A Rendezvous with Paro Taktsang

Excuse me for taking creative liberty and addressing Paro Taktsang as a person. I do this because when you complete this hike, you’d be left feeling like you just had an experience like none other. It’s like the personality and aura of this majestic mountain is unveiling itself to you at different points through the hike.  Yes, the sight at and from the monastery is spectacular but even the trails leading to the top is equally beautiful. You will see several shrines, prayer wheels and flags, stairways and many viewpoints from where you can get your first glimpses of the breathtaking monastery.

Understanding Bhutan’s sacred Tiger’s Nest

Paro Taktsang, also popularly known as Tiger’s Nest is a Himalayan Buddhist sacred site located in the upper Paro valley in Bhutan with a temple complex located precariously high up on a sheer cliff at a dizzying 10,000 feet above sea level. It is believed that this monastery is the birthplace of Buddhism in Bhutan, thus making it the most sacred monastery in the country and an iconic landmark.

Curious, why they call it Taktsang, a lair or Tiger’s Nest? Let me tell you what we heard from the locals. Apparently as legends goes, this one dates back to the 8th century when one of the holiest figure in Mahayana Buddhism Padmasambhava flew to this exact location from Tibet on the back of a tigress. Here, the Guru medicated and emerged in eight incarnated forms rendering this monastery very sacred.

Hiking up Tiger’s Nest

Before planning our travel, we tried to gather as much information as we possibly could about this hike up Paro Taktsang. Initially we were conflicted with whether we ought to plan this ourselves or use a tour operator who do this with different groups daily. But like it always happens, after speaking to people and reading about it; we decided we could and would do it ourselves.

So pretty much what you will need is to get a taxi to bring you to the base point from where you start your hike, it’s just about 20 minutes from the city. Once you’ve reached the base, you could either choose the easy method of riding a pony till the permitted point or take the challenge and hike all the way up. We, of course chose the latter and my knees weren’t as thrilled as I was at the end of this hike.

Preparing for Tiger’s Nest

Like most hike destinations, preparation towards Tiger’s Nest will require that you have a basic fitness level. I say this because while most undermine the importance of being ready for a hike, I believe that should you be in better health and comparatively fit, it helps you truly enjoy the hike itself. You not only can complete a well-paced hike all the way up and back down but also celebrate the experience.

Once you get past the dirt roads and fairly arduous pathways, for a moment you think you’re almost there and like us you may begin to feel jubilant but hold on, because you still have about 700 steps down the valley before you get up to the monastery. Once there, you will have to hand over your bags and your cameras at security before you’re let in to explore the monastery itself.

Make this a hike one to remember:

  • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. We hiked in winter and therefore needed to layer up with thermal, fleece and down (It was really cold). Good hiking shoes is a must, you want a pair with decent grip to help you tread through the dirt roads and steep paths without any issues.
  • Not first and not last. It is ideal to plan this hike a couple of days after you’ve landed in Bhutan to help you assimilate. Also, it’s suggested that you do not leave it for the last day of your trip, you cannot anticipate the changes in the weather which may affect the climb.
  • Start early. We commenced upon the hike at the first break of dawn and definitely suggest you do the same. Its cooler then, less crowded and you’ll be able to complete the hike in good time.
  • Carry water and short eats. I carried chocolates and energy bars. You mostly won’t get hungry but a little sugar helps. There is only one cafeteria about mid-way up the hike. Here you can get yourself a steaming cup of beverage, a chilled beer or even something to eat (be prepared to pay a premium though).
  • Stay trigger ready: Hiking Tiger’s Nest is absolutely gorgeous, this hike is like a journey in itself. At various points through the hike, you will find yourself wanting to stop and take in the beauty. Keep your camera batteries charged and be prepared to max the memory.
  • Locks for your belonging: The security point at the top disallows you to carry belongings into the monastery premise. You will have to declare and hand over your stuff which are kept in lockers (with no locks). We carried our own set of lock and key and trust me it will be a wise thing to do.

Paro’s deep valley, Tiger’s Nest itself and the trail flanked by shrines, flags, small waterbodies, foliage, caves and misty skies contributed in making this hike perfect in every way. In about 4 hours we had completed our hike and were back down to the base; our hike wasn’t rushed but was timed correctly maintaining a steady pace while allowing ourselves ample rest and multiple stops to click photographs.

Adding Tiger’s Nest to your travel list

I must confess Tiger’s Nest was the key reason we picked Bhutan for our trip in December last year. We love our waters, there’s no doubt there but when we aren’t diving you’re likely to find us looking for a mountain to climb. It is the other interest that completely rocks our boat. Mountains are captivating and Tiger’s Nest is like a precious gem you add to your collection of memories.

So, if you are planning to travel to Bhutan; don’t give this a miss and if you haven’t planned a trip yet then do add it to your list. Bhutan is a lovely country and Tiger’s Nest is truly something. The vista of the monastery and Paro Valley is really beyond spectacular. It is absolutely worth the climb and many will tell you this is the most unique hiking experience; doubt there’s nothing like it anywhere else in the world.

For culture, tranquility, adventure and fun, do check out my previous blog When Bali Happened.

58 Comment

  1. home based business insurance

    Great article! We are linking to this great article on our website. Keep up the great writing.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you very much!

  2. Silvia says: Reply

    I would love to do this someday. Your photos are gorgeous!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you Silvia!

  3. Wow this place is beautiful! I would love to visit somewhere like this, I’ll have to show my husband and add this to our bucket list!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Yayyy!!! I think Bhutan is spoken less about but it’s a country that’s beautiful in every sense of the way.

  4. anna3rdculturekid says: Reply

    This looks really nice! What an amazing hike! Bhutan looks so beautiful, I really want to go there.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      You’ll LOVEEEEE it ! 🙂 It is an absolutely stunning country.

  5. klee92 says: Reply

    This looks UNREAL. Your pictures are also amaaaaaazing! What camera do you use?

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you, all credit to the husband. We use a combination of Canon 5D, 7D, Go Pro and Osmo! 🙂

  6. Amanda says: Reply

    This trip looks absolutely gorgeous! I’m not big on hiking but I think I may have to for a view like this. But at least I have your tips now to help me through ha!

    Amanda | http://ldnrose.com

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      The views make it soooo WORTH it! 🙂

  7. This looks amazing and is certainly on my list from reading your blog! Your pictures are stunning!!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Tiger’s Nest is stunning, you must visit! 🙂

  8. Beautiful photos, amazing content and so informative. Such a great post. I want to do this!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      And you should, it is a lovely country and that climb was sheer bliss <3

  9. keza says: Reply

    Wow, this looks like an amazing trip! Would love to go myself.

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Oh you totally should. Tiger’s Nest is nothing short of being majestic!

  10. Jojo says: Reply

    I love your photography! The hike and views look so amazing! I think you titled the post wonderfully. Especially to experience a beautiful place like this, one can easily create emotional ties to Paro Takstang. So addressing the place by like the person is perfect!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you very much 🙂 I’m so glad you get the title. You are right the place, the energy and the people are so awesome that it’s easy to create a sentimental link back. I LOVED everything about this country. Did you know they calculate their success based on the measure happiness index (how cool is that!) 🙂

  11. Lisa says: Reply

    Wow! Great post! This place looks BEAUTIFUL!

    XO-Lisa

    http://www.thatssodarling.com

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thanks a ton Lisa 🙂 Tiger’s Nest is truly stunning!

  12. jburge328 says: Reply

    Looks like an amazing place

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you 🙂 Paro Taktsang is pretty awesome!

  13. These photos are seriously gorgeous!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you so much Emily 🙂 I’ll let the husband know, he’s the one with the camera at most times.

  14. Katie says: Reply

    Wow, it looks beautiful there! I will put it on my bucket list! 🙂

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Yes Katie, it is truly something 🙂 You are going to love it for sure. Happy Travels!

  15. These photos are gorgeous! So vibrant and colorful
    Allison from http://www.mercuteify.com

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you Allison 🙂 it’s so humbling to hear these words of encouragement.

  16. Sara says: Reply

    Wow your pictures really pop and this is something I would have never of thought of doing but I’m a hiking enthusiast so never say never!! Just beautiful xx

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi Sara, thank you very much 🙂 If you love a good trek then you are going to love Tiger’s Nest. It’s not very difficult but neither is it too easy to take away from the sense of achievement on completion.

  17. Bhutan looks so beautiful! I’m so jealous of your trip!

    xo, Helene
    http://www.circleskirtsandpetticoats.wordpress.com

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you Helene, Bhutan is gorgeous and the people are truly nice 🙂

  18. That’s a pretty useful list, nice photos!!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you so much. I’m glad you think so 🙂

  19. Wow! Your pictures are amazing. I now have to add Bhutan to my travel wish list. Absolutely awe-inspiring!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you so much 🙂 Bhutan is gorgeous, I’m certain you’ll think so too once you get there. Cheers!

  20. I’ve always wanted to travel to Bhutan and this just made me want to actually plan that trip! And when I do plan that trip, I’m definitely going to add hiking Tiger’s Nest to my activities! Great read!! (:

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you Danielle, Bhutan is pretty awesome- a must visit if I may add 🙂 You will particularly love the Tiger’s Nest. I intend to write a piece of Bhutan in totality and hope you come back to check it out 🙂 Cheers! Happy Travels

  21. Such a nice read. Thank you so much for sharing… all the colors are amazing. So pretty x

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi there, glad you like it 🙂 It is such a special place. And the best thing about Bhutan in general are it’s amazing people, definitely makes the trip that much more memorable.

  22. emmaandroseblog says: Reply

    Wow, it looks amazing there. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us.

    Lynn N.
    http://emmaandrose.com
    Pinterest/Instagram/Twitter: @emmaandrose

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you for the lovely message. Paro Taktsang is very beautiful, a must visit should you like the mountains 🙂

  23. Gorgeous place and pictures!!! love all your tips and now I have added Bhutan to my bucket list:)

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Hi Maria, thank you for your kind words, glad you found the blog to be of interest. You totally must visit, as Bhutan has so much to offer. I had to write about the climb as there was so much in my mind post return but I intend to do a comprehensive one on the country. It is one of the best destinations I’ve been to and the people are just so nice. 🙂

  24. mjsorrels says: Reply

    These pictures are simply beautiful!

    1. Sheena Benedicta says: Reply

      Thank you very much 😊😊😊

  25. These are stunning pictures! It must be nice to have a professional photographer husband! Wonderful post.

    1. admin says: Reply

      Thank you very much Alice 😊 I agree perks of being a photographer’s wife 💗

  26. Elise says: Reply

    Amazing! And those pictures are incredible! That lens flare on the first image 😍

    1. admin says: Reply

      Thank you Elise, it is encouraging to read such warm messages 💗. The photographs are all shot by the husband (a professional photographer).

  27. Serena says: Reply

    Amazing! Bhutan is up so high on my list right now, this is making me want to just book that flight!

    1. admin says: Reply

      Thank you very much Serena. You totally should book that flight 🙂

  28. Jayse says: Reply

    Sheen I was waiting for this..I am confused if I should read the blog again , get lost looking at the pics again and again or just look at your happy smile as a travel junkie…Keep penning the great stories as trust me I could feel the travel bug bite me again 😍😍

    1. admin says: Reply

      Thanks Jaysheel. You say the nicest things. You are already bitten by the travel bug 😉 Don’t stop and continue to inspire us too 🙂

  29. Hey, Sheena, thanks for the lovely read. I felt as if I was physically there with you on your journey. The pictures are absolutely breathtaking, and tell their own li’l story. Keep ’em coming, girl.

    1. admin says: Reply

      Thank you Nancy, I’m stoked that you think so. Much love!

Leave a Reply