Day 1-Paro Valley
Friday - 19th of October 2018 @ Gangtey Palace or Metta Resort
On arrival at Paro airport you will be met by your guide and transferred by road to your overnight accommodation. Late morning you will be given a briefing and orientation of your Royal Enfield Motorcycle.
This afternoon enjoy an introductory ride north up the Paro Valley to the old ruined fortress of Drugyel Dzong which burned down in the 1950′s. This is the historical site of the Fort of Drukpa Victory where the Bhutanese repelled countless attacks by the Tibetans over the centuries. On a clear day views of the majestic 24,000ft sacred Mt Chomolhari can be seen.
Returning down the valley cross over the suspension bridge at Lango village and travel on a farm road which passes through many small villages for an intriguing insight into rural Bhutanese life. Continue on down to south Paro for dinner & cocktails in a very old traditional Bhutanese village house with the chance to experience a hot stone bath.
Day 2-Haa Valley Excursion – 6 hrs (ride time.) – 110 km
Saturday - 20th of October 2018 @ Gangtey Palace or Metta Resort
An exciting day trip to the remote Haa Valley on Bhutan’s highest navigable road via the Chele La (pass). This very picturesque region was only opened to tourists in 2001.
Around the valley are many scattered monasteries and reputedly the oldest nunnery in the Kingdom. The area is very fertile and the staple crops are millet, wheat, barley and potatoes. The actual riding time is approx 2.5 hours each way plus touring in the valley.
Day 3-Paro Valley to Punakha Valley – (4 hrs 30 mins) – 130 km
Sunday - 21st of October 2018 @ Hotel Lobesa or Meri Phuensum Resort
This morning depart Paro for the Punakha Valley. En route pass the Semtokha Dzong built in 1629, the oldest fortress of its kind that guarded the Thimphu valley, and which today it is a monastery. Continue ascending past small villages to Dochu La (pass) to view the 108 Stupas, commissioned by a former Queen as a memorial to those who lost their lives during conflict in late 2002 when Bhutan evicted Indian rebels camped in the jungle on the Bhutan – Indian border. On a clear day you will witness a breathtaking view of the eastern Himalaya and depending on the time of the year the vista can vary from alpine snow (November – March) to a profusion of blossoms (March – May) splashed among the soft green of the wild herbs and forest trees.
On entering Punakha Valley this afternoon start with a visit to Chimi Lhakhang, a monastery built by Lama Drukpa Kuenley (also known as the Divine Madman), and also referred to as ‘The Monastery of the Mad Monk’. The Lhakhang (temple) is an easy 20 minute walk across paddy fields from the road at Sepsokha. It is believed that childless women who visit the temple will conceive after receiving a “wang” (blessing).
Day 4-Punakha Valley to Trongsa – 4 hrs 30 mins. 125 km
Monday - 22nd of October 2018 @ Yangkhil Resort
Head southwards down the Punakha Valley towards Wangdue Phodrang (known as Wangdi). Pass the dramatic Wangdue Phodrang Dzong (currently under restoration after the Dzong burned down tragically in June 2012) & notice the large cacti that cover the hillside below. These were planted long ago to discourage invaders from climbing the steep slope to the Dzong.
Across the river you can also view Rinchengang, one of Bhutan’s oldest villages, which did not have access to water, electricity or schooling until the early 1990’s. The craftsmen of Rinchengang, originally from India, are sought after for their stonemasonery skills in construction of Dzongs and Lhakhangs.
Continue eastwards to Trongsa via the Pele La (Pass) which crosses through the Black Mountains National Park and divides western and central Bhutan. This is the best place in Bhutan to see yaks from the road. Passing the village of Rukubji, surrounded by extensive fields of mustard, potatoes, barley and wheat, keep a watchful eye out for Rhesus Macaques (Brown Monkeys)!
Trongsa Dzong is perched at the end of a ridge and seems to hang in space at the head of the valley. The Dzongs location afforded it great power over this part of the country as the only foot & mule trail, between east and western Bhutan, lead straight through Trongsa and the Dzong itself. Trongsa Dzong is the ancestral home of the Royal Family of Bhutan.
This afternoon, if time permits, ride a little south of Trongsa to the winter palace of the second King Jigme Wangchuck, passing Takse Goemba, several huge waterfalls and the fertile rice terraces of the Mangde Chhu (river) valley, before returning to Trongsa.
Day 5-Trongsa to Choekhor Valley (Jakar town) - 2 hrs. 68 km
Tuesday - 23rd of October 2018 @ Yugharling Resort or Yozerling Resort
This morning visit the excellent Tower of Trongsa Museum which has recently opened and is currently the best in the Kingdom. Built into the ancient watchtower overlooking the Dzong it provides a wealth of information on Bhutan’s colourful past and affords spectacular views over the Dzong and valley. Time permitting briefly visit the Dzong itself before continuing eastwards to the central Bumthang valleys via the Yotu La (pass). Take a tour around Chamkhar valley visiting popular monasteries such as the Kurjey Lhakhang and Tamzhing Lhakhang.
Visit the small local brewery that makes the famous Red Panda Beer and then we can enjoy some well deserved white beer with some Swiss Cheese.
Tonight is the opening of the popular - Jambay Lhakhang Drup - festival that can be described as the most unique, exciting and cheerful. The festival is held in honor of Guru Rinpoche, the saint who introduced Buddhism in the 8th century and to commemorate its establishment during the 7th century. The opening night is a blazing introduction as 'Mewang" cham - the fire blessing ceremony takes place tonight.
During the fire blessing, locals run underneath a gigantic flaming gate made out of dry grasses with ambers and piles of burning grasses falling on their head.
Day 6-Excursion to Ura and Tang Valley – 4 hours. 80km
Wednesday - 24th of October 2018 @ Yugharling Resort or Yozerling Resort
Choose today between an excursion ride to Ura Valley or a day at leisure in Choekhor Valley. If staying locally in Choekhor consider a visit to the Tamshing Monastery where about 95 Monks reside, most being under 15, from poorer families who cannot afford to send their children to state school. Also worthwhile is a visit to the Swiss Farm to taste sweet cheese, apple brandy and locally brewed wine and beer. Alternatively enjoy one of the hikes available in this region or find a nice quiet spot at the hotel to catch up on some reading.
The Ura valley is the highest in Bumthang and believed by some to have been the home of the earliest inhabitants of Bhutan. The very traditional Ura village gives you an insight into how the central Bhutanese live with its cobbled streets lending a medieval feel. The elderly women of this region still wear sheepskin shawls on their backs which double as a blanket and cushion. On the return ride, time permitting; make a short detour to Mebartsho (Burning Lake), one of the most sacred Buddhist pilgrimage sites in the Kingdom.
Day 7-Jambay Lhakhang Drub Festical
Thursday - 25th of October 2018 @ Yugharling Resort or Yozerling Resort
The other event "Tercham" (literally translated Dance of Treasure) is performed by naked dancers wearing facial masks. We mean completely naked from shoulder to toe!!. Locals believe that the Tercham can bless the infertile women with children, and is only performed in the night around a bonfire. A variety of traditional and mask dances each bearing significant importance follows after the main events and all these sacred dances are thought to be composed by Terton Pema Lingpa, the great treasure discoverer of the 15th century.
Begins around 9.30 in the morning with a "chipdrel" traditional reception.
- the Astara (clown) welcomes the audience and the marchang ceremony.
- Mask dances include the Dola Pangtoy
Shana Phurcham with Durda
Ging & Tsholing Cham (the dance of the sacred war between the Gods and the Demons)
Tsecho Gingcham (Tercham)
Damitse Ngacham (The famous drum beat dance originating from Dramitse)
Pholey Moley Cham etc. Your tour leader will explain the story and the significance of all these performances.
Stroll around town in the evening.
Day 8-Bumthang to Phobjikha Valley
Friday - 26th of October 2018 @ Dewachen Resort or Camp
This morning transfer back westwards to the Phobjikha Valley via a stop in Chhume Valley to view or buy very high quality Bhutanese textiles and weaving’s.
Until recently the Phobjikha valley’s only electricity came from solar or mini hydro plants however in 2011 underground cabled electricity gradually connected the valley to the national grid. Potatoes are this region’s primary cash crop and are mainly exported to India.
Day 9-Phobjikha to Punakha Valley
Saturday - 27th of October 2018 @ Meri Phuensum Resort
At leisure this morning to explore the Phobjikha Valley before departing for Punakha. Visit the Black Crane nature information centre to watch the endangered Black Necked Cranes that migrate here in winter fromthe far Tibetan plateau. Continue to visit the sacred Gangtey Monastery and hike the Gangtey Nature Trail.
On the afternoon ride to Punakha and on the way stop at the Wandue Phodrang Fortress to see how a fortres s is being built using ancient craftsmanship. The fortress is being reconstructed as it was raxed by fire a few years ago.
In the evening visit the Lhuendrup Sangchhen Dorji Lhakhang, Nunnery.
Day 10-Punakha Leisure Day
Sunday - 28th of October 2018 @ Meri Phuensum Resort
Drive to Punakha valley to visit Khamsum Yuelley Namgyal stupa, which involves a short scenic hike through paddy fields for about 45 minutes till the hilltop where the temple is located. From here you can also enjoy a majestic view of the underlying valley. The temple itself is a splendid example of Bhutan’s fine architectural and artistic traditions and the only one of its kind in the world. From here you can optionally take another great hike from the riverside crossing a suspension bridge to other side of the Mo Chu river for approximately 3 km with hours hiking. A picnic lunch is served on the banks of the Punakha river.
After lunch, continue to Punakha Dzong – the most beautiful fortress in Bhutan situated at the confluence of two rivers. This ancient fortress is the winter residence of the monastic order’s leadership and still serves as the administrative headquarters for the Punakha region. The fortress is a fine example of Bhutan’s rich art and architecture, and our guide who is an expert in iconography will explain all aspects of art, architecture, history and its significance.
In the afternoon ride on a scenic tour to Nalanda Monastic school where you'll get the opportunity to interact with monks and understand their spiritual lifestyles.
Day 11-Punakha Valley to Thimphu - 2 hours 45 mins. 78 km
Monday - 29th of October 2018 @ Bhutan Suites
A leisurely morning ride back over Dochu La to Bhutan’s capital Thimphu and take lunch at a local restaurant.
Enjoy the remainder of the day to explore Thimphu, both by bike and on foot. Your options this afternoon include a ride up the north of the valley, a visit to the Memorial Stupa, the National Textile museum, Zorig Chusum, the institute of the 13 arts and crafts of Bhutan where you get to interact with the students or just enjoy wandering through Thimphu’s city streets. For the more energetic, take a hike (or travel by road) up to the BBS telecom tower via the Takin preserve or the Golden Buddha to enjoy a stunning view of the valley.
Our previous MC groups have really loved interacting with school children. In the afternoon, visit our Pre-school to share some love with the little kids.
Thimphu’s bars are worth a visit and your guide will direct you to the best in town.
Day 12-Ride to Paro Valley and Hike to Tiger’s Nest – 1 hour 15 mins. 70km
Tuesday - 30th of October 2018 @ Bhutan Suites
After a leisurely breakfast this morning enjoy your ride back to the Paro Valley on Bhutan’s best section of road.
On arrival in Paro Valley hike to Taktsang Monastery (Tigers Nest) viewpoint, 1.5 to 2 hours round trip, and take lunch at the Viewpoint Cafe (Bhutanese Vegetarian). Alternatively, for those with at least moderate fitness and the inclination, continue all the way to the Monastery itself….a 5 hour round trip. The monastery clings impossibly to a cliff of rock at 3000 ft above the valley floor and the hike is a great way to end your Bhutan experience.
Return your motorcycle this afternoon and enjoy your farewell dinner. If the group is more than 8 people, we also stage a cultural show to end this fantastic journey.
Wednesday - 31st of October 2018 @
Early morning departure to Paro airport for your onward flight.