Q & A with Mr. Tsewang Rinzing, Founder, Sakten Tours & Treks – Thimphu, Kingdom of Bhutan.
“Family-owned and reputable travel company in Bhutan for more than 20 Years.” Recommended by Lonely Planet.
WHAT LANGUAGES DO YOU OFFER?
English is the language provided in the regular package price. For other languages there is a supplemental fee. We do have guides available for guests who speak Chinese, Japanese, German, Spanish, and French languages.
HOW DO TRAVELERS FIND OUT ABOUT SAKTEN TOURS & TREKS?
Since my company has been established for many years and has a good reputation for providing quality service, we receive many referrals from past guests. We also receive many inquiries through our website or through travel agents abroad.
We get clients from all over, but mostly they are Americans and Europeans.
DO THEY ARRIVE BY AIRLINE OR SOME OTHER WAY?
About 90% of our clients fly in and out of Paro airport on Druk Air or Bhutan Airlines. The rest drive in from India and fly out or vice versa.
HOW MUCH TIME DOES IT TAKE TO GET A TOURIST VISA?
It only takes about 3 - 5 working days to get the visa approved. All we need is a copy of your passport which should have a validity of at least 6 months prior to your first day in Bhutan.
WHICH ARE THE BEST MONTHS TO VISIT BHUTAN?
The peak season months are March, April, May, September, October and November. The daily tariff is higher for these months and lower for the other 6 months (off season).
We have many festivals and holidays, and visitors are always welcome. In fact, we have holidays during the Tsechus (festivals), and that is a big attraction in itself. We have Tsechus in every place at different times of the year. Some of the museums do close on public holidays, but the hotels are always open. Many of our guests want to be here to observe our festivals.
Some of our clients do feel a little lightheaded upon arrival at the Paro airport but that passes after a day or two. Most visitors do not experience any problems.
WHAT DOES THE BUDDHISM RELIGION TEACH YOU ABOUT THE MOUNTAINS AND CAVES OF THE HIMALAYAS?
In Bhutan we consider our mountains sacred. We don't climb any of our mountains - we only trek to the base. Most of the caves are sacred as well. They were used hundreds of years ago by renowned Buddhist gurus for meditation. Even today we have many practitioners meditating in the caves near the mountains.
Yes, the people of Bhutan love chilies. We use fresh or dried chilies in much of our cooking. You have a choice of buying local red chilies or the imported ones from India. Most Bhutanese would find their dishes bland without some type of chili or hot spice. This is true for both vegetarians and meat-eaters.
DO YOU NEED TO STERILIZE WATER BEFORE YOU CAN DRINK IT?
While our tap water is clean, we do not drink it without boiling and filtering it at home. In the hotels and restaurants we use bottled water for drinking. The tap water is perfectly safe for bathing and washing.
MY READERS ARE NATURE-LOVERS. DURING THEIR TREKS, WHICH SPECIES OF BIRDS AND ANIMALS ARE THEY LIKELY TO SEE?
Bhutan is divided into several zones - the sub-tropical, temperate, alpine and sub-alpine zone - so the natural habitat is different for each zone.
DO YOU GET MANY REQUESTS FOR HOME-STAYS? WHAT CAN A VISITOR EXPECT FROM THIS EXPERIENCE?
We do get requests for home stays as it is an excellent way to know the real Bhutan. While some home stays might not be as comfortable as a hotel, the experience is what our guests desire. They want to meet and get to know a family and experience the warm hospitality that Bhutanese are known for.
The major source of electricity in Bhutan is hydropower. Apart from hydropower, our Government has encouraged use of solar panels especially in remote places where there is no electrification. Lately we have also started harnessing energy using wind turbines.
WHAT ELSE IS BEING DONE TO PROTECT THE BEAUTIFUL ENVIRONMENT?
Environmental protection is taken very seriously in Bhutan, so much so that our constitution requires us to maintain 60% of forest cover today and for all times to come. All Bhutanese make concerted efforts to plant as many new trees as possible, as individuals or institutions, or as part of a Government organization. Also proper waste management is being taught in schools and awareness campaigns to educate those adults who previously did not understand the consequences of littering and illegal dumping.
IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE MY READERS TO KNOW?
At Sakten Tours & Treks we will satisfy all your interests - cultural tours, photography tours, hiking, biking, nature-focused, or festival itineraries. We take care of all the details so in the end each client has the best memorable experience of Bhutan.
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