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Trans Bhutan Trail launches a NEW Women’s Adventure tour in celebration of International Women’s Day (8th March 2022)

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To mark International Women’s Day 2022, Trans Bhutan Trail is launching an exclusive Women’s Adventure Tour, led by female Bhutanese guides.

Alongside an opportunity to explore the Trans Bhutan Trail – which will be reopening for the first time in over 60 years in spring 2022 – the new 12-day tour will offer an insight into Bhutan’s fascinating matriarchal society, meeting some of the country’s most inspiring female entrepreneurs and exploring creative industries run by Bhutanese women.

Following years of extensive restoration, the 250-mile historic pilgrimage trail traversing Bhutan will welcome walkers and mountain bikers for the first time in over half a century.

On this new tour, travellers will see how women’s roles have developed in relation to the country’s guiding philosophy of Gross National Happiness.

TBT_Shops at Pelela

THE SOCIAL & HISTORICAL CONTEXT

Bhutan’s matriarchal society means that by law, Bhutanese women are considered equal to men; they do not have to contend with any overt discrimination on the basis of gender and hold an empowered standing in society.

Women play a vital role in the rural and urban economy, working together alongside men in the field as well as holding managerial positions in the public and private sectors. Men take a fully shared role in household management, and name inheritance is matrilineal; within marriage, women do not take their husband’s name, nor daughters their father’s name at birth. Married women often generate as much income as their husbands in addition to being housewives, with many being the breadwinner for their family.

THE FEMALE GUIDES & TRAIL STAFF

Speaking about the launch of the women-only tour, and what it means to be a modern Bhutanese woman, Tashi Chozom, one of the Trail guides – as well as an intrepid professional climber and trail runner – comments:

“For me, being a modern Bhutanese woman means seeing one's worth, and the ability to be independent and take on challenges regardless of gender.

“As a trail runner, I am excited to have the opportunity to one day run the whole trail from west to east, and influence more Bhutanese women to take an interest in trail running, as well as encouraging female tourists to experience and learn about our unique society.” Tashi Chozom

“For me, being a modern woman is about being able to agree to disagree, and recognising the importance of being able to talk about issues and seeing the other person's point of view. In the 21st century, the 2,500-year-old teaching of Buddha resonates very strongly with me: he taught that understanding is the key to peace and a harmonious society. We are bound to meet people with differing opinions which we might not always agree with. Through working on the Trans Bhutan Trail team, I feel like I have got to know my country and myself a little better with every step.” Dolkar, a female staff member of the Trans Bhutan Trail

Rigsang, a female staff member at the Trans Bhutan Trail, gives her reflections on modern Bhutanese womanhood:

“Women these days often have to juggle work and family, but while trying to strike a balance, they often forget to care for themselves. Connecting with Mother Nature helps them to heal and be at one with the natural world. Just as Mother Earth needs time to heal, being a woman from this generation, I would encourage women to take time off and dedicate themselves to self-care. Itineraries such as this one which focus on women provide an important space to connect with other women from different walks of life, and to form a network outside of work and family.” Ringsang

TBT_Sitting on the Mountain

BHUTAN WOMEN’S ADVENTURE ITINERARY

Offering an appreciation of the traditionally female-led areas of expertise in Bhutan, guests will develop an understanding of Bhutanese crafts, including watching the intricate handiwork of the famous Yatra weavers, discovering local yak hair products, and a traditional Bhutanese textile dyeing workshop given by a specialist who uses natural and organic dyes and has created textiles for His Majesty, the King of Bhutan.

There will be a visit to the Tsumalaphy Nunnery and the Pema Choling Nunnery to meet some of the women and girls living there and learn about Nyingma Peling Buddhist traditions, as well as a stop at the Bhutanese Association of Women Entrepreneurs, an NGO with a mission to promote sustainable and equal opportunities for female entrepreneurs across Bhutan.

Additional highlights of the trip include dining with one of Bhutan’s first female police officers, now a renowned specialist in Bhutanese cuisine and food culture running a restaurant in the capital city of Thimphu; discovering the pioneering Bhutanese fashion designer behind innovative brand CDK; and getting to know the organic Bhutanese wellness brand Tsé Organics which combines traditional wisdom with contemporary technology. Along the trail, female explorers will also have the opportunity to see monasteries and temples, go river rafting, try Bhutan’s national sport of archery, sample the country’s celebrated Red Panda Beer at Bumthang Brewery, visit Bhutan’s only commercial cheese factory, and relax in a traditional hot stone bath.

The Women’s Adventure costs £5,120 pp, including 11 nights’ hotel and lodge accommodation, all meals, transfers, guiding and excursions. Departures available from September. **All trips booked with The Trans Bhutan Trail include TICO financial guarantee. To book, visit transbhutantrail.org.

Travellers to Bhutan from the UK can fly via Bangkok, New Delhi, Kathmandu or Singapore, with onward flights operated by two Bhutanese airlines – Druk Air and Bhutan Airlines.

**Current entry requirements for Bhutan as of 17 February 2022: Visitors must take a PCR test followed by government-facilitated quarantine for two weeks (cost to be borne by the traveller). Tourist visas are required; these are not currently being issued, but this is expected to change by spring 2022, with quarantine measures also expected to be eased.

Ends: 17 February 2022

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