On arrival you will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to your hotel for a full briefing on the details of the expedition.
Evening drinks are held in the hotel for all World Expeditions clients arriving today. Drinks and snacks will generally be served from 6:30pm until 7:15pm, and this is a great opportunity to get acquainted with your fellow group members before heading out to dinner.
This morning a sightseeing tour takes in the key attractions in and around Kathmandu. We will visit Pashupatinath and Boudhanath, returning to the hotel by 2pm. In the afternoon you may have time to explore Durbar Square, Patan, Swayambhunath or Bhaktapur, and the lesser-known towns that dot the valley on foot, by bicycle or trishaw. The area has an amazing range of fascinating highlights, whatever your interest. Excellent bookshops, extensive markets, and novelty and handicraft shops contrast with fantastic centres of cultural and spiritual significance - Kathmandu has more World Heritage sites than any other city in the world.
The flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa takes two hours and is without doubt one of the most spectacular flights in the world. The flight path takes us just east of the Everest massif with unrivalled views of the remarkable Kangshung Face of Everest. On arrival at Lhasa Airport you will be transferred to the city, a drive that takes around one hour .
Three days are scheduled to appreciate the rich cultural history of Lhasa. We include visits to the Jokhang, the Norbulingka, (Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama), and the Potala Palace. The Jokhang and Barkhor
The Old City of Lhasa was built around the Jokhang temple, the most sacred temple in Tibet. It was established in the 7th century when Buddhism was first introduced into Tibet and since it's founding, has been considerably enlarged particularly during the reign of the 5th Dalai Lama. Our guide will describe in detail the significance of the main chapels as we make our way through a labyrinth of corridors uncovering secrets to deities and bodhisattvas along the way.
The main entrance to the Jokhang is always full of activity with pilgrims prostrating themselves as they conduct their prayers before continuing on their ritual circuit around the temple. This circuit area, together with the Barkhor - the market area outside the Jokhang - is a gathering place for Tibetans who may have travelled for many months across Tibet. The Barkhor is the 'real Tibet' with a multitude of stalls selling anything from ceremonial scarves to Chinese thermos flasks. You can spend many hours there people watching, although be sure to ask first before taking photographs.
The Norbulingka Summer Palace is a large compound situated to the west of the city where successive Dalai Lamas would spend their summer months. Indeed the 14th Dalai Lama preferred to stay in his summer palace in contrast to the rather cold, isolated chambers of the Potala.
The area within the Norbulingka is forested and provides ideal shade from the intense Lhasa sunlight. The Palace of the 14th Dalai Lama is situated in the centre of the compound, and little seems to have changed from the time he escaped into exile in 1959.
Most of the private quarters are open to the public, which always includes a steady flow of Tibetan pilgrims keen to pay homage to their exiled leader. The Palace of the 13th Dalai Lama, situated on the perimeter of the Norbulingka is also open to the public.
The Potala Palace is one of the highlights of a visit to Lhasa. Founded in 1645 during the reign of the Great 5th Dalai Lama, the White Palace was completed in 1648, 12 years after the Dalai Lama's death. To avoid possible problems the head monks related to the masses that the 5th Dalai Lama was in deep meditation until after the Red Palace was completed.
The Potala is divided into two main complexes: the outer white building that housed the administration, and the Red Fort where the chapels, tombs and living quarters of the Dalai Lama are located. It is normal to approach the Potala through the Western Gate and make your way slowly through the labyrinth of chambers to the lower floor of the Red Fort. The most impressive hall within this medieval building is the chamber housing the tombs of the former Dalai Lamas, including the massive golden tomb of the 5th Dalai Lama.
Nearby is the chapel commemorating Padmasambhava, the Tantric sage who introduced Buddhism to Tibet. On the upper middle floor is the Tomb of the 13th Dalai Lama, while on the upper floor there is the official Reception Hall and the living quarters of the Dalai Lama, some of which are open to the public. We complete our visit to the Palace by leaving through the main Gate to the Red Fort before descending the series of steps to the market place immediately in front of the Palace.
Time spent in the Potala will depend on the number of pilgrims and tourists. On one recent visit there were virtually no pilgrims at all visiting the Dalai Lama's quarters, while a few days later the palace was packed with hundreds of pilgrims waiting for many hours to view the various chambers.
We have allowed four days to cycle to the historic town of Gyantse. On our first day we cycle past the Potala Palace and make our way down the Kyi Chu valley before crossing the mighty Tsangpo River. We turn on to the Southern Friendship Highway and make our way up to the base of our first pass, Kamba-La, where we arrive at our camp to find our tents and facilities set up. (90 km alt: 3700m)
We start early on day 2 cycling up switchbacks to the summit of Kamba-La (4797m) taking in the magnificent views of the sacred Yamdrok-Tso (Scorpion Lake) and the mountain ranges that extend south to Bhutan. From the pass there is a steady descent to the banks of Yamdrok-Tso and we cycle alongside this magnificent lake to our camp on the western side. It is here where we are first introduced to the frequent afternoon headwinds, which can get quite strong! (60 km alt: 4490m)
Our third day leads us gently away from Yamdrok-Tso and over Karo-La (5010m) before getting up close and personal with the south-facing glacier of Norin-Kang. We enjoy the descent that ends today's stage to our tented village. (60km alt: 4591m)
Our fourth day is a long and gradual descent to Gyantse passing beautiful lakes, glaciers and a brooding fort (Dzong), which has guarded the small town from foreign invasion for centuries. We spend the night at a comfortable hotel in Gyantse with time to visit the Kumbum - the 15th century octagonal stupa that is one of the finest in the Buddhist world. (60km alt: 4020m)
Today we are treated to a flat (slightly downhill) ride, often with a mild tail wind. We cycle past quaint villages and take time to stop and watch as the villagers sing while tending to their crops. The yak is the tractor of choice in these parts and they can be seen ploughing the land to the sound of singing and bells ringing. (90km alt: 3850m)
In Shigatse we visit the Tashilhumpo monastery, traditional seat of the Panchen Lamas, the spiritual and temporal advisers of western Tibet. We're free to rest in the afternoon while our guide gives our bikes a well-earned service in preparation for the next stage of our ride, an exciting off road climb to Everest Base Camp.
We have scheduled three days to complete this section. The first days cycling covers a comparatively level 100km as we ride along a deep, isolated valley to our campsite. (100km alt: 4150m)
The second stage starts with a short, gentle climb through picturesque valleys to the small pass of Simi-La (4500 metres). As we approach the town of Lhatse, fields of barley begin to spring up and the valley widens. We camp 10km from Lhatse at the base of Lhakpa La. (62km alt: 4100m)
On day three we head up and over the 5,250 meter Lhakpa-La where we catch our first views of Everest (8850m) and enjoy a breathtaking descent through prairie villages to our hotel at the small town of Shegar. (82km alt: 4300m)
We have three days scheduled to fully savour this challenging section to the Everest base camp. From Shegar we have our permits checked and turn off the main highway to cycle south towards the Himalayan ridge.
The first stage takes us up 20km and 42 switchbacks to the summit at Pang La, 5150 meters. We gain fine views of Makalu, Shishapangma, Cho-Oyu, Lhotse and Everest. After lunch we descend on 54 switchbacks into a deep canyon riding past Tibetan hamlets clinging to the mountainsides before coming to rest at our riverside camp. (67km)
The beautiful but gruelling ride up the Rongbuk Valley on a rough dirt road is tough as the afternoon headwind kicks in but the views of the Himalayas are well worth it. We are cycling in a deep valley below the world's highest mountain range! Our reward is camping by Rongbuk monastery at the base of the entire north face of Everest. (42 km alt: 4920m)
Next we will cycle (or take the option of the support bus) up to Everest Base Camp (5150 metres) where we can explore some of the memos of previous expeditions to Mt Everest.
We take our support bus back over Pang-La to our evening camp before heading to the Friendship Highway and continuing our journey west to Tingri. We camp on the meadows at Tingri village, where we savour the mountain views over dinner. (51km cycling distance).
From Tingri we continue across the Tibetan plateau ascending gradually to Lalung-La (5050 metres) before a fast descent to camp at the base of Thang-La, our final pass before dropping through the clouds to Nepal. (85km alt: 4830m)
We get an early start to climb over Thang-La and begin 150km of mostly downhill, dropping like a stone to Nylam. From here, it's a winding and sometimes rough 35km to our hotel at the Tibetan border town of Zhangmu . (100km alt: 3750 metres)
Note: From the summit of the Lalung-La (5050 metres) to the Friendship Bridge at 1500 metres involves a descent of 3500 metres - one of the steepest descents in the world. All bikes are checked thoroughly before the descent and gloves are a must!
After clearing customs at Zhangmu we descend to the Friendship Bridge and the Nepal border at Kodari. This is a busy border crossing and can be chaotic at times, patience will be needed but we will soon be on our way once again. We ride steadily downhill through lush waterfalls and forest on a rough road for 66km before making our way up our final climb of 1200m in the heat to the bustling city of Kathmandu.
All going well we will have a free day in Kathmandu where last minute shopping and packing can be done, or just sitting by the pool at the Radisson Hotel!
After breakfast arrangements cease unless further arrangements have been made. Those requiring transfer to the airport will depart after breakfast.