Your tour organiser and leader is New Zealander Martin Curtis, an experienced Himalayan trekker and mountaineer.   He has already arranged and led 8 expeditions to Bhutan and consequently he is becoming very familiar with this amazing country.  


Bhutan is a remote independent kingdom in the eastern Himalaya and the last bastion of the Tibetan Buddhist culture and religion in its purest form. Despite opening up to tourism in the late '70's it has managed to minimise the effect of outside influences and the country is virtually untouched, in terms of the environment, religion, architecture and lifestyle. Bhutan has the youngest reigning monarch in the world who guards Bhutan's culture and national identity fiercely.   Just a few years ago his father decided to abdicate in favour of his son and at the same time change the system to a parliamentary democracy with the king as a figurehead only – despite the protests of most of his people.   However very little has changed in the country, a great tribute to the Bhutanese people.


Punakha Dzong(2)

Tsechu dancers(2)

Bhutan Snowman Trek 001(2)

Punakha Dzong, Bhutan

Dancers at a Bhutan festival

Local children, Bhutan


It is a remarkable country and trekking in Bhutan offers the opportunity to see not only the exquisite Himalayan scenery but to experience its rich and ancient traditions in both remote villages and in Thimphu, the small capital of 100,000 people. Few people have been privileged enough to experience Bhutan and in the light of the fragility of such a small nation and traditional culture in this age of superpowers, this slice of an old world may be denied us in the future.


Bhutan is a remote and still largely undeveloped country where over 70% of the land area is still untouched forest and participants must be prepared to take times and itineraries in their stride. Weather and / or trail conditions can vary enormously and change quickly in these wild areas and we may have to re-route sections of the treks. Also, walking hours can vary a great deal with each individual. It depends entirely on their own pace and, of course, on how often they decide to stop for photographs etc. - however there is never any rush in this beautiful country. Generally things run to plan, but when they don’t it is always fun in Bhutan.  There is no porter culture in Bhutan and all our luggage will be transported by animals, either by ponies and mules, or at higher altitudes yaks.




Mt Chomolhari, Bhutan

Trekking camp, Bhutan


By law we have to use a Bhutanese trekking company.  The company Martin has always used is well established and very reputable, with many years experience in running treks and tours to Bhutan, Nepal and Sikkim.   They will provide us with a local tour guide who will be very well qualified and experienced. Invariably the guides are very informative and speak very good English, as do most of the population.   The crew will also include a small staff of helpers and a cook.   The food has always been very good and the hygiene practised is excellent.


Martin Curtis’s experience in running trips to Bhutan began in 2004 when he organised a small group of New Zealanders to trek the classic route to the isolated and unique village of Laya in the north west.  Following this in 2006 he organised a trip for another small group of kiwis to tackle the famous “Snowman” trek in northern Bhutan, reputedly the longest and most isolated trek in the entire Himalaya.  They were one of the very few groups to complete the trip that year and with everyone in the party 60 years of age or more, they became rather famous in Bhutan as being the oldest party ever to successfully walk this classic route.


Since then Martin has organised six more trips to this magical country of “Gross National Happiness.”   In 2012 he ran a trip to a very isolated part of the country to see Gangkar Puensum (7541m) the world’s highest unclimbed peak.    From what they saw of the mountain’s south east face, it is a worthy holder of the title.    The mountain was attempted in the 1980’s but is now out of bounds, as are all the other high peaks in the country, as they are considered sacred to the Buddhist religion.    For the entire trek from Bumthang, the Kiwis to Bhutan group saw no other Europeans at all, just yak herders and army personnel, and they were the only trekking party to visit that valley in the whole year.


Bhutan Highland Desert2

Bhutan Snowman Trek 002(2)

Gangar Punesum

Snowman trek, Bhutan

Richenzoe La, 5200m, highest pass on Snowman trek, Bhutan

Southeast face of Gangkar Punesum, Bhutan


In 2014, Martin took a large group of friends and relations back to Bhutan, where they trekked part of his original route into Chomolhari base camp and on to Lingshi.  They then travelled across the country as far as Trongsa on what is known in Bhutan as a “cultural tour,” looking at birds, flowers (it was the rhododendron season) and visiting one of the famous religious festivals whilst there.  


In 2015 he led a slightly different trip to the country – a Nature and Wildlife tour to have a closer look at birds, trees, flowers and other natural phenomena, of which Bhutan is richly endowed. He hired a specialist naturalist guide and travelled much further east than his groups had done before, visiting both the Black Mountain and the Thrumshing La National Parks.   The tour also included two short treks which were classified as easy – the Haa trek and the Gangte trek, and included a visit to the Black Necked Crane tsechu, a really unusual festival on the Bhutanese calendar.   The trip included several days looking at Bhutan’s unique culture, dzongs and interacting with the friendly local people. 


In May 2017 Martin organised and lead another Naturalists and Culture tour to the east of the country.  It was based on the successful exploratory tour in 2015, but with the difference that it was late Spring when the abundance of flowering rhododendrons, and many more birds and flowers than in late Autumn made it an ideal time for this type of tour.  We booked the same naturalist guide we had in 2015.   Travel was in an 18 seater bus. On request of the small group of clients, it also included two treks that Martin himself had not done before - the Rodang La trek in the east, rarely achieved nowadays, and also the Cholmohari 2 trek, a very high altitude and beautiful variation of the standard trek to Cholmohari base camp.  The trip also included visits to several of the magnificent dzongs and a day at one of the famous tsechus (festivals).   The birdlife, plants and flowers on this trip were amazing.


Since then Martin has organised two more Nature and Wildlife tours to the country, using the same naturalist guide (who has become a very good friend.)   The first was in May 2018, when they visited another new area in the south, and then again in November 2018 when he set up a tour for a very well-known Australian Wildlife tour company.   Martin was the tour escort and 2nd naturalist guide, along with Dendup.     


All tours are small specialised tours, concentrating either on trekking in the mountains or on Bhutan’s natural environment and its amazing wildlife.    Bhutan has the unique honour of being the world’s only carbon negative country, as opposed to carbon neutral.   


We can organise private trips for small groups of friends if you wish.   There is usually a minimum of 6 persons and no more than 10.  If you are interested in visiting this unique and beautiful country, please contact us on the email address below.



As an offshoot of his travels to Bhutan and other Himalayan countries, Martin has recently released a new CD of songs he has written about this beautiful area and the people and cultures that live there.   Entitled “High in the Himalaya” it has proved to be an interesting addition to his many albums recorded over the last 35 years.


You can contact Martin at:

Phone (Within New Zealand): 03 4438152

Phone (International): (64) 34438152   

Email: martincurtisnz(at)gmail.com

Note: as an attempt to prevent spam, the @ has been replaced by (at). You will have to change this when sending an email.


Martins Mountaineering & Guiding CV


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