A pilgrimage and trek to the Tiger's Nest (Taktshang) Monastery near Paro, Bhutan, that hangs on the edge of a rocky cliff ( 10,000 ft or 3,120 meters above the Paro Valley) is both thrilling and exhausting. Our fit and energetic ten year old daughter made it look easy, but many adults don't make it, even the ones who ride a horse half way up. The Tiger's Nest is the diamond in this mysterious, mystical jewel that is Bhutan, the last Shangra-La.
I have mobility challenges as well as vertigo, so had to be content with this distant view of the Tiger's Nest from the valley below, but I still enjoyed my time there and will write more about what I did soon. See that little white speck? That is what the Tiger's Nest looks like from a distance and gives you some sense of perspective
It is a bit mind-blowing to think they originally built this in the 17th century in the spot the Buddhist saint Guru Padmasambhava meditated in the 8th century at a nearby cave. Better known as Guru Rinpoche, he is credited for bringing Buddhism to both Bhutan and Tibet. This Monastery is one of the most sacred places in Bhutan.
The trail is often very narrow as you can see here and usually almost vertical so one must remain very aware of each step, thus there were not other children on this trek. They both said I'd never make even a few steps of this trail due to my vertigo alone.
The high altitude makes the climb much harder and even though DaVinci is in great shape, he had a very bad cold and flu that day, thus found it to be the hardest climb he has ever done since it was difficult to breathe. I found it difficult to breathe even at the bottom which is quite high altitude. Nevertheless, they were both very grateful for this rare and spectacular accomplishment. Few little blond American girls will have bragging rights about trekking to the Tiger's Nest at ten.
Surrounded by prayer flags and prayer wheels, our 10 year old had a Bhutanese picnic with her Dad and our guide from Bhutan at a stopping point on the steep climb up to the Tiger's nest. Just like locals do, we bought Mozart traditional clothes in Paro and she changed into them to do her violin vignette at the top. It's become our soultravelers3 family world trip tradition now for the last 5 years, for her to play her violin at an iconic place in each country. A perfect souvenir memory for her and our readers.
In May the weather was perfect and sunny in Bhutan, but much cooler than most of our around-the-world trip, so we wore our warmest clothes repeatedly ( we travel with just 1 carry-on each). Mozart just has one pair of long pants and one sweater ( like her parents) so she started the hike in her peace pants and took the sweater on and off as the weather varied. Thus you see her dressed in various things, but it was just a one day trek.
Trekking to the top of the Tiger's Nest is a breathtaking ( literally and figuratively) once-in-a-lifetime experience that few have the privilege to do and see. We're so grateful and honored to have had this chance to experience this majestic, mysterious magical, place.
How about you? Have you done this trek or is this pristine beauty on your bucket list?