(Please click on title below for Itinerary)
Situated in a remote region of the Eastern Himalaya, Bhutan still 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 one of the world’s most exclusive adventure travel destinations with very small numbers of travelers permitted into the country per year, by a government eager to preserve one of the world’s last Shangrilas. 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 to several endangered species including the snow leopard! Join Himalayan Roadrunners, the First Ever to run motorcycles across Bhutan in March 1997 and now in our 16th year of operations, and “Ride the Dragon”!
Day 1 – Arrive Bagdogra, West Bengal India
Roadrunners staff will meet you at the airport. Transfer to our base of operations at a nearby guest house where Himalayan Roadrunners staff are waiting with motorcycles & equipment. Late afternoon briefing followed by bike assignment and a short test ride toward the Nepal Border to get a feel for the bikes. Evening free to relax in the garden after your long flight.
Day 2 – Bagdogra – Darjeeling
Motorcycle tour starts today. After a quick rundown of road safety precautions & a check of personal equipment, we will start out on the backroads of West Bengal and quickly ride into the foothills of the Himalaya through endless Tea Plantations, following the road as it snakes its way up to the small lakeside village of Mirik for lunch. Tour continues North along the Nepal Border, ridge running narrow mountain roads all the way up to the famous hill station of Darjeeling, (Dorje-Ling, Place of Thunderbolts) with commanding views toward Kanchenjunga, the World’s 3rd Highest Peak! Accommodations at a fabulous Days of the British Raj antique residence turned hotel!
Day 3 – Darjeeling – Kalimpong
Morning free to visit the Mountaineering Institute in memory of one of Darjeeling’s most famous residents, Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, hike down to the Tibetan Refugee Camp to shop, or just relax at Chowrasta 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. Dramatic after lunch descent to the Tista River where we will meet the Kalimpong Road and following some amazing loops & switchbacks to our overnight accommodations at another old antique hotel!
Day 4 – Kalimpong – Phuntsholing, Bhutan
Early morning departure for our long days ride along the backroads of West Bengal to the India-Bhutan border at Phuntsholing. Packed lunch. Early evening free for a quick wander or sample a Bhutanese spirit at one of the local restaurants. Buffet dinner in our hotel, an old favorite.
Day 5 – Phuntsholing – Paro
Following final clearance of visas & vehicle formalities, our adventure begins into the Dragon Kingdom on the narrow mountain road (National Highway!) toward the beautiful Paro Valley. A wonderfully well deserved hot lunch provided enroute by our friends at Bunakha! Late afternoon arrival at our stunning overnight antique accommodations overlooking the Paro Valley!
Day 6 – Paro – Thimphu
Morning sightseeing around Paro Valley including the must see National Museum high above Paro Dzong and a ride to the head of the valley for a look at the famous Tigers Nest Monastery & ruins of Drugyel Dzong. Late afternoon ride into Bhutan”s quaint little capital of Thimphu. Group dinner out in a favorite restaurant!
Day 7 – Thimphu – Punakha
Morning sightseeing of Thimphu including the centre of government & religion TashichhoDzong, the National Library and Kings Memorial Chorten, and a chance for some quick shopping before lunch back in our hotel. Early afternoon ride over Dochu La (3150m) and on down into the lush Punakha Valley. Late afternoon visit to Punakha Dzong, another picture perfect setting on the confluence of two rivers!
Day 8 – Punakha – Bumthang Valley
An early start this morning for our long ride acrosss the Black Mountains that divide Western & Central Bhutan, including Pele La (3400m). Hot lunch at Chendebji Stupa, before our first far off glimpse of Tongsa Dzong, one of the more memorable in Bhutan! Late afternoon ride into Bumthang Valley. Accommodations at a cozy original old Bhutanese farmhouse!
Day 9 – Bumthang – Mongar
Another long days ride today over Thromseng La (3750m) one of the most spectacular rides in the country! Incredble decent of over 3200m and back up to Mongar Village for overnight. New guest house accommodations.
Day 10 – Mongar – Chorton Kora – Tashigang
Morning visit to Mongar Dzong, after ride, approximately 4 hours, dcending the Yadi Loops into South Eastern Bhutan. Stop at Chazam (Cha – Iron/Zam-Bridge) named after the Tibetan Iron Bridge Builder Thangtong Gyalpo. Route continues along the Drangme Chhu, where we will stop at Gom Kora, a sacred meditation site of Guru Rimpoche! After a good look around and Kora’s around the Gompa, we will move on to Tashi Yangtse for a late lunch. Early afternoon to explore this important power place, the Stupa here fashioned in 1740 after Boudhanath in Kathmandu! Return ride back to Tashigang for overnight. Guest house accommodations.
Day 11 – Tashigang – India Assam Border
Early morning departure for our decent to the India Border with some of the best motorcycling of the trip, contouring the lower ridgetops of the Far Eastern Bhutan Himalaya, passing by the campus of Bhutan’s only University at Kaglung, the Handloom Weaving Project at Khaling, and on into Doethang for a picnic style lunch. Late afternoon arrival in Samdrup Jongkhar right on the border. Very basic but adequate local Indian style guest house type accommodations.
Day 12 – Ride to Gawahati – Flights Out
Morning transfers across the Bramahaputra River and on to Gawahati Airport for our flight connections back to Calcutta & New Delhi.
All Airport Transfers as necessary. All hotel and guest house accommodations in India & Bhutan. All breakfasts. All meals once in Bhutan. New model Royal Enfield Bullet 500cc Motorcycle equipped with saddle bags, all petrol, spare parts, mechanic, & support vehicles for seating and luggage. Bhutan Visa & Tourism Development Fee. Pre-departure information pack including tour route map and Roadrunners T-shirt.
What’s Not Included
India Visa fee, cold drinks, alcoholic beverages, bottled water, laundry service, tips & staff gratuities at tour end, overweight baggage charges, airport taxes, and extra days in Bhutan due to delays (unlikely) in bad weather for tour itineraries that fly out of Bhutan Airport.
Passport & Visa Requirements
Passport good for 6 months beyond tour end date. MULTIPLE ENTRY India Tourist visa available from your nearest India Embassy or Consulate in your home country. Bhutan visas are arranged in advance by HRR and are issued upon group arrival at the India-Bhutan border at Puntsholing and are included in with tour cost.
Immunizations are necessary for travel to India & Bhutan. Please consult your GP/MD or local travel clinic for the latest recommendations.
Motorcycle Damage Deposit
A security deposit of USD $1000. is required prior to motorcycle assignment and this deposit can be paid in cash or done via credit card authorization prior to tour start, if no damages are incurred during the motorcycling holiday than no charges will appear on your credit card. Repairs of small accidental damage from bikes falling over & light spills are normally covered in the tour cost, but HRR reserves the right to appraise all damages/repair costs and bill accordingly.
Etiquette & Protocol
Riding a motorcycle into the Kingdom of Bhutan is a privilege. Himalayan Roadrunners is grateful to the Tourism Authority of Bhutan (TAB) for permission to operate tours of this kind into the country. Although Bhutan continues to slowly open its doors to the outside world and experiment with new ideas for tourism, participants are reminded of the culturally sensitive nature of this trip and are urged & requested to conduct themselves in a respective manner & show extra courtesy & riding style while encountering traffic in the Kingdom.
A Word of Caution
Motorcycling the mountainous areas of the Nepal, India & Bhutan Himalaya is surely one of the best ways to experience the regions rich cultures, friendly people, and unequaled scenery. At the same time, motorcycling does have its dangers – Especially on narrow mountain roads with unpredictable traffic & quick changing weather conditions. Some of the tours operated by Himalayan Roadrunners Ltd. are better termed “Motorcycle Expeditions”, and should be undertaken by fit, experienced riders with an open mind to changing conditions and different rules of the road.
Join us for an experience you’ll never forget.