The Royal Academy

Our beautiful experience through the Sagala Terrain started from Chelela, one of the highest point in Bhutan’s road (height 3988 meters). A porter and five ponies accompanied us throughout the journey. The first day was a tiring 4 hours walk up the hills, but yet, it was a wonderful experience. We had our packed lunch on the hilltop where we had the bird’s eye view of both Paro and Haa.

We walked for a few miles to a spot where we camped for the night. Everyone jumped into fulfilling their roles and responsibilities, which involved fetching firewood and water, pitching the tents, and preparing the dinner. After dinner, we sat around the bonfire roasting marshmallows and listening to old folk stories shared by Azha Pema (porter).

On the second day, Azha Pema, who was also our guide, informed us that he was new to the Sagala trek route. Instead of packing our things and heading back, we took it as an opportunity to explore the area and find our own route. It was scary but yet exciting to trek through the unknown paths. We followed the horse trails and also looked for horse dung which revealed the path to our destination. We walked for miles to find a spot to camp for the night. It was another beautiful night under the twinkling stars, sharing the warmth of the bonfire and enjoying each other’s company.

The next day, we packed our tents and loaded our horses, and headed on our expedition through the beautiful valleys of Kalila. The scenic landscapes kept us moving through the lines of mountain in the scorching sunlight. The cool breeze swimming across the hills smothered us with the sense of spirituality. We camped near a herder’s shed and used the shed as a kitchenette. We were very thankful to the humble herders who had left behind stocks of firewood, which made our night a warm and comfortable one.

On the third day, we stood on the top of the mountain and admired the Paro valley and was left with a question in our mind – whether we would be able to identify the mountain we walked on, when we looked up from Paro? We came so close to Drugyel Dzong and yet so far. We even climbed up to see the sacred sky burial stone, which was definitely a sight worth seeing.

By the fourth day, we were very close to the destination, so we decided to relax for a while and start our journey slightly late. We played badminton and chess, and shared conversations. It was an opportunity to bond with each other. Azha Pema invited us to stay at his place and share a meal with his family. So, our fourth day ended with a hot meal near the Bhukari and a warm and cozy bed at Azha Pema’s beautiful home.

On the fifth day, we visited the Tshengkha Goenpa and the Chundu High School. We walked around Talung village, talked with the local people, and learned about the life of Haaps.

On the sixth day, we realised that it was time to head back to Pangbisa. We bid our farewell to the wonderful guide, a friend and a loving person, Asha Pema.

All in all, the trek was tiring yet it was an explosion of experience for both me and my mentees. We all came out a little wiser and experienced in all senses. Though the trek ended, it should be mentioned that we all emerged a lot more exposed and in sync with what nature has to unfold. I, personally feel, that all of us are now not just wiser but in awe and full of respect for the environment that we used to take for granted every day.