'BHUTANESE FREEDOM ADVENTURE'
Trip 1 - 8th - 16th April, 2020
Trip 2 - 20th - 28th April, 2020
Cycling across Bhutan is one of the most exciting adventures one can experience on a bike.
Travelling from the far east to the central region of the Bhutanese Kingdom will reward riders with challenging climbs of up to 4,000m in elevation and allow them to experience mind blowing descents that last for hours through some of the most beautiful and unspoilt landscapes on earth.
As one of the worlds only certified cycling guides to be recognised by the Tourism Council of Bhutan, now is the time to secure your place for this once in a life time opportunity.
Day 1 - PARO ARRIVAL
Flying into Bhutan’s premier airport in the beautiful Paro valley (located in the far east of the country), the clear mountain air, forested ridges, imposing monasteries and welcoming Bhutanese people in their striking national dress will provide a breath-taking first impression.
Guests will be whisked away to their accommodation so that they can rest, acclimatise to the altitude (2,300m) and enjoy a hearty Bhutanese lunch before building their bikes in preparation for the first day of riding. Riders can explore the streets of Paro, located just a short 2km from our accommodation or opt to rest their legs prior to setting off the following morning.
Dinner will be served at a traditional farm house just meters from the oldest temple in Paro. Here, guests will enjoy their first real taste of Bhutanese culture and learn about the strong role that the Buddhist religion plays in the local people’s lives.
Day 2 - PARO to HAA (Over Chelela Pass)
86km / 1,823m Elevation Gain
Departing from the hotel and in through Paro town, riders will pass through farmland and scattered hamlets to reach the start of our climb to the Chelela Pass. The first big climb of the trip (Bhutan’s highest trafficable pass at 4,000m), we gain height gradually and at some of the turns have glimpses to the north of the snow-capped peaks of Bhutan’s Himalaya. Some 36 kilometres later, we reach the prayer flagged summit of the pass at the lofty altitude of 3989 meters.
At the pass, riders can enjoy snacks and refreshments before tackling the 20-kilometre descent towards Haa. Just prior to the final section of descent, lunch will be served overlooking the township of Haa and the army camp below.
After arriving in the Haa township and enjoying the local architecture and history, there is a final 14 kilometre climb on gradual, undulating roads to our accommodation for the night. Guests will enjoy the beautiful country side that surrounds the hotel and can explore the small farm side roads and bridges on foot if they have any energy remaining.
Day 3 - HAA to THIMPHU
125km / 1,157m Elevation Gain
Your destination today is the Bhutanese capital of Thimphu, which is located 126 kilometers from Haa. The first 65km will see riders follow the Haachu river gently downhill and in places there will be opportunities to spot wild monkeys and mountainside Yak. The scenery today is like no other in the world and as you traverse your way slowly downhill through the small villages, locals will hoot and wave in excitement.
Lunch will be served in a secret picnic location at the 95km mark at which point guests can rest their legs and enjoy the local cuisine.
The final 35km will be following roads perched high along the banks of Wang Chhu River towards Thimphu through a mixture of rice fields and coniferous forest. As the quaint city of Thimphu begins to appear, we will see the impressive statue of 4 friends in the middle of the road and the tranquillity of the Bhutanese countryside will turn into excitement through the hustle and bustle of city life.
With a population of 150,000 including Bhutan's King, Thimphu has a special charm and riders will find it fascinating to sit and watch the local people in the town square, wearing their traditional dress and going about their business in a typically, unhurried Bhutanese manner. Our hotel is located in the heart of the city and here, riders can enjoy a well-earned beer at the bar.
Day 4 - THIMPHU to PUNAKHA
115km / 1,541m Elevation Gain
Our stay in Thimphu is only a short one and after breakfast and the anticipation of the bike ride that lies ahead, we will set off to the peak of the Dochula pass (3,050m). After a gentle 5km to warm the legs, the 22km (700m elevation gain) climb to Dochula begins. The hillsides on either side of road are covered in a luxuriant temperate forest, with abundance of plant and animal wildlife. The lower slopes are lush with orange trees, banana plantations and bamboo. Several species of Deer and Monkeys make their home in the forest so riders will need to keep their eyes out for wild animals laying causally on the quiet roads. The support car will be waiting at the top of the pass with snacks and refreshments. The peak is marked by 108 stunning Buddhist stupa and offers magnificent views of the Eastern Himalaya.
The downhill from Dochu La into the Punakha valley will leave riders speechless as they enjoy 1700 meters of descent, through lush forest and jungle spread over a distance of 50 kilometres.
You will be riding directly towards Punakha, Bhutan’s old capital city which is the winter home for over 1000 monks. Following lunch, riders can experience the magnificent Dzong (Built in 1637 and the previous residence of Bhutans King) and Bhutan's longest suspension bridge which will connect us to Hotel Lobesa, our accommodation for the night. Perched high on Phunaka's mountainside, overlooking the paddy fields and temples below, Guests will be treated to unrivalled views and dinner fit for a king.
Day 5 - PUNAKHA to TRONGSA
135km / 2,412m Elevation Gain
The central Road across the Black mountain was completed 35 years ago and its completion brought about great changes to the people of central Bhutan. We will leave our hotel and cycle down to the river and the valley floor, one of the lowest points of the trip at 600m above sea level.
Crossing the bridge, riders will have a short climb to the village of Wangdueand and then a relatively flat road for 20kms. Here, guests can enjoy a morning coffee and then begin a long climb over the Black Mountain. This climb is deceptively long, gaining almost 2,000 meters. After crossing a small settlement in Norbuding, we still have around 12kms to reach the peak of Pele La Pass (3360m).
There is a high chance to see the endangered 'langur monkeys' in the forest on this section of our ride. At the pass, the forest opens out and riders will find Yaks grazing by the side of the road. This pass is traditionally known as the boundary between Western and Eastern Bhutan and the landscape which spreads out on the far side of the pass is different to that on the west.
Another amazing descent follows (1,550m). It is downhill almost all of the way to Trongsa (60km.) We will enjoy our lunch at a magnificent Stupa built to ward off the demons of the valley. From here, the road conditions slowly deteriorate to gravel and riders will get their first opportunity to ride the rugged roads of Bhutan. The ride from lunch offers amazing views of distant mountains from a high, narrow ridge line and the final 8km of the day will be uphill towards Trongsa on difficult gravel roads. A tough day on the bike, our accommodation in Trongsa will be the perfect place to recuperate and enjoy in 'tales from the road,' before resting the eyes in preparation for the days that lie ahead.
Day 6 - TRONGSA to BUMTHANG
68km / 1,495m Elevation Gain
Following our tough day yesterday, day 6 will be a little shorter in length, however, riders should not let the distance (or lack of) suggest that the day will be easy. The road climbs rapidly through a series of hairpins out of Trongsa and there are great views back to the Dzong and out across the valley below. After passing through cultivated fields, we re-enter the forest on gravel roads. At a distance of 30kms from Trongsa we will reach Yutong La Pass at 3,484m.
Descending to a low point of 2650m at a small village known as 'Chumey' (the birthplace of Bhutans Queen), the scenery changes completely as we enter the wide open Bumthang valley. After a short and very beautiful climb to Kiki La, we will begin a fantastic descent to Bumthang and our accommodation for the night. Bumthang is often referred to as 'Bhutans Switzerland' due to the similarities in flora, fauna, agriculture and architecture. Our accommodation is run and owned by a Swiss expat who now calls Bhutan home and is famous throughout Bhutan for introducing European farming methodologies to Bhutanese culture.
Day 7 - TANG VALLEY RETURN
64km / 1,800m Elevation Gain
The Tang is one of four valleys in the Bumthang district and offers incredible riding terrain and views. We will set off along small, quiet mountain roads and gradually climb our way towards the tang valley along delicate switchbacks through thick forest. Riders will be able to spot Bhutanese nomad collecting wild strawberries and shepherds guiding herds of cattle along the roads
Arriving at the Ugyencholing Manor for lunch, we will enjoy a fantastic, home cooked lunch and views across the valley floor beneath us. Following lunch, riders will be able to roam the private museum at the manor and learn all about the life of a bhutanese noble family from the 16th century.
The ride back from the Tang Valley will be our last ride of the trip. As we descend back into Bumthang, there will be the option to explore the village itself or return to the accommodation for celebratory drinks and to pack the bags for our departure the following day.
Day 8 - BUMTHANG to PARO
Following breakfast, we will board our flight in Bumthang and return to Paro.
From here, bikes packed away and walking shoes fastened, we will be transported to the base of 'The Tigers Nest,' the most iconic temple of Bhutan perched high on a cliff face at 2,800m overlooking Paro below.
Tigers Nest is one of the Buddhist world’s most venerated pilgrimage sites and it is often referred to as 'The Tiger’s Lair'. It is said that Guru Rimpoche came to Taktsang on the back of a Tigress and, whilst meditating in a cave, converted the Paro valley to Buddhism. A number of temples have now been built on the site, and these occupy precarious position clinging to a cliff face high above the Paro valley. The visit involves a 2 hour climb on a steep footpath through beautiful Pine forest, clad with Spanish moss and fluttering prayer flags. At the 'Nest' itself, we will spend some time exploring the monastery before descending back to the base below. Half way down the climb we will stop for lunch at the oldest cafe in Bhutan with spectacular views of the Monastery itself above. The views are well worth the hike and following this, we'll have earn our final calories for the trip, with dinner at out accommodation for the night.
Day 9 - DEPARTURES and GOODBYE
Following 8 days of incredible adventure around one of the most picturesque places on earth, riders will say their goodbyes and depart from Paro International airport for home.
Bhutanese Visa Application Process
Return Transfers from Paro Airport
Internal flight from Bumthang to Paro
8 Nights’ Accommodation
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner Daily
Fruit and Refreshments during all activities
Daily Guided Adventures (2 x Local Guides & 1 x International Guide - Jack Thompson)
Professional Mechanic (Bike wash & service daily)
2 x Support Vehicles
Entry to all 'Points of Interest'
Live tracking for Friends and Family
Suggested Pack Lists & Product Discounts
Min 4 Guests
Max 6 Guests
International Airfares to and from Paro