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Tour of the Dragon – 9 Nights / 10 Days

Travel Packages for the 268K mountain bike event; Tour of the Dragon (TOD), are a unique opportunity to encounter the race and country from an ‘insider’s’ perspective. As a consultant to the TOD and the Bhutan Olympic Committee (BOC) and a past competitor of the TOD, Terri Schneider is intimate with Bhutan and the TOD course. She has customized your Travel Package specifically for this event while showcasing the beauty and cultural intrigue of western and central Bhutan.

Tour Details

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HIGHLIGHTS OF THE TOUR OF THE DRAGON

Race and travel package designed just for the TOD. All inclusive package once you touch down in Paro, Bhutan. Race volunteers and those just along for the fun are all welcome!

  • Discover some of the most sacred Buddhist monasteries and temples in the Himalaya.
  • Visit many cultural attractions including medieval fortresses (Dzongs), markets and museums.
  • Hike up to the famous Taktsang Monastery, perched on a cliff 900m above the valley floor.
  • Marvel at the elaborate and ancient wall paintings and carvings in Dzongs and temples.
  • Traverse beautiful landscapes from lush valleys to dense forests.
  • Incorporate a Value-Added Option such as a cooking lesson or meditation session with a monk.

DAY 1: ARRIVAL TO PARO, BHUTAN, AND TRANSPORT TO PARO HOTEL.

If the skies are clear you’ll be treated to some breath taking views of the highest peaks in the world including Mt. Everest, Makalu and Kanchenjunga. Paro stands at 7,500 ft. above sea level. You’ll be met by our Bhutanese hosts who will transfer you to our hotel in Paro. After lunch you’ll have the day free to wander, organize your bike, go for a ride, do some shopping or rest. Dinner and overnight in Paro.

DAY 2: EXCURSION TO TAKSANG MONASTERY, PARO

Today we’ll experience one of the highlights of your trip in Bhutan with an excursion to view the spectacular Taktsang (Tiger’s Nest) Monastery. After breakfast in Thimphu we’ll drive through Paro to Satsam Chorten and from there a do a two hour trek up to the viewpoint of the monastery. The trail climbs through beautiful pine forest, many of the trees festooned with Spanish moss, and an occasional grove of fluttering prayer flags. We stop for a rest and light refreshments at the Taktsang Jakhang (tea house) and then walk a short distance until we see, clearly and seemingly within reach, Taktshang Monastery. The first part was built around Guru Rimpoche’s meditation cave in the 1684 by the Penlop of Paro, Gyaltse Tenzin Rabgay. This incredible monastery clings to the edge of a sheer rock cliff that plunges 900 meters into the valley below. Legend has it that Guru Padmasambhava (Guru Rimpoche), the tantric mystic who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, flew here on the back of a flying tiger, Dorji Drolo, said to be his favorite consort. Lunch is served at the completion of the trek.

Drive to Thimphu to spend the rest of the afternoon resting, sightseeing or shopping. Dinner and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

DAY 3: SHORT RIDE, PUJA CEREMONY, SIGHTSEEING AND SHOPPING IN THIMPHU. FINALIZE BIKE GEAR FOR RACE.

We’ll start the day with a short ride to loosen the legs before we head to one of the lovely monasteries perched atop a Thimphu Valley peak for a morning puja ceremony—for a safe trip and successful race. Then there are lots of sight seeing options in Thimphu! In-town options include a visit to the 169 foot Buddha Dordenma, the largest upright Buddha in the world, overlooking the entire Thimphu valley and the National Memorial Chorten built in 1974 in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk. Or, visit the National Library, stocked with ancient Buddhist manuscripts, and the Handicraft School where traditional art is still kept alive through instructions in the art of painting Thangkas (sacred Buddhist religious scrolls). After lunch, you can check out the Traditional Medicine Institute where medicines are prepared according to ancient practices, and to Lungtenzampa to observe the Royal silversmiths and a Bhutanese paper factory at work. Other highlights include shopping for souvenirs in the shops of Thimphu.

This will be our last day to store bike cases, rent bikes or acquire any last minute bike gear at local bike shops prior to our drive to the start line. Celebration Dinner in Thimphu at ZaSa Restaurant and overnight at the hotel in Thimphu.

 

DAY 4: DRIVE FROM THIMPHU TO TRONGSA AREA VIA DOCHULA PASS.

Approximate driving time: 7 hours.

We’ll get an early start to a long day of driving by first heading over the most well known pass in Bhutan, Dochula Pass, located about 30 km away from the capital of Bhutan, Thimphu. The 108 chortens at Dochula were built by one of the Queen Mother’s to honor the Bhutanese soldiers who were killed when fighting the Indian rebels in 2003. Though Bhutanese have wanted to build these chortens to mark the victory of the Bhutanese army, the King has rejected this offer and instead uses the chortens to commemorate the deceased. Just before the long horse shoe descent and ascent into Trongsa we’ll catch a view of the impressive Trongsa Dzong perched on a cliff-side across a huge chasm. This Dzong is one of the most magnificent works of traditional Bhutanese architecture in the country. The Dzong was originally built in 1644 and enlarged at the end of the 17th century.

Once we leave Thimphu on our drive to the start line of the TOD, we will be heading backwards on the TOD course, so you will have an opportunity to experience the course in full, within the comforts of our bus.

DAY 5: SHORT RIDE, DRIVE FROM TRONGSA TO BUMTHANG, THE START AREA OF THE TOUR OF THE DRAGON.

Approximate driving time: 2 hours.

We’ll start the day with a short ride to stretch our legs. On our drive we can relax and enjoy more of the TOD route and Bhutan’s stunning geography. Our final driving destination, Bumthang Valley and the sprawling town of Jakar, is the location of the start of the Tour of the Dragon. Our final day of driving is geographically and culturally interesting as we move through several villages and as the vegetation changes up before opening into a broad and long valley. It is rare to find large quantities of flat land in Bhutan and Bumthang Valley harbors a large portion of it.

 

DAY 6: SHORT RIDE AND SIGHTSEEING IN BUMTHANG. RACE PREP, PRE-RACE BRIEFING.

Today we have most of the day to prep for the race, go to the pre-race briefing, meet with His Royal Highness, the President of the Bhutan Olympic Committee, walk around town, sightsee at the Bumthang Dzong, check out the local beer or cheese maker shop and nap.

DAY 7: REST DAY IN BUMTHANG

Race bag pick up, then rest in preparation for late night start of the upcoming event.

DAY 8: TOUR OF THE DRAGON START! FINISH LINE IN THIMPHU.

The race starts at 2:00AM on this day.

Light meal at the hotel prior to race start.

Ride from Bumthang to Thimphu

DAY 9:  REST DAY AND TOURING IN THIMPHU.

Today is our last day to shop or view a Thimphu highlight that we missed on our prior day here. Lots of options available.

DAY 10: PARO DEPARTURES

Breakfast in Thimphu and transport to Airport

  • Bhutan Tourist Tariff Royalty & Visa fees.
  • All private excursions and transfers in superior air-conditioned vehicle.
  • Local English speaking guide/tour leader.
  • Experienced driver.
  • Accommodation in carefully selected, highest standard goverment approved hotels & guesthouses.
  • All meals in Bhutan.
  • All entrance fees and permits.
  • All personal expenses such as bars, beverages, laundry, telephone and tips.
  • Medical / Travel Insurance.