Secret Womens Series
Travel Experiences

Climbing to the Tiger’s Nest monastery in Bhutan: what to expect

One of the most famous sites in Bhutan, Tiger’s Nest or Paro Takstang, teeters on the edge of a dizzying drop almost a kilometre high. The monastery sits around the cave where Guru Rinpohce is believed to have first meditated, bringing Buddihsm to Bhutan. Legend has it that he was carried here from Tibet on the back of a tigress, giving the sacred site its name.

Due to its location, the only way to reach the monastery is by hiking. Secret Women’s Series founder Sarah Hoyland tackled the ascent. Here she details the experience.

Somewhere, up there, is Tiger’s Nest. Karma (our guide) says ‘it’s a good thing you can’t see how high, and far, it is or you’d give up now!’

The best $1 investment we’ve ever made! That stick prevented a lot of physiotherapy!

You can ride a horse half of the way but we don’t feel this is necessary. Most of the horses looked far more tired than the humans walking the same route.

The first 1 hour of the hike looks like this.

And then you get glimpses of Tiger’s Nest and this view from the ‘halfway cafe’ and you are spurred on. If you’ve ridden a horse then this is where you dismount.

Prayer flags flutter in the breeze at various points along the way.

Nearly there. A quick stop for a breather and then one hour of hard slog from 2500 to 2800m. If she can do it, I can! This lovely Bhutanese lady has just spent the last 3 days meditating with the monks.

And then, it’s in sight! So close…. just 750 steps to walk DOWN before walking another 750 odd steps back UP to the monastery.

Lovely views of Paro Valley as we begin the descent, meeting young monks and making new friends on the way. This lady is 80 and on her 4th visit. Isn’t she amazing?

Across the bridge and up the other side.

And FINALLY we have arrived! Hot and sweaty at 3000m. And the only photo you can take once you reach here is the entrance. No cameras / phones allowed inside. After viewing all the open temples then it’s 750ish stairs down, 750ish stairs up and then all downhill from there.

We went there!!

Yay!! We did it. 5hr round trip. And worth every ache and pain tomorrow! Time for a well deserved, celebratory drink.


Feeling inspired? Contact us to climb to the Tiger’s Nest on a private trip or as part of a group.


See you out there.

Sarah Hoyland

Sarah Hoyland