The Ghost Who Walks in the Himalaya, Bhutan, March 2018

I’ve resurfaced in the Himalaya in the tiny mountain kingdom of Bhutan. Wedged between Nepal and Tibet this mountainous Shangri-La is sometimes best known for its official Gross National Happiness Index.. but more on that later.
The main reason for my travels to Bhutan was to pull on the hiking boots again. It’s been over a decade since I was last in the Himalaya in Nepal. I’ve just returned from an 8 day trek around the Jomolhari mountain range- one of the 7000m peaks in the north west of Bhutan and a stone’s throw from the Tibet border. Unlike the well trodden trails of Nepal this is a remote and relatively uninhabited region of Bhutan so I travelled expedition style with pack horses and camped for the duration.
Under perfect blue spring skies the trek took us around 130km and over two 5000m mountain passes. I won’t try to find words for all the icing sugar peaks, turquoise mountain lakes and dramatic big skies that remind you that you’re on top of the world- the photos will tell that story for me.
But there were also some small spring surprises which brightened the reality of long hours treading high mountain dusty trails. Delicate purple primula flowers peeped through rocky outcrops and scarlet rhododendrons were in bloom at lower altitudes. We had some incredible luck with wildlife encounters – we watched a herd of takin climbing a ridge towards their summer alpine pastures – these are almost mythical Bhutanese creatures that look like a cross between a moose and a large antelope and are extremely rare to see in the wild.
But for wildlife lovers my eyes have seen the most elusive of them all! At a high altitude lake Tshophu at around 4500m we saw a snow leopard slink across the frozen border and disappear into the rocks. Truly this was the ghost who walks – a secretive beast that so few have ever had the fortune to see. So caps another incredible Himalayan adventure- I’m truly amazed at where a pair of boots and my two feet can take me in this world.


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