The kingdom of Bhutan is reopening to visitors again in September, 2022.
Here are 3 ways to experience the magic of Bhutan.
Bhutan, high in the Himalayan mountains, is the only carbon negative country in the world. This peaceful wilderness, blanketed in 70 per cent forests, is reopening to visitors again from 23 September 2022, for the first time since March 2020.
With several luxury lodges that are dedicated to operating sustainably, you can responsibly immerse yourself into a land where the government measures the Gross Domestic Happiness of its people and its collective wellbeing.
This year, the 403km-long Trans Bhutan Trail has opened after much anticipation. As one of the least-explored trails in the world, it spans the reaches of the country: from Haa in the west to Trashigang in the east. Visits that are planned directly through the trail help maximise your contribution to local research, education and community development.
Here are three new ways to explore Bhutan with them.
COMO seven-night Jewels of Japan journey
Traverse your way between two COMO retreats in different pockets of the country on the Jewels of Bhutan itinerary. Start out at COMO Uma Paro above the Paro Valley, overlooking ancient monasteries and rice paddies. You’ll then transfer to COMO Uma Punakha for three more nights, perched alongside the Mo Chu River. For guests who want to include a hiking route of the Trans Bhutan Trail during their stay, the hotel can customise an itinerary.
- Nature walks, monastery visits, and hiking through the Paro Valley to reach the incredible Taktsang ‘Tiger’s Nest’ Monastery, one of Bhutan’s most sacred sites.
- Meet with young monks at Chorten Ningpo, a 17th-century educational institution.
- Visit the remote Chimmi Lhakhang, an ancient fertility temple surrounded by old farmhouses.
- Take part in an uplifting, traditional butter lamp ceremony, a spiritual blessing which represents the eradication of darkness and ignorance with wisdom and light.
COMO Bhutan operates sustainably by sourcing produce from local Bhutanese farmers, as well as its own vegetable garden. Dining options are seasonally led.
Himalayan Film Photography with Michael Turek: A COMO Journey Retreat
Hosted between 9-16 November 2022, photography enthusiasts can venture into Bhutan’s most remote locations with a mission to ‘shoot with purpose’. Join renowned American photographer Michael Turek to capture the natural beauty of Bhutan’s countryside. By night, you’ll bed down in comfort at both COMO Uma Paro and COMO Uma Punahka.
- Private Bhutanese cooking lesson with COMO’s resident chef
- Daily yoga classes
- Privately-guided excursions with a Bhutanese guide
Aman’s new Quest for Happiness journey
Take a seven or nine-night Quest for Happiness journey with Aman to meet locals and be immersed in the Bhutanese way of life. In the spirit of ‘giving back’, participants will receive a complimentary night gifted by Amankora in exchange for taking part in cultural activities that help the local communities.
You’ll begin at Amankora Thimphu; then make your way to Punakha Lodge at the convergence of the Mo Chhu and Pho Chhu rivers. The journey will also take you to Amankora’s Gangtey Lodge, set on the edge of a wildlife reserve. Stay at Bumthang Lodge at the journey’s most easterly point; and finish at Paro Lodge, the gateway to visiting Tiger’s Nest.
The Quest for Happiness journey is available during winter season, from 1 December 2022 to 28 February 2023; and 1 May to 31 August 2023.
- Visit a shelter and orphanage of the organisation RENEW that cares for vulnerable women and children.
- Observe the work at Draktsho Vocational Training Centre, a learning institution for underprivileged children where vocational courses promote future financial independence.
- Visit the first retirement home for Buddhist monks in the Himalayas and offer a meal.
- Learn about wildlife in Gangtey at the Bayta Community School where young villagers learn about preserving the endangered black necked cranes that inhabit surrounding valleys.
- Take the sacred hike and pilgrimage to Tiger’s Nest and help along the way while clearing and cleaning its hiking paths.
- Give the gift of water, by assisting local communities in creating proper irrigation channels.
- Amankhora Thimpu has been designed in the style of a traditional Dzong fortress.
- The itinerary has been designed to ensure guests see the most popular sites, such as Tiger’s Nest, but also hidden and remote locations.
- Guests use a refillable thermos during hikes.
- Menus are carefully considered and focused on local produce from Amankora’s own gardens.
- Opportunities to meet local families, farmers, artisans, entrepreneurs and leaders.