Bhutan Thunder Dragon Ride

A mountain biking holiday across the Shangri La kingdom of Bhutan




From $4,500 Land only

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Holiday Overview


  • Challenging climbs, endless descents, the perfect cycling holiday
  • The monasteries at Punakha, Tongsa, Gantey and Jakar
  • Meet Bhutan`s colourful people by bike
  • One of the best cycle touring holidays in the world

The classic bike ride across Bhutan is one of the world's most challenging cycle 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 largely deserted single-track highway provides the basis for one of the worlds' great bike journeys. Starting out from Paro and crossing several high passes, we accumulate a total of 15,500 metres of ascent and a staggering 18,200 metres of descent, en route to the eastern land border with India at Sandrup Jongkhar. Staying primarily in characterful lodges and with plenty of opportunity to meet the Bhutanese people, this is an unmissable 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. More than 65% of the land is still under forest cover and some of the rarest of Himalayan wildlife, such as the blue sheep, takin and golden langur, are quite common. It is generally reckoned that even the most experienced traveller will find Bhutan to be a revelation and we cannot disagree. 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. The air is clean and unpolluted, the mountains are magnificent and the architecture is inspiring. Bhutan is the least visited of all the Himalayan countries, as a direct result of a deliberate government policy that restricts the number of tourists allowed into the country.



explore international

Explore International. This is one of our Explore International holidays. Participants on these trips can book through KE or through one of our international partners. This helps us to gather together sufficient numbers of like-minded adventurers to get your holiday up and running quickly. Led by an English-speaking guide, the cosmopolitan nature of these groups can be an important part of the experience!

Is this holiday for you?

SEMI-SLICK ADVENTURE. A mountain bike fitted with semi-slick tyres is ideal for this holiday. This is a mostly road-based trip and is suitable for regular weekend riders. The road is narrow, little used and 90% tarmac, with rough sections on the high passes. This trip has some long days and several tough climbs. There are 10 road passes to cross on this spectacular ride, the highest of which are the Pele La (3420m) and the Thumsing La (3800m). What goes up must come down, and the descents are equally awesome, the longest involving 3259 metres of descent over 85 km (53 miles) - one of the longest in the world. The climbs are usually not steep and the roads are generally narrow and almost traffic-free. Biking at altitudes between 600 metres and 3800 metres, we will notice a marked difference in temperatures - from very pleasant and warm to cold and frosty on the highest of the passes. Winter clothing is recommended for the highest of passes and some of the descents will be cold! The average time in the saddle will vary between 6 and 8 hours each day, with at least 2 longer days of up to 10 hours, inclusive of stops, covering in excess of 100 km (62 miles). The route is rideable in the time we have allowed, but we do have a support vehicle throughout and riders finding the going tough can opt to take a rest at any time. Aimed at regular bikers, this holiday will provide a sustained challenge and you will need a good level of fitness to fully enjoy it! BIKE HIRE AVAILABLE LOCALLY.

Brief Itinerary

View in full
  • Meet at the group hotel in Delhi. Transfers from Delhi Airport are provided.
  • Fly to Paro in Bhutan. Meet our Bhutanese hosts and transfer to our hotel in the Paro Valley.
  • Cycle from Paro towards Thimpu, turning off to climb over the Dochu La (3050m) to Punakha.
  • Cycle via Wangdi and up into the Black Mountains. Overnight at Gantey (3000m) in the Phobjikha Valley.
  • Continue across the Pele La (3420m) with another fantastic descent on a twisting road Tongsa.
  • Cycle up to the Yutong La (3400m) and descend into the district of Bumthang. Overnight in Jakar.
  • Cross the Ura La with views of Lunana to the north. Then, cross the Wangthang La to our valley camp.
  • A long and gradual ascent to the Thumsing La (3800m) and a stunning descent to Mongar.
  • Cross the Kori La, descend Sheri River and make a final climb up to the town of Tashigang (1100m).
  • Heading south, bike on an undulating road via Kanglung and Khaling to Wamrong.
  • Climb to cross a final pass (2450m). From here, it's downhill all the way to Samdrup Jongkhar.
  • Drive to Gauhati Airport in India. Fly to Delhi, day rooms at an airport hotel. Depart Delhi.
Sun 08 Nov - Thu 19 Nov Code BHMB/03/15/ Adult$4,500 Status Limited Availability Book now
Sun 24 Apr - Thu 05 May Code BHMB/01/16/ Adult$4,340 Status Available Book now
Sun 16 Oct - Thu 27 Oct Code BHMB/02/16/ Adult$4,340 Status Available Book now
Sun 13 Nov - Thu 24 Nov Code BHMB/03/16/ Adult$4,340 Status Guaranteed Book now
The LAND ONLY dates and prices are for the itinerary joining in Delhi. For clients making their own flight arrangements, Delhi Airport is the most convenient for transfers to the group hotel. Please refer to the 'Joining Arrangements and Transfers' section of the trip dossier for further details.

Flights SHOULD NOT be booked until you have received your booking confirmation and the trip is showing 'Guaranteed to Run' or 'Limited'.

Pricing notes
Domestic flights: In order to secure seats on the internal flights, KE need to pay for these air tickets as soon as the trip reaches the 'guaranteed to run' status. On account of this, you will be asked to pay for your internal flights at the time of booking. The deposit for this trip includes the internal flight cost.

BOOK WITH KE CONFIDENCE - No surcharge guarantee*

* Against Land Only services.

Map & Itinerary

The Route

  • airport
  • point
  • trip direction
  • bike
  • transfer

Holiday Itinerary

  • Meet at the group hotel in Delhi. Transfers from Delhi Airport are provided.

    Rendezvous at the group hotel in Delhi which is conveniently located close to the airport. Complimentary airport transfers are provided for all clients arriving on this day. Since group members can arrive on different flights throughout the day, we have not included meals. KE Land Only services begin with overnight at the group hotel.

    • Accommodation Hotel with swimming pool

  • Fly to Paro in Bhutan. Meet our Bhutanese hosts and transfer to our hotel in the Paro Valley.

    We transfer back to Delhi International Airport to check in for the Druk Air flight to Paro. This flight is one of the most spectacular of all mountain flights and as we descend into the Paro Valley there are splendid views of alpine forests, small monasteries, temples and flat-roofed farmhouses. The Paro Valley is enchanting. A single road lined with willows, clear mountain streams, families working in the rice paddies and one of Bhutan’s most impressive Dzongs (fortresses) creates a memorable first impression. Our arrival in Paro is usually in the late afternoon and, after meeting our Bhutanese guide and crew, we transfer to our hotel and have time before and after dinner to put our bikes together ahead of our classic journey. Altitude at our hotel in Paro is 2400 metres.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Meals bld

  • Cycle from Paro towards Thimpu, turning off to climb over the Dochu La (3050m) to Punakha.

    We make an early start today for the first day’s ride of our trip across Bhutan. Our destination being Punakha. The beginning of our ride, to Chhuzom (2068m), is a gentle introduction to the day but then we begin to climb and follow the Wang Chu upstream through a mixture of rice fields and coniferous forest to a widening of the valley at Namseling. Finally, the quaint suburbs of Thimpu begin to appear to our left and we see the impressive Simtokha Dzong in the middle of the valley. Thimpu is the only large settlement in Bhutan and is spread out across a wide valley. However, our new itinerary bypasses Thimpu - and the construction of the new Thimpu-India Highway - and turns east to Punakha on the main east-west road across Bhutan. The road up to the Dochu La (3050m) is relatively quiet compared to the morning ride and the hillsides on either side of the road are covered in luxuriant temperate forest and an abundance of rhododendron and magnolia. The lower slopes are even more lush, with orange trees, bananas and bamboo. Several species of deer and monkeys make their home in this forest. We will meet our support vehicles at the pass and have a stop for rest and refreshment. The pass is marked by many prayer flags and a large chorten. A viewpoint just above the chorten offers a magnificent panorama of the Eastern Himalaya, including the all of the giant 7000 metre peaks of Lunana in north-eastern Bhutan. The downhill from the Dochu La into the Punakha Valley will leave you speechless - 2000 metres of descent, through lush forest and jungle, over a distance of 50 kilometres. We will stay at a hotel close to Punakha and, providing we arrive early enough, we will be able to visit Punakha Dzong, Bhutan’s old winter capital, home to over 1000 monks.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1500m

    • Distance 118km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 2600m

    • Time 8 - 9 hrs cycling

  • Cycle via Wangdi and up into the Black Mountains. Overnight at Gantey (3000m) in the Phobjikha Valley.

    The 'Central Road' across the Black Mountains was completed only 20 years ago and its completion brought about great changes to the people of central Bhutan. We leave our hotel and cycle down to the river and the valley bottom, crossing a bridge at 1200 metres. We then have a short climb to the village of Wangdi followed by a relatively flat road for 20 kilometres to a bridge across the river just past the village of Tikke. We stop for a tea break and then begin a long climb over the Black Mountains. This is a deceptively long climb, gaining over 2000 metres to a junction with the side road to Gantey just beyond Nobding. We should be conscious of the clock today as it is one of the hardest days biking. Crossing the pass we descend into the Phobjika Valley, which is one of the few winter homes of the black-necked crane which migrate here from the Central Asiatic Plateau, usually in late October. A short descent leads into the valley and to our hotel, which is located a short distance beyond the small village of Gantey. The village houses are clustered around the monastery. The altitude at Gantey is 3000 metres.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 2400m

    • Distance 75km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 700m

    • Time 7 - 8 hrs cycling

  • Continue across the Pele La (3420m) with another fantastic descent on a twisting road Tongsa.

    Our hotel is close to the feeding grounds of the black-necked cranes and depending on the time of year, there can be between 500 and 1000 in the Phobjika Valley and it is possible that we will be woken by their distinct calling. We load our bikes into the support vehicles for the short climb back to the pass, but have time to call in at the new Visitor Centre to take a closer look at the cranes. These birds are tolerant of people and regularly feed near human settlements and domestic livestock, perhaps because local religious beliefs protect them across much of their range. Moving on from this fascinating spectacle, we head eastwards once again, continuing our climb to the nearby Pele La (3420m). There is a good chance that we will see langur monkeys in the forest on this section of our ride. At the pass, the forest opens out a little and we should find yaks grazing by the side of the road. Looking back from the pass, it is possible to see Chomolhari (7219m). The Pele La is the third of our big passes and by now we should be getting used to the climbs. This pass is traditionally known as the boundary between Western and Central Bhutan, and the landscape, which spreads out on the far side of the pass, is different to that on the western side. Previous groups have encountered snow on the pass, so be prepared for some cold riding downhill. Another amazing descent follows (1530 metres). It is downhill almost all the way for 60 kilometres to Tongsa. We take a break for tea at Chenjebi, with its magnificent Stupa (the only one of its kind in Bhutan) which was built to ward off the demons of the valley. After crossing a bridge at Nikkarchu we enter Tongsa district and follow a dramatic section of the road that is carved into the side of a cliff high above the Mangde Chu. The scenery is beautiful - forest as far as the eye can see and with Tongsa Dzong visible from 30 km (19 miles) away, at the end of the valley. Tongsa means 'new village' - it was founded in the 16th century, which is relatively recent for Bhutan. After so much downhill riding the final 300 metre climb up to Tongsa Village makes for a tough end to the day’s ride. We will have time in the afternoon to take a look around the Dzong, which is situated on a spur over the Mangde Chu, which has a commanding view in every direction. Altitude at Tongsa is 2200 metres.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 800m

    • Distance 77km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1700m

    • Time 5 - 6 hrs cycling

  • Cycle up to the Yutong La (3400m) and descend into the district of Bumthang. Overnight in Jakar.

    The road climbs rapidly through a series of hairpins out of Tongsa and there are great views back to the dzong and out across the valley. After passing through cultivated fields for a while, we re-enter the forest and at a distance of 30 kilometres from Tongsa we reach the Yutong La (3400m). Descending to a low point of 2650 metres at a village called Chumey, the scenery is once again totally different as we enter the wide-open Bumthang Valley. After a short climb to Kiki La, we turn a corner for a great descent to Jakar where there is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan, founded by the Dorje Linpa in 1445. From almost 20 kilometres away we can see Jakar Dzong, high above the village. Altitude at Jakar is 2600 metres.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1700m

    • Distance 70km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1200m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs cycling

  • Cross the Ura La with views of Lunana to the north. Then, cross the Wangthang La to our valley camp.

    The height gain of 900 metres to our fifth pass, the Ura La, is achieved after almost 40 kilometres of biking. The Ura Valley, on the far side, is the highest of the Bumthang valleys. Extensive sheep pastures line the road and just before the pass there is a panorama of the mountains of Lunana to north. We descend from the pass by long loops, through pastureland and fields to Ura Village for lunch. From here it is a further 24 kilometres over the Wangthang La to our camp on one of the few flat places in the valley. Altitude at our camp is 3300 metres.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 1700m

    • Distance 77km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 860m

    • Time 6 - 8 hrs cycling

  • A long and gradual ascent to the Thumsing La (3800m) and a stunning descent to Mongar.

    Today is a long day and if we wish to cycle the whole way, we need to set off at first light. After a short descent to a bridge, we start climbing immediately to the Thumsing La (3800m). The ascent, over 9 kilometres is quite gradual and the scenery is stunning, as we pass through dense forest of conifer and rhododendron. The pass marks the boundary between Central and Eastern Bhutan and is the last of our high altitude climbs. Not hanging around as its usually cold on the pass we set off on what must rank as one of the most enjoyable and breathtakingly beautiful biking descents in the world. From the pass the road plunges 3200 metres to the valley floor at 590 metres. The whole descent, over 85 kilometres, passes through dark conifers and then a mixture of deciduous and conifer woodland before entering the semi-tropical zone at an altitude of around 1800 metres. Bamboo and an array of rare plant life line the sides of the road but you may be too involved in the dizzying descent to notice! The section between Sengor and Namling has the reputation for being the most hair-raising section of the road across Bhutan, but is just perfect for bikes. Hewn out of the side of a cliff, and above a vertiginous drop for most of the way, this is the most exhilarating part of the trip. By the time we reach Lingmithang for lunch, the temperature will have risen considerably and we will feel as if we have arrived in the tropics. After this 5 hours of solid downhilling most people will be simply speechless. Altitude at Limithang is 600 metres. The sting in the tail is a final 20 kilometre climb to the village of Mongar (1600m). Ride distance 109 km (68 miles) with 1671 metres of ascent and 3492 metres of descent.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Ascent 1500m

    • Distance 109km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 3300m

    • Time 6 - 8 hrs cycling

  • Cross the Kori La, descend Sheri River and make a final climb up to the town of Tashigang (1100m).

    Another great descent in store for us today, but first we have a further 20 kilometres of our climb to finish en-route to the Kori La (2450m), the first of two relatively 'minor' passes. The road then descends rapidly through cornfields and banana groves and, after 10 kilometres, reaches the start of the famous hairpins at Yadi (1500m). After a further 30 kilometres of interminable bends, we arrive at a bridge across the Sheri River at just 600 metres. This is the second longest descent of the trip, a sparkling 1850 metres. Back in the hot tropical climate, we can enjoy a very pleasant ride along the side of the Gamri River to the bridge and check post below Tashigang. A steep 10 kilometre climb finishes off quite a hard day’s biking. Tashigang sees very few tourists and facilities are limited, but we try and stay in the 'best place in town’, which is in reality a basic lodge. Altitude at Tashigang is 1100 metres.

    • Accommodation Lodge

    • Ascent 1700m

    • Distance 91km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 2200m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs cycling

  • Heading south, bike on an undulating road via Kanglung and Khaling to Wamrong.

    We have now reached the most easterly point of our journey and the road now heads south for approximately 200 kilometres to Samdrup Jongkhar, Bhutan's eastern road border with Assam. This day is another tough one and often catches people out, being so close to the end of the ride! At first we have a hot climb for 30 kilometres to the university at Kanglung and then continue climbing to a small pass at 2450 metres. Beware of the false summits, but look out for the views of the peaks of north-eastern Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. After a further 40 kilometres of undulating riding, we reach the quaint village of Khaling in time for lunch, which is famous for its weaving and handicraft. We bike onwards to Wamrong and camp a short distance beyond the village on one of the few flat spots in the valley! Altitude at our camp is 2100 metres.

    • Accommodation Camping

    • Ascent 2300m

    • Distance 78km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 1200m

    • Time 7 - 8 hrs cycling

  • Climb to cross a final pass (2450m). From here, it's downhill all the way to Samdrup Jongkhar.

    Unlike western Bhutan, where the road goes over passes between one valley and the next, the road here follows ridges almost the whole way and is marked throughout with stone chortens. A long climb, with the road switching from left to right, across the spine of the ridge, leads to the high point at 2450 metres and then down through 2 small settlements to a point where we can safely say that there is no more uphill. The road descends rapidly to the plain through a dense tropical forest with an abundance of teak and bamboo. We re-group at the village of Diwathang where there is a large memorial chorten dedicated to those who lost their lives building the road across Bhutan. A relatively short distance beyond the village lies the Bhutanese frontier check-post and beyond that, at the precise point where the mountains and the plains meet, is the small frontier town of Samdrup Jongkhar. We cycle to the border gate for photos and then return to our hotel in town. We re-pack our bikes for the journey home and have dinner. A small celebration will certainly be in order as you will be one of only a tiny handful of people who have completed what is arguably the most beautiful and challenging bike ride in the world.

    • Accommodation Hotel

    • Ascent 1150m

    • Distance 95km

    • gps data View now

    • Meals bld

    • Descent 3200m

    • Time 6 - 7 hrs cycling

  • Drive to Gauhati Airport in India. Fly to Delhi, day rooms at an airport hotel. Depart Delhi.

    This morning we drive for 3 hours to Gauhati, the capital of Assam, where we go straight to the airport to check in for the flight to Delhi. Making use of day rooms at our hotel close to the airport, there should be time for a shower and a final dinner in Delhi before transferring to the international airport to check in for our homeward flight. KE Land Only services end on arrival at Delhi Airport.

    • Meals bd

Holiday Information

  • A KE biking leader
  • Delhi Airport transfers (on Day 1 and Day 12 of the Land Only itinerary)
  • Internal flights and all land transport as detailed in the itinerary
  • Support vehicles and drivers throughout the time that the group spends in Bhutan
  • All accommodation as detailed in the trip dossier
  • All meals included

  • Travel insurance
  • Indian and Bhutan Visas
  • Delhi Airport transfers (other than on Day 1 and Day 12 of the Land Only itinerary)
  • Tips for local support crew
  • Departure taxes
  • Miscellaneous expenses - drinks and souvenirs etc
  • Bike Carriage on the flights - please check with the airlines for charges

For each holiday there is a minimum number of participants required to enable it to go ahead. Once the minimum number is reached, the trip status will change from 'Available' to 'Guaranteed to run'. You can check the trip status for each departure in ‘Dates and Prices’ table. Other than in exceptional circumstances, we will not cancel a trip once it has achieved this guaranteed to run status and so you are free to proceed with your international flight booking and other travel arrangements.

The majority of clients will arrive in Delhi on the British Airways flight, which arrives in the morning. Airport transfers are provided for all flights arriving in Delhi on Day 1 of the Land Only itinerary. Transfers back to Delhi Airport are also provided on the evening of Day 12 of the Land Only itinerary. A representative of our local agent will assist with these transfers from and back to Delhi Airport.

On arrival in Delhi we stay in a tourist class hotel near to the airport. On our return to Delhi at the end of the trip, the group will have time for an evening meal in a restaurant before transferring to the international airport. Although no overnight hotel is included on this last night we make use of a couple of day rooms to allow us to shower and change ahead of our homeward flight. We use the best available standard of hotel and lodge accommodation during our time in Bhutan and there are one/two nights where we will probably have to camp. All accommodation is allocated on a twin-sharing basis. If you are travelling by yourself you will be paired up with another single client of the same sex. It is possible to hire a single tent for the camping nights, at additional cost (please note that single tent hire does not include single rooms in hotels). Depending on availability, it should also be possible to book a single room for the hotel night in Delhi and for the hotels and lodges in Bhutan. For additional hotel prices and single supplement costs please refer to the dates and prices page of the trip on our website.

View the gallery below for images of the style of accommodation used

Typically the food in Bhutan is not very spicy though the Bhutanese do themselves eat a lot of chillies both raw and cooked. The hotels and lodges that we use generally offer a range of dishes including those designed for the Western palette.

All meals are included except lunch and dinner on Day 1 of the Land Only itinerary and lunch on Day 12.

Approximately £150 (or the equivalent in US$ or euros) should be allowed for miscellaneous expenses including the 3 meals that you might have to purchase directly. We recommend that you carry your travel money in the form of cash, since you will exchange the majority of this on the day of your arrival (into Indian rupees in Delhi and Bhutanese Ngultrum at Paro Airport). Sterling and US$ are equally acceptable in both India and Bhutan. It is possible to withdraw cash (rupees only) from cash machines in certain banks in Delhi using credit and debit cards. The Bhutanese Ngultrum is tied to the value of the Indian rupee and Indian rupees are an accepted currency throughout Bhutan. We recommend that you get your Indian rupees in 100 rupee notes, as 500 rupee notes are not accepted in many places in Bhutan. You should allow approximately £50 for tips to the local staff. If you are intending to buy expensive souvenirs, you should budget accordingly (credit cards can be useful in this respect). Also, if you expect to buy considerable quantities of soft drinks or beer, you should make an allowance for this.

This holiday will be led by a KE biking leader. In addition, when in Bhutan, the group will be accompanied by a Bhutanese tour guide, one or more support vehicles and drivers and a camp crew.

Tipping is the accepted way of saying ‘thank you’ for good service. Tips do not form part of the wages of your support crew but they are very much appreciated. It is important to remember that tipping is voluntary and should be dependent on good service. Normally the tips are given at the end of the trip and this is best done as a group. Your group leader will give you help and advice on this. Most groups will give the tips with a bit of ceremony (or sometimes a party) on the last evening, to mark the end of the trip. As a guide, we recommend that each group member contribute around £50 to these tips. At the end of a trip many people also like to donate various items of their equipment to their crew, who work so hard to make the trip a success. Fleeces, gloves, hats, scarves and even socks (clean of course) are always warmly received by the crew.

Taking a bike on an aircraft is usually straightforward. Different airlines have differing policies with regard to baggage allowances and transporting bikes. We advise you to visit the website of your chosen airline and check out their baggage allowances before purchasing your air ticket. Take account of the weight and dimensions of your intended check-in baggage in advance of your arrival at the airport, since airlines can charge for both excess and oversize baggage, or refuse to carry oversized baggage. With regard to the flight from Delhi to Paro, the check-in baggage allowance is 20kg, with an excess baggage charge of approximately $3.50 per kilo. For this flight, we do try to get an extra allowance with the airline, Druk Air, but this is not guaranteed and if you are over the 20kg you may need to pay the excess. For the flight back to Delhi from Gauhati, the check-in baggage allowance is 15kg (in common with most internal flights within India) and the excess baggage charge is approximately $5 per kilo. If you are travelling with your own bike, we recommend that you pack sensibly ahead of this flight to reduce the weight of your check-in baggage. Consider wearing some of your heavier items of clothing and put your bike shoes and pedals (not tools) in your hand luggage, for example. Any additional charges incurred for transporting your bike on any of the flights required for this adventure are the responsibility of each individual client.

This is a SEMI-SLICK adventure. You can use a mid-level mountain bike, such as a Specialized Rockhopper Pro or a Trek 6500 Disc, equipped with suspension forks and semi-slick tyres. Or, you can use a cyclocross bike. If you are proposing to use a cyclocross bike you should ensure that is has a compact chainset, wide ratio cassette, cyclocross-specific wheels and 700x30/35c touring/cross tyres. Please call us if you are unsure about the suitability of your current bike. We cannot stress enough the importance of ensuring that your bike is in perfect working condition before you start this trip. You are depending on your bike to transport you throughout your trip, across demanding terrain. It is VITAL to ensure it is THOROUGHLY SERVICED to guarantee it is in good mechanical order before departure. If you are not mechanically minded, get your local bike mechanic to service it for you. For home mechanics, points to note particularly are:

a) Check rims and if they are worn / cracked / dented replace with a new rim / wheel to avoid wheel failure. It is especially important to check that the rims on rim-braked bikes are not worn concave by the brake blocks – replace them if they are.

b) Check wheels are true and spoke tension is tight.

c) Check and, if required, adjust / grease ALL bearings and quick release skewers.

d) Check and, if required, replace brake and gear cables.

e) Check disc / brake pads, mounts and cables / hydraulic lines - replace if necessary.

f) Check - lube / threadlock and tighten - all bolts (esp. suspension pivots, bottom brackets, disc rotor bolts and disc mount bolts).

g) Check chain, cassette and chain rings for wear – replace as necessary.

h) Make sure you have the right tyres, inner tubes and BIKE SPECIFIC SPARES for your bike.

Whilst not essential, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out at least some basic repairs to your bike e.g. fixing a puncture, changing an inner tube. Naturally our bike guides will always be happy to assist with any repairs, but due to the often remote nature of our trips, being able to carry out a simple repair can save time and the inconvenience of waiting for assistance.

Travelling with a bike is usually as straightforward as travelling with any other type of baggage -providing you have packed it adequately. We have many years experience of travelling with our bikes, and nowadays we think that the best way to travel and fly with a bike is to partially dismantle it and put it into a purpose made soft bike bag. Although more expensive than a cardboard bike box, they are smaller in size to transport and are considerably easier to handle. To pack your bike you simply remove both wheels and pedals and prepare it for travel as follows. Obviously, extra care when packing your bike can minimise the chances of accidental damage occurring in transit. Ask your local bike store for plastic wheel hub protectors (which will prevent damage to your bike bag) and plastic fork and frame spacers, insert the spacers into the dropouts, tape them in place and then put extra padding over this area. Use pipe insulation lagging (from your local DIY store) to cover frame tubes, forks and seat post. If required, remove your bars from the stem and attach them carefully to your frame/forks using plastic ties or pvc tape -ensure that your Ergo/Sti levers are well padded to minimise the chance of damage. You may also wish to remove your rear gear mech, pad it with foam and tape it to the chainstay out of harms way. Finally, you should partly deflate your tyres, but leave some air in them to help absorb any impact on the wheels. Don’t forget to pack wheel skewers, pedals and any bolts you have removed, these are the items that tend to get left behind. Finally, find an old cardboard bike box and cut out panels to fit inside your soft bike bag for extra protection. Don’t forget to bring sufficient packing materials to pack your bike on the way home.

PLEASE DO NOT USE a purpose-made rigid bike box -these are heavy (which can put you over your baggage allowance) and are also too bulky to be easily stored or transported on the group’s support vehicle.

Throughout this trip we have the back up of one or more support vehicles. Each morning our main baggage will be loaded onto the support vehicle which will follow the group on the day's ride. The local biking leader and the support vehicle driver will watch over the group and will carry mobile phones, allowing you to contact them in the case of a breakdown or other incident. We want everyone to enjoy their cycling experience on this trip and we recognise the importance of group members being allowed to cycle at their own pace. So, although the group will become split up at times, we have regular stops to ensure that it's never long before we regroup. The support vehicle will pick up any group members who wish to take a break from cycling at any time.

One option is that you take your own bike on this holiday. After all, it is the bike you know best. However, you can also hire a bike locally. Our local agent can provide imported Trek 4300 Disc bikes with Shimano Acera components, Hayes Dyno Sport hydraulic disc brakes, Suntour 100mm front suspension and Bontrager wheels and tyres. They are available in a range of frame sizes – 16.5, 17.5, 18.5 and 19.5 inches. Bikes can be reserved, subject to availability, at a cost of $200 (April 2014 – subject to change) for the duration of the holiday. This cost will be paid locally and can only be paid for in US$ cash. The cost will not cover you if you lose the bike or damage it beyond 'fair wear and tear'. You may need to leave credit card details as security when you pick up the bike. If you want to hire a bike, please contact the KE office and we can reserve one on your behalf. We must stress that your hire contract will be with the local hire company and that KE cannot be held responsible for any issues arising from bike hire. If you do hire a bike, we recommend that you take your own shoes, pedals and possibly even your saddle, which will go a long way towards making it feel like your own bike. You will also need to take your own helmet, which must be worn at all times when riding.

All KE clients will receive a FREE KE trek bag.  These have been specially made to stand up to the rigours of adventure travel.  Your KE bag will be posted to you when your trip is guaranteed to run or on receipt of your booking if the trip is already guaranteed.  If you have travelled with us before and already have a KE trek bag you can select an alternative free gift in the booking process.

This holiday involves going to high altitude. During the course of your trip you will reach altitudes in excess of 3500 metres. This is not something that you should worry about; the human body is quite capable of adapting to a very wide range of altitudes, but it is important that we follow some simple rules in order to acclimatise successfully. Before coming on this holiday you should read the advice on trekking at high altitude on our website which can be viewed via the link below. You can also talk to one of our trekking experts if you have any concerns about altitude.

All nationalities need a passport with a validity of at least 6 months at the time of entry into Bhutan. You will also require visas for Bhutan and India.

Bhutan Visa

KE will make all the arrangements to obtain your Bhutan visa. The cost of a Bhutanese visa is currently $40 US Dollars and this fee will appear on your final invoice. Bhutan visa numbers will be automatically relayed to the Druk Air offices in the airport(s) where group members will be meeting their Druk Air flights. Without a visa number it is impossible to board a Druk Air flight. The actual visa is issued on arrival at Paro Airport. Due to the ever-changing nature of visa regulations, we recommend that everybody take with them at least 4 passport photos, should they be required on entering the country.

Important notes

We are required to send through to our agents in Bhutan, a list of all of the members of the group, giving names, date of birth, nationalities, passport numbers, place and date of issue of passports, home addresses, and occupations. We will also require a copy of the information page of your passport to be sent to us, please note that a colour scan will suffice. We will require all this information no later than 6 weeks prior to departure.

When entering or exiting Bhutan overland through the border towns of Phuntsholing and Samdrup Jongkhar, all visitors (with the exception of diplomatic passport holders) will have their fingerprints and face recorded by the Bhutan Department of Immigration.



All nationalities need to obtain a visa for entry into India. You must have a machine-readable passport with at least 6 months validity at the time of your arrival in India and your passport must have at least two blank pages.


VISA e-Tourist Visa Application

If you require a Single-Entry visa for a visit of up to 30 days, we recommend that you use the e-Tourist Visa Application process which has been available to UK nationals since 15 August, 2015. You should make your application at

Most nationalities, including travellers from the UK, USA and many European countries can apply for their Indian Visa online through the e-Tourist Visa system.

The e-Tourist Visa is valid for entry through 16 designated Airports: Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bengaluru, Chennai, Cochin, Delhi, Gaya, Goa, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Lucknow, Mumbai, Tiruchirapalli, Trivandrum, Varanasi.

This visa is cheaper than the Regular Indian Visa and does not require that you send your passport to your nearest India Visa Application Centre (IVAC).

Please note: If you travel on an e-Tourist Visa, your passport will be stamped and your biometric data (fingerprinting and retinal scan) will be processed on arrival in India.

You must make your application a minimum of 4 days before your arrival and a maximum of 30 days before your arrival in India. You must also remember to print a copy of the e-Tourist Visa and take it with you to India for processing on arrival.

The validity of the e-Tourist Visa is 30 days from the date of arrival in India.

The e-Tourist Visa fee is $60.

Instructions for making the application are provided at the above link, including details and specifications of the passport and passport photo scans that you need to provide.


Filling out the application form
Where you are asked to state ‘Places to be visited in India’, please write “Delhi” or the port of entry as the destination you are travelling to in India. Please do not mention any restricted areas such as Sikkim or Ladakh as this may result in delays to the issue of your visa. Answer ‘no’ to the question about visiting Sikkim. Note that when applying online, most of the questions have ‘required fields’ (denoted by a red asterisk). This means that you will not be allowed to submit the form without filling in these fields. If the question is not applicable to you, please type ‘NA’ into these fields.

For ‘Sponsor’ use KE Adventure Travel; first UK referee use KE Adventure Travel; Second UK referee use a friend or relative. For the first Indian referee please use the name and address of our Ground Agent as listed on your Booking Confirmation. For ‘address in India’ and also for second referee in India, please use the name and address of the group hotel as listed on your Booking Confirmation.

If you need help with your e-Tourist Visa Application
A visa processing company such as Travcour can help with your application. Travcour charge £20 to process your application and a further £9 (for postage) if you want them also to handle the scanning of your passport and photo.

We do keep our information up to date but be advised visa requirements and charges are subject to change.

The following is a basic checklist to help you with your packing. We recommend using the layering principle of clothing for predominantly cool climatic conditions and cold evenings. Good padded cycling shorts are essential.


  • Your bike MUST be at least a mid level Mountain Bike such as a Specialized Rockhopper Pro or a Trek 6500 Disc. Front suspension is recommended but not essential. It is vital that your bike is THOROUGHLY SERVICED and in perfect working condition before the trip.




  • Stiff-soled cycling shoes or SPD’s
  • Neoprene over shoes for extra warmth


  • Base-layer - short sleeve cycling top (x 2)
  • Mid-layer - long sleeved cycling top (x 2)
  • Outer layer - lightweight waterproof jacket
  • Warm Fleece jacket or jumper
  • Down Jacket (for evenings)

Daypack and contents

A cycling daypack (e.g. Camelbak) of at least 20 litres total capacity is recommended

  • Water bladder - min. 2 litres
  • Lightweight waterproof top
  • Multi-tool
  • Puncture repair kit
  • Inner tube
  • Pump
  • Camera
  • Sun cream (inc total bloc for lips/nose)
  • Small roll of gaffer tape
  • Warm Fleece Jacket or Jumper
  • Lightweight loose trousers to wear over shorts for modesty
  • Basic First Aid Kit. Including: antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, diarrhoea treatment (Imodium), painkillers, plasters and blister treatment, Insect repellent, and re-hydration salts (Dioralite).
  • Hands

    • Regular biking gloves
    • Winter biking gloves or warm over-gloves


    • Padded cycling shorts (x 2)
    • Warm Cycling tights or tracksters


    • Eyewear - Biking glasses
    • Cycling helmet – mandatory
    • Fleece headband
    • Buff

    Trek Bag Contents

    Travel and post biking clothes for predominantly cold conditions

  • Training/Leisure shoes for après biking
  • Wash bag, towel, toiletries, including anti-bacterial handwash
  • Warm hat
  • Insect repellent (75 - 100% DEET)
  • Small padlock (to lock trek bag)
  • Sleeping bag liner (optional)
  • Headtorch/Headlamp
  • Mattresses are provided for the 2 nights camping on this trip, along with a sleeping bag, blankets and pillows. As there are always concerns with excess weight on the internal flights, you do not need to bring a sleeping bag for the camping. We do suggest that you bring a lightweight sleeping bag liner.

    Please note: If you are hiring a bike you do not need to bring spares – just a pump, repair kit and a couple of standard 26 x 2 inch inner tubes with Presta valves.

    • You should bring the following with you as a minimum. Whilst not essential, it is a good idea that you familiarise yourself with how to carry out at least some basic repairs e.g. fixing a puncture, changing an inner tube. Naturally the bike guide will always be happy to assist with any repairs, but due to the often remote nature of our trips, being able to carry out a simple repair can save time and inconvenience waiting for assistance.


    • You will need fast rolling semi-slick or even slick tyres suitable for mostly dry tarmac conditions. Since the roads are rough in places, we suggest that you don’t opt for a very low volume tyre. Something around 1.9 inches in diameter will work well and provide a measure of comfort.
    • Pump
    • Plastic tyre levers
    • Small tube of grease
    • 1 rear brake cable
    • 1 rear gear cable
    • Spare set of brake blocks / disc pads (front and rear)
    • 2 spare spokes for front and rear wheels
    • Spoke key
    • 3 x inner tubes Spare chain links
    • Liquid chain lube (bottle not aerosol)
    • Multi-tool with Allen keys
    • Chain link extractor (if not on multi-tool)
    • 2 x puncture repair kits
    • A rag and brush for cleaning bike and drive train.
    • Spares specific to your bike **

    KE tools and spares

    • On all of our trips we carry a toolkit and a basic range of spares for emergencies. As bikes become increasingly part specific it is impossible to carry a comprehensive range of spares compatible with all makes and models of bike. ** Please ensure you bring any bike-specific spares, which might be needed - such as disc brake bleed kits (and appropriate fluid), shock pumps etc.

    Energy Gels/Sports Drinks/Power Bars

    • Our back up vehicle will carry ample supplies of water, snacks and lunches but if you like a particular energy gel, sports drink or power bar we suggest you bring a selection of your preferred choice along. 

    A passport with 6 months remaining validity at the end of your stay is generally required. The information that we provide is for UK passport holders. Please check the relevant embassy or consulate for other nationalities. It is your responsibility to ensure that you have the correct travel documents and visas for your holiday. Visa requirements and charges are subject to change without notice. If you are travelling outside the EU you should have at least 2 blank pages in your passport.

    We recommend you check if you require an adaptor for your electrical items at:

    The better conditioned you are the more you will enjoy your trip. We suggest that you adopt a sensible weekly exercise regime and fit in a number of long cycle rides in hilly country to ensure you are physically capable of taking part in this trip - this will also provide you with an opportunity to make sure all your riding kit is tried and tested before you travel. Cycling is obviously the best activity to prepare for this trip, however, running, squash and swimming are also good for developing aerobic fitness and stamina.

    As a reputable tour operator, KE supports the British Foreign & Commonwealth Offices ‘Know before you go’ campaign to enable British citizens to prepare for their journeys overseas, and we recommend that all KE travellers take a look at the FCO Travel Advice for their chosen destination on the official FCO website: North Americans can also check out the U.S. Department of State website: for essential travel advice and tips.

    KE treat the safety and security of all clients as the most important aspect of any trip we organise. We would not run any trip that we did not consider reasonably safe.  Should the FCO advise against travel for any reason, we will contact everyone booked to travel to discuss the situation.  We receive regular updates direct from the FCO and are in constant touch with our contacts on the ground.  If you have any questions about government travel advice, please call our office.

    In general the climate of Bhutan is colder and damper than one would expect to find in the Himalaya of India or Nepal. The monsoon usually arrives in June, and lasts until the end of September, bringing with it the heavy rainfall, which is responsible for the lush vegetation, which carpets much of Bhutan. May, October and November are the best months to visit Bhutan. The dates of this trip have been chosen to take advantage of the narrow window between the monsoon and the onset of the winter snows, which can make the crossing of the high passes impossible. We can expect changeable weather clear, cool and sunny with occasional snow or rain. As with any mountainous area, weather prediction is notoriously difficult and weather patterns can be very localised. We can expect daytime maximum temperatures of between 15 and 20 degrees Centigrade at altitudes of around 2000 metres. Crossing the higher passes we may encounter temperatures around freezing, or even below. At night-time, the temperature will drop to freezing or just above.

    Bhutan, (Lonely Planet Guide). Stan Armington Bhutan, Land of the Thunder Dragon. Owen Edmunds

    Bhutan Himalaya. 1:380 000. ITMB Publishing

    Indexed general road map with street plans of Thimpu and Paro.

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