After 60 years of closure, the Trans Bhutan Trail has finally reopened. Spanning over 400KM, the trail covers the whole of Bhutan, from east to west. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the country, here’s something you should know: Bhutan is the only carbon negative country in the world, making it the greenest country on Earth.
As part of Bhutan’s commitment to environmental conservation, the hiking trail is meant to encourage eco-friendly tourism. If you’re looking for a truly nomadic experience and have about a month to spare, the Trans Bhutan hiking trail may be just the thing for you.
Used by pilgrims for hundreds of years, the Trans Bhutan Trail was the only way to travel across the country right until the 1960s, when Bhutan introduced its national road system. After years of extensive restoration, the trail is once again ready for travellers to live out their deepest Indiana Jones fantasies.
Whether you’re a nature lover seeking to get the best view of the Bhutanese mountains and forests, or a history buff hoping to connect with the past, the one-of-a-kind trail is both a challenging hike and a look into Bhutan’s history.
Walk in the footsteps of the pilgrims from hundreds of years ago and explore over 400 cultural sites located along the way.
Spanning 403KM, the trail covers the entirety of Bhutan, from the Haa district in the west to the Trashigang district in the east. Located deep in the Himalayas, the trail is one of the most culturally rich yet unexplored in the world, sitting between China and India.
Image credit: Bhutan Canada Foundation
Take it easy and do a day-hike covering only a part of the trail, or challenge yourself and trek the entire 403 kilometres. Whatever you decide, itineraries are entirely customisable.
Image credit: Avenue One
Aside from the trek itself, diversify your experience by trying out one of the many additional activities available along the trail, such as biking, rafting and even fly-fishing, a challenging alternative to the traditional bait and lure.
Unlike other rural Bhutanese trails, the Trans Bhutan Trail offers travellers a diverse range of accommodation, from the more conventional hotels to rugged campsites.
For the most authentic experience, however, go for the homestay. You’ll get to immerse yourself in Bhutanese culture by living in a traditional farmhouse, hosted by a local family.
Image credit: Trans Bhutan Trail
Live like a local – eat, sleep, and shower where the locals do. More importantly, gain a genuine insight into Bhutanese customs and traditions, like how you’re supposed to refuse food when it is first offered to be polite – sounds a little like SG IMO.
Whether you’re an outdoorsman wanting to live out in nature, or someone who can’t go without the creature comforts of a hotel, there’s an option for every preference and budget.
In line with Bhutan’s environmentally conscious approach, the trail is one of the greenest in the world. With marker posts made from recycled plastic and bridges repaired using responsibly sourced timber, the entire trail was restored solely through sustainable forestry methods.
The imposition of eco-guidelines for travellers walking the trail makes the trip itself incredibly eco-friendly as well.
In lieu of single use plastics, reusable water bottles are supplied to all travellers, with plenty of refill points along the trail. All you have to do is book your trip directly through the Trans Bhutan Trail website to receive a reusable bottle at the beginning of your journey. Meals available along the trail are also made from locally sourced, organic ingredients, to minimise the carbon footprint left by travellers.
Notably, walking the trail allows you to support a good cause – the proceeds earned from facilitating the trips directly support both the Bhutanese economy and its people. Earnings from homestays benefit the homeowners, while the employment of local guides and purchasing of supplies from local producers benefit the rural community.
Finally, epitomising the Bhutanese green approach to tourism is their tree planting initiative – for every visit to the trail, a tree will be planted to ensure a continually thriving, abundant forest.
A four-day, 33KM trek from Haa to Paro costs $1,610, while a 36-day trip covering the entire trail will set you back $17,025.
This may seem pricey at first, but makes sense when you consider that it’s part of Bhutan’s high value, low volume tourism initiative – essentially raising prices to afford travellers a more high quality experience while ensuring the trail is not subject to excessive stress from being overcrowded.
Aside from the price, the trip is a once in a lifetime opportunity for hikers to challenge themselves on a historic trail unlike any in SG.
Trips can be booked directly through the Trans Bhutan Trail website.
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