Ride Up Bhutan’s Legendary Tiger’s Nest Monastery And Enjoy The Scenic Trail On Horseback

Email

Pony services to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is expected to be more organised come next month.

(Source: Photo.cuboimages.it)

 

By Dechen Tshomo Kuensel

It is 8 am and Kelden Tshering Dorji, 13, is already at the base of the legendary Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest Monastery), eagerly waiting for the horse contractors to ask him to be their syce for the day.

Like him are several other students who spend their vacation escorting tourists on ponies to the Tiger’s Nest.

For students like Kelden in Tsento, district of Paro, vacation is a time to earn some money. The students make about two trips and earn Nu 600 a day. 

Why are some students attracted to this job?

“I first came with one of my friends here last year and that is how I started coming here during my vacation and make some money,” he said.

“Sometimes, when I am lucky, the tourist also gives us some tips and I make more than Nu 1000,” he said.

“I give half of what I earn to my mother and use the rest to buy snacks and stationary.”

Instead of playing at home, the class VI student said he enjoys escorting the tourists on horses to the Taktsang.

“I like the job because I like interacting with tourists and at the same time earn some money for myself and my family.”

Another student, who has completed class 12, said that he has been working with the horses at the Taktsang base since he was in class VII.

 

Source: Youtube/WildFilmsIndia

 

“I make about Nu 900 a day. I want to make some money so that I can help lighten the financial burden on my parents when I go to college,” he said.

A horse contractor, Gyem, 37, who has been providing porter pony services for tourists to reach Taktsang for the last seven years said having the children to help them makes the work much easier.

“We only have to look for the tourists who want to avail the service. They take three horses and we pay Nu 100 each for a horse,” she said.

“They also earn some money so it’s a win-win situation for everyone.”

Pony services to be streamlined next month

Pony services to Taktshang in Paro is expected to be more organised come next month. With tour operators who wants to avail pony services requiring to make bookings only through the Horse Contractors’ Association.

The Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB) recently issued a notification requesting tour operators to the make bookings through the recently formed association.

The operators were asked to discontinue any past and existing contracts entered with horse contractors.

TCB’s Director General, Dorji Dradhul, said the TCB was working together with the association to streamline the pony services to Taktsang.

 

Photo: Parotaktsang.org

 

“We wanted to have one person with a horse but they said this would not be possible with limited human recourses, so we agreed on three horses at the maximum with a person,” said the TCB’s Director General. 

However, this measure will be revisited depending on the performance.

“If a person can handle three horses without any accidents then we may keep it the same.” Gyem said that the initially formed association did not work because some of the horse contractors refused to become a member and continued the business on their own.

“They hired more horses and put them on the job and then everyone started to do the same.” With the new association in place now, it is mandatory for everyone to be a member and to follow the rules and abide by it.

There are about 30 horse contractors with more than 300 horses doing businesses at the Taktsang base every day. Horse contractors have a minimum of two horses and some own as many as 16.

Why is it necessary to streamline pony services?

“There were problems and incidences of disagreement and fights among the horse owners and the guests would watch - shocked,” Gyem revealed.

“The issues were discussed in the gewog meetings but nothing much could be done.” 

Availing the service through the association is expected to bring some order to the business. “Only those who are extrovert and those who can go ahead and pursue the tourists get the business, as of now.”

The disadvantage, according to Gyem, would be that when there are less tourists, some horse contractors may not get guests for days.

“With the association, what we earn would be reduced but it will be more organised, including the rates and dress code, which is important for everyone including those who want to pursue the business in future,” she explained.

Today, the rate ranges from Nu 400 to Nu 1,500 a horse. 

 

On the scenic route to the Tiger's Nest Monastery.

Photo: Unusual Traveler

 

“When we assign a person with a horse each, we have to hire the person and pay him for his service. That is why we charge higher for those who want a person each for a horse,” she added. 

Coping with the high and low tourist seasons

During peak tourist season, it is possible to make about Nu 60,000 to 70,000 a month and during the off-season, one can manage to make about Nu 30,000 a month. 

“We spend almost half the amount of what we earn on the horse feeds that is Karma feed and maize,” she said.

Chencho, 25, who has been in the business for the last 13 years said he has been accompanying his brother, a horse contractor since he was 10.

“That was how I learned about the business and got into it. As soon as a vehicle arrives, everyone rushes and quote their price. At times, we get scolding from the guides and drivers,” he said.

Another horse contractor, Tshencho Tshering said that providing pony services to the tourist is a lucrative business.

“We earn at least Nu 1,000 a day with just two horses; so earning is good here.”

A majority of the horse contractors are illiterate but they managed to learn some English, Hindi and some can even speak Chinese. 

“We just know how to ask whether they require pony services, teach them how to sit and let them know the rates for the services,”  said Tshencho Tshering, a horse contractor.

 

This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for Daily Bhutan.

 


Related Posts

Discover The Flora And Bird Species On The Tiger’s Nest...

The primary aim is to enable visitors to appreciate the beauty of Bhutan’s nature along one of Buddhism’s most sacred...

Dec 25, 2018 16:09

Unique Products From 20 Districts Of Bhutan Pitched To...

The tourism flagship programme seeks to advance the development, management, promotion and growth of the tourism sector...

May 09, 2019 19:18

Tapping On Brand Bhutan To Promote The Himalayan Kingdom As An...

Gross National Happiness and the Wangchuck dynasty will always be the core components of Brand Bhutan.

Jul 08, 2019 22:28

In Its Third Year, The Royal Highland Festival In Laya Showcases...

Laya was turned into a hub of celebration as the Third Royal Highland Festival got underway from 23-24 Oct 2018.

Oct 25, 2018 17:59

359 Year Old Trashigang Dzong In Bhutan Ready To Be The Festive...

The preparations for the annual tshechu scheduled for 17 November began on 23 Oct 2018.

Oct 30, 2018 15:23

Be Awe-Inspired By The ‘Dance Of The Terrifying Gods’ And More At...

Held from 19 to 21 Sept 2018, the annual Thimphu Tshechu (festival) is a vibrant visual feast for both locals and...

Sep 12, 2018 20:45

Latest

News

Bhutan Marked 100th Anniversary Of Save The Children, Highlighting Its Contributions

Save the Children office in Bhutan celebrated its 100th anniversary on 20th of September 2019.

Sep 21, 2019 23:08

Bhutan Is On Track To Achieve The 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals

Last year, the Voluntary National Review of Bhutan to UN found that except for networking and economic vulnerability, the country was on...

Sep 20, 2019 20:38

Features

Reconstruction of Lingzhi Dzong – Built To Commemorate Bhutan’s Victory Over A Tibetan Invasion In 1668

To date, about Nu 13 million has been spent since preparatory works for the Lingzhi Dzong construction which began 15 months ago.

Sep 14, 2019 23:58

True Purpose of Rituals And Their Importance In Buddhism

Rituals are an indispensable way of life for a Bhutanese household and families are known to spend a fortune on them.

Sep 13, 2019 12:11

Sports

Bhutan’s Pelden Wangchuk Wins 10th Edition Of Tour 0f Dragon Mountain Bike Race

This year, the race also saw the highest number of female participants compared to past years.

Sep 10, 2019 01:08

Tour Of The Dragon – Toughest One Day Bike Race Starts On 7 September In Bhutan

It takes sheer toil and stamina for the top riders to complete the 268 km race which finishes at the capital, Thimphu.

Sep 06, 2019 23:58

Business

Sherza Ventures Limited Launched IPO, Aims To Establish Brand Bhutan Products Globally And More

Sherza Ventures Limited aims to be a hyper retail and wholesale trading venture using e-commerce.

Sep 09, 2019 10:58

iMerit Bhutan Launched, Hopes To Create Far-Reaching Socio-Economic Impact

iMerit strives to drive social and economic change by tapping into an under-resourced talent pool, thereby creating digital inclusion.

Sep 04, 2019 10:58

Travel

Plans In The Pipeline To Develop Trongsa For Tourism

“The people of Trongsa were very supportive of the tourism development concept for the locality.”

Sep 05, 2019 14:48

7 Facts You Never Knew About Flying Into Bhutan

Druk Asia interviewed Namgyal Wangchuk, Senior First Officer with Drukair to find out what it's like to fly into Paro International Airport.

Aug 07, 2019 23:18

Lifestyle

A Blend Of The Traditional And Contemporary – Showcasing The Best Of Bhutanese Products

The designers showcased their products at the RTA gallery on 18 September which was graced by Her Majesty the Queen Mother Sangay Choden...

Sep 19, 2019 23:50

7 Vegetables You Must Try While Visiting Bhutan

Read Tashi Choden's blog on the vegetables to try if you ever visit Bhutan.

Aug 31, 2019 16:43

Subscribe to our newsletter

Never miss out on new happenings and news stories!