Have you noticed one of the new buzzwords appearing on the travel scene recently? Wellness travel has the industry humming, and more and more resorts and hotels are offering the opportunity to challenge yourself physically and then restore your mind and body with wellness treatments. I’ll be taking a look at some of the exciting destinations I’ve discovered for this new trend. To start, let’s have a look at sustainable wellness travel in Bhutan which incorporates cultural history and tradition into the process.
One of the toughest treks in the world is the approximately three week Snowman Trek on the eastern edge of the Himalayan Range. The altitude is intense and the trail is frequently covered with a blanket of snow. While I realize I am not a candidate for this challenge, I can easily see myself completing a few days of trekking in the Kingdom of Bhutan. It’s a destination that has been on my radar for years now and with planning in the works, the time has come to focus on actually getting there!
Photo via Thomas Fuhrman (creative commons)
Day two of the Snowman trek will find you focusing on the three hour hike to Taktsang Monastery, also well know as Tiger’s Nest, nestled high above the Paro valley. This is one site I would not want to miss. Considered the pinnacle of the holiest places in Bhutan, the steep climb brings you along an amazing, scenic route to the monastery which seems to hug the cliffs, defying gravity. It is said that on this spot Guru Rinpoche materialized some 1,300 years ago, by way of a flying tigress, and meditated in the shelter of surrounding caves. Thus began the conversion of the Bhutanese to Buddhism. Although the structure has been replaced several times due to weather damage and fire, the building still reflects a basic Bhutanese tenant: structures are temporary, always needing over time to be replaced or renovated; ideas and principles are what service from generation to generation.
Wellness Travel in Bhutan
Now… about the wellness component. Tradition has Bhutanese farmers restoring themselves after the back breaking task of harvesting fields in hot stone baths. River rocks are heated and then placed in the bath. As the temperature of the water rises, the rocks crack and release steam and key minerals, relieving aches and pains. These baths have been a part of traditional medicine for centuries and the ritual surrounding the process all contributes to the wellness and healing power. Medicinal herbs are added and one can only image the sweet aroma rising as you are being warmed. This Bhutanese healing ritual can have a positive affect on joint pain, stomach problems and arthritis.
The luxury brand, COMO Hotels, long known for their environmental stewardship, supports local cultures and traditions in each of their locations. This commitment inspires their programs and ensures a memorable, green travel experience for their guests. Uma Paro is one of two Bhutan locations that bring the traditional wood bath to life. Guests can savor this treatment after a challenging day climbing to the Tiger’s Nest. Uma’s Bhutanese style bath house overlooks a pine forest where guests can soak behind a big picture window and take in the environmental beauty of the landscape.
If the water starts to cool, additional rocks can be added through a chute, releasing benefits and heat into the water. Can you hear the hiss of the steam?
Would this not be the perfect retreat for reflecting on your visit to Taksang Monastery and the Happiness Factor for which Bhutan is well known? Finish off your restorative treatment with a Nirvana inducing Shambhala massage. Your journey back to holistic wellness in the wildly beautiful Kingdom of Bhutan will surely leave a lasting impression.
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