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Tiger’s Nest

Exploring Tiger's Nest

Tucked away on a steep Cliffside in the majestic Upper Paro Valley of Bhutan, Paro Taktsang (also known as Tiger’s Nest) is an absolute must for any adventurers preparing to embark on a trek through Bhutan’s Himalaya Mountains. This Himalayan Buddhist sacred site was constructed in 1692 around a cave (also called a “tiger’s lair”) where, legend holds, Guru Padmasambhava meditated for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours in the 8th Century.  Padmasambhava is credited with introducing Buddhism to Bhutan and is the tutelary deity of the country. 

The Tiger’s Nest is a roughly 6.2 mile one way hike from the Paro Valley bottom through gorgeous forest with about 3,000 feet of elevation gain.   A moderately difficult day hike, many trekkers spend their first day in Bhutan hiking the out and back to the Tiger’s Nest in order to acclimate to the high altitude. 

Unless you are a citizen of Bhutan or India or have a special permit, those wishing to visit the Tiger’s Nest are only permitted to do so with a local guide.  We were lucky enough to be accompanied by Bhutan Native and guide, Ugyen, who has spent his whole life trekking through the Bhutan Himalaya.  Ugyen has probably hiked to the Tiger’s Nest hundreds of times, yet his passion and enthusiasm for the area and history is unwavering.  Luckily for our lungs and legs, Ugyen would stop periodically to give us little history tidbits and answer any burning questions we came up with. 

The hike, while strenuous at times, is almost as breathtaking as the temple itself.  We were either walking through a beautifully dense and lush forest or taking in views of the stunning Paro Valley below.  About one mile prior to arriving at the Tiger’s Nest we were treated to some delicious tea and biscuits at a small outpost selling treats and souvenirs.  Here we had the opportunity to catch our breath and get our first visual of the Tiger’s Nest from across a steep and deep box canyon.  The last mile or so of trail was narrow and had several moderately steep up and down sections but the Bhutanese government has spent a lot of money building steps and erecting guardrails to ensure the safety of locals and visitors alike. 

Upon arrival at the temple we were required to remove our shoes and turn in cell phones and cameras due to the Tiger’s Nest being a sacred site.  Visitors are allowed to quietly tour the temple with their guide, so we followed Ugyen through the plethora of rooms and narrow staircases, each serving a different purpose.  While the Tiger’s Nest is a popular and frequently visited tourist site, it is still an active temple and we had the privilege of seeing several monks in the middle of their daily meditations, hence the need to be quiet during the tour. 

The Tiger’s Nest harbors so many awe inspiring qualities – the history, the hike, the sheer beauty, etc.  Most striking, however, is probably the architecture and engineering that went in to constructing this seemingly impossible structure on the side of a mountain in the 17th Century.  The fact that, aside from a freak electrical fire in 1998, this amazing feat of human ingenuity has withstood the test of time should strike reverence in anyone who has the opportunity to visit.

The Tiger’s Nest should undoubtedly be included on every world traveler’s bucket list. 

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Riads in Morocco

Riads are a traditional Moroccan house, located within an ancient medina (walled city), which is designed around a central courtyard and or/garden. These beautiful homes have been restored to reflect traditional Moroccan decor, but also with the modern amenities you would find in 4 and 5 star hotels.

As you approach a riad from one of Morocco's narrow, labyrinthine streets, you will likely notice that each door looks similar, but also has its own personality. When you open the door to the riad, you will enter in a hallway that does not permit you a glimpse into the heart of the house. This 'layered' effect of walls, doors and hallways are a historical privacy feature for the residents of the house....allowing the outside door to be open to the public, while offering protection for those within...and also creates a sound barrier against the noise of the streets. As you pass from the bustling streets, through the nondescript exterior and into the central courtyard/garden of a riad, you may be surprised and delighted by tranquil, elegant beauty you will find within. A diamond in the rough!

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