Horseriding in Bhutan
The tranquil nation of Bhutan, with its magnificent mountains, serene lakes, exquisite cuisine, and welcoming locals, offers a variety of experiences to an array of travellers. Whether you're an adventure enthusiast, nature lover, or someone seeking a peaceful retreat, the offerings are endless. Amongst the many activities available, one stands out as a unique, immersive experience - horse riding.
Bhutan, as a nation, exhibits a profound respect for all living creatures, especially animals, regarding them as spiritual beings. This respectful approach is evident in our treatment of horses, with each animal receiving the utmost care, love, and respect. Exploring Bhutan's picturesque landscape on horseback provides an opportunity to appreciate its beauty in a manner that conventional travel on modern roads may not afford. It takes you beyond conventional 'tourist spots', into the heart of forests, meadows, and remote villages with rich histories waiting to be discovered.
With the rise of tourism, many rural families have begun breeding and rearing horses, particularly for guests keen on horse riding amidst the whispering groves under clear blue skies. This mode of travel is especially suited to reaching remote corners of the country where motorable roads have yet to reach.
For beginners, there is no cause for concern. The horses are typically friendly and approachable. Furthermore, tour operators provide necessary preliminary lessons on handling and riding the horse, ensuring a safe and enjoyable experience.
The main commencement points for these horse riding expeditions are Paro or Punakha in western Bhutan, Bumthang in central Bhutan, and Trashigang in eastern Bhutan.
Some of the hidden gems of Bhutan include:
1. Phobjikha Valley: This central valley, surrounded by Himalayan mountains, offers stunning views of meadows, small settlements, and rich wildlife.
2. Trongsa: This town, located at the confluence of two major rivers, is home to the historical Trongsa Dzong.
3. Lobesa: Nestled in the Punakha Valley, this town houses the renowned Chimi Lhakhang fertility temple.
4. Mongar: A picturesque town in eastern Bhutan, Mongar boasts scenic landscapes and rich culture.
5. Mebar Tsho: Also known as the "Burning Lake", this sacred site in Bumthang holds immense significance for Buddhists.
While horse riding offers an exciting adventure, it's crucial to remember some key tips to ensure a comfortable experience:
1. Maintain good posture: Keep your back straight and relaxed to ensure comfort for both you and the horse.
2. Handle reins gently: Avoid pulling too hard, which could cause discomfort to the horse. Your arms should form right angles at the elbow, and movement of reins should be akin to the gentle opening of a door.
The true charm of Bhutan can't be fully captured through words. To truly experience its magic, we invite you to visit this captivating Himalayan kingdom. Each day spent in Bhutan will enrich your soul and make it increasingly hard to leave. We look forward to hosting you and ensuring that you return home with not just souvenirs, but a collection of unforgettable memories, awe-inspiring photographs, and a wealth of memorable experiences.
To book a horse riding tour through Bhutan, it’s best to work with a local tour operator. For the full list of tour operators in Bhutan, please visit: https://bhutan.travel/travel-trade
Karma Tshering Wangchuk is the fashion designer, illustrator and street-style photographer behind the influential Instagram handle @bhutanstreetfashion. Passionate about the Bhutanese textile heritage, Karma offers private tours tailored to those who share his reverence for the craft. When he’s not in Paris or at Copenhagen Fashion Week, you can spot Karma with his two dogs, Jackie and Miro, scouting the streets of Thimphu for the innate beauty and captivating stories of his people.
Where to shop
Chumey is located in a beautiful valley in Bumthang, where they weave and sell incredible textiles. I feel that Thimphu is a little too commercial these days, but I love to come here and joke around with the weavers.
Where to stay
I always tell my guests to stay at Gangtey Palace. It’s a historical palace, beautifully renovated to offer contemporary comforts. You can partake in the morning prayer ritual at their shrine or just enjoy the view – it’s divine!
Where to eat
I like to take guests to eat dinner with a group of my friends and other locals so they get to experience the real Bhutan. We often go to Zombala 2 in Thimphu for their authentic momos.