Thunder Dragon Adventure
Bhutan, the kingdom in the sky, Druk yul, ‘the land of the Thunder Dragon”, was first opened to tourists in 1974 in a very regulated manner. Today this mountain kingdom is perhaps the world’s most exclusive destination in the heart of the Himalaya. We enter from West Bengal and ride the valleys, climb the passes through virgin jungle and forest, past the ancient Dzong Forts of the capital Thimphu and on into the heart of the Kingdom at Bhumthang.
The Kingdom of Bhutan is a destination known to few, distant from the western world both geographically and in culture. Less than 6,000 foreigners traveled here in 2003, an amazingly low figure when you consider that this amount can easily turn the styles into the Grand Canyon National Park in less than two hours! Bhutan sounds like the perfect place for Himalayan Moto Tours.
Nestled in the eastern Himalayas, Bhutan is sandwiched between Tibet and India. For the touring enthusiast, this tiny land offers the qualities we all seek when travelling on two wheels: a diversity of stunning scenery, an inviting population, political tranquility and exotic culture found within a small geographical package, quality riding that stimulates the senses at every mile, and the sense that this is a unique experience.
Bhutan's cautious limitation of tourism and outside influence has paid off. The statistics are impressive: 72% of the country is forested, over 770 species of birds, over 165 species of mammals and an astonishing 5,500 species of plants. So few places on Earth offer such unspoiled beauty. The flora and fauna are remarkably pristine. The entire country is mountainous, shadowed by the towering snowcapped Himalayas – you’ll ride through lush green valley's sculpted over time by great rivers, never far from the imposing views of the world's highest peaks.
The natural and well preserved beauty of Bhutan is no accident. Life is guided here by the deep spirituality of Buddhism, with its roots dating back to the 7th century. In Bhutan, all things living are valued and revered, a harmony with nature and fellow man that will be evident as you encounter the natives throughout your journey.
In 2008, we revised our tour route, taking advantage of the improved roads in the region to create what we believe is the optimal route for experiencing Bhutan and north-eastern India!
The highlights of this event are not marked by the usual “tourist” sights found on souvenir post cards. It is the beauty of Bhutan’s’ nature, ancient traditions, gracious peoples and the joy of sharing this extremely special experience with others that make this tour so special.
The 17th century Drukyel Dzong (Monastery fortress), is one of many such religious edifices to be encountered in your travels famous Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Hermitage on the face of a sheer 1,000 m cliff will be forever etched in your mind … an incredible photo-opportunity.
You will be riding into thin air as you cross a number of high passes offering magnificent views the eastern Himalayas.
Take the Nikka Shu road carved out of the side of a cliff overlooking the Mangde Chu River.
And of course it's not all motorcycling! There will be time to purchase colourful artisans goods, hike the mountains, and engage the gracious locals.
6 November - 19 November 2017
15 April - 28 April 2018
4 November - 17 November 2018
ARRIVE DELHI. We will greet you personally upon your arrival and drive you to our city centre hotel in an A/C minibus. Relax and refresh after your long international flight. Welcome dinner party tonight . Park Hotel.
DELHI – SILIGURI. Rising early we catch the morning flight to Bagdogra, West Bengal, and then on to our hotel in Siliguri. After lunch we’ll meet the tour crew waiting with the motorcycles and have a briefing to cover safety precautions, touring style, road conditions, and check personal equipment, with time to select our bikes and become familiar with starting procedures, control layouts and bike handling. We’ll discuss our tour route and give you map/info packets at dinner together tonight. Cindrella Hotel.
SILIGURI – DARJEELING (90 km). After a leisurely breakfast we head out for our first day on the bikes, We soon escape the manic roads of the city and wend our way through West Bengali flatlands before starting our climb up and off the plains and into the cooler, wetter heights of the Himalaya foothills. The roads to Darjeeling are well paved and rife with bend after hairpin bend! The short 70 km takes much longer than expected and the crowded, picturesque streets of Darjeeling are a welcoming sight. Darjeeling is known as the “queen of the hill stations,” famous as a trading post and hill station retreat of the British Raj, made all the more famous for the many tea plantations on its flanks, and most importantly the mighty views of the Himalaya and especially Kanchenjunga to the northwest. We stay in the centre of the busiest market right to the top of the ridge where there are views of the Himalaya from our hotel windows again. A night on the town of old Darjeeling in one of their night dinner clubs with live music on the summit of the ridge mall. Himalayan Resort.
DARJEELING - PHUNTSHOLING (270 km). We ride down from Darjeeling through tea plantations on an incredibly steep blacktop lane through villages balanced on sides of hills. We descend to the Teesta River again and across the plains of West Bengal. Resembling southeast Asia more than northern India, this area has herds of wild elephant and leopards. As a contrast to the vast mountain regions we have ridden through, it complements the varied landscape covered on this tour. Overnight on the border town of India and Bhutan, Arriving in Phuntsholing, we start the visa formalities to cross the border in the morning and start our ride through the Thunder Dragon kingdom. Lhaki Hotel.
PHUNTSHOLING – PARO (185 km). After breakfast we start early, allowing ample time to view the mountain scenery and distant waterfalls as we climb our first pass, Chapch-La. Descending to the beautiful Wangshu River Valley through dense forest, we meet the confluence of the Paro River, where we cross the bridge and head up the secluded river valley road, past the only international airport in the country, to the iconic taktsong, the Tiger's Nest Monastery, perched high on the side of the cliff. Dechen Hill Resort.
PARO - THIMPU (70 km). Today's short ride to Thimpu gives us a terrific opportunity for a morning hike to the Tiger's Nest. Paro is also home to the famous Drukgyal Dzong and the National Museum, housed in an old watchtower above the palace. Thimpu's nightlife is not to be missed this evening! Phuntsho Pelri.
THIMPHU – WANGDI (130 km). After exploring the capital cityand a tour of Jigme Dorji Wangchuk Memorial Chorten with our Bhutanese guide this morning, we have lunch in one of the local Bhutanese restaurants before climbing out of Thimphu to the Dochu La pass at 3100 m . There are prayer flags everywhere on the summit and views of the magnificent Himalaya panorama and the giant peaks of Lunana. The road then descends over 1700 m in 26 km as we pass first temperate forest, then semi-tropical with orange, banana and bamboo. We arrive at the busy town of Wangdi, perched on a spur at the confluence of the rivers, with a mighty Dzong fortress built on the rocks above town, and our cozy guest house in the centre of the market. Dragon's Nest Hotel..
WANGDI – BUMTHANG VALLEY (230 km). After a hearty breakfast we continue our way east across the length of Bhutan on the only road across the kingdom. The road flattens for 12 km then begins the climb over Black Mountain and our next pass, Pele-La at 3300 m, where we’ll see yaks grazing and views of the Chomolhari Range in Western Bhutan. Another 1500 m descent takes us to Nikka Shu bridge through forest and dwarf bamboo. The road is carved out of the side of the cliff above the Mangde Chu River and there is forest for as far as the eye can see, with the famous Trongsa Dzong visible 12 km away. We ride to our lunch and a quick visit to Trongsa Dzong, the largest in the country, before heading over the last smaller pass to Jakar, our destination in the beautiful Bumthang Valley. Enjoying the hospitality of our famous guest house, we settle into a country home dinner and the blazing wood stoves. Swiss Guesthouse.
BUMTHANG - MONGAR (210 km). The longest day's ride of the tour, and one of the most spectacular, as we “ride the high ridges” from Bumthang Valley to Mongar. Where most visitors to Bhutan rarely even make it as far as Bumthang Valley, we intrepid explorers thump on past over the high passes to the very centre of the kingdom. Vast forests for as far as the eye can see in every direction, mixed with extraordinary views of the high Himalayan snow-capped peaks, reward us for our ride through Shangri-La. Our cozy guest house is in the centre of town. Drukyel Guesthouse
MONGAR – TASHIGANG (80 km). We have the morning to explore Mongar and surrounds before heading the relatively short distance to Tashigang through dense forest with howling Grey Langur monkeys to the jewel of eastern Bhutan, Tashigang. This is as far east as we will be able to travel in Bhutan at this time, after Tashigang the roads become less maintained and grown over, the people are tribal and all becomes wilder. Most traffic is by horse and on trails. The town has a new university where many students from all over Bhutan study. We stay in a Bhutanese style guest house at the very top of town with views over the valleys below. Kelling Lodge
TASHIGANG – SUMDRUK (190 km). Our last days ride in Bhutan takes us back down through the many climate zones, reflected in the dramatic changes in flora & fauna, becoming again almost sub-tropical. The border town of Sumdruk is clean and ordered, busy as all border towns can be, but quiet. A contrast between Indian and Bhutanese cultures, the mix of this border is unique. Our hotel is small and clean in the middle of town.
SUMDRUK – GUWAHATI (120 km). After checking out of Bhutan and back into India our ride takes us through densely populated villages on flat steamy plains with bamboo groves. You'll notice the relatively busy traffic of India compared to the lack of any traffic in Bhutan as we head for the capital of Assam, Guwahati. The mighty Brahmaputra River runs through Guwahati – from the high plateau of Tibet it crashes down to Bangaladesh and out into the sea at Calcutta. Our journey is almost over, we check into our 4* hotel before our farewell dinner party with our India & Bhutanese crew. Rajmahal Hotel.
GUWAHATI – DELHI. After breakfast we prepare for our flight to Delhi, arriving early afternoon to the comfort of our Delhi hotel and our farewell dinner party. Singh Sons Hotel.
Total distance: 2100 km
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