Our home, Panbang, is a remote community in south central Bhutan with a population of about 1500 people. It lies in the heart of sub-tropical biodiversity richness, adjacent to Royal Manas National Park (RMNP). The park is Bhutan’s first protected area and was established in 1966. With an area of about 1057 square kilometers, RMNP is home to over 86 different mammal, 365 bird and 900 plant species. Asian elephant, tiger, golden langur, clouded leopard, and gaur are some notable wildlife you can find in Manas.
The region our community lies in is also known as lower Kheng, in Zhemgang district. Until recently, our people practiced slash and burn agriculture and moved around the slopes in search of fertile and new land to grow crops such as maize and millet. It was only during the fourth five-year plan (1976-1981) that enough paddy fields were created to encourage sedentary agriculture. Present day settlements in Panbang arose after that.
Lower Kheng is not only rich in wildlife, but also home to Bhutan’s largest river basins, the Mangde Chhu and Drangme Chhu basins. As Bhutan becomes a coveted destination for nature tourism, we saw the need to preserve our sacred land and all that it has to offer. We also saw a business opportunity that would allow us to remain in our village, gainfully employed. Elsewhere in Bhutan, the youth are flocking to urban centers, looking for a better life and abandoning their rural homes. This has led to overcrowding in the cities and severe cases of youth unemployment. We could not be part of the problem. So, eleven of us put our heads together, closed our eyes, and launched the first ever community-based rafting company in Bhutan. We love the river, and we love to show you the rich natural and cultural heritage of Panbang. We call ourselves the River Guides of Panbang!
All our river guides are professionally trained and certified in whitewater rescue and safety. We accord the highest priority to the safety of our guests. Our guides have also undergone nature and eco-guide training under experts from the Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE). As locals, we are well versed in the rich cultural heritage of lower Kheng. We are also responsible members of our community highly committed to conserving the natural beauty and sanctity of our surrounding mountains, valleys and rivers.
Our Service to our Community
The River Guides of Panbang is Bhutan’s first community based rafting company that specializes in high quality, environmentally responsible ecotourism. We arrange rafting trips, wildlife safaris, jungle drives, naturalist walks, and overnight stays at our Jungle Camp.
Come explore Bhutan with us!