Spotlight on District Series – Gasa Dzongkhag

Snowman's Trek. Photo Credit: Peter McBride
Snowman’s Trek. Photo Credit: Peter McBride

The next district in our Spotlight Series is Gasa Dzongkhag! Located at the extreme far north of Bhutan, Gasa spans the middle and high Himalayas with pristine forests and exceptionally scenic views. Previously a sub-district of Punakha, Gasa is known for its tshachus (natural hot springs), Jigme Dorji National Park (including many rare species such as snow leopards, red pandas, and blue sheep), and beautiful hiking trails such as the Snowman’s trek, one of the most difficult but best hikes in the world (feeling adventurous?)!

Due to the heavy snowfall in the upper regions during winter, the area is known for having cold winters and short pleasant summers. With the majority of the area of Gasa covered in forest, the only way to get to the district is by foot. Gasa is most famous for its Layap people that live in the bey-yul (‘hidden lands’) of Gasa, who have their own distinct language, customs, and clothing, including conical bamboo hats.

Arwen talks about the views in the district along with accommodations in her blog: The positives of the walk were firstly the views. Breathtaking views. Views that would make a person write symphonies and sonnets. After a long, windy, unsealed and absolutely stunning drive we reached the Gasa and the Bjishong school. It is so amazingly gorgeous up there! And my quarters are much bigger and more luxurious than I was expecting. – From Arwen in Gasa

Accommodation in Gasa. Photo credit: Sarah Carlin
Accommodation in Gasa. Photo credit: Sarah Carlin

Our teachers teach at Bjishong Middle Secondary School, located by Damji village, two hours south of the Dzong and two hours north of the Punakha District. The school is primarily a boarding school, containing approximately 400 students in total ranging from PP (kindergarten) to class 10. It is one of only four schools in the district and the only school that goes past grade 6.

Past teachers in the field include Sarah Carlin, a teacher from our 2012 season. Sarah had this to say about her experience in Bhutan at Bjishong MSS: Much of life in Bhutan is spent, at least for me, “in the moment”…there are so many cultural things to learn, neighbours to befriend and get to know, students to teach, papers to grade, and of course the never-ending chores to do that I spent most of my time focused on the ‘here and now’.

I do not mind the remote environment, I am in no way bothered by cold weather, and although I miss my friends and family, I am not homesick. Coming here was the right decision for me. The challenges that first come to mind are the kinds that my western friends say – the physical ones. But after being at my placement for over a month, those are negligible if non-existent now. I am used to the day-to-day life here. – From Sarah’s Travels and Adventures

National Day. Photo credit: Sarah Carlin.
National Day. Photo credit: Sarah Carlin.

Gasa is just one of the districts our teachers are placed in so stay tuned for more District Spotlights! Read more about the district and schools at the above teacher blogs and be sure to keep your eyes on our live application date, opening May 1st!

Application opens May 1st, 2013! Learn more and apply online at

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