(B: BREAKFAST, L: LUNCH, D: DINNER)
|Day 1||Paro – Thimphu||River View Hotel||L, D|
|Day 2||Thimphu – Wangdi / Punakha||Zhingkham Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 3||Wangdi / Punakha – Gangtey||Phuntschocholing Guest House||B, L, D|
|Day 4||Gangtey – Trongsa||Yangkhil Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 5||Trongsa – Bumthang||Mountain Lodge||B, L, D|
|Day 6||Bumthang – Punakha||Zhingkham Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 7||Punakha||Zhingkham Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 8||Punakha – Thimphu||River View Hotel||B, L, D|
|Day 9||Thimphu – Haa||Lhayul Hotel||B, L, D|
|Day 10||Haa – Paro||Tashi Namgay Resort||B, L, D|
|Day 11||Tiger’s Nest Monastery||Tashi Namgay Resort||B, L, D|
Your journey through the fabled kingdom starts with one of the world’s most scenic flights, coming into the 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 Paro Dzong. 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: 25km
After breakfast you will tackle the 22km climb to Dochula Pass (3100m). The views from the pass are magnificent, offering a panorama of the eastern Himalayas. Enjoy lunch at the pass before starting the 42km descent from the pass to Wangdue through the leafy temperate forests and semi-tropical zone with abundant orange trees, bananas and bamboos. Evening you will visit a local farmhouse located about 10 minutes from your hotel, offering you a closer look at the Kingdom¹s unique culture, which dictates simple hospitality extended to any and all guests, even to perfect strangers.
Cycling distance: 69km
Today’s ride starts out level, but a few km up the road after we cross the Tikke–Zam River, we begin the long ascent to the summit of the Black Mountains. Today’s climb is our first really big climb, gaining over 1460m over 40km. Lunch will be served on route depending on the time. After lunch more climbing up to small pass marked by a stupa and finally some downhill to finish the day. We will be enjoying the beautiful Phobjikha Valley, this evening, exploring the monastery of Gangtey and the village. Perhaps we will spot some Black Neck Cranes, which migrate here to escape Tibet’s harsh winters.
Cycling distance: 66km
A short 300m of ascent takes us back to the small pass we crossed yesterday afternoon. From the pass it’s downhill to the main road from where you will continue your climb for 15km to Pelela Pass (3300m), the traditional boundary between the Western and Central Bhutan. Today’s ride is a pleasant change from yesterday. On clear days, you can enjoy the views of the Mt. Jhomolhari (7314m) rising in western Bhutan. It is a downhill almost all the way to Trongsa. Lunch will be served at Chendebji Choten by the river side. After lunch the road contours around small ups and downs until you finally see the Trongsa Dzong. Evening you will visit the Trongsa Dzong and explore the Trongsa Town.
Cycling distance: 70km
Approximately 30km after leaving Trongsa, you will reach Yotongla Pass (3400m). Then you descend to Chumey village where you will stop for tea and a visit to local handicraft shops where they make Yahthra a handwoven woolen fabirc, the speciality of Bumthang valley. After a short gradual climb to Kikila (about 3km), a great descent to Bumthang valley. We will reach town in time for lunch, then set out to visit Jakar Dzong (the fortress of the white bird) and Jakar town.
Cycling distance: 71km
Our day is pretty relaxed today. The morning is free to explore more of Jakar town or sleep in after several days of alpine pedaling. We will say good bye to Jakar with the visit to 7th century Jambay Lhakhang built by the Dharma King Songtsen Goenpo. It is said he built 108 temples in one day to pin down an ogress. One is Kyichu Lhakhang in Paro, Potala Palace in Tibet and others are said to be along the Himalayas. Around lunch time we will load up in our support vans and start the drive back towards Thimpu (unfortunately Bhutan has only one airport and no loop road, so we have to retrace our cycling by van). We will break up the drive with a stop in Punakha.
We break out the bikes for a daytrip around Punakha town and the Wangdue Valley. This relatively flat ride will be a sharp contrast to our previous cycling. And offers opportunities to visit some of the famed temples 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.
Cycling distance: 45km
Another half day drive returns you to Thimphu, from where we started our first leg. After breakfast, we will hike to Chimi Lhakhang dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenlay who is also known as “Devine Madman” in the west. This temple is also a worship place for woman for fertility. It is an easy hike through the rice paddies and the village of Yulakha. Resume your drive to Thimphu. In the afternoon, you have free time or for those wanting to pedal some more, we will organize a half day local ride to explore some more of the sights nearby town.
Cycling distance: 76km
Back on the bikes today for a delightful ride downstream along the Thimphu Chhu (river). When we reach the confluence with the Paro River, we will switch to a small road on the other side of the Thimphu River and start the ride into Haa Valley. This hidden valley was only recently opened to tourism and offers pristine landscapes and quiet village during a dramatic ride along the Wang Chu River. The road into Haa climbs slowly through quaint villages and thick conifer forests before opening into a valley dotted with fields of millet, barley, potatoes and wheat, where the farmhouses are adorned with intricately painted cornices and frames.
Cycling distance: 115km
One last climb today, as we cross over to the Paro Valley. On clear days you can enjoy the stunning view of Mt. Jhomolhari (7314m) and Taktshang Goenpa (Tiger¹s Nest). It’s a 26 km ascent to Chelela Pass (3988m) through pine forests and alpine scenery, rewarded by a 35 km descent to Paro town. Lunch at the hotel. Upon checking into our hotel, we’ll set out to explore town a bit before dinner.
Cycling distance: 61km
This morning we will swap travel modes and 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. 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 distance: 3 – 4 hours
Transfer to airport for departure flight.