If it is M for Mountains, the nearest foreign destination for this natural beauty has to be Bhutan! It is the last of the Himalayan kingdoms filled with culture and is fast on development. When in Bhutan, one can witness the beauty of Buddhist art and culture and be enchanted by the calmness of the mountains. There is a list of places to visit in Bhutan that one can find online but the one place common to all is definitely the Paro Taktsang or more famously known as the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
Hiking the tiger’s nest peak is always an adventure’s one, especially in the winter season. But most of the travelers don’t know the basic stuff before planning the trip…
Here is the ultimate guide on a trekking trip to the tiger’s nest!!!
Tiger Nest Trek – When, What And How
What it is all about?
Located 10 miles north of Paro (taking 20 minutes by car), Tiger’s Nest Monastery is a sacred Himalayan Buddhist temple site which was constructed way back in 1692. It is believed that it was Guru Rinpoche was the one who introduced Buddhism in Bhutan was meditating here. The legends say that Guru Rinpoche was carried from Tibet to this spot on the back of a tigress. Hence, the name “Tiger’s Nest”. This Tiger’s Nest Monastery, built around the cave where Guru Rinpoche first meditated, consists of four temples along with residential complex for the monks. In spite of a large number of tourists turning up here every day, Paro Taktsang still functions as a monastery today.
Best time to visit
October is the best month to undertake the tiger nest trek, considering the pleasant weather.
January- May: January to February are the months with the lowest temperature in Bhutan, as low as -6 degrees. Visiting during this time allows one to enjoy a different view of the country. March is the onset of the spring season. Thus, the weather starts becoming pleasant and Bhutan starts to see a large tourist crowd turning up.
March-May considered the spring season is the best time to visit Paro and also enjoy the view from the hills.
April- June: The country is at its most beautiful with flowers blooming and a cool breeze blowing. This is the time where Bhutan is most crowded by tourists and the government also offers special offers. In June, the temperature may rise but it still feels bearable. June- August makes for a cheap travel itinerary to Bhutan because many avoid coming here during the monsoons.
July- September: July is the beginning of the raining season here. So, if one is planning to visit during this time, they can do so but carrying a raincoat or an umbrella is a must. September is the onset of the autumn season and also considered the best time to visit Bhutan.
October- December: October to November, similar to September are the autumn months here and also the best time of the year to visit Bhutan. December is the time when the temperature starts to fall.
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What to wear?
When considering the tiger nest monastery trek, the first thing you have to keep in mind is that you have to cover a really good distance if you are going to hike. So better wear proper shoes as the steps may be steep and you will feel more comfortable in these.
When wearing shoes have your socks on as well. Not that this point is too lame but one has to remove their shoes before entering the temple of the monasteries. The floor may be cold and dirty so better cover your feet with something better.
The most important of all, what to wear when going to the Tiger’s Nest or Paro Taktsang? Full sleeved shirts or tops and pants cover your legs properly. There are temples situated inside the monastery and monks who actually stay there, so it will look quite disrespectful if one is dressed inappropriately.
One can have add- on such as sunglass and hat but it should be removed before entering the temple.
How to reach?
Situated at a height of 10,332 feet, the only way available to reach the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is by trekking. The way up there is steep and not broad enough for vehicles to pass through. One can reach the bottom of the mountain, the base of the hike by car.
There one can find shops selling souvenirs and hiking sticks. From here starts the uphill trek to the monastery which takes about a good 7-8 hours for the whole visit. The hike to the Tiger’s Nest monastery may be very tiring for some. Thus, there are options for horses available for covering most part of the journey as well.
The time taken for the Tiger’s Nest Monastery trek is usually 5-7 hours or full day for some, for a round trip. This includes the 1-2 hours a person will spend at the monastery, enjoying the serenity and capturing the beauty.
Entry fee and other costs:
The visit to Paro Taktsang is absolutely free in terms of the trek but one have to pay 500 Ngultrum (equivalent to INR500) as Tiger Nest entry fee. Additional costs may be incurred for those who decide to go uphill by horse or if one wishes to hire a guide for a more formal visit. Apart from these, there is a cafeteria on the way serving the tired tourists on their way up. So if one stops by here, they can pay and fill up their stomachs before heading ahead.
The total trekking distance to and fro the Tiger’s nest monastery is 4 miles and the monastery is situated at a height of 900 meters or 2995 feet above sea level.
Must know things:
- As it may take practically the whole day (because one will not be in the stamina for anything else after this!), it is advisable to start the hike to Tiger’s Nest Monastery early. One can also avoid a large crowd that way.
- If you are actually starting early then ensure that you are properly covered by warm clothes as it may be chilly in the morning and freezing cold inside the monastery.
- One cannot miss out on the opportunity of clicking pictures of this beauty with its natural landscape and the best time for this is mid-day. So, make sure you are there in the right spot for the right-click at the right time!
- Carry a lot of water and keep yourself hydrated. Carrying food may be cumbersome but there is a cafeteria to offer some help when the hunger attacks are too severe.
- The best and the easiest way to complete the trek while enjoying it is to go at your own pace. This way you will feel less tired and can actually enjoy the journey up there.
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