Day 1: Arrive Paro Bhutan from Bangkok Delhi Kolkata or Kathmandu. In the morning, you will fly to Bhutan. Paro is located in a flat valley awash with rice fields that lie above a narrow gorge. This fertile valley was the seat of power in Western Bhutan during the nineteenth century. In the afternoon, you will have a chance to visit the valley’s largest Dzong, Paro Dzong, correctly known as Richen Pung Dzong. A dzong is a fortress that holds offices for civil officials and quarters for monastic authorities. All Dzongs were built in harmony with the land they protect. They often rise directly out of the ridges upon which they were built.
Walking through this ancient walled fortress is like taking a step back in time, a time when Bhutan had to protect itself from its neighbor, Tibet. Paro Dzong is truly a spectacular site. Within the Dzong, there are many temples, as well as, several smaller chambers where monks gather. Your bikes will be waiting at the hotel for an evening ride. Ride northwest along the Pa Chu River to Drugyel Dzong, the Ruined Fort, which once defended this valley from a Tibetan invasion. Although in ruins, this Dzong is of great historical importance. On a clear day one can see Mount Jhomolhari, Abode of the Goddess Jumo, rising to 23,997 feet. The entire Paro valley is relatively flat and is a great way to begin your biking trip in Bhutan. Accommodations. Includes: (L), (D).
Day 2: Paro Taktsang Hike and Country Riding. After an early morning breakfast, you will bike to Satsam Chorten for a half-day hike to Taktsang Monastery. The name Taktsang means "Tiger’s Nest". This magical monastery clings to a vertical granite cliff 2,000 feet above the valley floor. Legend says that Guru Padmasambhava flew to a cave on this cliff to meditate riding a tiger, hence the name. The tiger was actually his favorite consort, Yeshe Tsogyel, whom he transformed into a tiger for this journey. They meditated in the cave, and when the Guru left he proclaimed that a monastery to be built there. This is a great way to acclimatize to the high elevations in Bhutan. There will be time in the afternoon to bike to more sites, including: Kichu Lhakhang or the Ta Dzong Museum. Accommodations: Olathang hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 3: Paro - Haa Valley. Today you will ride to the Chelila Pass. This is a 30-km uphill (the support vehicle will be on hand for guests who prefer not to ride the entire climb). This is an excellent road with very little traffic. The route travels through pristine alpine forests with magnificent mountain views. Reaching the pass, you will be enjoy spectacular views of Jhomolhari. A 25 km descent to the Haa Valley follows. Only recently opened to foreign tourists, the Haa Valley is a unique area of Bhutan. In the afternoon, you will tour sites by either vehicle or bike. Accommodations: Special Camp or Guest House. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Haa Valley. In the morning, you will enjoy a short walk with visits to Tachu Gompa and Lhakhang Nagpo/Karpo. The twin temples were built in conjunction with the Kichu Temple in Paro to pin down an Ogress who was obstructing the spread of Buddhism. The builder of the temples, the Tibetan king Tsongsten Gampo, is said to have received his divinity to build the structures at the present-day location. A white and a black pigeon, alighting on this site, gave the temples these names. Today the temples are dedicated to the Guardian deity of Haa Valley. In the afternoon, you will tour sites by either vehicle or bike. Accommodations: Special Camp or Guest House. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 5: Haa-Thimphu. Today you will enjoy a relaxing morning before continuing to Thimphu. Arriving in the early afternoon, you will have a colorful tour of the city. Your tour includes visits to the national library, memorial stupa, Bhutan’s Arts and Crafts School, and Bhutan’s largest monastic school, Simtokha Dzong. Build in the 1600’s, it is the oldest surviving Dzong in the country. Today it is a training center for those learning to teach Dzongkha, the national language. Other possible stops may include the Textile & Folk Heritage Museum and the textile weavers at Changzamtok, where you can observe local weavers at work. Accommodations: Peaceful Resort or similar. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Note: you may visit some of these sites the following day or on your second visit to Thimphu.
Day 6: Thimphu. After breakfast, you will take a morning ride to Sangaygang. The ride begins at the Langchuphakha Bridge and passes Thimphu Tashicho Dzong built in 1641. After crossing the Zilukha Nunnery, you will have a panoramic view of Thimphu Tashicho Dzong. You will continue your ride gradually ascending past the Zoo and Golden Takin Breeding Center. The Takin is the national animal of Bhutan. Before reaching Sangaygang, you will pass through a beautiful pine forest. A scenic view of the Thimphu Valley unfolds before you. After relaxing at the Sangaygang View Point, you will ride back to town. In the afternoon, you will cycle towards Tango Cheri monastery which is 20km outside of Thimphu. Along the way, you will pass by the Queen Mother’s Palace and several small local villages. Continuing through the valley, the road travels through a pine forests along Wangchu River to Tango-Cherry Monastery. Tango- Cherry Monastery was built by Saint Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal in 1620. If time permits, you can leave your bikes and take a hike to the monastery. Ride back to Thimphu. Accommodations: Peaceful resort or similar. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Thimphu- Punakha. Leaving Thimphu, you will take a scenic drive across the Dochu La (3,200m) to Punakha and Wangdiphodrang. Crossing the pass there are great views of Bhutan’s Central Himalayan ranges. You may bike a portion of the trip to the pass. Driving through swarms of prayer flags fluttering in the wind, you cross the pass and descend into the sub-tropical Punakha River Valley. For this portion of the trip, you will bike all the way down to Punakha. This is a great ride! Punakha’s importance lies largely in the past when it was Druk Yul’s capitol. The dzong’s sheer size and its elaborate art within give hint to Punakha’s former days of glory. Reaching Punakha, you will ride above the valley floor to the Meri Puensum Hotel. The hotel has dramatic views of the surrounding terraced fields and the snow covered Himalayas to the north. Accommodations: Meri Puensum Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 8: Punakha. Today is a full day of site seeing by bike in the Punakha Valley. You begin the day riding to Punakha’s impressive dzong and then continue along the river with hiking opportunities to neighboring villages and temples. Accommodations: Meri Puensum or similar. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 9: Punakha-Paro. In the morning you will take a short hike through terraced fields of rice to Chimi Lhakhang. The trail leads through the fields to the settlement of Pana. You will continue your walk to the temple. This beautiful temple is known for increasing fertility in woman. In recent years, Bhutanese women have been joined by women from other countries who journey to this temple in hopes of pregnancy. Aside from its significance to women, the temple is located in a wide-open valley making it a beautiful short walk. After the visit, you will ride along the river to Wangdiphrodrang and drive back to the Dochu La. From here you can bicycle all the way to Thimphu (18-mile downhill). In the evening continue to Paro by support vehicle. Evening stroll around Paro town. A festive farewell dinner this evening is planned. Accommodations: Olathang Hotel or similar. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 10: Depart Bhutan. Early morning departure to Bangkok, Delhi, Kathmandu or Kolkata from Paro.
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