Exploring Bhutan with Bridge To Bhutan
My husband and I have just returned from a wonderful 12 day trip to Bhutan last month (October 2013), using the tour company Bridge to Bhutan. They are a serious operator and they took wonderful care of us on our recent trip. It is difficult to put into words the appreciation and understanding of the country and the people that we came to feel as our trip progressed. This was in great thanks to our tour guide Sangay, Bridge To Bhutan's owner Lotay, and also to our expert driver Nidup.
Our itinerary consisted of Paro, Phobjikha Valley, Bumthang, Trongsa, Punakha, Thimphu, Haa Valley, and back to Paro. The owners of Bridge To Bhutan are two brothers, Lotay and Fin, both born and raised in Bhutan, and both having completed graduate studies in the US. They speak perfect English, are easy to communicate with, answer e-mails within a day or two and are able to provide plenty of information and expertise in helping you plan your trip and in maximizing your vacation time.
Our local guide Sangay and our driver Nidup, were our family for the 12 days that we were in Bhutan. We were together every day, on the road, at the temples, fortresses, hikes and so forth. Sangay was more than willing to share his knowledge of the history and rich tradition of the country and never objected to my constant questions regarding the people, education, lifestyle, religion, philosophy, government and so forth.
The local food was delicious, hearty and sustainably grown. Don't think that everything is cheese and chilies! It's not! That is just one local side dish that is always offered and always optional! We had the most delicious dahls, white and red rice, green beans, carrots, radishes, turnips, buckwheat, broccoli, potatoes, fruits and so on. Good fish and chicken too. If you have any dietary restrictions or requirements you can let your guide know and he will communicate with the kitchen and they will go out of their way to accommodate you.
October was good for us weatherwise; some rain but nothing to really interfere with your activities and some cool weather which was a nice change for us as we live in Miami. Keep in mind that October is fine weatherwise but that it is Bhutan's busy season, so if that is not appealing or convenient for you, you should discuss with your tour company average temperatures and precipitation expected in the areas you wish to visit at the particular time that you plan to take your vacation.
As far as accomodations go, places are quite clean and very comfortable (especially the beds). Three stars I would say, and even some four. My husband and I do not require fancy accomodations, but if you do, there are some boutique/fancier types of resorts available for a higher tariff. You can settle on this during the planning stages with your tour company.
You need to keep an open mind on the subject of plumbing and toilets. Some of the hotel bathrooms, though quite spacious, have rather basic plumbing. By that I mean----good flush toilets, plenty of good hot water for the shower, but more often than not you will find a puddle somewhere resulting from a leak coming from the shower or sink plumbing. Just remember, Bhutan is Bhutan, you are lucky to be there and you are also lucky to have hot water and plumbing! More importantly, Bhutan does a spectacular job of conserving their resources including water, which is more than we can say for most other countries, including our own. When traveling on the road during the day, nature is your best toilet! There is always a clump of bushes somewhere just around the next bend. Easy, quick, convenient, readily available. If you must have a proper toilet, there are some and your guide will know where they are, but remember you are out in the country and there are not so many, and what there is may be a little dusty, as there is no one out there cleaning them on a regular basis. Try the nature route. You'll get the hang of it!
Bhutan was an amazing experience and our guide from Bridge To Bhutan did an incredible job of taking care of us and ensuring that we were seeing what we came to see and learned about the things that we were interested in. We were really "in good hands". Each day was an amazing adventure in the breathtakingly beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org should you have any questions about our trip.