Wednesday, 5 February 2014

On the High Road across Bhutan

 High Winding Road in Bhutan ©Solange Hando

'No hurry, no worry', says the sign as you approach the next bend, but you know from the start this will be a spine-chilling gigantic switchback unfolding in slow motion through spectacular scenery.

From Thimphu in the west to the eastern valleys, the road cuts daringly through the mountains, range after range, pass after pass, nearing 3800 metres at Thumsing La, the highest point.

Offerings for the Gods ©Solange Hando

Traffic is light, just the odd tinselled truck, average speed is around 20 km per hour but no one takes any chances. This is the sort of place where you leave offerings for the gods and burn incense at the roadside. The gods, they say, are everywhere, dwelling among the peaks,  in the valleys, by the lakes and waterfalls.

Snow on High Pass ©Solange Hando

Between western and central Bhutan, the Black Mountains rise like a formidable barrier with overhanging boulders, trees split by lightning and ghostly sheets of lichen hanging down like giant cobwebs.

There may well be snow on the Pele La pass and a yak or two staring as you go past. When storm clouds begin to pile up on the horizon, it's time to head down to the valley. No one lingers here for long.

Golden Paddies in Eastern Bhutan ©Solange Hando

But the scenery is always changing, from treacherous snows to lush rice terraces,  pastures, bamboo and candle trees, chir pines, marigolds and orange trees, tiny hamlets festooned in Buddhist flags and rhododendrons.

Vast unforgettable panoramas unfold all around as you gaze from a precipitous ledge or share the narrow ribbon of road with a herd of silken cows.

Chortens on the Dochu La Pass, Bhutan

But this is Bhutan and as you make your way across the kingdom, you're sure to be protected by myriad temples and shrines, bright mantras painted on the rocks and multicoloured prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.

You could cross the kingdom in 24 hours, allowing for rockfalls and other hazards, but take your time and enjoy. Every day on the road is simply amazing.


  1. hi, i have gone through your blog its so fantastic work you have done their. i would like to have more information from you...thanks for doing the great job..cheerup!
    Tour and Travel

  2. Thank you for your lovely comments, Swati, I hope you'll keep visiting!