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Category: International

Group photo after rafting the Phu Chhu

Thailand vs Bhutan While not required, we suggest starting your trip in Bangkok, Thailand. Arriving there a day or two before your flight to Bhutan will help you adjust to the time change. The weather will factor into your packing as it is quite different between Thailand and Bhutan. Thailand is hot and humid whereas Bhutan tends to be much cooler and less humid. Consider bringing an outfit just for Thailand that may get sweaty that you don’t need in Bhutan. If you are planning a… Read More

Chana Dorje, bodhisattava of power

Chenrezig, Manjushuri, and Chana Dorje are three of the most important figures in Mahāyāna Buddhism. They are, respectively, the bodhisattvas of compassion, wisdom, and power. What is a Bodhisattva? Bodhisattvas are beings who have attained enlightenment, allowing them enter nirvana. Out of compassion for others, they have chosen instead to continue suffering in order to to help others attain enlightenment. Bodhi means enlightened and sattva means being. Therefore, Bodhisattva translates as “enlightened being.” They are commonly referred to as gods in Western culture. The Dalai Lama… Read More

Prayer Wheel in Bhutan

Bhutan is a small mountain kingdom nestled in the Himalayan Mountains between India and China. Each November we organize a few small groups tours to explore its monasteries (lhakhang), fortresses (dzongs) and rivers (chhu). Are we in Bhutan for 12 days? Our trip itinerary is 12 days and we are in Bhutan for 9 days. The itinerary includes two days of travel at beginning and one day at the end. You will be responsible for booking your flight to and from Bangkok, but we will arrange… Read More

The Punakha Dzong was one of many Dzongs built by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal

While visiting Bhutan you’ll hear much about it’s history while visiting Lhahakngs (monasteries) and Dzongs (large fortresses). The following breakdown of Bhutan’s historical periods were introduced in the book “The History of Bhutan” by Karma Phuntsho. Prehistoric Period (through the mid 7th century) Very little is know about this period since no historical records exist. There is evidence of humans going back to 4000 BC and neolithic tribes beginning to populate the large river valleys around 2500 BC. Many of these tribes practiced Bon, a shamanistic… Read More

Temple Guardians at Wat Arun

Welcome to Bangkok! This bustling city is full of adventures and activities. It can be intimidating and chaotic but give it a little time and you may feel right at home. On your way to and from our Rivers and Dzongs of Bhutan trips you will travel through Bangkok where you can adjust to the time zone, explore the city, and slowly begin to enjoy your vacation. Bangkok is a great hub if you are planing to continue your vacation somewhere else or you just want… Read More

Kayaking by a small village on the Upper Thimphu Chhu

Kuzu zambo la from the Punakha Valley in Bhutan. After 9 days of sightseeing, rafting, adventurous hikes, and drives, and of course some shopping, Zach and I said our good byes to our wonderful group of guests at the Paro Airport. The next afternoon we were back at the airport to welcome our friends from Wilderness River Outfitters for a week of exploring new stretches of river, cultural sites, and thinking about new trip itineraries for future trips. Paro Chhu The adventure started right away with… Read More

The Divine Madman Drukpa Kunley

Drukpa Kunley (pronounced “Drook-Pa Coon-Lee”) was a Bhutanese yogi and poet popularly known as “the Divine Madman” who renounced the ascetic life of a monk for a more lighthearted and fun lifestyle. He is legendary for drinking wine, being promiscuous, and using his “Flaming Thunderbolt of Wisdom” (the nickname for his penis) to strike down and subdue evil demons. The Buddha advocated for the “middle road” between a self-indulgent, materialistic lifestyle and an ascetic life of sacrifice. Drukpa Kunley began as an ascetic monk, but denounced… Read More

The Heavenly King of the South

Hiking and boating through the cozy river valleys of Bhutan you get the sense that people are truly content. That perhaps there really is something divine to the billowing prayer flags, the nestled hillside monasteries, the distant white himalayan peaks. Nearly all people born in Bhutan remain for their lives. There isn’t the familiar sense of striving, the constant search for something better – such stasis is uncanny for a westerner. The last Buddhist kingdom is classified as a developing country, but Bhutan maintains a wisdom… Read More

Empty raft finishing Zeta Rapid right side up and headed for the keeper eddy | Photo by Peter Fox

Up until last year, I had run the Futaleufú River exactly once. A whole lot of people know a lot more about it than I do. But there are only a small group of us who knew the Futaleufú before it became THE Futaleufú. As part of the crew on the first raft expedition on the river in 1985, I had the good fortune to make its acquaintance when it was just a beautiful blue river disappearing into deep mountain gorges, near a town of the… Read More

If you are lucky to run one of the whitewater rivers of the former Soviet Union you certainly will see the most popular whitewater craft – paddle catamaran. These appeared in the 60’s and 70’s and led to the Russian whitewater revolution – exploration and running the most difficult and dangerous rivers in Siberia, Pamir, Tian Shan’, and Caucasus mountains. It also led to expansion of rafting to some remote, almost inaccessible rivers. Since their original appearance, the catamaran’s design went through dramatic evolution, which you… Read More