Bhutan: The New Knobby Kingdom

Travel Guide, Winter 1995-1996

Bhutan: The New Knobby Kingdom
By Meg Lukens Noonan

Want to climb 36,000 feet on a mountain bike this winter? What if we said you'd also descend 46,000 feet--including one mind-altering, 52-mile, five-hour plunge? Take the topographic ride of your life by joining a group of cyclists on the first-ever traverse of the tiny, pristine kingdom of Bhutan, the most Western-wary of all Himalayan countries. Heading east from Thimphu, the capital, you'll cover 440 miles on a lightly traveled, mostly paved road that crosses five mountain passes and reaches elevations as high as 12,465 feet.

The two-week journey takes in Bhutan's diverse beauty: semitropical bamboo forests, ancient fortresses and temples, and rugged passes with views of the country's highest peaks, including 23,685-foot Chomolhari. Bring your own bicycle and get your hands in shape--you'll be squeezing those brakes a lot. Cost is $2,795; dates are November 11-25 and December 23-January 6, 1996. Call Karakoram Experience at 800-497-9675

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