Lhasa to Kathmandu – Riding the Roof of the World

Highlights

  • 1,396km / 873 miles – 90% On Road
  • Rugged road / gravel bike / drop bar adventure
  • One Strava Heatmap line NEVER forgotten!
  • 27 days / 26 nights
  • Tackle three 5,000m Passes
  • Cross the Himalayas 
  • The ultimate high altitude ride

Number of Days: 27
2021 Land Only Price From: £4395
Grade: Spicy
Group Size: 9-14 
View: Kit List

Dates

* Mon 05 Apr – Sat 01 May 2021 Ready To Roll

Dates are available for Private Groups by arrangement – contact us for details

Trip Overview

Day 1 Arrival in Kathmandu

Today you’ll be met on your arrival at the airport in Kathmandu by a member of our Nepali crew before transferring the short distance to our 3* hotel in the city.  Groups normally arrive on different flights so our first opportunity to meet up as a complete group will be over our evening meal together in the hotel.  Arriving in Nepal for the first time, or returning on a second (or more) visit, is always a glorious and fantastic assault on the senses.  Our hotel is located close to the bustling and historic district of Thamel, which is an amazing place to explore.

Overnight in Kathmandu in a 2/3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: D

Day 2 Stupas & Cycles

Whilst the paperwork for our visas for Tibet is being prepared our adventures start with a few of days exploring some of Kathmandu’s most historic sites and riding in and around the Kathmandu Valley & Rim.

Today starts with a morning City Tour of Kathmandu, including a trip out to the Buddhist temple and stupa site at  Boudhanath.  This easy start to the day means that we’ve some slack built in should there be any late arriving flights.  After lunch we’ll build up our bikes together in the hotel’s courtyard – so there’s tools and help on hand if required – and discuss the adventure that lies ahead of us.  Once everyone is ready we’ll have a short shakedown ride to make sure the bikes are all A, OK.

16km / 10 miles. Overnight in Kathmandu in a 2/3* Hotel.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 3 Himalayan Foothills

Today we start a four day ride around the Kathmandu Valley & Rim.  This gives us a chance to gain some progressive altitude and starts the acclimatisation process for our bodies.  Riding out from Kathmandu (1,400m) today we ride to the temple and river confluence village of Sundarijal (1,350m) via a circuitous route that see’s us reach a maximum altitude of around 2,500m.

40km / 25 miles. Overnight in Sundarijal in a Lodge.  Meals included B,L&D

Day 4 Riding the Rim

Following the valley rim we continue to Chisopani (1,800m) – which means cold water in Nepalese).  Today starts with a steady off road climb and our route today is is all about savouring the amazing environment and views.

22km / 14 miles. Overnight in Chisopani in a Lodge.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 5 Head to the Hill Station

Today we enjoy some of the best views to be had as we head up to the hill station village of Nagarkot (2,175m).
20km / 13 miles. Overnight in Nagarkot in a Lodge.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 6 The Long and Winding Road

It’s a downhill start to the day en-route to Nala.  A short tarmac section follows before we head off road again for Dhulikhel (1,550m).
45km / 28 miles. Overnight in Dhulikhel in a Lodge.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 7 Namo Buddha

Today is another mixed surface day as we ride back to Kathmandu via Namo Buddha, one of the most sacred Buddhist sites in the World, and Lakuri Bhanjyang.  Once we reach our hotel we repack our bikes and kit ready for our flight over “The Hump” to Tibet.
50km / 31 miles. Overnight in Kathmandu in a 2/3* Hotel.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 8 Hopping over The Hump

It’s an early start today as we take the morning flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa.  This has to be one of the most spectacular flights on the planet and, if conditions allow, we should get an incredible view of Mount Everest.  From Gonggkar airport we transfer by minibus to the group hotel in Lhasa (3,660m).  It cannot be stressed enough how important it is today to spend our time relaxing and hydrating (with water) and allow our bodies to start adapting to the altitude.  Fascinating that Lhasa is and as itching to explore as we will be … today is the foundation stone to successful altitude acclimatisation.

Overnight in Lhasa in a 3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 9 Sightseeing in Lhasa

Acclimatisation is the key to a successful and enjoyable ride back to Kathmandu, so we spend the next couple of days allowing our bodies to adjust as we explore this incredible city.  In the morning we walk to the Jokhang Temple and join the line of Tibetan pilgrims attending to their daily rituals.  There is additional time available to explore the pilgrims circuit in a clockwise direction around the temple, known as the Barkhor, which is lined with stalls of local merchandise.  In the afternoon we go to the amazing Potala Palace which presides over the city of Lhasa.

Overnight in Lhasa in a 3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 10 Acclimatisation Ride to Sera Monastery

Today we have the option of a short ride out to Sera Monastery which is on the Northern outskirts of the city.  This monastery is one of the three great Gelukpa monasteries.  Debates among monks on the Buddhist Doctrines are integral to the learning process here and this debating system is exclusive to the monastery.  It is fascinating to watch the monk’s gestures as they try to illustrate their points.  We ride back to the hotel and the afternoon is spent relaxing and preparing for the adventure ahead.

Overnight in Lhasa in a 3* Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 11 Hit the Road

Finally, our first full day of riding in Tibet!  After any last minute preparations we set off along the smooth tarmac out of the city and towards the base of the Khamba La pass.  Today is mostly flat allowing you to spin out those legs and get dialled in for the days to come.  En-route we take the opportunity to visit the Drepung Monastery.  The crew will have set up the camp ready for our arrival at the foot of the pass.

86km / 53 miles. Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 12 Oh La La – The Khamba La

Oh la la, is the prevalent thought this morning as we have breakfast under the towering Khamba La Pass (4,747m).  Today’s challenge is the first of our major climbs and it’s not to be underestimated.  The 25km of ascent should be taken at a very relaxed pace, and in an easy gear, as we allow our bodies to continue adapting to the increasingly less dense air.  From here we can see the sparkling blue of Yamdrok Lake, then we descend to the Southern side of the pass for lunch and then onto the village of Ngartse.

72km / 45 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 13 Tail Winds Welcome

An energy filled breakfast is on the menu this morning as we prepare to climb our first 5,000m pass, the Karo La (5,050m).  We continue on the undulating road (mostly downhill) for a well deserved lunch.  We set up camp at the base of the Simi La and prepare for tomorrow’s climb.  
69kms / 43 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our camp.  Meals Included:B,L&D

Day 14 A “Wee Pass” Day – Only 4,330m

This morning we wait for the sun to rise, enjoy a warming breakfast then get ready to ride.  Today we are crossing a ‘smaller’ pass, the Sima La (4,330m).  After which it is mostly downhill to the village of Gyantse (4,055m). Today is  fairly short day and we spend the afternoon visiting the Kumbum Monastery and enjoy the relative luxury of a hotel tonight.
36kms / 22 miles.  Overnight in a Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 15 Plateau, Plateau

Heading Westwards we ride to the city of Shigatse, which is Tibet’s second largest city and sits at an altitude of 3,950m.  With a flat spin and no hills to speak of ahead we cover a bigger distance today and we should reach our destination in about 4-5 hours of pedal time. In the afternoon there is time to explore the Tashilhunpo Monastery and catch up on washing and general admin before heading back into the wilds tomorrow towards the Big E.

93km / 58 miles.  Overnight in a Hotel.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 16 Rollin’ Rollin’ Rollin’

Leaving the city behind we ride along roads that bear witness to the dry, stark, beautiful and huge skied Tibetan landscape.  The road gradually climbs throughout the day until we reach the camp which is at the base of the Tsho La Pass.   We rest up at our camp (4,290m) ready for the next challenge.

105km / 65 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 17 Fit and Acclimatised

By now, we’ve plenty of distance in our legs and we should be well acclimatised to the altitude so the climb of the Tsho La (4,500m) should be straightforwards.  Gliding down the descent we head onto the town of Lhatse and after our lunch stop we start the climb up to our camp at the base of the Gyamtsho-La.

66km / 41 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 18 Team Sky High

The Gyamtsho-La (5,248m) is the highest pass on our journey along the Friendship Highway and a steady effort is required over it’s 13kms of climbing.  We are rewarded with spectacular views of the Himalayas including Everest, Lhotse and Cho Oyu.  We wrap up warm for the descent which leads us onto our camp beneath the Pang La Pass at Chay Village.

68km / 42 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 19 Views of Everest

It is about 18km to the top of the Pang La Pass (5,150m) and, depending on the weather, we may get our first full view of the North Side of Everest and an uninterrupted view of the Himalayan chain from the pass.  After the descent we will all regroup at the village of Tashi Dzong where we take lunch.  

After lunch we ride the 45km to Rongbuk.  En-route Everest becomes more impressive at each turn until we reach our camp at 5,000m.  It’s a long and challenging ride today but it’s oh so special.

105km / 65 miles Ride Distance.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B, L & D

Day 20 … And Relax

Today we plan to mostly put our feet up and absorb the magnificence of Everest and the culture surrounding the Rongbuk Monastery.  We’ll do a short and slow paced local ride from our camp to keep the legs moving and to take some time for an exploration of our surroundings.

16km / 10 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 21 Hot Springs at Tingri

We leave Rongbuk and the mountains shimmering in the morning sun as we retrace our wheeltracks for a short distance towards Tashi Dzong.  We cut the corner over the Lamma La and eventually after a wild morning of riding we are back onto some much desired tarmac.  We ride past Tingri to Tsamda (4,385m).  If there is time we will visit the Hot Springs at Tingri which present the ideal opportunity for those aching limbs recover whilst looking at distant views of Everest and Cho Oyu – does it get better than that?

80km /  50miles. Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 22 It’s Windy Out 

Leaving camp refreshed today we have a relatively short spin to the camp at the base of the Lalung La (4,555m) and the village of Sumdo.  Headwinds are prevalent in this region so we tend to run a low speed chaingang taking it in turns to battle the winds and give everyone a rest, in turn, in the slipstream.  Depending on the group’s decision we may opt for a late lunch when we reach the camp or break the day into two halves and savour the spectacular scenery.

56km / 35 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 23 Yaktastic

With blood as thick as a yak’s we tackle head-on the Lalung La (5,050m) which is only 9km from camp.  From the top we enjoy a descent to start with and then continue our journey with down towards the camp at Paiku Tso-Lake (4,595m).  With the last of the 5,000m passes under our belts, its all downhill from here … well sort of!

70km / 43 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 24 Plateau Pedlars

Fit and acclimatised plateau pedlars as we are now the main challenge today is likely to be the wind as we have a long day’s riding to Kyirong and the new border crossing point with Nepal.

114km / 71 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meal/s Included: B,L&D

Day 25 Resham Firiri

Saying our goodbyes to our Tibet Crew, we leave the hardest part of the adventure behind us as we cross the Border and drop down into the warmer climes of Nepal.  As we lose altitude, all the hard work of the last couple of weeks spins out of our legs and we drop down, down, down to Sera and our camp by the River Trisuli (only 900m).  Being Nepal there is the odd section of Nepali Flat* today.

Tonight is the last night we’ll have with our Nepali Crew, so this is our opportunity to show our thanks and gratitude to the guys that have looked after us so well for the last few weeks together.  We’ll take this opportunity to make this a celebration.

*Nepali Flat = the odd significant uphill here and there.

67km / 42 miles.  Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meals Included B,L&D

Day 26 What Goes Back Up, Must Come Back Down Again

It’s a beautiful and challenging ride back into Kathmandu today but the final 30kms or so are all downhill.  We should be back at out Hotel for mid afternoon so there’s some time to relax (or pack your bike) before we head out into town for a well earned final group meal.

100km / 62 miles Overnight under canvas in our Camp.  Meals Included B,L&D

Day 27 Departure Day

Our trip has come to an end and you have the day free to look around the city until it’s time for your transfer to Kathmandu Airport for your return flight home.

Meal/s Included: B


What’s Included

■ 26 nights accommodation* as detailed in the trip overview. (10 Hotel, 12 Camping, 4 Tea House/Lodge).
■ We use a 3 star hotel when staying in Kathmandu (3 nights).  When cycling we use a mix of full service camping and Hotel/Lodge/Teahouse accommodation. 
■ All meals as detailed in the trip overview.  Meal Key: B – Breakfast, L – Lunch, D – Dinner.
■ Kathmandu Airport transfers to / from group hotel on Arrival & Departure Days only.
■ Kathmandu to Lhasa flights.
■ Airport transfer in Lhasa.
■ All baggage transfers in our baggage vehicle/s.
■ The services of a Nepali Biking Guide.
■ The services of a UK qualified Rather Be Cycling Trip Leader – ALL GROUP SIZES.
■ The services of a baggage vehicle driver / assistant & support crew.
■ Access to commonly required tools and mechanical advice & assistance.**

* All accommodation is allocated and priced on a twin occupancy basis.  Please contact us for Single Occupancy Rates.

** Please note that whilst we are prepared for the most likely mechanical issues we cannot carry spare parts / tools to deal with all eventualities. Please ensure your bike is fit for purpose before your trip – we are happy to advise you.

What’s Not Included

■ International and / or Domestic Flight/s to and from the start (joining) point and end (departure) points of the trip.
■ Any excess baggage charges relating to outbound and / or return flights.
■ Any excess baggage charges on the flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa.
■ Nepal Visa/s as required.
■ Tibet Visa/s (USA Nationals US$205 / Other Nationals US$120)  – NB: We arrange this Visa for you whilst we are in Nepal, but it is additional to the Trip Cost and is subject to variation
■ Travel Insurance – compulsory.
■ All drinks e.g. bottled water, coffees, teas, alcohol, etc.
■ Spare / replacement bicycle parts & accessories e.g. tyres, tubes, wheels, etc.
■ Other expenses e.g. souvenirs, additional food, etc.
■ Tips – at your discretion but encouraged and culturally appropriate for the local guide and crew.
■ Certain meals on certain days – please refer to trip overview.
■ Your spending money.

Bike Spec

■ This is a trip which is ideally suited to a the modern crop (written in 2020) of Rugged Road, Gravel or Adventure bikes fitted with suitable on/off road tyres.  A Mountain Bike can also be used.  

■ The acclimatisation riding in Nepal is often more technical and on rougher surfaces than in Tibet.  With that in mind bringing two sets of tyres – 1 pair for off road / hardpack conditions and a second pair for rugged on road / predominantly tarmac is advised.

■ Whilst 90% of this trip is on tarred road – the nature of the terrain is such that sections of the road can be affected by landslides/rockfall, degradation, etc. Hence the need for robust tyres (and spares to fall back on, if required)

■ Gearing giving a bottom gear of between 30″ and 40″ is suggested for this trip.

■ Your bike should be fully serviced, and thoroughly tested, before your holiday.

■ Many modern bikes have bike specific parts (e.g. gear hangers) and their design means that that may not / do not accept generic spare parts.  Please ensure you bring crucial bike specific spare parts with you.