BHUTAN – Motithang Takin Preserve is the largest sanctuary for a rare mountain creature called the Takin. The Takin is considered Bhutan’s national animal and is a unique hybrid of a goat and a cow.
The fourth king didn’t believe in confining animals to a zoo, so he established a natural sanctuary for this extraordinary creature.
Walking through the grassy terrain while searching for the elusive Takin, amidst the distinctive calls of Himalayan birds, could become an exclusive experience in the Motithang Takin Preserve. This conservation effort also protects Sambar deer and Barking deer.
Learn more: Major Wildlife Sanctuaries in Bhutan.
Overview of Motithang Takin Preserve
Situated in a lush landscape just a short drive from Thimphu’s BBS tower viewpoint, the Motithang Takin Preserve is a must-visit for wildlife enthusiasts and those hoping to witness something unique during their Bhutan holiday.
With a brown and golden fur coat, young Takin are initially black. Their long noses, wide heads, and stocky bodies are the standout features that make this creature distinct from others. Legend has it that the famous Bhutanese Buddhist saint, Drukpa Kunley, created this creature with the body of a cow and the head of a goat.
However, Takin venture to higher meadows, around 4000 meters in the summer, and spend the winter at elevations below 2000 meters, migrating twice a year in herds. The mountain meadows provide Takin with an ample food supply.
Weather at Motithang Takin Preserve
In Thimphu, the weather is cool and mostly sunny during the dry season, with comfortable humidity and occasional cloud cover. Throughout the year, temperatures in this region usually range from -2°C to 21°C, rarely falling below -5°C or exceeding 23°C.
The warm season lasts from May to September, with daily average highs over 19°C. The cold season extends from December to February, with daily average highs below 12°C.
Best Time to Visit
Visitors can explore Motithang Takin Preserve year-round. However, according to tourism records, the best time to visit Thimphu for adventures in the warm climate is from late May to late June. Additionally, the best time to visit Motithang Takin Preserve is in the morning, as Takin sightings are most prominent during that time.
Interesting Things to Do at Motithang Takin Preserve, Bhutan
There are many exciting activities to partake in at this location. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best things to do at Motithang Takin Preserve.
Go Trekking in Motithang Takin Preserve
If you have some leisure hours in Thimphu and are contemplating where to take a nature walk, then the Motithang Takin Preserve in Bhutan is a highly recommended destination. The park offers a fantastic hiking trail alongside pine trees.
Trekking here is invigorating. In case you feel tired from the long hike, you can take a break at shelters and benches along the path.
You’ll truly enjoy a long hike in this Bhutanese wildlife park to see one of the kind-hearted animals.
Begin your day by walking to the northern outskirts of the city, heading towards the main destination – Motithang Takin Preserve. Stroll through the lush forest area and relish the scenic surroundings of the park.
Moreover, take your time to wander around the sanctuary for the National Animal of Bhutan – the Takin, and various other animal species.
Additionally, you’ll come across other wildlife such as summer deer, tragopan pheasants, mountain goats, and barking deer. You’ll also be delighted to spot Himalayan birds, beautiful birds at high altitudes, mostly visible at 3500m.
Remember that you are not allowed to feed any of these creatures. Besides the animals, this natural reserve is also a habitat for various rare plant species.
It’s truly worth investing your time here to witness these peculiar Takin creatures. You can also purchase some locally crafted handicrafts at the reception desk.
Visit Tashichho Dzong
The dzong is located on the banks of the Wangchhu River, surrounded by a lovely courtyard. You can visit this dzong to explore its beautiful and authentic architecture. Visit it in the evening for an impressive view.
Tashichho Dzong, meaning the fortress of the glorious religion, is the summer capital of the country and usually serves as the religious headquarters. This location is close to Motithang Takin Preserve, so you can visit it on your itinerary here.
The establishment of the Thimphu dzong was first proposed in 1216 by Lama Gyalwa Lhanangpa. The dzong now houses government offices, a secretariat, and other government supports found adjacent to it. It is also the headquarters of the central monastic body of Bhutan, open to visitors after 5:30 PM.
Unlike other dzongs in Bhutan, Tashichho has two main entrances, one at the southern administrative section and another at the northern monastic section.
Remember to take a look at Bhutan’s National Assembly building, which is very visible from here.
Explore Changangkha Lhakhang Temple
One of the attractions you can visit on your trip to Motithang Takin Preserve is one of Bhutan’s oldest temples – the Changangkha Temple. You’ll be mesmerized by its exquisite architecture.
It was established on a site chosen by Bhutan’s founding religious leader, Phajo Drugom Zhigpo. The temple was planned in the 12th century; its work was later expanded by his son in the 13th century.
The temple features a statue of the Thousand-Armed Buddha, 11 heads, and extensive prayer wheels. Furthermore, the temple preserves the astonishingly large size of various unusual Tibetan artworks compared to the rest.
Visit the National Textile Museum of Bhutan
The Bhutan National Textile Museum or the National Textile Museum is a perfect place in Thimphu to learn about Bhutan’s traditional clothing and ancient weaving techniques. The museum was recently established by Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck in 2011.
The National Textile Museum is divided into six unique sections within the center, including Achievement in Textile Arts, Royal Collection, Indigenous Raw Material, Role of Textiles in Bhutan, Woven Patterns, and Supplementary Weft Patterns.
Tourists can view a vast collection of valuable items of ancient Bhutanese textiles created by various ancient Bhutanese weaving artisans, including the pearl-embroidered robe of Tsamdrak Goenpa, the crown of the King of Bhutan, Namzas, and various royal accessories, the bedding of Shabdrung Jigme Dorji in the Royal Family.
Furthermore, other various collections were donated by Queen Mother Ashi Sangay Choden Wangchuck for exhibition. The museum’s ground floor displays the art of spinning thread, dyeing thread, weaving looms, and two-ply pattern weaving.
History, art, and culture enthusiasts will enjoy exploring this museum and learning about Bhutan’s culture in detail.
As a souvenir, you can also purchase traditional Bhutanese attire from the museum, where they even teach tourists how to wear it.
Visiting this museum is a fantastic way to make your journey even more exciting during your visit to Motithang Takin Preserve in Thimphu.
How to Get There
The easiest way to reach Motithang Takin Preserve is to take a flight from your country to Paro International Airport. From there, you can find a taxi to Motithang Takin Preserve.
Distance between Paro Airport and Motithang Takin Preserve is 50.9 km.
- Address: Motithang Dist., Thimphu
- Google Maps: https://goo.gl/maps/d7jq1YYaBxdRcTWt6
- Area Covered: 3.4 hectares
- Hours: Daily, except Mondays, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 PM.
- Entrance Fee: Nu 27 (local residents) and Nu 100 (foreign tourists).
- Geography: Motithang Takin Preserve is located amidst snow-capped peaks during the summer, at an altitude of 3,700 meters (12,100 feet), where they primarily feed on grass. During the monsoon, the lower elevation forests become extremely inhospitable for Takin due to the numerous mosquitoes, ticks, and horseflies. As the monsoon subsides, the creatures move down to elevations between 2,000 meters (6,600 feet) and 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) to graze in the winter amidst the carpet of temperate broadleaf forests.
Learn more: Travel Experiences in Bhutan.