Postcard From Tiger’s Nest, Bhutan

The final: Bhutan's legendary Tiger's nest monastery.

The final: Bhutan’s legendary Tiger’s nest monastery.

In her latest postcard home, travel agent Mandy Page (GC handle: PageNZ) relates her geo-adventures at an ancient Bhutanese temple perched high on a cliff.


“Bhutan is home to some mystical places and one of the strangest is the legendary Tiger’s Nest – a sacred temple, formally known as Taktsang Palphug Monastery, built on a cliff in the upper Paro valley. It is said that a long time ago (around about the 8th century) a woman changed herself into a flying tiger and flew a sage guru named Guru Rinpoche to a small cave high up this same mountain in the tiny landlocked nation. There, the man meditated for many years and, being the monk and treasure hunter that he was, found both Buddha and secret caches.

Ground zero: Hiking amongst the paddy fields down in Paro valley.

Ground zero: Hiking amongst the paddy fields down in Paro valley.

Now I’m no Guru Rinpoche but treasure I do like to find. The first part of getting to Tiger’s Nest involves an 90-minute uphill walk for those fit and able.

Pardon? A common Bhutanese house.

Pardon? A common Bhutanese house.

Halfway up the steep cliff that stands 3120 metres above sea level and some 450m above the valley floor is the Tea House. Here, a welcome cup with biscuits is provided. 

It also happens to be the location of my GC20P19 A Nice Cuppa? hide – one of 16 caches once available in Bhutan, though the current hide tally now stands at 13.

Stage one: On the 90-minute uphill climb to the Tea House.

Stage one: On the 90-minute uphill climb to the Tea House.

Obviously, being in the area, I had to log a maintenance run so took along another geocacher in our tour group. The cache was in remarkably good condition for being in this harsh environment for four years. Unfortunately, the rubbish from the Tea House had creep along this path but, on the bright side, this had certainly kept stray muggles away. 

Tea please: A very welcome sight at the halfway point of our climb.

Holy water: The Tea House, a very welcome sight.

After a refreshing drink, we were on our way again; this time with a shorter but more physically taxing climb, followed by a descent and another climb to Tiger’s Nest (Tatskang).

Having completed a relaxing hike through a rainforest, where the trees were hung with mossy vines, we then rapidly required more energy to climb hundreds of steps to the viewing platform, before turning sharply left, climbing down hundreds more steps to the waterfall, passing over a bridge and ascending yet even more steps to reach the actual temple complex.

B12Back when I’d placed A Nice Cuppa?, I had also hidden a cache near that left-hand turn. This corner is saturated with interweaving prayer flags but if you duck under the colourful material and around the large rock, you’ll find a ledge with an interesting yellow stone – underneath which lived my cache. I checked but my container was gone and oddly enough nobody had ever been able to find it. I’m sticking to my theory that the fabled Yeti wanted a toy and chose my small plastic box from New Zealand.

Hide and seek: Introducing our "mad monk" guides to geocaching at Lion Cave.

Phew: Mandy Page finally locates a logbook for her Bhutanese guides to sign.

Since this particular cache was published, another geocacher had introduced their own treasure box here – GC3Z126 Lion Cave and Tiger’s Nest. As our two ground zeros were too close together, the only thing to do was go and find Lion Cave.

Stage two: The steep and slimy staircase up to Tiger's Nest.

Stage two: The steep and slimy staircase up to Tiger’s Nest.

The instructions led us across the waterfall bridge and then a sharp turn to the left and up a vertical flight of narrow steps. Wouldn’t you know it? The cache was missing (as almost all of treasures left by this player in Bhutan), so we replaced the container for her and hoped the Yeti wasn’t after even more toys.

Nothing left to do geo-wize, it was on to our goal – Tiger’s Nest. A complex of many temples tumbling over each over and clinging to the cliff-side, it really is a must for the more adventurous traveller.”

Heading skyward: Fast aporoaching 3120 metres above sea level and some 900m above the Paro valley below.

Heading skyward: Fast approaching 3120 metres above sea level and some 900m above the Paro valley below.

*You can read an earlier postcard from Auckland geocacher and Tours Direct owner Mandy Page (GC handle: PageNZ) here or here.
**Book your seat on Tours Direct’s NZ Mega 2013 expeditions by clicking here for the Geo-North trip and here for Geo-South. The three-day northern leg costs NZ$288 per person, with the two-day southern leg costing NZ$150 for each guest. Travel, equipment hire, accommodation and snacks are included in this price. And for what it’s worth, It’s Not About The Numbers’ kjwx will be present for part of the Geo-South trip.

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