Duration: 11 Days / 10 Nights
Destination: Thimphu, Paro, Punakha, Wangdue, Trongsa, Bumthang
Break away from the herd and venture off the beaten path. This vibrant 11 days Bhutan mountain biking tour is an experiential and captivating journey in the heartland of this mystical Himalayan kingdom. The almost traffic free road beginning from Paro all the way to Bumthang valley makes an excellent mountain biking. This incredible journey takes you through diverse terrain, scattered villages, time honored Buddhist culture, enchanting hilltop monasteries, picturesque valleys and stunning mountain vistas. With the true charm into the heart and soul of the kingdom, this tour will leads you through less touristic towns, stop at out-of-the-way sites in between and meet true grassroots Bhutanese on their home soil.
Day 01: Arrival In Paro – Thimphu
After clearing immigration and customs, you will be greeted by your guide and driver and transferred to Bhutan’s capital Thimphu, travelling through the spectacular countryside en-route. All the houses and buildings in the Kingdom are painted and constructed in traditional Bhutanese style. Enjoy the reminder of the day via an orientation tour to explore Thimphu both by vehicle and on foot. Your option this afternoon includes a visit to the Semtokha Dzong, which was built by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel in the year 1629. It was the first dzong to be built by Zhabdrung. Changangkha Lhakhang, is one of the oldest temple in Thimphu, dating back to the fifteen century. It was built by a descendent of Lama Phajo Drugom Zhipo. The main statue here is that of Avaloketeswara and opposite the entrance is a large painting of Tsangpa Gyaray Yeshay Dorji. The place has an air of peace and tranquility, located as it is above and away from the city. 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.
- Paro – Thimphu (Expressway Ride) Distance 55km, 2-3 hr
- Road Type: Flat, almost traffic free
Day 02: Thimphu Sightseeing
This morning head up the Thimphu valley and hike through a forest to either picturesque Cheri or Tango Gompa. En-route view the majestic Trashi Chhoe Dzong, the seat of Bhutan government and royal offices. Chagri Monastry, is a sacred place of Yeshe Gonpo, the great Protective Deity. It is like the life tree of Palden Drukpa which was visited by Ugyen Rinpoche, Phajo Drukgom Zhigpo in between and later by Zhabdrung Dudjom Rinpoche who established it as the first religious seat and lived there for a long time. It is the major teaching centre of Vajrayana Buddhism. Tango Choying Dzong, is not only a sacred place of the spontaneously-arisen Vira Hayagriva, but it also one of the supreme sacred placesvisited and blessed by Ugyen Rinpoche. This sacred place was first identified by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo in the 13th century and was later established as religious seat by Tshewang Tenzin, the second lineage-son of Drukpa Kunley, the Lord of Siddhas. From here, one can also reached to Drolung Gompa, the place where Gyelsi Tenzin Rabgyel and his sister used to take rest and where his followers used to meditate. After your hike drive back to visit The NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ZORIG CHUSUM, the painting school, and then continue further to visit the National Library Of Bhutan, this library was originally established in 1967 in the central tower of Thimphu Dzong under the patronage of Her Majesty Ashi Phuntsho Choden, with a small collection of precious texts. As the collection grew, it became necessary to move the library and eventually built at the present site in 1984. In the evening visit Gongzok Choten (memorial choten), It was built by the Royal Government of Bhutan, in accordance with the wishes of Her Majesty the wife of the Second King in memory of her late son the Third King of Bhutan. This stupa has today become one of the main places where young and old regularly come to make circumambulations, pay homage and make offerings. After this walk down to the town.
- Hotel – Tango Cheri Goemba (Town Way) 15km, 01 hr
- City Ride with Sightseeing
- Road Type: Flat
Day 03: Thimphu – Phobjikha
Today you will be transferred by road eastwards to the Phobjikha valley via the town of Wangdue. Continue ascending to Dochu-La Pass to view the 108 Stupas, which were commissioned by our former Queen as a memorial to those who lost their lives during the low intensity conflicts in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan-Indian border. On a clear day, you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya. Reaching Wangdue, you can have a view of the ruined Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (the dzong tragically burned down in June 12 2012). Reaching Phobjikha enjoy the game of Archery and Khuru (large darts) with your home stay family.
- Dochula – Punakha – Teke Zampa (Downhill Ride + Flat Ride), 58km, 03 hr
- Lawala Pass – Phobjikha Valley (Downhill Ride) 15km, ½ an hour
- Road Type: Downhill + Flat
Day 04: Phobjikha Sightseeing
If you are looking for a picturesque hike through some of the most beautiful parts of Gangtay, this is the one. Longtey Trail, a 30 minutes drive will take you to the starting point in Longtay Village, and the hike takes about 3-5 hours. Trial initially takes you through a small village where the yak’s herders put up their camps in the winter. From here, you continue upwards through mystifying old-growth rhododendron forest. For the next 2 hours or so, you might feel like you are in the settings of Lord of the Rings surrounded by tall old trees which appears to be living creatures around you. The last part through the forest is slightly steeper uphill until you reached the pass with impressive views of the Gangtay Gompa, the Shedra, and the rest of the village. This is a nice place for lunch before you continue on the path as it slops down the valley towards the idyllic Kumbu village. Other available additional program available like – Tongphushing Trail provides an insight into village life, farming and offers great views of the Phobjikha valley. Enjoy seeing the Cranes in the broad valley and also reaching Phobjikha make a visit to the Black-Necked Crane Information Centre, you will get loads of information about the crane, even a short 3-4 minute documentary will be available regarding the Black Necked Crane. In the evening if interested, enjoy the Hot-Stone Bath at your Farm House Stay
- Tongphu Shing Trail (Off-Road Ride) 3km
- Longtay – Phobjikha Valley (Off-Road Trail) 15km, 03 hr
Day 05: Phbjikha – Bumthang
This morning depart Phobjikha to the central Bumthang region. Traverse the Pele-La Pass, which crosses through the Black Mountains National Park and divides western and central Bhutan. Stop for lunch in Trongsa where you will be spending more time on your return journey. Keep a watchful eye out for Rhesus Macaques (Brown Monkeys) on the side of the road. On arrival in the Bumthang region, notice the large fields of Buckwheat that cover the valleys…. Buckwheat noodles and pancakes are a Bumthang specialty.
- Pele La – Trongsa (Highway Ride) 105km, 4hr
- Yotong La – Bumthang (Highway Ride) 41km 2hr
- Road Type: Downhill + Uphill +Flat
Day 06: Bumthang Sightseeing
Today your sightseeing includes visit to Tamshing Lakhang, this temple was founded in 1501, a Terton(treasure revealer) Pema Lingpa, who was the re-incarnation of Guru Rinpochhe There are very old religious painting around the inner wall, which was restored at the end of the 19th century. This temple can be approached from Kurji Lhakhang with a short walk crossing through the suspension bridge. Visit Kencho Sum Lhakhang, which is under renovation. Hike to Kurje Lhakhang, Located further along the valley, Kurje Lhakhang compresses three temples. The one on the right was built in 1652 against the rock face, where Guru Rinpochhe meditated in the 8th century. The middle temple was built on the site of a cave containing with the rock imprint of Gurus body, and is therefore, considered the most holy. The Queen Mother, Ashi Kesang Choden in 1990, built the temple on the left. 108 chorten walls surround these three temples. Continue your walk to visit Jambay Lhakhang, this monastery was built in the 7th century by the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo. It is one of 108 monasteries, which he built to subdue the giant ogress who tried to demolish Buddhism in Tibet. Its present architectural appearance dates from the early 20th century. After lunch drive further east of Chamkher town to visit the Membar Tsho (the Burning Lake). Returning from there makes a short visit to Jakar Dzong or “Castle of the White Bird” dominates the Chamkhar valley and overlooks the town. Constructed in 1549, by the Tibetan lama Nagi Wangchuk . The dzong plays an important role as the fortress of defense of the completely eastern districts. It also became the seat of the first King of Bhutan. A special feature of the dzong is the approximately fifty meter high Utse or Central Tower, which is distinct from all the dzongs in Bhutan. The other unique feature of the dzong is that of a sheltered passage, with two parallel walls, interconnected by fortified towers, which gave the population of the fortress access to water in the case of a siege. The protected water supply is still intact to this day.
- Full Day Biking (Off-Road)
- Road Type: Flat
Day 07: Bumthang – Trongsa
This morning transfer back towards Trongsa via Chhume valley for the opportunity to shop for excellent local handicrafts and textiles. This region is re-known for its exceptionally high quality weavings. Lunch in Trongsa and after lunch visits Trongsa Dzong: built in 1648, it was the seat of power over central and eastern Bhutan. Both the first and the second Kings of Bhutan ruled the country from this ancient seat. All 5 Kings were invested as Trongsa Penlop “governor” prior to ascending the throne. The dzong is the massive structure with many levels, sloping down the contours of the ridge on which it is built. Because of the dzong’s strategic position, on the only connecting route between east and west, the Trongsa Penlop was able to control effectively the whole of the Eastern and Central regions of the country. Ta Dzong: this watchtower, which once guarded Trongsa Dzong from internal rebellion, stands on a promontory above the town. Chhoje Minjur Tempa, the first governor of Trongsa in 1652, built it. It has four observation pints resembling Tiger, Lion, Garuda, and Dragon. Climb up the path to visit Ta Dzong, which now houses a shrine dedicated to the epic hero, King Gesar of Ling. A visit to this former watchtower provides visitors with an insight into the significant of Trongsa in Bhutan’s history. As of date, the Ta Dzong of Trongsa is the most fascinating museum of the country.
- Full Day Biking (Highway Ride) 68km 3hr
- Road Type: Flat + Downhill Ride
Day 08: Trongsa – Punakha
Depart early this morning to Punakha Valley, which holds the title as the winter capital of the Monastic Body because of its more temperature climate. Arriving into the Punakha valley visit CHIMI LHAKHANG, It is a pleasant 30-40 minute walk from the road head, through cultivated fields and up a gentle slope. This lhakhang dates back to 1499 and was built by Lama Drukpa Kinley, when he visited this valley. Lama Drukpa Kinley is believed to have subdued the demoness residing at Dochu La with his ‘magic thunderbolt of wisdom’ and a wooden effigy of this is preserved within. In the evening, visit PUNAKHA DZONG which was the power base for the old system of the reincarnate rulers. The remains of the original ruler of country, Ngwang Namgyal, are kept in the small room at the top of the highest tower; only the king and the head of the monastic order are allowed to enter this room. Tragically or mystically in the year 1994 the glacier lake from lunnana burst. Losing the lives and the belonging of the people as well causing damage to the Dzong, this has now been restored.
- Full Day Biking (Highway Ride) 120km, 6-7hr
- Road Type: Flat + Downhill
Day 09: Punakha Sightseeing
Today you drive to Kabje Sirigang about 30 minutes and then hike about 2 hours to Chorten Ningpo Shedra. This is a beautiful walk, visiting a lovely village; there are orange groves and a temple which dates Back to ‘The Devine Madman’ Drukpa Kuenley. The temple can be visited and it is now a winter residence of the incarnated Desi Tenzin Rabgay, which now had be restored. Way back take the trail of the Sinchula trek route for an hour until tongchena village. After lunch hike to Fifth Kings Stupa Khamsum Yueli Namgyel Stupa it’s about 45 minutes hike and it was consecrated in December 1999 and contains sacred relics donated from Punakha. Leaving the exit path descending the hill, walking through the field passing few houses. By then you will you will be reaching another suspension bridge where you will be meeting you transport.
- Full Day Biking (On-Road & Off Road Ride)
- Road Type: Flat + Uphill + Downhill
Day 10: Punakha – Paro -Hike to the Famous Tiger’s Nest
Today at your early breakfast, drive to Paro and reaching Paro hike to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery. Choose between a 2-hour round trip hike to the Monastery viewpoint or a longer 5 hour+ more strenuous hike into the Monastery itself. Tigers Nest clings impossibly to a cliff of rock at 3000 ft above the valley floor and where Guru Rinpoche flew on the back of the pregnant tigress to subdue the local demons followed by 3-month meditation in a cave still visible in the monastery. In 1998, the monastery was seriously damaged by fire and has since been painstakingly reconstructed to its original condition and consecrated by the 4th King in 2005. After your visit to Tiger’s Nest follow the same trail back and drive to visit the Ruined Druk Gyel Dzong, this is the historical sight of the Fort of Drukpa Victory, from which the Bhutanese used to repel the Tibetan invaders repeatedly. Kyechu Lhakhang is one of the Bhutan’s oldest and most beautiful temples built by the Dharma King of Tibet in 7th century. In the evening, stroll around the tiny town of Paro for your last day shopping.
- Dochula – Paro – Tiger’s Nest (Downhill Ride + Highway Ride) 88km, 4hr
- Road Type: Downhill + Flat
Day 11: Board your Flight Back Home