In Photos: Trekking it to beauteous Bhutan
Bhutan, a Buddhist kingdom on the Himalayas’ eastern edge, is known for its monasteries, fortresses (or dzongs) and dramatic landscapes that range from subtropical plains to steep mountains and valleys. (Photos: AP)
Two women from the Laya nomadic ethic group. The people of Laya have their own language, customs and dress. The women keep their hair long, and wear conical bamboo hats with a spike at the top. It is held on with a beaded band.
The village of Laya, in Bhutan, where the Royal Highlander Festival is held. Set at nearly 13,000 feet, the fifth king of Bhutan originated the festival to promote the remote area and its native ethnic population.
Yaks from Laya. Laya is one of the highest villages in Bhutan, and is the country's primary yak-breeding area.
A Tibetan woman with a Bhutanese mastiff. The mastiffs are beloved in the highlands of Bhutan, where they are fierce protectors of their families when need be, but gentle and mellow the rest of the time.
A typical Bhutanese home in Gasa, in northern Bhutan, a village in the Himalayas near the Tibetan border. Bhutanese homes in the north have distinct architecture, covered in white plaster and reminiscent of Swiss chalets. They have sloped roofs and often are decorated with wood fretwork and painting.
A Layan highlander, in native dress, parading his pony. The little ponies are festooned in ribbons, feathers and other colorful touches.
The Gangtey Gonpa, or monastery, in the upper Thimphu Valley in Western Bhutan. The 450-year old monastery is built like a fortress with a central tower enclosing temples and exterior walls that house monks' cells. The Gangtey Gonpa was prophesized by 15th century religious leader Pema Lingpa, from whom today's royal family descends.
The iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery, or Taktshang Goemba, perched on a steep cliff about 2,700 feet above Paro. The most famous of all Bhutan's monasteries, the holy place was originally built in 1692 and named after a famed guru who was said to have flown there on the back of a tiger.