I travelled to Bhutan with "Canadian Himalayan Expeditions" in May of 2015 and trekked most of...but not all of... the famed "Snowman Trek" with two others in the trekking group. Our total consisted of seven support staff and us three clients: One lead cook with one assistant...One main guide with one assistant...two mule handlers and one porter/assistant, and fifteen (!) mules to carry all of the gear. Unfortunately, due to huge snowfall the previous winter that had not completely melted several of the high altitude mountain passes were not clear of snow enough for the mules to get through so we were forced to detour along other trails into other remote valleys and villages. They were equally as beautiful and, as the images show, I highly doubt that I missed much in the way of scenery or culture by not being able to complete the actual route of the "Snowman Trek" itself. Bhutan is an amazing country of beautiful, warm, inviting, gentle people living in a distant culture rarely visited by the western world. In contrast to Nepal, where 50,000 people a year visit the Khumbu region (let alone the country itself) Bhutan has less than 5,000 tourists a year. This is due to a tourism policy that prohibits open travel through the country. Foreigners (except citizens of India) are required to pre-pay a fee of $250 U.S. per day to travel within the country. This fee does however cover your guide, food and accommodation for each day, so it does somewhat balance out. The greatest percentage of visitors to Bhutan go there to trek through and experience the countryside...not hang out in the small towns and villages for extended periods of idle time. Needless to say this fee completely screens out all of the penny budget backpackers that routinely flood into countries like Nepal, Myanmar, Thailand, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos, India etc. So what you wind up with for your travel dollar in Bhutan is an adventure through an extremely remote and beautiful country totally devoid of other foreigners. We saw..literally...three other trekkers the entire month we were on the trails. Succinctly, Bhutan is today what Nepal and the rest of Southeast Asia was fifty years ago. It is remote, friendly, safe, and incredibly beautiful. It is an idyllic "lost paradise" and worth every penny it costs to travel there. This trip was for me a very rich photographic opportunity and I approached it with the intent of capturing images to the very best of my skill. I took my Canon 5D Mark III and 24-105 f/4.0 L, 100-400 f/4.5-5.6 II, and 24 f/1.4 L, lenses. Almost all of the images in this gallery were shot with the 24-105 lens. It's my "go-to" lens for travel photography. Many of the images were shot with a tripod base to achieve higher quality HDR imagery but numbers of images were also shot hand held HDR. To post process the images I used Adobe Photoshop and applied "Photomatix" for the multi frame HDR images and "DXO Film Labs" for the monochrome and other creatively processed non HDR images. You can click on any image to enlarge it to full screen.
Sue, in front of a window in a large monastery.  DXO film labs for post processing.Paro, Bhutan.Breakfast with a view.  Hand held HDR.  Photomatix for post processing."Tigers Nest" monastery, from the "tourist" position to take your shot.The view and image I preferred through a cracked, smokey window.  DXO film labs post processing.We were at the eastern edge of the Himalayan mountain range.Quiet beauty in the hills.Young kids playing in their school yard.Doubtful they'd ever had a "piggy back" ride before.  They loved it.Shyness, yet photographic beauty at the same time...No Ipads or game boys for these kids.  Hopscotch and laughter suffice.Kids will be kids...The were all very polite and well behaved.At first the kids were distracted by this "stranger" in their classroom......and they toyed and played by posing for me......but I turned away from them and pretended to adjust my camera and ignored them.......and soon enough they returned their attentions to their schoolwork.The trek begins by heading northward toward China.You initially follow valleys.Kids are so cute to photograph...