A mountain biking holiday across the Shangri La kingdom of Bhutan
The classic bike ride across Bhutan is one of the world's most challenging cycling holidays. At the eastern end of the Himalaya, sandwiched between India and Tibet, the 'Shangri La' kingdom of Bhutan is renowned for its colourful Buddhist culture and for the beauty of its unspoiled mountain scenery. A single spectacular road runs west to east across the country, traversing a succession of steep-sided and heavily wooded ridges.
Presenting long climbs on easy-angled switchbacks, as well as mind-blowing descents that seem to last for hours, this amazing road provides the basis for one of the worlds' great bike rides. Starting out with a day in the beautiful Paro Valley we hike up to the unmissable, cliff-side Taktsang Monastery as our introduction to Bhutan. We then set off on our bikes on a journey that crosses a succession of high passes and accumulates a total of 15,500 metres of ascent and 18,200 metres of descent, en route to the eastern land border with India at Sandrup Jongkhar. Staying primarily in simple but characterful hotels and lodges and with plenty of opportunity to meet the Bhutanese people, this is a brilliant adventure biking holiday. A sparsely populated country, Bhutan is often likened to Switzerland because of its small size, jealously guarded isolation and stunning mountain scenery. More than 90% of the population are hill farmers who live in small villages spread over rugged mountain country. Buddhist teachings and philosophy are influential throughout the kingdom, as they have been since the 7th century and a deep and traditional reverence for nature has led to Bhutan imposing some of the strictest standards of environmental preservation in the world. In this country known as Druk Yul, the 'Land of the Thunder Dragon', the fortunate visitor will find a rare combination of harmony and accord, amongst incredible natural beauty. Even the most experienced traveller will find Bhutan to be a revelation.
Please note that the ongoing process of widening and upgrading Bhutan's East-West Highway is nearing completion. Although around 90% of the route has been resurfaced we are still likely to find a few places where the tarmac had been removed and hardcore had been laid in preparation for resurfacing. When dry these sections are simply more challenging to ride than the old tarmac road. When wet they can be muddy and unpleasant. Feedback from our last group was all positive in spite of the roadworks. Hopefully, our November 2020 group will have an even smoother ride.