of two leaders - one with spiritual responsibilities (dharma raja) and the other with civil responsibilities (deb raja).  This split form of government continued until the early 1900's. Conflict occurred in Bhutan approximately 100 years after the deb raja formed a peace treaty with the English East India Company.  Rivalry was rampant between two governors in Bhutan (of Tongsa and Paro) who held staunchly opposite views toward the British.  Ugyen Wangchuck, the pro-British governor, was able to unite the country after defeating all his opponents. In 1907 Ugyen Wangchuck became the first druk Gyalpo of Bhutan and he ruled from 1907 to 1926.  Jigme Wangchuck, Ugyen's son, ruled from 1926 to 1952 and was followed by Jigme Dorji Wangchuck who ruled from 1953 to 1972.  The fourth druk Gyalpo, Jigme Singye Wangchuck began his reign in 1972.

 

PEOPLE:
Outdated and conflicting data place Bhutan's population at 600,000 and at a little over a million people. It is believed, though, that the actual figure is closer to 700,000. The population consists predominantly of three ethnic groups: the Ngalops of the western and central region, the Sharchogpas of the east, and the Lhotsampas, who are recent immigrants of Nepalese origin settled mainly along the southern belt.

 

Collectively called the Drukpas, the Bhutanese people generally speak the official state language, Dzongkha, although several dialects are also used. The Bhutanese are also known to be fairly proficient speakers of English as it is the medium of instruction in Bhutanese schools.The general character of the Drukpas is that of pragmatism, enterprise, rugged strength, and a ready sense of humour. As you may discover for yourself, hospitality and friendliness are inborn Bhutanese values as well.

 

LIFESTYLE:
More than 80 percent of the people lead agrarian lives in villages of rough farming terrain. However, they are not above enjoying the lighter moments in life and are known to be a sporty lot. The Bhutanese zealously celebrate religious festivals and holidays with indigenous sports such as traditional archery, dego, and khuru. These occasions always involve social gathering, feasting and drinking.

ART AND CRAFT:
Bhutanese art and craft, inevitably religious in character, exists in 13 forms that are together called the zorig chusum. These 13 forms include textile weaving, wood and slate carving, painting, blacksmithery, and pottery, all of which have elaborate techniques and histories passed on through successive generations.Royal patronage as well as social and government support for the zorig chusum has led to Bhutan to being reputed as the last bastion of Himalayan Buddhist art. In contrast to traditional artists in places like Nepal and Darjeeling, Bhutanese artists tend to value religious ethics and quality over commercial gain and quantity. Sophisticated machinery and mass production have no place in Bhutanese art. Indigenous textiles, for one, are entirely hand-woven over months or years and hence may be relatively expensive.

 

FESTIVALS:
Certain religious festivals, called tsechus, held annually in dzongs (fortresses) are the most popular programme for tourists and for the locals who attend them unfailingly in their best regalia. Tsechus showcase the best of religious dances, all of which are deep in spiritual meaning. Originally composed before or during the middle Ages the dances are performed only once or twice a year by monks and village leaders. They usually culminate in the unfurling of an especially large and well-crafted thongdrel (applique). Owing to their relative proximity to the airport, the tsechus of Paro (in spring) and Thimphu (in the fall) are well attended by foreigners. The tsechus of Bumthang are also popular.

 

NATURE AND WILDLIFE:
The Bhutanese people and their government are fiercely conservative of their natural heritage. Small wonder then that 72 percent of the total land area is topped by forests. Bhutan has a number of protected reserves and parks. All these areas are interconnected to each other by natural "corridors" of forests and serve as safe havens for innumerable species of flora and fauna. As a matter of fact, Bhutan has been designated as one of the 10 biodiversity hotspots in the world. Many plant and animal species are endemic to Bhutan only. In 2000, researchers spotted an orchid species that had last been seen only in the 19th century. Meanwhile, the golden langur is a species of long-tailed monkey that was and still remains unique to Bhutan. Small as the country may be, Bhutan's diverse landscapes, ranging from the sub-tropical and the temperate to the alpine and the snowbound, are home to an amazing variety of biological species. This is as much the land of the blue sheep and the clouded leopard as it is the land of the Royal Bengal Tiger. Yaks, takin, and some rare butterfly and bird species abound, as do wild rhododendron, blue poppies and conifer forests.

 

ENTRY INTO BHUTAN & VISA:
Bhutan is accessible by air and by road. The land route is through the border town of Phuentsholing, Bhutan's southern gateway and commercial hub. The town is a three-hour drive from the airport at Bagdogra in the Indian state of West Bengal. The Indian hill stations of Darjeeling and Gangtok are seven hours away by road. Druk Air, the national flagship airline, is the only such service operating in the country. Its two British Aerospace BAe 146 jets, technically the aircrafts most suited to Bhutan, fly to and from Paro town. Paro is, thanks to the difficult topography of the country, Bhutan's only airport. Druk Air flies in from the capital cities of Bangladesh, Nepal, and Thailand and from New Delhi and Calcutta in India. Each of these routes offers views of some of the highest mountains in the world such as Mt. Everest, Mt. Kanchenjunga, and Bhutan's revered peaks of Chomolhari and Kulagangri.

Every airport on the world's mightiest mountain range is subject to the whims of nature and Para is no exception. Druk Air flights are sometimes delayed by unfavorable weather so visitors would do well to include an additional day in their itineraries. But rest assured that the airline has had no history of mishaps in its 18 years of operation. As with visas to Bhutan, Druk Air tickets are issued only in Bhutan. BTS can book them for you and send them to you or to the Druk air out stations. It is advisable that contact us well in advance of your visit. This will save you unnecessary hindrances that arise otherwise, particularly during the peak spring and autumn months.

The same applies to visa formalities. Early intimation allows timely issue of visa numbers. The following information must be sent to us to process visa approval.

1. Full name as in passport
2. Permanent address
3. Occupation
4. Nationality
5. Passport Number
6. Date of Issue and Expiry date
7. Date of birth and place
8. Place of Issue
9. Exact duration of visa required
10. Date of entry and exit and sector

The number, which we will then send to you, is essential in order to be allowed onboard Druk Air flights. The actual visas are issued on payment of US $ 20 upon entry into Bhutan. You will also need two passport size photographs.

Note: Visas are not issued by Bhutanese embassies and missions abroad. Visas are also extended only in Thimpu by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

WHAT TO BRING
Druk Air observes a baggage weight limit of 20 kilogram’s (44 lb) in economy class and 30 kilogram’s (66lb) in business class so it may be troublesome and expensive to carry too much. Casual clothes are generally most suitable though a set of formal wear might come in handy as might rain gear, windbreakers, sun caps and sunglasses. You should come prepared for vast contrasts of weather. Sun cream and lip protection will help.

Strange as it may seem you may wish midway through your stay that you had brought along a set of ear plugs, a Swiss army knife or useful equivalent, a small backpack, and a soft suitcase instead of one made of less versatile material.

 

INSURANCE:
if you plan to trek or engage in adventure sport and if you plan to come through one of our associate companies abroad it is advisable that you are covered by a travel insurance policy as such policies are non-existent in Bhutan. Insurance will prove useful should unforeseen needs like helicopter rescue crop up.

CURRENCY

The national currency of Bhutan is the Ngultrum (Nu.) valued at par with the Indian Rupee, which is also used in the country. As of midyear 2001, the Ngultrum's exchange value hung at about Nu. 48 to the US Dollar.

Visa and American Express credit cards are accepted in few places but have a limited use. Traveler’s cheque as well as US and Hong Kong Dollars, Pound Sterling, French and Swiss Francs, German Mark, and Japanese Yen can be exchanged at local banks and at most hotels.

ACCOMMODATION

While hotel ling in Bhutan cannot equal international standards, all tourist hotels are comfortable, clean, and reasonably well run. BTS has full access and has carefully selected the best hotels and guest houses in Paro, Thimpu, Wangdue, Punakha, Trongsa and Bumthang.

GUIDE

Our guides are licensed and trained in programs conducted by the Department of Tourism. Our trekking guides have additional mountain guide training, including safety and first aid instructions to lead any size of groups. You will be accompanied throughout your time with an English speaking guide, driver and car at your disposal at all time. Guides have explored every route in Bhutan.

FOOD

Spicy chilies and cheese blended with a wide variety of vegetables are found on many Bhutanese menus. BTS chooses restaurants and hotels that prepare food more suitable to western taste ranging from Continental to Chinese and Bhutanese to Indian. The choice is yours.

TRANSPORTATION

  • BTS maintains modern Toyota cars, land cruisers and coaster buses for all group sizes.
  • Every transport is rechecked properly before every tour to ensure safety and comfort for all clients.

ALTITUDE

Although only the size of Switzerland, Bhutan's topography and climate are those of dramatic contrasts. The land rises from the southern sub-tropics at an altitude of about 1,000 feet above sea level to snow-capped peaks of over 20,000 feet in the north. The central temperate belt, which encompasses most of the major settlements and tourist haunts, ranges from about 4,500 to 14,000 feet. The capital city of Thimpu, for example, is situated at 8,300 feet.

EDUCATION
School is not compulsory, but is free in Bhutan.  Up until the 1960s there hadn't been a formal schooling system, apart from religious ones.  Unfortunately, the children in Bhutan do not have easy access to schools, so attendance is fairly low - with approximately 25% of the children attending primary school and only 5% attending secondary school in 1998.  Within these numbers, the ratio of boys attending school is much higher than that of girls.

Bhutan has some institutions of higher learning: a four-year college, a junior college and two technical schools.  A lot of Bhutanese students obtain grants to go overseas to the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, Singapore, Japan and India to complete their studies.  Upon return to Bhutan, students are briefed on the country's currents needs.  After this, the students are then required to work in rural areas spending about six months or so helping the villagers improve their way of life by building schools, running medical clinics and building irrigation systems.

ECONOMY
In spite of the fact tourism brings in the largest supply of foreign exchange, the Bhutan government has restricted visitors in an effort to preserve the traditions and culture of the country.  The country was rated one of the least developed nations in the world by the United Nations.  Most Bhutanese are employed in agriculture or related fields.  Most of the agriculture in Bhutan is cultivated simply to meet the needs of the country.  Unfortunately, as Bhutan's culture and traditions are kept in tact, so are their farming practices which consist of hard, physical labor.

LANGUAGE
Dzongkha, Bhutan's official national language, which is based on Tibetan, also uses the Tibetan script (chhokey) for writing.  Another language derived from Tibetan is Ngalopkha, a language spoken in western Bhutan. The south uses Nepali as its language, while the main language in eastern Bhutan is Sharchopkha (Indo-Mongoloid language).


CULTURE
Culture of Bhutan is among the oldest, most carefully guarded and well preserved cultures in the world. People of Bhutan have always been careful about conserving their centuries-old culture. Even in today's time, Bhutan has been able to retain its old world charm. This is one of the reasons Bhutan is loved by the tourists who want to pass their holidays in ethnic pockets.
Thimpu, the capital of Bhutan is one of the large towns in Bhutan. The major profession of the people of Bhutan is farming, who live in small rural villages. These villages are secluded and are accessible only by foot. But now, as the people are getting educated, they are migrating to towns in search of other occupations.

CUSTOMS
Men and women in Bhutan wear traditional clothing.  Clothing for men consists of a gho, which is a garment that wraps around the body like a coat that reaches the knee and is worn with a belt.  The kira is the women wear.  It is a dress that is made from a piece of cloth (in the shape of a rectangle) that reaches the ankles.  It is secured at the shoulders with a clip, while a woven belt holds the dress closed and in place.  Both sexes used scarves or shawls and on occasion, men will wear earrings as well.

TIME
Bhutan time is 6 hours ahead of GMT and there is only one time zone throughout the country.

FOOD
Bhutanese eat simple and are renowned for the plentiful use of chilies; among the most popular dish is an "Ema Datshi' made entirely out of chilies and cheese. However Tourist hotels and lodges offer buffet style meals with choice of continental, Bhutanese and Indian Cuisine. On Treks and camping, you will be pleasantly surprised by what our cooks can prepare.

DRINKS
It is safer to drink bottled, boiled and filtered water. A reasonable variety of both hard and soft drinks are available in hotels, restaurants and shops in most towns. Many Bhutanese enjoy drinking traditional homemade alcoholic brews made from wheat, millet or rice.

ELECTRICITY
All towns in western Bhutan have a reliable power supply. Elsewhere, access is less consistent, and electricity is not available in many outlying areas of the country. The voltage supply is 220/240, the same as India. If you do bring electrical appliances, take along an international converter kit complete with a set of adapter plugs. The sockets are round.

HEALTH
The main health risks are similar to other South Asian countries, namely diarrhea, respiratory infection or more unusual tropical infection. It is wise to have health insurance, and although vaccinations are not mandatory they are recommended. When trekking, there are also risks associated with altitude sickness and accident. In the event of health problems there are basic hospital facilities in each district headquarters.

SAFETY
The crime rate is currently extremely low, making Bhutan one of the safer places in the world. It is rare to feel insecure within the country.

COMMUNICATIONS
All major towns have basic communication facilities, including post, telephone, fax and telegraph. Television and internet were introduced in 1999, and can be accessed from most towns and cities.

SHOPPING
The most popular tourist purchases are traditional Bhutanese arts and handicrafts. Produced by skilled artisans, these are generally of a high quality, and include Buddhist paintings and statues, textiles, jewelry and wooden bowls and carvings. Bhutan is not a consumer society, and the variety of everyday goods available is not particularly large. Bhutan is also popular for its exquisite postage stamps.

CLIMATE
The climate along this belt defies generalization but it can be safely said that spring (March to May) brings warm days and cool nights with the mercury averaging 20 degrees celcius at daytime. With June come occasional downpours and summer temperatures peak at over 27 degrees Celsius. The milder months of fall (September to November) are less wet and are the best time of the year for trekking. The ensuing months are the driest and nighttime temperatures often plummet to below zero. However, winter offers its own charms of sunny blue skies and unhindered view of snow-capped mountains.
Average temperature in Celsius (°C)
 


Places   


January   April   
July   
October
Paro           
-5.8– 9.4   4.6 - 17.6  
14.9 - 26.8 7.4 - 18.7
Thimphu           
-2.6 - 12.3 7.1 - 20.0  
13.4 - 28.9 10.4 - 21.9
Punakha             
4.2 - 16.1 11.9 - 24.4 21.6 - 32 18.9 - 27.8
Wangdue           
4.3 - 17.0
12.9 - 26.2
16.2 - 28.4 14.7 - 26.1
Tongsa            
-0.2 - 13.0 6.6 - 20.1
15.3 - 25.3 11.7 - 21.8
Bumthang            
-5.1 - 10.8 3.9 - 18.7
10.9 - 24.1
5.9 - 19.5
Mongar        
8.2 - 15.5 14.0 - 22.8  
15.8 - 26.1 
15.8 - 22.7
Tashigang          
10.5 - 20.4
17.0 - 28.3 23.1 - 31.5   17.7 - 29.1
Latest News:

Adventure Connexion Logo

P.O. Box: 19760, Rani Devi Marg,
Lazimpat, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: +977 1 400 21 08
info@adventureconnexion.com
www.adventureconnexion.com

We are Associated with:

Nepal Government Nepal Mountaineering Association Trekking Agents Association of Nepal