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April Trans Bhutan Trail Report

On behalf of the Trans Bhutan Trail community, we hope that you and your families are keeping well and safe during this global challenging time. Be safe and we look forward to seeing you on the trail in the not too distant future. BCF has also prepared a curated collection of educational resources to support the sudden shift to remote learning, please share these with your family and friends.

  • Submitted a report to His Majesty’s Secretariat outlining successes to date including results from the recent Trail Survey expedition and recommendations regarding next steps.
  • National Land Commission completed mapping of full 430km trail including recording of over 400 cultural and ecologically significant sites along the route
  • Secured 18.32 million Ngultrum from the Royal Government of Bhutan via Tourism Council of Bhutan to hire unemployed tourism representatives and others effected by COVID-19. Funds will be used to assist with rejuvenating sections of the Trans Bhutan Trail (TBT) in collaboration with 25 Gewogs over the next six months.
  • Received additional support through BCF donors (8.56 million Ngultrum) for trail development, education and outreach activities bringing the total budget to 26.9million Ngultrum.
  • In the face of the devastating impact the global pandemic has had on Bhutan’s tourism industry, the planned trail activities over the next 2 months present an excellent opportunity to provide employment during these challenging times. Their contributions could help complete a number of trail projects, significantly excelling the completion of the trail
  • Work is underway on trail signage and way-finding including the painting of white blazes along the trail and signposts made out of recycled plastic, located at access points.
Sketch of the TBT pole marker which will be placed at intersections along the trail. 
  • Developing a trail standards manual which will be made available to all districts to assist with sustainable trail work
  • Hired Druk Hosting, website company based out of Thimphu to design and build the TBT website
  • Hired an independent design consultant to develop the passport in preparation for launching the Passport Program in the fall of 2020.
  • Trail team visited Haa, Paro, Punakha and Wangdi at the end of the month to further develop relationships with the local Dzongdas and Gups in preparation for May/June trail projects.
Haa start and finish point with (left to right) Sonam Rinchen (TBT Senior Project Director), Yeshi Lhaden (Katsho Tsokpa), and Pema Drukpa.
  • Steering Committee continues to meet via Zoom video conferencing to support the TBT team.
April Steering Committee meeting via Zoom.
  • Completed a database of over 70 stakeholders and contributors along the trail route.
  • Conducted a survey of 35 km section of new trail which will make it possible to avoid a long section of highway through Trongsa.
Trongsa Dzong

BONUS: Story on Trans Bhutan Trail and Bhutanese Generosity

In the winter and spring of 1962 Dr. Peter Steele, on the invitation of His Majesty, The Third King, spent 6 months with his wife and two young children, conducting a medical expedition across The country. The journey, supported by Chhimi Wangchuk, was one of the last documented trips on the old route, before the construction of the national highway. The following excerpt from his visit to a community affected by leprosy notes the extraordinary generosity of the Bhutanese people in the face of adversity. Though the trail has since overgrown, that culture has remained.

“I did a clinic as best I could and left behind the few medicines I had brought with me; then we visited the houses of those who were too ill to creep to the dispensary. As I was about to leave one of the patients collected an egg from every person present and handed them to me in a bowl. I had difficulty restraining the tears that welled into my eyes at the moments and to speak past the lump in my throat.”

P. Steele, Two and Two Halves Across Bhutan, Quality Book Club, 1970.

Above: Peter Steele and family with Chhimi Wangchuk. Source: Two and Two Halves across Bhutan, 1962, with permission, Dr. Peter Steele.
A traditional offering of tea and eggs to the TBT team.

Trans Bhutan Trail Distance and Altitude Map

The Trans Bhutan Trail Project (TBT) will restore and reconnect the centuries old historic East-West path that runs across Central Bhutan. This trail will provide connection for local communities and educational opportunities for youth. It will also create an accessible, unique cultural and nature-based tourism experience.

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