Trekking in Bhutan is different from Nepal. In Nepal, most of the trek routes run through spaced villages where trekkers find small lodges or teahouses for their shelter at night. You can also do an independent trek by arranging your own guide and porters and not being in a group. While on the other hand, trekking in Bhutan is a complete wilderness experience. In Bhutan, trekking is being arranged a camping trips. You will be on a guided trek sleeping inside tents at designated campsite. The assistants walk ahead of the trekking group each day and pitch tents before the trekkers arrive. A hot cuppa tea waiting in the dining tent is a most welcome treat after hours of tedious walk. All trekking groups are accompanied by a trained guide and trek chef. You will also have with you trek assistants and horsemen assembled from local community. Instead of porters, horses or yaks will carry your belongings and food supplies. Trekkers only have to carry their backpack for personal items such as camera, toiletries and water bottle etc.
How many crew on the trek?
Each trek group is accompanied by a support team consisting of a trained guide, trek chef, assistant guides and local horsemen. Trekking is a joint effort and every crew has an important role to play. The guide and a trek chef play a lead role in overall supervision and control of the trek group. Some assistants will fetch water from spring or carry your packed lunch. Besides herding horses, horsemen will also help pitch tents and serve as man of errand. Horses carry the tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, food supply, cookware, gas, stoves, chairs, tables and your trekking gear.
For a trek group of two people, there will be five staff – a guide, trek chef, an assistant and 2-3 horsemen and 8 horses to carry your equipment and supplies. For a group of 12 persons, there will be 11 support staff – a guide, chef, 4 assistants, 5 horsemen and 40 horses.
The best trekking season
Spring, March to April and autumn, September to November are the best times for trekking in Bhutan. The day temperature is warm while the night temperature can go between 20 degree celsius to minus 10 degree celsius in high altitude areas.
Trekking in Bhutan is physically challenging as it involves a vigorous long walk up hillside and through mountains with harsh terrain with radical changes in elevation. The average daily elevation gain is about 500m spread over eight to twelve kilometers. Campsites are some time spaced out over long distance, requiring trekkers to walk seven to nine hours in a day. Some times it may be just three or four hours of brisk walking. You will often come across terrain with moraine rocks and long stretches of round river rocks, which is hard on your feet. Trails could also be muddy and at times you may have to hop small streams. On high passes, it’s always possible to encounter snow.
Be prepared to take any disappointments in your end. Despite your advance trekking plan, sometimes itineraries can be disrupted due to force majeure such as blockage of route due to heavy snow or breakage of bridges due to unexpected heavy showers. Sometimes trails become too icy for the horses due to sudden temperature fall at night.
Our trekking guides are experienced, talented and respected professionals in the industry. They are well prepared to handle any situation that trekkers can encounter on the mountain. We give highest priority to your personal safety on trails. Our clients completely rely on us and trust us to keep them safe, so we take that responsibility seriously. Our guides receive annual training in emergency first aid and Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). They can prevent, recognize and treat altitude-related illnesses. Further, they can identify and avoid potential hazards such as slippery trails and loose rocks. Each trekker’s health is monitored very closely while on the mountain.
Our guides are knowledgeable about general mountain facts and trails. Our guides are tough and can teach you everything you need to know about high altitude trekking. They can tell you about the climate zones, the altitudes of and distances to campsites, and information about mountain culture, geology, flora and fauna. These types of facts motivate trekkers as they are having pre concept of what they are seeing and feeling.
Meals on trek
You are supplied with lavish food items and it is not necessary to bring any food with you. However, you may bring some energy bars or trail mix for snacks to be eaten while walking on trails. Our trekking chefs are trained and certified by the government and they can conjure up tasty and nutritious food at every campsite at any altitude. Most trekkers find camp meals better than ones served in city hotels. If you have special dietary needs, our chefs can look after it with advance information. Just make sure you tell us in advance of any dietary restrictions you may have.
We use stoves fueled by gas stored in a metal containers to cook your camp meals. This makes cooking faster and clean. Besides their native foods, our cooks can prepare Chinese, Indian and continental dishes. As there is practically no fresh food available on trek routes, entire food assortment is being carried at the start of the trek. Fresh meats and vegetables brought from the start of trek usually last for a week. We then depend on canned foods. Wherever a trek passes through villages, our staff will buy fresh vegetables from the locals.
Breakfast: Your wake-up call each morning will be a hot tea or coffee brought to your tent along with a bowl of hot water for personal hygiene. For meals, table is set up with a tablecloth, chairs and condiments.
Your typical breakfast will include toasts, eggs, fruit juice, tea and coffee, some additional proteins such as sausages and hams. Oatmeal, drinking chocolates, baked means, peanut butter are also served. Just to create variety, Indian puri and pancakes is also being provided.
Lunch: Lunch is usually prepared at breakfast and carried by the assistants in their daypack. This hot packed lunch consists of rice, nodules, vegetables, meat, fruits, boiled egg or potatoes and juices. Hot tea/coffee is being served from the large thermo flask being carried by the assistants.
Evening tea: In the evening at the campsite almost immediately after your arrival, tea/coffee is served with biscuits and at times with peanuts or salted popcorn while the cook prepares your dinner.
Dinner: The biggest meal of the day, dinner usually begins with soup, followed by a main course including meat (yak, chicken, fish, pork or beef) and vegetables, which are accompanied by either white or local red rice. You will also be served with fruits and tea/coffee. Sometimes momos, which are steamed dumplings with a vegetable or meat filling and thukpa, a noodle soup would also be served. If you wish, you can also opt for ‘emadatse’, as a side dish, which is simply made of cheese and chilies.
Water on Trek
You will be supplied with a bottled mineral water on the first day. Subsequent days, your trek assistants will collect water from the rivers and streams along the trail. They will boil for you at the start of the day to carry in your water bottles. If you collect water yourself from streams, purify it using your tablets.