Tiger’s Nest and Paro
We get an early start to Tiger's Nest to avoid the hot sun and all the other tourists and pilgrims that will be there. The morning is spent hiking (or riding horses part way--you decide) up a forested path to Taktsang Monastery, also known as Tiger's Nest, Bhutan's most famous and scenic icon. (Robin wrote a story on Tiger's Nest for Tashi Delek Magazine, which is posted on the Rainbow Photo Tours web site.) The climb is steep and takes about 2 hours to ascend comfortably, but those who want to can ride a Himalayan "bony pony" up (but not down) and we will have our guides and drivers one-on-one to carry our photography gear and urge us on. An important place of pilgrimage and refuge for more than 1200 years, Taktsang Monastery clings to sheer cliffs two thousand feet above Paro Valley, and from the most popular vantage points on a rocky ledge directly across a chasm from it we will still need a 200 mm lens and a steady tripod to get tight photographs. As of 2004, after the rebuilding from a fire, foreigners have permission to hike all the way to Tiger's Nest, visit some of the altar rooms and maybe get a grand tour from Lam Renzin, the lama stationed there. We have become friends with Lam Renzin, bringing him gifts such as a Swiss Army multi-tool, saffron colored wool hat and in 2007 he requested we bring him a pair of binoculars to see who is coming to visit Tiger's Nest--Robin delivered them in 2008 so he might be watching our ascent.
This sacred place got its name when Guru Rimpoche rode there on the back of a flying tiger and meditated in a cave behind the present-day monastery. Sadly, in 1998, the central temple was destroyed by fire, leaving the country in mourning for their holiest of spiritual places. But religious leaders and the King quickly developed a plan to rebuild Taktsang and donations poured in from Buddhist centers all over the world. Today, the magnificent temple is completely rebuilt to its original glory. Tiger's Nest is once again the subject of cloud-shrouded posters that say, "Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon."
Picnic lunch halfway down the mountain in a grassy area off the beaten path. This hot lunch is packed up on a pack pony from a restaurant below in Paro. After lunch we descend to the base of Taktsang where our cars will take us back to Nak Sel by way of any place around Paro that you might have missed earlier. Tonight would be a good night to luxuriate yourself with a hot stone bath and massage and then walk down through the authentic Bhutanese cluster village just beneath the resort, interacting with kids playing in the street.
Dinner and overnight: Nak-Sel Resort