21 days Mountain biking tour from Lhasa to Kathmandu via E.B.C.
Upon arrival at Lhasa airport or train station, to be met and transferred to your hotel / hostel in Lhasa. Afternoon have a good rest to acclimatize the high altitude. Overnight at Lhasa.
Today is your first day of sightseeing on the high plateau, so we have purposely arranged only to visit Jokhang temple and Potala Palace. Jokhang temple is the most scared shrine in Tibet which was built in 7th century and located at the heart of old town in Lhasa, the circuit around it called Barkhor street, which is a good place to purchase souvenirs. Potala Palace is the worldwide known cardinal landmark of Tibet. The massive structure itself contains a small world within it. Mostly it is renowned as residence of the Dalai Lama lineages (Avalokiteshvara). Both of them are the focal points of pilgrims from entire Tibetan world, multitudinous pilgrims are circumambulating and prostrating in their strong faith. Overnight at Lhasa.
Today you will be arranged to visit Drepung, Sera monasteries and Summer Palace - Norbulingka palace. Both Drepung and Sera monasteries are Gelugpa (yellow hat) sect monastic colleges. Drepung monastery was the seat of the Government prior to Potala, it was once the world largest monastery in the history with 10,000 monks hailed from different monasteries all over Tibet. Sera monastery is famous for its Buddhism philosophical debate practice, the clapping sound and aggressive expression of the monks are well worth to see. Norbulingka is the summer palace of Dalai Lama, you can visit the residences of different lineages of the Dalai Lama. The park is crowded with picnickers and traditional activities during the Shoton (Yogurt festival) in August. Overnight at Lhasa.
One more day in Lhasa for acclimatization. Today a short biking tour is arranged in to suburbs of Lhasa.
Mountain biking adventure begins from Lhasa. Cycling past history-laden city of Lhasa, you will transverse through barley fields, traditional Tibetan villages and undulating uphill slopes. Few kilometers ahead, a bridge appears across the river leading to the airport. Chinese soldiers can be seen stationed at the mid-point of the bridge. Turning away from the route to the airport, you have to skirt along another direction following rarely-visited sandy path to Khampa La. The trail meanders through a village of mud-walled houses and pastoral farmlands. You may attempt to interact with local villagers with the assistance from your Tibetan guide. This gives you an opportunity to glimpse into the lives of local villagers. Further ahead, the trail branches into a valley away from Tsangpo and then ascends. You will approach your first campsite on a rocky territory encompassing an area of width 30 meters and height 100 meters. After cycling for about 6-7 hours, you will eventually arrive at the foot of Khampa La (pass) at an elevation of 4794. At an idyllic site, you will camp for the night under starlit sky.
A tough climb across the first of six high passes of the trip. If you find it too tough peddling up 4794 meter high pass you can always get on the support 4WD Land cruiser. Once you are on the top of the pass you have a glittering views of Yamdrop tso (lake) and stunning summit of Nanzin Kangsa (7252m). A descent to deep turquoise Yamdrok Tso Lake amidst its exquisite mesmerizing views further accentuates the biking thrill. Nomadic herders and grazing yaks make interesting picture-perfect view en route. After lunch, you will ride along the shore of the lake on sandy roads for about 40km. The trail further continues along ridges in the valley wall with breath-taking views of towering snow-capped peaks as the backdrop. Sooner sheep pastures come into sight. Resting your cycling journey for the day, you set a camp after riding for 72 km up to Nagartse village at an elevation of 4,475m.
Barking and howling of Tibetan Mastiff work as the morning alarm in awakening you from your hard earned sleep. Cycling away from Nagartse, the trail progresses towards a valley and to the top of Karo La the first 5000 meter pass of your trip (you have an option to getting on the support vehicle). Crossing Karo La (5050m) you descend to the foot of Simi La at an elevation of 4330m through several interesting Tibetan villages. Basking in the grandeur of surrounding natural exoticism, you will overnight at a superb locale.
Today it is a fairly easy and short ride to the top of Simi La at 4375m and then mostly downhill ride into a wide sandy valley towards Gyantse. The trail crisscrosses barley field along the flowing river. Here, you will spot several military and religious sites. You can bask in the sheer pleasure of visiting Pelkor Chode Monastery, and Gyantse Dzong. Pelkor Chode Monastery has ancient murals, thangkas, chapels, mandala and paintings of 84 mahasidhhas in yogic posture. Gyantse Dzong was constructed in the 14th century and offers majestic view of both Gyantse and Nyang Chu Valley. Gyantse Kumbum is one of the major attractions of cultural interest in Gyantse. It houses several chapels and Tibetan Buddhist murals. You will spend the night at comfortable hotel.
Today's ride is on tarmac following Nyang Chu River to Shigatse, the second largest city of Tibet. En route, you will encounter several trucks, cabs and pedestrians hurrying along the busy streets of Shigatse. There are internet cyber cafe, many well-resourced shop, restaurants etc. Tashilhunpo monastery, being one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet, is a major attraction of Shigatse. Overnight here will be in a comfortable hotel.
Today is the rest day to explore the local market and Tashilhunpo Monastery. This monastery is one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet and there is much to explore within its high surrounding walls.
The road being bumpy, loose and dirty, you may find the ride strenuous. Following the Friendship Highway, you will gradually climb to the foot of Tso La where you stay the night at tented camp.
A fairly easy eight kilometers ride brings you to the top of the Tso La from where you will have a clear view of the main Himalayan range. A brief stoppage at the top of the pass follows a thrilling downhill ride to the small town of Lhatse. After lunch at riverside the biking trail gains gradual climb to the foot of Gyamtso La at 4,630 meter where you camp for the night.
The Gyamtso La at 5,220 meter located approximately 15 kilometers from the campsite, is the highest pass of this biking adventure. The trail to the top of the pass passes through steep and rough slope. From the pass it is steep downhill ride amidst stunning views of Mt. Everest, Lhotse & Cho Oyu. Riding past small Tibetan settlements, nomadic herdsmen make your journey even more eventful. After arriving at a small Tibetan Town of Shegar. After peddling a few kilometers you reach your camping site.
Today you will detour away from the main road to Everest Base Camp. The biggest hurdle of today's ride is Pang La at 5,150 meter. Approximately 2-3 hrs peddling along the dirt road into the north base camp of Everest brings you to the top of Pang La. The road zigzags across the back wall of the valley overlooking stunning view of the pass. The view from the top of the pass is breathtaking with the whole Himalaya range gleaming right before you. The tough climb to the pass follows an excellent downhill ride to small Tibetan settlement where you camp for the night.
The trail along the river for first few kilometers is fairly easy as you head toward Rongbuk valley. This ride gets quite pleasurable as your eyes savor the breath-taking view of glaciated valley. Yak-skin tents and grazing yaks can be viewed on the other side of the valley. Within few hours along Rongbuk Glacier, North Face of Everest becomes visible flaunting its unparalleled beauty. Rongbuk Monastery lies ahead 8 kilometers below Everest Base Camp at an elevation of 5,000m, at the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier.
After taking a well-deserved rest, you can indulge in the exoticism of exploring mystiques of Rongbuk glaciers. It is an 8 km each way walk along dirt road to the base of Mt. Everest. You ascend to the moraine and shortly encounter a nunnery ruined during the Cultural Revolution. A small hermitage is nestled in the vicinity. A few hours of ascent eventually brings you to the Everest Northern Base Camp. No matter how much difficulties and challenges you may face along the trail, once you see the mighty Mount Everest your tiredness instantly elopes and you feel so much blessed as you savor this blissful sight. After photographic moments and exploration, you retreat back to your camp.
Since it takes lot of time on a bicycle to reach to the top of Pang La, it is best to drive up to this pass and bike down to Tingri. The trail leading to Pang La is extremely rocky and bumpy. Soon after arriving at Pang La, you collect your cycling gears and start peddling down the steep trail. Shortly, a boulder comes en route and the trail gets rougher as it follows rock-strewn path. The trail descends to a series of sandy ridges which cut along the edge of a river gorge. Further down, you will meet a stream. This adrenaline-fueled ride continues past pristine hamlets and lush barley fields. After coming close to Tingri, if you look back you can catch a stunning sight of majestic Everest and Cho Oyu. The dirt road turns into a paved road as you will enter a small town of Tingri which is an unsheltered and windy settlement nestled underneath the enchanting Cho Oyu. Your overnight camp will be at a small village where you can take bath in a natural hot spring.
The ride to Lalung La base offers unbeatable pleasures and adventures. Starting with a little uphill climb you make your way along the edge of the valley following a river and at some point you will see the river branching into a lake sheltering a variety of Himalayan ducks. Meandering past the valley floor of grazing yaks, mud bricks, small traditional villages and ruined monasteries, the trail narrows to a gorge making you ride into the headwind for another five kilometers. Views of Everest and Cho Oyu from your lunch stop is simply amazing! Riding a further 15 km brings you an excellent campsite at the foot of La Lung La with green grass and crystal clear mountain rivulet.
Climbing double pass today calls for real hard work. It is approximately 15 km uphill peddling from the campsite to the top of the first pass, La Lung La at 5,124 meters which offers excellent views of Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar. A six kilometers downhill ride and a further seven kilometers uphill climb brings you to the top of the second pass, Thang La at 5,200 meters. If you find it too much to peddle uphill you have an option of getting on the support 4WD Land cruiser. After spending some heavenly moments at the top of the pass you begin what we call 'the world's longest downhill' biking adventure. A long pleasant downhill ride amidst superb mountain scenery brings you to a village near Nylam where you camp for the night at 3,750 meter.
Heading away from Nyalam, you ride along the steep road dropping down through the gorge. The trail meets a glacial stream and turns back crossing the river. A further 15 kilometers of cycling brings you amidst the verdant vegetation and a little further ride brings you to the Chinese border town of Zhangmu at 2300 meter. Making your way through traffic and modern concrete block buildings perched on the slopes, you will head towards Chinese customs where you are required to handle re-entry formalities to return to Kathmandu. Once you are done with this official procedure, you advance towards 12 km descent to the river and the bridge to Nepal. The trail that follows at this point onwards is muddy, steep and rocky. You may encounter several jeeps on the way. After bidding your Tibetan guide and driver farewell, you will descend to the river valley. Initially, the trail gets rocky but later eases when it enters paved road after 20 kilometers of descent. Utmost careful safety measures should be adopted as there are chances of washouts occurring at any time while riding along this steep muddy trail. Further down, a village springs into picture. As you make your way to the entrance of the town, you will experience many speed breakers. The trail then opens into rich verdant valley with rice terraces surrounded by green hills. After a sumptuous lunch at tranquil 'the Last Resort' you can stroll down the river or spend the day relaxing by the river admiring surrounding views of lush green hills with a bottle of beers or two.
Today you have an option of driving all the way to Kathmandu or bike up to Dhulikhel and drive to Kathmandu. Ride is on tarmac with occasional steep climb, the large section of the road follows Bhote Koshi river through lush green beautiful Nepalese countryside. Evening in Kathmandu is a time for the celebration in a traditional Nepalese restaurant.