(CNN) – The Central Asian nation of Bhutan today reopened to visitors for the first time since the pandemic began.
This means the country’s breathtaking Trans-Bhutan Trail is now accessible to travelers. It reopened in March 2022 after 60 years, and now foreigners can experience it for the first time as flights resume to the Land of Thunder Dragon.
According to the Bhutan Canada Foundation – the major donor to the restoration project – the 250-mile route connects nine dzongkhag (districts), 28 geog (local governments), two municipalities, a national park and 400 historical and cultural sites.
Travelers following the entire trail route will cross 18 major bridges and climb 10,000 steps. It is also possible to walk or mountain bike.
Sam Blythe, President of the Bhutan Canada Foundation, said, “This is a community-based project in both its construction and operation that will restore an ancient cultural symbol and provide a sustainable, pure carbon zero experience in the country for pilgrims and travelers alike. ” in a statement.
He added: “The Trans Bhutan Trail also reflects the country’s vision of Gross National Happiness and will allow the children of Bhutan to follow in the footsteps of their ancestors.”
The westernmost point of the trail is the town of Ha, which is near the border with Tibet. The easternmost point is Trashigung near the border with the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh.
Bhutan was the first country in the world to achieve carbon neutrality.
Trans Bhutan Trail
According to a representative from the Bhutan Canada Foundation, an aspiring walker can cover the entire trail in about a month, but most tourists will enjoy short sections of the trail on a three-, four- or seven-day excursion.
From rustic campsites to three-star hotels, there are many accommodation options en route.
The 41-year-old monarch of Bhutan, King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck, has been a driving force behind restoring the trail, which was a Buddhist pilgrimage route before falling into disrepair in the 1960s when Bhutan began building roads.
He officially inaugurated the trail at a ceremony in Trongsa, a holy city in central Bhutan.
As part of its objective to avoid over-tourism, the country essentially charges a $250 per day fee, which includes land transportation, accommodation, meals and guide service. The cost makes it somewhat prohibitive for many people to commute.
Before the pandemic this “sustainable development fee” was $65 a day.
Due to the relative difficulty of travel, many travelers to Bhutan opt to join group itineraries or work with travel experts.
The country’s foreign minister Tandi Dorji said in a statement earlier this year, “Covid-19 has allowed us to reset – to rethink how the sector is best structured and operated.” … while keeping the carbon footprint low.” charge.
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