You will be met at the airport by our Bhutan group leader who will then transfer you to your hotel. Once checked in, we take our first opportunity to explore Paro. In the evening there will be a briefing held by our Bhutan guide on your stay in Bhutan.
This morning offers your first opportunity to experience Bhutan from the saddle with an optional ride to the road head near Taktsang Monastery. Alternatively, make use of the transfer vehicle to transport you to the base of the Taktsang Monastery. From the road head it is a two to three hour ascent, providing an excellent opportunity to acclimatise for the adventure that awaits in the coming days. Taktsang Monastery - the site of the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery which is one of the divine resting places of the Guru Ringpoche. The monastery was destroyed by fire a few years ago but the rebuilding is nearly complete thanks to various donations from European NGO’s. After visiting Taktsang monastery, an unforgettable experience, we return to our hotel.
In the morning we cycle to the National Museum. From the museum we switch our mode of transport and walk to the beautiful Paro Dzong. This fortress dates back to the 15th century and houses the Royal Government offices along with the residences of the monk body. A short walk from the Paro Dzong we will rendezvous with a vehicle that will be waiting with your bike. From here bike on the Chele La road and for those with energy to burn why not tackle the 1500 metre ascent of Chele La (3700m).
A short stage to assist acclimatisation. We ascend through a forest of blue pine and silver birch for a further two hours. Just above the treeline we reach an alpine glade and the Jilli La (3580m) and gain fine views back down the Paro Valley. It’s a short distance onto camp in a beautiful sheltered clearing to the east of the pass (3490m).
In the afternoon we visit the nearby Jilli Dzong, an impressive fort cum monastery with panoramic views. In the vicinity of the Dzong there are many prayer flags hung from commemorative poles that reflect the ancient Buddhist beliefs that extend across the ridge tops of Bhutan.
Today we hike for about 4-5 hours, through beautiful local forests. The trail meanders through the Bhutanese countryside, ascending over mountain ridges and descending to ford the streams below. Views of the Paro town are again a feature of the days trekking.
Another spectacular day as we continue north along tan alpine ridge. En route we cross a series of small passes in the vicinity of 4050m with each marked by a stone memorial and an abundance of prayer flags. From the passes there are also fine views of many of the peaks that form the border with Tibet. From our lunch spot we can appreciate the location of our campsite on the shores of the Jimilang Tsho. To reach the lake involves a long and gradual descent taking an hour or so, at first across alpine meadows and then through rhododendron and conifer forest to this wonderful campsite.
From the lake the trail ascends through rhododendron forest before traversing a series of grazing meadows. It takes around three hours to reach the secluded encampment of Janye Tsho (3950 metres) and a fine place for a break. Thereafter the profile of the trail continues with short ascents and descents to reach the campsite above Simkota Tsho (4050 metres). From the campsite you can appreciate Jilli Dzong and the ridge-line you trekked along a few days earlier.
On our final day along the ridges we head over a series of small passes leading towards the Thimphu Valley. En route we pass a number of yak herders settlements and alpine lakes before reaching the Phume La (4200m) from where we appreciate the vast sprawl of the Thimphu Valley. We continue our descent to a campsite near Phajoding Gmba (3650m). This is a beautiful Buddhist monastery and an important pilgrimage site for the Bhutanese people. In the afternoon we descend into the Thimphu Valley through yet more pine and rhododendron forest before arriving into the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu, in the early evening.
Bhutan's capital is by no means large and is easily explored by bike. You will be taking in such sights as the large Stupa dedicated to the late King HM. Jimge Dorji Wangchuk, regarded as the founder of modern day Bhutan. Then there is the Handicraft Emporium with famous weaving, woodcarvings and paintings while the Post Office sells Bhutan's world-renowned stamps. The main Secretariat building is our final stop for the day, the Tashichho Dzong is the most prominent building consisting of the main Secretariat, the National Assembly Hall, the Office of the King and the Throne Room. It's remarkable 13th century construction is in traditional Bhutanese style without the use of nails or metal of any kind.
This morning bike to the Dochu La, where at 3000 metres one can get spectacular views of the surrounding Bhutanese Himalayas. From here we bike downhill to the ancient capital of Punakha. The magnificent Punakha Dzong is situated at the confluence of two rivers, the Mo Chhu and the Pho Chhu. Allowing for a breathtaking vista to mark your arrival as you cycle into town. En route there is the possibility of taking a detour hike to the temple of the Divine Madman – Drukpa Kuenley named so on account of his unconventional methods and teachings.
Today you will hike to the Khamsum Yuley Namgyel monastery, a lovely hike that takes 45 minutes past cabbage and chili fields. From here the monastery affords breathtaking views of the valley below and up to the highlands of Gasa. After lunch visit the Punakha Dzong. This 16th century Dzong houses about 500+ monks during the winter months and was the site of the corination of the first King of Bhutan in 1907. Here you will also find some of the largest statues of Buddha, Guru Rimpochey and the Shabdrung, prominent figures and objects of worship by Bhutanese Buddhists.
Today we head back over the Dochula, this time by vehicle, and onto Thimphu for Lunch. After lunch, we again saddle up for the leisurely ride along the paved road back to Paro, an enjoyable way to round out this Bhutanese adventure.
Your guide and driver will accompany you to the airport and bid their farewells.