Trip of a lifetime to Bhutan
When Travelsmart owner Michele Gullery was invited on an educational trip to north-east India and Bhutan she imagined she would be well outside her comfort zone. But instead it turned out to be the trip of a lifetime and one she can’t wait to repeat.
Michele, who owns TravelSmart at Terrace End, was one of 12 travel agents from around New Zealand invited on the trip.
The group started their 12-day tour by flying into Kolkota which, with a population of 16 million, was something of an eye-opener.
Beautiful temples provided a stark contrast to the poverty of the people.
Visiting Bhutan was a real highlight of the trip for Michele.
‘‘The people of Bhutan are known internationally as the happiest people in the world and they are a very relaxed and happy people.’’
The countryside has plenty of lush vegetation and clean, clear rivers that flow down from the Himalayas.
‘‘Surprisingly Bhutan is cleaner and greener than New Zealand.’’ Paro Taktsang, also known as Tiger’s Nest, is a prominent Himalayan Buddhist sacred site and the temple complex located in the cliffside of the upper Paro valley in Bhutan. It’s an 8-hour round trip and those wishing to visit, need to book in advance. It was a breath-taking experience for the group.
‘‘You can’t just turn up and walk to the temple. Because it is at 3150 metres you have to allow a few days to acclimatise as altitude sickness is a real concern,’’ says Michele.The group also visited the world’s largest statue of Buddha in Thimpu and the sacred Khecheopalri Lake which is the highest lake in the world.
‘‘It’s a very sacred place and very calming. You could feel your stress just slipping away.’’
Michele is looking forward to escorting a tour back to Bhutan next year which will also take in Nepal and north-east India.
‘‘This tour was one of the most enlightening ones I have been on and I can’t wait to go back.’’