Duration: 10 Days / 9 Nights
Destination: Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue, Trongsa, Bumthang
The challenging 10 days Central Bhutan mountain biking tour is one of the most fascinating and combined on and off-road rides in the country and it is graded difficult and sometimes extremely difficult. The skilled and expert mountain bikers will not be disappointed by the rugged mountain terrain as you paddle over several high altitude mountain passes. This challenging tour takes you from west to central part of Bhutan offering several uphill and downhill rides allowing travelers to visit and catch glimpses of all the connecting towns and villages of Bhutan. More interestingly, the trail takes you through rich and isolated natural environment making it a veritable paradise for mountain biking enthusiast. Explore outlying villages, settlements and discover the innate beauty of Bhutan that nature provides.
Day 01: Arrival Paro/ Thimphu
Flight to Bhutan in the Kingdom’s only airline, The Druk Air. In-flight offers breathtaking scenery of Himalayan Mountain ranges including the world’s highest peak Mt. Everest and Kanchenjunga. Your local tour executive on arrival at Paro International airport will give traditional reception. Following the pick up, you will be driven for sightseeing at Paro Ringpung Dzong and Paro Museum. Upon completion, you will be gathered below the main parking lot below the Paro Rinpung Dzong for further briefing and short introduction of your biking activity. After setting out your bike ready, you will then begin your ride to Thimphu 7700ft/2350m is only 55km long and is easily negotiable in 2-3 hr. The ride takes you through following the Pa Chhu River until you reach Chhudzom and the distance takes around 31km. There is no high climbing and the expressway between these two districts is one of the finest and well-maintained routes in Bhutan. It journey provides you through beautiful settlement and terrace of rice fields en-route. Reaching Chhudzom you will then enter into Thimphu valley. The valley after crossing the confluence is less forested but has many charming sites at your glance. It takes you following the Wang Chhu River after leaving the Pa Chhu River. Reaching Thimphu, check I to your hotel and rest day at leisure.
Day 02: Thimphu/Thimphu
This affluent and vibrant province has been a home to the Royal families and government ministries for more than six decades. Thimphu, the city of happening also serves as the cultural hub for ten and thousands of foreigners and locals. Well preserved cultural heritages, serene environment and easy accessibility of modern amenities are peculiarities that sets Thimphu apart from rest of the provinces in Bhutan. Your day program in Thimphu begins with a morning ride for about 15km to Cheri and Tango Goemba. The ride takes you past the National Assembly building and through various settlements taking you through the line between pine forest and farmhouse with terrace of rice fields and apple orchards. Your ride takes you taking the view of Dechenchholing Palace on the way to Pangri Zampa and then leads you finally to Dodena village which all together comes around 15km ride beginning from the hotel. Once arrival at the parking you will then hike to Cheri Goemba, which takes around 1.5 hr walk. This beautifully located goemba was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in 1620 and is the place where he established the first body of monk. Returning back you will ride to visit Tango Goemba on the other side of the Cheri Goemba, the walking distance is quite same but you will have a profound view of the monastery as you walk up to the goemba. This goemba has its history dated back to 15th century and was renovated to today’s structure in 1688 by Desi Tenzing Rabgyel. After enjoying the monastery its tnow time you to return to Thimphu, biking through the same rote. If time permits visit the following interesting sites in Thimphu.
- Folk Heritage Museum
- National Library
- Painting School
- Changangkha Lhakhang
- Golden Buddha View Point
- Takin Zoon
- Thimphu Dzong
Day 03: Thimphu/ Trongsa
Today your trip is combined with part of biking and part of riding on a tour bus as we are heading to Trongsa. In the morning, we will be driving through interlocking valleys and mountain pass of Dochu La Pass (10150ft/3100m), is only 22km but allows 45 minutes for the journey as the road has many twist and turns. The top is one of the best in the country and is unlike that of any other pass you will encounter in Bhutan. It is surrounded by 108 chortens and beside this magnificent chortens in its amazing setting you will be able to spot some of the great eastern Himalayan peaks like – Mount. Masa Gang (23512ft/7165m), Mount. Tsenden Gang (23288ft/7300m), Mount. Teri Gang (23944ft/7300m), Mount. Jejegnagphu Gang, Mount. Kangphu Gang, Mount. Zongaphu Gang (all above 23288ft/7100m), Mount Gangkar Puensum (24735ft/7541m). From the lofty spot, your ride takes you all the way, downhill until you finally reached Punakha, which lies at an elevation of 4430ft/1350m. The descent takes you through virgin broad-leaved forest with magnolia and rhododendron ablaze in bloom in the month of April to May. Reaching the fertile valley of Punakha, you will then ride your tour bus until you reach the lofty pele La Pass (11070ft/3375m). Aside, scarcity of human settlement is a noticeable feature especially in the mountain passes between Wangdue and Trongsa where people still practice seasonal migration. From the pass you can chose to ride your bike as the route takes you with a short downhill ride for around 10km and then through the lovely plain under evergreen broad-leaved forest. On arrival at Chendibji, photography session will be timed for 15 minutes followed by lunch break at cafeteria, which is located at stone, throw distance from the photography spot. After lunch, continue your ride to Trongsa your designated destination for night halt.
Day 04: Trongsa /Bumthang
Since from the inception of monarchy until present, Trongsa has been a significant seat of successive monarchs of Bhutan. The history unfolds the fact that Trongsa was a crucial place from where the unification of eastern region was brought to fruition. Today the prominent cultural icons of this place are Trongsa Dzong, watchtower (Ta-Dzong). At completion of your sightseeing in Trongsa we suggest you to take a ride on your tour bus until you reached Yotong La Pass (11000ft/3354m), the pass between Trongsa and Bumthang. From the pass, you can carry on with your bike. The route takes you through fir, rhododendron and then through pine forest. En-route stop at Yathra weaving centre in Chummey, just before arrival to Chhamkahar town, your final destination.
Day 05: Bumthang Sightseeing
Today you will be offered with full day biking opportunity in Bumthang. The valley lies between 2600-4500m, Bumthang is a spiritual heartland of Bhutan and home to epic and legends. The prominent Jambay Lhakhang built in sixth century and Kurjay Lhakhang built in 19th century are permanent attractions to thousand of devotees from Bhutan and overseas. Besides, myriads of other Buddhist temples and monasteries, national parks, spiritual lakes and legendary valleys with wide open landscape makes Bumthang unique from rest of the destination in the country. You will have good time riding through the gentle slopping hillside. While you are in Bumthang, visit to all the cultural sites including Jakar Dzong, Jambay Lhakhang, and Kurjay Lhakhang, Tamshing monastery, Mebar Tsho (mythical burning lake) and honey production centre. After retiring from day’s program, experience the night scenes of Chamkhar town.
Day 06: Bumthang/Punakha
Early hotel check out to catch up the bright day visit to Phobjikha, the winter home to black necked crane, the migratory bird from Tibet. With breakfast in Trongsa, three hours nonstop drive will reach you to Phobjikha for a short sightseeing. Having taken the sights of Phobjikha drive up to Lawala pass (10800ft/3293m) and then catch to the main route. From here, you are offered with downhill biking until you reach Wangdue. Check in to your hotel and rest day at leisure.
Day 07: Punakha/ Thimphu
Today in the morning before you depart for Thimphu, you will bike through this fertile valley of Punakha. The remarkable Punakha was once the old capital of Bhutan where the historic events, coronation of the first king and the first national assembly session were accounted to have held here. Still today, the place is a winter resident of central monastic body and the chief Abbot. The glorious Punakha fort is built at the confluence of male and female rivers holding defensive significance of the past. The flamboyant architectural design of the giant fortress richly highlights the typical 13 traditional arts and architectures of Bhutan. As a day visitor, only the courtyard and the main shrine inside the fort are opened for visitation. After the dzong ride further north of Punakha and hike to Khamsum Yuelay Namgyal Chorten perched on the majestic blue pine hill of Sirigang. It is 1-hour leisurely hike over the gentle hills and enjoys the panoramic view of Kabesa valley from exterior top floor of the chorten. Ride back to Khuruthang Town for lunch and after lunch drive to Thimphu which takes around 77km and negotiable within 3 hr. Reaching Thimphu, check in to your hotel.
Day 08: Thimphu/Paro
Today in the morning hour, you can stop to visit some of the permanent historical and interesting sites in Thimphu like – Sangay Gang: Heading towards the telecom tower, which is at 8807ft/2685m and provides a vantage point for brilliant, clear views of the town and surrounding countryside. Mini-Zoo: Heading back , stop a few minutes at the ‘mini-zoo’ which is now a large outdoor enclosure that holds one of the strangest looking creatures you are likely to see- the takin.(Actually the best time to see them is when they come to the fence for food in the early morning so if you are really interested, you can reschedule your day accordingly.) Drubthop Gompa: A small building surrounded by prayer flags that now house the Zilukha Nunnery. Located above the dzong, this gompa is believed to protect it from fires. Dechen Phodrang: Descending further, your arrive at Dechen phodrang which was the original site of the dzong and is now occupied by the state monastic school. National Library: Your drive will now take you past the rolling greens of the golf course with the grand National Library coming up on the opposite side. This was open in 1967 to preserve the ancient Dzongkha texts and act as a repository for thousands of old religious books and manuscripts as well as the wooden blocks used for printing. National Institute of Zorig Chusum: Which offers a six-year course on Bhutan’s traditional crafts for those who are artistically inclined? “If you are in Thimphu over the weekend, try and visit the local open market with its vast array of fresh produce, handicrafts and other items”. In the evening, you will ride to Paro through the main expressway, takes 55km, and negotiated between 3-4 hr. Evening check in to your hotel.
Day 09: Tiger Nest Hike
We suggest making an early start from your hotel. You can ride up to the parking lot below Taktsang Goemba. The highlight of this excursion will be graded as unforgettable memory as the incredible “Tiger Nest Hike” unveils the era of rescue by Guru from the darkness period. Taktshang, literally means the Tigers Lair, is adventurously perched on the rocky cliff elevating 1000 meters from the basement. The history dates back to eight century when the Guru Rinpochhe flew on the back of tigress from Tibet en route Singye Dzong in the northeast Bhutan in the eighth century. His mission to subdue evil spirits dwelling in the Himalayan region of Bhutan was brought to fruition after meditating for three months in the existing cave. Up on his blessing, the current stature of the monastery was initiated in 1694 and unfortunately the old structure was engulfed by fire in 1998 and it was revamped in 2004, which you will behold on your visit. The fascinating hike could vary in duration depending on the physique of an individual. However, on an average it is only three hours hike. Further, option lies at your decision, whether to make up until the nest or enjoy the breathtaking up view of the nest from the cafeteria viewpoint. After completion, walk down to the parking lot and ride back to your hotel, en-route stop for your last day shopping in Paro Town. Farewell dinner will be arranged tonight in the hotel.
Day 10: Exit
After the breakfast straight, drive to airport to board your flight to onwards destination.