DURATION – 15 Nights / 16 Days
Tibet was only opened to tourism in 1985. Before this, it avoided influence from the West. As a result, the country developed its own unique culture and religious traditions. Since Tibet was governed by the spiritual leaders, monasteries and religious institutions they were the backbone of power. Importance and prestige were shown by the size and magnificent architecture its buildings.
Tibetan Buddhism contains many elements of their older religion,” Bon Po” which worshipped the sky, moon, sun, fire, soil and even evil spirits which they immortalized in their art. Older monasteries such as Tashilhunpo which we visit, contain thousands of unique statues, paintings (thangka), religious and historical books. So many in fact, it would take several weeks to see them all. The Monasteries are full of pilgrims who often travel long distances to fulfill their vows and wishes. Their devotion and dedication are outward indicators that religion still holds a very important place in their daily lives.
Once out of Nepal, don’t expect green pastures and forests. Tibet is a high-altitude desert plateau with BIG landscapes and crystal clear, thin air.
Full name: Tibet Autonomous Region of China
Area: 1.2 m. sq. km
Population: 3 million
In Exile: 300,000
Capital city: Lhasa (Population 200,000)
People: Tibetan & Chinese
Language: Tibeto Burmese, Tibetan and Chinese
Religion: 90% Buddhist, 1% Muslim, 3% Bon Po, 6% others
Government: Occupied by China in 1949/1950 Currency: Yuan (Y 8.15 = US$ 1.00)
Geography: Tibet borders India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan and Burma
What to wear: Light weight clothing is recommended for May to June, Warm garments are required from September to April. An umbrella or a raincoat is a must for the summer season.
Voltage: Standard voltage only 220 volts.
Words frequently used in this itinerary: La (mountain pass), Tso (lake), Cho or Po (river), Gompa (monastery), Chorten or Stupa (a Buddhist shrine/structure usually containing religious relics)
Upon arrival in Kathmandu you are met by the one of our team then transferred to the hotel.
Rest of the day is free to relax.
Evening: you will meet the whole team and get to know the others on our tour. You will be given a brief introduction of the trip followed by a welcome dinner at an authentic Nepali Restaurant.
After the dinner, transfer to the Hotel.
Overnight at the Hotel
Sightseeing Tour of Kathmandu (Visa Processing Day)
After breakfast, you will be met by guide and vehicle for half a day’s sightseeing tour of Boudhanath Stupa and Pashupatinath Temple.
The Boudhanath Stupa is located 6 kilometres Northeast of Kathmandu and is a colossal imposing Stupa standing about 36 meters and is one of the oldest Buddhist monuments ever built in Nepal.
The Stupa stands on the massive three level Mandala style platforms surrounded by colorful family style houses. The Stupa is said to have been built in the 5th Century and is a sight of great veneration to the Buddhist.
Pashupanath Temple – is the most sacred of the Hindu Temples in the world and is amongst the five principle pilgrimage sites for the Hindus. On an annual pilgrimage during Shivaratri Festival, thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva from all the Hindu communities of the world, pay their homage here.
Pashupatinath is the reincarnation of Shiva in his most benevolent form as the shepherd of fertility and so there are no animal sacrifices in this temple. Only fruits, flowers and vermilion are offered. It lies on the banks of the Bagmati river and for the Hindus, to be cremated at Pashupatinath, means a direct passage to heaven.
You will be able to observe some cremations if you so wish.
Later afternoon, you will be introduced to the bikes and will go for a short ride.
Evening: Your team leaders will give a briefing about the riding protocols on both Nepal and Tibet roads. You will also be briefed on extra protocols to be aware of when travelling in Tibet Most importantly, you will be given information on what can happen at high altitudes, and we will check if you are prepared.
Followed by a question and answer session.
Rest of the evening is free
Overnight at the Hotel
Ride Kathmandu to Syabrubesi (approx. 117 Km)
After breakfast, we saddle up and hit the roads out of Kathmandu city.
Stay as bunched up as possible as negotiating the traffic can be a challenge
Soon, we follow the narrow winding road through beautiful forest on the Nagarjun highway to Kakani.
As we climb higher and higher you will get fantastic mountain views. Lots of photo opportunities to be had.
Then it is a steep winding descent to Trishuli where we stop for lunch.
After lunch, we head north and continue the ride to Dhunche.
We are now riding through the Langtang region which suffered badly in the last earthquakes. Some of the roads are being reformed so, careful riding is needed.
Once again, the views are spectacular as we climb and climb the steep foothills of the Himalayas. Little villages are literally clinging to the hillsides and the amount of terracing the inhabitants have made for their agriculture defies belief.
From Dunche, there is a steep descent on a multi switchback road until we reach the village of Syabrubesi where we will spend the night. The Rest of the day is free to relax or explore.
Ride from Syabrubesi to Kyirong (2700m) (Approx. 44 Km)
After completing the Nepali Immigration formalities, we cross the Friendship Bridge, where we then need to complete Chinese Immigration.
Our Tibet guide and driver will meet us there.
After Chinese Customs clearance for the motorcycles, we load up the gear on the Chinese vehicle and ride for another 24 kms to Kyirong.
Kyirong, is one of the frontier counties of the Tibet Autonomous Region. It lies in the southwest of Tibet and the southwest of Xigaze prefecture. Kyirong means, in Tibetan,” happy village”. It sits at 2,700 m (8900ft) above sea level. Some of you will be starting to be short of breath here.
Pagba Monastery, Chagar Monastery and Qiangzhen Monastery are the main monasteries of Kyirong. Kyirong Jiangcun Nature Reserve is a famous beauty spot.
Up until 1960, one of the main trade routes between Nepal and Tibet passed through this region. It is easily accessible from Nepal. It was used several times as an entrance gate for military actions from Nepal against Tibet.
We spend the night here.
Rest of the day is free to relax or explore around the town to acclimatize to the altitude.
Ride from Kyirong to Saga (4640m/15312ft) ( Approx. 170 Km)
The challenges of high altitude will become apparent here. Please remember what you have been told and let us know if you are feeling uncomfortable
After breakfast, we ride through the beautiful Tibetan landscape climbing over passes and descending through scenic valleys. We finally arrive at the mighty Brahmaputra river (locally known as “Tsang Po)”
We cross on the newly constructed bridge to arrive at the hustle and bustle of Saga. A sprawling truck stop town. It is also an army town that has a huge Chinese garrison that patrols the whole Tibetan-Nepalese border. You will possibly hear them practising at target practice with machine guns very close to town.
Saga is also a stop off town for pilgrims travelling to the sacred Mt Kailash
Upon arrival check in the guest house.
Rest of the day is free to relax or explore around the town.
Ride Saga to Sakya (4280m) (Approx. 323 km)
This is a very long and very scenic day. We ride the sandy and rocky landscape of Tibet – past lakes, nomads with huge herds of yaks, sheep and goats, and of course we negotiate some stunning and very high passes. (5 of these). Some are over 5000m. We come across the Brahmaputra River again, ride through picturesque villages of which Ngamring is one of the biggest. This scenically rewarding ride provides plenty of photo opportunities.
We pass through the small town of Lhatse and continue a further 26 km to Shakya where we are staying the night.
Ride Shakya to Gyantse (3950m) (Approx. 250 km)
After breakfast, we visit Sakya Monastery. The centre of the Sakya order of Tibetan Buddhism, was founded in 1073 by Konchok Gyalpo, and during the rule of Sakyapas, the priest patron relationship between Tibet and China was established.
Sakyapa rulers reigned over Tibet for nearly a hundred years from 13-14th century. Many of its priceless images, fresco statues, Holy Scriptures remaining today and date back to this time.
From here we ride for 115 kilometers on a flat stretch to Shigatse (the second largest town in Tibet), where we stop for lunch. The route today is scenic with one pass of 4300 m.(14190ft).
After lunch, we continue on to Gyantse. The 90 kilometer journey seems like hours because of the 40 kmph speed limit imposed by the traffic police. There are regular check posts as well as Patrol cars to strictly implement the rule.
Gyantse is a pastoral town and still retains the charm of a traditional Tibetan town untouched by modern expansion. It made world headlines in 1904 when Colonel Younghusband led a British Expedition to Tibet and defeated the Tibetan army.
As a crossroads on the principle trade route to India. It used to be renowned for the excellence of its carpets. The compound, encircled by an impressive wall, once contained 19 monasteries and presided over by the the fortress perched atop a nearby mountain.
Upon arrival, check into the hotel.
Late PM: we take a sightseeing tour of Gyantse Kumbum. Built in the 15th century, it is one of the most unique and magnificent buildings in Tibet. It consists of 6 storeys complete with a Buddhists Hall and a prayer hall. It has 112 chapels and its walls are adorned with religious paintings. It has withstood all many battles and revolutions since.
We also visit the Pelkhor Chode Monastery founded in the 15th century. It has been remarkably well preserved and many of the statues and paintings inside date back to the time of its founding.
Overnight at the Gyantse Hotel
Gyantse / Lhasa (3,650m): 261 Km via Lake Yamdrok.
In the morning we ride 100kms to Nagartse, ( near Lake Yamdrok (Turquoise Lake). The route crosses the Simi La (4200m/13860ft) and continues along the trail with fantastic views of the turquoise blue waters of the man-made lake that was created by a hydro dam. We also cross the Karo La (5010 m/16533ft) on the ride to Nagartse, a small village near the Yamdrok Lake and an ideal place for a lunch stop.
Then we ride along the picturesque trail of the colorful Lake Yamdrok, (the Tibetan lifeline of the river Brahma Putra (Yarlung Tsangpo). It is about 240 kms in circumference and is more like an Island sea. There are Yak herders around and the lake itself and it supports a population of scaleless fish in its non-saline waters. We are now about 124 km from Lhasa.
Later we ascend to Kamba La (4,794m) and have an opportunity to meet the Yak Herders with their finely decorated Yaks and Tibetan Mastiffs. A great photo opportunity and one can take pictures on a Yak or with a bunch of decorated Tibetan Mastiffs for a fee.
From here we descend to the main road ride to Lhasa City.
Lhasa is the political, religious, commercial and cultural capital of Tibet. It is situated at an altitude of 3650m on the north bank of the Kyichu River in the province of U (central Tibet). Two high craggy hills stand up in isolation from the valley floor. One, Red Hill, is topped by the hugely magnificent Potala Palace. The other, Chockpori or Iron Hill, is merely crowned by a tall antenna.
Lhasa in Tibetan means “Place of the Gods”, The Potala Palace ” the residence of the Dalai Lama (the god king), was designed as an earthly representation of the celestial Palace of Avaloketswora, the “Buddha of Infinite Compassion” whose incarnation in the human form is believed to be the Dalai Lama.
Lhasa consists of two district sectors with completely different architecture, culture and lifestyle. Old Lhasa, the Tibetan section, centers around the Jokhang Temple. Its narrow streets are sandwiched between white washed stone houses, the walls of which, slope inward as they rise. The Chinese section, was built in the last 30 years around the base of the Potala. It is characterized by straight, broad streets and utilitarian buildings that houses Chinese style department stores and all kinds of government houses.
In spite of its forced pace of modernization, Lhasa has not lost its soul. It is a friendly city where a Tibetan will always return a smile.
Lhasa – Free day/Sightseeing
Sightseeing tour of Potala Palace. This legendary palace is synonymous with Tibet. Built in the 7th century by the first king, Songsten Gompo. It was expanded to its present structure during the 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. In 1645 – 1693 the 13 storey, 1000 room citadel served as the headquarters of the former “Church State” of Tibet and was home to successive Dalai lamas who, from the latter half of the 18th century, used it as their winter residence.
The Potala Palace once held the offices of government, a huge printing house and a seminary run by the elite order of monks who surrounded the God-King to train government officials. Hundreds of elaborately decorated chapels and shrines, halls and corridors contain thousands of gilded statues – Tibet’s pantheon of Buddhas, Boddisattvas, saints and demons.
Today the Potala is a statue museum with 35 caretaker monks, and is visited by many thousands of Tibetan pilgrims.
After Lunch – we visit the Jokhang Temple.
Situated in the heart of old Lhasa, it houses Tibet’s most precious religious relic, a golden Shankyamuni Buddha which was brought as a gift by the Chinese Princess Wen Cheng on the occasion of her wedding to the Tibetan King, Songtsen Gompo.
JOKHANG is the spiritual center of Tibet. Its oldest part dates back to the 7th century A.D.
Surrounding the Jokhang Temple is the bustling Barkhor Market Place which is the religious and social focus of Lhasa.
If we have any energy left, we will visit Ramoche Temple, which is considered the next most important temple after Jokhang.
Ride Lhasa to Lhatse (Approx. 375 Km)
We leave Lhasa today for another long ride towards Shigatse via the northern route. The route today is along the Friendship Highway and is relatively straight forward and part of it is alongside the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River).
Shigatse is Tibet’s second largest city and of course retains many important temples. Because of time restrictions, we do not enter the city premises but continue on the outskirts and head off for Lhatse. (115 kms further on). We pass through Gangchen area (renowned for the exquisite Tibetan wool carpets).
We stay at Lhatse tonight.
Ride Lhatse to Rongbuk (Approx. 255 Km)
Another long day ahead of us today. From Lhatse, we ascend on a zig zag trail to the Gyatso La pass at (5248 m/17318ft) One of the highest on our journey.
Then, it is another steep zig zag descent to Shegar. This is one of the main towns that is used as a base for people heading to Everest. The town itself is presided over by an imposing ruined fortress that was a key structure in the Nepal/Tibet battles of the past. We are now surrounded by the spectacular mountains of the Everest region.
About 4 kms on past Shegar, we stop at an army check post where passports and permits are checked. Everyone is required to present their passport personally and in serial number order. (as shown in the group Visa). Then it is another 60km ride to Tingri.
Tingri used to be and important trading post where Sherpas from Nepal exchanged rice, grain and iron for Tibetan wool, livestock and salt. It gives its name to the broad upland basin (more than 4,500ms high) that is known as the Tingri Plain. Shallow, fast-flowing rivers of melted snow water make its grassy meadowland ideal for all livestock.
Very soon, we come to the turnoff to Quomolongma (Everest) National park. Yet another check post to negotiate then we can finally proceed to Everest Base Camp.
This section of the route to Everest Base Camp is graveled (work is in progress), is dusty and a very rough one. As we ascend and descend from one valley into the other, there are fantastic views of the snow peaked mountains (weather permitting) of the rugged terrain of the high Himalayas. Lots of photo opportunities here.
There is a chance to see the rare Himalayan blue sheep.
After a sharp bend, we finally arrive at Rongbuk, where we are staying the night. Rongbuk Monastery is one of the main features of the landscape. It is relatively new, as the original one was destroyed by the Chinese in the 1970s and then later by fire. It is being restored and houses Buddhist monks and nuns. In the distance, towering above everything else is Mt. Everest – Mother of the earth at 8848m/29198ft.
We check into our guest house. Then rest of the time is free.
Excursion around Mt. Everest Base Camp and Ride to Tingri
After breakfast, we follow the dirt road south alongside the the Dzakar Chu (river). We come across the small tented settlement of Dza Rongphu. This has been moved from Everest Base Camp (because of environmental consideration) One can find some good bargains at the curio shops here.
(Note: The new rules prohibit vehicles from going beyond Dza Rongphu area. Clients need to travel by the Government coach and it costs Yuan 50.00 for a round trip Ride).
We board a coach for a 4-kilometre ride to the Everest Base Camp area. We climb a small ridge, covered with prayer flags, to a vantage point where we get an unobstructed view of Mt. Everest and the open Tibetan plateau leading to the Camp II area.
On the way back we can spend some time at Dza Rongphu, the tented city for a cup of tea/ noodle soup or shop for souvenirs or even send a post card from the mobile post office.
Our return journey takes us past Rongbuk back to Tingri. This takes about 4 hours.
We check into our guest house at Tingri.
Ride Tingri to Kyirong Town (approx. 286 Km)
From Tingri, we ride across the vast and highest plateau in the world with spectacular views of the mighty Himalayas which gives us the surreal experience of riding across the “Rooftop Of the World”
We cross the Lalung La (5,200m/17160ft) and Thong La (5050 m/16665ft) where, weather permitting, we can get a breathtaking panorama of the Himalayan ranges including Mt. Everest (8,848m)
The road passes through the desolate plain of Digur Tang with its enormous sand dunes and the snowcapped peaks of Shishapangma (8012m.) and Langtang (7232m.) Leaving the Bum- Chu basin we descend towards Pelkhu Tso (4600m.) a stunningly beautiful lake into which the glacial streams of Da-Chu and Lha-Chu drain.
After spending some time at lake we continue the ride to Kyirong Town (approx. 70 Km).
Upon arrival check in to the Hotel.
Rest of the day is free to relax or explore around the town.
Ride Kyirong Town to Kathmandu (Approx. 161 Km)
After breakfast we ride the 24 kilometres to the border and the Nepal Tibet Friendship Bridge. Here the porters will transfer the luggage to the Nepal side and we bid farewell to our Guide and riders from Tibet. Complete Chinese Immigration and then cross the friendship bridge.
We complete Nepal Customs and Immigration then ride 137 Km to Kathmandu.
After checking into the hotel, The rest of the Day is free to relax.
Free Day in Kathmandu
Free day to relax or explore or shop.
EVE: Farewell Dinner
Free until final departure.
***END OF ARRANGEMENTS***