This "Mystical Bhutan" cycling tour starts in Paro and makes its way through the diverse landscapes that are culturally and historically significant towns of Bhutan. The goal is to celebrate the land of happiness; share real world experiences, where you will interact with the locals, understand their way of life and relish the local cuisines. The terrain in Bhutan is quite hilly and the altitude ranges between 1500 mtrs to 3810 mtrs. Distances peddled daily will range between 40 to 80 kilometers (25 to 50 miles) the difficulty level will vary from being easy, manageable and challenging along the journey.
Arrive from Bangkok on flight KB125 BKK to PBH 0550/0910. We check into the hotel, and in the afternoon we’ll visit to Paro Museum, which features local art, textiles, artifacts, and sculptures. We’ll also visit Rinpung Dzong located in Paro. In the evening, we’ll have a welcome dinner prepared in traditional Bhutanese style.
Paro Museum, Rinpung Dzong
- Metta Resort & Spa
- Bhutan Mandala Resort
There is a short morning transfer to Thimphu (approx 2 hrs), and then 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 past small villages, farmlands and dense forests. The end of the road in Dodina features two monasteries set back high amongst the mountains. The return is a gradual downhill to Thimphu. Later in the evening, you can explore the town well known for its handicrafts shops.
Cycling to Thimphu, riding to Dodina village
- Namgay Heritage Hotel
- Hotel Thimphu Towers
Today will be the first major hill challenge, we have a warm up of 5 km before we start climbing for the next 18 km to the pass at Dochula, which is known for its spiritual energy and 108 Chortens that are atop the pass. Lunch at the Dochula Café is the perfect place to take in the expansive views of the deep valleys and eastern Himalayas. After lunch as we descend down the pass we move from oak, maple and blue pine forests into the rhododendron, hemlock and fir vegetation, and along with the many monasteries that come into view make this a downhill ride to remember.
Riding to Punakha through Dochu La pass, enjoying the stunning mountain views of Himalayas
- Meri Puensum Resort
- Lobesa Hotel Punakha
The ride today is a more leisurely one as we take time to explore the beautiful and lush valley that surrounds Punakha. We will visit Punakha Dzong, one of the most impressive Dzongs in Bhutan which was built in 1638 and made all the more remarkable as it was constructed without the use of drawings or a single nail! The other major visit today will be to Chimi 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 way to Wangdue.
Punakha Dzong, Chimi Lhakhang
- Wangdue Eco Lodge
- Puna Tsangchhu Cottage
Today we have a gentle climb all the way to Trongsa, home to Bhutan's largest dzong, built in 1644, which is situated high above the Mangde Chu and has sheer drops on one if its sides. The only road connecting eastern and western Bhutan passed through the courtyard of the dzong and the massive doors could be shut, dividing the country in two. We'll visit the dzong in the late afternoon.
It is an interesting ride today as we head over one pass, Yontong La (28 km), you can still see the old trade route that runs parallel with the pass before heading downhill for 24 km through the fir, then pine and bamboo forests before reaching Zungney. The final leg of the ride we have a gradual climb to Kiki La before descending down to Jakar, also known as Bumthang.
- Chumey Nature Resort
- River Lodge Bumthang
The morning is free to sleep in and have a wander around the small town that is the trading hub of the Bumthang Valley. In the afternoon we have a leisurely ride and a chance to visit some of the many dzong’s and Goemba’s that are scattered around the valley.
Visit some Dzong and Monastery around Jakar valley
We cycle on the main road for 12 km before heading off to ride up the remote Tang valley. Our first break will be at the burning lake where we learn about the legend before riding on to a nunnery where we stop for a visit. We continue on up on a mixture of paved and dirt roads to a former palace that is now a museum and guesthouse. We overnight in Ugyen Cholling and visit the private museum to learn about feudal Bhutan.
Riding to Tang valley
Heading back to the main road our first climb of the day takes us to the Shirtung La, and at the top of the pass we’ll hopefully have a clear view of Gangkhar Puensum, which at 7,570 metres is the world’s highest unclimbed peak. Since 1994 climbing of mountains in Bhutan higher than 6,000 metres has been prohibited out of respect for local spiritual beliefs, and since 2003 mountaineering has been forbidden completely. We have the option to ride down on single track trails to Ura village or we can continue on the paved road.
Cycling from Tang valley to Ura valley
From Ura we make our way over the highest pass in Bhutan at 3,798 m, the Thurmshing La. We reach the summit of the pass after 22 kms of riding and are then rewarded with a glorious 20 km of downhill to our campsite at Sengor.
Cycling to Sengor campsite
Our downhill continues with a 60 km descent to the Kuru Chu River. We start at 3051m, descend all the way to 579 m before climbing back up to 1590 m. We slowly make our way up a series of switchbacks to the remote village of Mongar, one of the oldest educational hubs of the country.
- Trogon Villa Lodge
- Wangchuk Hotel Mongar
A day of ups and downs as we have a 20 km climb up to the Kori La at 2,390 m. Again we are rewarded for our efforts as we have a 42 km descent down to the Drangme Chu River. A relatively flat, for Bhutan anyway cycle along the river takes us to the bridge that crosses Drangme then it's one final uphill climb to our hotel on the outskirts of Trashigang, the easternmost point of our trip across Bhutan.
- Druk Deothjung Resort
- Hotel KC Trashigang
A tough start to our day with 25 km on switchbacks up to the Yongphu La at 2,544 m. On the way we pass the town of Kanglung, home to Sherubtse College, the first accredited college in Bhutan, founded in 1966 by Jesuits. We have our final sweeping panoramic views before we continue on undulating terrain above scattered houses and fields to our campsite outside the town of Wamrong.
We ride to our final pass at 2,388m and catch our first glimpse of the Assam plain. We next experience another amazing descent of 3080 m all the way down to the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar. We'll follow many rivers and will feel the change in temperature as we descend almost back to sea level, ending our ride at an elevation of 130 metres! Tonight we'll have a celebration of our accomplishment of crossing Bhutan from west to east!
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The inspiration for the name of the eco-lodge comes from the rare Ward’s Trogon.The Ward’s Trogon is an extremely elusive bird known to reside in temperate and subtropical forests across the Himalayas, Myanmar, and Vietnam. However, due to habitat loss and degradation, the Ward’s Trogon has been listed on the list of globally endangered birds. Yongkola, the location of the eco-lodge, is one of the few places in the world where one can catch a glimpse of the Ward’s Trogon unperturbed in its natural habitat.
Yongkola, where Trogon Villa is located, lies in between Bumthang and Mongar. It is 142 kilometers away from Jakar and 56 kilometers away from the town of Mongar. Yongkola has long been recognized as one of the hotspots for birding in Asia. The eco-lodge provides a picturesque view of the beautiful rolling hills of Yongkola while being conveniently located next to the highway. There are many reasons for choosing Yongkola as the location upon which Trogon Villa has been built. Aside from being one of the premier spots in the country for carrying out bird watching activities, the eco-lodge also offers a timely respite for tourists plying the long and arduous Bumthang to Mongar route. Trogon Villa’s location amidst the fertile farmlands also guarantees a steady supply of fresh and organic vegetables from the farms of the local community, thus creating a synergy that will benefit both parties.