14-15 October, Soe: The fifth Jomolhari Mountain Festival ‘celebrating the life in the mountains’ was held in Damgochong near Jomolhari base camp under Soe Park Range of Jigme Dorji National Park (JDNP). The festival was graced by Paro Dzongdag, Secretary for Gross National Happiness Commission, Member of Parliament from Thimphu, Dungkhag administration of Lingshi, and officials from Bhutan Foundation, Tourism Council of Bhutan (TCB), Ministry along with tourists and the locals from Soe, Yaksa, Nubri and Lingshi.
The festival is one of the unique occasion where by members of the whole Jomolhari community gather together to enjoy and celebrate their cultural heritage and also learn about ecotourism opportunities in the region. The festival also raised awareness on snow leopard conservation, by improving local community member’s perception of, and attitudes towards the endangered species and creating a plat form for economic opportunities and sustainable livelihood.
The first day of the festival showcased the unique cultural programs by the local communities and the students of Jomolhari school. The day also saw the opening of the stalls by the chief guest and the sporting competition like khuru, shot put, horse race, tug of war and musical chair. Handicrafts and local delicacies were available for sale with information on the conservation of snow leopards and mushroom identifications.
The second day included the scenic hike led by locals to various sites around Mt. Jomolohari such as twin lakes, the glaciers and the habitat of snow leopard.
The Jomolhari region includes one of the most scenic and popular Jomolhari trek, Mt. Jichu Drakey, Tshophu lakes, Jomolhari Lhakhang and the communities of Soe Yutoed and Yaksa. This region has some of the highest snow leopard activities in Bhutan and is also a blue sheep habitat.
Reported by Tashi Yangzom with photos by Choidup Zangpo, ICTD
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