Shangri La – a mythical Himalayan utopia enclosed in mountains, shrouded in mist and mystery, a permanently happy land isolated from the outside world.
Or is it mythical? Bhutan, aka Druk Yul the Land of the Thunder Dragon, is perhaps the closest we can ever get. It’s a land where snow-capped peaks ride above lush green valleys and primeval forests. Where dzongs and monasteries perch on the sides of mountains and Buddhist culture reigns supreme. It’s a nation where Gross National Happiness is deemed more important than Gross National Product in an attempt to strike a balance between the spiritual and the material. Buddhist tradition of respect and reverence for nature combined with engaging and vibrant people result in a kingdom where you’ll continuously ask yourself if this is reality at every corner.
The Bhutanese pride themselves on a sustainable approach to tourism. Their philosophy is low volume, high value, incredibly important to a nation that so fiercely guards its traditions and natural beauty. The country only opened its doors to the world in the 70’s and has instituted strict regulations including travel as part of a pre-arranged package or tour. It is a unique honor to travel in Bhutan. When you visit Bhutan, you become one of the few that has experienced a modern day Shangri La, where the rice is red, the dancers masked, and the mountains sacred.
Approach the countries as its people do, actively and immersed in the natural beauty. Bike in villages, walk up to pilgrimage sites where temples cling to the cliff sides, and meander along trails in search of bird life in the Gangtey Valley. View the stunning Himalaya scenery from high passes decorated with prayer flags. Explore the Haa Valley where you have the option to stay in family farm house and take part in a lively tsechu, a social gathering marked by colorful masked dancers.