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Panbang Boys

A group of eleven passionate Panbang boys came together in 2012 and formed the first community-based ecotourism company. They call it the River Guides of Panbang. They are river guides. They work in a group and are so good at what they do. They are highly enterprising people in Panbang known for their commitment to their mission.

One of their aims is to work for the "preservation of the rich biodiversity under the corridor of Royal Manas National Park" while creating eco-tourism in the locality. They own two rubber boats and provide tourists an unforgettable experience of floating on the mighty Manas river.

In March 2016, when I was there, the Group was busy building a line of eco-camps, away from Panbang town. The camp is built with the financial support from Bhutan Foundation on one of the members' private land. These camps are built using wood and bamboo, sourced locally. While they may appear like rows of village houses, roofed traditionally using leaves, they would be fitted with latest amenities, I was told. It has been many months since and it would certainly be a great pleasure to see how they have turned up after everything was complete. We were also told that Bhutan Foundation would be conducting their Board meeting at the camp.

The camp will attract many visitors to the place and also provide unique experiences of staying in a remote village but also enjoy modern facilities and float down the Manas with the trained 'river guides'. The eco-camp will also be a wonderful place to conduct workshops, conferences and retreats during winter months.

Some of the members are my former classmates and schoolmates. I have great respect for these people for literally venturing into an untraversed water and having succeeded in capturing the market. Today, the place attracts hundreds of Indian tourists, bird watchers, adventurers, photographers.

Panbang is a small town in Zhemgang under Ngangla Gewog and is now becoming the center of major economic activity. Before the coming of Gomphu-Panbang National Highway, one had to travel through India to reach the town from bordering places like Gelephu, Phuentsholing, Samdrup Jongkhar and Nganglam in Pema Gatshel.

Panbang today has a lower secondary school and a middle secondary school, a BHU (Basic Health Unit), RNR (Renewable Natural Resource) Center, branches of Bank of Bhutan and Bhutan Development Bank. 

Note: River Guides pictures by RGP while the eco-camp pictures are from my personal collection


  1. I think the Panbang boys truly deserve a big round of applause for such a wonderful initiative. Thank you for sharing their extraordinary story. I am sure what they are doing is worthy of emulation. They should be the role models for today's youth.

    1. Thank you Amrit sir for going through this post and leaving a comment. Panbang Boys are truly remarkable and I hope they continue to inspire many more youth to make village more interesting!

  2. Innovation leading self employment. Doing something different from what mass do is a formula for success. Thumbs up Panbang boys. And your writing always inspires.....

    1. Thank you for going through the post. Panbang boys are inspiring indeed. They have found out their niche and maybe one day our young people who are loitering in Thimphu and other towns will soon find their calling in rural villages. That way we can to some extent reverse the rural-migration trend that worries us all.

  3. exemplary, role model and very very very farsighted boys panbang, thumbs up! keep working hard.


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