The adventure begins in Delhi, India where the adventure team pack their kit into the
spacious boot of their YETIs and travel the short distance to the border with Bhutan.
As befits a country with the official title of ‘The Kingdom of Bhutan’, the border takes the
form of a large golden gate that separates the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar from
Once the team are in Bhutan, the true scale of the adventure starts to emerge. As the
convoy leaves Samdrup Jongkhar, the roads quickly become more challenging as they
snake up the mountain. Asphalt gives way to gravel while the safety barriers disappear
completely to leave sheer drops at the side of the road.
After a brief stop in Wamrong, the cars are checked over and the drive to the overnight
camp at Lingkhar in Tashigang commences. The road from Wamrong to Trashigang is one of the most challenging routes in the country and is locally known as the ‘road of death’ on account of the number of motorists who have lost their lives trying to negotiate its
40,000 bends and corners.
Predictably, the YETI takes it all in its stride. Although the Rough-Road package (see box
for more details) is put to the test on numerous occasions, the sure-footed four-wheeldrive
system ensures that traction is maintained at all times. Progress is, however, slow,
thanks to the rough surface and the need to negotiate pedestrians and cattle. Third gear
is the norm as the convoy edges its way closer to Trashigang.Day one ends at Lingkhar Lodge – a stopover point in the busy town of Trashigang –
some 1,110 m above sea level. It’s a chance to refuel the YETIs, refuel the team and get
some sleep before the drive to Merak – the fabled home of the yeti.
Driving in Bhutan
For the European driver, taking to the roads in Bhutan is a bit of an eye-opener. Like
many Asian countries, Bhutan drives on the left and most cars are right-hand drive. Just 62 per cent of Bhutan’s roads are tarmacked, while the remaining 38 per cent vary from rough gravel tracks to extremely rough tracks only passable in four-wheel-drive vehicleswith good ground clearance.
Although Bhutan itself is a small country, measuring around 300 km east to west and
150 km north to south, it is highly mountainous. This means that it can take hours
to travel between two relatively close villages due to serpentine mountain roads and roads along river banks. Amazingly, 80 per cent of the Bhutanese population lives more
than a two-hour walk from the nearest road.
Watch Tuesday's third and final episode.