Above the Haa Valley in western Bhutan
People from Dorikha are known as Dorips. The Dorips are a traditional nomadic tribe, maintaining two seasonal villages.
Dorips speak a slight variation of the national language, Dzongkha; it differs by pronunciation and tone and is very similar to the language spoken in the neighboring ancient kingdom, Sikkim.
Most Dorips, unlike many villagers in Bhutan, maintain two villages. Their summer homes are at high altitude surrounded by pine forests, where they grow barley and potatoes. The other village is their winter home in the lowlands where they are surrounded by bananas and citrus and grow rice. The Dorips migrate between their summer and winter homes each spring and fall. Our host village’s households also lead a nomadic lifestyle, which takes them even further south, close to the Indian border in the winter while returning to Haa in the spring. (Dorikha is their summer village; Dorithasa is the name of their winter village.)
The nomadic journey trails through many of the picturesque pastures and meadows that dot the lush, green landscape. While pastures generally hold one family of nomads at a time, bigger pastures can accommodate two to three families. We are very fortunate to be invited to trace their ancient migration trails and to stay among them for a true understanding of Bhutanese culture and life.
COMMUNITY LIAISONS: PHUNTSHO “FIN” NORBU & LOTAY RINCHEN
Fin and Lotay are two brothers from Bhutan who, after being reunited in the United States after five long years, discovered that they shared a common passion: sustainable change in Bhutan. Recognizing the challenges that increased rural-urban migration has presented in Bhutan, including the imminent threat of cultural erosion and the shrinking of their national heritage, they created Bridge to Bhutan to help bolster Bhutan’s capacity to remain as a self-sustaining nation through sustainable tourism. Fin and Lotay recognize the enormous potential of Bhutan’s fast growing tourism industry, and with their diverse backgrounds in tourism, sustainable development, and the environment, the brothers are determined to be part of the solution.
Our first visit to Dorikha was in 2008; the Haa Valley was only opened to tourism in 2004. By participating in community-based tourism in Dorikha, we are supporting the celebration and preservation of their traditions and culture. We get involved in domestic chores such as making cheese and butter by hand, grinding grains with stone wheels and gathering wood. Informal language lessons time to hang out with the children, laugh with elders and visit the local sites helps to deepen our appreciation of this ancient lifestyle and the community-based tourism project helps to ensure its longevity.
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