In May 2018, after having done a few short hikes in and around Thimphu, my friends and I, we nervously set out to execute the two day Bumdra trek in Paro, Bhutan. Although I have always enjoyed being amongst nature, I haven’t been doing much hiking in the last ten years or so. My friends were not regular hikers either. There were four of us; Kunga Tenzin Dorji (aka Supe) was in his late fifties and Avinash, Sonam and I, we were in our late thirties.

As anticipated, we could not start off from Thimphu on time and by the time we reached the parking of Sangchen Choekhor Buddhist Institute, the starting point of the hike, it was already lunch time. The thought of a good lunch awaiting us actually inspired me to walk as fast as I can.

I was told that it was not a difficult hike but I found it pretty tough. Especially the first three hours. Travel guides say that they usually make it to the lunch point in two hours but it took me three. Supe and I, would have manged to climb to the lunch point in about two hours but two of our friends had to drag along a lot of whiskey, beer, cigarettes and broken hearts, so we had to walk for an hour and wait for another hour for them to catch up. It took us about 6 hours to reach the campsite and by the time we got to the campsite, it was already dark. We probably broke the record of having taken the longest time to hike to Bumdra. The Bumdra trail passes via Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) and ends at the base of Taktsang.

The day begins by driving to Sangchen Choekhor Buddhist Institute and then the three and half hour hike (for an average hiker) to reach Bumdra begins. This is a view of Paro Dzong, as seen from the Sangchen Choekhor Buddhist Institute.

A scenic view of a peaceful monastic setting, before reaching the lunch point.

View of Paro International Airport from the Bumdra trail.

This is where the lunch boy awaits his guests. Our lunch boy was pretty upset that we kept him waiting for over three hours. By the time we started our hike from Sangchen Choekhor Buddhist Institute, he must have already reached the lunch point with a big basket of food for all his clients. Since we had to walk for three hours on a partially empty stomach, his lunch was super awesome.

Sangchen Choekhor Buddhist Institute as seen from the lunch point. This is where I tell you that the brown patch is the portion that got burnt by the forest fire that took place earlier in the year. You will have to walk for about an hour through a burnt forest until you start walking through green nature. It was not as bad as I expected it to be.

Sangchen Choekhor Buddhist Institute again.

It was already getting dark by the time we reached this beautiful meadow and we could see the campsite a little further up. The happiest moment for us. 

Just prayer flags on the ridge. I love prayer flags.

I was the last one to wake up the next morning and this was what my friends were up to. It was very cold at the campsite (May 2018). The tent makes a lot of funny noises as well. I would like to think that it was the wind that night.

The camping experience was more or less galmping. The tents had proper beds to sleep on with clean blankets. The dining tent had a heater and had a dining table and chairs to go with it. They even provide you with hot water-bags and a solar charged LED flash lights.

The Bumdra camp at 3800 meters above sea level.

The camp uses ponies to bring in supplies from Paro.

The view towards Paro town and Paro International Airport (from the campsite)

View towards Paro valley again from the campsite.

Bumdra camp with hermitages perched on a cliff.

Standing on stilts, modest and unassuming hermitages such as these provide a secluded retreat for hermits.

With the cooks of Bumdra. These young men spend at least six months in the camp entertaining travelers and local hikers.

This friendly guard dog is very protective of the campers. Here he ventures a final bark to bid us good bye as we set off with the second day hike towards Taktsang Monastery (3100 meters). Taktsang Monastery is about 700 meters lower than Bumdra.

Avinash resting his rusted joints.

This is me, Bjob Ganchu

Out first sight of Taktsang Monastery when coming from Bumdra.

This little boy was drinking water from the stream that flows beside the crafts stalls at the base of Taktsang. I asked one of the vendors that the water may not be safe and she replied that all of them drink from the stream.

Souvenir and crafts stalls at the base of Taktsang. This is where the two day trek to Bumdra ends.

All pictures are taken by Bjob Ganchu.