Arrive in Kathmandu late afternoon and transfer to the hotel. Local hire bikes will be issued for anyone who requires them, and then you have some free time to either explore or relax. We will have a full briefing in the evening at dinner. Group members arriving independently should make their own way to the hotel.
After an early morning breakfast in Kathmandu we drive to Pashupatinath, the most important Hindu temple in the valley. We unload the bikes here and have an easy warm up ride for 10km on dirt tracks through small villages to 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 cycle to Godawari. This afternoon is mixed riding - sometimes we cycle on tarmac roads and sometimes on dirt tracks with some sections of off road. We cycle through the village of Lubhu, known for its handmade cloth, from where we continue heading west on a jeep track passing paddy fields at the foot of the Phulchowki Hill, which is the highest hill in the valley (2770m). Finally we meet the main road to Godawari and the last 3km takes us on an easy climb to our hotel. (The bus will not be with us this afternoon and those not wanting to cycle off road can go on the bus to Godawari, from where there is the option to visit the Botanical Gardens).
Distance cycled: 33km SH (B,D)
We start the day cycling to Bungamati, a 16th Century traditional Newari village south of Kathmandu. We have time to explore this wonderful rural town famous for its woodcarvers, before heading off towards Dakshinkali. As we cycle we have time to take in the fantastic views of the Kathmandu Valley. We finally hit the paved road that leads all the way to Dakshinkali. The road is paved but is quite 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. In the afternoon or evening we will visit the temple (though only Hindus are permitted inside). If there is time we can also hike to Parping monastery.
Distance cycled: 25 km
Today is probably the biggest challenge and one of the highlights of the trip. After breakfast we drive up to Humane Banjyang (11km) and then ride some exciting rough 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. The ride is incredibly scenic and we cycle along a beautiful valley and pass through pine forests and small villages before reaching Markhu. Here a picturesque lake provides the perfect backdrop for our lunch break. We then continue riding towards Daman, at first on rough tracks and then we finally meet the main road called the Tribhuvan Highway. For the enthusiastic group members there is a final challenging 14km road climb to Daman. The road winds up and up through magnificent forest. Watch out for the sting in the tail at the end of the day - our hotel is about another 4km past the view tower in Daman itself! The climb is well worth the effort - our simple 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 2387m 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: 53 km
If it's clear it's well worth getting up for the sunrise. Wrap up warm as it can be cold here in the early morning especially in autumn. From the hotel view tower we get spectacular sunrise views across much of the Nepal Himalaya. We can see all the way from the Annapurnas in the west of Nepal, past the Manaslu, Langtang and Jugal Himals all the way to the mountains around Everest - you can even spot Everest on a really clear day. After breakfast we set off for a gentle but beautiful hike to a nearby small Tibetan monastery, inhabited by Bhutanese monks, 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 2030m of downhill over 53km. The road makes lots of sharp turns and bends, so although the views are fantastic please ride with caution. The descent takes us through rhododendron (the Nepalese national flower), pine forests and past wonderful terraced hillsides typical of Nepal. As we descend we pass 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 Hetauda, a busy and bustling Indian style city. Our hotel here is very simple.
Distance cycled: 53km
This morning we have the option to cycle or drive the along the fairly busy Mahendra Highway for 30km to Lothar Bridge. 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 Chitwan. We are now in the part of Nepal called 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 (if we cycle all the way from Hetauda we will arrive late afternoon and if we drive to Lothar Bridge we will arrive by lunchtime). 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: 55km Hetauda to Chitwan, 25km off road Lothar Bridge to Chitwan
Today we spend the whole day in and around the Chitwan National Park. The most popular way of seeing animals is on elephant back, and we will be very unlucky not to see at least the Indian one-horned rhinoceros and several species of deer. We also make a trip along the Rapti River in a dugout canoe, looking for crocodile and observing the many birds. The safari lodge has knowledgeable and helpful staff, who accompany us on all the excursions.
After breakfast we start riding on jeep tracks towards the Tikauli forest through an area called Beezhazari Tal (which means 20,000 lakes). This area boasts over 130 species of plants as well as endangered species from the animal world; such as the royal Bengal tiger. We ride 8km through the forest passing one of the many lakes in the area. With the forest behind us, the scenery changes once again. For the later part of this morning we follow more dirt tracks with a vast area of farmland stretching before us. We then join the Mahendra Highway and ride as far as the busy town of Narayanghat, where we stop for a break. Surrounded by captivating scenery we continue on the main road to Kawasuti and stop for lunch. In the afternoon we load our bikes on to the vehicle and have a 130km drive to Lumbini, Distance cycled: 56 km
Lumbini is the birthplace of Lord Buddha (623BC) and it is now a busy place of pilgrimage to Buddhists from many different countries. There are large gardens in Lumbini where there are a number of temples and monasteries built by Buddhists from all over the world. We spend some time in the morning walking round the gardens and visiting a couple of monasteries. We then head out of Lumbini on our bikes and have a wonderful easy off road ride through remote typical Indian style villages. The ride offers a real glimpse of rural life in this part of Nepal with haystacks and buffalo water holes and widespread fields. Single file we ride through narrow village alleyways before meeting the Mahendra Highway. We continue cycling on this road until Butwal, where we stay in a simple hotel. Distance cycled: 62km SH (B, L)
After a hearty breakfast it's a beautiful uphill ride to Tansen on the Siddhartha Highway. The ride starts fairly gradually and the road snakes its way up a wonderful valley. Climbing all the time the first part is not steep. As we approach Tansen the gradient increases and the final ride into the town is quite steep. Of course out hotel is at the above the town! But what a view - as we round the last corner a whole spectacular panoramic view of the Himalaya comes into view. Starting in the west we can see Dhaulagiri and the Annapurnas. Then the famous fishtail mountain, Machhapuchhare comes into view followed by the Lamjung Himal and the Manaslu Himal . Situated at 1375m Tansen is a mediaeval hill town perched high above the Kali Gandaki River. t was once the seat of a powerful kingdom but is now a busy 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. This afternoon there should be time to walk down into the town and explore this interesting place.
Distance cycled: 40km
We get up early today for the spectacular sunrise from the hotel. North the Himalaya stretch across the horizon and the snow capped peaks tower above us. South the middle hills disappear in the mist down to India. After breakfast it's back onto the bikes for the ride to Pokhara. We start by descending very steeply 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. It can get quite cold on the descent in autumn so we stop at Ramdi for a cup of hot sweet Nepali 'chai'. A bridge takes us across the Kali Gandaki River and we now have a gentle climb towards Galyang. The road undulates most of the way to our lunch stop. We ride as far as Waling where we load our bikes onto the vehicle. We drive for about an hour and then there is the option of riding the last 14km into Pokhara. Weather permitting, there should be spectacular views of the famous Machhapuchhare Peak, ('Fishtail' mountain), and the main Annapurna range rising up to 8091m. On reaching Pokhara we check into the hotel where we will be based for the next two nights.
Distance cycled: 80km
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 804 metres above sea level it is set amongst semi-tropical plants and has a delightfully temperate climate. Machhapuchhare and the Annapurna range of mountains dominate the skyline especially in the mornings, and the town is a great place to relax.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 offeringa superb backdrop of Annapurna IV. We drive 20kms east out of Pokhara to Begnas Lake, where we set off on foot towards Kalikistan. The path winds up above the lake and climbs through mixed forest and through small traditional Nepali villages. We walk for about 3.5 hours to Kalikistan, where we will meet up with the bikes. From here we descend 22km back into Pokhara. We follow the road through Pokhara old town and back to the hotel.
The rest of the day is free to explore the lakeside - there are shops selling handicrafts as well as restaurants and cafes dotted along the lakeside or you may want to take a taxi to the Gurkha Museum or even hire a boat to go rowing on the lake.
Biking distance: 22km, Hiking distance: 9km
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 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, Pashupatinath - Nepal's most important Hindu temple, and Bodnath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal. In the evening we will have dinner in one of the city's many restaurants.
Those on the group flight will be transferred to the airport this morning and will arrive back in Britain on the same day. For those doing land only the trip ends after breakfast