After spending just about two months on the UWICE (Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation of the Environment) campus in Bumthang, we all got excited for a new adventure a little further south to Punahkha. Warmer weather and one of the most beautiful dzongs in Bhutan graciously welcomed SFS students to our new destination.

While here, we visited the district just north of Punahka called Gasa, where we camped for two nights. Bhutan’s diverse mountainous geography makes for drastic changes in climate and wildlife. Only about 40 miles from Bumthang’s cold mountainous blue pine filled valley lies Gasa’s lowland broad-leafed forest. I felt as though I had entered the rain forest; I was surrounded by beautiful waterfalls and one evening some of us were even lucky enough to see some monkeys.

The second day of camping we all loaded up the van and drove three hours even further north into Gasa to visit some natural hot springs and visit another spectacular dzong. We tested out all the hot springs and enjoyed the view of the mountains as we soaked. We ended our day excursion with a visit to the Gasa Tashi Tongmön Dzong.

We left Gasa after having an unforgettable adventure and made it back to Punakha just in time to celebrate Bhutan’s Fourth King’s 60th birthday with the rest of the town. Dances, singing, and speeches were held in his honor. Happy birthday Jigme Singye Wangchuck!

→ Himalayan Environment & Society in Transition Semester Program in Bhutan