VOICES Voices Icon Ideas and Insight From Explorers


Saving Rice in Pictures

Not pictured: the dozens of hands cutting, sorting and hauling rice. The sweat-soaked saris and brows. The awe of witnessing the preservation of biodiversity.      

Bhutan Rising: Democracy from Scratch

Bhutan is a relative newcomer to modernity: the country’s first paved road was completed in 1962, and the Internet and TV were not introduced until 1999. Since 2000, however, the pace of its development has snowballed. That acceleration is particularly evident in the country’s shifting demographics. Sixty percent of the Bhutan’s population is below the age of 34. While some people work on farms, more and more prefer to live and work in cities such as Thimphu, the capital. It’s easier than ever to move to those cities, but difficult to find jobs in them.

An Amazing 103 Wild Tigers Counted in Bhutan

‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’ Completes First Wild Tiger Survey   By the World Wildlife Fund Bhutan is home to an amazing 103 wild tigers—an increase from a previous estimate of 75 that was not based on actual field surveys—according to the country’s first-ever tiger survey released on Global Tiger Day [July 29]. Conducted entirely…

National Geographic in Bhutan: Dochula Pass

High on top of a mountain pass on the road from Thimphu to Punaka, overlooking the Himalayas, is a concentration of 108 chortens (stupas) built in memory of Bhutanese soldiers killed in the 2003 war against insurgents from India.

Ascending Bhutan’s Sacred Tiger’s Nest

Upon visiting the most sacred place in Bhutan, the Tiger’s Nest monastery thousands of feet up on the side of a mountain, David Braun reflects on the precepts of Buddhism that encourage the country’s powerful respect for nature.

Along Bhutan’s River Valleys to Find Black-Necked Cranes

On his final field inspection with the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE), Geographer Keith Clarke writes about his experience in Bhutan and reflects on his eight-year term with CRE.

National Geographic in Bhutan: Buddha Dordenma Statue

Before leaving the Bhutanese capital city today, the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration visited what will soon be the largest sitting statue of Buddha.

Bhutan Seems to Offer Hope for the Future of Us All

Dr. Peter Raven, Trustee of the National Geographic Society and Chairman of the National Geographic Committee for Research and Exploration, reflects on a poem he read at an event to celebrate a hundred years of National Geographic coverage of Bhutan.

Queen of Bhutan Celebrates National Geographic’s Anniversary Coverage

THIMPHU, BHUTAN–Queen Jetsun Pema Wangchuck addressed a celebration of one hundred years of coverage of the Kingdom of Bhutan by National Geographic tonight. The event was held at the Taj Tashi Hotel, where the Society’s Committee for Research and Exploration (CRE) is lodging in the mountain kingdom’s capital. Led by National Geographic President and CEO Gary Knell, the CRE is touring Bhutan to learn about the country’s science and conservation programs and visit researchers in the field.

Conversation with Bhutan’s Young “Dragon King”

THIMPHU, Bhutan–King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck is a young ruler connected deeply with the digital universe while remaining anchored in the teaching and wisdom handed down through generations. He surfs the Web to gauge the mood of the people, following the conversations of his subjects and engaging them through social media. He has his own Facebook page, and he knows…

Patience and Hope in Snow Leopard Country

As the whole nation of Bhutan kicks off a year-long celebration of the 60th birth anniversary of the revered monarch, the fourth King of Bhutan, His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck (who turns 60 on November 11, 2015), there are ample reasons to celebrate his visionary leadership and statesmanship. He was a champion of environmental conservation,…

For Bhutan, it Takes a Community to Save the Snow Leopard

The snow leopard, like most of the world’s big cats, survives by keeping a low profile. Yet its secretive nature and penchant for living among some of the steepest, remotest mountain ranges on the planet have not saved the cat from human intrusions throughout most of its range.

Bhutan: a Frontier for Culture, Biodiversity, and Adventure

Bhutan straddles an area with high biodiversity richness—the Eastern Himalayas. Precipitation from the monsoons, great altitudinal variation, and its location connecting the Indian plains to the high Himalayan peaks on the edge of the Tibetan plateau allow for an amazing assemblage of biodiversity that is still being discovered today. Bhutan is the only place on Earth where snow leopards and tigers share the same habitat. Recent survey results show that both these endangered large cats are not only surviving, but thriving, in Bhutan. And this is only one example of how Bhutan is a coveted destination for scientific exploration and adventure, writes Tshewang Wangchuk, the first Bhutanese National Geographic explorer, and Executive Director for the Bhutan Foundation in Washington, D.C .

Castles in the Air: Experiences and Journeys in Unknown Bhutan

One hundred years ago, in 1914, National Geographic published its first article about the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan: a compelling account of surveys of the region by John Claude White, a British Empire administrator and explorer. Profusely illustrated with his own photographs, White’s report lifted the veil on a mysterious land hidden in the world’s highest mountains.