Bhutan

6th April 2007 at 01:00
Mrs Pavi Chhetri (pictured right) is the headmistress of Etho Metho Primary School in Thimphu in Bhutan

Favourite place when you have time off?

On auspicious days we visit one of the Buddhist temples in the Thimphu valley to offer butter lamps. The pupils do this too. We organise picnics with friends and family.

Many of our monasteries are high up and can be a good hike in summer. In the mountains you can see rare animals and birds such as the black-necked crane which flies into the high Phobjika valley when it gets too cold in Tibet. Our national animal is the takin - it looks like a cow with a head like a bull. We also have tigers, snow leopards and leopards. Driving up to Thimphu once, I saw a small leopard.

When is a good time to come?

In March and April the weather is beautiful. The rhododendron forests are in flower high up the mountainsides.

Later you see our national flower, the blue poppy. We have a big variety of orchids. We eat them with cottage cheese as a delicacy. We eat lots of cheese.

In May, it's less crowded and good for trekking. November is good for photography and mountain biking.

Lunchtime treats?

The Art Cafe or Swiss Bakery (I like the Swiss roll), which are both in Thimphu.

Evening delights?

We go to see a Bhutanese movie in a local theatre or take a long walk along Thimphu river.

Don't miss Taking a hike to Taksang monastery, which is perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro valley floor.

It was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Nawang Namgyel, and is also known as Tiger's Nest, because the Guru Rinpoche, who brought Buddhism to our country, is believed to have flown to the monastery on a tiger. You can see the marks of the tiger's paws in the rock.

Don't bother

Visiting during the Paro or Bumthang festivals which are getting a bit crowded.

Remember to bring or buy

Sun-cream as the Sun in the Himalayas is very strong. Don't forget your camera, batteries and film.

Find out more

www.tourism.gov.bt.

How to get there

CTS Horizons' (020 7836 9911, www.ctshorizons.com) 10-day Beauties of Bhutan costs from pound;1,845 per person, including international flights via Delhi, regional air travel, transfers, most meals, the Bhutanese visa and the services of an experienced local tour manager.

Price to the planet

Offset the climate cost of a return flight to Paro for pound;16.24 per adult. Visit www.climatecare.org.

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