The Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery hike is one of the most popular hikes around the world.
Also called as Paro Taktsang, hiking this trail was actually the reason why Harsh and I had planned our trip to Bhutan. Nonetheless, the 2.5-hour hike deposited us on a striking expedition in the gorgeous backdrop of cliffside of Paro Valley which made us befriend Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery.
We started early at 8 in the morning only after reconfirming from our driver that it was fairly pleasant weather for the Taktsang monastery hike.
We could see globules of clouds from far away but were reassured that it wouldn’t rain, which is why we left our rain gear in our car (still believing that local people would know better about the weather).
Tiger’s Nest Bhutan and we got off on the wrong foot – dramatic climate change, improper planning, no rain gear – an epic Bhutan monastery hiking plan gone wrong.
Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery trek can be easily broken into two parts:
This trek has three prime landmarks – the cafeteria, first viewing point, and ultimately the monastery.
The Cafeteria marks your half-way through the trek and you can enjoy a quick lunch here (it’s quite expensive so bringing along your refreshments would be a nicer idea). For the foreigners with their tour guides, the lunch is covered. So, relish appetizing Bhutanese delicacies only if your pocket permits.
Then comes the viewing point from where you get the first good view of the monastery. In our case, the monastery got so badly covered in globules of clouds that it was rather disappointing for us to click the pictures. But we were not let down by that, instead, we waited for half an hour for the clouds to move away and could eventually take some pictures. A lot of trekkers actually returned from this point to my utter surprise.
Finally, the monastery which entices all trekkers from a distance and the continuous chanting of mantras keeps the pace going.
Our driver dropped us at the starting point where a small group of traders were selling wooden sticks and trinkets. We did not consider taking a horse/pony and instead did the entire trek on foot. The trek takes you through a patch of dense pine forest and ascents that start soon after you’ve hiked 50m. Soon the trail went on to become arduous from steep to a way steady climb up to the Paro Monastery.
The first small stop on the Tiger’s Nest Bhutan hike was the ridge which was marked by numerous prayers wheels and flags as well as a chorten. Within 45 minutes, we were past the cafeteria, and we didn’t stop there as we weren’t tired.
“We’re almost there,” other trekkers kept assuring us and themselves! It was really nice to climb to the Paro Monastery with so many people, all from different countries and of different religions.
We reached the second viewpoint and it began to rain cats and dogs. So, we decided to relax a bit over there and waited for the rain to stop. Also, there was the most difficult path to tread in front of us – one last brutal flight of stairs which were blanketed in clouds (though offering an aura of heaven to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery Bhutan).
The remaining stretch was wrapped beautifully in prayer flags, which was a site to behold. Even the view of the Paro Monastery was clear then, which gave us a chance to click ’n’ number of pictures.
Within 15 minutes, we were there at the monastery, though our legs felt like jellies by then. Our determination didn’t deter and we finally were upfront with the beauty. And trust me, no matter how many times you might have seen and appreciated the beauty of Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery in pictures, but the feeling of being up close and personal with it is so different.
It was extremely difficult for us to come downhill as the entire stretch which was way too steep had become slippery after the downpour. In fact, I slipped there twice and sat down at one point of time, deciding that I wouldn’t be able to go back ever. A lot of local people kept telling us horror stories of other trekkers who were slipping as well, which scared me to no ends.
Help came out unexpectedly. A very sweet local Bhutanese friend, Thinley, asked to give his help to me. Harsh was able to trek down easily after that because I was able to move down easily with Thinley’s help. We both couldn’t thank him enough for his gracious attitude. And by the time we got back down, we were totally doused in mud. This experience was something we would never forget!
We suggest that you keep Tiger’s Nest Bhutan monastery hike for the last day as it will drain all your energy, and you will need plenty of bed rest afterward. It won’t be wise wasting the next day in bed rather you can make the most by going for the hike on the last day of your trip and take rest on flight back.
Best months to plan your trekking trip to Bhutan would be March, April, May, June, September, October, November.
There are a lot of things you need to keep in mind when getting ready for the trek.
Start early, go slow!!
Have you been to Tiger’s Nest monastery? Let us know your travel experience in the comments below!
I’m sitting on a bench on the front porch of...