7 Days 6 Nights Bhutan International Marathon
The Himalayan Kingdom of Bhutan is a land of high mountains and deep valleys where compassion and wisdom are the benchmark against which all things are measured, and where the King rules by ‘Gross National Happiness’.
On your Bhutan International Full Marathon( 26.2 miles (42 kms) ) and Half Marathon ( 13.1 miles (21 kms)) journey through stunning rural countryside and villages, before finishing at the historic Punakha Dzong, you’ll discover the geographical and cultural wonders of a country naturally designed to be a tantalizing destination for adventure and spiritual seekers.
Arrival at Paro, Bhutan (Elevation 2,320 m)
Welcome to Bhutan, the Land of the Thunder Dragon. Touching down at Paro International Airport, you will be greeted by your guide upon exiting the arrival hall. Today, we will take it easy to acclimatize to the altitude. Drive to Thimphu, check in to the hotel and let’s have your first taste of Bhutanese cuisine and some light sightseeing in Thimphu if possible.
National Memorial Chorten – Built in honor of the late King Jigme Dorji Wangchuk.
Thimphu Dzong – The largest Dzong, is also the seat of the office of the King of Bhutan.
Buddha Point – Located at Kuenselphodrang Nature Park, the 169 feet bronze statue of Buddha Dordenma, Vajra Throne Buddha makes it one of the largest statue of Buddha in the world.
THIMPHU TO PUNAKHA (Elevation 1,300 m)
Dochula Pass – The 108 chortens was built by the present Queen Mother of Bhutan Ashi Dorji Wangmo Wangchuck to commemorate Bhutan’s victory over Indian militants and to liberate the souls of the soldiers lost.
Chimmi Lhakhang – The divine madman also known, as Drukpa Kinley is a famous teacher with whom the phallic symbol is associated.
Punakha Dzong – Built in 1637, the dzong continues to be the winter home for the clergy, headed by the Chief Abbott, the Je Khenpo. It is a stunning example of Bhutanese architecture, sitting at the fork of two rivers, portraying the image of a medieval city from a distance. The 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.
You will be attending the briefing for tomorrow’s event.
PUNAKHA, BHUTAN INTERNATIONAL MARATHON (Elevation 2,200 m – 2,535 m)
Today is the day of the Bhutan International Marathon. The itinerary will kick off very early as you make your way to the starting point Gasa Dzongkhag. Both events finish at the beautiful Punakha Dzong in the town of Punakha in the country of Bhutan. Be sure to stay hydrated throughout. All the best!
Buses will leave Punakha Dzong at 6:30 am to head to the start line. Race starts at 7:30 am
PUNAKHA – GANTEY (Elevation 3,000 m)
Following an overnight stay at Punakha, we head towards the remote glacial valley area of Gangtey.
Traveling through the pristine mountains of central Bhutan, we enter the Phobjikha Valley, also known as the Gangtey Valley. This bowl-shaped valley borders the Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, and the entire area is a wildlife preserve. Here you may see the black-necked cranes (Grus nigricollis) that migrate here from November to March. You might also see other native animals, such as muntjac, sambar, serow, leopard, red fox, or yak.
On a hill overlooking the entire valley is the Gangtey Goempa, a large 17th-century monastery. The tshokhang (prayer hall) was built in Tibetan style and has eight great pillars. A five-day teschu (festival) is held here every fall where locals and monks perform traditional dances with colorful masks and swords to ward off evil spirits and celebrate the harvest.
Here you have the option to stay in a hotel or take the rare opportunity to room with a local family. Typically staying in a modest farmhouse, you will immerse yourself in family culture and share in their gracious hospitality.
GANGTEY TO PARO (Elevation 2,280 m)
Today we head back to Paro and the scenic beauty of the Paro Valley. This area has many monasteries, temples, dzongs, and natural wonders that make Bhutan such a breathtaking country. Located on the northwestern border of Bhutan and Tibet is Chomolhari (Jomolhari) Mountain.
At 24,035 feet it is Bhutan’s third tallest mountain peak and is often referred to as the wife of Kangchenjunga, the third tallest mountain in the world. Glacial waters flowing from the mountainous region feed the Paro Chhu and Amo Chhu rivers. The Rinchen Pung Rinchen Pung Dzong, usually called Rinpung Dzong, means Fortress on a Heap of Jewels as it was built with stones rather than clay. It is considered one of the most impressive dzongs in the country and the finest example of both 15th and 17th-century Bhutanese construction.
Located on the Paro Chhu just north of the airport, the fort was used to protect against Tibetan invasions. In 1907, it was damaged by fire and in 1969, the cantilever bridge was washed away by a flood. The restored dzong now houses monastic, government, and judicial offices. Nearby is Ta Dzong, a cylindrical seven-story watchtower built in 1649 that is now the National Museum of Bhutan. This museum houses artifacts, weapons, textiles, and fine Bhutanese art from 4000 BCE to the present. The building is a conch shape with spiral construction inside and out.
PARO (Elevation 2,280 m)
On our final tour day, we take an exhilarating one-hour hike to Taktsang Monastery (or Tiger’s Nest), one of the most recognizable sites in Bhutan. Built precariously on a hillside cliff, it sits more than 10,000 feet above sea level. Accessible only by foot, we follow a trail decorated with colorful prayer flags along the way to protect travelers from evil spirits. Built over the caves that Guru Padmasambhava meditated in for three years, this eighth-century father of Bhutan Buddhism is said to have been brought there on the back of a tigress. One of the most sacred sites in Bhutan it offers breathtaking views to those energetic enough to make it to the top.
We then take a short drive north of Paro to visit the ruins of Drukgyal Dzong. Built in 1647 by Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyal, the unifier of medieval Bhutan, it was used as a stronghold against invading Tibetan armies. After a fire destroyed it in 1951, it remains a ruin as a symbol of the past military victories. On clear days, you can also see the snowcapped peak of Jhomolohari mountain.
DEPART PARO (Elevation 2,280 m)
Today we will bid fond farewell to this beautiful Himalayan country and take an early flight back. We hope by now you would have made some friends and also kept many photos and beautiful memories of Bhutan! And we look forward to seeing you again in this beautiful land of endless Enchantments! Tashi Delek