Arrive in Kathmandu late afternoon and transfer to the hotel. Next we will issue local hire bikes for anyone who requires thems, and then you have some free time to either explore or relax. We will have a full briefing in the evening before dinner. Group members arriving independently should make their own way to the hotel.
After an early morning breakfast in Kathmandu we drive towards the mediaeval town of Bhaktapur. This beautiful city, now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the home of traditional art and architecture, historical monuments and craft works, pottery and weaving industries. A well -preserved ancient city, we will have time to explore its Newari temples and squares. After lunch in the square we continue riding towards Surya Binayak and then to Lubhu, known for its handmade cloth. Leaving Lubhu behind we cycle west on a jeep track passing paddy fields at the foot of the Phulchowki Hill, which is the highest hill in the valley (2770m). We arrive at the famous Vajra Varahi Temple where original woodcarvings of Krishna and Vishnu can be seen. The villagers still offer weekly sacrifices of chicken, goat, and buffaloes to Vishnu, which we may be lucky enough to witness. Ancient woodland still surrounds the temple as it is thought that to cut even one tree will anger the deity. We will stop in this forest for some refreshments. We spend the night at the nearby Godawari Resort with an optional visit to the Botanical Gardens.
Distance cycled: 27km
We start the day with a drive to Bungamati, a 16th century traditional Newari village south of Kathmandu. After unloading the bikes, we begin our ride around the town and stop to take in the fantastic views of the Kathmandu valley. After lunch we continue our ride along side the Chobar Gorge until we hit the paved road that leads all the way to Dakshin Kali. The road is narrow and often busy with people visiting the temple which is one of the most famous temples in the Kathmandu Valley. Dedicated to Kali, the goddess of power, ritual sacrifices are regularly made here. We will visit the temple (though Hindus only are permitted inside) this evening or the next morning.
Distance cycled: 20 km
We drive up to Humane Banjyang (13km) and then ride some exciting jeep trails that lead up and across the valley rim on to the Kulekhani Dam Site. This was completed in 1982 and was Nepal's first major hydroelectric project. Along the trails we pass through pine forests and some small villages (Hudu, Hunanae Bhanjyang, Fakhel, and Kalanki) before reaching Markhu. Here, a picturesque lake provides the perfect backdrop for our lunch break. We then continue riding towards Daman on the Tribhuvan Highway, passing the towns of Taukhel, Bajra Barahai and Thana. For the enthusiastic group members there is a challenging 14km climb to our hotel, well worth it as the hotel enjoys a spectacular mountainside location, with a superb outlook on the Himalayas. Daman also happens to be the highest point in the valley at 2325metres and offers an unimpeded view of the entire Himalayan range. On a clear day you can see all the way from Everest in the east to Dhaulagiri in the west.
Distance cycled: 65 km
After breakfast we set off for a gentle but beautiful hike to the nearby Tibetan monastery before returning to the hotel for lunch. With our appetites satisfied we saddle up for the exciting ride down to Hetauda in the Terai, the lowland area of Nepal. The ride today is all on surfaced roads and begins with a descent towards the plains of Northern India offering 1,500m of downhill over 52 km. The road makes lots of sharp turns and bends, so although the views are fantastic please ride with caution. The descent takes us through rhododendrons (the Nepalese national flower), pine forests and orchids until we reach a series of small towns in the lowlands where the land has been extensively farmed for crops. The road is busier as we continue riding towards the city of Hettauda. It is the cleanest and greenest city in Nepal and is surrounded by hills and forests.
Distance cycled: 52 km
We briefly drive along the Mahendra Highway, passing Gajiya and Monohari until we arrive at the Lothar Bridge (30 kms). We then start riding off-road with lush forest on our right and the Rapti River on our left as we follow a narrow jeep track to Sauraha. We reach the Terai which is essentially a wide belt of fertile land bordered by the Himalayan foothills to the north and to the south by The Ganges River. Riding on ancient bullock-cart tracks we pass through neat mud-walled villages, vivid green paddy fields and mixed sub-tropical forests, criss-crossed by numerous rivers. We ride all the way to our hotel, normally arriving in time for sunset. The hotel is surrounded by jungle and is spectacularly located on the banks of the Rapti River, which borders the famous Royal Chitwan National Park. This peaceful and tranquil place is perfect after a day's ride.
Distance cycled: 30km (90% off road)
Today is free to enjoy a full range of jungle activities in one of Asia's best-known wildlife parks - Chitwan National Park. There are a number of activities to choose from (all included in the trip cost) ranging from dug-out canoe safaris to elephant back safaris where we go in search of the Indian one-horned rhinoceros, as well as over fifty species of mammals and more than four hundred species of birds. Mountain biking is not allowed in the park, so today will need to be cycling free!
After breakfast we start riding towards the Tikauli forest. This area boasts over 130 species of plants as well as endangered species from the animal world; such as the royal Bengal tiger. There is also a magnificent lake. We ride through the forest for 8kms passing the villages of Devnagar and Halchok. With the forest behind us, the scenery once again changes. For the later part of this morning we follow dirt tracks with a vast area of farmland stretching before us. We then join the Mahendra Highway and ride as far as Narayanghat where we stop for a break. Surrounded by captivating scenery we continue on to Kawasuti and stop for lunch. In the afternoon we load our bikes on to the vehicle and have a 130 kms drive to Lumbini, passing Rajahar and Parsa. Lumbini is sacred, as it is the traditional birthplace of Lord Buddha (623BC). In the garden are a number of temples and monasteries, which were built here up until the 9th century. However, Buddhism declined in the area after the arrival of Islam and later Hinduism and the garden of Buddha's birth was lost for a thousand years. The site was rediscovered in 1895, when a German archaeologist came upon Ashoka's Pillar, identified by its inscription. Ashoka's Pillar is protected by a small fence, which is decorated with prayer flags and banners from the faithful. Around the courtyard containing the pillar are bowls for incense sticks, and there is room to sit in for private contemplation. Lumbini was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. We spend the night in a nearby hotel.
Distance cycled: 42kms
By bike we retrace our steps from Lumbini to Butwal, riding through typical Indian community villages such as Ekala and Bharbaliya. The ride offers a real glimpse of rural life in this part of Nepal with haystacks and buffalo water holes and wide spread fields. Single file we ride through narrow village alleyways before meeting the Mahendra Highway. We continue cycling on this road until lunch at Butwal. After a hearty lunch we drive up in the vehicle to Tansen on the Siddhartha Highway. Situated at 1440m Tansen is a mediaeval hill town perched high above the Kali Gandaki River and enjoys spectacular views of the Himalaya. It was once the seat of a powerful kingdom but is now a market town dominated by the rambling pink Tansen Durbar, the former seat of the Rana governor. Its entrance gate, Baggi Dhoka, is supposedly the largest and tallest gate in Nepal, with dimensions that allow the governor to make an impressive entry atop an elephant.
Distance cycled: 61km
In the morning there is an optional five-hour trek to the banks of the Kali Gandaki River and the ruins of the vast Ranighat Palace. Originally built in 1896 for the wife of a Rana governor of Palpa: unruly Ranas were often exiled to high positions in remote districts like this. From here we will be picked up and transfer by road to Tansen where the day's ride begins.
We start by descending through the narrow winding streets of the old Tansen village, before meeting the Siddartha Highway. We continue our descent on a wide paved road that twists and turns all the way to Ramdi, before a gentle climb towards Galyang. This is our lunch spot before our final ride of the day up to Waling. Having loaded our bikes onto the vehicle we then drive to Pokhara 70kms away. Weather permitting, there should be spectacular views of the 6,997m peak of Machhapuchhare, ('Fishtail' mountain), and the main Annapurna range rising up to 8,091m. On reaching Pokhara we check into the hotel where we will be based for the next three nights.
Pokhara lies at the bottom of a wide valley directly beneath the Annapurna range. If Kathmandu and its valley are the architectural treasure of Nepal, then Pokhara is nature's equivalent. At only 1,000 metres above sea level it is set amongst semi-tropical plants and has a delightfully temperate climate. Machhapuchhare dominates the skyline especially in the mornings, and the town is a great place to relax. The day is free to enjoy the atmosphere - there are shops selling handicrafts as well as restaurants and cafés dotted along the lakeside. For those feeling energetic the steep trek up to Sarankot is always an option. (approx. 4 to 6 hours round trip).
Today a combination of hiking and biking sees us embarking on a section of the 'Royal Trek', so-named because Prince Charles once covered this route. Essentially we will follow the ridge line offering the superb backdrop of Annapurna IV. Then we drive 20kms east out of Pokhara to the lake of Begnas Tal where we set off on foot to Majdana (2 hours' ascent) where we will meet up with the bikes. From here we descend to The Vijayaypur River and follow the road through Pokhara old town back to the hotel. There is also an optional route, which will add a further 10km ride taking us back to Pokhara. If we have sufficient time we will also visit the Gorkha Museum.
Biking distance: 10 Km (plus an optional additional 10km for anyone who wants it)
Hiking distance: approx 8 Km
Today we fly back to Kathmandu. It's a 30 minute flight, with stunning mountain views all the way. Usually the flight departs in the early morning and the bikes return by road. However these flights can be subject to delays and do not always depart on time. Back in Kathmandu you have the afternoon free to explore the shops and sights of this fascinating city. Points of particular interest include Durbar Square, the location of the former Royal Palace with its intricate woodcarving and four fine towers; Pasputinath, Nepal's most important Shiva temple; and Bodnath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal. The evening is free to explore the city's many restaurants.
Those on the group flight will be transferred to the airport this morning. For those doing land only the trip ends after breakfast