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Trip Report Selecting A Guide for Bhutan (Bridge To Bhutan)

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My husband and I have just returned from a wonderful 12 day trip to Bhutan in October 2013 with the tour company Bridge to Bhutan. There are many choices out there as far as tour companies. I do not know about the others, but I can tell you that Bridge To Bhutan is a serious operator and they took wonderful care of us during our recent trip.

Our itinerary consisted of Paro, Phobjikha Valley, Bumthang, Trongsa, Punakha, Thimphu, Haa Valley and back to Paro. The owners are two brothers, Lotay and Fin, born and raised in Bhutan, and both have done graduate studies in the US. Both speak perfect English, are easy to communicate with, answer e-mails within a day or two and are able to provide plenty of information and expertise in helping you plan your trip.

Our guide Sangay and our driver Nidup, were our family for the 12 days that we were in Bhutan. We were together every day, on the road, at the temples, fortresses, hiking and so forth. Sangay was more than willing to share his knowledge of the history and rich tradition of the country and never objected to my constant questions regarding the people, lifestyle, religion, philosophy, government and so forth.

The local food was delicious and healthy and sustainably grown. Everything you read in the guidebooks makes you believe that every dish is laced with cheese and chile peppers. Not so! That is just one optional side dish, always offered, always optional! This is in addition to fresh beans, carrots, radishes, turnips, broccoli, potatoes, buckwheat, fruits, fruits (whatever is in season), delicious curries and of course rice. If you have any dietary preferences and/or restrictions, let your guide know and as Sangay did for us, your guide should be able to advise the kitchen staff so that they can accommodate you.

October was good for us weather wise. We live in Miami and appreciated having a different and cooler climate while on vacation. There was some rain in Bumthang, but not enough to stop your activities over. Keep in mind that October is the busy season in Bhutan, so if that bothers you, discuss with your tour operators other months when the weather may suit you. Get info on avg temps and precipitation for months you would like to go. All this information was provided by Lotay before we actually booked our dates.

As far as accommodations go, places are clean and very comfortable, especially the beds, 3 stars I would say, some 4. My husband and I do not require fancy accommodations, but if you do there are some available for a higher tariff.

You need to keep an open mind on the subject of plumbing as some of the bathrooms in the hotels, though many are quite spacious, have rather basic plumbing. By that I mean---good flush toilets, good hot water in sink/shower but more often that not you will end up with water on the floor somewhere as it is leaking somewhere. Just remember---Bhutan is Bhutan. You are lucky to be there, and actually , they do a lot better job of conserving water and other resources than most of the rest of the world, so what's a little puddle here and there? On the related topic of toilet breaks while traveling, as our company informed us early on, "nature is better". If you are not comfortable going this route, there are some toilets along the way, but they are out in the country and could be a little dusty or so since there's no one out there cleaning them on a regular basis. There's always a convenient clump of bushes available just around the next bend, so give it a try. You'll get the hang of it!

Bhutan was an amazing experience and our guide Sangay from Bridge To Bhutan did an incredible job of taking care of us and ensuring that we were seeing what we came to see and learning the about the things we were personally interested inl Each day was a new adventure in the breathtakingly beautiful kingdom of Bhutan. I cannot say enough good things about Bridge To Bhutan. Feel free to contact me at louisebiscbay@aol.com regarding any questions you might have about our trip. Tashi Delek!

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