Bhutan Sports Festival Itinerary
Duration: 6 Nights, 7 Days
Location: Paro - Tiger Nest / beautiful city of Thimphu, Punakha & Phobjikha Valley
The mystical Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan, the land of happiness, is a land of high mountains, deep valleys, picturesque villages and roaring rivers, and who’s King ruled by a concept of ‘Gross National Happiness’. Your 25K or 50K trail running or mountain biking event through this, Buddhist-cultural-wonder, is a rare opportunity to race in an environmentally protected region while surrounded by prayer flags, chortens and remote villages. All on a user-friendly course in the only country on the planet that is carbon-negative. Post race you’ll experience a traditional Bhutanese culture festival overlooking the pristine Valley. Trail runners and mountain bikers of all abilities welcome
From Organizer – Bhutan Sports Festival
Route and Conditions for both:
International Ultra running and Trail Running: 25K & 50K
International Mountain Biking: 25K & 50K
Overview: Both the 25K and the 50K start and finish in the village of Gangtey, at the north end of the Phobjikha Valley. This Valley lies on the west side of the Black Mountains which separate western and central Bhutan. The entire Valley is enclosed by several ranges and is bisected by the Nake Chuu and Phag Chuu rivers. The Valley floor is carpeted with a special variety of dwarf bamboo which is the prime diet of the protected Black-Necked Crane.
Both events will start together, with the 25K riders looping back toward the start point prior to the 50K riders. Both courses are predominantly on single track, double track or fire-roads. Conditions on the course should be quite ridable.
Elevation: The general elevation in the valley is 3000m or 9800 ft. Since the course loops around the perimeter of the valley it rises and falls intermittently due to terrain changes, yet there are no major extended climbs or descents on either route.
Weather: Though the course is mostly on hard pack dirt with some rocks as well as uneven terrain, the conditions can change up based on the weather. Average rainfall in this area this time of year is minimal, though it is possible to get some rain showers which can dramatically change up the surface conditions. Average daily temperatures this time of year are approximately 60F (15C). Temperatures early morning and at night will drop down to around 40-50F (~10C).
Villages and Culture: The entire race is in rural to remote Bhutan and intermittently dotted with villages. A village can constitute a couple to several homes. The homes in Phobjikha Valley are traditional Bhutanese homes and most of its inhabitants are farmers. The start and finish area is near the Gangtey Gonpa or monastery.
Cut-off Time: The cut off time for both events is 9 hours from race start.
Aid Stations: Aid stations are located approximately every 10-16k (6-10 miles) apart. Aid stations will feature bottled water, bananas and other products that will be disclosed prior to the race. There will be marker signs at each aid station designating your current run distance.
Runners are required to have their own means to carry water and food in between aid stations. You will be running through environmentally protected areas. Please pack out all your trash or dispose of it at an aid station.
Toilets: We will let you know at the pre race briefing the location of toilet facilities on the route. We highly recommend you bring some toilet paper with you on the course. You will be running through environmentally protected areas. Please pack out all your trash or dispose of it at an aid station.
Medical: Medical personnel will be available at the finish line or in a roving vehicle. We will have some medical supplies at select points along the course.
Timing: There will be undisclosed check points along the route where your location will be monitored. All runners must pass through all check points. All race results will be posted on the race website after the event is complete.
All necessary updates we’ll be shared before the events and our arrival to Bhutan as the event draws near so that you can make appropriate gear choices.
Day 1: Arrival to Paro & ThimphuOn arrival at Paro Airport and after completing your Visa / Permit formalities you will be received by our representative who will assist you in boarding your vehicle for transfer to Thimphu (2320Mts / 7656Fts, 65 KMs / 01½ to 02 Hrs), Thimphu is the capital town of Bhutan.
Tamchoe lhakhang : Your first stop; stretch your legs and arms and breathe fresh air and walk down to bridge. Visit Tamchoe monastery at other side of the river crossing the new bridge (where you can also have a look of traditional Iron chained bridge, scenic river view)
Afternoon activity at Thimphu:Bhutan Post museum: to get personalized Bhutanese postage stamps with your photo on them. You can bring along your favorite photo to put on the stamps and put these stamps on your postcard to send to your family and friends. Natioinal Memorial Chorten: consecrated on July 28, 1974, in memory of the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck which you come across with busy devotees’ especially elderly generation in circumambulation.
Buddha Point (Kuenselphodrang Nature Park): (the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma, Vajra Throne Buddha & Largest Sitting Buddha Statue,) to view a spectacular and beautiful night view of Thimphu city & visit around town.<br Tashichhodzong (Thimphu Dzong): The “fortress of the glorious religion” was initially constructed in 1641 and restored by the Third King Jigme Dorji Wangchuck in the 1960s. Tashichhodzong houses some ministries, His Majesty’s secretariat, and the central monk body.
Weekday 05:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Weekend 09:00 AM - 06:00 PM
Winter 4:00 PM - 06:00 PM
Evening Shop and walk around Thimphu town. Overnight Stay at hotel in Thimphu
Day2: Thimphu –Punakha
With early breakfast today, we will drive to Punakha along national high way, brief stop at Dochula Pass (3050 m), the 108 chortens that was build by present queen mother of Bhutan. You can enjoy the spectacular views of the Eastern Himalayan Mountain range. Take a walk around the 108 stupas & continue journey to Punakha for another 1½ hours.
Chhimi Lhakhang: On your way stop for lunch at Metsina village and then visit Devine Madman’s temple which is located at a hilltop. The temple is known as ‘the temple of fertility’.
Visit Punakha Dzong: a magnificent structure build upon the confluence of two major rivers in Bhutan (the Pho Chhu and Mo Chhu). The Dzong was build in 1637 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal to serve as the religious and administrative seat of the region. It continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. Punakha Dzong was destroyed by fire and glacial floods over the years but has been carefully restored and is, today, a fine example of Bhutanese craftsmanship.
Pho-Chhu Suspension Bridge: Visit 160metres long Pho Chhu suspension bridge, the longest of its kind in Bhutan connecting the Punakha Dzong with the villages on the other bank of the Pho Chhu (male) river.
Overnight at the Hotel in Punakha
DAY 03: Punakha – Gangtey
As it’s mandatory for all runners to be in Ganagtey the day prior to the race, for Pre-race packets pick up and race briefings. After the breakfast we will drive and pass through dense forests and oak, rhododendron tress, reach Gangtey or Phobjikha valley the winter home of the Black necked crane (Grus Nigricollis) and also attraction to tourist for its scenic beauty and cultural significance.
The Valley of Phobjikha (3,000 m) is well known as the winter home of the Black necked crane (Grus Nigricollis). Bhutan is home to around six hundred black necked cranes with Phobjikha being one of the popular places that the birds migrate to in the winter months from the Tibetan plateau. The elegant and shy birds can be observed from early November to end of March.
Gangtey Goempa: Overlooking the Phobjikha valley is the Gangtey Goempa. This is an old monastery that dates back to 17th century. The largest Nyingma monastery in western Bhutan, it was founded in 1613 by Gyalse Pema Thinlay.
Black-Necked Crane Information Centre: The centre is equipped with educational and recreational programs. Educational programs include displays and the videos that introduce the valley, the social culture setting, and natural resources and ecological significance pertaining primarily to the wetland and vulnerable black-necked cranes. It also provides educational activities for visiting student groups
Briefing for the Bhutan Sports Festival: Packet pick up and pre-race briefing in Gangtey.
Day 04: Gangtey
All events will be staged in the village of Gangtey at the north end of the Valley with the start/finish area of each race near the Gangtey Gonpa, or monastery. All event courses are run through remote to rural Bhutan with small intermittent farming villages dotted with traditional Bhutanese homes. The entire Valley is enclosed by several mountain ranges and since it is bisected by the Nake Chuu and Phag Chuu rivers, the Valley floor is ripe with a special variety of dwarf bamboo which is the prime diet of the graceful Black-Necked Crane. In line with the conservation process in this area, Bhutan Sports Festival will avoid the Cranes migration time in Phobjikha, and will not disrupt the valley floor habitat where the Cranes feed and when they are in the region.
Day 05: Gangtey – Paro
After breakfast, drive to Paro en route visit Simtokha Dzong the oldest in Bhutan built in 1627.
The valley of Paro is home to many of Bhutan's old monasteries and temples and the country's only international Airport is located. The valley is also home to mount Chomolhari (7,300 meters) situated at the northern end of the valley whose glacier water forms the Pachu flowing through the valley.
Ta-Dzong (National Museum): Build as a watchtower the Ta Dzong, it was converted into the National Museum in 1968. The museum boasts antique Thangka, textiles, weapons and armor, household objects and the rich assortment of natural and historic artifacts.
Paro Dzong or Ringpung Dzong: This 15th century massive fortress/monastery is also the administrative center of the district.
Day 06: Excursion to Tiger’s Nest
After early breakfast drive to the basement of Tiger’s nest and take a hike to Taktshang monastery (Tiger's Nest) or till to cafeteria for nice view of the monastery depending on how you can hike. Decorated with Prayer flags all over the cliffs and this is also where Guru Padmasambhava landed on the back of a tigress in the 8th century.
You can hire and ride the pony up to the cafeteria if you are not use to uphill hike for stunning view of the most well-known Himalayan Taktshang monastery.
Kyichu Lhakhang (Monastery): Is one of the two most sacred and the oldest temples in Bhutan, built in 7th century by Tibetan king Songtsen Gampo (the 33rd Tibetan king, who is also the manifestation of avoloketeshivara, commonly known to Bhutanese as Chenrize).
Evening Hot Stone Bath:
A traditional Bhutanese hot-stone bath facility can be availed at farm house which are common in rural Bhutanese homes. This service entail bathing in traditional wooden tub with hot water heated from stones which are considered to have soothing medical properties for your joints and muscle tension. This service can be availed at the cost of approximately US $ 25 on direct payment to the host family.
Day 7: End of the tour in Bhutan
After the breakfast our guide and driver will escort you to airport and bid farewell. We wish you a very safe and pleasant flight for your onward destinations.