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A Trek Into the Tiger's Nest of Bhutan
The Tiger's Nest was one of the main reasons I added #Bhutan to my #aspirational bucket list. On the tour, we had days to explore the #nature of Bhutan and I had high expectations, but I credit our guides with making it such an enjoyable experience.
The Tiger’s Nest, or Paro Taktsang as it is known locally, is what drew my attention to the country of Bhutan. I knew little about the "Last Himalayan Kingdom" besides what I had seen in photos. The trek to the Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan is something I had been dreaming about for years and it did not disappoint. The views from the hike to the top were worth it alone but the best part was yet to come.
History Of The Tiger’s Nest
The temple complex was first built in 1692 around a cave but it dates back to the 8th century as a mediation site. It is said this cave is where Guru Padmasambhava meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th century.
According to legend, Padmasambhava flew to the cave on the back of a tiger. Taktsang literally means “tiger’s lair,” which comes from an alternative legend involving the former wife of the emperor and Padmasambhava. She transformed herself into a tigress and carried Padmasambhava from Tibet. Again, this is where Padmasambhava mediated but this time emerged in 8 different forms and why the Tiger’s Nest is such an important site among Buddhists.
Legends aside, the Tiger’s Nest will leave you speechless. It is one of the most impressive sites I have ever seen.
Location Of The Tiger’s Nest
The Tiger’s Nest can be found just over 6 miles north of Paro. It is hanging on a cliff 10,240 feet over the Paro Valley. From the ground it is often shrouded by a thick mist but this glimpse alone will motivate you to reach the top.
Trek Into The Tiger’s Nest
I had read in guides and forums the trek to the top could take up to 4 hours, but many said 2-2.5 hours was more realistic. Our guide told us his record to the top was 45 minutes, so of course we decided to try and keep up. We made it up in exactly 1 hour moving at a very fast pace and we were rewarded with spectacular views all to ourselves.
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At a medium pace, the top can be reached in 2 hours and it is a fairly easy climb. It is a steady and long walk up hill on a dirt path. I wore casual boots but it could be completed in trainers as well.
Keys To Making Your Tiger’s Nest Trek Memorable
- Do not leave this to the last day. Many tours in Bhutan leave this to the last day and depending on the time of year rain could ruin your trek. Leave an extra day at the end of your trip to be safe.
- I do not recommend going here first. Paro is where the airport is located and many tours bring their guests straight to the Tiger’s Nest. For many, this is all they know about Bhutan. You do not want to experience it when you're tired. And leaving it for the end of your trip is a bonus after an incredible tour of Bhutan.
- Arrive very early. Tourism in Bhutan is not overwhelming but there are still small buses unloading at the Tiger’s nest in the morning. Beat these buses and you will have the view and the photo spots all to yourself. We arrived about 30 minutes after the buses but luckily the groups moved slowly up the trail.
- Bring water. There is a cafe located half-way up the trail but do not stop at it on the way up. If you want to beat the crowds bring a snack and some water to keep moving. There are benches to rest along the way.
- Enjoy the View. Once you arrive at the viewpoints take it all in. There is no rush to go inside and no photos are allowed in the monastery anyway. Take your time enjoying the moment outside and taking those photos that will last a lifetime.
My Favorite Photos From the Tiger’s Nest
The Tiger’s Nest will remain one of my favorite moments from traveling for life.
There is nothing like it anywhere else in the world. Enjoy it!
Traveling to Bhutan to see the Tiger’s Nest is a moment I will never forget. I couldn’t have done it without my knowledgeable and fun guides and a great tour company.