Here are profiles for a few key members of our team, in our own words.
Namgyal, co-founder / tour manager / head guide
My name is Namgyal (also known as Namgay) and I am one of the co-founders of Illuminating Tours. I work as a head tour guide for the company, and lead some of our recurring and custom photography tours in Bhutan. I started working as a guide in 2004, after graduating from Bhutan’s Sherubtse College. I personally train and brief virtually all guides and drivers employed by our company.
I hail from the central part of Bhutan, and grew up in Tshangkha village of Trongsa. There, I experienced rural village life and worked on farms. I also studied religious texts for a short period of time in a monastery during my childhood, and later on, as part of my winter break studies. I currently live in the capital city of Thimphu, which is very different from the village. Through my life experiences thus far, I have come to understand the urban, rural, and even the monastic life in Bhutan. I see my determination, sense of responsibility, willingness to learn, and sense of humour as some of my most important character traits.
Through my career as a tour guide, I’ve gained greater knowledge about many things about Bhutan, such as its culture, traditions, flora, and fauna. Along the way, I’ve also learned a lot from our guests about the countries where they come from and their own cultures. I have worked on photography tours since 2007, which was when I began developing my own interest in photography. I like landscape as well as portrait photography, and enjoy keeping an eye out for photo opportunities for other photographers. Apart from photography, I enjoy helping guests experience the cultures and traditions that make Bhutan unique from the other parts of the world.
Namgay's photos were recently featured on the poster and website of the award-winning documentary film The Farmer and I, directed by Irja Bernstorff and filmed in Bhutan. You can find out more about the film its website (in German): http://www.the-farmer-and-i.de, and you can also view the English trailer here.
Debbie, Account Manager
A transplant to Bhutan, I was born, raised, and educated (mostly) in the U.S. Happy chance–or perhaps karma?–brought me here in 2008, and I knew right away that somehow, some way, this place was going to have an immense impact on my future. The feeling that you get when you see Bhutan for yourself is a hard one to describe, and as this place is obviously very special to me, I’m excited to have the chance to share it with our guests.
I’m a trained linguist, a functionally obsessive-compulsive artist, a bookbinder, a traveller, and a grammarphile who loves the Oxford comma. I value integrity, forthrightness, resourcefulness, pragmatism, attention to detail, and a good balance between the head and the heart. Whatever your question is, I’ll do my absolute best to give you accurate and useful information!
TSHERING, hospitality manager
I’m one of the most experienced members of the Illuminating Tours team. While I’ve spent many years as a senior guide, my role here is to help with arranging accommodation and making sure that our guests are placed in comfortable, quality hotels and guesthouses.
tandin, booking officer
I grew up in Thimphu and graduated from Sherubtse College in eastern Bhutan. Since Illuminating Tours is a small business, I tend to play several supporting roles all at once! Most of the time, I help with hotel and flight bookings. I’m probably the one chasing those seats on the waitlist for you!