Bhutan, the ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’, a mystical Himalayan country sandwiched between the Tibetan plateau and India. Home to a deeply spiritual population, Bhutan boasts soaring views of the surrounding rugged mountain ranges. The country is home to a range of ecosystems from steep forested hills and fast flowing rivers to the vast mountainous landscapes of the high Himalaya and has been internationally acknowledged as a biodiversity hotspot. Bhutan boasts many species of birds and plant life, including the black-necked crane and blue poppy, their national flower, as well as other rare and endangered species from the golden langur, blue sheep and water buffalo to the elusive red panda, Himalayan black bear, snow leopard and tiger.
A Bhutan holiday can offer a good choice of activities for those interested in adventure activities including trekking of all grades, horse riding, cycling, wildlife touring and even the national sport of archery. Yet the spiritual aspects of the country are hugely interesting and an important part of any visit to Bhutan. The stunning dzongs (fort-monastery) and goembas (Mahayana Buddhist monastery) are truly awe-inspiring with the highlight of them all generally regarded as Taktshang Goemba, or Tiger's Nest Monastery, in the Paro Valley. The building is one of the country’s most important religious sites and seems to cling high to the side of a sheer cliff: the view from the monastery is simply breathtaking.
Still relatively new to tourism, Bhutan only opened its doors to visitors in the 1970’s. Development has stepped up a pace since the early 1990’s with some road development and a good range of quality accommodation now available with some truly superb options such as the Amankora lodges dotted through the valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha and Bumthang.
However the emphasis for the Bhutanese is always on preserving their environmental and cultural heritage so prices tend to be regarded as high but the price paid is an inclusive price for most services. Independent travel in Bhutan is not allowed (except for Indian nationals), all visitors must be on an organised itinerary otherwise visas will be denied.