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Between Gorges and Summits

High mountains and deep valleys as far as you can see. That is the first impression when you fly above Bhutan. From up high Bhutan appears very green and almost completely unpopulated.

In the north (28.1 degree of latitude), the small kingdom, with its magnificent mountains that can reach 7500m into the sky, touches Tibet (China). In the south, Bhutan borders to the Indian lowlands (26.8 degrees of latitude). With just about 200m altitude the climate there is subtropical. Bhutan’s geography is the origin of its cultural richness. The Himalayan glaciers supply it with plenty of water, which is why water power is Bhutan’s primary source or electricity. Furthermore, the towering mountains limit the flow of the humid air coming from the south, resulting in heavy rain. These are the reasons why Bhutan has one of the riches floras and faunas in the world.

Predators such as tigers, snow leopards, and Asian black bears call Bhutan their home, in the same way as Yaks, Gee’s golden langur (monkeys), hornbills, and a multitude of beautiful butterflies do. Particularly worth noting are the bull-like Takins (Budorcas taxicolor whitei), a goat the size of a bull, which is one of Bhutan’s national animals. Equally noteworthy are the black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis), a large bird that primarily lives in the high plateaus of China. During the breeding season hundreds of this rare bird fly to Bhutan to e.g. the wide and open Phobjikhatal. A sight worth experiencing!

Equally impressive is the diversity of plants you can enjoy. As soon as you drive through the back-country, you notice the luscious flora. The often steep valleys intensify this experience. In addition to different types of trees, luscious rhododendrons and fragile orchids cover the landscape. Bhutan is also known for its diversity of medicinal plants, many of which are used in traditional medicine.

Something particularly special are caterpillar fungi (Ophiocordyceps sinsensis), which have become known as Cordyceps. They are accredited with wondrous healing abilities and are particularly popular in China, which drives up the price significantly. Per kilogram on the global market five-digit prices are charged.

Yes, Bhutan is a green country with enchanting animal and plant diversity. The protection of these is an official goal of the government. It its constitution it is stated that at least 60% of the country’s area must be forest, and currently it is more than 70%. And in terms of protection of species diversity a lot has been done. Almost 50% of the country is national parks and reserves.

In Bhutan protection of the environment is a serious topic. There is the reason why the kingdom’s carbon dioxide emission is lower that what is recovered by nature.