Our ‘Roof of the World’ motorcycle adventure, from Kathmandu to Lhasa and back, is a true adventure into Tibet, forbidden to westerners for so many years. If you thirst after firsts, here’s just the ride! And we include a visit to Everest Base Camp. Our Tibet accommodation is in hotels and guesthouses (some basic, but NO camping!), and all meals and snacks are included.
Marvel at the highest mountain in the world Mount Everest, from Everest Base Camp • Stroll around the fascinating streets of Kathmandu • Visit the Potala Palace, an UNESCO World Heritage Site and former residence of the Dalai Lama • View the mystic Yamdrok Tso lake
Day 1 Kathmandu
On arrival in Kathmandu you will be transferred to your hotel. Relax and unwind before this evenings welcome dinner.
Day 2 Kathmandu (50 km)
Today enjoy a sightseeing tour of the city to give you a chance to prepare for the high-altitude riding to come. Take in the sights such as the Syambanath (monkey temple), ancient Hindu and Buddhist temple complexes, Bodnath stupa (one of the holiest Buddhist sites), Pashupatinath (an ancient Hindu temple complex), and burning ghats on the Bagamati River. After lunch pick up your bike and head off for an afternoon ride into the countryside.
Day 3 Kathmandu – Kyirong (100 km)
Head out of Kathmandu and up toward the Nepal/Tibet border and the newly established crossing at Kyirong. The ride might be short, but it will be busy. With the closing of the Kodari/Zangmu border due to the 2015 earthquake, the majority of the goods traffic between Nepal and Tibet takes place over this road. It is a shorter ride than to Kodari, but equally beautiful, winding up along the Trishuli river and along and through Nepal’s Langtang National Park. Climb from Kathmandu’s 1,400 meters to Gerung/Kyirong’s 4100m in just under 100km and pass from rich and dense jungle up, up, up and into Tibet’s high desert mountains. Arrive early afternoon to take care of border formalities and sleep on the Tibet side of the border.
Day 4 Kyirong – Old Tingre (280 km)
Today’s ride takes you north and east along a relatively undiscovered by tourists stretch of road before meeting up with the main pilgrimage route to Kailash. Instead of turning west toward that holiest of mountain, travel east toward Lhasa. The verdant greens of Nepal’s lowlands will long have given way to the mesmerizing beauty of light across Tibet’s mineral rich peaks and plains. Tonight’s destination is Old Tingre and along the way, if the weather is kind, enjoy glimpses of Everest looming majestically toward the south. There are hot springs just outside of Old Tingre and if time is on your side, you can relax and take a soak with the locals.
Day 5 Old Tinge – Lhatse (165 km)
Still acclimatizing from your gain in altitude over the last couple of days, enjoy a leisurely breakfast and head out toward Lhatse. Though Everest is near and calling, save your highest night’s elevation for the return home and ride instead past both the old and new Base Camp access roads. On up the sweeping and increasingly stark valley you’ll crest Lhapa La (5200m), The road is gentle, wide and easy with sweeping views of Tibet’s grandeur. An easy descent brings you to Lhatse, set at the juncture of Tibet’s main west-bound trading roads.
Day 6 Lhatse – Gyangtse (240 km)
This morning’s ride is a long and fast (-ish, this is Tibet, and we are on Enfields!) ride through iron rich hills and bizarre groves of saplings stretching as far as the eye can see. Shigatse is by far the largest town on the ride so far, and we’ll lunch at one of its many good food-stops before heading on. The ride to Gyangtse is relatively short, but picturesque – lined with increasingly lush farm plots and villages. Be sure to watch for the occasional fibreglass police statues – some holding radar guns, some waving, and some bedecked by locals wearing silks scarves and prayer beads. In Gyangtse you’ll visit the famous Buddhist monastery complexes housing some of the rarest Tibetan Buddhist art in the world.
Day 7 Gyangtse – Lhasa (260 km)
Heading north-east, today is a day of good roads and exceptional scenery as you pass Yamdrok Tso lake on the scenic back roads to Lhasa. Ride over two more 5000m passes, Karo-La and Kamba-La before arriving at the Forbidden City, Lhasa. Luck permitting arrive with enough time to wander the markets before evening.
Day 8 Lhasa (80 km)
There’s a lot worth seeing in Lhasa, so rise early to tour both the Potala Palace (an UNESCO World Heritage Site), the icon of Tibet and home to 14 Dalai Lamas, and the Jokhan Monastery, often called the Heart of Lhasa. Finish in time for ample exploration of Bharkor the pilgrimage circuit and multitude of shops and stalls surrounding the monastery.
Day 9 Lhasa – Shigatse (265 km)
Today bid Lhasa farewell and begin the journey back towards Nepal. The day’s route bypasses Gyangtse and takes you along the main route from Lhasa to Shigatse via the Yarlung Zangbo river. Leave early both to avoid heavy traffic out of Lhasa and to arrive in Shigatse with time to explore and hit the town for a good meal.
Day 10 Shigatse – Xegar (New Tingre) (235 km)
You’ll have ridden this stretch of road already, but you’ll be surprised how different it looks going in the other direction and what you’ve missed along the way. Prepare for a gentle gain in altitude as you reach our lunch destination at Lhatse, and then an abrupt rise and slow, stark descent down into Xegar. Retire somewhat early tonight in preparation for tomorrow’s Everest approach.
Day 11 Xegar – Rongbuk Ebc (110 km)
This is it! The aim today is to ride to Everest Base Camp, probably one of the most famous sites in Tibet outside Lhasa. The approach road is wide and well maintained, but dirt – often with hefty corrugations and occasional deep patches of dust and gravel. Attention is paramount, especially as the steady rise in altitude begins to take its toll. Scale a hefty 5200m pass by means of countless switchbacks before descending slightly to your lunch stop in the idyllic village of Pesong. The afternoon brings you up a wide, dry valley to the Rongbuk Monastery and should arrive in time for visit to Base Camp – 9 km south of Rongbuk Monastery, at just under 6,000m (18,200ft). The highest mountain on Earth looms majestically just over your shoulders.
Day 12 Rongbuk – Kyirong (270 km)
Weather and inclination permitting, rise early and ride up to Base Camp again for a final view of the mountain before taking a less-used track that meets the Friendship highway at Old Tingre. Moisture can make this route untenable, so you’ll have to play it by ear. Enjoy lunch in Old Tingre before striking out again for the border crossing at Kyirong.
Day 13 Kyirong – Kathmandu (100 km)
Today say goodbye to Tibet and hello once again to the warmth and hospitality of Nepal. An early border crossing will give ample time for the ride into Kathmandu and an early afternoon arrival. The afternoon is yours explore the city by mountain bike or rickshaw, do a little shopping or simply relax by the pool. This evening, enjoy your farewell dinner
Day 14 Kathmandu
After breakfast this morning your tour ends, transfer to airport for your onward travel arrangements.
I believe that one would have to search high, low & far to find a better tour leader than Alam who was most ably supported by his driver and mechanic – both quiet, but most responsible guys, who ensured that the bikes were ready to roll each morning, and always in show-room condition!
Trevor Millett (ex-professional tour guide), UK, 2011
Yugyal and Babu are our right-hand men in Nepal and Tibet. It’s theirs job to make sure everything happens on the ground and happens smoothly. They are both very important to us so please be nice to them!