Here comes the main event–our hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest or as locals call it, Takstang Goemba. The impressive monastery seemingly defies gravity, perched atop the edge of a 1200 meter tall cliff. Yes, 1200 meters–which means it’s quite a hike up.
Going into it, I was both excited and wary–excited because I’ll finally get to see the legendary monastery but worried because I was scared I wouldn’t be able to reach the Tiger’s Nest. You see Bhutan is located at a higher altitude which may cause dizziness, shortness of breathe, nausea and more. This circumstance alone already makes doing any physical activity more difficult. What more when you’re hiking? But surprisingly, when we were slowly making our uphill ascent with our guide Mani and a friendly doggie we met along the way (cutest dog ever btw), it was easier than I expected. Yes, the hike is long. It can take you anywhere from 3-5 hours (including your way down from the Tiger’s Nest) depending on your pace but it’s definitely doable by most. But if you really think you can’t do it, there are horses you can ride as well to make the hike shorter. It doesn’t bring you all the way up but it does cut a substantial amount of hiking. I personally don’t recommend it though unless you have an injury or health condition. You see, the Tiger’s Nest has been a site of pilgrimage for the Bhutanese. And I truly believe that the hike is part of the experience. It’s therapeutic and calming–as if preparing you for what’s to come, for when you arrive at the sacred place of meditation.
You will be tested though. I remember when I was making my way down from the monastery, I met a number of tourists making their way up. The first one I met was a wee bit lost. He had to borrow Mani’s phone to contact his friends. The second one was struggling so much I could see she was about to give up. She asked, “is it still a long way?” I answered, “yes but there’s a halfway point where you can rest and see the Tiger’s Nest from afar.” I could totally tell she was thinking of just making her way up to the halfway point and stopping there but I encouraged her to complete the hike. I mean what’s the point of all your blood, sweat and tears if you don’t get to the finish line, right? (Tad bit dramatic but you get what I mean.)
There’s nothing like the Tiger’s Nest. Hopefully, my photos below did it justice.