Bhutan “Shangri La” Multisport Tour
Hike, bike, raft and experience the culture of this mystical Buddhist Kingdom.
Bhutan, nestled in the heart of the great Himalaya, has for centuries remained aloof from the rest of the world. Since its doors were opened in 1974 visitors have been mesmerized: the environment is pristine, the scenery and architecture awesome and the people hospitable and charming-the real life “Shangri La”.
Duration: 12 Days, 11 Nights.
Day 1. Arrive in the Kingdom of Bhutan.
Welcome to Bhutan, the ancient Buddhist Kingdom where the country’s success is measured by the attainment of Gross National Happiness! It is a land of unearthly beauty and ancient tradition where art and spirituality permeate everyday life.
You are met on arrival at the Paro airport by our representative and your guide, who will take you to the town for lunch and later drive to Thimphu (7,600ft), the capital of Bhutan.
With a population of 100,000, Thimphu is the largest city in Bhutan and a harmonious blend of tradition and modernity. There are no traffic lights and police still direct traffic with elaborate hand gestures, yet it is the seat of the government and the country’s main commercial centre. At dinner your guide will brief you on your upcoming adventure.
- Airport to Paro town-15 minutes.
Paro to thimphu-1.5 hours
Day 2. Thimphu Sightseeing.
- We spend this morning visiting Thimphu’s highlights including the Institute of Traditional Medicine, where the ancient art of Bhutanese healing system called sowa Rigpa is till practiced.
- The School of Traditional Arts and Crafts, which offers courses in the techniques of tradirional art in religious and secular paintings, wood carving, clay sculpture and embroidery.
- Textile Museum, estd. In 2000, it is dedicated to the rich skill of Bhutanese weaver, primarily women. The museum has a good collection of samples including rare pieces and antiques, some belonging to the royal family.
Jungshi Handmade Paper factory, to see the traditional way of making papers from the bark of Daphne plants. Bhutan in ancient days was the biggest supplier of paper in the Himalayan region for printing religious scriptures and prayers.
All of which gives an introduction to the development of Bhutanese art and its relation to daily life.
In the afternoon, we hop on our bikes and ride to Dodena (the base ofTango/ Cheri Goemba) 16 kms from the town centre, our bike ride ends back at the town square.
- All bike rides on the tour are van supported, if you get tired you can ride in the van.
- Thimphu tour
- Bike to Dodena (the base of Tango/Cheri Goemba)-16 kms, mixed roads.
Day 3. Thimphu to Punakha Valley (Camping).
- This morning we drive to the beautiful Punakha valley (4,124ft) over the spectacular Dochula Pass (10,300 ft) where on a clear day we can see the entire range of the inner Himalayas including the highest unclimbed mountain in the world, 24,835 ft Gangkar Puensum.
- Visit the magnificent Punakha dzong with its lovely temples and excellent examples of Bhutanese art,
- Hike north along the river past rice fields and farm houses to the village of Samdingkha where we camp for the night. All camping gears are provided including tents, sleeping bags and pads.
- Thimphu to Punakha-2.5hours.
- Hike to Samdingkha-2.5 hours.
Day 4. Rafting the Pho Chhu River.
In the morning we explore Samdingkha village and then its time to hit to hit the river! We ride the Lower Pho Chhu (Male river) with plenty of Class 3 white water.
From our start at Samdingkha the river meanders through a wide valley for 2.5 miles until the white water fun begins at “Strainers Paradise”, a classic boulder choke. From here there are nice wave trains until the finale at “Wrathful Buddha”, just below the longest foot bridge in Bhutan.
- After rafting, we check-in at our local hotel and then we’re off on a short hike past farms and paddy fields to Chimed Lhakhang, a temple dedicated to the divine Madman and a popular destination for fertility blessings including foreigners.
- Raft Pho Chhu River-Class 3, 2 hours. Children under 12 not permitted.
- Hike to Chimed Lhakhang-an hour for visiting and back.
Day 5. Punakha Valley to Bumthang.
This morning we’re on the road to Bumthang (8,600 ft), the spiritual heartland of Bhutan. The road takes you through the cool broadleaf forest , climbing to Pelela Pass ((11,154 ft), covered in rhododendrons and magnolia’s which will be in bloom if you are visiting in the spring. After the pass, the road descends through the Longtey and Longmey villages, passing by the Chendebji village with its stupa adorned with giant Buddha eyes. The forest on the other side of the river is the Black Mountains, part of the jigme Singye National Park, home to the endangered golden langur. Another hour of drive will bring you to Trongsa, the gateway to central Bhutan.
- Visit the Trongsa Dzong, the seat of power of the Wangchuck dynasty that has ruled Bhutan since 1907, built on a mountain spur high above the gorge of the Mangde Chhu, it controlled east-west trade for centuries.
- After lunch proceed to Bumthang over the Yotongla Pass through some of Bhutan’s most beautiful landscapes.
- Punakha to Bumthang=7 hours.
Day 6. Bumthang Sightseeing.
We tour the valley on our bikes and visit the Jampa Lhakhang, the palace where the first Tantric Buddhist sermon was preached in Bhutan by Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche, in the 8th century A.D.
- Then bike to kurje Lhakhang, the temple that houses the body imprint of Guru Rinpoche along with stunning frescoes and statues.
- Continue on your bike to visit the Tamshing Lhakhang on the other side of the river.
- In the afternoon bike to Mebar Tsho (the Flaming Lake), one of Bhutan’s most important pilgrimage sites.
Bike tour up to 17 miles; mixed roads-paved 14 miles, dirt 3 miles, Van supported.
Day 7. Bumthang to Phobjikha.
Today we drive over the Pelela Pass (11,154 ft) to the hidden gem of the Phobjikha valley (9,000 ft), a nirvana of small temples and idyllic villages set in thickets of dwarf bamboo. In winter is home to the rare Black Necked Cranes (Grus Nigri Collis) which migrates here from Tibet and China.
In Trongsa, visit the Heritage Museum, housed in the ancient Watch Tower of the Trongsa Dzong.
- Bumthang to Phobjikha-5.5 hours.
Day 8. Explore Phobjikha valley on foot and bike.
In the morning, look around for the black necked cranes, hike up to the Gangtey monastery using the Nature Trail (4.1 kms) which will take hour an half, then visit the Gangtey Sangnacholing Monastery, founded in the 17th century, the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan.
- Then explore the valley on your bikes, approximately 12 miles of dirt road ( bike rides supported by van).
Day 9. Phobjikha to Thimphu.
After breakfast, we are back on the road to Dochula Pass where we stop for lunch before starting our hike to the Hongtsho village and Lhakhang.
After the hike, jump on your bikes and ride down to the Thimphu city.
- This evening we enjoy a private performance by a local dance troupe performing a mix of tribal and traditional folk dances.
- Hike to Hongtsho village-5 miles,
Hongtsho to Thimphu biking-45 minutes.
Day 10. Bike to Paro.
This morning we are back on our bikes for the pretty ride to Paro, the same route we drove on Day 1. It’s a leisurely descent on a paved road following the Wang Chhu downstream to its confluence with the Pa Chhu where the road gradually ascends again before leveling off into Paro town.
Sights along the way include the 15th century Tamchog Lhakhang.
- Later in the afternoon visit the Rinpong dzong.
- Bike Thimphu to Paro 40 miles, paved road, 3 hours, elevation gain 200 ft,/loss 320 ft.
Day 11. Hike to Taktsang and Paro Tour.
In the morning, hike to Taktsang (literally translated as Tiger’s Nest), it takes 5 hours for going up, visiting the temple and coming down.
On the way back, visit the Drukgyal Dzong, which is in ruins, then visit the Kyichu Lhakhang, a 7th century Buddhist temple built by the Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo.
- This evening we have our farewell dinner at the Yuelling Restaurant, one of the best in Paro.
- Hike to Taktsang 5 hours.
- Paro Tour.
Day 12. End of Adventure
- Your adventure into the mystical Kingdom of Bhutan ends today with transfers to Paro airport.
- Transfer to airport-15 minutes.