With 60% of the country still covered in virgin forest, Bhutan maintains the strictest of environmental protection policies in the region, safeguarding some of the most incredible scenery left in the Himalaya, as well as habitat for several endangered species including the snow leopard. Join Himalayan Roadrunners, the first to ride motorcycles into Bhutan in March 1997, and ride the dragon!
Your accommodation for 15 nights will be at hotels and guest houses with an air-conditioner or heater in each room.
Himalayan Roadrunners' staff will meet you at the airport in Kathmandu and transfer you to the hotel in the heart of Patan’s Old Durbar Square, which is surrounded by temples and pagodas. There will be a group briefing at 16:00 and the rest of the afternoon and evening will be free to relax or explore the city.
Pre-arrivals into Kathmandu are welcome at any time before the official tour starts. Just let Himalayan Roadrunners know and they will be happy to make extra night hotel reservations and arrange your airport greeting and transfer.
There will be a morning transfer to the edge of the Kathmandu Valley to the staging point, where Himalayan Roadrunners' staff is waiting with motorcycles and a tour support truck. After the transfer of luggage, motorcycle assignment and orientation, and short individual test rides, you will head east towards Dhulikhel and the new B.P. Koirala Highway, with some of the best-paved switchback riding in the country.
This route will take you through beautiful countryside, with great views back into the high Himalaya. Enjoy a packed lunch, and descend to Bardibas for overnight and having dinner at a simple hotel.
At 08:00, depart for your ride across Nepal’s eastern Terai. Enjoy a packed lunch at the amazing Koshi Barrage. The late afternoon arrival will be into Dharan, which is home to many retired ex-British Army Gurkhas. Overnight at a comfortable guest house with a restaurant and bar. If the time permits, you will take a late afternoon ride to a mountaintop viewpoint above the town at sunset.
At 07:30, start earlier to go back onto the East-West Highway to the Nepal-India border at Kakarbhitta, where, after immigration formalities, you will ride over the Mechi River into West Bengal, India. After Indian formalities, it is on the bikes and back into the foothills of the Himalaya, where you will stop for a packed lunch, then, ride through endless tea plantations, following the road as it snakes its way up to the lakeside village of Mirik for overnight.
Ride on very narrow mountain roads in this afternoon and all riders are urged to use extreme caution to oncoming jeep traffic. Overnight at a small Sikh-run hotel with an excellent restaurant.
This morning is a relaxing departure (you have earned it), with a chance to walk up to the monastery above the town for some great early morning mountain views. After breakfast and a ridge run, ride on more narrow mountain roads all the way to the famous British Raj hill station of Darjeeling, “Dorje-Ling means place of thunderbolts”, with commanding views of Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest mountain.
Arrive in time for lunch at a comfortable resort-style accommodation. In the afternoon, you are free to explore town including a ride on the amazing antique narrow gauge Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, also known as the Toy Train, which its four engines were made in Glasgow, Scotland, over one-hundred years ago. Have cocktails at Joey’s with dinner at a local favorite restaurant.
In the morning, it is a free time for more sightseeing including the Himalayan Mountaineering Institute in memory of Darjeeling’s most famous resident - Tenzing Norgay Sherpa. Then, take a hike down to the Tibetan Refugee Camp for a look or shopping, or just relaxing at Chowrasta park and watch Darjeeling life as it happens.
Situated on both sides of a ridge with views into the Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan, Kalimpong once belonged to the Rajas of Sikkim. After lunch, ride through a dramatic steep descent from Darjeeling to the Tista River, where you will meet the Kalimpong road and follow its amazing switchbacks to your antique “Days of the Raj” accommodation above the town. It is a chance of an encounter with a local spirit tonight.
You will depart early for your all-day ride on the backroads and highways of West Bengal to the Bhutan-India border at Jaigaon. There will be a great remote riding to start the day through a heavy forest. Enjoy a packed lunch in heaven.
Arrive at the border in the late afternoon. Stay at a basic border guest house. It is a dry town but always successful getting a case of beer brought over from the other side for a “secret” group meeting before dinner. A basic buffet dinner is provided.
You will be first in line at Indian immigration this morning before your adventure begins into the Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan through the magnificent main gate of Phuntsholing.
After Bhutanese immigration formalities, you will ride immediately into the mountains on the narrow national “highway” and for your hot lunch buffet at Bunkha. In the late afternoon, arrive in beautiful Paro Valley - one of the highlights of the tour. Stay at a comfortable hotel with dinner.
It is a morning sightseeing of Paro including a ride to the head of the valley for a look at the famous Tiger’s Nest Monastery. There is an optional early morning hiking, departure to this monastery with your Bhutanese guides, for anyone interested in a strenuous walk. Ride to the picturesque ruins of the old Drukgyal Dzong with a hopeful peek at snow-capped Jomolhari (7,326 meters), Bhutan’s sacred mountain, before a visit to Kichu monastery.
Lunch in town followed by a short afternoon ride into Bhutan’s charming little capital of Thimphu for overnight. The remainder of the afternoon is free to explore the town. Stay at a comfortable hotel and have dinner in town.
Have an early morning sightseeing of Thimpu town with your Bhutanese guides. In the late morning, ride up the Dochula Pass (3,150 meters) for lunch on the summit, then go down into lush Punakha valley for an organized tour of the amazing Punakha Dzong, another highlight of the tour. Stay at a very comfortable hotel nearby at a spa resort with a nice bar and garden area and buffet dinner provided at the hotel.
In the early morning, start with challenging riding across the Black Mountains that divide western and central Bhutan, and over Pele La pass (3,400 meters). Enjoy a hot buffet lunch near Chendebji Stupa, before you catch your first glimpse of Trongsa Dzong (a castle), the largest in the country. Spectacular! Stay at a nice family-run guest house with stunning room views of the Trongsa Dzong below and down the valley.
Have a morning visit to Ta Dzong, originally the watchtower for Trongsa Dzong below, recently restored and now become a museum. Moving on, you ride over Yutong La Pass and into the spectacular Bumthang Valley. You will stop en route at a textile center with a chance to see local hand looming and shopping. Arrive in Bumthang for lunch at your very nice overnight accommodation. The remaining part of the afternoon is for individual exploration.
It is another long day’s ride today, through Central Bhutan over Thromseng La (3,750 meters) described as one of the most spectacular rides in the country. There will be an incredible descent of 3,200 meters and a backup on the way to Mongar village for an overnight accommodation and dinner.
Have a morning visit to Mongar Dzong. After a four-hour ride, you descend the Yadi loops into eastern Bhutan. You will stop at Chazam (cha means iron and zam means bridge) named after the Tibetan iron bridge builder Thang Tong Gyalpo. The route continues along the Drangme Chhu River, where you will visit Gom Kora, sacred meditation site of Guru Rinpoche.
After a good look and a kora walk around the Gompa, you will move up to Trashigang for overnight. In the early evening, you are free to explore this very charming little mountain town. Your accommodation and dinner will be at a new hilltop hotel with stunning views down the river valley.
In the early morning, depart for your descent to the India border with some of the best motorcycling of the trip, contouring the lower ridgetops of the far eastern Himalaya, passing by the campus of Bhutan’s only university at Kanglung, the handloom weaving project at Khaling, and on to Doethang for a 340-degree packed lunch.
In the late afternoon, arrive at the border in Samdrup Jongkhar, where you bid farewell to your trusty Royal Enfield. Stay at a basic hotel with a bar.
Get an early morning transfer by jeep to the India immigration frontier checkpoint, then to the airport in Guwahati (4 hours) for early afternoon flights to Calcutta or New Delhi for onward connections home. Your road route this morning takes you across the mighty Brahmaputra River.
This tour will take place in Nepal, India, and Bhutan. Situated in a remote region of the Eastern Himalaya, Bhutan retains much of the old world charm and Buddhist traditions of centuries ago. Known to the Bhutanese as Druk Yul or “Land of the Dragon”, Bhutan has become probably the most exclusive adventure travel destination in the world with very small numbers of travelers permitted into the country per year by the government eager to preserve one of the world’s last Shangri La.
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