Hike & Bike
This custom Bhutan adventure holiday takes you on a journey through the country’s spiritual center, featuring breathtaking hikes, cycling excursions, and river rafting experiences. Your park admission fees contribute to the preservation of Bhutan’s conservation areas and by taking this trip, you are supporting local communities by creating job opportunities and generating income for people like guides and hotel staff.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN PARO – GANGTEY PALACE HOTEL
After leaving Bangkok we land at Bhutan’s Paro International airport, via an Airbus A319, to stunning mountain scenery. Once on the ground a short shuttle will take us to our location for a bike fitting, safety talk, lunch and the starting point of our first bike ride. Warm up while driding on well paved gentle surfaces passing incredible views of national cultural sights like Paro Dzong, the national museum perched on the hillside and through the town of Paro. Paralleling aside the crystal clear Paro Chhu and surrounded by rice paddies and mountain slopes, we peddle towards Drukgyal Dzong. Sitting at the hea d of the valley the fortress was built in 1644 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel to control the northern route to Tibet and ward off invasions. Although it burnt down in 1950 its ruins remain an imposing structure. After visiting the ruins we hop back on the bikes to the hotel. Duration : 2-3 hours riding gradual ascents & descents Distance : 16km – 23km Difficulty : Easy – moderate **Note – all days have van support and riding distance options.
DAY 2:TIGER’S NEST HIKE – GANGTEY PALACE HOTEL
Today we hike toward on of Bhutan’s most sacred places, the site of the cliffside monastery called Taksang or the Tiger’s Nest. This is the place everyone who comes to Bhutan visits as well as being an important pilgrimage destination for the locals. The temple complex virtually hangs on the mountainside ensuring that meditation is not distracted or disturbed. The trail is wide and rises slowly above the valley to the higher reaches of the mountain with spectacular views of the valley below. Reaching our destination which sits at 9,200 feet we enter the sacred and magical sanctuary as prayer flags rustle in the wind. A tour of the several chapels and stories of the past brings full understanding of the importance of the Tiger’s Nest to our visit. After descending the mountain we return to the thotel for lunch followed by an afternoon of choices. SPA appointments, shopping in Paro or trying your hand at archery. Walking duration : 4-5 ours/Distance: 6km/Difficulty: Moderate/Strenuous
DAY 3: BUMTHANG’S SPIRITUAL HEARTLAND – VILLAGE LODGE
This morning we take a 35 minute domestic flight to Bumthang situated in the middle of the country. Comprised of 4 valleys of beautify and serenity it is often referred to as the “Switzerland” of Bhutan. As soon as you step off the plane you realize you are now in a very special part of Bhutan with a feeling of stepping back in time. Temples and monasteries dot the countryside and the town quietly hums with spiritual importance. Bikes will take us along roads and trails to numerous temple sites and religious compounds including Jambay Lhakhang, Jakar Dzong, Wangdichholing Palace and the impressive Kurjay Lhakhang. Duration: 3-6 hours/Distances: to be confirmed. Options available/Difficulty: Easy
DAY 4: BUMTHANG’S TANG VALLEY – VILLAGE LODGE
Today offers options of distances for biking and adds in a hiking portionto visit mystical and legendary sights in the remote Tang Valley. Our bike ride to Tang valley takes us through small villages and spiritual sights as we leave one valley and enter another peddling our way to the end of the biking route. From there we hike into this historic valley to visit the “flaming lake” and lunch at the old palace museum. Life here is a little mor primitive than int he bigger towns and is evident in the basic structures and simpler and basic approach to day to day activities. This valley is typical of what the majority of the country is really like. Duration : 5-6 hours/Difficulty : Moderate/Distance : 30-60 km.
DAY 5: RIDE TO GANGTEY VALLEY – DEWACHEN HOTEL
After two nights in the spiritual heartland it is time to start our journey west and explore the exquisite sweeping Phobjikha Valley. The little visited valley is home to the quaint rural settlement of Gangtey on the western slopes of the Black Mountains. The glacial valley is a designated conservation area and winter home of the endangered black-necked cranes. The ride starts from a spectacular viewpoint at Trongsa Dzong looking towards Chendebji Chorten, a stupa built in the style of the monkey temple in Kathmandu. The route follows borad valleys to the base of Pele La (pass) where there is a good chance to see monkeys. Our destination is over the pass but the chance to jump in the van and shuttle on to the hotel is available. Duration : 6-7 hours/Difficulty: Moderate-Strenuous (with a shuttle over the pass) ** Today can also be a shorter day with more down time at the hotel and the beautiful surroundings.
DAY 6: PUNAKHA – RKPO GREEN RESORT
From the top of Lawa La (pass) the bike ride starts its downward trend to the Punakha valley. Biking along ridges and through valleys dotted with forest and crystal clear streams the temperatures will get warmer and the vegetation more tropical as we descend. Punakha sits at 5000 feet and a we enter the valley you are greeted by the impressive Wangdi Dzong and the glaciated waters of the Punakha River. This is a beautiful place where rice crops can be grown twice a year and the lushness of the valley is an inviting lure. We bike along the river bank soaking in the new scenery and balmy temperatures as we make our way up the valley to the hotel.
DAY 7: RAFTING THE PHO CHHU RIVER – RKPO GREEN RESORT
Beginning at the hotel parking lot the morning ride takes us once again to the banks of the river but heading toward the confluence of the Mo Chhu and the Pho Chhu rivers. After crossing a spectacular suspension bridge the route takes us up the Pho Chhu to meet our rafting guides and inflatable rafts for a thrilling paddle to our lunch spot. Festive tents greet us for our catered lunch on a sand bar with views of the Punakha Dzong – one of Bhutan’s most revered and impressive structures. After lunch we will tour the inside of the Punakha Dzong and witness where the coronations and Royal weddings take place as well as home to hundreds of monks. Duration : 2 hours riding 1.5 hours rafting/Difficulty : Easy-Moderate/Riding distance : 15km
DAY 8: THIMPHU VIA DOCHU LA PASS – DRUK HOTEL
Today we will transfer from Punakha to Thimphu via Dochu La pass at 10.000 feet. The top of the pass is capped with 108 religious Chortens to commemorate the stability and the progress of the king brough to the nation. Thousands of prayer flags fluter in the wind adding to the ambiance. From this point we hike through moss covered forst and rhododendron tees to Lungchu Zeka monastery following the same pilgrimage route that the Queen Mother makes once a year. If weather permits, we will have a 360 degree view of the Bhutanese Himalayas. Following the ridge line we come to a nunner dedicated to meditation where we will silently pass through the alleys and courtyards en route to the valley below. Arriving late afternoon in the heart of Thimphu, the country’s capital city, there maybe some time before dinner for some shopping. Duration : 4-5 hours hiking/Difficulty : Moderate-Strenuous
DAY 9: THIMPHU VALLEY EXPLORATION – DRUK HOTEL
Everyone drives up above Thimphu to share in the amazement of one of the largest Buddha statues in the world measuring 169 feet high and housing 100.000 smaller Buddhas inside. From here we’ll bike the hillside through the metropolois via back roads with views of the city, parliament, the King’s offices and two of the Royal palaces. Arriving at the end of the valley we leave the bikes for a hike to Cheri Goempa. Built in 1620 it is considered one of the most sacred of places in Bhutan where the first monk body took residence. The forested hike may be shared with monkeys and wild goats and the ancient route through the monastery is purely medieval. Lunch is set up in the meadow below whee you can also try your hand at the national sport of darts. Sitting next to the Wang Chu, you may consider this the clearest river you have ever seen. Afterwards choose to ride our shuttle back to town for an afternoon of SPA appointments and exploring the city. Duration : 2 hours biking, 2 hours hiking Distance biking : approx 22km/Difficulty : Moderate
DAY 10: HAA VALLEY – ZHIWALING HOTEL
This spectacular day of riding begins in the Haa Valley which only opened to visitors 4 years ago highlighting untouched forested hills, cultivated farms and extended views while riding on good surfaced roads. The headiness of the ride is derived from the sense that few before you have enjoyed this route. The day has a couple of good climbs but lots of pleasurable downhills one of which is 7km long ! Lunch is a picnic along the way before completing the ride past the confluence of two rivers and along the Paro Chhu back to the valley of our origin 10 days ago. There is time to take in the magnificent location of the hotel before the cocktail gathering and dinner that await our final night. Duration ; 4-5 hours/biking distance : 48km