“Firsts” come in many forms, to access the Upper Mangde Chu this time it came in the form of using a roto-tiller to shuttle our boats to the put in.
The heavy rains of the past summer monsoon season had left the road too heavily rutted for our normal vehicle to navigate. I had long admired the Bhutanese ingenuity in fashioning a trailer to the back of one of these machines, converting it from just a means of turning soil to a family wagon and hauling machine. Now we were experiencing their versatility first hand. The suspension might need a little work though.
I traveled to the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan during the fall of this year and had the honor of spending nearly two months there. My trip began by meeting up with our friend Zach Collier of ECHO to prepare for a combined kayak and raft trip at the class II-III level. It was Zach’s first time to Bhutan and my third. We arrived four days ahead of the trip so Zach could see as many of the rivers as possible before the group arrived.
Our guests arrived on October 18th and we spent the next twelve days working our way from Paro, in the west, to the town of Chumkar in the Bumthang region located in the middle of the country and back again. During that time we kayak and rafted the Paro, Thimphu, Mo, Po and Chumkar Chu (rivers).
I’m sitting in a hotel room in Thimphu, the capital city of Bhutan. I’ve been in country for about 5 weeks now and have almost three more to go before returning home in early December. My stay here started with four days of kayaking on the Paro, Thimphu, Mo and Po rivers. For our first trip we teamed up with our friends at ECHO to offer a nearly two week combined kayaking, rafting and cultural tour that saw us traveling to the Bumthang region in the middle of the country. Continue reading “Much to tell- just no time.”→
We are planning two trips in Bhutan in the Fall of 2010; a Class II-III and a Class III-IV+. Because resources for tourists are limited, we need to confirm our lodging reservations for these trips well in advance. The minimum number of paddlers for each skill level is eight. If you are interested, email us for reservation information . Click here for more details.
It was around this time last year that we were in Bhutan finishing up a 2 month stay. We spent that time traveling with a Buddhist study group, scouting rivers for upcoming kayak groups, running our Class II-III trip, catching what we could of the fifth king’s coronation and capping it all off with our Class III-IV+ trip. What follows is an account from that final kayaking trip (woops- for some reason the text disappeared. We’ll get it back up there) You can follow the links to these Bhutan posts to read about our other adventures there. If these trips sound interesting to you, consider joining us in the Fall of 2010 when we’ll return again to kayak Bhutan!
(Is it O.K. that I am sitting in a hotel in Quito, Ecuador while writing about part of our trip in Bhutan this last fall? The reality is, if I don’t do it now, it will never happen and our time there was just too special not to write about!)
Between the Class II/III cultural trip we had just finished and the Class III-IV+ that was about to start, we found ourselves with an unscheduled day and a half. We had planned to spend it in the town of Paro where the airport is located, and where we could do laundry and relax while waiting for the next group to arrive. Instead, we received a last minute surprise from Ugyen, our generous Bhutanese outfitter. The gift was in the form of a hotel room in Thimphu on the eve of the coronation of the fifth king of Bhutan, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. (Thimphu, the capital, is located east of Paro, just over an hour away.) We weren’t sure how much of the actual ceremony we were going to be able to see, but we couldn’t pass it up.
Since our arrival in country on October 4th we had watched people hard at work preparing the roadways, temples and dzongs for the upcoming event. Roads were decorated with arches, banners and prayer flags.
While our time in Bhutan began in early October, our first group of kayakers arrived on October 24th. All were familiar faces. Everyone had been on trips with us before. Although for a few, many years had passed. So we enjoyed quite a reunion, sharing pictures of new family members and stories of our last adventures together. Mary and I met folks at the airport along with our driver Hari, cultural guide Karma, Kali, an excellent kayaker and raft guide from Nepal (whom we met in Bhutan in 2006) and Tinley, a Bhutanese kayaker on the fast track to becoming a very strong paddler and guide.
The only airport in the country is located in Paro. Situated in the west, Paro is the second largest town in the country (with some 36,000 people including outlying areas). The flight in is both breathtaking and thrilling; breathtaking with views of the Himalaya and thrilling because the airport is nestled in a narrow valley that results in one of the most interesting approaches I have ever experienced in a commercial airliner.
We are just back from running trips in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan and preparing to leave again for our winter season in Ecuador. Lots of folks have been asking to see images and other information about Bhutan and we will be posting reports as we can. In the mean time, here are links to some galleries that two of the participants on our class III-IV+ trip have posted. Enjoy and do check back.