For the first time in 60 years, the Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, nestled high in the Himalayas, is opening a historic hiking trail to the public.
Many of us have emerged from lockdowns with a strong desire to travel the world, reconnect with nature, and face new challenges. Perhaps you could be one of the first to try something new?
In Bhutan, where Gross Domestic Satisfaction (an index of population happiness) takes precedence over GDP, you will be able to check all of those boxes thanks to the reopening of the 500 years old Trans Bhutan Trail.
Trans Bhutan Trail is the 403-kilometer route that connects the western most point is the town of Haa, which is close to the Tibetan border, and Trashigang, near the boundary of India’s Arunachal Pradesh state, is the most eastern point.
Those who complete the entire trail route will traverse 18 major bridges and ascend 10,000 stairs. You also have the option to ride a mountain bike.
Are you interested in learning more about this epic adventure across Bhutan? Before embarking on a centuries-old trekking route in Bhutan, here’s what you need to know.
What is the Trans Bhutan Trail?
The Trans Bhutan Trail is a journey through Bhutan’s past, with 400 historic and cultural sites listed thus far. Its origins date back at least 500 years when it linked fortifications known as Dzongs and served as a pilgrimage route for Buddhists journeying from the east to sacred sites in western Bhutan and Tibet.
Trail runners (locally known as Garps) were legendary on the Trail, moving at breakneck speed with mail and critical messages without food or water. The trail also played a significant part in uniting various Himalayan realms, eventually leading to the establishment of Bhutan as a nation in 1907.
However, once road development began across Bhutan in the 1960s, its stairways and walkways progressively fell into disrepair.
Why is the Trans Bhutan Trail so important to Bhutanese people?
One of the main reasons the Trans Bhutan Trail is so important to Bhutanese people is what it represents. The Trans Bhutan Trail embodies the country’s Gross National Happiness ideology and will allow Bhutanese children to travel in the footsteps of their forefathers.
It’s not every day that you can stroll a historic trail that royals, monks, and traders have used for centuries. The Trans Bhutan Trail was the only viable method to traverse Bhutan’s mountain kingdom until the 1960s when it went out of usage.
After over half a century and eighteen major bridges, 10,000 stairs, and 250 miles of the route, traversing across the world’s only carbon-negative country is possible.
You will uncover some of the best aspects of this 403-kilometer trail on your own two feet, seeing its stunning, diverse scenery and timeless settlements from another era.
What is the Trans Bhutan Trail like?
The trail winds through untouched virgin forest, providing distant panoramas of majestic Himalayan peaks along the way. Many trail segments will provide travelers with access to parts of Bhutan rarely visited by tourists.
The Bhutan Trail will allow visitors and pilgrims to walk in the footsteps of their forefathers. Visitors can walk or cycle the trail, taking advantage of a wonderful opportunity to discover and connect with Bhutan’s most isolated parts, deep in the Eastern Himalayas.
Bhutan’s Buddhist country on the Himalayan rim is known for its beautiful mountain panoramas and interesting monasteries and temples steeped in history. You will submerge yourself in decades of history and become a part of a unique aspect of Bhutan’s history by walking or cycling the Trans Bhutan Trail.
This journey, which includes memorable camping places and overnights in comfortable local homestays, will provide you with an insight into Bhutan’s rural and spiritual life that can only be obtained by venturing off the main road.
So lace up your trekking boots – the Trans Bhutan Trail is waiting for you!
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