Saturday, 9 August 2008

Bhutan : The Bumthang Owl Trek

This year as the kingdom celebrates 100 years of monarchy people involved in the tourism sector have been cracking their heads in developing new strategies because of the hype surrounding Bhutan. On Wednesday, the Association of Bhutanese Tour Operators (ABTO) announced to about 300 registered tour operators that a new trekking route known as the Bumthang Owl Trek will be ready by October this year.

The downpour in Bumthang last month may have dismayed tour operators but the new trek route is putting smiles on their lips as it has become an additional tourist package they can offer to clients. The hooting of owls through the night is quite common along this route, hence the name. It is said to be “different” to the existing routes.

“This trek could be a substitute for the Bumthang Cultural Trek that has deteriorated to a great degree owing to farm road constructions,” said Sonam Dorji , General Secretary of ABTO.

He said that an alternative had to be created as Bumthang was one of the country’s tourist hot spots. Accordingly, the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) and the ABTO had conducted a survey and come up with the new route.

The trail will be a three-day hiking route which starts from Menchugang and ends at Jakar Dzong, The trek is also said to follow the traditional route (the Royal Heritage Trail) used by the Second King, between his summer and winter residences in Bumthang and Trongsa.

Sonam Dorji said regarding the route the TCB and ABTO jointly started discussion end of last year with the dzongkhag and the people there and it has only been initiated beginning of this year.

The TCB and ABTO jointly invested Nu 150,000 in cash continued from p1while local communities had agreed to chip in with the labour and additional costs.

According to the ABTO, the trail has an abundance of flora and fauna, and the panoramic views of the valleys beneath the hill tops and the Himalayas spread over a broad horizon would be an experience that tourists could cherish for a lifetime. It, moreover, symbolizes an authentic Bhutanese tradition.

Tour operators said they were happy with the new route. “It is good that we can increase our itineraries but it would be good if these types of treks could be identified and developed in other dzongkhags as well,” said Tashi Tshering, a tour operator.

By tashi Wangmo

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