Richard Ferens

Having read a book called Two and Two Halves of Bhutan by Peter Steale, about guiding friends some 40 years ago to this fascinating Himalayan kingdom, I decided I wanted to visit whilst it was still relatively unspoilt and isolated. With a group of friends we turned to Wild Frontiers to put the trip together, and had an unforgettable and wonderful experience.

Our drive up the only road leading from India into Bhutan, passing Indian workers breaking stones and repairing the potholes, made one realise the sort of environment we would be seeing. The further we travelled, higher and higher, the more it felt like we were entering another world. which in many ways we were.

The other reason for visiting this beautiful country was to witness the colourful festival of Tsetchu. It was fascinating to see the whole of the local population in Thimpu, Wangnue and Punakha celebrating in all their finery at their various dzongs. Watching the monks and others perform the stimulating traditional dances, dressed in wonderfully exotic costumes, was a fabulous experience that left us all feeling very privileged.

Our visit by way of pony transport up to Tiger's Nest Monastery made me realise and appreciate the difficulties of living in a Himalayan country with the problems of transporting materials, food and other necessities into such steep and impenetrable valleys. And our trip into the Haa Valley - a fascinating side show possible only with Wild Frontiers - again made one aware of the isolation of this lovely country and how important the basics are to living as happy life. The farmhouses we visited were beautifully constructed and elegantly decorated, but there was little on the inside in the way of creature comforts. Not that this seemed to worry the people we met, who were all charming and hospitable.

A trip to Bhutan is a wonderful experience but above all it makes one realise that there is so much more to life than the western world's developments. All in all it was a fabulous trip, professionally, and interestingly, put together by Wild Frontiers.