Our other tours include a butterfly tour for guests in the field of Lepidoptera or simply butterfly lovers, Enfield motorcycle tours, Host conferences, Kayaking and white water rafting or farmhouse stays for the traditionally inquisitive minds.

Cruising the hills on wheels

bikeBhutan Tourism Corporation Ltd. launched motorcycle tours from 2008. This new ‘premium’ product has been carefully researched and has tremendous potential for visitors with a passion for motor biking, desire for adventure and love of nature.

Bhutan promises to be a paradise for bikers with its pristine and beautiful environment boasting of breathtaking landscapes, majestic mountains and an incredible wealth of flora and fauna.

We present a fascinating journey on two-wheels into the mystical Dragon Kingdom of Bhutan. A country with its culture and tradition still intact and vibrant, a country where man and nature live together in close harmony and a kingdom filled with discoveries to be found and cherished. A trip of a lifetime awaits you and BTCL will be there to ride you through it!

Happy Biking

NOTES:          Bikes – Royal Enfield ‘Bullet’   •       Engine displacement – a) 350cc, b) 500cc           •        Load – 2 seater

Tentative itineraries

Itinerary 1 : Entry and exit by road

Day 01 –    Arrive at the border town of Phuntsholing, the gateway to Bhutan. Briefing and

Orientation.

Day 02 –    Ride to Paro

Day 03 –    Paro. Haa excursion.

Day 04 –    Punakha

Day 05 –    Thimphu

Day 06 –    Phuntsholing

Day 07 –    Departure

Itinerary 2: One way entry by road

Day 01 – Arrive at the border town of Phuntsholing, the gateway to Bhutan. Briefing and Orientation.

Day 02 –    Thimphu

Day 03 –    Thimphu

Day 04 –    Punakha

Day 05 –    Paro

Day 06 –    Haa excursion

Day 07 –    Departure by Air

Itinerary 3:

Day 01 –    Arrival Paro via Druk Air

Day 02 –    Paro

Day 03 –    Punakha

Day 04 –    Bumthang

Day 05 –    Bumthang

Day 06 –    Gantey

Day 07 –    Thimphu

Day 08 –    Paro

Day 09 –    Departure by Air

Please. note optional changes to the itinerary as follows:

Day 08 –    Phuntsholing

Day 09 –    Departure via road to India.

Itineraries can be altered and modified according to the clients’ demands. The choice whether to exit and enter via road or via air (one way or both ways) is entirely up to the clients.

Other choices to the itinerary also include tours to Eastern Bhutan exiting via Samdrup Jongkhar into Assam or back the lateral route to Western Bhutan.

INFORMATION ON

MOTORCYLE TOURS

  1. Motorcycles will be warehoused in Bhutan which saves on cost of shipment.
  1. Motorcycles used will be the Royal Enfield Bullet which is famous worldwide since the 1900s and the preferred choice of motorcyclists to tour through harsh and unexplored terrain throughout Southeast Asia. Please check out attachment on history of the brand and their official website at royalenfield.com. The bikes are single cylinder push rod type 500cc four stroke engines and so are moderately noisy in keeping with its characteristic thumping beat from its engine! However, the motorcycles meet euro II emission norms and are equipped with catalytic converters and longer mufflers to further control exhaust emissions and noise.
  1. As is the norm elsewhere, in Bhutan too, all motorcycle tours will be a guided tour with all participants traveling in a convoy behind the designated road captain with the support vehicles and crew following them from behind. Almost every journey undertaken during tour would start early to avoid rush hour traffic and end before nightfall to avoid any unwanted incidents.
  1. Two types of tour packages on offer: One that encompasses most of western and central Bhutan, starting from Phuentsholing in the southwest and ending in Paro, (seven to fourteen days of riding). The other would start from Phuentsholing and cross the entire length of the lateral highway network ending in Samdrup Jongkhar, (minimum of fourteen days of hard riding). The tour duration depends on the choice of places to visit and intended duration of stay of the clients.
  1. Starting tours in Phuentsholing makes sense and a very good idea to avoid the ticketing nightmares. It can also be the other way round with the tours ending in Phuentsholing with a coach ride to Bagdogra airport on the departure day.
  1. There are very strong possibilities of incessant rain during the monsoon months. Then again if the clients don’t mind riding in the rain it should not be a problem! Through personal experience riding in Bhutan is best in the months of March, April, May, September, October and November. Then again the months of March, October and November are a bit colder and riders would have to pack warmer riding gear for crossing high mountain passes and the like! And during April, May and September anybody riding a motorcycle should be prepared for light showers of rain.
  1. Staying in established and TCB (Tourism Council of Bhutan) certified hotels throughout the tour would be best as tented campsites cannot offer same amenities as compared to staying in hotels or lodges. Luggage would be carried in one of the support vehicles.

Rental charge entitlements : BTCL

  1. Hire charges for one motorcycle.
  2. Comprehensive insurance on motorcycle.
  3. Spare parts for normal wear and tear on running gear.
  4. Hire charges of back-up and recovery vehicle.
  5. Services of trained/experienced mechanic.
  6. Services of road captain/tour leader.
  7. Services of driver(s) of back-up and recovery vehicle.

Optional:

  1. Use of one helmet.
  2. Use of one set saddle bags.

Rental charge excludes:

  1. Any and all damages to motorcycle due to negligence of rider.
  2. Security deposit of USD 500 to be paid directly before commencement of the tour in case of damages which will be refunded on completion of the tour.
  3. A personal liability form to be filled before commencement of the tour in case of injury, disability or death.
  4. Please note that there is no health insurance in Bhutan although health facilities are

provided free.

Pedalling above the clouds

cyclingMountain biking in Bhutan is a whole new sport that is steadily gaining popularity amongst the Bhutanese and visitors alike. The country’s topography, especially in the western, central and eastern regions, are not the most cycle-friendly but that is precisely why mountain biking is gaining momentum amongst visitors. The mode of transport itself calls for a certain intimacy seldom experienced in vehicles.

With better roads replacing the old and the increasing number of off-road roads, biking is now becoming a very unique and original way of seeing and interacting with the country, people and the Bhutanese environment.

Most biking trips go through well paved roads while others trail on to dirt roads and trails. The traffic is still relatively very light and the experience very intimate. This is the “Road Less Travelled.” The more adventurous have the option of making side excursions for more “off-the-road” ventures if preferred. The surface accommodates most types of frame styles: from MTB, Hybrid, and Road, depending on your cycling style and experience. Biking trails mostly meander through small towns and villages and rural areas; it’s just you, your bike and the tour group and the agrarian and natural scenery.

Biking in Bhutan allows you many opportunities for self reflection along with the absorbing, rich environment. There are also numerous opportunities for optional hikes with a bit of climbing thrown in.

There are some challenging climbs with one in particular that is more than seven hours. You peddle the pads over two miles (3,400 meters) above sea level. The effort made is equally rewarded with a view and an experience that is as rare as anything in this increasingly globalizing and monotonous world. Riders should have an adequate level of fitness and stamina and be experienced enough in the art of mountain biking. Tours are fully supported by a van following riders. The van allows riders the option to sit in and take a break.

The Trails

Paro District

There are two potential biking trails: Jemina (in Thimphu) – Ta Dzong (in Paro); and Wochu – Dzongdrakha – Bondey trails. The trails snake through pastoral landscapes and stunning sceneries.

Jemina – Ta Dzong trail

Physical Description

The Jemina – Ta Dzong mountain biking trail lies between an altitude of 2280 – 3600m above sea level. To make a loop, it is suggested that the journey trail start from the Paro Town Square and continue to bike along the Paro – Thimphu Highway until Khasadrapchhu.

From here, you bike across the bridge at Khasadrapchhu and follow the asphalt road through the narrow Jemina valley. The logging road  to Jedekha starts from the industrial estate.

The logging road ascends at an average gradient of 11%  till Jedekha, where the actual biking trail begins. From Jedekha the trail until Jele Dzong Pass climbs at an average gradient of 8%.

The topographic terrain is mild till the Jele Dzong Pass. It does not exceed 70%. From the pass the trail descends continuously and in some places the trail bends sharply at an average gradient of 15% until it meets the farm road. The farm road ends near the Ta Dzong gate. You follow the asphalt road to get back to the starting point. The topographic terrain from the pass till Ta Dzong is very mild with an average side slope of 40%. In occasional bends the side slope goes up to 80% to a stretch of about 50m.

Thimphu  District

Thimphu – Pangrizampa – Hongtsho trail

The Pangrizampa – Hongtsho trail starts from the Thimphu Town Square (known locally as the Clock Tower) and continues biking along the Thimphu – Dechencholing highway until the junction at Dechencholing – Pangrizampa and Dechencholing – Tango/Cheri road. From here we follow the dirt motor vehicle road until Pangrizampa (the bridge of Pangri).

From Pangrizampa the biking ascends along the logging road until Taba Top at an average gradient of 11%. The logging road ends here. We continue biking until Thimphu City to make a loop.

The trail falls between an altitude of 2,300 and 3,700m above sea level. The total length of trail loop is 46 km.

Some important cultural entities that can be viewed by biking along the Thimphu -Pangrizampa – Hongtsho trail are the Tashi Chho Dzong, the Parliament building, Dechenphodrang Lhakhang, Dechencholing Palace, Pangrizampa Lhakhang and Kabjisa village. From the Taba Top,  a bird’s eye-view of the following monasteries are visible: Dodedra, Tango and Cheri monasteries. From Sinchula Pass a glorious vista awaits the rider in the form of the snow capped Himalayan eastern range, including Jhumolhari. As the trail descends towards Hongtsho, clear views of Hongtsho valley overlooking the Trashigang monastery across the valley can be seen. As the journey ends, you come across Semtokha Dzong, the oldest in Bhutan and after about 5 km ride from here, you will be back at the Clock Tower Square.

Punakha District

Khuruthang – Samdingkha – Punakha  trail

Although the proposed biking journey is over 17 km, the new trail construction is slightly over 7 km. The proposed journey will take off at Khuruthang and stay along the feeder road until the footpath suspension bridge at Samdingkha.

From Samdingkha the new trail mostly follows along the footpath at an average gradient of 10% until Punakha Dzong where the trail connects to the road. The terrain topography of the new trail is generally steep exceeding 100% in some stretches. However, the trail is an up-gradation of the footpath.

After reaching Punakha Dzong, you keep following the asphalt road along the Mo Chhu till Khuruthang town, a place to stretch the arms and spend a night at the  hotels.

Punakha, the old capital, is a pleasant sub-tropical valley. It is home to the impressive Pungthang Dewachenpoi Phodrang Dzong- the administrative and religious centre of the district. In winter it is home to the Bhutanese Central Monk Body. Built by Shabdrung Ngwang Namgyal in the 17th century, the fortress stands at the confluence of two rivers- the Pho (male) Chhu and Mo (female) Chhu Rivers. The trail passes through several villages: Jimithang, Manakha, Jara, Samdingkha, Jangkhorlo and Tempakha.

Topographical details can be sought through email.

Courtesy : Tourism Council of Bhutan

Celebrating swallowtail

Common-Batwing-Atrophaneura-varunaBhutan ranks in the top 10% of countries with the highest species density in the world. It has been designated as one of the ten biodiversity hotspots and lies at the centre of the world’s 221 Global Endemic Bird Areas. Bhutan’s vast biodiversity and ecosystem is host to over 700 bird species of which 22 are globally threatened.

In addition to a huge variety of plant and bird species, Bhutan is also rich in butterflies. It is said that Bhutan has as many as 800 to 900 butterfly and moth species, out of which, 28 are endemic to the Eastern Himalayas. By comparison, the whole of North America has 679 species and Europe only 440 species.

In the national language – Dzongkha, butterflies are called Chimla. Bhutan’s incredible altitudinal range – from sub-tropical to alpine – seems ideal for the proliferation of a large variety of plant and animal life. Incredible variety of butterflies can be found at varying altitudes – from the sub-tropical in the south to the alpine in the north. Although they can be found even at elevations above 5,000 M in the frigid alpine regions, the largest concentration of butterflies is in the sub-tropical zones of the south and south-central parts of the country.

Season

In Bhutan, butterflies are found abundantly during the months of July to October.

Habitats

The main butterfly habitats in Bhutan are: Grasslands, evergreen oak forests, agricultural fields, conifer forests.

Where to look for them

On treetops, undergrowths, forest edges, rivers and creeks.  

Prime Butterfly Areas

Common-Windmill-Atrophaneura-polyeuctus-FemaleSome of the prime butterfly areas in the country are:  Trongsa Dzongkhag, Zhemgang Dzongkhag, Mongar Dzongkhag, Trashiyangtse  Dzongkhag,  Trashigang Dzongkhag, Pemagatshel Dzongkhag

Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail (Bhutanitis ludlowi) was first discovered in 1933-34 by the famous English naturalist Frank Ludlow. While unproven claims have been made that this species also exists in Yunnan, China, it is generally accepted that the butterfly is endemic to Tobrang areas of Trashiyangtse, Eastern Bhutan.

After a gap of seventy-seven years, this extremely rare butterfly was rediscovered on 28th August, 2009, by Mr. Karma Wangdi of Kheng Zurphey, a Bhutanese Forester who was then working with the Bomdeling Wildlife Sanctuary. He is currently working with the Ugyen Wangchuk Institute for Conservation and Environment (UWICE), Bumthang.

The Ludlow’s Bhutan Swallowtail was named the national butterfly of Bhutan, on February 16, 2012.

In accordance with the Bhutan Forest and Nature Conservation Rules, 1995, killing, trapping or collection of wildlife samples is strictly prohibited.

Visitors wishing to photograph in the national parks and nature reserves are required to obtain prior written authorization from the Wildlife Conservation Division, Department of Forests and Park Services, Ministry of Agriculture.

Tour option I:

Central circuit

Route : Paro – Trongsa – Yurmung – Pangzur – Trongsa – Paro

Duration : 8 Nights/9 Days

Campsites / Farmstay : Tongtongphai, Pangzur

Day 1 :             Arrive Paro Inter. Airport

Transfer to Hotel, night halt Paro

Day 2 :             Rest and acclimatize, night halt in Paro

Day 3 :             Drive to Trongsa, night halt in Trongsa

Day 4 :             Drive to Tongtongphai, after lunch watch butterflies. Night halt at Tongtongphai

Day 5 :             Watch for butterflies all day, night halt at Tongtongphai

Day 6 :             After breakfast, drive to Pangzur,  watch for butterflies all day. Night halt at Pangzur

Day 7 :             Drive to Punakha, night halt in Punakha

Day 8 :             After breakfast, visit the Punakha Dzong. Visit Chimi Lhakhang, late evening, drive to Thimphu. Night halt in Thimphu

Day 9 :             Fly out from Paro

Areas for Butterflies:

Tongtongphai : Yurmung, Kowthang, Thangsbi, Malempong, Broshong, Gangphai, Wamai, Wengkhang, Thrasa,Tongtongphai

Pangzur : Nambur, Koshela, Baleng, Karsigang, Riwtala, Wangdigang

Some of the butterflies found in the area:

Common Crow, Common Flash, Common Line Blue, Common Nawab, Dark Judy, Great Orange Tip, Indian Cabbage White, Indian Purple Emperor, Large Cabbage White, Plain Tiger, Popinjay, Red-Spot Jezebel, Spangle, Stately Nawab.

 

Tour option II:

Central circuit

Route : Paro – Trongsa – Tongtongphai – Bumthang – Punakha – Thimphu – Paro

Duration : 10 Nights / 11 Days

Campsites / Farmstay : Tongtongphai

Day 1 :             Arrive Paro Inter. Airport

Transfer to Hotel. Night halt in Paro

Day 2 :             Rest and acclimatize. Night halt in Paro

Day 3 :             Drive to Trongsa. Night Halt  in Trongsa

Day 4 :             Drive to Tongtongphai. Watch for butterflies, night halt at Tongtongphai

Day 5 :             Drive to Bumthang. Night halt in Bumthang

Day 6 :             Bumthang. Night halt in Bumthang

Day 7 :             Drive to Punakha. Night halt in Punakha

Day 8 :             Punakha. Night Halt in Punakha

Day 9 :             Drive to Thimphu. Night halt in Thimphu

Day 10 :            Drive to Paro. Night halt in Paro.

Day 11 :            Fly out from Paro.

Areas for Butterflies:

Tongtongphai : Yurmung, Kowthang, Thangsbi, Malempong, Broshong, Gangphai, Wamai, Wengkhang, Thrasa, Tongtongphai

Some of the butterflies found in the area:

Common Crow, Common Flash, Common Line Blue, Common Nawab, Dark Judy, Great Orange Tip, Indian Cabbage White, Indian Purple Emperor, Large Cabbage White, Plain Tiger, Popinjay, Red-Spot Jezebel, Spangle, Stately Nawab.

Tour option III:

Eastern circuit

Route : Paro – Thimphu -Punakha – Trongsa – Bumthang – Mongar – Trashi Yangtse – Trashigang-Samdrup Jongkhar

Duration : 18 Nights/19 Days

Campsite/Farmstay: Tongtongphai, Pangzur, Gyelposhing, Sherichuzampa, Trashi Yangtse/Bumdeling.

Day 1 :             Arrive Paro Inter. Airport

Transfer to Hotel. night halt in Paro.

Day 2 :             Rest and acclimatize. Night halt in Paro.

Day 3 :             Drive to Thimphu. Night Halt in Thimphu.

Day 4 :             Drive to Punakha. Night halt at Punakha.

Day 5 :             Drive to Trongsa. Night halt at Trongsa..

Day 6 :             Drive to Tongtongphai.

Watch for butterflies. Night halt at Tongtongphai.

Day 7 :             Drive to Pangzur. Watch for butterflies. Night halt in Pangzur.

Day 8 :             Drive to Bumthang. Night halt in Bumthang.

Day 9 :             Bumthang. Night halt in Bumthang.

Day 10 :            Drive to Mongar

Night halt in Mongar

Day 11:             Drive to Gyelpoishing. Watch for butterflies at Kuri chu and Kurizampa areas. Night halt in Gyelpoishing

Day 12:             Gyelpoishing. Watch for butterflies in Lemithang and  Yonkala areas. Night halt in Gyelpoishing

Day 11 :            Drive to Sherichuzampa. Watch for butterflies in Sherichu area. Night halt in Sherichuzampa

Day 14 :            Drive to Tashi Yangtse

Enrotue watch for buttterflies in Rolong, Chazam and Gomkora areas. Night halt in Tashiyangtse

Day 15 :            Tashi Yangtse. Watch for butterflies in Bumdeling areas.

Night halt in Tashiyangtse

Day 16 :            Drive to Tashigang. Night halt in Radi

Day 17 :            Tashigang, watch for butterflies in Radi and Phongmey areas. Night halt in Radi

Day 18 :            Drive to Samdrupjongkhar. Night halt in SamdrupJongkhar

Day 19 :            Drive to Guwahati & fly out

Areas for Butterflies:

Tongtongphai : Yurmung, Kowthang, Thangsbi, Malempong, Broshong, Gangphai, Wamai, Wengkhang, Thrasa, Tongtongphai

Pangzur : Nambur, Koshela, Baleng, Karsigang, Riwtala, Wangdigang

Gyelposhing: Along the way to Limithang

Trashiyangtse: Bumdeling

Some of the butterflies found in the area:

Common Crow, Common Flash, Common Line Blue, Common Nawab, Dark Judy, Great Orange Tip, Indian Cabbage White, Indian Purple Emperor, Large Cabbage White, Plain Tiger, Popinjay, Red-Spot Jezebel, Spangle, Stately Nawab.

Courtesy : Tourism Council of Bhutan

The mere mention of meetings should bring up a most familiar tone set for absolute seriousness and no light moments to relish in between. Or maybe not, if you choose the right destinations to see through those conferences.

Conference tours with Bhutan as a venue have been picking up in popularity and few have solidly stamped their presence in having organized such events.

Some of the popular ones which have been molded conference tours are the Better Business Summit, the E3 Conference and GNH Conference.

The E3 conference brought together more than 300 intellectual minds from local ministries, departments, consultancy firms as well as from international arenas in October of 2014, over a course of three days.

The event which brought participants from many Asian and European conference tours participants was themed for discussions revolving on the theme ‘ideas at the confluence of energy, economy and environment’ in light of the massive economic activities taking place for  the 11,000 MW hydropower generation by 2020.

The first Better Business Summit held for two days in March last year brought together leaders from different areas of government, business and civil society to promote the policies, institutions and tools to improve prosperity and well-being through entrepreneurship and private sector growth.

The conference event was themed ‘A Better Climate for Business’ with dual objectives of private sector development and raising awareness of Bhutan as an investment destination. Outcomes will include recommendations for policymakers and strategic insights into the policy landscape for business leaders.

Conference tours, for Bhutan is meanwhile most likely to see a visible high for the 2015 GNH Conference to be held from November 4 to 6. Confirmations made so far for the event has participants from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bolivia, UK, US, Denmark, Finland and Vietnam to list some.

White water adventure

raftingThe clean and clear rivers of Bhutan are one of the kingdom’s best kept secrets. Fed by the Eastern Himalayas, the six rivers (Wang Chhu, Sunkosh, Puna Tsang Chhu, Mangde Chhu, Kuri Chhu and Dangme Chhu and their tributaries) have been scouted for kayaking and rafting. They cut through high valleys and low plains to meet up with the Brahmaputra river in India.  The natural setting offers a unique opportunity to explore Bhutan’s beautiful wilderness. It is more than a teaser and an invitation to anyone interested in adventure travel.

The rivers are plentiful with high currents and depths reaching a maximum of about five meters; at places it passes gently on and in others the rivers rage through loudly. Although adventure sports and tourism are relatively recent introductions, it is gaining popularity. The sport offers something for everyone: There is easy rafting for beginners and hair-raising runs for the veterans.

The best time for rafting and kayaking is from March to April and November to December.

SAFETY

Bhutanese rafting and kayaking guides are well trained to ensure your safety as you enjoy moments of adventure.

The rivers of Bhutan were first graded for water sports in 1997 by the experienced duo Gerry Mofatt and Peter Knowles at the invitation of the Royal Government, under the erstwhile Department of Tourism to survey potential routes.

They trained the first batch of Bhutanese river-guides and conducted surveys. Since then, other rivers have been surveyed including the Punatsang Chhu, Manas and Amo Chhu.

Courtesy : Tourism Council of Bhutan

farm-houseIn Bhutan, 70 percent of the population live in the rural areas depending on subsistence agriculture. To experience Bhutan, therefore, in its entirety, one must look beyond the oft-visited cities, but rather among the misty mountains, beautiful breathtaking valleys and villages surrounded by rich, virgin, natural forests.

A sojourn amidst Bhutan’s beautiful, genteel and scenic villages could offer an opportunity of a lifetime. Travel back in time to explore the ancient mud compacted traditional two-storied Bhutanese houses, be a part of a community where men and nature live together in peaceful harmony and admire the grand design of lush paddy fields, gardens and meadows.

Farmhouse stays or visits in one of Bhutan’s rural household could offer one a glimpse into the simple, happy, contented lifestyle of a Bhutanese rural family.

Many rural villages in Bhutan today offer farmhouse stay facilities where tourists are allowed to live together with a local family, tasting local homemade delicacies and engaging in their way of life. Bhutanese pride themselves of their hospitality, kindness and generosity to guests.

Live together with a Bhutanese family to experience their tradition, play traditional games of archery, dart and shot put with the villagers and immerse in their day-to-day affairs of agricultural work and familial relationship.

There is much to celebrate, recreate and relax in the Bhutanese countryside where the air is fresh, unpolluted and clean to breaths. Explore the woods with other villagers and admire the lush green vegetation and picturesque hills and mountains.

Although access to some modern amenities may be restricted, it does not compare with how much it has to offer to those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the busy city life and just sit back and take delight in experiencing the simple, tranquil, serene and traditional lifestyle of rural Bhutan and its surrounding natural beauty.


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