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Tiger's Nest in Paro, Bhutan

July 07, 2011

Bhutan Tiger's Nest


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

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 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.

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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.

Tiger's Nest in Paro, Bhutan



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.

Violin around the world in Bhutan


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.

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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.

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How about you? Have you done this trek or is this pristine beauty on your bucket list?

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Kymri

Yes! I've taken that very trek! It is....absolutely....breathtaking. And it's where three words escaped my lips - Travel Photography Nirvana, which became the title of my post about it! And which I've linked here. I only wish my daughter had been with me too, so nice to see Mozart there!

Nomadic Samuel

Having backpacked across Asia on two separate long-term trips I've covered my share of territory but I've yet to set foot in Bhutan. The photos you've shared & article have spiked my already high level of interest towards making this a must visit place on my upcoming 3rd tour of Asia :)

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Yes, I agree Kymri and we went primarily so our daughter could see it. She found it to be one of her favorite countries...and she has been lucky enough to see much of the world's wonders.

We agree and the people were as special as the pristine environment!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Yes, Samuel, Bhutan is definitely a MUST see...one of the few unique places left on this planet. I'd love to go again and spend even more time there, plus see the festivals.

It's one of those places that no matter how many picture and videos that you see, it is still a surprise and delight when you discover it in person as it's better than even the most beautiful photos.

Jill

So is Bhutan the happiest place on earth? In the Geography of Bliss it leaves one eager to find out! Would love to know where you stayed. Love the violin idea- what a great collage some day!

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Ha Jill, well I don't know if it is the happiest place on earth, but the people do seem quite content and it is a very special place indeed.

I will be writing much more about Bhutan including the places we stayed.

In Paro, we stayed at the gorgeous Bhutanese owned 5 star hotel...

http://www.zhiwaling.com/

The violin idea started by chance & our 1st violin collage video went viral on youtube:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wn9rDTZj-m4

We have 2 more done, but haven't had time to get them up yet.

Who knew they would be so popular? ( It was our 1st youtube video).

Tom @ Waegook Tom

I don't think I could have done this trek, either - my vertigo is pretty bad, I'd have done the same as you and admired it from afar.

Kudos to your hubby and daughter for making the perilous trek up there, though. I'd have been worrying the whole way!

Jeanne @Soultravelers3

Oh yeah, Tom, it definitely is NOT for people with fear of heights. They do a lot of the hard things, but I support them. ;)

I set them off and then went onto see some other fabulous sites that were more at my level. Even just hanging out at that exquisite hotel, surrounded by nature and sky high wood carvings was pure bliss. ;)

Liza

This is very inspiring, may you please send info. on how to travel there from Europe and USA?

namaste

Jeanne @soultravelers3

Thanks Liza, I suggest you see a travel agent! They can easily book you from Europe or America.

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