The journey begins in Kathmandu and travels across the Terai region of Nepal to enter India and overnight in Siliguri before ascending into the Himalayas. The difference in climate, vegetation, scenery and people begins immediately. The renowned tea producing area of Darjeeling provides spectacular views of the high Himalayas (Kanchenjunga - world's 3rd highest mountain) and has a diverse mixture of Tibetan, Indian and Nepalese.
Continue on to Bhutan, to explore this unique and amazing country before finishing the tour in Kolkata (Calcutta) which is a city of contrasts. The motor bikes provided are Royal Enfield Bullets. The Enfields were originally produced in Britain. After WW2, the factory was transferred to Chennai (Madras), where they are still in production today. An experienced motor bike mechanic will accompany the tour. All fuel, maintenance and repairs are included.
Day 1: Arrive Kathmandu
Met at airport and transferred to hotel. Taken on an orientation tour of the Thamel area. The hotel is centrally located in the Thamel area of Kathmandu which is renowned for its many restaurants, shops, bars, and nightclubs etc which cater for the tourists. The hotel has a nice swimming pool to relax in after a hard days sightseeing. Kathmandu is situated at 1400 meters or 4500 ft and is nestled in a fertile valley. Kathmandu has always evoked mystique amongst travelers. Ancient temples, exotic festivals and the blending of the Hindu and Buddhist religions, all complimented with the mighty Himalayas as a backdrop. A walk down the narrow, cobbled streets with overhanging balconies and delicately wrought carved windows, is like taking a stroll back through time.
Day 2: Kathmandu
Sightseeing tour. Walk through the cobbled streets of Kathmandu to Durbar Square which is the spiritual center of Kathmandu and has many fine temples and imposing buildings, this is where Kumari - the living Goddess - lives in a small house. After lunch a short ride to Swayambunath (the Monkey Temple) which is perched high on a hill overlooking Kathmandu. Soak up the atmosphere of this magical place - chanting Buddhist monks, beating drums, Tibetan horns, shops selling artifacts and listen to the 1000's of fluttering Tibetan prayer flags sending their prayers to the heavens. A leisurely stroll through the back streets of Kathmandu to the hotel for a relaxing swim in the pool.
Day 3: Kathmandu
Sightseeing tour. Jump into a rickshaw and and relax in the back whilst you are pedalled through Kathmandu to Pashupatinath - the holiest Hindu place in Kathmandu. The Hindus cremate their dead here and the ashes are sprinkled into the river which flows into the Mother Ganges river in India. See many Sadhus who are holy Hindu men who have renounced all world possessions and roam the sub continent going to the various holy Hindu sights. Back into the rickshaws and pedal off to the Buddhist temple at Boudanath which has the largest Stupa in Nepal. This is the spiritual and exile home for the many Tibetans who fled after the Chinese invasion. Close by are many Tibetan Monasteries teaching the Buddha's philosophy on life. Enjoy a nice lunch overlooking the magnificent Stupa.
Day 4: Kathmandu - Biratnagar (fly) - enter India
Transfer to the airport for the short but spectacular flight to Biratnagar which is situated in the Terai region of Nepal. A bus will pick up from the airport and drive for 2 hours through the lush, green Terai region until the Indian border is reached. Crossing into India and continue for 1 hour to Siliguri where the Royal Enfields, machanic, vehicles and crew will be waiting. Have a practice and get the "feel" of the Enfields before heading off the next morning.
Day 5: Siliguri - Darjeeling (100 km)
The ride into the Himalayas begins immediately you'll notice the change in vegetation, people, architecture, lifestyle and the climate becomes more temperate you've left the "Plains of India" and are now in the Himalayas. Darjeeling - this picturesque town straddles a ridge at 2134 meters (7000 ft), surrounded by tea plantations and provides spectacular views of the Himalayas, in particular, Kanchenjunga, the 3rd highest mountain in the world. Darjeeling was established by the British as a hill station to escape the heat and humidity of the Indian plains.
It is a fascinating place where you can see Buddhist monasteries; visit a tea plantation and see how tea is processed; ride chairlifts; go horse riding; hunt for bargains in the colorful markets; visit Tiger Hill for dawn views over Kanchenjunga and other Himalayan peaks; see the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute which was founded by Sherpa Tenzing Norgay (conquered Everest with Edmund Hillary in 1953) and generally enjoy the holiday atmosphere of this wonderful place.
Day 6: Darjeeling
Sightseeing tour. A morning ride on the famous "Toy Train" which was built by the British to take passengers and goods from the plains to Darjeeling. It is one of the last remaining steam engine trains in the world. Returning to Darjeeling and take a stroll through the market/bazaar areas to visit the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute and also the zoo which is one of the best there is in India. Himalayan bears, Bengal Tigers.
Day 7: Darjeeling. Optional day ride to Mirik (100 km) or spend the day exploring Darjeeling.
Day 8: Darjeeling - enter Bhutan - Phuntsholing (200 km)
Ride back down the Himalayas to the "Plains of India" and continue until the border of India/Bhutan is reached. Enter Bhutan and notice the immediate change in dress, architecture and people. Bhutan - The name of Bhutan was derived from the Sanskrit name Bhotanta, which means End of Tibet. Early British explorers called it Bootan, whilst the Bhutanese refer to their country as Druk Yul; Land of the Thunder Dragon. The capital is Thimpu (pop. 40.000) which lies in a broad valley, at an altitude of 2300 meters or 7600 ft. Much of Bhutan's early history remains a mystery, mainly due to its isolation and restriction on outside visitors.
The present king is committed to maintaining its cultural identity, with all new buildings having to be made by traditional techniques and by establishing a national dress code. Its landscape varies from the lush, tropical south, through the foothills of the Himalayas up to the high, desolate Tibetan plateau. Bhutanese fortresses are known as Dzongs, which are impressive castle like buildings which were constructed in commanding locations, usually on hilltops overlooking an expansive river valley. They are used to house administrative offices and the monks of the regional monastic communities. Bhutan's towns and villages are located in remote valleys, separated by high passes, which has allowed each valley to develop their own distinctive culture, traditions, dress and architecture.
Day 9: Phuntsholing - Paro (175 km). Ride back into the Himalayas enjoying the fantastic scenery on the way.
Day 10: Paro. Sightseeing tour in the Paro valley to see the famous Tigers Nest Monastery perched on a cliff, the Paro Gompa/Museum and visit a typical Bhutanese farm house to experience how the majority of Bhutanese live.
Day 11: Paro - Thimpu (70 km). A great days ride before arriving in Thimpu which is the capital of Bhutan and has a population 40.000.
Day 12: Thimpu - Punakha - Wangduephordang (75 km)
Another great days ride in the mountains to Wangduephordang. On the way stop at the high pass (10000 ft/3000 meters) and see the full vista of the mighty Himalayas before descending into the Wangdue valley. After settling into the hotel and having lunch, a sightseeing tour to Punakha to see one of the best Buddhist Monasteries in Bhutan.
Day 13: Wangdue - Thipu (75 km). Ride back through the mountains and over the pass to Thimpu. After settling into the hotel and having lunch, a sightseeing tour around Thimpu to see the sights with some luck there may be the Bhutan traditional archery contest being held.
Day 14: Thimpu - Phuntsholing (175 km). Ride through the Himalayas back to Phuntsholing.
Day 15: Phuntsholing - Silinguri (130 km). Yet another great days ride through the "Plains of India". Say good bye to the Enfields, mechanic and drivers and board the overnight train to Kolkata sleeping berth in air con compartments.
Day 16: Arrive Kolkata
Arrive Kolkata around 8 am to be met by our local Indian guide and transferred to the hotel. Rest of the day to relax and get the "feel" of this most interesting of cities. Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) - is situated on the Hooghly river, Kolkata is one of India's largest and most interesting cities. It was created by the British in 1686, as the capital of British India. It has a fascinating history, ranging from "the Black Hole of Calcutta" and Clive of India, to Mother Teresa and the good work carried out by her missions.
Kolkata has long been acknowledged as the cultural capital of India for the way it promotes drama, film making, writers, painters, dancers, musicians and philosophers. There are many fine buildings, museums, markets and bazaars and this, together with the distinctive feel of the real India, makes Kolkata an interesting place to visit.
Day 17: Kolkata. Sightseeing tour to take in all the sights that this great city offers.
Day 18: Departing Kolkata. Free day to relax, shop and enjoy before the late evening transfer to the airport for departure.
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