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Mountain Biking Tour Gangtey Off Road Circuit
Deep into nature, mountain biking is an intimate and unique form of seeing Bhutan. Professional bikers can take advantage of Bhutan’s mountainous terrain for challenging off-road biking. Several new routes have been developed on ancient mule tracks and forest dirt roads that make biking a wonderful experience. For amateur bikers, the well-paved roads and just traversing Bhutan’s lateral highway is an exhilarating adventure in itself. The crisp fresh air, limited traffic, and the scenic beauty of the routes make biking a worthwhile experience.
This 10-day adventure consists biking on highway, cultural sightseeing and off-road biking on Gangtey to Tikti Zampa off-road circuit. The trip begins with a few sightseeing in Paro and Thimphu covering iconic sights, commences biking on the highway from Thimphu to Punakha and further on to Gangtey valley. Brace for demanding three days Gangtey to Tikti Zampa off-road trail crossing over Tshelela pass at 3254m, Shobela pass at 3300m and Tashila pass at 2685m. Retrace the journey back on highway road from Tikti Zampa to Paro and conclude the trip with a hike to the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery.
Our representative will receive you at the airport. Depending on the flight arrival time we can squeeze in a few sightseeing today. You will visit Rinpung Dzong, built in the 17th century, the dzong is a majestic fortress holding treasure artworks—murals, statues, and carvings. Next visit Kichu Lhakhang, one of the oldest and sacred temples in the country dating back to the 7th century. Elderly pilgrims can be seen chanting and circumambulating the temple. It has a pleasant aura. Evening you can explore Paro town on your own. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Morning you will drive to Thimphu and begin sightseeing. Visit the memorial chorten which was built in 1974 in memory of his majesty the 3rd Druk Gyalpo Jigme Dorji Wangchuck. This structure holds great religious significance and is the most visible landmark in Thimphu. Next head to Kuenselphodrang where the largest bronze Buddha statue of 169 ft. is located. The Buddha looks over Thimphu valley blessing everyone who lays its eyes upon it. Later you will visit the bike store for bike fitting in preparation for tomorrow’s adventure. The program after lunch is the National Textile Museum, an exhibition hub of both ancient and modern textile, and notable artefacts. The museum displays Bhutan’s rich tradition and vibrant culture of waving and embroidery. If it is the weekend, visit the weekend market where farmers gather to sell their farm produce. You can see the colourful display of fresh vegetables and fruits as well as local cheese and butter. The people mingling here is a scene not to be missed. Overnight at a hotel in Thimphu.
After spending one full day in Thimphu, you will begin your biking adventure today. Start biking from your hotel till Dochula Pass which is at 3100m. The road up to Dochula involves a 24 km uphill ride passing through the small settlements of Yusipang and Hongtsho amidst pine and rhododendron forest. Making an elevation gain of 750m you arrive at Dochula. The pass is marked by 108 stupas or chortens and on clear weather, you can see stunning views of the Himalayas. From here it is a downhill ride with a 52km stretch to Punakha valley making a descent of 1800m. The road is through forests of magnolia, rhododendron, daphne trees, and as you get closer to the valley, sub tropical forest with orange, banana, and bamboo trees. On your downhill ride, you may spot grey langurs, macaques, and few birds. En route, take the dirt road through the farmhouses headed to Chimi Lhakhang, which is a fertility temple dedicated to Lama Drukpa Kuenley also known as the Divine Madman. The roundtrip will take about 45 minutes. Continue biking to your hotel. You can relax in the evening with a hot shower. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
Another day of biking on tarmac road towards Gangtey valley at an altitude of 2,900m, the winter habitat of the black-necked cranes. First, start out on an uphill route for about 55 km gaining almost 2000m. The support vehicle will be following you closely if you wish to take a breather. You will cross Lawala Pass at 3200m which is 3km short of Pele La Pass, the cross-over point into central Bhutan. After the pass, the route is all downhill for 20 km through a blanket of dwarf bamboos and you might spot some yaks. Finally, after 2 hours covering approximately 75 km, immerse into the beautiful glacial valley from which you can see the picturesque Black Mountain range. Visit Gangtey Goenpa located on a hillock offering stunning views of the valley below. It is the only Nyingmapa monastery in western Bhutan. Overnight at a hotel in Gangtey.
Start the day by visiting the crane information center which has informative displays about the black-necked cranes and the valley environment. The black-necked cranes migrate from the harsh winters of the Tibetan plateau in November and stay here until March. From the crane center, you will bike on a tarmac road with few potholes. Shortly after you will come across a road junction, take the right trail to Tabading and Yuesa village. There is another junction ahead and take the right trail again to Kilkorthang village at 2739m. The distance from the crane center to Kilkorthang village is about 6km, 10-15 minutes. Descend from the village and make a gradual climb through a paved road with several potholes to Ngenlung Drechaling Shechen Nunnery. After crossing the nunnery, we meet a road junction leading to Taphu Shreda from the left. Keeping right and descending for a little while, we cross the Pakchi zam at 2729m. On the farm road, you will take the right trail and ascend to Chakchey village. Follow the barely visible trail running along the meadows which is also often used by the tractors. Make a gradual descent to a bridge, cross the bridge and then ascend for about 10 minutes to Gangphey village. Continue on and the road becomes almost flat till Yuesa village. The Yuesa campsite is 20-30 minutes further at 2743m.
The Phobjikha Central School is located 1 km away from Yuesa camp. You will cycle uphill and cross the school following a rough and rocky road. At the road junction, we follow the straight bumpy road uphill on the right, the left trail leads to the BHU. Bike with amazing views of Gangtey valley through a forest of pines, rhododendrons, and oak. Soon start climbing to the first pass- Tshelela pass which is adorned with prayer flags and located at 3254m. It takes about 1 hour to reach the pass. From the pass it is a nice descend to Gogona village at 3007m with several switchbacks on bumpy roads. Here you will have covered about 15km from Yuesa village. Leaving behind Gogona village and keeping right, we start to make another climb for 40-50 minutes to the second pass- Shobela pass at 3300m, covering a distance of 6 km. Egg on the bumpy road with gravel and rocks for another 13 km till the village of Sha Khotakha at 2560m. After another 2km, you will reach your campsite at an elevation of 2585m.
The road ascends from Sha Khotakha village and although at times bumpy, the road is much better, less steep, and shorter than on previous days. En route, you might come across one or two tractors or motorbikes. We ride on till the third pass Tashila at 2685m which is about 3 km, 15-20 minutes away. The views of the Himalayan snow peaks from the pass is simply amazing. From the pass, you will make a final descent for about 1 hour 20 minutes passing a few villages and a school. After several switchbacks you descend at a lower altitude to Tikti Zampa at 1400m where your biking route ends. You will drive to your hotel for a relaxing shower. Overnight at a hotel in Punakha.
The road journey from Punakha to Paro is 124 km, 4 hours. Today you will be biking on highway crossing the Dochula Pass 3100m again where you will stop for tea at the cafeteria. However, we bike on certain stretches of road, and on some, you can ride the vehicle. From Punakha, it is an easy ride to Wangdue. From Wangdue the trail is a steady climb uphill all the way to Dochula Pass. The route from the Dochula pass to Thimphu is all downhill. It is a nerve-breaking downhill ride through pine and oak forest and pass villages of Hongtsho. Soon we reach the expressway and then the city of Thimphu 2330m. Make a stop in Thimphu for lunch. After lunch, continue to Paro. The Thimphu-Paro highway is considered one of the best biking routes with moderate difficulty. On the way enjoy the views of villages with lush paddy fields to Paro at 2200m. You can make rest stops along the way. Check into the hotel on arrival. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
Taktsang or the Tiger’s Nest Monastery is located at 3100 meters and it is a must-visit site in Bhutan. The hike takes about a total of 5 hours with an elevation gain of 900 meters. The spiritual master Guru Rinpoche, the great tantric teacher, is said to have ridden on the back of a tigress and flown to meditate in a cave where the monastery now stands. The monastery is perched on the edge of a steep cliff. After having explored the monastery, you will hike down to Paro. Overnight at a hotel in Paro.
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