What is a Bike Tour in Himalayan Mountains?
A bike or hike in the mountains of Nepal is not a wilderness experience. It is rather a cultural and nature experience. It is a journey through various ethnic cultures, religion and geographical diversity of this Himalayan kingdom. There are rich varieties of flora and fauna within a limited area and horizontal distance of 70 km from the lowest elevation of 150 meters to 8848m above sea level. The hills are dotted by numerous villages, which are linked by footpath. You use these networks of footpath made by local people to visit several destinations.
The people in the villages are friendly and hospitable. This is the nature of our people and smiling faces and amicability is what you will find in the villages. Depending upon the season you come across local people in their distinctive ethnic dress and cultural festivals. On major trade route like in Annapurna area you are likely to meet traders from Tibet with caravan of mules, porters carrying construction materials and soldiers at certain junction along the route. The awe-inspiring Himalayan peaks will always remain with you giving fresh air and nostalgic feeling. You will be amazed to find a great contrast about hard life in the mountains and, happy and smiling face of the people. A bike tour in himalayas of Nepal always gives you time to reflect and think about your own lifestyle and may even change the way you look at life.
You will be riding on an absolutely beautiful terrain. Mountain biking in Nepal is more than pristine countryside and wilderness. You will be doing it physically amidst the exotic culture. Experience bikers say that “mountain biking in Nepal is about riding on off-road trails, great climbs, exhilarating and within that context it is about being able to arrive in an unexpected festivals”. You come across trails with goats, cows, and buffaloes grazing in the fields, farmers carrying plough and yaks up in the mountains
A short Biking tour
A short biking tour in the mountains can be a day trip on the ridge or a maximum of 7 days biking up and down the hills get a closer view of the spectacular Himalayan range that tends to extend wherever you go. Close view of the mighty Himalayan peaks is the highlight of your biking tour in Nepal. Bike or walk in the mountains is always up to the ridge and down the valley. Except while biking and walking through river valleys and along the ridge most of the day is spent biking several up and down terrain. A day bike ride in the mountains is usually a steep 3-4 hours ride and another 3-5 hours downhill. Riding pace is easy and gradual.
How high you go
Of course the mountains in Nepal are very high compared to other parts of the world. However, a day bike ride is never more than 2000 meter unless you take a flight o remote place, like Everest region, high among the Himalayas. There you will be at an altitude of 3000 meters. A bike tour of 7 days would not exceed 4000 meters.
In the scale of 1 to 4, that is Easy, Moderate, Hard, Strenuous, short rides in Nepal falls under 1 and 2 categories. Any physically fit person would be able to take this trip. Most bike tour around Kathmandu valley falls into this category. However, a long ride on the Tibetan plateau is strenuous. Though the terrain on the roof of the world is flat yet tough because of the high elevation and several passes above 5000 meters riding your mountain bike is taxing.
When to take a short bike tour
Except From July to September, all seasons are good on the foothills of the Annapurna and around the rim of Kathmandu valley. You can take any number of days to ride around the rim of Kathmandu valley. You can take any number of days to ride in the rim of Kathmandu valley. If priority is the question, Autumn comes first, second is Spring. Winter is cold, and ice in the mountains makes it dangerous and slippery. Statistics show that Autumn season has more tourists than in Spring and Winter respectively. But to ride around Kathmandu and Pokhara valley is good all season. In case of Tibet, it is best in summer-monsoon season, in July and September, which falls under the rain shadow area.
Mostly you will be biking on the dusty and unpaved jeep road. The trails are uneven; therefore, it is technical biking trail. You travel on pitched road on some section of the programs. In Kathmandu valley you will be biking on cross-country trails. It has been said the foothill and the valley rim is the perfect size and height for challenging rides.
The itinerary is suggested guideline only. It may change due to weather, physical condition and other unforeseen circumstances that are beyond our control.
TRAVELLING IN TIBET
Trip to Tibet is a fantastic and special experience. It is adventurous. It is ancient Tibet and modern China in the process of blending together. Tibet is enchanting. It is one of the most remote parts of the world. Most of Tibet, including Lhasa, is an elevation of more than 3658 meters (12000 ft). The sight of pilgrims prostrating themselves in front of Jhokang must be seen to be comprehended. Tibetans from remote parts of the country make their pilgrimage to Lhasa. It is pilgrimage of their lifetime. As you go around Jokhang temple, Lhasa’s cathedral, you come across with pilgrims prostrating themselves, tall Khampas with red braids in their hair, Chinese tourists, and traders selling goods that you cannot imagine.
The flight over the Himalaya makes spectacular crossing rarely seen anywhere in the world. The lush green colour in Nepal slowly fades away, and arid and dull grey plateau appears which in turns into blue sky as you land at Lhasa. The highest mountain in the world, Mt. Everest, and another 8000-meter peak of Mt. Makalu dominates the breathtaking view.
The distance in Tibet is very wide, and the road is rough and dusty. So schedules are often disrupted by mechanical problems, floods, and landslides. To tackle the problems that arise out of these unforeseen circumstances, you will certainly need high spirit of adventure and patience. In fact your journey to Tibet would be a rewarding and unforgettable experience like the one Tibetan pilgrims get once they are in Lhasa.
The trip to Tibet is in high altitude region. The road is at an elevation above 3600 meters (12000 ft
) above sea level most of the time and goes as high as 5300 meters if you go to base camp of Everest or Kailash in a short period. In case of altitude problem with a member of the group it is always priority of the group to attend the sick person for his/her safety. There are medical facilities at Zangmu, Xigar, Xigaze, and Lhasa but not in other places. Medical facilities are limited, and possibility of medical evacuation is negligible.
What biking is like in Nepal & Tibet
Life on the bike: You may have lunch or tea before you start to bike; it depends upon when you arrive at the bike start point. On a long bike tour, your duffel baggage and camping equipment will be loaded on a support vehicle to carry. The support vehicle carries food and all necessary equipment.
Bike tour around the rim of Kathmandu valley and in places where lodging facilities are available you will eat and sleep in the best available lodges. Usually, a packed lunch is provided during your bike in the daytime. For a group size of up to 10 members a guide is assigned. Above ten members two guides accompany the group. The guide will ensure that you are on right trail.
After you arrive at the camp, tea will be served. Drink a lot of fluid. Dinner will be served around 6 p.m. After dinner usually most bikers retire. Candles are provided in the tent and lodges wherever electricity is not available. Make sure to extinguish the candle before you go to sleep or go out of the tent.
The usual pattern is to wake up at 6am, pack your duffel bag and have breakfast at 6.30am. By 7am everyone is ready to start biking. When weather is cold and the day is short this schedule may be delayed. Your guide will inform you about this.
Lunch stop depends upon a suitable spot. In camping arrangement it depends upon availability of water. Usually you will stop for lunch around 11am. Meals are served in the open.
In average you will be biking about 7 to 8 hours a day. If you are at a higher elevation you will be doing less. It is important to bike slowly and steadily. Because of mountain terrain which is up and down it is difficult to measure distance covered in each day. Usually you will be biking about 15 to 20 km a day. Your day to day schedule is arranged in such a way that you can easily cover the distance without taxing your body. Anyone in good health and sound physical condition can complete any bike tour that we organize. But you should be prepared to steep bike hills.
What you should know?
In the event of illness or injury, either the guide will arrange to send someone for assistance or transport the ill person to a nearest hospital, airstrip, or road head for evacuation to Kathmandu. The tour leader has complete authority and responsibility in such a situation. It is up to the individual member to decide whether his assistance is required or continue the journey depending upon the situation. The only guideline in such condition is common sense.
High Altitude Sickness
If you have not experienced walking in high altitude region before you may feel uncomfortable with headache, nausea, and lethargy. Even if you have previous experience it is not a guarantee that you are immune. Even if you are in good physical shape you should slow down your walking pace as you trek above 4000 meters. Experience and statistics have shown that this measure has reduced the likelihood of getting altitude sickness. This is neither assurance nor a guarantee but caution to ask you to be prepared emotionally. In case you get altitude sickness you should be prepared to retreat to lower camp.
Most fatal cases of altitude sickness (pulmonary edema) resulted from people pushing themselves beyond their capabilities when they were severally affected by the altitude problem. Usually altitude problem does not occur below 3600 meters, however at least one extra day should be allowed if you have flown directly to that altitude.
Kailash Himalaya programme includes extra days in the high altitude area to allow for proper acclimatisation of your body. Despite this some people still are affected by high altitude sickness.
We strongly recommend that you be insured against accident, emergency evacuation, loss of or damage to baggage and personal effect, and trip cancellation due to personal or family health/illness, etc.
Do not take valuable and travellers check on the trip. Leave it behind at the safe deposit box. It is available in most hotels.
You need money for bottled mineral water, soft drink, beer etc and tips to porters and trip staffs. In a short tour Nepalese rupees worth US$50 to $100 is sufficient, and on longer trip $150 to $200 in rupees of the smaller denomination would be alright unless you want to buy some souvenirs.
It is one of the major sources of stomach problem. While in Kathmandu you have choice to drink bottled mineral water but on the bike tour, you should bring small bottle of iodine crystal to treat your drinking water. Or check with your chemist the best method to treat water. At camp or lodge you will have plenty of tea or coffee to supplement your water requirement, this is safe. Generally water provided in the hotels is safe. But we suggest you not to drink water from the tap and pitcher kept in your bedroom. Foods in the camping tour are treated with potassium permanganate (pink water), and water is boiled.
We advise you should drink only boiled water and eat freshly cooked food. Maintain basic hygiene while eating food. Do not get nervous if you get mild diarrhoea. Because of change in diet your system takes time to adapt.
Because of the word Himalaya associated with biking and trekking, it is most often asked if snow is encountered during the travel: The answer is no! Except in winter (December to February) at passes above 3500 meter there would be snow.
The geographical setting of the country is so extreme that it ranges from a sea-level to snow-covered Himalaya. This great variety of topography of the country creates diversity of weather as well as climate. The country experience tropical, mesothermal, microthermal, taiga and tundra types of climate.
The seasonal wind “Monsoon” is caused by the differential heating between land and sea. Monsoon rain normally arrives over eastern Nepal during the first week of Jun. 60 to 80 per cent of rainfall falls during the monsoon season (June to Sept).
In winter the major weather affecting, is the “Western Disturbances”. Due to this, northwestern part of the country receives rainfall greater than that of the east. At higher altitudes, most of the precipitation falls in the form of snow.
Oct Jan Apr
Temperature in Cel Max Min Max Min Max Min
Kathmandu (1332m) 31 14 19 3 29 8
1500 to 2500 meter 25 12 16 3 23 6
2500 to 4000 meter 18 5 11 -8 16 -0
4000 to 6000 meter 8 0 5 -10 6 -0
Note: Above average temperature is for guideline only.
Autumn: Monsoon rain normally ends by middle of September. Sometimes it drags on to first week of October. The weather in October and November is cold and dry. The sky is clear, and views of the mountain are fantastic. Major festivals happen during this season. In the beginning or middle of November weather changes with snowfall in the mountain above 2500 meter and rain in the lower region; this last for a week only and it improves. The temperature in later part of November much colder than in October. This sort of weather continues until middle of December. Generally sky remains clear in the morning and evening, during daytime it is cloudy.
Average temperature above 900 to 2000 meters is between 7 to 25 degrees Celsius. Above 2000 to 3000 meter the temperature usually remains around 4 to 17 degree Celsius. Nighttime is cold and the day is quite hot at the above altitude.
Spring: It is the time when wildflowers are in full bloom. Rhododendron of varieties of colours covers forest on the mountain slopes. Early March is cold with lots of snow on higher elevation above 4000 meters; there would be no snow on lower elevation. Morning and evening are clear with blue sky. Daytime is cloudy. As the season approaches end of April the weather becomes warmer and hot as it gets into May.
Summer: Mountain bike riding is still nice until the first week of May. After first week the temperature gets very hot during the day. Nighttime is pleasant. View of the Himalayan range is visible though it is cloudy during the day. This condition remains until end of June. Rain starts pouring from the beginning of July and remain until middle of September. However this is the best time to visit higher plateau of the Himalayas like Mustang, Kailash and Tibet where the sky remains blue throughout.
Winter: Mid-December until end of February is usually considered as winter. It is coldest of all the season. The temperature drops to minus 2 to 6 Celsius in the night. The daytime temperature remains between 12 to 18 degrees Celsius; it is warm. Snow-covered mountain appears brilliant during the daytime. Nice time to do short bike ride on the foothills of the mountain.
TIBET MOUNTAIN BIKE TOUR- From Lhasa to Kathmandu via Rongbuk
The mountain bike travels across the Tibetan plateau from Lhasa to Zangmu and then further descent to Kodari border and climb to Kathmandu cover a distance over 1,100 km. You will cross six high mountain-pass over 5000 meters. The bike track follows the dusty road that will make detour to Rongbuk Monastery and the north base camp of Mt. Everest. Probably the most exciting part of this bike tour is the mind-blowing descent of 4,600 meters from the 5050 meters high Thang La pass. It is probably one of the longest downhill! Ride anywhere.
After arrival in Kathmandu, you spend two nights in Kathmandu. On the second day you will have a half-day sightseeing tour of Kathmandu and Syambhu stupa. Next day you fly to Lhasa. You have two full days in Lhasa for acclimatisation. It is just fascinating to be at Lhasa. There will be sightseeing tour in and around Lhasa using your bike to familiarise,
Your mountain bike journey starts on the 6th day. The bike track is the friendship highway. The tour passes through Gyantse and Shigatse. On the 13th day, you turn off the Lhasa – Kathmandu road just before Tingri and make detour to Rongbuk Monastery and north base camp of Mt. Everest. The roads to the base camp are very challenging, but the mountain views are fascinating. After two nights in Rongbuk you ride back to the friendship highway and continue towards Zangmu. The road after Tingri passes one higher pass: It is the highest point
At Lalung La (5050m) on the road. From this point onward you make the continuous and long downhill ride all the way to Zangmu and the Friendship Bridge at Kodari border. Stay overnight at Kodari and early next morning continue to bike to Kathmandu.
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