Bhutan Mountain Biking
A mysterious eastern Himalayan Kingdom; Bhutan is rich in its cultural heritage. This itinerary is packed with cultural experiences, history and the real beauty of Last Shangri-La. Journey begins after landing in Paro airfield and one can view the treasurer of Bhutan along the way. Taktsang Monastery, Haa valley, the museum can be seen in Paro and onward we will encounter with famous monasteries and Dzongs in Gangtey Valley. This 12 day cycle tour gives you a chance to really experience Bhutan as you travel through this amazing country under your own steam, visiting villages, museums, monasteries and temples along the way!
Day 01: Arrival Day in Paro
On arrival in Paro you will be picked up from the airport and taken to our hotel. For those who have the energy and are not jet lagged, we take a little time in the afternoon to see some of the sights of Paro. You will get to visit your first Dzong. A Dzong is an incredibly grand Bhutanese fortress which were constructed at strategic locations throughout the country.
Day 02: Day Ride in Paro 34km
Paro sits at a height of 2200m so we take it easy today and do a short ride to get used to the altitude, warm up the legs, get used to the bikes and see a little more of Paro Valley. Visit a ruined dozing, visit a farmer’s house and enjoy a traditional Bhutanese dance on this relaxing day out.
Day 03: Cycle to Thimphu 55km
It is time to leave Paro and begin the ride across Bhutan. This first point to point ride is the easiest, our Bhutanese friends describe this day as flat as you will only be riding between 2100m and 2350m throughout the ride, although the road does undulate and there are actually no flat roads! In the afternoon, take a leisurely walk of the Thimphu Market area and explore the forbidding yet elegant Dzong.
Day 04: Cycle to Phunakha 63km
The first pass of the trip, Dochu La, sits at 3050m and offers a panoramic view of the Eastern Himalaya on a clear day. After a long ride up to the pass a downhill is due which will take you 40km all the way down to the intriguing ‘fertility temple’. The final section undulates along the valley to our overnight stop at Phunakha which sits at a lowly altitude of 1350m.
Day 05: Day Ride in Punakha 15km
We take a day to explore the beautifully situated Dzong at Punakha, once the summer capital. Riding a back road that is largely unsealed, we get great views of the river and Punakha Dzong. But before the Dzong you must cross a terrifying or exhilarating suspension foot bridge (the feeling depends on your perspective). This is the longest and highest suspension footbridge in the country stretching over 200m above the Pho River. After a picnic en route back to the hotel, the rest of the afternoon is free for some relaxation.
Day 06: Cycle to Gangtey 70km
Easily the toughest day of any Grasshopper bike ride, the ride to Gangtey is almost all ascending with over 50km of climbing. The gradient is not steep, so it’s all about going slow and enjoying the beautiful scenes of the day. After finally reaching the Lawala Pass at 3300m we descend into the beautiful Phobjika Gangtey Valley (3000m).
Day 07: Rest Day in Gangtey
Gantey is one name of the area of the Phobjika Valley, a glacial valley where the rare black-necked cranes from Tibet spends the winter. Dwarf bamboo, eaten by yaks, is the prominent vegetation. For those with the energy to visit monasteries, take a nature trail walk or relax at the comfortable quiet hotel.
Day 08: Cycle to Trongsa 80km
In the morning cycle over the Pele La Pass (3300m) in the Black Mountains, considered the traditional boundary between east and west. The Pass is marked by a large monument and many prayer flags. There is an abrupt change in vegetation at this point, with mountain forest replaced by high altitude dwarf bamboo. The 27km downhill from here winds through pristine pine forests, wayside villages and markets. You then have a gentle climb up to Trongsa (2300m), home of Bhutan’s largest fortress.
Day 09: Cycle to Bumthang Valley 67km
The final day of riding brings more climbing, the highest pass of the tour and a great sense of satisfaction as you ride into Bumthang have ridden halfway across the country over some serious terrain. There are two passes to get over today, Yutong La (3400m) and Kiki La (2860m) so it will be an up and down ride taking you through pine forests, wide open farming valleys, down to the Bumthang Valley. The valley is actually a combination of four valleys with altitudes from 2600m to 4000m and home to many prominent Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Day 10: Explore the Bumthang Valley
To explore the site of the valley we will take an easy walk to explore Bhutan’s oldest temple, the local farmland and the family temple of a local friend. For those with the energy we will also hold our own Bhutanese dart competition where you can try your hand at hitting a tiny target from 30m. Hitting the target is worth it for the song and dance that your local teammates perform in your honor!
Day 11: Drive to Wanduephodrang
Bhutan basically consists of one main east-west road so today we start the journey back to the west. You will be retracing the roads you had previously cycled but this time in the support vehicle. To break up the journey we will make a stop in Trongsa to visit the impressive museum.
Day 12: Drive to Paro, Trek to the Tiger’s Nest Monastery
This morning we drive back to Paro via Dochula Pass. In the afternoon there is an option to trek up to one of Bhutan’s most venerated places, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery, which is precariously perched on the side of a cliff 900m above the Paro Valley floor. This site has been recognized as one of the most spiritual sites in Bhutan and many eminent saints have meditated in this area.
Day 13: Tour Concludes in Paro
The tour ends with your transfer to the Paro Airport in time for your departing flight.