One of the most exciting experiences Bhutan offers is the trek up to Paro Taktsang, on the upper Paro valley. Needless to say, the first trip to Bhutan is rather incomplete without seeing the Tiger’s Nest. It is a sacred Buddhist site and temple, about 10 miles north of Paro which is just over 20 minutes drive away from the city. We started our day bright and early to reach the base of the mountain by 8am, which is when the site opens for the public.
Let’s begin the journey by learning some interesting facts:
Popular Name – Tiger’s Nest
The name, Tiger’s Nest comes from an ancient legend that Guru Rinpoche was carried to the cave on the back of a tigress all the way from Tibet.
Duration of the Trek – Allow 5-6 hours of roundtrip trek time along with a tea/food break at the halfway point cafeteria and sometime to explore the monastery. It is almost a full days trip, depending on personal pace.
Height of the Monastery – 3000 meters above Paro valley with highest elevation at apx. 10230 ft.
Hike Gear – Sports shoes, comfortable clothes, lots of water, sunscreen and immense enthusiasm.
At the entrance of the site were stalls with vendors selling souvenirs and handicraft items. They were also selling/renting walking sticks to help with the hike. With our sports shoes tied, sunglasses on and the walking stick for support, we were ready to conquer the day. Knowing our fitness level we definitely found the walking sticks a necessary accessory.
Super enthusiastic and to say the least very intimidated by the distance, we commenced our journey with our trek guide (Kado).
The trek had not even begun and the views were already giving the adrenaline rush and fueling the excitement to reach the top2
The walking path for the first half of the trek is a bit steep and it is pretty rugged throughout. The dirt trail however, is wide enough to keep the traffic of return trekkers and horses and the constantly rewarding views keep you going.
With few pauses along the way, learning about more about the history and culture of the site (thanks to Kado), we made it to the halfway point. It took us approximately 1.5-2 hours to get there. We rested, for 20 about minutes at the Takstang Cafe and had some famous butter tea (not for my palette, but worth a try) before we continued our way to the top. The colorful prayer flags all through the way kept the energy levels high.
Following our adventurous pursuit we could now see the Tiger’s Nest upclose. Paused again and clicked a million pictures (looks like it will be a once in a lifetime experience) and headed to explore the monastery.
The final leg of the hike came with endless number of steep steps! Ouch!
To get to the other side of the mountain from where we have the above pictures taken, felt like the eternal patch and the longest route to the entrance of the monastery. Finally with our stamina mocking at us, we made it to the monastery.
To go inside you need to remove your shoes and keep you belongings (including cameras) outside and it is said, that even if you step inside the monastery, you will be blessed. We made it this far, so we didn’t want to shy away from this extra effort the explore what is inside.
After spending about half an hour inside we stepped over to the valley side and soaked in the breathtaking views before heading back!
The downward trek was less adventurous and we were much quicker descending!
I would highly recommend to do this trip!
You can hire a horse to take you till the halfway point, enjoy the views from there and head back.