Discover the ancient kingdom of Bhutan by many modes. Mix a bit of scenic alpine cycling ... a dash of cultural hiking ... a splash of thrilling whitewater rafting and you have our Multisport Adventure - Discover Bhutan. This unique country, thought to be the inspiration for Shangri-la, has managed to combine tourism with growth without sacrificing it's soul. The ancient ways of life still prevail, men go to work dressed in traditional robes called gho and women in their wrap around kiras. Ancient architectural styles influence newer hotels and fresh mountain vegetables and chilis are combined with cheese for flavorful dishes that have been enjoyed through the centuries. Come explore the fabled Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan by bicycle, raft and foot; tour it's many wonders and discover it's delightful culture and traditions.
Your journey begins with several days of bicycle touring, first exploring the seldom visited valleys north of Bhutan's capital city of Thimphu, where you visit the Gompas of Pangri, Tango and Cheri. Then bike up and over (shuttle available too :-) Dochula Pass and down into the Punakha Valley. Explore the valley by bike, cycling to the spiritual capital at Punakha Dzong. Other then the optional climb, most of your bicycling is in valleys, with rolling hills and scenic landscapes.
Switching modes of travel, we explore areas away from the roads, during a half day of hiking in Punakha ascending to a beautiful temples perched high above the valley floor. Then cool off in the afternoon with some whitewater rafting on the Pho Chu River ... class 2 and 3 rapids, big enough to be fun, small enough for all to enjoy. We finish our adventure back in Paro with a hike to fabled Taktshang Goemba, better known to foreigners as Tigers Nest, a temple perched on a sheer cliff face, hundreds of feet above the valley floor. And unlike many other tours, we have special permits to hike to the actual monastery for a visit, not just view it from far away.
Arrive Paro, explore the National Museum, explore Thimphu.
Your multisport adventure through the fabled kingdom starts with one of the world's most scenic flights, coming into the Paro Valley. After stepping off the plane into the cool mountain air, we will enjoy lunch and then a short drive to Thimphu (60kms/2 hours). Time permitting we will visit the National Museum of Bhutan. You will have time to admire the museum's collection of rare Bhutanese artifacts and art, traditional weaving and other eclectic pieces. This afternoon we will prepare the bikes and enjoy a brief sightseeing pedal around the city. Wind down your first day in Bhutan with our welcome dinner and orientation. Cycling: 15 mi / 25 km, Terrain: flat, Meals: B L D
Bike north to visit Pangri, Tango and Cheri Gompas (fortified monasteries).
The ride today heads through a region not often seen on other bike tours in Bhutan, pedaling north to visit the Pangri, Tango and Cheri Gompas. These fortified monasteries have provided spiritual guidance to the local residents for centuries. Now the Tango and Pangri Gompas are centers of higher learning, with Pangri teaching astronomy and Tango instructing monks in Buddhist Philosophy Cheri monastery was built in 1620 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in memory of his father. Beautiful frescoes of saints, who have attained Buddhahood, adorn the monastery, including a very beautiful statue of 'Tara'. It is now a center of three year retreat for the monks. Cycling: 36 mi / 58 km, Terrain: moderate hills, Meals: B L D
Shuttle to the 108 Chortens atop Dochula Pass, descend on bike to Punakha.
Mid morning we will shuttle to Dochula Pass (you also have the option to cycle up). The views from the pass are magnificent, offering a panorama of the eastern Himalayas. Enjoy lunch at the pass before starting the 26 mile descent from the pass to Punakha through the leafy temperate forests and semi-tropical zone with abundant orange trees, bananas and bamboos. Cycling: 31 mi / 50 km (43 mi / 69 km if you cycle up), Terrain: alpine descent, Pass: Docula (3100 m), Meals: B L D
Leisurely cycling to visit Punakha Dzong and rural Bhutan. Punakha served as Bhutan's capital until 1955.
Today's relatively flat ride offers opportunities to visit some of the famed temples of the region and enjoy the quiet rural countryside. Today you will visit the Punakha Dzong built in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel, a Buddhist saint who unified Bhutan in the 17th century. Punakha served as the capital of Bhutan until 1955 and it still is the winter residence of the Je-Khenpo (Chief Abbot) and the central monk body. We will again spend the night in Punakha. Cycling: 28 mi / 45 km, Terrain: small hills, Meals: B L D
Hike through the hills surrounding Punakha, then descend to riverside for rafting the Pho Chu River's class 2 & 3 rapids.
Switching modes of travel today, you will set out for a hike through the countryside, visiting several small villages before reaching a temple overlooking the valley. From this higher vantage point you can enjoy great vistas of the area through which you rode yesterday and will raft later today. Descending back to the valley floor, enjoy a great Bhutanese lunch before setting out to raft the Pho Chu River. This scenic float throws some class 2 and 3 rapids at you to excite and refresh, a great way to round out our visit to the Punakha Valley. Meals: B L D
Shuttle to Paro, where we stay in the historic governor's mansion. Visit the family farm of your guide.
After breakfast, you will be shuttled back to Paro, where we spend out last couple of nights. Our hotel here is the former residence of the local governor. In the afternoon, you will visit a small village further up the valley, home to the family of our Bhutanese manager. An opportunity to experience the daily life, as we visit the family farm and explore the village. Meals: B L D
Hike to Taktshang Goemba (Tigers Nest Monastery), return to Paro for a farewell dinner with dancing.
This morning we will enjoy a hike to visit the renowned Tigers Nest Monastery (Taktshang Goemba). We will have permits to actually visit the temple and will enjoy most of day here in the mountains, hiking and sightseeing. The Taktshang Goemba is one of Bhutan's most spectacular monasteries, clinging to the cliff face, high above the surrounding valley floor. Upon our return to Paro, you will have a chance to finish your last minute shopping needs. We'll gather for a final Bhutanese dinner, swapping tales of the ride and country. Meals: B L D
Say farewell to Bhutan as you fly back to Bangkok. Legshembe joen
We will shuttle everyone back to the airport for your flight to Bangkok. Meals: B
While the memories are still fresh in our minds, we wanted to let you know how much we enjoyed our Bhutan tour. Sonam and Dorji were a top-notch team and did everything possible to make sure our trip was safe and enjoyable. We especially appreciated Sonam's willingness to adapt the itinerary to our interests and abilities, and we were impressed with the depth of his knowledge about Buddhism and the Bhutanese culture. The moment our energy level started to flag, Dorji and the support van always seemed to turn up with fresh water and healthy snacks.Jane H
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