Trans Bhutan Trail Opens to Adventurers This Spring

The Trans Bhutan Trail (TBT), a 250-mile historic pilgrimage trail traversing Bhutan is set to reopen in March 2022. Following years of restoration, the trail will welcome citizens and international travelers for the first time in over 60 years. The trail crosses through nine dzongkhags (districts), 28 gewogs (local governments), two municipalities and one national park. Many sections of the trail will offer access to parts of Bhutan seldom visited by international visitors.

The TBT is a path through Bhutan’s history, with 400 historic and cultural sites identified along the route to date. Its origins go back at least 500 years when it connected fortresses called Dzongs and served as the pilgrimage route for Buddhists in the east traveling to sacred sites in western Bhutan and Tibet. Garps (trail runners) worked the Trail and were legendary, traveling with mail and vital messages at great speed, without food or water. The trail also played a major role in uniting numerous Himalayan kingdoms which ultimately led to the birth of Bhutan as a nation in 1907; however, once the construction of roads began across Bhutan in the 1960s, its stairways and footpaths gradually fell into disrepair.

Trans Bhutan Trail

In 2018, the Bhutan Canada Foundation led an initiative to restore the trail. This led to the deployment of more than 900 furloughed, local workers during the pandemic to work on the ancient route. Eighteen major bridges, 10,000 stairs and 250 miles of trail were rebuilt and, for the first time over half a century, it is again possible to walk across the country from Haa in the west to Trashigang in east.

TBT can arrange all aspects of guided walking and biking from gateway destinations into Bhutan, including visas and guides. Intrepid travelers can walk the entire trail in just over a month. Half-day and full-day treks are possible with three-, four- or seven-day section hikes expected to be popular options for most visitors. The trail presents a rich experience for birdwatchers and botanists, photographers, rafters and runners, as well as for those looking for a spiritual, wellness or religious experience. Accommodation along the way will be offered in signature campsites, homestays and hotels.

Opening ceremonies for TBT will be hosted by His Majesty The King in the city of Trongsa, central Bhutan in March 2022. From April, a limited number of permits will be issued to international travelers to hike the trail in whole or in part.

Trans Bhutan Trail

Hikers and mountain bikers will be able to book trips taking in all or some of the TBT from mid-December this year. A limited number of permits will be issued to international travelers and all walks will be led by a local guide. Flights to Bhutan are operated by two Bhutanese Airlines from airports in India, Nepal, Singapore, Thailand, and Bangladesh.

Visitors to Bhutan are required to take a PCR test followed by government facilitated quarantine for two weeks. Tourist visas are required and are not currently being issued. However, this could change in early 2022 as quarantine measures are likely to be eased.

Related Articles

A New Addition to Emilia Romagna's Slow Travel Offering

TCS World Travel Launches Wellness, Adventure Journeys for '22

Lindblad Expeditions Acquires Majority Stake in Classic Journeys

Six Senses Opens Final Lodge on Bhutan Circuit