The group flight usually departs in the evening from London Heathrow.
Arrive in Kathmandu late afternoon and transfer to the hotel. We will have a full briefing in the evening before dinner. The local leader will collect your passports, your return flight ticket and a copy of your insurance to secure the group visa for Tibet. Group members arriving independently today should make their own way to the hotel.
After breakfast we will issue local hire bikes for anyone who requires them, and then head east into the Kathmandu Valley to explore the fantastic network of country roads and off-road trails that this area has to offer. Today is the ideal opportunity to stretch your legs and begin the process of acclimatisation. Ride approximately 25km. 50% off-road. NB There won't be any vehicle support for the off-road sections.
An early rise to take the morning flight to Tibet. This is one of the world's most spectacular flights, with a one hour flight over the incomparable Himalayas - keep your eye out for Everest! After landing at Gongkar airport we transfer 70km to our hotel in Lhasa's beautiful Tibetan Quarter. After checking into the hotel, we go for a walk around the Barkhor Square, the spiritual heart of Tibet.
Day 5 - 6
Acclimatisation is very important at this considerable altitude (Lhasa is at 3680m), so for the first few days we make exploratory local rides and cultural visits to become accustomed to the thin air. Points of interest include:
- The dramatic Potala Palace (Winter Palace) and the Norbu Linka (Summer Palace), the palaces of the Dalai Lama, with many temples and rooms to explore.
- Sera Monastery, one of Lhasa's two great Gelugpa monasteries, once housing a population of around 5500 monks, though now it numbers only a couple of hundred.
- The Jokhang Temple - the most revered religious structure in Tibet - where the bustle of worshippers creates an atmosphere and spectacle as absorbing as the Temple itself.
Now fully acclimatised, we take to our bikes and cycle out to the Drepung Monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa. The Freedom Highway then leads us away from Lhasa down the Lhasa Valley and to our guesthouse in Chusul. Maximum ride distance is 70km.
Following breakfast, those who feel up to it can tackle the 25km climb up to the pass of Kamba La. This tough climb will take 3-4 hours but the views from the prayer-flag-strewn summit at 4794m are spectacular. We then descend to the turquoise Yamdrok Lake where we have lunch, before taking the gentle and scenic road around to the small town of Nagatse. Maximum ride 105 km.
Following breakfast, there is the opportunity to tackle the first and (fortunately) 'lowest' of the high passes - the 5045m Karol La. This climb will take approximately 3 hours. The subsequent descent is twice as long and descends over 1000m in altitude to Gyantse in the heart of the Yang Chug Valley. There is plenty to catch the eye here, including the Palcho Monastery and the magnificent Kumbum Stupa - a fantastic tiered structure that is now unique in the Buddhist world. You will also be able to see the beautifully located Gyantse Dzong - where Lt. Col Francis Younghusband made his infamous first stronghold in 1904. Maximum ride distance 100km.
Today's ride is a scenic and gentle 94 km across beautiful plains with a dramatic mountain backdrop. After a mid-ride lunch stop, we continue across the plains into Shighatse, Tibet's second largest city and home to the controversial Panchen Lama, whose home is traditionally at the Tashilunpo Monastery. Maximum ride distance 94 km.
Visit the huge Tashilunpo monastery complex. During our time in Shigatse, the necessary permits will be issued for visiting Everest Base Camp.
A gentle start to the day with rolling terrain across the Shigatse Plains. A gradual but long climb then takes us to the double passes of Tra La (4050m) and Tsuo La (4520m). There is then a fantastic descent which flattens out before we arrive at our guesthouse at Lhatse. Maximum ride distance 150kms.
A day to test the legs! We leave Lhatze and ride to the foot of the Gyatso La, before climbing to the summit of the pass at 5248m! This is the highest pass on the Friendship Highway and a steady effort will be needed to conquer it. The sight of Everest looming into view is the reward for attaining the summit, as we gradually approach the Himalayan chain. Maximum ride distance 85km.
After the initial smooth tarmac from the door of the hotel, we then turn south and head off-road for the next few days! For the very fittest there is another pass - this time the 5200m Pang La - where we feast on the extensive views of the Himalayas. On a clear day, the sheer scale of the mountain views throughout is unequalled in the world! The descent from the pass is fast and twisty and brings us down in to the Rongbuk Valley and to our overnight stop in Tashi Zom. 90% off-road. Maximum ride distance 62kms.
Cycling on a vehicle width jeep trail today in full view of Everest's North Face, we approach both the mountain itself and the Rongbuk Monastery. Taking lunch in the airy tranquillity here is one of the highlights of the trip. After lunch, we continue the short distance to our overnight accomodation at the Jarongbuk tented camp. The remainder of the afternoon is free to allow for acclimatisation to the lofty (5200m) altitude. The stunning views of Everest, visible from our campsite, hopefully make up for the lack of air! 100% off-road. Maximum ride distance 52kms. See note in accommodation section.
After breakfast, we take to our bikes and head slowly up the gravel jeep trail to Everest Base Camp. The route is only 4kms, but the stunning views and thin air mean it might well take 90 minutes! The views from Base Camp are stunning and offer a 360 degree panorama of the high Himalaya to put your photographic skills to the test! After enjoying the ambience of Base Camp, we return to our tented accomodation where our cooks will have prepared another amazing lunch! The afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the incredible surroundings. 100% off-road. Maximum ride distance 8km
Heading back out of the wide valley, when conditions allow, we will turn off onto a smaller rocky route over the Nam La pass and down to Tingri, a little town overlooking the sweeping plains. If this alternative route is impassable, we will return via the Pang La pass and a subsequent section on tarmac to reach our overnight stay. Tingri is bordered by the mighty Himalayas and we will have distant views of Everest, Cho Oyu, as well as the ruins of buildings destroyed in the 18th century Nepalese invasion of Tibet. 100% off-road. Maximum ride distance 70km.
We usually drive to the first of the double passes of Lalung La (4950m) before riding down and up to the Shung La (5200m), the last pass in Tibet. The high-altitude lunch spot here is fantastic with tantalising views of Shishipangma. Lunch is made even more enjoyable for knowing that it is now more than 4000m down to Nepal! We begin our epic descent by thundering down to Nyalam where we will spend our last night in Tibet. Maximum ride distance 75km.
Not a high pass to be found today! At Zhangmu we pass through Chinese customs before continuing down to Nepal, crossing the famous Friendship Bridge at Kodari. Please remember to ride on the left in Nepal! From Dolalghat we transfer to Dhulikhel. Maximum ride distance 50km.
After a fine breakfast we head off through the greenery of the Kathmandu Valley towards our final destination, Kathmandu via the UNESCO World Heritage city of Bhaktapur, where we will have the time to visit the beautiful Durbar square. From here we transfer to our hotel where we pack up the bikes, shower, and prepare for our well-earned farewell celebration dinner. 80% off-road. Maximum ride distance 20km.
Those on the flight inclusive package will depart for London this morning for the daytime flight back to London; Land Only arrangements will finish after check-out from the hotel.