Trans Bhutan Trail (TBT) project initiated the revitalizing of trails from East-West in partnership with local leaders of the gewogs covering a total length of 430km from Haa to Trashigang, which is 50% of the trail works.
The project was initiated by the Bhutan-Canada Foundation based on the 2017 trail survey conducted by the Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB). The seed funding for the project was provided by fielded trail experts from Canada.
Senior Project Director, Dasho Sonam Rinchen said that we are in the second phase of the restoration work and by the end of December 2020, 100% restoration work will be completed. The initial project of TBT will restore and reconnect the centuries-old historic path from Haa to Trashigang that runs across the central parts of Bhutan.
He said the development of the trails has occupied over 550 people with works to revitalize the path and it has even helped the local economies to expand. As the revitalization of trials progresses, accessibility for both domestic and international tourists is opened.
The TBT in the first phase has restored old trails in nine dzongkhags and 28 gewogs, and one national park: Thrumshingla National Park.
Talking about the challenges that the team faced during the revitalization of the trails in the first phase, the TBT team said there were no major challenges, however, some of the old trails were subsumed under the national highway, feeder roads, and farm roads. Another challenge faced by the team during the project was that some of the trails were passing through privately owned land and property.
Dasho Sonam Rinchen said the team came up with solutions for the challenges that the team faced during the revitalization project: the project had to re-scout and re-align some of the trails away from the national highway. “And the project team was able to convince the landowners to allow the trails to pass through their land and so far we have been able to gain access to developing the trail.”
The first phase of TBT dealt with campsites, restrooms, water supplies and even opened connections between local communities.
The team is currently working on the second phase of the project which will be covering trail blazing and way-finding with signposts. According to Dasho Sonam Rinchen, the project will also involve marketing the trails both nationally and internationally to sustain the trails for all times to come.
Sonam Tashi from Thimphu