Your tour guide will greet you at the Kathmandu airport to transfer you to your hotel and help you get checked in. After you’ve had a chance to rest for a while, we will take you to visit Durbar Square in the heart of Kathmandu. Hanuman Dhoka Palace is located here – this was the historic home of Nepalese royalty. Most of the buildings here were built from the 1400s to the 1700s so they are truly ancient buildings. Monuments of note include Taleju Temple, Jagannath Temple, Kal Bhairav, Kumary Ghar and the ruins of Kasthamandap, a large wooden structure built from the timber of a single tree, built in 1143 A.D. but destroyed in the massive earthquake of 2015.
In the morning, we will first visit the Pashupatinath Temple, one of the holiest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and located about 5 kilometers east of the city. Then we will take you to see the Boudhanath Stupa, one of the world’s largest stupas, located about 8 kilometers east of Kathmandu. After lunch, we will make our way west of the city to visit Swayambhunath Stupa, located approximately 4 kilometers west of Kathmandu. This ancient Buddhist Stupa is reportedly around 2000 years old.
This morning you will take a morning flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa – a one-hour flight covering rugged, mountainous terrain that used to take months for trade caravans to cross. The mountains below offer up fantastic views during your flight – on a clear day you will be able to see as many as 8 of the world’s 14 highest mountain peaks, including the highest of them all - Mount Everest. Upon your arrival in Lhasa, your tour guide will greet you at the airport and escort you to your hotel, where you will have the rest of the day to relax and become acclimatized to the higher elevation of Tibet.
Today we will start off with the iconic Potala Palace, which historically served as the winter home of the Dalai Lama. It was first used in the 7th century by the 33rd king of Tibet. The most valuable collections in the Potala Palace are the gilded burial stupas of the former Dalai Lamas and the meditation cave of the 33rd great king of Tibet. After lunch, we will move on to the Jokhang Temple, which was also founded in the 7th century by the 33rd great king of Tibet to promote the Buddhist religion. Inside you can see the statue of the Buddha Sakyamuni as he was at the age of twelve – this is perhaps the most venerated object in Tibetan Buddhism. Around the temple is Barkhor Street where you can perform the “Kora” (a religious circuit around a sacred building or mountain) with pilgrims and locals. The Barkhor market is also a great place to pick up locally made handicrafts and souvenirs.
This morning we will visit the Drepung Monastery – one of the great three Gelug monasteries of Tibet. Founded in 1416 by Jamyang Choge, on Tosngkhapa’s main disciples, the Drepung Monastery is home of Ganden Palace, which formerly served as the Dalai Lama’s palace before later moving on to the Potala Palace. In the afternoon we will move on to see another of the great three of the Gelug monasteries in Tibet – the Sera Monastery. Founded in 1419 by another main disciple of Tsongkhapa, Jamchen Chojey, the main attraction of this monastery is the lively scene of the monks debating Buddhist scriptures in the courtyard behind the monastery in the afternoon.
Our first riding day is fairly short and relatively easy, as we head out of Lhasa toward Mount Everest on the Friendship Highway across the plateau. The highway here is flat and in very good condition, so we’ll have a chance to become accustomed to biking in the higher altitude on this easier section of the road. We will cycle along the scenic Tsangpo River to the base of the Kamba La Pass (elevation 3700 meters).
After a good night’s rest, we’ll conquer the first mountain pass of our trip. It’s a tough uphill climb along a basic road with several switchbacks. We’ll be greeted at the top (elevation 4794 meters) with hundreds of colorful prayer flags waving in the wind as if to greet us and welcome our arrival. From this summit, it’s a downhill slope to Yamdrok-tso Lake, which we will ride around to reach the far side and set up camp at an elevation of 4490 meters. Yamdrok-tso is one of the three great holy lakes of Tibet, with its beautiful turquoise green waters providing us with a calming effect after our difficult ride up the Kamba La Pass.
With beautiful Yamdrok-tso Lake behind us, we will continue along the Friendship Highway as it transforms into a gravel roadway. We will pass through a valley and on to the base of the Karo La Pass (elevation 4750 meters) where we’ll spend the night in a tent village, with your tent already prepared for you for the night.
We will have an eventful day today as we get up early to make the strenuous climb to cross over Karo La Pass with its 5010-meter elevation. At the top we’ll be able to see glaciers reaching down from 6000-meter heights as they descend down into the beautiful lakes. After the tough ride up the pass, you will be rewarded with a night in one of the best hotels in the city of Gyantse (elevation 3980 meters).
We’ll begin the day with some sightseeing in Gyantse. Our first visit will be to the Gyantse Dzong, a 14th century fort that provided defenses for the city for centuries. We’ll also see the Kumbum, which is a large gold-domed stupa containing several small chapels that boast an impressive collection of ancient Tibetan Buddhist murals. After our sightseeing in Gyantse, we will head out on the highway to today’s destination city – Shigatse (elevation 3860 meters), the 2nd largest city in Tibet. The highway is well maintained and mostly flat, so it will be a relatively easy ride today. You will be able to enjoy a nice shower and a bed in your comfortable hotel room tonight.
This morning we’ll get up early to visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, where you can see the well preserved statue of Jampa (future god) – the largest such statue in the world. The monastery itself was established in 1447 by the 1st Dalai Lama and has served as the seat of the Panchen Lamas for hundreds of years. After visiting Tashilhunpo Monastery, we will bike out of Shigatse along the road thorough two small mountain passes and through several small Tibetan villages. Once we reach the rarely visited Gyachung Monastery, we will set up camp for the night.
Maintaining our path along the highway, we will bike through scenic valleys before we ascend up and over the Tso-La Pass (elevation 4520 meters). In the afternoon we will pass by some hot springs before setting up camp about 10 kilometers outside of Lhatse.
Today we will conquer the 5220-meter elevation of the Gyatso-la Pass, where on a clear day we will be able to see majestic Mount Everest in the distance. Once we have descended from the high pass, we will ride through small villages dotting the flat prairie of the plateau before arriving in the town of Pelbar, also known as Shegar. Many travelers use Shegar as a rest stop on the way to the region of Mount Everest, so it’s a good place to stop and rest for the night.
We will face a bit more of a challenging ride today as the road condition deteriorates from that that we have been traveling on for the past few days. We will depart from the well-maintained flat highway shortly after leaving Shegar as we head directly toward the peak of the world – Mount Everest – to eventually Mainland China and Tibet and enter into Nepal. Once we pass through a control checkpoint, we will have 20 kilometers of uphill riding, making our way through a total of 42 hairpin bends as we ascend to the summit of Pang Pass (elevation 5150 meters). We will have lunch with unparalleled views of some of the world’s highest peaks, including Makalu (elevation 8463 meters), Shishapangma (elevation 8012 meters), Cho Oyu (8210 meters), Lhotse (8516 meters) and of course the highest one of all, Mount Everest (8850 meters). After lunch we will descend for 20 kilometers to the Rongbuk Valley (elevation 4200 meters) where we will set up camp for the night.
The remainder of the road is a bit rough as we cycle through the Rongbuk Valley where Mount Everest will once again come into view. We will set up camp beside the world’s highest monastery, the Rongbuk Monastery, where we will spend two days enjoying our natural surroundings. You will have the second day here at your leisure, which you can use to rest and relax or walk, cycle or even ride a donkey cart to the Everest Base Camp, located about 8 kilometers from our campsite at the Rongbuk Monastery.
We will break camp today and leave the Rongbuk Monastery, back down on a rough road before heading off on a shortcut through the mountains. A rough trail will take us over a canyon before we descend down into the small village of Tingri (elevation 4340 meters).
We will have an easy start today as we ride along the flat roadway for about 40 to 50 kilometers before we begin our ascent up the gradual slope to the Lalung Pass (elevation 4990 meters). Here we will have a great view of some of the world’s highest mountain peaks, including Shishapangma (elevation 8012 meters). We will set up camp here to spend the night.
Our final uphill climb begins today as we bike up to Thang Pass (elevation 5050 meters). From here we will again have incredible views over some of the world’s most spectacular scenery before we begin an incredible downhill journey from near the top of the world. Once we reach the small village of Nyalam, our surroundings will become filled with greenery again as trees and plants are better able to grow below this elevation. We will see beautiful waterfalls and countless pine trees lining the highway as we continue our journey downhill. Our destination today is the border town of Zhangmu (elevation 2300 meters) where we will spend our last night in Tibet.
As we leave Zhangmu we will have to pass through the customs and immigration checkpoint to gain entrance to Nepal. Our first town in Nepal is Kodari, which we will pass through as we continue our downhill ride for another 50 kilometers on some very bumpy and rocky roads. It will seem as though there is a sudden change in the scenery as we find ourselves in a tropical and humid environment as we bicycle through rice paddies to our final destination. We will pass through the small town of Dolalghat as we end this part of our downhill ride and climb back up a bit to the village of Dhulikhel at an elevation of 1600 meters. We will spend this night here to prepare for our final day of biking tomorrow.
On the last day of our biking journey, we will travel from Khulikhel to Kathmandu. It’s a downhill ride through Bhaktapur where we can stop for a bit of sightseeing at the town’s famous temples if you like. After Bhaktapur we will reach the relatively bustling city of Kathmandu, where you can have a free afternoon to relax and rest, or maybe do some souvenir shopping or check out some other sights that you may have missed during your earlier stay in the city.
Your incredible Tibet and Nepal biking adventure ends today as your tour guide escorts you to the Kathmandu airport for your flight on to your next destination.