Bhutan opens up more adventure tourism

Although the government tightly controls tourism, Bhutan is now offering a lengthening menu of adventures, often collaborations with American outfitters, as well as lodging and transportation options.

The rafting specialist O.A.R.S. will introduce 13-day river trips in Bhutan on Class III white-water rivers, the Lower Drangme Chhu and the Pho Chhu, that flow out of the Himalayas. Trips take place in November and in February 2015, priced from $6,165 per person, double occupancy.

The Jackson, Wyo.-based mountain guide Cathy Shill of Hole Hiking Experience has teamed with the local tour operator Kinlay Gyaltshen to create the Bhutan Himalayan Experience, offering three hiking trips this year, including an 11-day wildlife-themed trip in April, a 14-day high Himalaya trek in October and a 14-day cultural tour during the Black-Necked Crane Festival in November (from $4,800 per person, double occupancy, for the 11-day trip).

The 12-room Gangtey Goenpa Lodge, which opened in November in the Gangtey Valley, will be the first to offer hot air ballooning in the country beginning next September, when the black-necked cranes are not nearby (rooms from $600).

Flights into Bhutan are restricted to two airlines, Drukair and Tashi Air, also known as Bhutan Airways. The latter added its first international route, between Bangkok and Paro, on Oct. 10, potentially giving Drukair some competition. Fares on the new route start at $720 round trip.

source: The Seattle Times, 04 Mar 2014

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