Untouched Bhutan

12 Day Cycling Tour from $6120 NZD
12 Days
  • 2019
  • Best time to travel: April
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  • Availability Guide:
  • Current date selected
  • Plenty
  • Limited
  • Closed or too close to departure (Call Us for options)

The remote Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is still one of the world’s most untouched, unique and mystical destinations.

Ride through stunning scenery where snow-capped peaks tower above forested gorges, and majestic fortress-like dzongs and monasteries perch precariously on cliffs. We’ll ease you into the high altitude with a short ride through villages and fertile farmlands before the true climbing begins with a series of passes followed by some great descents.

From Trongsa, home to Bhutan’s largest dzong situated high above the Mangde Chu River, you’ll descend to Jakar (also known as Bumthang), where there will be time to explore the many temples and Goembas scattered around the area. Then fly back to Paro and hike to the most sacred place in Bhutan, the Tiger’s Nest Monastery.

As well as the spectacular scenery, the tour also offers plenty of opportunity to learn more about the culture and traditions of this ‘Land of the Thunder Dragon’.

Paro to Paro

Paro Airport
  • Mountain Biking
  • Grade
  • Group size: minimum 12 / maximum 24
  • USD 180 pp Bumthang to Paro domestic flight (subject to change until booked)
  • USD 350 single room surcharge
  • USD 300 bike hire
  • Prices valid for 2018 & may be subject to change for 2019
  • This tour is invoiced in USD
  • Lifestyle option available
  • We can customise this tour to suit your group and dates. Call us for details!
Total riding distance is approx. 375km over 7 days which will be challenging due to the altitude (often above 3,000m asl) and steepish gradients. The biking is predominantly on paved roads (on several days single trail options available) and traffic is usually light. We recommend a very good fitness level but the support vehicle is always available.

Full Itinerary

DAY 1

Arrival Day: Paro

No Cycling

We'll be met at Paro Airport and transferred to our hotel. In the afternoon we’ll visit the town's museum which features local art, textiles, artifacts and sculptures. We’ll also visit one of the major Dzongs located in Paro. This evening the welcome dinner will be prepared in traditional Bhutanese style.

Meals: Lunch, Dinner

DAY 2

Paro to Thimphu (& Domina Loop)

Cycling: 34 km

After a short morning transfer to Thimphu (approx 2 hrs), the rest of the morning will be spent visiting museums and the National Institute for Zorig Chusum (a school of arts and crafts). In the afternoon we ride to Dodina through small villages, farmland and dense forests. The end of the road in Dodina features two monasteries set back high amongst the mountains. The return road to Thimphu is a gradual downhill. This evening you can explore the town, well known for its handicraft shops.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3

Thimphu to Punakha

Cycling: 75 km

We have our first major hill challenge today. After a 5 km warm up, its an 18 km climb to the pass at Dochula, known for its spiritual energy and 108 Chortens that are located at the top. We’ll probably stop here for lunch - the perfect place to take in the expansive views of the deep valleys and eastern Himalayas. This afternoon as we descend, the vegetation will change from oak, maple and blue pine forests to rhododendron, hemlock and fir vegetation. Along with the many monasteries that come into view, this descent will be one to remember.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4

Punakha to Wangdue

Cycling: 10 - 20 km

Today’s ride is more leisurely as we take time to explore the beautiful and lush valley that surrounds Punakha. We will visit the Punakha Dzong, one of the most impressive Dzongs in Bhutan which was built in 1638 and all the more remarkable as it was constructed without the use of drawings or a single nail! The other main visit today will be to Chhimi Lhakhang, built in 1499 and also known as the temple of the “Devine Madman” (Lama Drukpa Kunley) and disciple of one of the five great tertons (treasure discoverer) Pema Lingpa. This temple is also noted for its blessing of women who wish to bear children. In the afternoon we ride the short distance to Wangdue.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5

Wangdue to Phobjikha

Cycling: 65 km approx.

It’s an early start as this is probably the toughest day in the saddle. After riding through a beautiful valley we climb to a pass which crosses the Black Mountains (the division between east and west Bhutan). From our starting point it is a gradual 1 km climb to Tikka Zampa, with the next 27km to Nobding being at an average gradient of 7–10%. From Nobding its another 12 km to the top of the pass at Lawala, identifiable by the prayers flags (which normally adorn every mountain pass in Bhutan). The views from here are spectacular. Finally, it is a gentle downhill though bamboo and pine forests to our resting place for the night in Phobjikha.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6

Rest day in Phobjikha

No cycling

A welcome rest from the bike today. The glacial valley we are in is easily explored on foot, as the area below the recently restored Gante Goemba Monastry is dotted with villages and Lhakhangs (Buddhist temples). Phobjikha Valley is also home to the rare and endangered black neck crane which migrates from the Tibetan plateau in the winter (migration period is from late October until early March). You may like to visit the Crane Information Centre to see the documentary video about this bird (own cost ~Nu.200).

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7

Phobjikha to Trongsa

Cycling: 84 km approx.

We start with a 16 km climb over Lawala pass up to Pele La. Then we’re rewarded with a 27 km descent to Chendebji, with the Black Mountains providing a stunning backdrop. Make sure you take a look over your shoulder on the way down so you don’t miss some of the superb views. From here its a gentle climb all the way to Trongsa, home to Bhutan's largest Dzong (built in 1644).

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8

Trongsa to Jakar (Bumthang)

Cycling: 68 km approx.

This morning we visit the Trongsa Dzong, situated high above the Mangde Chu that has a sheer drop on one side. The only road connecting east and west Bhutan used to pass through this Dzong’s courtyard and when the massive doors were shut, it divided the country in two. It is an interesting ride today as we head over Yontong La Pass (28 km) where you can still see the old trade route that runs parallel before heading downhill for 24 km through the fir, then pine and bamboo forests to Zungney. The final leg is a gradual climb to Kiki La before descending down to Jakar, also known as Bumthang.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9

Jakar (Bumthang) Loop

Cycling: 25 - 30 km approx.

You may like a sleep-in this morning before wandering around this small town that is the trading hub of the Bumthang Valley. In the afternoon there is the option of a leisurely ride to visit some of the many dzong’s and Goemba’s that are scattered around the valley.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10

Jakar (Bumthang) to Paro

No cycling

Firstly some free time in Jakar before being transferred to the airport for the 45 minute flight to Paro (bikes can be transferred by road which will take a full day). After checking into your Paro hotel, you have the rest of the day to do as you please.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11

Paro (excursion to Tiger’s Nest Monastery)

Hiking: 3 hour climb

This morning we head up to Tiger’s Nest Monastery – one of the most iconic of the country’s buildings. The 3 hour hike up the hill will be well worth the effort as it’s a spectacular place to visit. Perched on a cliff ledge high above the Paro Valley the monastery is still an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Although it was partly destroyed by a fire in 1998 its been completely restored to its former magnificence. We return to Paro and pack our bikes before tonight’s farewell dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12

Departure from Paro

No cycling

Today you will be transferred to Paro Airport in time for your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast

Tour Inclusions and Exclusions:

Tour Includes:

  • Hotels & guesthouses: mainly 3 star standard with traditional amenities
  • Meals: all included as listed in the itinerary. Mix of western & Bhutanese style
  • Snacks and water during rides
  • Airport transfers
  • Air conditioned support vehicle(s) Number & type of vehicles dependent on group size
  • Experienced english speaking cycling guide(s) Number dependent on group size
  • Entrance fees (for sites mentioned in the itinerary)
  • Bhutan visa fee (pre-approval required in advance)

Tour Excludes:

  • Domestic flight from Bumthang to Paro (additional cost as listed above)
  • International flights (& any applicable airport taxes)
  • Bike hire (available) or take your own mountain bike
  • Personal expenses, soft drinks and alcoholic drinks
  • Tips for guide(s) and support crew
  • Travel insurance
 

Tour Video