It isn’t news that Bhutan, one of the happiest and greenest countries in the world, is replete with routes fit for every kind of hiker. Come March 2022, visitors have another reason to rejoice: the breathtaking Trans Bhutan Trail will reopen to travellers for the first time in 60 years.
According to the Bhutan Canada Foundation—the principal donor to the restoration project—the 402-kilometre trail will connect 28 local governments, nine districts, two municipalities, one national park, and 400 historic and cultural sites peppered throughout the nation from its westernmost point in the town of Haa near the border with Tibet to the easternmost point is Trashigang, near the border of India’s Arunachal Pradesh. The quest will allow travellers to chance upon the region’s 500-year old history whilst offering glimpses of the former Buddhist pilgrimage route before it fell into disrepair once Bhutan began building roads in the 1960s. Moreover, visitors can also encounter 18 major bridges and even climb 10,000 stairs. For the ambitious of heart, the journey is estimated to take a month to complete on foot, but can alternatively be explored via guided walks and biking tours in shorter segments, the proceedings for which will go to the local communities.
“This is a community-based project in both its building and operation which will restore an ancient cultural icon and provide a sustainable, net carbon zero experience in the country for pilgrims and travellers,” Sam Blyth, chair of the Bhutan Canada Foundation, said in a statement to CNN.
Despite the Himalayan country currently being open to only fully vaccinated tourists, it is rumoured to partially or fully reopen in spring 2022, coinciding with inauguration of the trail. In the meantime, plan your trip to Land of the Thunder Dragon with our detailed guide here.
Pooja Naik is Senior Sub-Editor at National Geographic Traveller India. She likes to take long leisurely walks with both hands in her pocket; channeling her inner Gil Pender at Marine Drive since Paris is a continent away.