Bhutan – An epic motorcycle adventure tour
The following day there was a mist hanging in the air. As we made our way up the endless winding roads in our rain gear – a welcome change after the hot riding in India – the architecture, atmosphere and mystery of Bhutan began to reveal itself.
After a toasty night’s sleep, we awoke early in anticipation of the long walk ahead to Tigers Nest. This is one of Bhutan’s most famous sights, with an amazing structure clinging to the steep rock face. It was a short ride to get to the base of the climb and from there we take our time to get to the top. We’re completely in awe of the view and even had a guided tour of the beautiful monastery. We got down in time for lunch among the pine trees – a picnic of sorts – before heading into Paro for a wander and some shopping. Asparagus was absolutely everywhere along with dried apple, pears and the hardest cheese we have ever
tasted! From Paro the road was stunning, following valley rivers to Thimpu the capital city and passing ancient bridges through high pine clad Himalayan foothills. On arrival in Thimpu we had a little time to explore and found a local archery range using bow and arrows to hit a small target well over 100 m away! We also found a football pitch with the finest main stand. We hit the bar for a well earned drink.q
After completing some formalities in Thimpu in the morning, we refuelled and rode round the town to get a view of the Kings Palace and Parliament. Then we head to the hills over a 3,150m pass with 108 stupas on the top and far reaching views down the valley. It wasn’t completely clear so the snow capped peaks remained elusive, shrouded in clouds. The road down from there was awesome. Sweeping corners winding through the Royal Botanical Forest – a national park of pristine woods all the way down to the rivers at the bottom at 1,100 m. We arrived at Punakha, rode through the small town and were met with the magical site of the Dzong or fortress.
A short ride the following day over some bumpy roads led us to the Bumthang valley. It was like riding through Switzerland with stunning local architecture and picture perfect villages. The local kids came out to see what was going on as we rode through. The road was a single track mountain road through pine forests – great riding after the previous couple of days. We arrived in our home-stay for a luxurious lunch before heading to the hot stone baths for a soak in boiling hot water infused with the wormwood that grows everywhere. After we’d warmed up, we hit the local brewery Red Panda and added the local cheese to our Bhutanese wine (called happiness). The perfect end to the day.
Our final ride in Bhutan was just beautiful. The sky was cloudless as we set out from Tashigang. Straight away we climbed up great roads and there they were – a line of snow capped peaks on the horizon – what an incredible sight. Those peaks are the highest unclimbed peaks on the planet and it felt like the roof of the world. We found a vantage point on a new runway for the airport that is being built and soaked up the view. The roads were perfect for some time, with sweeping bends built for riding. We hit a last stretch of rough road with precipitous drops and a quick dip into the clouds. We were forever descending to the plains which start at the border and stretch into the distance. We dealt with all the formalities after we reach the border town of Samdrup Jongkhar.
Back in India, the number of people on the road instantly grew, the noise increased, horns were used by all, cows and goats littered the roads and chaos prevailed. A final burn along a dual carriage way took us into Guwahati – the capital of Assam. The occasional bus driving the wrong way up the highway was a real welcome back to India and a reminder to keep our wits about us! Guwahati lies on the banks of the great Brahmaputra river and so we took a boat down the river at sunset, with the full moon almost upon us. We ended an incredible tour with dinner at a local hotspot before flying back to Delhi.