Bhutan Diary No. 3

Henry and Imy write about our trek to Jomolhari Base Camp

We woke up ready for a long day ahead knowing that we needed to make the most of the showers in Punakha as we would be spending the next 5 nights camping.

Before departure we were introduced to the national sport of Bhutan, archery. This was more difficult then any of us could have imagined resulting in none of us hitting the target. Along with archery we tried darts which was also very different to any game of darts we had played before, again few of us hit the target. Afterwards we were invited into Champ's house, Champ being our "Mr Connected ", the man who was organising our entire trip in Bhutan. Whilst there we also connected with the parents of some other Dauntsey's pupils, namely Tseki and Kinley.

We then started our journey to our first campsite where our tents were prepared with thick mattresses and pillows in them ready for our arrival. We then went into the food tent where we were given an endless supply of black tea and a variety of other hot drinks.

The next morning everyone staggered out of their tents tired, cold and recovering from the first restless night of the trip. We then set off at around 8:30 for what would undoubtedly be the longest walking day of the trek. Unfortunately there were a few illnesses on the trip which made the long day of trekking harder for some then others but we were all happy to eventually arrive in a scenic location for lunch. We were pleasantly surprised to have one of the nicest meals of our time in Asia so far.

Afterwards we climbed upwards for another 4 hours until we finally reached our camp which for most was a sight that we never thought we would reach, after walking for a total of 8 hours. As the temperature dived to below -10 degrees C we were happy to have a hut with a wood burning stove in it which was quickly surrounded by most of the group.

 The next morning we put our boots back on, some considerably more icy than others as a result of being left outside of the tent, and continued the trek. Whilst not as far or steep as the previous day's hike the altitude, starting at 3600 m and finishing at 4100m, was more than starting to take effect on us.

Another hot lunch halfway through the day helped us all reach Jumolhari base camp. Seeing the setting sun on the snow covered peak was a great way to reward all our hard work. Again we were very appreciative of a warm hut to eat our dinner in and hide from our tents and the cold outside.

After reevaluating how the altitude was affecting us on the third morning, the decision was made not to go up a further 200m to visit some glacial lakes. This was taken well as we had all reached our goal of reaching base camp and the lakes were always an add on to this.

Going down was much easier, each step seeming to fill our lungs with more oxygen. We were making time so well, that when passing a small army base of 3 soldiers, we took up their offer of playing volleyball on their court. It is fair to say that we will not leave school to become a professional team, although our best 5 players fared well losing only 13-15 to five of our Bhutanese guides. Returning to the same campsite we stayed at on the way up we were given the news that because of our quick descent this would be our last night camping not penultimate as planed. This news went down very well!

This morning we were up the earliest so far and walking by 8:30 so to get to our bus and then showers as quickly as possible. Retracing our hike from the first day, its steep rocky paths weren't kind on knees and we had to dodge skittish yaks being herded back up the mountain.

Now showered and warm in our hotel we are looking forward to our last 3 in Bhutan nights before we fly home in time for Christmas. Tomorrow promises to be a highlight of the trip as we ascend to the famous Tigers Nest monastery.

Photos as always at www.twitter.com/dauntseysaded.

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