Mountain Biking and Trekking Bhutan

Our favorite frontier for 2012? The surreal, gradually opening Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan.

Punakha Dzong

Punakha Dzong     Photo: Courtesy of Guides of Bhutan

Bhutan admitted about 65,000 visitors in 2011; this year, a national initiative aims to nearly double that number. But don’t worry: the Switzerland-size country of 700,000 remains otherworldly. Television arrived in 1999. Marijuana grows wild in roadside thickets. Archery is the national sport. (Team-sponsored sorcerers invoke black magic to curse their opponents.) There’s a national park that’s said to protect the yeti. We could go on. The only catch? ­Local guides are mandatory for international visitors, so the trick is to choose a good one. I settled on Guides of Bhutan, based out of Paro, which has some serious biking and trekking experts.

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