“When we decided to travel to Bhutan we were keen to access the people and places without being superficial. We are not accustomed to traveling with guides. We are independently-minded travelers, and a ‘tour’ company is not our bag. For Bhutan, though, you need a guide, and a good one.
Our guide was Namgay, and he instantly and firmly became a warm-hearted friend. ‘I’m happy if you are,’ he regularly assured us, and he meant it. There was no last-minute change of mind that he could not accommodate, no option that could not be explored, nothing that could be wondered without a considered response.
We drank tea with Namgay’s mother in her village. We bumped our way in a spotless late-model van to timeless village festivals at the end of primitive tracks. We made a three-day mini-trek with guide, two cooks, two horsemen, six ponies and a dog. And we wandered wherever we chose, safely and with curiosity. We lingered anywhere that caught our fantasy. We saw sacred mountains, forests and sublime upland valleys, monkeys, yaks, black-necked cranes, beautiful butterflies and countless birds. We admired the intricately decorated homes and shops. We walked in fortresses and monasteries without once feeling ‘dzonged-out’. We heard the stories and the unique social and political history of the kingdom, and mused about its future.
We loved Bhutan, its wonderful, optimistic people and their bubbly children. We did this because Illuminating Tours were attentive yet unobtrusive, reliable yet flexible, and passionate yet personable.”