Tips for hiking Tigers Nest Monastery, Bhutan
Tigers Nest Monestary, Bhutan
Tigers Nest Monastery is an amazing place to explore and connect with. The site itself has a rich history and mythology connected to it and the monastery is incredible and alive because it is still a working monastery! This post is about the hike to Tigers Nest and some valuable information that will help you make the most of the experience and your time there.
Bhutan is an interesting place in that the tour guides mostly work from 9-5 in keeping with the structure that is in place. We like to take a different approach and start earlier on the day we are hiking Tigers nest. We start the morning at 5:30 and drive the 30 minutes from Paro to reach the parking lot and jumping off point for the hike to Tigers Nest. We are usually the only car there at this time and the sun is just starting to provide light for our hike and the birds chirping adds to the beauty of the day ahead of us. Tigers Nest opens at 8:30 (most days so please check with your tour guide and then check again) but you can start to hike as the sun rises which we choose to do. It is a much different experience because there are literally no other tourists during this time. You feel like your off the beaten path and discovering this magical place for the first time!
The hike isn't very difficult but expect to be winded at times and it is mostly uphill. Allow yourself 1.5 to 2.5 hours, as long as you take some breaks and bring water you will be fine. There is an option to take a horse up most of the mountain but at the hour we start this service is not available (FYI).
You can see the path is wide but has some ruts and rocky areas so sturdy hiking shoes or sport sandals are recommended.
As you are hiking up the mountain you get to see Tigers Nest from afar and watch as the path takes you to different view points where you can see the monastery getting closer and growing in size. Its amazing just how big it is when you arrive at the entrance gate but just how small it looks when you first set out on the journey. About at the half way point there is a coffee/tea house that you can stop at in the morning to have a coffee or tea, take a break, refresh, and take in the views! I suggest taking some snacks along the way, the Tea House provides biscuits (crackers/cookies) but it is very limited in the morning. Also if your going to start hiking early ask your guide to call ahead and ask them to open early. They have always accommodated our group and they are very nice people! This is also where you can have a buffet style lunch on the way down.
Once you get to the gate of Tigers Nest you have a nice waterfall and Guru Rinpoche's consorts hermitage. I would save this for the end of the day, as you are leaving, if you feel compelled to explore this area. We had timed our visit with an ospicious time where the monks were reciting the Guru Rinpoche prayer 100,000 times to offer blessings, protection and subduing of negative energies through the valley. It was a butiful, magical, surreral experience!
There are many nooks and hidey holes within the monastery to explore and discover! One in particular is the heart of the monastery or the tigers cave. Its deep within the monastery and you climb through an opening down a couple of shafts using old wooden ladders and walkways and there is a small single candle alter at the end. I cannot put into words how amazing this space is and this is really the heart of the monastery which could be felt through my entire being! We have a lot of gratitude and love for this treasure, Tigers Nest Monastery, and hope thast you get the opportunity to discover and connect with it yourself.
If you are interested Blue Morpho International will be going back to Bhutan in 2019 check out our tour listings for more details. www.bluemorphointernational.com