Towards the northern frontier of Bhutan are several nomadic communities that add value and colour to the vibrant cultures and traditions of the country.
While it isn’t possible to see or meet all the nomadic communities or nomads themselves, the Nomad Festival, is the best bet to get to see the nomadic cultures of Bhutan. Over a hundred highlanders from Bumthang, Thimphu, Wangduephodrang, Trashigang, Trashiyangtse, Paro, Gasa and Haa participate in the festival each year. Stalls provide various indigenous arts and crafts and food of the nomadic people.
The festival also attracts Bhutanese from urban towns where one can see a striking difference between the two. Tourists have given feedback that the festival was fun, energetic, and centred around people and culture. Traditional games, dances and food are also other highlights of the festival. Yak shows, yak and horse riding, quiz competition on livestock are other highlights.
The festival is also an opportunity to see interesting developments and conservation and preservation efforts in action.
While it is geared towards and does attract tourists, the festival is an important event to disseminate information on the importance of the nomads in the highlands, and how to live harmoniously with the ecosystem. It is about creating a better understanding of the nomadic life, the challenges they are faced with, and the nomads who participate are also provided with opportunities to meet highlanders from other parts of the country.
It is possible that you are not the only person meeting a nomad for the first time. Some locals wouldn’t have met a nomad either.
The festival is organised by Wangchuck Centennial Park and the department of forests and parks services.
Besides the festival one can also take advantage of Kizom eco-camp ground.