|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
Backpacker Magazine – November 2013
Trust a country that didn't allow television until 1999 to provide a portal into traditional Buddhist culture and unspoiled landscapes. But get there soon: Thanks to a new democracy, Bhutan is modernizing fast. Luckily, getting around has never been easier, and strict regulation keeps the hordes away. Mix and match these three adventures into a trip of a lifetime.
[best yak encounters]
Fit in several adventures by snagging up-close views of 23,000-foot peaks (including 23,997-foot Chomolhari) after just 2.5 days walking past terraced farms, old-growth forests, rhododendrons, and high-alpine meadows. Take eight days to loop over a 16,000-foot pass to the yak-herding valley of Soi Yakso. Guide peggydayadventures.com
[best adrenaline rush]
Rafting Drangme Chhu
Talk about unexplored: The first descent of these Class V+ rapids wasn’t until 2009. But as of this year, you can now barrel down this raging turquoise water, passing through remote granite canyons, on a guided raft trip. The upper (harder)section is for experienced, custom groups only, but you can explore the Class III+ rapids, beach camping, riverside villages, and Himalayan views on the mellower lower section. Plan on six days for the full river or three for the lower (though most trips come as part of a 12- to 17-day package).
Guide O.A.R.S ($6,165 for 13 days; oars.com)
Season November to February to avoid the summer rainy season