The southern part of Bhutan is the ecological hub of the country. It comprises of 7 districts, namely Samtse, Chhukha, Dagana, Tsirang, Sarpang and Zhemgang.
The main tour activities and attractions includes the Phibsoo Wildlife Sanctuary, Royal Manas National Park, tropical fruits, numerous species of medicinal plants and the culture of Khengpas and the Lhotsampas. Besides, one is able to participate in spiritual festivals which include some rare animist rituals and Bon practices.
The vastness of agricultural land has attracted many farmers to Sarpang. Hence, the inhabitants of Sarpang comprises of almost every ethnic group of Bhutan.
The summer months in Sarpang are hot and humid. In autumn, you will be mesmerized by the local animist rituals. Currently, Geleyphug is the only destination in Sarpang for cultural highlights. You can also find hot springs on the way to Zhemgang from here.
In the recent years, only a small part was opened for bird watching. This region still holds the last of the animist traditions in Bhutan. These shamanistic practices are locally known as Bon. The famous Dunmang hot spring is in Zhemgang district.
Inhabitants of Zhemgang are culturally called the Khengpas. The villages and people of Zhemgang are divided into 3 regions : namely Chikhor (upper Kheng), Nangkhor (middle Kheng) and Tamachok (lower Kheng). Their bamboo products like wine containers, baskets, matted bamboo carpets and other cane products are rather well-known in Bhutan.
Explore the South Circuit’s Natural side
Sarpang and Zhemgang are considered the hub of Bhutan’s unique nature tours. This is the only circuit where one can watch gaurs, elephants, rhinos, tigers, clouded leopard and whatever you would see in a tropical jungle.
In Zhemgang, you will have a chance to watch the endemic species of primates called the Golden Langur. Rufous-necked Hornbill is another species. As Zhemgang’s altitude rises from 300 metres to almost 3,000 metres above sea level, this makes it a good haven for flower enthusiasts from spring till early summer. On the other hand, Sarpang is basically a low land region, which is best known for tropical orchids.
The ideal periods for bird watching are spring, autumn and winter. One is able to see most of the extinct species in the north-east Himalayas.
The Royal Manas National Park (the oldest national park in Bhutan) is accessible from Gelephug in Sarpang or Gomphu in Zhemgang. The royal decree of keeping the forest cover between 60% to 70% has helped to preserve the sub-tropical ecosystem. On the lowest region of the park, it is the best habitat for tiger, Asian elephant, rhino, leopard, water buffalo, bison, hog deer, pigmy hog, python, King cobra and over 430 species of birds.
Zhemgang and Sarpang offer good nature trekking routes of the region. At times, do expect to sleep and rest in tented camps in the wild. Here, you have a chance to enjoy and to be part of this undisturbed nature.