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Bhutan

Enigmatic Bhutan opened its doors to visitors not so long ago and has retained its sense of rarity and exclusivity… it’s a magical kingdom with a heavenly feel about it.

Aside from the awe-inspiring scenery, when arriving in Bhutan the thing that strikes you is an extraordinary sense of peace and tranquillity. The Bhutanese seem wonderfully content, and proud to share their tradition, culture and the uniqueness of their country. In-keeping with Buddhist values, the Bhutanese live in harmony with nature. Indeed, Bhutan is one of the top ten biodiversity hot spots of the world. Unlike much of Asia there is not a cigarette or plastic bag to be found; they are illegal. The landscape appears virginal with the freshest, cleanest air you will ever encounter.

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Bhutan’s scenery is wonderfully diverse, from the snow-capped mountains in the Eastern Himalayas to the rich and fertile Paro Valley. In spring the countryside is a riot of colour with wild flowers in abundance; 50 species of rhododendrons and 770 species of bird await discovery and identification. Other lateral pursuits include altitude trekking – both long and shorter routes are available. Yearly Buddhist festivals are celebrated in each district and are a feast for the eyes; amazing masks, costumes and dancing in the stunning setting of a Dzong.

Unless arriving by road from India, you will fly into Paro in Western Bhutan. The tiny airstrip leads onto a little valley filled with rice paddies and orchards. Only a couple of hours drive is the must visit destination on every itinerary – The Tiger’s Nest Monastery, otherwise known as the Taktshang Goemba. Perched 900 metres above the valley floor, the Monastery seems to simply hang against the rock face. Another must-visit is the stunning Punakha Dzong. Said by many to be the most beautiful Dzong in the country, it is perfectly situated at the confluence of the Mo (mother) Chhu River and the Pho (father) Chhu River.

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The nation’s capital, Thimphu, is definitely worth a visit. Visit the National Textile Museum, Folk Heritage Museum and Thimphu’s man-directed roundabout and clock tower. Continue onto the Phobjikha Valley. Remote and isolated, this stunning, u-shaped glacial valley is home to one of Bhutan’s most important wildlife sanctuaries – the Black Mountains National Park, famous for the black necked cranes who gather in the autumn/winter months.

Bumthang Valley is also stunning, with fields filled with buckwheat, millet and potatoes. Whilst not a country known for its gastronomic delights, the Bumthang Valley is famous for its butter and local versions of Gouda and Emmenthal cheese. The majesty of the landscape is not the only thing that will catch your eye, the small detail is equally captivating. Appreciate the multi-coloured prayer flags along mountain ridges fluttering in the breeze or just watch the world go by. Envelope yourself in the sense of peace and calm of Bhutan.

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Known to its people as Druk Yul (meaning ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’), Bhutan sits in the remote Himalayan Mountains with India and China as its only neighbours.

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