Each groups travel itinerary in Bhutan is fixed once booked, ours includes a mixture of events and activities, a few temples and monasteries, a few small hikes, a local festival or two and a requested focus on Bhutanese food.
The arrival flight into Paro was spectacular, the snow-capped Himalayan mountains a memorable sight out of the plane window, as the plane descended further mountain sides flanked the plane, clearly visible through windows as it weaved it’s downward through the valley towards the airport.
Roads that link the valleys hug the mountain contours rising up from the valley floors to lead over mountain passes with roads with more twists and turns than a bowl of noodles.
The scenery is breath taking, with crystal clear white water rivers thundering over smooth boulders on the valley floors. Rice paddies cascade down the hills and mountains, stopping at sheer precipices above the tumultuous water.
Now in winter these terraces are devoid of living plants, just stalks remain clumped together in the stepped ground. Circular domes of rice straw are piled high amongst the paddies, already thrashed of the much sought after grains, now just animal fodder for the winter months. The cattle, a mottled shade raise their horned heads occasionally, they are more interested in the last remnants of good grass than another tourist vehicle winding its way along the road.
I can imagine how beautiful it must be here in spring with the rhododendrons lighting the forest with colour, the textured greens of spring growth taking hold of the young rice checkerboards that cover the valley floors, the apple blossoms adorning the plentiful trees. It must be a truly fantastic sight.
The small farms are abundant, interspersed with box like farm houses, their ornate windows and traditional design noticeable even from the moving vehicle, bursts of vibrant reds reveal themselves as chillies drying, on rooftops or hanging in the sun on the sides of buildings. Obviously the farms are plentiful on the valley floors, but occasionally peering out on forested hills far away, little oases perched amongst the deep green forest.