Mountain biking in Bhutan is a whole new sport that is steadily gaining popularity amongst the Bhutanese and visitors alike. The country’s topography, especially in the western, central and eastern regions, are not the most cycle-friendly but that is precisely why mountain biking is gaining momentum amongst more and more visitors. The mode of transport itself calls for a certain intimacy seldom experienced in vehicles
Day 01: Arrival: Paro – Thimphu (65kms/1.5hrs)
Paro (alt. 2200m/7218ft) – The beautiful valley of Paro encapsulates within itself a rich culture, scenic beauty and hundreds of myths and legends. It is home to many of Bhutan’s oldest temples and monasteries, National Museum and country’s only airport. Mount. Chomolhari (7,314m) reigns in white glory at the northern end of the valley and its glacial water plunge through deep gorges to form Pa Chhu (Paro River). Paro is also one of the most fertile valleys in the Kingdom producing a bulk of the locally famous red rice from its terraced fields.
After landing Paro, drive to Capital City. Thimphu is a small, charming capital city nestled in the heart of the Himalayas with a population of about 100,000 people. It is a unique city with unusual mixture of modern development alongside ancient traditions. Although not what one expects from a capital city, Thimphu is still a fitting and lively place, home to civil servants, expatriates, monk body and also centre of government, religion and commerce. Thimphu maintains a strong national character in its architectural style.After reaching check into the hotel and visit:
Buddha Point (Approx. 2 hrs round trip)
- Start ridding to Buddha point, the world’s largest sitting Buddha, an immense statue housing a monastery and visitors center. Enjoy a stunning view of Thimphu city from this point.Overnight in Thimphu:
Day 02: Thimphu Sightseeing
This morning start riding from your hotel to Cheri Goemba (monastery) further northwest ups the Thimphu valley which is about 3 hours round trip. On the way stop in Dechencholing, where you can visit Pangri Zampa monastery (Astrology learning centre) and then ride through to Beygana for your hike to the Goemba.
- Established in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal. The monastery is now a major teaching and retreat center of the Southern Drukpa Kagyu sect. The Monastery serves as the monastic school for study of Buddhist Philosophy, metaphysics, mathematics, poets and many other Buddhist studies. According to legend or history of Bhutan the place was first visited by Padmasambhava in the 8th century. In the 13th century it was visited by Phajo Drugom Zhigpo the Tibetan Lama who first established the Drukpa Kagyu tradition in Bhutan. Zhabdrung spent three years in strict retreat at the monastery and stayed for many years.Picnic lunch will be arranged by the riverside. After lunch take a different riding route through the village of Kabisa and then to Pangrizampa/Dechencholing via a farm road.Overnight in Thimphu
Day 03: Thimphu – Punakha (77kms/3hrs)
Punakha Altitude: 1300m/4265ft. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan during the time of Zhabdrun Ngawang Namkgyal, the founder of Bhutan. Today it is the administrative and religious center of the district and the winter home of Bhutan’s Central Monk Body. It is blessed with temperate climate and owing to its natural drainage from Pho Chhu (male) and Mo Chhu (female) rivers.
After breakfast you will be chauffeured till Dochula Pass (3150mts/10,000ft) which offers panoramic views of the Himalayan Ranges. The pass is decorated with 108 Druk Wangyel Chorten, which were built to celebrate the stability and progress, brought to Bhutan by His Majesty Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the Fourth King.From here on you can ride to Punakha (Approx. 1.5hrs) and visit the following Places:
- Take a short hike through the rice field to Chimmi Lhakhang, the 15th-century monastery built by Lam Ngawang Chogyal on the spot where his cousin Lam Drukpa Kuenley (popularly known as “the Divine Madman”) subdued a powerful demon. This monastery is also referred to as the “Abode of Fertility” and believed that any couple who gets blessing from this temple is blessed with a child in the next year or so.
- The name means Palace of Great Bliss. This dzong stands magnificently on the spit of land where two rivers (Pho chu and Mo chu) meet. Punakha Dzong has special significance in Bhutanese history as the place where Bhutan’s first King, Ugyen Wangchuck, was crowned in 1907. It is also the winter residence for the Je Khenpo (spiritual leader) and the entire central monk body.Overnight in Punakha
Day 04: Punakha – Paro (137kms/4 – 5hrs)
After breakfast you will be again chauffeured till Dochula Pass. Here onward, ride on a bicycle till Capital City of Bhutan (Approx. 1hr).After lunch drive to Paro and visit the following places:
- Ta- Dzong (the watchtower) was built in the 17th century to guard the Paro Rimpong dzong (fortress) below. It was said that the future first king was kept in this tower as a prisoner for a week. It was the third king who restored the Ta-dzong and converted it into the National Museum. The visit to the museum will familiarize you with the Bhutanese way of life and will also acquaint you with the natural and cultural history.
Paro Rimpong Dzong
- Regal and imposing, dzongs are arguably among the most distinctive and important structures in Bhutan. This Dzong is the headquarters of the Paro district, housing the head administrator and staff, as well as a monastic body with about 200 monks.Later in the evening leisurely ride towards the ruins of Drugyel Dzong
- This Dzong, which was built in 1646 by Shabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to commemorate his victory over the Tibetan invaders, was destroyed by fire in 1951. On a clear day, this point offers bird’s eye view of the Mt. Chomolhari (7329m). Explore the village just below the dzong and get a feel of rural Bhutan.Overnight in Paro
Day 05: Paro – Hike to Taktshang, Tiger’s Nest (3-4hrs)
After a wholesome breakfast drive to Taktshang base where your hike begins
- Bhutan’s most scenic icon or the most important landmark, Taktshang the Tiger’s nest clings to the side of a steep cliff 300 meters above the Paro valley. The place was first visited by Guru Rimpoche, founder of the tantric form of Buddhism in Himalayan countries, in the 8th century. It was said that he meditated there for about three months. The original temple was built in the 17th century, but tragically, it was consumed by fire in 1998. Like a phoenix, the temple was rebuilt to its fullest glory in 2003. Takshang is considered to be the 10th-holiest site in the Buddhist world. You can visit three different temples inside the main Takshang complex. Riding Ponies provided upon request. After lunch, ride on a bicycle till Paro Town. En-route visit Kyichu Lhakhang (Approx. 1hr)
- Kyichu Lhakhang -It is one of the oldest and most sacred shrines of the Kingdom dating back to 7th century (the other is Jambey Lhakahng in Bumthang). The lhakhang complex is composed of two temples. The first temple was built by Tibetan King, Songtsen Gampo in the 7th century and in 1968, H.M. Ashi Kesang, the Queen Mother of Bhutan, built the second temple in original pattern.Evening: Relax at the hotel or free to explore further
Day 06: Departure
After breakfast, transfer to Paro airport for departure