Taktsang Monastery or Tiger Nest as it is known famously probably was the only reason why I wanted to travel to Bhutan. For me this was the thing, which prompted me to visit Bhutan and what an eventful day it was.
It is said to be one of the thirteen small monasteries or “tiger’s lairs” where the Guru Rinpoche, also known as the “Second Buddha” of Bhutan is said to have meditated. The hike towards Taktsang calls for another blog but for now few tips to get the most out of your visit incase you are planning a hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery
Fitness: You don’t need any particular fitness regime to be followed to hike up Tiger Nest, despite the monastery located at an elevation of 10,000 feet. The terrain is moderate and I have seen people from all sorts of age groups climbing here. Though personally I would recommend doing some basic physical activities/ exercises a month before visiting Tiger Nest. A morning walk or 15 mins running daily should do the trick. This is necessary to open up your body and let go of muscles stiffness. This will help you in ascending with ease, which is steeper at few locations. Otherwise a physically fit person, I realised that I am really low on my stamina while hiking up Tiger Nest, which ideally should be a cakewalk for me. Something’s shouldn’t be taken for granted. The final league of this hike has 500 plus stairs. So plan accordingly!
Avoid the last day: Please do not leave this for the last day. I have a friend who made this mistake thinking that he can rest afterwards. He had to cancel his plans at the last minute because of unpredictable rains. You really can’t judge the weather of Bhutan. It is wise to leave an extra day at the end of your trip, to be on a safer side. Keep it light and go shop around Paro market
Don’t Begin your Bhutan ‘journey’ with Tiger Nest: Avoiding the last day doesn’t mean that you should start your journey with Tiger Nest. Since the international airport is located at Paro, many people make the mistake of going directly here. This is also for the fact that Tiger Nest is the only thing which draw tourist to Bhutan. Please understand any hike results in some kind of tiredness no matter how fit you are and there is no fun travelling when you are exhausted. The ideal would be to keep it on the second last day of your trip
Start Early: One of my friends despite repeated warnings from his hotel started the trek at 10 AM considering it to be a hot and clear day. But as the faith had it, it started pouring, resulting in the cancellation of the plan. Also keep a note that the monastery is closed from 1 PM-2PM every day. So ideally you should plan to start the trek no later than 8:30am
Carry enough Water & Energy Bars: Because there are no shops on the way and though there is a cafe located half-way up the trail, I personally found it too expensive. One of my fellow blogger friend nearly fainted on her way because she felt low on energy and dehydrated. But please maintain the sanity of the place and do not litter around. Bring those bottles and packets back to be dumped at a proper place
No Gadgets allowed: There are no gadgets allowed inside the monastery which includes the camera and mobile phones, though personally I loved this rule as I enjoyed this place without any burden of clicking pictures
Horses are available: For those who can’t climb up at all, there are horses that take you up about 60% of the hike, till the cafeteria point from where you can enjoy the clear and complete view of Tiger Nest. But I am personally not in favour of driving animals as it means an added burden on them. So avoid. Take baby steps. You can rent the wooden sticks from the entrance point which costs Bhutanese 50-100 per stick. It needs to be returned once you finish off the trek
Walking shoes or trekking boots will be a good bet. Avoid flip flops, sandals.
Enjoy the View: At last that gorgeous view of Tiger Nest. Take your time enjoying the moment once you are there. The journey of Tiger Nest is an experience in itself. Soak yourself into it completely. This is a moment which shall not going to repeat anytime soon. All pain all efforts will feel worthwhile with that one classic view of this stunning monastery. Believe me 🙂
P.S.: I was hosted by Bhutan Bookings
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