Gangtey Gogona Bhutan Mountain Bike 2 or 3 days
Off-road Mountain Biking trail Phobjikha to Wangdue Phodrang via Gogona & Khotokha Valley
Since the construction of a rough jeep road on the old Gangtey trekking route, this beautiful part of Bhutan became accessible for mountain bikers. The route leads from the Phobjika Valley (the valley of the famous black-necked cranes) to Tikezampa, near Wangdue Prodhang Dzong. This biking route leads through amazing rhododendron and pine forests, crosses 3 mountain Pass, and goes through traditional Bhutanese villages of Gogona, Khotokha and upper Sha area. It is truly a great way to experience Bhutan’s landscape and culture !
The route follows a Jeep (more like a tractor) road, which is often a little rocky so you will need to balance and carefully steer your way in between the small rocks. Your support vehicle will follow the same route, so it can always reach you in case of mechanical problems or injuries. The altitude on this trail (up to 3500 m) makes it harder. The three mountain pass you cross are Tsele La (3430 m) reached after a 600 m climb, the Shobe La (3475 m) reached after a 300 m climb, and the Tashi La (2820 m) reached after a 230 m climb.
In order to complete this biking route, it is necessary that you have some experience with (offroad) mountain biking, and that you are capable of riding long and steep uphill trail sections as well as downhill sections. The route can be completed easily by hard core bikers in two days but to enjoy and absorb the landscape and culture, we recommended doing it in 3 days.
Day 1: Start in Phobjika Valley, bike to Gogana Village (3-5 hours, 17 km, 670 m ascent, 300 m descent)
After your breakfast in one of the hotels in Phobjika/Gangtey (2900 m), you still have time to explore the beautiful valley of Phobjika. This U-shaped glacial valley is at an average altitude of 3000m and is designated as a conservation zone within the Jigme Singye National Park, a natural habitat for wildlife. It is the winter nesting grounds for rare and endangered Black-necked cranes who migrate in large numbers from the Tibetan plateau (they arrive around late October and stay until March). In the Black-necked Crane Information center you can learn about these beautiful birds. The ancient Gangtey Monastery, located on a ridge overlooking the valley, is also worth a visit. From the monastery, you can start the Gangtey nature trail (around 2 hours walk ).
Your biking adventure starts. To warm up it is advisable to take a short ride on the relatively flat roads on the valley floor. We start biking down from Gangtey Gompa to the Information Center, combining nice valley views as well as charming village life. About 1 kilometer after the Information Centre, take a turn to the right and the road starts to climb to the first pass: Tsele La (3430m). It is a steady climb, about 8 km long, to the pass. Because of the altitude it is advisable to go very slowly in the beginning and find your steady pace. Don’t forget to look back into the valley for views over beautiful Phobjikha. Once you see the prayer flags at the pass you will have climbed up to 3430m above sea level. After the pass, it is a nice descent to Gogona Village (3200 m). The village is spread out over few meadows and most people here are still making a living through farming activities. Here you will camp on one of the beautiful meadows. In the afternoon the guide will take you to the village and possibly you can meet some villagers and witness their lifestyle.
Day 2: Gogona Village to Khothokha Village (3-5 hours, 21 km, 370 m ascent, 900 m descent)
After about 1,5 km from the village, take a right turn to start climbing to the second pass of the route: Shobe La (3475m). This climb is slightly shorter then the one you did yesterday but it will still take some of your energy to reach the pass. From the pass there is a long and beautiful descent through magical forest. You will pass through rododendron forest with lots of mosses hanging from the tree branches. Lower you will pass through pine forest with fern undergrowth. Some sections of the trail include bridges made from wood logs, and some muddy and wet parts of the road have wood logs also. Eventually you will enter Khothokha Village at 2650 m elevation. Just outside the village there is a newly built monastic school. Over 100 monks study here at it is definitely worthwhile making a visit.
Day 3: Khothokha Village to Tikezampa (2-4 hours, 23 km, 200 m ascent, 1430 m descent)
After Khotokha village, the road starts climbing again, but less steep and less long than the two ascents on the previous days. The road you follow today may see few Jeeps/tractors or motor bikes then the first part, but you can still bike here for an hour and not see a single car. From the Tashi La (2820 m), the final descent of this bike tour starts: endless switchbacks will bring you down to warmer elevation, down to the main east-west highway at 1400 m. The road is more sandy then previous days but also can have more mud. When you reach the bottom of the valley and the main road, you can proceed by car or continue biking until Wangdue Prodang (14 km.
Overview Of Mountain Biking From Gangtey to Wangdue Phodrang
- Duration: 3 days / 2 nights and for Hardcore biker (1 night/2 days)
- Start: Gangtey Phobjikha End : Wangdue Prodang/Punakha
- Lodging: Lungta Comfort Camp (comfortable tents with bed) or Deluxe Camp ( Comfort Camp plus western Toilet and private fireplace)
- Meals: all included
- Group Size: any group size for independent travel
- Difficulty: medium/hard
- Route: 65 km, 1200 m ascent, 1800 m descent