Paro Valley, Bhutan

Cycling in Bhutan

15 days
from
£4,899
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Challenging
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Trip code: 
MIB
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Cycling
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–15

Cycle through Bhutan, one of the most culturally rich Himalayan Kingdoms

Bicycles and Bhutan are a perfect fit. The tiny remote mystical Kingdom of Bhutan is probably the most culturally rich of all the Himalayan Kingdoms and is one of the most inaccessible. Tucked away at the eastern end of the mighty Himalaya, the Land of the Thunder Dragon is a wonderful place for a bike trip with some good paved roads, forests, glacial rivers, wonderful mountain scenery and cultural diversity. The whole country feels serene and is united by its love of the King and GNH (Gross National Happiness) is more important than GNP. This new trip takes us from Paro in the west to Bumthang in central Bhutan. We visit the remote Haa Valley and the capital, Thimpu. Crossing several passes over 3000m, we get wonderful views over the Himalaya. A side trip to the beautiful Gangtey Valley and Punakha Dzong are added highlights as is a visit to one of the masked dance festivals (on certain departures). There are plenty of long mountain climbs and exhilarating descents so a good level of cycling fitness is required.

Highlights

  • Challenging cycling; high mountain passes and long descents
  • Visit the iconic Tiger's Nest Monastery
  • Cycle through spectacular Himalayan scenery
  • Festival departures available

Key information

8 days cycling (including 1 optional ride) with 100% vehicle support

What's included

  • All breakfasts, 11 lunches and 11 dinners
  • All accommodation 
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Local bike hire

What's not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Single supplement 
  • Visas or vaccinations
  • Arrival & departure transfers (available on request)
Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

8

Terrain:

75% tarmac, 25% unpaved roads (some in poor condition)

Day by day breakdown
Day 445.0km/28.0miles
Day 576.0km/47.0miles
Day 615.0km/9.0miles
Day 764.0km/40.0miles
Day 835.0km/22.0miles
Day 980.0km/50.0miles
Day 1065.0km/40.0miles

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Kathmandu
to
Kathmandu
  • Day 1

    Depart London.

    Depart London

  • Day 2

    Arrive Kathmandu.

    Start in Kathmandu and transfer to our hotel. The evening is free to relax.
    Royal Singi Hotel or similar

  • Day 3

    Fly to Paro; easy cycle to National Museum (depending on flight times).

    Today we fly to Paro. The flight is one of the most spectacular mountain flights in the world and takes us over the eastern Himalayas. If the weather is clear, we should get a fantastic view of much of the eastern half of the Himalaya, including Everest, Kanchenjunga and Chomolhari (Jhomolhari). Depending on the flight schedule in the afternoon there should be time for a short and easy cycle ride up to the National Museum before returning to Paro Town. If there is time we can bike further north to the ruins of Drukyel Dzong (14km one way). Alternatively, our guide will arrange a short hike to help us acclimatize to the higher altitude.

    Kuenphen Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 4

    Paro to Haa Valley via the Chelela Pass (3700m).

    Today is the first full day’s ride. To ease ourselves into cycling at altitude we will drive out of Paro to approx. 20km short of the Chele La (La = pass). The road condition is good and the route zig zags uphill to eventually reach the pass (3700m). We will stop at the top to enjoy the wonderful views of the Himalaya; on a clear day it is possible to see Chomolhari and Jichudrake, the two most famous mountains in Bhutan. The ride ends with a well-earned and exhilarating 27km descent down to Haa.

    The Haa Valley is one of the most picturesque in Bhutan. Only opened to foreigners in 2002 it is still rarely visited. The name means ‘Hidden Rice Valley’ and in the pre Buddhist era it was well known for its animist traditions. The valley has its own guardian called Ap Chendu, who is still worshipped. It is culturally rich with temples and a dzong (a dzong is a cross between a monastery and fortress and today they are used for secular and religious activities). Almost every town has a dzong perched in a spectacular location and the one in Haa was built in 1915.



    Cycle approx. 45km, duration 3/4 hours. Ascent 1250m, descent 1040m. 100% good paved road.
    Risum Resort or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 5

    A rolling day of cycling from Haa to Thimphu.

    A long ride today of approximately 76km, which will take between 6-7 hours depending on the pace of the group. The road is paved and starts with an undulating section to Janakha, passing villages and fields of ride, potatoes and chillies. Reaching Chuzom Sa we are at the point where the roads join, between Paro, Haa, Thimphu and south to Phuntsoling. Three beautiful stupas in Nepalese, Tibetan and Bhutanese style lie just above the Pa Chu. Once we reach the river and the main highway the road and traffic becomes much busier, so we will take a van transfer for the final 30km or so to Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan.



    Cycle approx. 76km, duration 5/6 hours. Ascent 400m, descent 700m. 100% paved road, some pot holes.
    Hotel Galingkha or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 6

    Circular ride from Thimphu; free afternoon

    We spend the morning exploring Thimphu by bike. We first head into town and the Memorial Chorten (one of the most visible structures in Thimphu), before pedalling out of town uphill to Buddha Point, a 51m high Buddha statue with great views overlooking the whole of the Thimpu Valley. After a nice downhill back into Thimphu the afternoon is free to explore. The capital city has much to offer; the Postal Museum is an excellent record of the recent development of the country's postal system, and a great place for souvenirs, and the National Textile Museum is the place to learn about Bhutan's living national art of thagzo (weaving). 



    Cycle approx. 15km 1/2 hours. 100% paved, generally good condition. Please note: there can sometimes be disruptions at Buddha Point and if this is the case an alternative ride will be offered for the morning.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 7

    Thimphu to Punakha via the Dochu La (3015m) passing 108 stupas with their prayer flags fluttering in the wind.

    After a short drive out of Thimphu to avoid the morning traffic, we climb today up to the Dochu La at 3015m. The ride starts with a short section of ‘Bhutanese flat’ (i.e. undulating terrain!) as a warm up, and as we enter the forest the climb starts in earnest. Climbing in Bhutan is all about getting into a slow rhythmic pace with time to enjoy the views and stopping for plenty of rests and refreshment breaks. The climb averages 4.8% gradient, so not too steep. Finally we emerge at the top of the pass, where 108 stupas sit, and thousands of prayer flags flutter in the wind. If the weather is good we may get a glimpse of Gankar Punsum (7497m) which is the highest peak in Bhutan. The top of the pass is about 16km into the ride, and the rest of the day is mainly downhill. As we descend the scenery and temperature changes as we enter the more sub-tropical Punakha valley.

    Eventually we come to Punakha with its picturesque dzong. Punakha’s small size defies its importance and long history. For over 300 years until 1951 the dzong in Punakha was used as the government’s winter base due to its lower altitude and warmer weather. The dzong sits at the confluence of the Pho and Mo Rivers and is an imposing building dating from the 15th Century. If time permits, we will visit the Dzong before checking into our accommodation for the night.



    Cycle approx. 64km, duration 5/6 hours. Ascent 800m, descent 1900m. 100% paved road.
    Zangdo Pelri Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 8

    Punakha to the Phobjikha Valley across the Lawala Pass (3030m), visiting the Gangtey Monastery enroute.

    Today is probably the toughest cycling day and the road conditions can be incredibly variable. We will make an early morning visit to the temple of the Divine Madman (Chimi Lhakhang) which was built to honour one of the more folkloric saints of the Bhutanese tradition; Lama Drukpa Kunley. The lama was known for his foul-mouth, alcohol –smelling breath, and insatiable lust towards women, yet he is revered as a great saint by most Bhutanese. It is believed that women who cannot conceive will get pregnant if they are blessed by the wooden phallus in the temple.

    After the temple visit we will begin by driving part way up today’s ascent. The total ascent is 55km and we will attempt to cycle at least 25km of this, but this is very much dependent on the current road and weather conditions. The last few km of the trail are hard work but come with fantastic views across the mountains and thick forested areas. Keep your eyes peeled for langur monkeys and red pandas as you cycle.

    After reaching Lawa La (3030m) the road deteriorates on the descent and the last 11km are on unsealed road. Depending on the light we will attempt to cycle this but please be aware that if it starts to get dark we will need to make the last part of the journey in the van. Our destination for this evening is Gangey in the Phobjikha Valley; a beautiful glacial area where the rare Black-necked Cranes from Tibet spend the winter.



    Cycle approx. 35km, duration 6/7 hours (total van and cycle duration). Ascent 1280m, descent 450m. 30% paved, 70% unpaved road.
    Hotel Dewachen or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 9

    Phobjikha to Pele La (3392m), then a beautiful and long downhill to Trongsa.

    After an early morning visit to the local Dzong, we will start our climb approx. 10km back up to Lawa La, then we descend a little and climb further to the high point of the day: Pele La (3390). This is traditionally the border between Western Bhutan, where we have cycled for the past few days, and Central Bhutan which we now enter. The vegetation changes : first deciduous forest, then Himalayan pine, finally only shrubs. The next 18km is a great winding downhill. We continue on down to Chendebji, where there is a large chorten. We are now in warmer regions, with lush vegetation and waterfalls by the road. At the 66km mark we enter the Mangde Valley where Trongsa sits at the far end. The next 9km is steeper downhill. All along this section the town can be seen in the distance but it seems unreachable! The valley is very narrow with the road cut into steep sided walls with the river far below. It certainly is a dramatic ride. After a stop at a viewpoint where the town and dzong can be seen across the valley we know it is only 10km more to our hotel (the sting in the tail today is that the last 5km are uphill!)

    Please note that the road on this day can be particularly unpredictable. If there have been heavy rains then parts of the road may be unpassable; the leader will determine at what points the group will need to travel in the van and we will attempt to cycle as much as possible.



    Cycle approx. 80km, duration 6/7 hours. Ascent 550m, descent 1190m. 60% unpaved, 40% paved road.
    Tashi Ninjay Guest House or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 10

    Trongsa to Bumthang, over the Yotong La (3425m), with a spectacular view today!

    Another day another pass. Today we have our last pass of the trip and a great sense of satisfaction as we ride into Bumthang and the end of our journey having ridden halfway across the country. Setting out of Trongsa the climbing starts immediately as the road zig zag up into the mountains. It is 26km to the top of the Yotong La at 3425m, the highpoint literally of our trip, from where we have great views of the mountains surrounding us. As Bumthang lies at 2600m it is a great descent from the pass. The first 11km are a fast descent into the Chumay Valley from where the descent eases off and there are even some uphill sections. The final pass of the trip, the Keke La (2700m) is a short 4km climb and from the top it’s all the way down to our hotel in the beautiful Bumthang Valley. For all departures we will endeavour to make a stop enroute at a local festival (either Domkhar, Jakar or Prakhar, subject to road/weather/group conditions).



    Cycle approx. 65km 5/6hours. Ascent 1220m, descent 800m. 80% paved, 20% unpaved road.
    Hotel Dendupling or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 11

    Day in Bumthang. Optional festival visit and/or cycle ride depending on the trip departure date.

    Today we have a whole day to explore the Bumthang valley; either by bike or bus - there are various options.There is also an opportunity to witness one of Bhutan's famous festivals (specific dates only). The spring departures feature Domkhar and Ura and the early autumn departure features the Jakar festival . Festivals in Bhutan are very colourful affairs and are a celebration of the country's greatest Buddhist saint, Guru Rimpoche. Bhutanese come together during festivals to watch various dances such as the black hat dance or the treasure dance which normally have a long history and tradition going back centuries. Most of these are masked dances and the masks themselves have an important significance. Both of these festivals are more intimate and less visited in comparison to those in Paro or Thimpu.


    In the afternoon (and for the non-festival departure), for those that wish to join, we will plan an optional cycle ride to Mebar Tsho (Burning Lake) which is named after the legend of Pema Lingpa who entered the lake with a butter lamp and returned with treasures and holy books, and the lamp still alight. This holy site, with its bright prayer flags, is a pilgrimage place for many Bhutanese. The round trip is approximately 28km, with 100% paved road. There is also a local brewery to visit, which makes the Red Panda Weiss beer.

    Hotel Dendupling or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 12

    Flight to Paro.

    Today we will take an early 25 minute flight to Paro (if possible there will be a visit to the Thangbi festival for that particular departure and the flight will be in the afternoon). There are spectacular views of the Himalayan mountain ranges during the flight (weather dependent). Once we land there will be time to stroll around and have some time to enjoy Paro Town.
    Kuenphen Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 13

    Hike to Tiger's Nest Monastery.

    On our final full day in Bhutan we will enjoy a hike to one of the most iconic of the countries buildings; the Taktsang (or 'Tiger's Nest') Monastery. This spectacular place is perched on the ledge of a cliff high above the Paro Valley and is still today an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists. Partly destroyed by a fire in 1998, it has now been completely restored to its former magnificence. We drive a short distance from the hotel and then hike to the monastery; enjoying the fantastic views as we ascend. After lunch at the café we return to the hotel in Paro. The afternoon is free to relax in our quaint hotel.


    Kuenphen Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
  • Day 14

    Fly to Kathmandu.

    We transfer to the airport to check in for our flight back to Kathmandu. The rest of the day is free for individual sightseeing or shopping. You may want to visit the famous Durbar Square in the heart of the old city. Here is the old Royal Palace, with its intricate woodcarving and four fine towers. Or you may wish to visit the monkey temple at Swayambhunath or take an optional trip to Bhaktapur, the mediaeval city a few miles east of the capital. Bhaktapur has its own Durbar Square with many temples and statues and a maze of narrow streets, which are generally quieter than the capital. Please be aware that due to the recent earthquake some of these places may be closed; your guide will be able to give you more information on what there is to see.
    Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Fly to London.

    End Kathmandu after breakfast. For those on group flights, these depart in the morning and will arrive in the UK the same day.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Bhutan

You will need a visa for Bhutan, which we will organise for you. The cost of the visa is included in the price of the trip (USD20). You will need to send us a clear copy of your passport on booking. We need this in order to organise your Bhutan visa in advance of your arrival. Please make sure that we have a copy no later than 6 weeks before departure. The passport copy can either be sent by post or scanned, in which case it has to be very clear and in colour.
If you need to get a new passport for the journey, please apply for this immediately, and send us the copy/scan as soon as you receive your new passport. It is VERY important that the information you give us is 100% correct, and that the copy of the passport you send us is the one on which you will be travelling to Bhutan.
Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Nepal

Most nationalities require a visa for Nepal, which can be obtained in advance or on entry. If you wish to apply before departure the current visa cost is £20 for a 15 day visa and £35 for a 30 day visa for UK passport holders. The current cost of a visa on arrival is US$25 for 15 days, US$40 for 30 days or if extending your stay $100 for 90 days. All are multiple entry. The visa on arrival fee can be paid for in cash in US Dollars, Pounds Sterling or Euros. You will also need a passport photo. Application forms are available in the immigration hall (or for electronic passports there are visa registration machines which, after inserting your passport, automatically fill out a form for you). You must firstly join the queue to pay the visa fee, and then go to the relevant immigration desk to obtain your 15, 30 or 90 day visa stamp. There can be long queues for visas on arrival.

Non UK nationals should check requirements with their nearest embassy (a few nationalities are not permitted visas on arrival).

Vaccinations

Bhutan

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Nepal

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Typhoid, Hepatitis A.

There is low to no risk of malaria throughout Nepal and antimalarial tablets are not usually advised although may be considered for certain higher risk groups; you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice. The risk is highest in the low lying southern ‘terai’ districts bordering India.

A yellow fever certificate is only required if travelling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission or for travellers having transited for more than 12 hours through a country with risk of transmission.

Dengue fever is a known risk in Nepal. It is a tropical viral disease spread by daytime biting mosquitoes. There is currently no vaccine or prophylaxis available for Dengue, and therefore the best form of prevention is to avoid being bitten. We recommend you take the usual precautions to avoid mosquito bites.

Most of our trips to Nepal go to high altitudes where there is a risk of being affected by Acute Mountain Sickness. Our itineraries are designed to enable everyone to acclimatise to these altitudes, but you should be aware that it is still possible for you to be affected. Please refer to the Altitude Warning within the Trip Notes for further advice on AMS.

Eating and Drinking

Breakfast is included throughout the trip plus 11 lunches and 11 dinners whilst in Bhutan.

The meals in Bhutan are usually buffet style and include Bhutanese and Western food. Bhutanese food can sometimes be considered a little bland - this is generally because chillies are frequently used in traditional dishes, and these are often omitted to adapt to foreigners' tastes. However you will find an assortment of meat, vegetable, rice and potato dishes and many examples of the infamous 'Ema Datshi' (chillies and cheese) so there will be plenty of nutrients for your cycle rides! 

Breakfasts are an assortment of hot food and fruit, and lunches will either be a hot picnic or taken at a nearby restaurant.

Please allow approximately £20-25 ($30-40) per day for other main meals in Kathmandu.

Weather

You will experience a range of temperatures during the trip depending on the altitude. During the day temperatures will be approx 10ºC-20ºC. At night temperatures will drop to about 3ºC-4ºC. Although these departures do not fall inside the normal monsoon season there is always a chance of rain in Bhutan and you should be prepared for this. The weather can be much colder on the high passes and it is important to be prepared with extra layers for this.

Is this trip for you?

This trip is classified: Road

We have made the decision to classify this trip as a 'road' cycling trip. The majority of the cycling is on paved road (75% tarmac and 25% unpaved) but the unpaved roads are often in poor condition and can be heavily affected by weather conditions.

Most of the riding you will experience will be largely on a road shared with other vehicles. 

Road improvements in Bhutan

Please be aware Bhutan is undergoing a general road project to improve and widen the highway from West to East. Whilst there will be works and the occasional delay (in particular between Trongsa and Bumthang) during the months we run this trip, we do not anticipate that any of the roads will be closed to traffic at any time. Bad weather can often affect the roads and cause delays; these will be communicated to you by your leaders and we will attempt to keep any delay to a minimum. Road conditions can be changeable, and it is important to come with an open mind and flexibility when cycling in Bhutan. If the weather has been bad, and parts of the roads are too muddy, the leader will reserve the right to miss out sections and take the van instead. We will avoid doing this as much as possible, but there may be some circumstances where this is the only realistic option.

Activity Level: 5 (Challenging) 8 days cycling, average 57km/day (35 miles), 100% vehicle support.

This is a Challenging bike trip with 8 days cycling (including 1 optional ride). There are 5 passes over 3000m and some of the climbs are long, although the gradients are mostly between 4% and 5%, so making it up the passes is about riding slow and steady. There are plenty of great descents and we have a support vehicle at all times. You will need a good level of cycling fitness to be able to enjoy this tour. The trip starts in Paro, which sits at an altitude of 2195m. There are many days of climbs and descents, and whilst you will not be sleeping at altitude some of the passes are just under 4000m. It is important to take this into consideration when booking on this trip. Each ride is fully vehicle supported so if at any time you struggle with the altitude you can take a break.

Travelling in Bhutan

Travelling in Bhutan is still in its infancy. All foreigners must travel through an official travel agent and be accompanied by a Bhutanese guide. Exodus uses well trained Bhutanese guides, but please be aware that the guides are sometimes restricted in what they are allowed to do and where they are allowed to take you. Bhutan is a beautiful and special place to visit. The daily rate is relatively expensive but a large proportion of this goes to the government in the form of a tax which provides free education and health care for all Bhutanese people. Please do not expect luxury just because a trip to Bhutan is a more expensive destination.

The hotels we use are simple and clean with hot water and attached bathrooms. At times we use small guesthouse-type accommodation which we feel is more representative of the area you are travelling in. Many of the hotels and restaurants we will visit offer a buffet lunch with a mix of Bhutanese and Continental food. Some visitors do find the food a little bland; please ask your leader if you would like to try other food and they can try and accommodate your wishes.

Tiger's Nest Hike

This half-day hike (approx. 9km) is up to an elevation of just over 3000 metres. The total ascent is around 1000m. The path is good, but when it is/has been wet it can get slippy; good walking shoes are recommended (i.e. with good grip). 

Bhutan’s Festivals

Tibetan Buddhism is the religion practised by most of the people in Bhutan. This religion puts emphasis on the role of teachers or ‘lamas’ and the importance of ritual, and is imbued with a rich visual symbolism which is clearly seen at festivals. The main religious festivals are known as ‘Tsechus’ and many of the major monasteries throughout Bhutan have their own annual Tsechu. They are held in honour of the Guru Rinpoche, generally accepted as the great teacher who brought Buddhism to Bhutan, and they typically last for 3 to 5 days. Each of the Tsechus includes a number of dances involving large numbers of participants dressed in ornate silk costumes. Each dance has a special significance and some are intended to give moral instruction, others are designed to drive away evil spirits, while others simply celebrate the Buddhist faith in its many guises. Each departure of this itinerary will visit a different festival and try and take in as much of the local festivities as possible. See the detailed itinerary for more information.

Leaders In 2018 

Valerie Parkinson, our Himalaya expert, will co-lead the 17th April 2018 (Ex London) departure alongside a Bhutanese leader. Valerie was the first British woman to climb Manaslu (8,163) without the use of supplementary oxygen, and attempted Everest in spring 2009 reaching the south summit. She has a wealth of both trekking and cycling knowledge of the area. Spaces are limited so if you would like to travel with Valerie please ensure you book early.

Smoking

Please note that smoking is technically banned in Bhutan. Tourists are permitted to smoke in certain designated areas but must bring their own cigarettes (up to 200 cigarettes). They must, however, pay duty on any tobacco product they import (up to 200% tax). Smoking in a public place can result in a fine as long you have proof of having paid the duty. If no proof of having paid the duty can be produced then there is the risk of a minimum 3 years imprisonment.

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels & Guesthouses

13 nights tourist class hotels and guesthouses, all accommodation is en suite. The hotels are simple, local style hotels. All rooms have attached bathrooms and the rooms have heaters. All food is included at the hotels and local restaurants and is usually buffet style – it is simple and a mixture of Bhutanese, continental and Chinese.

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
0208 772 3936
Call for tailormade trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed November 2017
    Richard Christie

    Bhutan - a cycle to savour

    Great cycling through the beautiful Bhutanese countryside on quiet roads - both wide and narrow. Some ups, some undulations and some superb descents. Despite the advent of technological ‘innovation’ such as mobile phones and Wi-Fi, Bhutan still retains the quiet serenity I remember from my first visit 14 years ago. Interspersed with the cycling there are opportunities to experience some fantastic Dzongs (temples), wonder at superb views and marvel at the colourful festival dancing.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There were many moments which will stay with me for a while: reaching the top of the Chele la (pass); walking round the immense Buddha statue on the hill overlooking Thimpu; the visit to the very impressive Punakha Dzong; the cycle out from the Gangtey Valley - site of the most memorable hotel on the trip; visiting the festival dancing at Chhumey; the cycle back from Chhumey to Bumthang. Not forgetting the walk up to the Tigers Nest!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our Bhutanese guide Sangay Dorji was excellent, demonstrating his immense knowledge of Bhutanese culture & history and ensuring we got the most of the trip. Being the first running of this trip he was assisted by additional staff from India, including Tapesh Choubisa as our cycling guide and Rajesh Razdan as head bike mechanic who were also very good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Do read the Trip Notes! As they indicate you cycle over some high passes and you need to be a bit flexible regarding where the cycling starts and ends each day to take account of the ongoing road improvements across the country and weather conditions. For example one of our days was cut short whilst we waited for a landslide to be cleared.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This is not a cheap trip thanks to the cost of spending any time in Bhutan however the benefit is quiet roads, fantastic views and meeting wonderful friendly people along the way. Don’t delay going too long. On the plus side the local beer in Bhutan is half the price of beer in Kathmandu!

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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