My husband and I spent nine days in Bhutan in April 2013 and stayed at four of the five Aman properties (Thimphu, Gangtey, Paro, and Punahka). The Aman standard of service and food is very high, and the beauty and intimacy of the resorts are hard to beat. You do pay handsomely for the privilege of the Aman experience.
A friend had previously stayed at Amankora and highly recommended their guide, Tshering Dorji. Tshering had since left Amankora, where he worked for nine years, to run his own tour company. To the Aman management's credit they hired him to be our guide for our nine-day trip. We had decided to book a short trek out of Punakha, but as soon as we arrived Tshering explained that the time of year it would be quite warm for that trek, and instead recommended the Bumdra trek out of Paro, which turned out to be great advice. Tshering took care of reorganizing our schedule. He and our driver Sonam (who is also the Bhtanese national bicycle road racing champion), also gave us archery lessons at Gangtey. This turned into an ongoing archery competition (Tshering and I versus Sonam and my husband), that provided us and passersby with much amusement.
We felt we could ask Tshering anything and genuinely enjoyed his company and his extensive knowledge of Bhutan. If you would like to contact Tshering regarding guide services his email is firstname.lastname@example.org. My husband and I plan to return to Bhutan for trekking and plan to use Tshering as our guide and trip organizer.
Gangtey was my favorite of the four Aman resorts. The valley is beautiful and the hike through the rhododendron forest was a highlight. We were there in early April, and if we'd been a few weeks later the rhododendrons would've been in full bloom. The walk is still wonderful. We saw a black eagle and wild boar along the way, and ended by passing a group of young monks in robes who were playing volleyball, one of those lovely unexpected moments that Bhutan provides in abundance. Gangtey is famous for its black-necked cranes that migrate into the valley in the fall and are a great source of pride in Bhutan; I would be very tempted to return for the annual Crane Festival.
All of the rooms at the Amans in Bhutan are similar if not identical, which turned out to be a nice touch because you always know where to find things. The rooms are all wood-paneled and the only demerit is that they could use better lighting. My husband and I did the traditional stone bath in the potato shed, which was interesting, but not a "must do."
The five-hour trip from Thimphu to Gangtey is nothing but one hairpin turn after another--if you suffer from motion sickness bring meds!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Combining aman, the Sanskrit-derived word for 'peace', and kora or 'circular pilgrimage' in Dzongkha, the Bhutanese language, Amankora, is a series of lodges in the Kingdom of Bhutan's central and western valleys. The sole surviving Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom, Bhutan is one of the most remote and pristine environments on earth. To best experience all that Bhutan has to offer, Amankora can tailor journeys that include a combination of its lodges located in the valleys of Paro, Thimphu, Punakha, Gangtey and Bumthang. ... more less
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