31 October 2019
Well we have come to the end of our trip and begin the journey home. We are advised that we should allow at least 24 hours between our flight from Bhutan to Nepal and any international connections as delays are very common (don’t we know it). So I have another night in Kathmandu and will do a cooking class before our flight to Singapore tomorrow evening. But now seems a good time to reflect on my travels in both Nepal and Bhutan.
On the face of it Nepal and Bhutan are very similar countries: they are (or were) small (or relatively small) mountainous kingdoms spanning the Himalayas and sandwiched between China and India, with a high proportion of Buddhists. But their diverse histories have led to the development of 2 very different countries at this time in the 21st century.
Nepal has had a long period of civil unrest and political instability which have meant that the infrastructure has not been maintained (particularly after the devasting earthquake in 2015). It’s monarchy was disestablished in 2008 and now has a democratically elected government that has been in power for 2 years (the most stable in decades). Nepal has a population of approx 29M in 150,000km2 compared with Bhutan’s 0.763M in 38,000km2.
Nepal has embraced tourism as a means of bringing in income to the country but is starting to see the negative aspects of this with huge numbers of people coming to climb Everest with resulting congestion, rubbish and deaths.
- Caring for the Environment
- Preserving and promoting cultural integrity
- Good governance
- Social Equality
Bhutan opened up to tourism in 1974 (287 tourists visited then) but is managing it in a very different way: tourism is strictly controlled with every person required to book via a a Bhutanese agency and have a local guide and driver throughout their stay. Some may see this as unnecessarily controlling but we are definitely of the view that this is a very sensible approach. It is done with a positive intent so that all visitors have a positive experience: they have a good standard of transportation with reduced likelihood of accidents and a good standard of food and accommodation. They ensure local employment and the ability to expand tourism while still maintaining standards. Our guide and driver are definitely there to facilitate an enjoyable stay for us that meets our needs rather than strictly controlling what we can and can’t see (as I have experienced in some places).
For this and other similar tours see:
Peregrine Adventures (Comfort tours)
Geckos Adventures (for 18 to 30s)
Note: After people telling me they had booked an Intrepid Tour on my recommendation, I now have affiliate links with the Intrepid Travel group of companies and may receive a commission if you book a tour online within a couple of months after clicking through to these sites. So if you are enjoying my tips and stories and finding them useful in choosing your own travel, please click on these links and help me to bring you more .