14D13N BHUTAN ride
A cycling adventure in Bhutan is truly adventurous. Tough challenging climbs are rewarded with clear views of the surrounding range, and of course, the thrill of sweeping, satisfying descents. With the unrivalled scenery and the extraordinary cultural experience, it will literally sweep you away.
Cycle through mixed forests, pasturelands and valleys dotted with villages rich in culture
Cycling over high mountain passes with sensational views of the Himalayan peaks
Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya
Day 01: Arrival at Paro
Upon arrival in Paro, we will have lunch and enjoy the afternoon sightseeing around Paro, including a visit to the National Museum, Ta Dzong. This museum houses many religious relics, works of art and handicrafts offering a great orientation into Bhutan’s historical, cultural, and religious past. Next, visit the Rimpong Dzong to see the painting of the great saint Milarepa, considered as the master of meditation by the Bhutanese and believed to have attained enlightenment in a lifetime.
Day 02: Paro to Thimphu (Cycling)
After breakfast, we will begin a full day’s ride to Thimphu. The average gradient of the road is excellent for cycling, as there are few steep climbs or descents. Enjoy riding beside rivers and through a mixture of rice fields, coniferous forests and hills dotted with chortens and monasteries. After lunch, continue riding via a narrow gorge through to the widening valley at Namseling. Finally, the quaint suburbs of Thimphu begin to appear and you will see the impressive Semtokha Dzong, built in 1627. The ‘Bridge of Prophecy’ decorated with many prayer flags welcomes you to downtown Thimphu where you will continue down the main street to your hotel. Enjoy remainder of day at leisure.
Day 03: Thimphu exploration
Enjoy sightseeing in Thimphu beginning with a visit to the National Memorial Chorten depicting the Buddhist faith in the form of paintings and statues. This temple was first initiated by the Third King as a protection from the negative elements of modernization. The Royal Queen Mother completed it as a memorial stupa for the third King who passed away in the year 1972 and is today one of the most iconic monuments in Bhutan.
Tashi Chhoe Dzong
‘Fortress of glorious religion” constructed in 1641 and restored in 1960s. It’s the office of His Majesty the King and the secretariat, and houses two ministries and other offices. The coronation of the present King took place in this fortress in 2008.
The Dzong is open for tourist only after 5:00 PM on working days and weekend it is open all day long.
Day 04: Thimphu – Punakha (Cycling)
The road to Punakha begins with a 22km ride and a height gain of 670m up to Dochu La Pass (3,100 meters). The hillsides are covered in a luxuriant temperate forest of abundant rhododendron and magnolia and several species of deer and monkeys make their home in this forest. Stop for lunch at Dochu La where on a clear day you will have a spectacular view of the Himalayan Mountains.
The downhill ride from the Dochu La into the Punakha valley will leave you speechless as you glide through lush forest spread over a distance of 50 kilometres.
After refreshing in the hotel in Punakha, visit Punakha Dzong, built in 1637 by Shabdrung, the ‘Unifier of Bhutan’. It is situated at the confluence of the Mo Chu and Pho Chu (Mother and Father Rivers) and is the winter residence of the Je Khenpo and hundreds of monks who move en masse from Thimphu in the colder months. The three story main temple of the Punakha Dzong is a breathtaking example of traditional architecture with four intricately embossed entrance pillars crafted from cypress and decorated in gold and silver.
Day 05: Punakha to Phobjikha
Phobjikha is a bowl-shaped glacial valley because of the large flock of black-necked cranes that winters here; it is one of the most important wildlife preserves in the country. In addition to the cranes there are also barking deer, wild boars, sambars, serows, Himalayan black bears, leopards and red foxes in the surrounding hills. The stream drains the marshy valley. Some people know this valley as Gangtey after the goemba that sits on a ridge above the valley.
Day 06: Phobjikha to Trongsa (Cycling)
Today, we will start by exploring the bustling market town of Wangduephodrang before visiting Wangduephodrang Dzong. Built in 1639 the strategically located Dzong is perched on a spur at the confluence of two rivers. Drive over the Pele La pass (3,420m) on the Black Mountain range, which divide western and central Bhutan. White langur monkeys can often be spotted in the moss-draped forests in this area. Further on, in silent isolation surrounded by great forested hills is beautiful Chendibji Chorten built in the 18th Century to commemorate the subjugation of a local demon. It is built in a style unusual for Bhutan, with painted eyes facing the four directions. The imposing Trongsa Dzong can be viewed across a deep canyon to signal your approach to the town around a curving road.
Day 07: Trongsa – Bumthang (Cycling)
Trongsa has the largest Dzong in Bhutan and its foundations were laid in the 16th Century. There are now 22 temples in the complex. Afters light refreshments begin the drive to Bumthang, one of the most spectacular valleys in Bhutan and also the spiritual heartland of the kingdom. The road climbs rapidly up a series of hairpin turns out of Trongsa. After passing through cultivated fields and forested hillsides you will reach the Yutung La Pass (3400m). From here ride down through a dense, beautiful coniferous forest to a wide, cultivated valley known as Chummey valley before continuing on in the soft afternoon light to the town of Jakar.
Day 08: Exploring Bumthang
In the morning visit Kurjey Lhakhang, one of the most sacred places in the kingdom where Bhutan’s patron saint Guru Rimpoche meditated and 7th century Jambay Lhakhang. It dates back to the origins of Buddhism in Bhutan and is one of the Kingdoms oldest temples. After lunch, visit Jakar Dzong and Tamshing Lhakhang, founded in 1501 by Pemalingpa and containing interesting and ancient Buddhist wall paintings. Afterwards enjoy exploring the village of Jakar, Bumthang’s main township.
Day 09: Bumthang to Ura to Bumthang (Cycling)
Cycle to the Ura Valley, approx 69 kms from Jakar. The ride begins with a height gain of 900 metres over almost 40 kilometres to the Shertang La pass. The Ura Valley, on the far side, is the highest of the Bumthang Valleys. Extensive pastures line the road and just before the pass there is a panoramic view of the mountains of Lunana. Descend from the pass on long looping roads through pastureland and fields to Ura village. Enjoy some sightseeing in Ura Valley before driving back to Bumthang.
Day 10: Bumthang to Punakha
Drive back to Punakha, stopping at Trongsa for lunch.
Day 11: Punakha to Thimphu (Cycling)
Enjoy a leisurely ride of about 12 kms to reach Khamsum Yulley Namgyal Chorten situated on a beautiful hillock. It houses paintings belonging to Nyingmapa Traditions. Take a picnic lunch on a picturesque riverside before riding back to Punakha. Afterwards, drive for Thimphu.
Day 12: Thimphu to Paro
After breakfast you can either begin riding back to Paro, or elect to drive there later to allow time to stroll around Thimphu. If it’s the weekend, you can walk through the market to see the variety of food of Bhutan, including basket upon basket of fiery chillies, fresh cheese and a variety of fresh greens. In addition, many stalls contain Bhutanese handicrafts and household items. On arrival in Paro, check into the hotel.
Day 13: Paro
After breakfast hike to Taktsang Monastery. The walk of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours uphill takes you almost a kilometre above the Paro valley floor (for those who cannot hike we will arrange a horse for transfer up to cafeteria). The view of Taktsang Monastery built on a sheer cliff face 900 metres above the valley floor is a spectacular sight. The Monastery is also an important pilgrim site for the Buddhists. The great Guru Rimpoche is said to have flown here on the back of a tigress when he brought the teachings of the Buddhist Dharma to Bhutan in the 8th Century. Nearby there is a teahouse where you can stop for refreshments before returning to Paro for lunch.
In the afternoon drive or ride the relatively flat road to the ruins of the 17th Century Drukgyel Dzong, built to commemorate a victory against invading Tibetans in 1644. In fine weather the towering peak of the sacred Mount Jomolhari (7314m) appears as a stunning backdrop. On the return drive to Paro, visit 7th Century Kyichu Lhakhang, one of the 108 temples constructed by the Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo.
Day 14: Depart Paro
Breakfast in the hotel, then drive to the airport for flight to your onward destination.