|08||Cycling, Hiking, Rafting
(B: BREAKFAST, L: LUNCH, D: DINNER)
|Day 1||Paro – Thimphu||River View Hotel||L, D|
|Day 2||Thimphu||River View Hotel||B, L, D|
|Day 3||Thimphu – Punakha||Zhingkham Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 4||Punakha||Zhingkham Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 5||Punakha||Zhingkham Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 6||Punakha – Paro||Tashi Namgay Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 7||Paro||Tashi Namgay Resort||B, L, D|
The journey through the fabled kingdom starts with one of the world’s most scenic flights, coming into Paro Valley. After stepping off the plane into the cool mountain air, we will enjoy lunch and then a short drive to Thimphu (60kms/2 hours). Time permitting we will visit the National Museum of Bhutan. You will have time to admire the museum’s collection of rare Bhutanese artifacts and art, traditional weaving and other eclectic pieces. This afternoon we will prepare the bikes and enjoy a brief sightseeing pedal around the city. Wind down your first day in Bhutan with our welcome dinner and orientation.
Cycling distance: 15 mi / 25 km
The ride today heads through a region not often seen on other bike tours in Bhutan, pedaling north to visit the Pangri, Tango and Cheri Gompas. These fortified monasteries have provided spiritual guidance to the local residents for centuries. Now the Tango and Pangri Gompas are centers of higher learning, with Pangri teaching astronomy and Tango instructing monks in Buddhist Philosophy Cheri monastery was built in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in memory of his father. Beautiful frescoes of saints, who have attained Buddhahood, adorn the monastery, including a very beautiful statue of ‘Tara’. It is now a center of three year retreat for the monks.
Cycling distance: 36 mi / 58 km
Mid-morning, we will shuttle to Dochula Pass (you also have the option to cycle up). The views from the pass are magnificent, offering a panorama of the eastern Himalayas. Enjoy lunch at the pass before starting the 26 mile descent from the pass to Punakha through the leafy temperate forests and semi-tropical zone with abundant orange trees, bananas and bamboos. 31 mi / 50 km, Pass: Docula (3100 m)
Cycling distance: 43 mi / 69 km
Today’s relatively flat ride offers opportunities to visit some of the famed temples of the region and enjoy the quiet rural countryside. Today you will visit the Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, a Buddhist saint who unified Bhutan in the 17th century. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and it still is the winter residence of the Je-Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the central monk body. We will again spend the night in Punakha.
Cycling distance: 28 mi / 45 km
Switching modes of travel today, you will set out for a hike through the countryside, visiting several small villages before reaching a temple overlooking the valley. From this higher vantage point you can enjoy great vistas of the area through which you rode yesterday and will raft later today. Descending back to the valley floor, enjoy a great Bhutanese lunch before setting out to raft the Pho Chu River. This scenic float throws some class 2 and 3 rapids at you to excite and refresh, a great way to round out our visit to the Punakha Valley.
Hiking duration: 2 – 2.5 hours
Rafting: class 2 – 3
After breakfast, you will be shuttled back to Paro, where we spend out last couple of nights. Our hotel here is the former residence of the local governor. In the afternoon, you will visit a small village further up the valley, home to the family of our Bhutanese manager. An opportunity to experience the daily life, as we visit the family farm and explore the village.
This morning we will enjoy a hike to visit the renowned Tigers Nest Monastery (Taktshang Goemba). We will have permits to actually visit the temple and will enjoy most of day here in the mountains, hiking and sightseeing. The Taktshang Goemba is one of Bhutan’s most spectacular monasteries, clinging to the cliff face, high above the surrounding valley floor. Upon our return to Paro, you will have a chance to finish your last minute shopping needs. We’ll gather for a final Bhutanese dinner, swapping tales of the ride and country.
Hiking duration: 4 hours
We will shuttle everyone back to the airport for your departure flight.