Hiking in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan Bumthang in the central region of Bhutan is the sacred site and cultural heartland of Bhutan.  It is consist of four beautiful valleys. After observing the colorful religious festival and visiting some of the many temples in Jakar Valley, we headed to another one of its spectacular valley, the Ura. Hiking in Ura Valley made us see for ourselves the spectacular landscape that the region is known for and we also had the opportunity to explore and learn the culture of its charming village. 

Hiking in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan Situated at 10,000 feet about sea level, the Ura Valley is the highest among the valleys in Bumthang. We started our hike in the high mountain pass of Serthangla and it was all downhill hike from there to reach the village of Ura. 

Hiking in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan The scenery turned more alpine as we descended into the valley. No wonder they called this area the Switzerland of Bhutan.

Hiking in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan

Hiking in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan Along the way, our guide Leki pointed to us the various vegetation the grows wildly in the valley. He was showing us here the rose hip plants. We only tried rose hip in form of a tea and it was nice see how it it looked and tasted like as a fresh fruit. It was red and small and tasted a bit tart and a bit sweet. 

Horses along Hiking Trail in Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanThese were some of the beautiful wild horses we saw grazing along the trail. They’re fortunate to have such lush vegetation in their midst to keep them well-nourished.

Mantras along Hiking Trail in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan We passed by a small structure with series of ancient looking slate etched with mantras. They were such blissful sights although we didn’t understand them.

Hiking in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan The trail continued into steep downhill amidst lush vegetation and beautiful wild flowers.

Wild Flowers along the Hiking Trail in Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanWild flowers abound as the trail flattened out and we could see the village from the distance. (A white orb appeared in this shot. Keith said it was probably one of the spirits that resided in the valley. I think all the Bhutanese myths and legends were getting to much into his head :)

Hiking in Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanAnd the trail opened into wide scenic valley and we could clearly see some of the village houses and temple. The valley of Ura is believed  to be the home of the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. 

Hiking in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan The Ura Temple dominated the landscape as we entered the village.

Ura Temple, Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan A visit to a Bhutanese village is not complete without a visit to its temple.

 Ura Temple, Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanThe temple is dedicated to Bhutan’s most revered saint, Guru Rinpoche. It maybe small by Bhutanese standard but its architecture is as grand as any Bhutanese temple. 

Monk in Ura Temple, Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan We were so fortunate again that there was some kind of religious celebration going on during our visit.  As part of the celebration,  we had to receive a blessing from this monk before we could enter the temple. Inside the temple, the monks were chanting all the day long as part of the ritual of the celebration. 

Monk in Ura Temple, Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanWhat so special about the temple is that it is supported by the people of the village. Behind the temple is a community kitchen where the villagers take turn to cook for the monks and for pilgrims visiting the temple. 

Community Kitchen, Ura Temple, Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanThe women of the village preparing food in the community kitchen with so much devotion.

Community Kitchen, Ura Temple, Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanOutside the kitchen, the village men were also busy cooking and cutting woods.  It was impressive and touching to see this strong sense of community and support for the spiritual life of the village. 

Monks in Ura Temple, Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanThe monks having their lunch in the temple courtyard.

School children, Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanThese adorable school boys who were walking home for their lunch break were some of the locals we met as we meandered on the narrow cobbled street around the Medieval-like village, 

A house in Ura Village, Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan The village has a cluster of around 50 whitewashed houses that are typical in the countryside. As the villagers are dependent on livestock breeding and cultivation of crop, the houses are designed to accommodate them. The houses are normally consist of three levels.The first level is used to house the animals, the second level is the living quarter of the family, and the third level is a  storage for their crops or a combination of storage and living quarter.

21-A House in Ura Village, Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanWe visited one of the large homes in the village where we had lunch. 

A little girl in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan The lovely granddaughter of our hosts sitting near the stove while grandma was cooking. This household consists of 17 family members. Bhutanese families are tight knit and it is normal for several generations to live under one roof. As the family multiplies, the house expands. 

Temple at a House in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan As Buddhism pervades in every day life of Bhutanese, a shrine is an importance part of every home and where offerings are made before the family start their day. The brass bowls contain water and other kinds of offering. They are replaced each day.

Leki enjoying his tradtional Bhutanese lunch. Meals are normally eaten sitting on the floor. A traditional meal consists of red rice, vegetables and meat. A staple of every meal is vegetable dish called “ema datse” a dish of hot chili peppers and cheese (note that the hot pepper is not used as a spice but as a main ingredient.)Lunch at a house in Ara Valley, Bumthang, ButhanAfter the meal, we enjoyed a sip of “ara,” a traditional  Bhutanese alcoholic brew made of rice or wheat. Every family in the village make this beverage. It tasted like a less refined sake and with a heavier finish.

Chilis drying at a House in Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanChlli peppers to be use for “ema datse” were being dried on the floor of the attic.  This is also a typical sight in each home. The chilis can also be seen drying on the window sill or on the rooftop of the house. 

Mother and child washing in Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanA woman and her child washing in the public well.  Bhutanese women are viewed as equal to Bhutanese men. They have equal share in caring for their children. 

Flour Mill, Ura Valley, BhutanIn the middle of the village is a small flour mill where the villagers grind the wheat, rice, or millet that they harvest.

Flour Mill, Ura Valley, BhutanWe got to try our hands in sifting the flour in the mill. 

School in Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanWe visited the village school. We learned that free education and textbooks are free in Bhutan for all students up to tertiary level. 

School in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan We liked the day’s message in the school board.

Schoolgirls in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan One of the cheerful school girls we met. 

A School Visit in Ura Valley, Bumthang, Bhutan Keith fist pumping with the students. At first the students were hesitant as they were not familiar with the gesture. The principal explained to them that it meant “friendship” and they seemed to like it.  

A school in Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanThe principal encouraged us to interact with the students in the classroom. He brought us to visit some English classes to help the students practice their English and to help overcome their shyness. They were very shy at first but they quickly warmed up to us. 

Ura Valley, Bumthang, BhutanThe view of the  Ura Village as we made our way up.  It was wonderful to learn about the everyday life  in the village and to see the beautiful nature that surrounds it.  It was a rewarding hike and visit.


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61 responses to “A Scenic and Cultural Hike in Ura Valley

  1. Mike

    Oh my gosh you two. Your photography becomes more elite every post! I liked your remark on the white orb. And that’s fantastic on the education for the kids! What did the Bhutanese alcoholic drink taste like? You guys are awesome and l loved this, Marisol! :)
    Mike recently posted..Pasta alla Vodka To Spice Up Your Saturday Night DateMy Profile

    • Marisol

      i Mike, thanks! So glad you enjoyed the photos and the post. Well, the ara taste more like a less refined sake with heavier after taste. It’s very rough at first few sip but it gets better.

    • Marisol

      Hi Jan, I’m pleased that you ejoyed. It’s truly is touching that the locals take care of the monks and their temple. I also love the intiricacies of their windows.

  2. Kira S.

    I enjoyed my virtual hike in the valley and village with you. Your amazing photos made me feel transported. And what an exotic locale. It’s wonderful to see how people live in such a place that is so remote from us. I admire their great sense of community and the importance they put in their spiritual and family life. It seems like a simple but very peaceful and full life. Really beautiful article and photos.

    • Marisol

      Hi Kira, i’m so glad we made you feel transported! It truly is a special place. True, life there is simple but rich and peaceful.

    • Marisol

      Thanks Corinne. I’m sure you will love Bhutan. I hope you get there soon.

    • Marisol

      Hi Jackie, thanks! Glad you enjoyed the photos and the tour.

  3. Spectacular scenery on your hike and such wonderful experiences when you reached the village. Love the story and pics. Oh, and the wild horses! I’ve come across them a few times — they’re so beautiful.
    Cathy Sweeney recently posted..Going Full Circle at Long Meadow RanchMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Cathy, thanks. Glad you enjoyed the story and pics. Those horses were even more gorgeous in person.

  4. Lady Fi

    Wow – spectacular scenery and shots!

  5. Excellent shots and lovely scenery. Your interaction with the students must have been a rewarding experience. I also like the thought of the day!
    Rachel M recently posted..Loiyangalani Desert MuseumMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Thanks Rachel. It truly is a rewarding experience.

  6. Leigh

    Not only does the hike look beautiful, but the fact that there is so much interaction with locals is a real bonus. I love all your people shots. I wonder if the Bhutanese people are more patient than North Americans. I cannot for the life of me imagine 17 relatives under a single roof for more than a few days.
    Leigh recently posted..Climbing Mirravalles Volcano in Costa RicaMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Leigh, thank you! Yes, they’re a million times more patient than we are in North America. Nothing seems to bother or inconvenience them. Such a remarkable trait.

  7. What a fabulous reward at the end of the hike, though going home would have been a different story heading up the hills! I loved seeing every day life in the village. It was lovely that you were able to go into their homes and see the school. Thank you for taking us with you!
    jenny@atasteoftravel recently posted..The Headless Gods of Mount NemrutMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Thank Jenny, It was a truly enriching experience I hope you get to do this wonderful experience oon.

  8. Johanna

    Your photography is getting better and better, some of these are award winners, I reckon. Especially the first shot and the portrait of the child. I would love to go hiking in Bhutan, and your descriptions and photos of daily life make it ever more interesting.
    Johanna recently posted..5 Luxury Getaways in Western AustraliaMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Thanks Joanna. I’m pretty sure you will love a journey to Bhutan.

  9. Alison

    Bhutan just got on my radar a few months ago. These photos are seriously so stunning! It’s moving up the bucket list quickly after reading this post.
    Alison recently posted..Bursting with hometown prideMy Profile

    • Marisol

      HI Alison, thanks for dropping by.

    • Marisol

      Marcia, yes it’s certainly a destination of a lifetime.

  10. It sounds like an incredible day, Marisol! Your photos are spectacular but I love most how you introduce us to the people that you meet on your travels. Here, in particular, the photos and the description of your visit to the school and how the children warmed up to you – especially those that learned to fist bump!
    Lisa Goodmurphy recently posted..Experiencing the Magic of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour LondonMy Profile

  11. Marisol – I’m loving these pics! Especially the one of the wild horses – it’s such a serene scene. I think it’s wonderful that you guys got a chance to help the local kids practice their English skills and that your husband taught them how to fist pump – I love having those types of priceless interactions with locals whenever I travel. The Ura Valley looks like such a blissful place!
    Dana Carmel @ Time Travel Plans recently posted..L.A.: Celebrating Black History at the Pan African Film FestivalMy Profile

  12. An amazing visit coupled with outstanding photography.

    Wonderful to have you at “Oh the PLACES I’ve been!”

    – The Tablescaper

  13. Loved virtually hiking with the both of you and seeing village life. That hike is gorgeous especially seeing those beautiful wild horses. I also like that it’s downhill :) What a great experience to interact with the locals. It’s always a treat to see your pictures of the local children. You really should do some sort of coffee table with all these smiling faces you’ve captured. I feel so calm just looking at that scenic Ura Valley.
    Mary {The World Is A Book} recently posted..Favorite Food Souvenirs from Our TravelsMy Profile

  14. I have been truly enjoying all the Bhutan festival posts, but I think this one is my favorite from your trip so far. I really liked that you had a chance to interact closely with people from a family to schoolchildren. I also don’t think I’d like to live above where animals were kept. I guess I’m just a diva that way. If you had just shown a that picture from the hike with you and Keith surrounded by pine trees, I would have never guessed that it was in Bhutan.
    Michele {Malaysian Meanders} recently posted..3D Photo Fun at the Made in Penang Interactive MuseumMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Thanks Michelle, Aww.. so glad to hear that you enjoyed this the most. We did really enjoy local intereaction and will never foget it.

    • Marisol

      Hi Mica, thank! It truly is a genuinely beautiful country. Glad you enjoyed it

  15. Nancie

    What a fantastic trip you had! The school children look lovely. The one little girl’s smile really tugs the heart strings. I love going to the temple when there’s a ceremony going on. Love the monks hat! :)
    Nancie recently posted..Chiang Mai: Khao Soi for Foodie TuesdayMy Profile

    • Marisol

      HI Nancie, I’m really glad you enjoyed the post.

  16. Romer

    Gorgeous photos. Keep up the fantastic photography! You have inspired me to travel more. :)

    • Marisol

      HI Aleah, It’s a day trek. The fee is all part of the package we had signed up to. As you know, traveling to Bhutan requires a pre-arranged package. If you like to do this hike, you definitely have to include Bumthang in you pre-arranged itiinerary. It’s certainly worth seing the smiles of those school kids.

  17. Wow that’s so amazing, it’s like never ending nature :) You’re an amazing photographer! I love all the colours you’ve captured!!
    Michelle recently posted..Cat cafes have come to Germany!My Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Michelle, thank you very much. Glad you enjoyed the photos and the nature.

    • Marisol

      Thanks James,. I really hope you get to visit there sometime.

  18. Wow Marisol! What a beautiful village and perspective. I just wanted to jump in the photos and experience it with you! The way you captured the town with your photos and words made it seem like such a warm and inviting place. Maybe I will have to visit some day : )
    Erica Baker recently posted..DC Youth Orchestra ProgramMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Erica, thanks! It truly is a warm and inviting place. I hope you get to experience it for yourself.

  19. I wanna visit Bhutan so badly!!!! Beautiful country, culture, people!! Really enjoyed your post, Marisol! Love the “pointed” trees in “Switzerland of Bhutan” photo. All street portraits awe awesome!
    memographer recently posted..The Gothic Gargoyles of Notre Dame de ParisMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Alex, thanks! You should definitely visit Bhutan. You and your camera will have a divine time.

  20. Sounds an interesting destination to visit!! thanks for sharing your experience..
    Nice pictures..

    • Marisol

      It’s out pleasure. Thanks for droppng by.

  21. Freya

    I would love to go hiking there, looks so beautiful and peaceful. Gorgeous photos

    • Marisol

      Hi Freya, thanks. You definitely have to go there!

  22. Amazing photography, as always. This post has made me want to go hiking again. It’s been over a year now since I did a proper long walk in the countryside. Obviously, the culture in the Ura Valley makes this particular hike even more special. I hope I will have the chance to visit Bhutan one day.
    Arianwen recently posted..The Benefits of Caravan HolidaysMy Profile

    • Marisol

      Hi Aanwen,
      Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. I can’t believe you deprived yourself of a hike for that long – you of all people! You must be feverish by now. Yes, the hike in Ura is really speical. I really hope you make it to Bhutan soon.

  23. jessie

    Ura valley is beautiful. Is the trekking tough to Ura valley as we intend to include this during our Bhutan trip in Oct this year. Would appreciate your help.


    Hi, I am an Indian an want to go Bhutan this October 2016.Reading your article and seeing the pics that you have posted I am of the opinion that Ura Valley is must go place and that is why I have included Ura valley hike in my tour itinerary.Pl. tell me whether your tour at Ura Valley was only for a day and how you got your guide for Ura Valley tour?Is the guide for Ura Valley is a local boy or taken for entire Bhutan tour? If he was a local boy of Bumthang district can u provide me his phone number?

    • Karma

      I think the horses you saw on the hike from sertangla to ura are not wild…it belongs to the villagers

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