Run Bhutan - Royal Highland Festival and 25k trail race (Oct. 2020) - Visit remote Laya, Bhutan

Royal Highland Festival and 25k trail race (Oct. 2020)


On this trip, you join runners from around Bhutan for the 5th Laya Run. The 25 km trail race kicks off the start of the Royal Highland Festival, a celebration of Bhutan’s rich traditions in this remote corner of the country. There are no roads to Laya. If you don’t run, you will hike. Visiting Laya is just a couple days within the much larger trip. You will visit monasteries and dzongs, explore a very remote corner of the country, enjoy hot springs, see the traditional crafts of Bhutan, and hike to the Tiger’s Nest. This is an unforgettable trip in a stunning country.

Bhutan is a special place. Less well-known, and far less visited than neighboring Nepal, Bhutan is a land of pristine Himalayan peaks, welcoming people, a carbon-positive footprint, and a unique sect of Buddhism. To visit this magical kingdom, travelers must obtain a visa from the Bhutanese government, which welcomes discerning visitors to tread lightly, protecting the environment and respecting their unique culture.

We first visited Laya in 2019 and our runners were the only group from outside of Bhutan to join the race. The experience was very special and we would go back again and again.

On a clear day flying in on Druk Air, the National Airline of Bhutan, you will be treated to a spectacular view of the great Himalayan peaks and your first glimpse of Bhutan. As you descend into Paro Valley at 7,400 feet, you arrive in a world apart. Crystal clear Himalayan air, the scent of pines, beautifully crafted traditional buildings, and the greetings of the Bhutanese people in their distinctive centuries-old woven robes signal that your journey, rare in time, place and spirit, has begun.

The trip is a mix of cultural tour, running, hiking, and an unforgettable festival. The first day will be relatively easy and we’ll check out Paro. The next day begins early. You will hike 3+ hour to the Taktshang Monastery or Tiger’s Nest, the most famous monastery in Bhutan. Over the next two days, we drive to Punakha, then the hot springs at Gasa. We’ll see some of the sights along the way as the altitude continues to climb. Our campsite at Gasa is next to packet pickup for the race. The next morning, runners will caravan to the starting line. Trekkers will drive up past the starting line to where horses are waiting for them. The Royal Highland Festival is a gorgeous celebration of highland culture, yaks, dogs, horses, dancing, and people. On the morning after the last bonfire has gone out, we will pack up the horses and head back to Gasa. You may be tired and it’s a hike, but you will look forward to the hot springs waiting for you back at camp. We will then drive to Punakha and Thimpu. We will explore the capital city for a day before driving back to Paro and our flight to Bangkok.

    Exertion Level (3+)

    Runners and travelers should be prepared for a trip that goes up to 13,800 feet of elevation with distances of up to 15 miles in a day. The trails are steep, but non-technical.The trail conditions will vary according to weather and horse traffic.

    Accommodations

    3* Hotel, 5 nights. Tent camping, 4 nights

    What’s included:

    This trip is an all-inclusive package that includes all in-country transportation, guides, drivers, guide gratuities, hotels, meals, camping fees, visas, race entries, and festival fees. The listed price also includes the flight from Bangkok to Paro. The price does not include alcohol, trip or evacuation insurance, or any souvenir purchases.

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