ADVENTURE

Bhutan is swiftly developing its reputation as a premier destination for adventure sports. Set amongst the majestic Himalayas our kingdom is the perfect location for all manner of exciting activities including Hiking, Trekking, Kayaking, Mountain Biking. Whether it's rafting down crystal clear, glacier-fed rivers or trekking through lush, virgin forests Bhutan offers a one-of-a-kind experience for travelers seeking adventure in an unspoiled and unexplored environment. All the necessary arrangements for adventure activities can be made through your local tour operator. They will provide you with well-trained and experienced guides to ensure your safety at all times.

CYCLING

The rugged, mountainous landscape of Bhutan lends itself well to both on-road or off-road mountain biking and the sport is seeing increasing popularity among both visitors and Bhutanese alike. There are a variety of biking routes available ranging from smooth journeys on paved roads to challenging off-road dirt trails that wind through rough terrain. The sport offers a certain intimacy with the environment that is seldom experienced in vehicles. With better roads replacing the old and the increasing number of off-road roads, biking is now becoming a very unique and original way of seeing and interacting with the country, people and the Bhutanese environment. Most biking trips go through well paved roads while others trail on to dirt roads and trails. Traffic is still relatively very light and the experience very intimate. The more adventurous have the option of making side excursions for more "off-the-road" ventures if prefer. The trails accommodate most types of frames: including MTB, Hybrid, and Road, depending on your cycling style and experience. Biking trails mostly meander through small towns and villages and rural areas; it's just you, your bike, the tour group and the agrarian and natural scenery. There are also numerous opportunities for optional hikes with a bit of climbing thrown in. There are some challenging climbs with one in particular that is more than seven hours. You peddle the pads over two miles (3,400 meters) above sea level. Your effort is rewarded with a breathtaking view and an unforgettable experience. Riders should have an adequate level of fitness and stamina and be experienced enough in the art of mountain biking. Tours are fully supported by a van following riders. The van allows riders to rest should they require it. Many of the biking trails lead through small villages and temples which can provide interesting and informative diversions should you wish to take a break.

KAYAKING AND RAFTING

The crystal clear rivers of Bhutan are one of the kingdom's best kept open secrets. Fed by the glacial-melt of the Eastern Himalayas, six major rivers (Wang Chhu, Sunkosh, Puna Tsang Chhu, Mangde Chhu, Kuri Chhu and Dangme Chhu and their tributaries), have been scouted for kayaking and rafting.They cut through high valleys and low plains to meet up with the Brahmaputra River in India. The pristine natural setting and the sheer variety of the rivers' courses provides a unique opportunity to explore Bhutan's beautiful wilderness. Adventurous travelers will not be disappointed by the rugged, untamed waterways of Bhutan. The rivers are plentiful with strong currents varying between slow, gentle flows in some places and powerful, raging torrents can be found throughout the country. Although adventure sports and tourism are relatively recent introductions to Bhutan, they are rapidly gaining in popularity. The river courses available in Bhutan offer something for all visitors, regardless of experience: There are easy routes for beginners and hair-raising runs for the veterans. Besides the rafts and the kayaks, Bhutanese agents also organize walking and trekking expeditions along the scenic river banks. The best time for rafting and kayaking is from March to April and November to December. Bhutanese rafting and kayaking guides are well trained and will do everything to ensure that you enjoy the adventure while minimizing the risks. The rivers of Bhutan were first surveyed for potential routes for water sports in 1997 by Gerry Mofatt and Peter Knowles, both experienced rafters/kayakers at the invitation of the Royal Government and the Department of Tourism. They trained the first batch of Bhutanese river-guides and conducted surveys to grade the rivers. Since then, other rivers have been surveyed including the Punatsang Chhu, Manas and Amo Chhu. TCB guidelines ensure that all operators use well maintained professional equipment and maintain a reasonable guide-client ratio.

BIRD WATCHING

Bhutan is a paradise for bird lovers and ornithologists. Over 670 species of birds have been recorded and many more are yet to be discovered. Around 50 species of the known birds are winter migrants. These include ducks, waders, birds of prey, thrushes, finches and buntings. The partial migrants to Bhutan include cuckoos, swifts, bee-eaters, warblers and flycatchers. The country harbors more than 16 species of vulnerable birds. They are the Pallas's Fish Eagle, White bellied Heron, Satyr Tragopan, Gray-bellied Tragopan, Ward's Trogon, Blyth's King Fisher, Yellow-rumped Honey Guide, Rufous Throated Wren Babbler, Chestnut-breasted Partridge, Blyth's Trogon, Wood Snipe, Dark-rumped Swift, Rufous-necked Hornbill, Gray-crowned Prinia and the Beautiful Nuthatch all of which breed in Bhutan. Bhutan is home to many species of birds that are in danger of extinction, including the Imperial Heron, which is one of the fifty rarest birds in the world and the rare Black-Necked Crane, which breeds in Tibet and then migrates over the Himalayas to Bhutan during the winter months. The Cranes can be spotted in Phobjikha Valley in Western Bhutan, Bumthang in Central Bhutan and in Bomdeling in Eastern Bhutan. They migrate to these winter roosting sites in the months of September and October and fly back to Tibet between February and March.