Reviving the old East-West trail

Nim Dorji | Trongsa

Two teams from Trans-Bhutan Trail Project completed the first survey of East-West trail on March 25.

The two teams, comprising of officials from Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), National Land Commission, Royal Institute for Governance and Strategic Studies and Desuung programme, walked for 14 days each and covered a distance of 192.5km from Haa to Trongsa and 210km from Trashigang to Trongsa.

Supported by Bhutan-Canada Foundation (BCF) in collaboration with TCB, the project, intended to revive the east to west trails, completed surveying and installing the GPS as the baseline of the project.

The project will be maintaining the trail, construct new trail in places where the trails disappeared because of motorable road construction and renovating bridges along the route.

The team members surveyed the trail, located and recorded all places where new trails are needed.

BCF’s project director, Sonam Rinchen, said a private individual from Canada has raised fund to revive the age-old east-west trail.

He said reviving the trail as important, as our youth are unaware of the trail. “We hope our youth could travel through the route in future. The trail is our national heritage.”

The project expects the trail would benefit rural communities living along the route, as international and national hikers might travel.

Project coordinator Stephen Couchman said the revival of the trail would enhance the local economy as it intends to draw international tourists, who are interested in long-distance trekking to Bhutan. “It would contribute to the local community’s economic development as there would be a need for guest houses, campsites, and other logistic support.”

He said that Bhutan has some of the most extraordinary long-distance trails like Snowman Trek, which is best known internationally, but the east-west trail is unique as the trail travels through communities and religious site.

Meanwhile, the trail is expected to ready for use before the Gyalsung programme which begins in 2022.

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