Hello to our fellow travellers (and their parents!),
It is exciting to know that in just a few weeks we as Dragons will be starting our journey together towards the kingdom of Bhutan also known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”. Bhutan is nestled in the Himalayan mountains and is one of the last remaining Buddhist kingdoms in the world. Filled with awe inspiring natural beauty, monasteries, alpine forests, tranquil lakes, rugged mountains and perhaps most famously known as the country that introduced the world to the idea of “Gross Natural Happiness”.
Your instructor team has been preparing to make this summer course in Bhutan a journey that we will always remember. Exploring together, we will visit Buddhist monasteries, travel how locals do, live with families, eat local food and most importantly learn about life in the Himalayas by experiencing it with these communities. We have sketched up a brief tentative itinerary below to get you excited and give you an idea as to how we plan to move during the course. Please remember that this is subject to change!
Our itineraries are always flexible and especially on a new course like Bhutan, plans may change. Rest assured, we will keep you updated if they do. We look forward to meeting each one of you and sharing this journey of learning and exploration together.
Your instructor team
Rebecca, Nick & Topaz.
WEEK 1: KATHMANDU, PARO, THIMPU
We will be landing in Kathmandu, Nepal and it is here that we will have our orientation, where we will be getting to known one another and learning skills to adapt to a new place. Spending a few days in Kathmandu will not only give us a much needed break from traveling but provide us some important regional context before we travel onward to Bhutan. After our orientation in Nepal we will take a short, beautiful flight to touch down in the lush green rice paddies of Paro, Bhutan. From there, we will transfer to the capital city, Thimpu. We will begin to look at the interplay between the landscape and religion and begin our inquiry into the nature of happiness. We may meet will local artisans or scholars, explore the city and buy our Bhutanese clothes. We may do excursions to nearby monasteries and nunneries and sites such as the ruins of Drukyel Dzong or to one of the largest Buddha statues in the world. We will also hike up to the famous Tiger’s Nest (Taksang).
WEEK 2: CENTRAL BHUTAN: HOMESTAYS
We’ll travel by road to the central region of Bumthang which borders Tibet. A rural area nestled deep in the Himalayas, this is Bhutan’s cultural heartland. We will likely spend several days in the town of Jakar and use this as a base to explore the landscape, which is dotted with sacred Buddhist sites including hidden cliffside temples and remote village stupas. Possible excursions include visits to the local “amchi” to learn about traditional medicine, an archery tournament, the sacred Burning Lake, a women’s weaving cooperative, hikes and forest excursions. During this time, students will move into their homestays.
WEEK 3: CENTRAL BHUTAN: TREK AND TANG VALLEY
During this week, we go on a multiple day hike from Jakar through the Tang Valley, hiking through beautiful, traditional villages. We may also get to see the local community-managed forests and observe villagers in their farming and foraging practices. We will have the chance to speak to villagers about local myths, fairy tales and Bhutanese history as well as about social change and development. We may also participate in service work by assisting with a community project.
WEEK 4: RETURN TO THIMPHU: X-PHASE AND TRANSFERENCE
As we travel by road back towards Thimphu we begin our x-phase, where the student group will plan and direct our schedule based on their own interests. Possible activities include, spending time at a bird sanctuary, doing another short trek, working on a local farm. Once we reach Thimphu, we will begin the process of transference wherein we reflect on our journey and eventually say goodbye to this unique country. From there we will return to Nepal, spend our final night together in Kathmandu, then say our goodbyes to each other before the group flies back to the USA.