Gilda travelled with Druk Asia from 26 November to 4 December 2011. She completed the Samtengang Trek in 2 days. The following is an excerpt from her trip report.
The highlight of my travel in Bhutan is completing Samteygang trek. Bhutan is a great place for hiking / trekking. Samteygang Trek is considered low altitude and one of the easiest winter treks. The highest point is 3720m.
The uphill climb was relatively easy where we passed through a virgin forest full of rhododendron, oak and fruit trees. We ate berries, which were the bears’ favourite. Coincidentally, we saw a fresh set of paw prints of a bear and a tiger! Fortunately or unfortunately, we did not get to see them except some dogs (mainly Tibetian Mastiffs which are a highly independent and intelligent breed of dogs!) on our way to the campsite.
After 2 hours, we came to the pass where we had packed lunch at our supposedly first campsite, Chungsakha. It was a great spot for photography and an amazing view of Samteygang Village at close distance. I saw beautiful farmhouses, paddy fields and local people working hard on their farms. The most fascinating about trekking in Bhutan was the telecommunication connection. My guides could call on their hand phone to their family in Bhutan and even friends in Singapore via Whatsapp and sending pictures at the highest viewpoints. This, I must say, was very good connectivity in a land of valleys and high mountains!
After packed lunch, we continued walking down the valley for an hour before starting to head for our campsite, which was another 2 hrs climb away. Nearing the campsite, for travellers who craved for some comfort food, there was a small provision store that sold snacks and soft drinks.
Pemba had already prepared my sleeping tent, a made shift toilet and a ’kitchen" where a feast was about to begin after the long climb. Pemba had set up the campsite immaculately beautifully with a dining table adorned with nice tablecloth, candlelight, butter cookies and milk tea. I felt totally pampered by the entire setup of a warm cozy ’jungle hotel’ in the middle of nowhere accompanied by several friendly dogs who were waiting to share our feast at dinner time.
After a long day of walking through the virgin forest and combing through the villages, a unusual comfort in the jungle would be lying down in the tent watching movies on the iPad with my newfound Bhutanese friends. They were intrigued by the iPad and the many applications that came along with it. Simple joys we get in Singapore that were so easily taken for granted!
I was most heartened by the excitement of the little girl when she saw the iPad. Her face glowed as she watched the movie ’Hatchi’ starring Richard Gere, with me on the iPad.
Aside from the rosy picture of camping outdoors, I must say the most challenging task would be sleeping in a tent in the jungle. The complete darkness and silence of the night with occasional dogs barking, sounds of the dancing leaves sends one questioning about their state of mind, whether they are in one with the nature. When I woke up early in the morning was a warm welcome by the morning mist covering the lake beside the campsite. It was a beautiful picture; serene, tranquil and all!
For once as a city person from Singapore, I can proudly say that I survived the test of staying in the wilderness in Bhutan, for one night!