Nomadic Tribes in Bhutan

The extreme eastern part of Bhutan is populated by the Brokpas. This ethnic group is a semi-nomadic tribe and, while the word brokpa literally can be translated into “nomad” or “herder”, this word has been applied to this group in the Merak and Sakten region of Bhutan.

The Brokpas speak Sharchop, which is a different language than that spoken by most Bhutanese. They rely on farming and yaks: for clothing, food and transportation. They are easily recognized by their jackets (note the woven red outerwear) and their yak hats – with the “downspouts” that keep the rain off their head and body.

The western part of Bhutan is populated by the Layaps.The villages of Laya and Lunana in the Bhutanese Himalayas are some of the highest and most remote human settlements on earth. The people who live there, the Layaps and the Lunaps, are semi-nomadic yak herders who spend time between the villages and the high altitude yak herding camps. The villages and yak camps cling to the sides of immense river valleys and reach altitudes of 6,000m where resources are few and hardiness is a pre-requisite for survival. In Lunana the people have no contact with the outside world for seven months of the year, isolated by a combination of impenetrable harsh winter weather and treacherous high mountain passes.