A group of 18 pupils and three staff from Dauntsey’s spent two weeks before Christmas in the remote Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan. This is the School’s fourth visit to the country; in 2005, they were the first school to visit the kingdom which tightly controls the number of visitors permitted entry.
The group spent their time exploring the country's cultural heritage, meeting local people and trekking in the Bhutanese mountains. Highlights included a visit to the magnificent Punakha Dzong, a fortress turned temple and religious centre; a trip to Huensal to see the biggest “sitting Buddha” statue in the world and five days’ trekking to the base camp of Jomolhari and visiting the spectacular Taktsang Monastery , known as the Eagle’s Nest, perched on a cliff some 2,000 feet above the Paro Valley.
The last couple of days which are not accounted for in the blogs included a trek up to Tiger's Nest. This was a 2.5 hour trek up dusty trails to a lookout from where you can see the monastery perched 900ft over the valley. A narrow, exposed walkway and bridge led to the monastery which was a warren of steps, temples, caves and balconies and included a cave 60ft deep and only shoulder width wide.
After visiting Tiger's Nest the group went into Paro for lunch, where they feasted on steamed and fried dumplings filled with different meats, cheeses and vegetables. This was then followed by two hours of shopping in laid back Paro, after which they drove to Thimphu for dinner at the hotel.
The last full day of this amazing adventure was a day of rest and relaxation in Thimphu, including a football match in the National Stadium with the guides. The altitude was our pupil’s downfall and they lost by 8-6, but again, another awesome experience.
More shopping in the afternoon, followed by packing and then dinner hosted by Upper Sixth pupil Kinley’s parents at their lovely hotel.
Next day the group were up early to transfer to the airport. They flew from Paro to Kathmandu, Kathmandu to Abu Dhabi, spent 6 hours in Abu Dhabi before flying on to London, after which they returned to school after 30 hours travelling just in time for Christmas!
Sam Moore, Head of Adventure Education, Dauntsey’s said:
“This truly was a trip of a lifetime for our pupils. We not only learnt about the culture of this fascinating country but also a lot about ourselves. Trekking at altitudes of 4,000 metres across challenging terrain, and sleeping under canvas in temperatures as low as minus 10, certainly makes you realise what you can achieve if you really push yourself. We have all come home with some new life skills as well as some wonderful experiences to share.”
Other Adventure Education trips that are on the horizon include Sea Kayaking on the West Coast of Scotland this Summer, and a possible expedition to Peru and the Andes in 2018.
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