The Great Lhasa Kathmandu Bicycle Journey | Tibet Biking

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One of the Himalaya's most spectacular bicycle rides on the roof of the world, Tibet's high plateau, crossing the Himalaya from historic Lhasa and Central Tibet to exotic Kathmandu! To add extra challenge and adventure to our Himalayan bicycle tour, we've incorporated a bicycle trip to Everest Base Camp via Rongbuk Monastery.

There are six major passes to cycle over on the Lhasa to Kathmandu route as it runs westwards, parallel to the Himalayan range which forms the borders of Bhutan, Sikkim and Nepal. En route, we visit Tibet's famous monastery towns of Gyantse, Shigatse and Shegar as well as several smaller settlements and nomadic (drokpa) encampments. On the detour away from the main route towards the Rongbuk Monastery, the road climbs through almost fifty hairpin bends to reach the Pang La, which rewards us with spectacular panoramas of the Himalaya, including Everest.

We spend the night at Everest Base Camp before riding 60 kilometers back to the main Lhasa-Kathmandu 'highway'. Back on the main road, we reach the edge of the Tibetan Plateau as we cross the 5,200 meter Thang La, and begin a mind-blowing descent of 4,600 meters, via the border town of Zhangmu, to the valley of the Bhote Kosi River.

A final day of cycling brings us back to civilization in the form of Kathmandu, with a stop first at the semi-tropical Last Resort for some serious spa and relaxation time.

The bicycling trip has six major Himalayan passes, many over 5000 meters. Please be prepared!

Join us for this epic journey!

NOTE: We've had to slightly adjust the itinerary due to earthquake damage along the Nepal - China border of the Friendship Highway.

Bike Trip

Early Arrival - Saturday, 4 June 2016 - Unless you arrive very early in the morning on 5 June we suggest scheduling arriving at least a day early. We need your passports and bicycles at 8:30 AM on Sunday, 5 June at 8:30 AM.

Zhangmu Kodari Border Tour
Day 1 -  Sunday, 5 June 2016 - Kathmandu (Passport & bicycle collection 8:30 AM)

Day 2 - Kathmandu
Day 3 - Fly Lhasa
Day 4 - Lhasa
Day 5 - Lhasa - Bike Sera + Drepung Gompas
Day 6 - Lhasa - Bike Ganden Gompa
Day 7 - Bike Khamba La Camp
Day 8 - Bike Nakartse (Yamdrok Tso)
Day 9 - Bike Ralung (Simi La Base Camp)
Day 10 - Bike Gyantse
Day 11 - Bike Shigatse
Day 12 - Bike Tso La Camp
Day 13 - Bike Gyamtso La Camp
Day 14 - Bike Shegar (or Pang La Camp)
Day 15 - Ride to Shegar Fort
Day 16 - Bike Choesang (over Pang La 5150m)
Day 17 - Bike Rongbuk Gompa
Day 18 - Rongbuk - Bike Everest Base Camp

Day 19 - Bike Tsamda Hot Springs
Day 20 - Bike Lalung La Camp
Day 21 - Bike Nyalem (cross Lalung La 5030m)
Day 22 - Bike Last Resort
Day 23 - Bike or Drive Kathmandu
Day 24 - Kathmandu
Day 25 - Wednesday, 29 June 2016 - Depart

Kyirong Rasuwa (Langtang) Border Tour
Day 1 -  Sunday, 5 June 2016 - Kathmandu (Passport & bicycle collection 8:30 AM)
Day 2 - Kathmandu
Day 3 - Fly Lhasa
Day 4 - Lhasa
Day 5 - Lhasa - Bike Sera + Drepung Gompas
Day 6 - Lhasa - Bike Ganden Gompa
Day 7 - Bike Khamba La Camp
Day 8 - Bike Nakartse (Yamdrok Tso)
Day 9 - Bike Ralung (Simi La Base Camp)
Day 10 - Bike Gyantse
Day 11 - Bike Shigatse
Day 12 - Bike Tso La Camp
Day 13 - Bike Gyamtso La Camp
Day 14 - Bike Shegar (or Pang La Camp)
Day 15 - Shegar - Ride Shegar Fort
Day 16 - Bike Choesang (over Pang La 5150m)
Day 17 - Bike Rongbuk Gompa
Day 18 - Rongbuk - Bike Everest Base Camp
Day 19 - Bike Tsamda Hot Springs via Tingri (over Lamma La 5120m)
Day 20 - Bike Lalung La Camp
Day 21 - Bike Peiko Tso Camp
Day 22 - Bike Kyirong
Day 23 - Cross Border into Nepal. Bike Dunche (Rasuwa Langtang)

Day 24 - Bike + Drive Kathmandu
Day 25 - Wednesday, 29 June 2016 - Depart

If Kyirong Border Closed
Day 22 - Drive Sakya or Shigatse
Day 23 - Drive Lhasa
Day 24 - Fly Kathmandu
Day 25 - Wednesday, 29 June 2016 - Depart


More Biking

Option 3 | Central Tibet, Nam Tso, Tsurphu Tour
Day 1 -  Sunday, 5 June 2016 - Kathmandu (Passport & bicycle collection 8:30 AM)
Day 2 - Kathmandu
Day 3 - Fly Lhasa
Day 4 - Lhasa
Day 5 - Lhasa - Bike Sera + Drepung Gompas
Day 6 - Bike Ganden Gompa
Day 7 - Bike Drak Yelpa
Day 8 - Bike Khampa La Camp
Day 9 - Bike Nakartse (Yamdrok Tso)
Day 10 - Bike Ralung (Simi La Base Camp)
Day 11 - Bike Gyantse
Day 12 - Bike Shigatse
Day 13 - Bike Thadru Kha
Day 14 - Bike Shogu La Camp
Day 15 - Bike Yangpachen
Day 16 - Bike Damshong
Day 17 - Bike Namtso (Nam Tso Lake - Tashi Dho)
Day 18 - Tashi Dho - Day Cycling Tour
Day 19 - Bike Nedrong
Day 20 - Bike Tsurphu Gompa
Day 21 - Tsurphu - Explore Off-Road
Day 22 - Bike Lhasa
Day 23 - Fly Kathmandu
Day 24 - Kathmandu
Day 25 - Wednesday, 29 June 2016 - Depart

Option 4 | Central Tibet, Samye Tour
Day 1 -  Sunday, 5 June 2016 - Kathmandu (Passport & bicycle collection 8:30 AM)
Day 2 - Kathmandu
Day 3 - Fly Lhasa
Day 4 - Lhasa
Day 5 - Lhasa - Bike Sera + Drepung Gompas
Day 6 - Bike Ganden Gompa
Day 7 - Bike Drak Yelpa
Day 8 - Bike Dranang
Day 9 - Bike Tsethang
Day 10 - Bike Yumbulagang + Tradruk
Day 11 - Bike Samye
Day 12 - Bike Samye Chimphu
Day 13 - Bike Dorji Drak Monastery
Day 14 - Bike Gambala
Day 15 - Bike Ngangkartse
Day 16 - Bike Simila
Day 17 - Bike Gyantse
Day 18 - Bike Shigatse
Day 19 - Bike Tadruka
Day 20 - Bike Nyimo
Day 21 - Extra Day
Day 22 - Bike Lhasa
Day 23 - Fly Kathmandu
Day 24 - Kathmandu
Day 25 - Wednesday, 29 June 2016 - Depart

NEPAL MODULAR TRAVEL
See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey in Nepal!

Kamzang Journeys | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Highlights+Reviews

Trip Advisor Reviews

Read More Testimonials
Trekker's Comments

Trip Highlights

  • Cycling the high Tibetan plateau
  • Spectacular Himalayan panoramas
  • Crossing 6+ Himalayan passes
  • The 'ultimate descent' down the Himalayan range to Nepal
  • 2+ Days in Lhasa (Potala Palace, Drepung Gompa, Sera Gompa, Jokhang Lhakhang & Barkor Kora)
  • Shigatse
  • Tashilumpo Gompa & Fortress
  • Gyantse Kumbum & Fortress
  • Yamdrok Tso (lake)
  • Shegar Fortress
  • Traditional Tibetan villages & architecture
  • Drinking salt-butter tea in Tibetan tea houses
  • Relaxing at the Last Resort
  • Exotic Kathmandu

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Himalayan Photos
Wildlife
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Birds
Himalayan Bird Photos

Flowers
Himalayan Flowers Photos

Travel Reading
Travel Books

Articles on Tibet
China Fences in its Nomads & an Ancient Life Withers | New York Times

The Last Dalai Lama? | New York Times

The Extraordinary Life of Alexandra David-Neel

Alexandra David-Neel | Adventure Journal

A Tibetan's Journey for Justice | New York Times

As the Dalai Lama Turns 80, Tibet Still Suffers | Wall Street Journal

Tibetan Fight to Salvage Fading Culture in China | New York Times

A Showcase of Tibetan Culture Serves Chinese Political Goals | New York Times

Tibet Never Before Seen Footage | TIME

Date+Price

Dates
Custom Departures
25 days

+ Until the Tibet Nepal border open!

Trip Price
$5280

+ Tibet Visa - $85 (most nationalities) + $175 (Americans)
+ Subject to Change
+ Single Supplement Tibet - $300
+ Single Upgrade Kathmandu Options
+ Kathmandu Bike Rental - $20 day (Scott Cube bicycles)

Leaders
Kim + Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa
Western + Sherpa Guide | Kim + Lhakpa Sherp
Private Departures with Nepali Bicycling Guide Also Available - Inquire

Includes

  • Western + Sherpa Guide | Kim + Lhakpa Sherpa
  • Kathmandu-Lhasa Flight
  • Tibet Permit
  • Tibet Entrance Fees
  • Kathmandu Guest House
  • Hotels in Tibet
  • Group Transportation by Private Vehicle
  • Staff Truck
  • Airport Pick-ups + Drops
  • NO Single Supplement for Camping
  • Bicycle Mechanic + Support Vehicles
  • Kamzang Journeys Bicycling
    Marmot (or similar) tents, 'gourmet' food with seasonal, fresh produce, French-press coffee, chai, Kashmiri + herbal teas, Katadyn filtered drinking water, warm washing water, library, 'lounge' with colorful Indian rugs, camp chairs, blankets, occasional tent music in evenings, oxygen & PAC bag (when needed), full medical kit, horses, yaks or porters, Western, Sherpa & local guides (when needed), our 5-star Kamzang staff + the signature yellow Kamzang dining tent. NO single supplement for single tents on trek!

Safety & Health Precautions

  • Thuraya Satellite Phone (when allowed)
  • InReach Satellite Messaging System (Free Texts on Trek) (when allowed)
  • Updated Route Published on InReach Site (when allowed)
  • Helicopter Evacuation Services (excluding cost of evacuation)
  • Support by Khumbu Adventures in Kathmandu + Tibet Kawajian Travel in Lhasa
  • Oxygen Saturation Monitoring System
  • PAC Bag (Portable Oxygen Chamber)
  • Full Medical Kit + Stretcher
  • Kayadyn Filtered Drinking Water
  • Safe, sanitary, delicious & plentiful food + drinks

Excludes

  • International Flights (to + from Nepal)
  • Bicycle Rental
  • Travel Medical + Travel Insurance (both required)
  • Chinese Visa (we get for you)
  • Nepal Visa
  • Helicopter Evacuation
  • Meals in Kathmandu
  • Lunch + Dinner in Tibet (when in hotels)
  • Monastery Donations
  • Equipment Rental
  • Alcohol, Sodas & Packaged Drinks
  • Laundry
  • Tips

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $250 for meals (while not on trek), drinks (on trek) and tips. We recommend $200 per trekker thrown into the tips pool for the crew.

Contact+Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

Guide
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Mobile: +(977) 9803414745
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21277980 (Nepal)
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21274092 (Tibet & India)

Co-Guides
Lhakpa + Tibetan Guide

Kamzang Journeys
Chez Kim, Lazimpat, Kathmandu
info@kamzang.com

Kathmandu Contact
Khumbu Adventures
Office: +(977) 01 4488352
Lhakpa Dorji Mobile: +(977) 9841 235461, 9813 371542
Doma Mobile: +(977) 9841 510833, 9803 675361
hiking.guide@gmail.com

Tibet Contact
Tibet Kawajian Travel
Lobsang Dhardul
Mobile: +(86) 18076999966, +86 15289188887
Office: + (86) 891 6336565
travellingtibet@yahoo.com

InReach Explorer
We have a MapShare page that works for sending emails to our InReach messaging device. Give this link to people who want to follow us and have them send us a message so we have their email in the system. We can email them back directly Please tell people not to expect updates every day. There is a ‘message’ button on the top left, and the message sender needs to put their EMAIL address instead of phone number to get a response. Messages are free, enjoy.

Follow Us on Facebook
Kamzang Journeys Facebook
I will post InReach updates to our Kamzang Journeys Facebook page if friends & family want to follow our progress.

Satellite Phone
We carry a satellite phone with us for emergencies. Send us a free message at the online Thuraya link below. We can call you back or email you back. If you want a return call or email include your contact info. You can send this in two SMSs if needed.
Kim Satellite#1: +88216 (21277980) – Nepal
Kim Satellite #2: +88216 (21274092) – Tibet + India (2 choice Nepal + ONLY if permitted in Tibet + India)
Lhakpa Satellite: +88216 (87710076)
Thuraya

Arrival Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House

Kathmandu Guest House Single Upgrades | 4 Nights
Standard Single - $75
Garden Single - $150
Deluxe Single - $425

Kathmandu Guest House Extra Nights
Includes breakfast + 25% taxes
Book with Kamzang Journeys + save on season + off-season rates (season = Jan-April, Sept-Dec | off-season = May-Aug)

Kathmandu Guest House | Room Prices
Standard Single - $80
Standard Double - $100
Garden Single - $120
Garden Double - $140
Deluxe Single - $200
Deluxe Double - $220

Kamzang Journeys Prices | Season
Standard Single - $60
Standard Double - $80
Garden Single - $100
Garden Double - $120
Deluxe Single - $180
Deluxe Double - $200

Kamzang Journeys Prices | Off-Season
Standard Single - $55
Standard Double - $75
Garden Single - $70
Garden Double - $90
Deluxe Single - $120
Deluxe Double - $140

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Kathmandu
Kathmandu Happenings

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Nepal + Chinese Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home. Make sure you have a multiple-entry visa for re-entering Nepal from Tibet. We will submit your passport for the Chinese visa, and we will get the group permit for Tibet.
Nepal Visa Form

What we need in Kathmandu for your CHINESE VISA
1 - Valid passport (6 months++)
2 - Clear passport copy
3 - 2 color MRP sized visa photos  (also see this link: Chinese Visa Photos)
4 - Visa filled out by client. No eraser. (We supply this to you in Kathmandu)

Health Information
Nepal Health Information
CDC

Tibet (China) Health Information
CDC

We also recommend bringing probiotics with you to help prevent infections while on trek. Doctor's recommendation!

Travel Medical Insurance
Required for your own safely. We carry a copy of your insurance with all contact, personal and policy information with us on the trek and our office in Kathmandu keeps a copy. Note that we almost always trek over 4000 meters (13,000+ feet) and that we don't do any technical climbing with ropes, ice axes or crampons.

Global Rescue
We recommend that our trekkers also sign up for Global Rescue, which is rescue services only, as a supplement to your travel medical insurance.
Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Wicis-Sports Wearable Tech | Sports Package
Live personal heath stats via a wearable chest strap heart rate monitor.
Track your vitals (heart rate, temperature, oxygen saturation), the weather, GPS locations, altitude, speed, bearing and stream LIVE via a Thuraya satellite hot spot. Partners: OCENS (weather), Global Rescue, Aspect Solar.

"Thuraya Telecom + WiCis Sports offer connectivity to Himalayan treks + expeditions"

"Founded in 2011 by Harvard and Stanford anesthesiologist Dr. Leo Montejo and located in the Lake Tahoe area, the company’s goal is to promote the use of mHealth and tracking devices to make adventure sports safer and engage their followers with real time data that is either private or also available to social medial platforms."

Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Medical
We have a full medical kit with us including Diamox (for acclimatizing), antibiotics, inhalers, bandages, re-hydration, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs etc. but please bring a supply of all prescription and personal medications. Kim has First Aid, CPR and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certifications as well as many years of experience with altitude in the Himalaya but is NOT a qualified medic or doctor, so please have a check-up before leaving home, and inform us of any medical issues. This is for YOUR OWN safety.

DO bring all prescription medications and good rehydration/electrolytes. We advise bringing your own Diamox, Ciprofloxin, Azithromyacin & Augmentin. We have all of these with us but the Western versions are always better than the Indian equivalents.

PAC Bag + Oxygen
We carry a Portable Oxygen Chamber, or Gammow Bag, with us on many treks. There is no charge for use of the PAC bag but oxygen is $300 per canister (cost price, pass on to insurance company).

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Arrival Kathmandu

Arrival
You will be met at the airport by the Kathmandu Guest House van or our Kamzang Journeys driver. Look for a sign with your name on it AND the Kathmandu Guest House sign. You will be driven to the Kathmandu Guest House (or the hotel of your choice) where your rooms have been booked for you. Kim will meet you at the Kathmandu Guest House to go over details and get you settled into Kathmandu.

Arrival Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House

Nepal + Chinese Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home. Make sure you have a multiple-entry visa for re-entering Nepal from Tibet. We will submit your passport for the Chinese visa, and we will get the group permit for Tibet.
Nepal Visa Form

What we need in Kathmandu for your CHINESE Visa.
1 - Valid Passport (6 months+)
2 - Clear Passport Copy
3 - Color MRP sized photos
4 - Visa filled out by client. No eraser. We supply this to you!

Temperatures + Clothing
Kathmandu during trekking season, in the spring and autumn, is usually warm (t-shirt, sandals, light pants or skirts) during the day, and gets chilly (light fleece or windproof top) in the afternoon. Nights can be cold enough for a sweater or light jacket, or warm enough for t-shirts. Summer is hotter and wetter; you’ll need a rain jacket and umbrella. The winter months (November – March) are chilly in the mornings and evenings, cold enough that you might start the day in a down jacket, but often warms up enough to wear a t-shirt by mid-day. Nights get cold enough for a down jacket if you’re sitting outside in the spring and autumn, and much colder in the winter when you won’t leave the hotel without your down jacket. It never snows in Kathmandu, leave your snow boots behind. Keens or lightweight sandals great for wandering around Kathmandu, and for trekking in lower altitudes.

Trekking is a mixed bag of temperatures. LAYERS are the key as hot can change quickly to freezing crossing the passes and snowfalls are common. We often have some rain below 3000 meters in the spring and early autumn, and it can rain hard in the summer. Have a wide range of layer-able trekking clothes for summer to winter temperatures. Keep a lightweight down jacket or synthetic jacket with you at all times, available inexpensively in Kathmandu. A lightweight rain poncho and umbrella for trekking recommended spring and summer. Be prepared! See our GEAR LIST for full details on gear, shoes, clothing, electronics and meds for the trek.

There are lots of real gear shops (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Marmot, Sherpa Gear) and of course many fake ones in Kathmandu, so if you don't think you have the right gear starting the trip it will be easy to pick-up stuff once in Kathmandu. We have sleeping bags, duffel bags down jackets to rent.

Dress conservatively in Kathmandu and on the trail as a rule. Shorts are okay if they aren't too short, mini skirts aren’t recommended. Sleeveless t-shirts are absolutely fine, but perhaps avoid tank-tops on the trail. Super tight doesn't go over so well with the village elders. Many of the younger generation in Nepal wear modern Indian or Western-influenced clothes, but remember that you haven't signed up for a beach or surf vacation. Use your good judgment, be an ambassador for western tourists! Please ask Kim or your guide if unsure about appropriate clothing.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face-style duffels with Kamzang logos for sale, L & XL. They’re very good quality and come in Orange (XL) for $40.

Cultural Issues
Nepalis are very open and welcoming, but there are a few issues you should be aware of to make your stay in Nepal more fulfilling. Use your right hand to pass things, shake hands or do most anything. Left hands are somewhat taboo. Nepali's often place their left hand on the right forearm when passing things to others, a sign of respect. Best not to pat kids on heads, or point feet ahead of you at monasteries. Don't walk over someone's legs or feet, but put your hand down in front of you to signal them to pull their legs to the side. Take off shoes and hats when going into Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples, don't use flashes inside monasteries or temples in general, be respectful of a puja (prayer ceremony) if attending one. You can talk, all religious are very tolerant, but be aware of your level of voice.

Nepalis don't anger quickly, so try not to raise your voice if exasperated or angry as it only will make a situation worse. Do bargain at shops, with taxis and rickshaws, but don't fleece them. They are poor and making a living, generally.

Give small donations on the streets if you choose, but try not to encourage begging too much. Be aware of who you are giving money to, and please only give small amounts. If you do want to donate to a cause, ask about our Kamzang Fund or other responsible organizations.

Pampering Yourself in Kathmandu
We’re happy to book your rooms before or after the trek (or upgrade during the trek) at other boutique or luxury hotels in Kathmandu. We recommend Dwarika’s, Shangri-La, Yak & Yeti or Hyatt. We can also direct you to wonderful spa & massage centers in Kathmandu.

Tips for Staff
We recommend at least $200 per person to go into the tip pool for the staff. Please bring Nepali Rupees (NRP) with you on the trek for the tips. It’s nice to buy the staff drinks on the last night. Or any other night that you feel like getting them a bottle of Kukure Rum!

Tips in General
Tips are always appreciated but they don’t need to be extravagant. 100 NRP to carry bags to/from your room is fine. The women who clean your room will be happy with 100-200 NRP when you leave, and 100 NRP is good for drivers to/from the airport. Round up taxi fares. A larger tip would be expected for a daytrip in a car, perhaps 500 NRP. 10% is included in most restaurant and hotel bills in Nepal, and if it’s not included it’s still expected. Check your bills, and still round up at restaurants. Feel free to give out small change to the beggars in the streets (5, 10, 20 NRP) but try not to give it out to the street kids who use it for glue to sniff.

Cash + ATMs
You’ll want some cash with you on the trek for drinks, snacks, beer, sodas, etc. There are often  chances to during the trek, and usually local crafts to buy en route. (You’ll want your tip money in NRP as well). There are ATMs in KTM but they don’t dispense large amounts of cash (usually 10-20,000 NRP) so you’ll be best with currency or TCs to change.

International Medical Center Kathmandu
CIWEC

Kathmandu + Kathmandu Valley Information
Our personalized 'Insider' list of things to do, places to go, what to visit, the most happening restaurants + the best hotels in Kathmandu and the beautiful Kathmandu Valley.
Happenings in Kathmandu

Gear List

Bicycle
Will you rent or bring your own? Many airlines allow a bicycle packed in a bike box for no extra charge. Emirates is on that list. Rentals are from Kathmandu, good quality mountain bikes.

+ NOTE: You can bring a mountain bike or a touring bike on most roads in the Indian Himalaya, and use fat tires or touring tires.  There are advantages to both types of tires, and no bike will be perfect for all terrain. Most roads are paved, often very badly, although we will be cycling on some unpaved roads and jeep tracks.
+ See Gear tab

Bicycle Maintenance
You are responsible for knowing something about the maintenance of a bicycle although we have cyclists with us who are adept at fixing bike issues, and Lhakpa is a pretty good bike mechanic. If you don’t know anything, we recommend having a quick session at your local bike shop to know how to repair punctures and learn a few basics.

Travel Photography Gear Guide
The Complete Guide to Gear for the Landscape Photographer

On Your Bike
You will need to carry certain things with you while riding, and the extras you can store in our back-up vehicle. In your daypack (or panniers) you will need:

  • Helmet & warm hat
  • Warm, windproof jacket & tights
  • Warm, windproof cycling gloves
  • Wind &/or rain jacket
  • Lightweight synthetic or down jacket
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Small bike-repair kit (extra tube, puncture repair kit, multi-tool, lube | chain oil)
  • Headlamp
  • Small medical kit
  • SPF lip balm & sunscreen
  • Polarized sunglasses
  • Snacks

Other Gear (Optional)

  • Pedals
  • Saddle
  • Bike shoes
  • Panniers
  • Bike tubes (specifically sized for your bike tires)
  • Spare tire
  • Spare wheel set
  • Spare RD hanger
  • Brake pads (extra pair if you still use pads)

Gear List
This is a guideline, not a bible, for the gear you will need on the trek. Ask if you have questions! One 15 kg (33 lbs) maximum weight limit for the duffel bag for flights. 20 kg (50 lbs) weight limit for treks.

  • Small daypack | Biking pack
  • Sleeping bag (-20F/-30C recommended)
  • Thermarest (Air mattress)
  • Sneakers, Keens or light shoes (city, evenings)
  • Crocs (camp + washing) 

  • Cycling tights
  • Cycling T-shirts
  • Cycling L/S shirts
  • Cycling windproof jacket
  • Cycling gloves
  • Cycling socks
  • Cycling beenie (hat)
  • Down jacket
  • T-shirts (city)
  • Pants or skirt (city)
  • Fleece or thermal jacket (evenings, city)
  • Fleece or thermal top (evenings)
  • Fleece or thermal bottoms (evenings)
  • Lightweight Gortex jacket & pants (wind & rainproof)
  • Lightweight long underwear (to sleep in or layer under clothes)
  • Socks (evening, city)
  • Gloves (evening)
  • Thermal hat
  • Down booties (optional, recommended)
  • Sunglasses (2, bring extra pair)
  • Water bottles
  • Bladder (optional)
  • Toiletries, sunscreen with SPF, lipbalm with SPF & personal medical supplies
  • Watch (or small clock with alarm)
  • Extra batteries & battery chargers
  • Headlamp 
(2, bring extra)
  • Laundry Detergent (Lhasa) or Bio-degradable Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Books
  • Zip-lock bags
  • SOFT toilet paper or tissues (we supply Chinese toilet paper but you’ll want something softer for blowing your nose)
  • Baby-Wipes | Wet-Wipes OR Chux (for washing)
  • Rehydration | Electrolytes
  • Snacks!

NOTE: We have a 'dress code' for the evenings in the tent, which essentially means you'll be changing out of your trekking clothes and into clean, dry evening clothes!

Medical Supplies
We strongly suggest bringing Western meds with you as there are a lot of Indian fakes on the market!

Suggested: Diamox, Azithromyacin, Ciprofloxacin, Tinidazole or Flagyl & Augmentin. Bring COMPEED for covering blisters & good tasting electrolytes &/or rehydration salts (Emergen-C is a good American brand). The local versions aren’t very appealing.
We also recommend bringing strong knee & ankle supports & braces, ACE bandages for sprains & strains, Tegaderm &/or other would coverings. Duct tape is always useful. We're happy to take excess medical supplies off your hands when you leave if you won't need them and pass them on to others. We use lots of the large amount we have with us to treat locals as well as our own trekkers ...

Comments on Gear
On our biking trips in Tibet we either stay in hotels or camp. When we stay in hotels you'll want something comfortable, casual and warm for the evenings. For Lhasa and sightseeing you will want good walking shoes (or Keens), and comfortable clothes for visiting monasteries, hiking around fortresses, basic comfortable street wear. Mornings and evenings are always chilly in Tibet, even in the summer, while days can be scorching.

Nights are chilly to cold, so a down jacket and a WARM sleeping bag are essentials. We recommend a DOWN sleeping bag of 0 to -20 F (-18 to -28 C). Campsites near passes can get COLD. Rentals are available although they are only about 0 to -10F. The dining tent is a Tibetan style ‘yurt’, with blankets and camp chairs on the ground. It warms up in the evenings with everyone inside and hot tea but it is still important to have warm clothes for the evenings. Down booties are great when it’s cold, a down jacket is essential, and down or synthetic pants are also nice to have.

Crocs for washing and the evenings are also very useful. Wear a pair of warm socks under them for going in and out of the dining tent which is a 'shoes off' zone. Tevas take a long time to dry, not recommended.

Good, polarized sunglasses are essential; please bring an extra pair if you tend to lose them! Don’t forget a sun hat &/or baseball cap and have plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with SPF!

Tents
Everyone gets their own Marmot Thor 2 tent without a single supplement. Singles have a 2-person tent and couples share a larger, 3-person version.

Water
We bring KATADYN expedition-sized water filters along on the trek for fresh drinking water, ecologically the best way to get water in the Himalaya’s fragile trekking regions. Bring your own filter pump, Steripen/UV purifier or iodine/chlorine tablets for fresh water while trekking. NOTE: To be extra safe with your drinking water, you can drop one purifying tablet into your water bottle after filling with our filtered water. Make sure you wait the required amount of time before drinking, and don’t add anything with Vitamin C as this negates the iodine.

Please bring at least TWO (and better three) Nalgene, Sigg or other unbreakable plastic/metal water bottles. Camelbacks and other bladder systems are good for trekking but can leak, so as a back-up it’s best to also bring a Nalgene or other water bottle.

NOTE: We do not provide boiled water for drinking on either our tea-house/lodge or our camping treks although there is endless hot water for herbal, black or green teas, hot chocolate, hot lemon as well as Indian chai and Kashmiri tea.

Snacks
You will NEED snacks hiking at altitude, even if you’re not a snacker. People crave unusual foods at altitude!  Energy bars, ‘GU’ gels, chocolate bars, dried fruit & nuts, beef jerky (or whatever) are important to have along for long days, pre-lunch bonks and passes. Lemonade mix, Emergen-C or similar drink mixes are great to have for hot days in your water bottles, and it is ESSENTIAL to bring electrolytes with you every day.  

Bring something to share in the tent in the evenings if you want. Cheese is great as a treat on a cheese-board before dinner (Blue, Stilton, Yarlsburg, good Cheddar, Brie, etc). If you would like, bring a bit of your favorite and we’ll throw it on a cheese board for appetizers one night.

NOTE: Nothing besides your personal snack food is required, but it’s fun to see what everyone comes up with!  Almost all basics available in Kathmandu, so no need to over-load.

Rentals
We have Western down jackets to rent for $1.50 per day.  We also have good super-down sleeping bags to rent (0 to -10 F) for $2.50 per day.

Duffel Bags
We have Kamzang Journeys L orange duffel bags, a bargain at $40!

Packing & Storage
It’s easiest to pack and unpack from a duffel bag, especially when the temperature drops, and easiest for porters to carry. Inexpensive and decent quality duffels are available in Kathmandu but it’s best to invest in a strong, waterproof duffel such as a North Face. You can store extra gear in Kathmandu at the Kathmandu Guest House storage room free of charge. Valuables can be stored at the Kathmandu Guest House in private safety-deposit boxes for 2 NRP per day.

Shopping
Almost all gear is now available in Kathmandu, from real (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Sherpa Gear, Marmot shops in Thamel) to inexpensive knock-offs. The real gear shops take credit cards. Lhasa also has lots of gear near Barkor Square if you find you don't have something you need.

Itinerary

Pre-Arrival - Saturday, 4 June 2016
Unless you arrive very early in the morning on 5 June we suggest scheduling arriving at least a day early. We need your passports and bicycles at 8:30 AM on Saturday, 5 June 2016.

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1340m
Meet at 8:30 in the Kathmandu Guest House garden with bicycle packed, passport and photo for Chinese Visa.

You'll be met at the airport by a representative of Kamzang Journeys, Khumbu Adventures or the Kathmandu Guest House, so look out for one of their signs when you leave the airport. They will bring you back to the Kathmandu Guest House, where your rooms are booked.

Thamel is a myriad of banners, signs, music shops, bakeries, internet cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops of all imaginable varieties and eccentrically clad backpackers. We will check your insurance details (please have a copy of your travel medical insurance policy with you), go over gear and get to know each other over a dinner and beers in Thamel.

Day 2 - Kathmandu
Free day is to explore Kathmandu, take excursions into the Kathmandu valley, shop, visit the spa, have a massage or just read a book in the lovely Kathmandu Guest House gardens. We'll have time for a bit of gear shopping in Thamel for anyone who needs to, and in the evening will head out for dinner of wood-oven pizza at the Roadhouse Cafe.

ALTITUDE: We strongly advise taking 250 mg of Diamox before the flight up to Lhasa at 3700 meters. Take a full tablet tonight and one tomorrow morning, and then continue for a day or so until we discuss further in Lhasa.

Sightseeing in Kathmandu
Kathmandu is filled with World Heritage sites and sacred destinations, crowded with traditional neighborhoods and colorful festivals. Spend a few days exploring Nepal's exotic capital and the history-laden Kathmandu valley. We can arrange sightseeing guide, vehicles and guides as required. See Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings for more details.

We recommend beginning with Pashupatinath in the early morning, and moving on to Boudhanath mid-morning. Hindu Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river and its sacred temple complex is one of Nepal's most important sites, a powerful cremation site and Nepal's most important Hindu temple. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating, when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Local guides can explain the significance of the complicated ceremonies. Please be respectful when taking photos.

Boudhanath, in the midst of traditional monasteries (gompas) and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the iconic stupa. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. There are wonderful spots for lunch at Boudhanath (Roadhouse Cafe has wood-oven pizzas and a breathtaking view of the stupa and colorful Nepals circling it), and it's a good place to learn the technique of thanka painting and purchase a thanka (Buddhist mural). See also Bhaktapur for more options for shopping for thankas.

Wander through the many temples, pagodas, courtyards and the museum at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a timeless gathering spot and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kathmandu Durbar Square, including the old royal palace, is Kathmandu's 'Palace Square', a showcase for the world renown artisans and craftsmen of Kathmandu and a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist palaces, temples, stupas and statues. The Malla and Shah kings ruled over the Kathmandu Valley during the centuries of the building of the layers of this Durbar Square. Along with their opulent palaces, the square surrounds numerous courtyards and temples, all works of art with intricate and often erotic carvings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace. The social, religious and urban focal point of the city, Durbar Square is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies such as Teej. Some important structures are Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju Temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the 17th century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.

In the evening (take the interesting back streets from Durbar Square) climb the many steps to the gilded Swayambhunath stupa (known as the monkey temple) which rises from the Kathmandu valley floor at 1420 meters and is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. . Swayambunath, the 'self created’  stupa, was founded over 2000 years ago at a time when the Kathmandu valley was filled by a large lake, with a single lotus in the center. Mythology says that Manjusri, a bodhisvatti, drained the lake with one cut of his sword and the lotus flower was transformed into the stupa. From its commanding views of Kathmandu, circumambulate Swayambunath's white-washed stupa, painted with distinctive Buddha eyes, the complex a unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Another interesting time to visit Swayambunath is in the mornings, when Nepalis visit the temple dedicated to the God of Smallpox to with colorful offerings for the goddess.

Stop to photograph reflections in Kathmandu's many pokhari's, or ponds, including the beautiful Rani Pokhari (queen's bath) near New Road, and the Naga Pokhari (pond of the snake gods of the underworld) just beyond the palace gates. The many bathing ghats, square enclosures with steps leading down to water spouts, often decorated with naga heads, are also interesting and colorful gathering spots.

Day 3 - Fly Lhasa 3650m
We'll leave the hotel mid-day for our spectacular hour-long China Air flight, which crosses the main Himalayan range over the Himalayan 8000-meter peaks of Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga, for magnificent mountain views. After landing at Gonggar Airport and meeting our Tibetan guide, we'll drive the 45 minutes to Lhasa.We check in to our Tibetan-run hotel, the New Yak. We're staying near the Jokhang temple and the Barkor square, where the character of the city is still very Tibetan.

Over the following two days we visit most of the most important sites in and around Lhasa with our Tibetan guide. Late afternoons will be free for you to discover the endlessly fascinating bazaars, walk koras around the Jokhang with the myriad other pilgrims, or sit in the Barkor square, immersing yourself in the exoticism of Lhasa. There is also the option of additional tours to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery or Tsurphu Monastery at a slight extra cost, although after our last few weeks, a bit of rest in Lhasa is usually the top choice.

An easy first day activity is to spend time with the Tibetans while strolling around the Jokhang along the Barkhor Kora with hundreds of Tibetans from around Tibet. My favorite  time to walk the kora is before breakfast, with the chill still in the air and incense from the burners wafting up into the air.

Some of our favorite restaurants are Dunya (right next door), Makye Ame & Ganglamedo (across the street from the New Yak Hotel), Western Cafe just around the corner for coffee and the New Mandala for a sunny breakfast.

Days 4 + 5 - Lhasa
Lhasa! We have two days to wander the streets of the Tibetan section of Lhasa, and continue with our cycle touring of the monasteries and the famous Potala Palace, home of the Dalai Lamas. Lhasa is a very cycle-friendly city and cycling to the nearby monasteries is a perfect way to get our cycling legs ready.

LHASA SITES:
Jokhang Temple & Barkor Square - The holiest temple in Tibet, and shelters the sacred Jowo Sakyamuni statue. Shuffle among the pilgrims, butter lamps permeating the air, and find gruesome Gods in hidden annexes. There is always a procession of devout Tibetans through the complex. After walking the holy inner circle, complete a circuit of the Barkhor, the market surrounding the Jokhang, for good luck. It is the best market to shop for all things Tibetan, and just about anything else you ever wanted as well. Kim has lots of practice, and is happy to assist with any buying ... no commission attached.

Drepung & Sera Monasteries – Sera is one of the best preserved monasteries in Tibet, renown for its lively debating sessions in the courtyard each afternoon. Within its whitewashed walls and golden roofs, several hundred monks live and study. Drepung was founded in the 14th century and was once the largest gompa in the world with a population of around 10,000 monks. These days the figure has been reduced to several hundred, but there is still much of interest to see here, as the structure escaped relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution.

Potala Palace - The magnificent white, black, red and gold Potala Palace dominates the skyline of Lhasa. It was the winter quarters of the Dalai Lama, housing jewel-encrusted gold and silver stupas of previous Dalai Lamas, numerous grand state rooms and many important chapels. There has been a palace on this site since the 5th or 6th century, but the present palace was constructed in the 17th century.

Norbulingka – Norbulingka is the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, set in a quiet and relaxing garden which used to house the Dalai Lama’s pets. One particularly interesting mural inside depicts the history of Tibet and all the Dalai Lamas.

Some of our favorite restaurants are Dunya (right next door to the hotel), Makye Ame (along the Barkor Kora), Ganglamedo (across the street from the hotel) & Western Cafe for coffee (just around the corner towards Barkor) although there are many and it's fun to explore the Tibetan section of Lhasa. Great street eats to be found near the mosque on the opposite side of the Jokhang Temple along the Barkor Kora.

Day 6 - Lhasa | Bike Ganden Gompa 4265m
We'll set off early for a scenic 36-kilometer cycle to the Gelugpa Ganden Monastery, on of the 'three great' Gelugpa monasteries in Tibet. Ganden is situated atop Wangbur Mountain in Tagtse County. Its full name is Ganden (meaning joyful, the Tibetan name for Tusita, the heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside) and Namgyal Ling (victorious temple).

Ganden was founded by Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa tradition, in 1409. It's history is interesting so I will quote from Wikipedia: 'The Ganden Tripa or 'throne-holder of Ganden' is the head of the Gelukpa school. Tsongkhapa's preserved body was entombed there in a silver and gold encrusted tomb by his disciples in 1419. Being the farthest from Lhasa of the three university monasteries, Ganden traditionally had a smaller population with some 6,000 monks in the early 20th century (although Waddell reports an estimate of about 3,300 in the 1890s and there were, apparently only 2,000 in 1959. At this time there are about 170 monks.

Ganden Monastery consisted of two principal original colleges, Jangtse and Shartse, meaning North Peak and East Peak respectively. The three main sights in the Ganden Monastery are the Serdung, which contains the tomb of Tsongkhapa, the Tsokchen Assembly Hall and the Ngam Cho Khang the chapel where Tsongkhapa traditionally taught. The monastery houses artifacts which belonged to Tsongkhapa. It contained more than two dozen major chapels with large Buddha statues. The largest chapel was capable of seating 3,500 monks. Tenzin Gyatso, the present Dalai Lama (born 1935), took his final degree examination in Ganden in 1958 and he claims to feel a particularly close connection with Tsongkhapa.

Ganden was completely destroyed during the rebellion of 1959. In 1966 it was severely shelled by Red Guard artillery and monks then had to dismantle the remains. Most of Tsongkhapa's mummified body was burned but his skull and some ashes were saved from the fire by Bomi Rinpoche, the monk who had been forced to carry the body to the fire. Re-building has been continuing since the 1980s and the "red-painted lhakang in the centre is the reconstruction of Ganden's sanctum sanctorum containing Tsongkapa's reliquary chorten called the Tongwa Donden, 'Meaningful to Behold.' - Wikipedia

The kora of Ganden, around the small Wangbur Mountain, takes about 45 minutes and is a great way to come into contact with Tibetan pilgrims, atired in their pilgrimage best. Every once in a while you might see a sky burial on a nearby hillside, a tradition that is rarely found in Tibet anymore ...

We can either cycle back or throw our bikes into a van and drive the return trip, after our switch-backing descent to the valley. (70 km)

Day 7 - Bike East Khamba La Camp 3700m
Our Tibetan cycling begins; the ride is relatively flat, so a good way to acclimatize for the many passes and high plateaus ahead of us. Leaving Lhasa, the 'city of gods' (or 'sunlight city' due to its 3000 hours of sunshine yearly), we drive on a scenic road along the Kyi-chu River past small Tibetan villages, with freshly-planted barley fields, all on paved roads.  At mile marker 4668 we pass the new bridge and tunnel leading to Gonkar Airport, and just past Chushul village at 4695-7 we cross the Kyi-chu on a bridge and cycle south towards Chuwo Ri (peak) just to the left of the road. The road winds steadily uphill to the Khamba La camp where the staff has set up our first Kamzang-style campsite of the trip.

En route, we'll pass Tibetans on leather-studded motorcycles, steering horse carts, on foot, performing prostrations to sacred pilgrimage spots and in the latest Landcruisers en route. (85 km)

Day 8 - Bike Nakartse (Yamdrok Tso) 4300m
The climbing starts early as we switchback 1000 relentless meters up the Khamba La pass over about 23 kilometers (4805m) to overlook the turquoise Yamdrok Tso far below. Yamdrok Tso is one of the four holy lakes of Tibet, home to wrathful deities, and a spectacular site. Be ready to have your photo taken at the top of the pass with yaks, Tibetan mastiffs and goat by enterprising Tibetans!

After a lovely switchback down the pass towards the sacred lake, we continue to cycle along the river-side road through the fertile plain of the Nyang River valley, a traditional vignette around every corner. We camp by the lake at a beautiful campsite near the small village of Nakartse (74 km).

Day 9 - Bike Ralung Gompa + Simi La Base Camp 4500m
Continuing to cycle on good, paved roads, we have to work a bit this morning to crest the Karo La (5060m) which cuts a path between Himalayan glaciers . Bring a warm jacket! A fast descent leads to a beautiful, green valley peppered with small Tibetan villages, with peaks in the near distance. Passing Ralung Monastery to our south, we set up camp near one of these villages, just below tomorrow's Simu La pass crossing. Ralung Gompa is of the Drukpa sect, and was founded in 1830. It's name originating from the self-emanating goat (ra in Tibetan).  Approximately 15 monks reside in the monastery today. We should have time to cycle over for a visit. (68 km).

Day 10 - Bike Gyantse 4025m
Another morning's ascent to the Simi La (4348m), a relatively easy climb, followed by a long, cruising downhill to reach the historic city of Gyantse

Once in Gyantse, we'll check into the Yeti Hotel, a great hotel with a wonderful restaurant and friendly staff, and head out for a walk around town to stretch our legs. Gyantse, strategically located in the Nyang Chu valley, was once part of an ancient trade route from the Chumbi Valley, Yatung and Sikkim. From Gyantse, trade routes led south to Shigatse and also over the Karo La into Central Tibet. The Gyantse Dzong (fort), built in 1390, guarded the southern approaches to the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley and Lhasa, and the town was surrounded by a long, protective wall 3 kilometers in length. Part of this wall still survives and is a dramatic backdrop for photos. Gyantse was once the third largest city in Tibet but was overtaken by Younghusband and the British in 1904. During the fierce battle, Tibetan forces fought the British for most of two months with dire consequences for both sides. (See 'Younghusband' by Patrick French).

We'll visit the 15th century Palkor Chode Monastery and the magnificent Kumbum, translated as '100,000 images', the largest chorten in Tibet. Kumbum was commissioned by a Gyantse prince in 1427 and was an important center of the Sakya school. It still contains 77 chapels within its six floors and is illustrated with over 10,000 murals, many still intact and exhibiting a strong Nepali influence, the last of their kind to be found in Tibet.

'The town of Gyantse was nearly destroyed by flooding in 1954, and after rioting in 1959, local industries were dismantled and artisans fled while others were placed in workcamps. Some 400 monks and laypeople were imprisoned in the monastery. During the Cultural Revolution the fort, the monastery and Kumbum were ransacked. Precious objects were destroyed or sent out of Tibet. Fortunately, the chorten was spared. The main building of the Pelkor Chode or Palcho Monastery and the Kumbum have been largely restored but the dzong or fort is still largely in ruins but there is an Anti-British Imperialism Museum there which gives the Chinese version of the 1904 British invasion.' - Wikipedia. (50 km)

Day 11 - Bike Shigatse | Tashilunpo Monastery 3850m
A long but smooth ride on a tamaced road stretching through the Tibetan countryside, following the Nyang Chu, cycling past barley fields, grazing goats and small villages surrounded by snow peaks. We'll stretch our legs, make some time, enjoy the sun and traditional Tibetan scenery, stopping along the way for lunch and perhaps a cup of salt-butter tea. En route to Shigatse we will try to stop for a visit at the exquisite Shalu Gompa, a thousand years old and packing more culture and atmosphere than most of Tibet's more visited monasteries. We soon reach Shigatse, previously known as Samdruptse, where we'll stop for the evening.

Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and is home to perhaps the best preserved and most controversial monastery in Tibet, Tashilhunpo Gompa. This Gelugpa monastery, administered by the Panchen Lama, the second most important lama in Tibet, is one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet, and there is much to explore within its surrounding walls. We will take a few hours for a visit to Tashilunpo, perhaps doing a kora and look over to the massive Shigatse Fort. We stay at the Manasarovar Hotel (or similar standard hotel) in Shigatse, and head out for a good dinner and Lhasa beers in the evening.

'In the 19th century, the 'Tashi' or Panchen Lama had temporal power over Tashilhunpo Monastery and three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by two Dzongpön (prefects) appointed from Lhasa. Before military conflict between the PRC's People's Liberation Army and the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan territory was divided into 53 prefecture districts called Dzongs. There were two Dzongpöns for every Dzong—a lama (Tse-dung) and a layman. They were entrusted with both civil and military powers and are equal in all respects, though subordinate to the generals and the Chinese Amban in military matters. However, there were only one or two Ambans representing the Chinese emperor residing in Lhasa, directing a little garrison, and their power installed since 1728, progressively declined to end-up as observer at the eve of their expulsion in 1912 by the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1952, shortly after the PRC sent forces to the region, Shigatse had a population of perhaps 12,000 people, making it the second largest city in Tibet.' - Wikipedia. (95 km)

Day 12 - Bike Tso La Camp 4290m
We start the morning with gradual climb as we approach the Tra La (4050m), a very small pass, cycling along the beautiful Ra Chu River and then ascending the pass. After a good descent we set up our camp just below tomorrow's pass, the Tso La, at a lovely campsite. (95-106 km)

Day 13 - Bike Gyamtso La Camp 4150m
Another day, another pass, although a bit higher today. We start the morning with an ascent of the Tso La or Yulung La (4580m), where we're rewarded with spectacular Himalayan views and a great 450+ meter descent. After photos on the top we continue to cycle a good, flat and relatively straight road past scenic Tibetan villages to the dusty and busy market town of Lhatse, the crossroads to sacred Mount Kailash in far western Tibet. After lunch in or near Lhatse we have a steady climb to our camp below the Gyamtso La, near the river. (85 km)

Day 14 - Bike Shegar 4355m (or Pang La Camp)
Have a strong cup of coffee as we start yet another day with a challenging climb to the high point of our ride, the Gyamtso La or Lhakpa La (5220m), where we'll have our first views of Everest. We'll enjoy the long descent to Shegar, one of the gateways to Everest Base Camp (the other being Tingri). 

In New Shegar, we stop for the night at the Tibetan-styled Snowland Hotel. (82 km)

NOTE: We may continue, turning south to camp just beyond the village of Chay at Pang La camp.

Day 15 - Shegar - Bike Shegar Ruins
This is either a restful cycling day or an extra day, depending on how everyone has been doing. If all goes well we will cycle the 7 km to old Shegar and spend the day exploring the fantastic ruins of Shegar fort, just 7 km down a small road and above traditional Shegar village. The views over the valley from the high walls of the ruins are sublime, a truly Tibetan scene. (15 km)

Day 16 - Bike Choesang (cross Pang La 5150m)
Cycling towards Everest, we start up on yet another challenging Himalayan ascent of the high Pang La (5150m), only slightly lower than yesterday's pass. Once on top of the pass we are again treated to amazing Himalayan views with Everest as the highlight. Descending, we follow a smaller road to our camp near Choesang village. (59 km)

Day 17 - Bike Rongbuk Gompa
It's a lovely morning's ride on the newly-paved road through traditional Tibetan landscapes to Rongbuk Monastery where the staff has set up our highest camp of the trip at 5000m, with views of the stunning north face of Everest from our tents (24 km).

After lunch we'll cycle to Everest Base Camp for views of the sublime north face of Everest, and after hanging our 5-colored lung-ta (prayer flags), we'll cycle back to camp. For those who need a break from cycling our jeep can take you to EBC and back ...

Day 18 - Rongbuk - Cycle to Everest Base Camp
Everest Base Camp is about 8 km from Rongbuk, an easy, uphill cycle and a nice cruise back down. Along the way up you will pass the ruin of a large nunnery on the
left, about 1 km outside of Rongbuk Gompa, and after that another monastery a few km down the road. You'll be passed by packed buses taking tourists to EBC as tour jeeps and buses aren't allowed on this section of road.

Everest Base Camp is mostly a large cairn on a small hill, covered with Tibetan prayer flags. You can buy these colorful lung-ta at EBC to hang and send prayers out into the universe ...

Day 19 - Bike Tsamda Hot Springs (cross Lamma La 5120m)
An early start for the ride back to the Friendship Highway via the Lamma La (5120m).  Once back on the main we cycle through Tingri, an atmospheric village composed of new and old Tingri. Old Tingri, once called Ganggar, includes about 100 mud-brick houses crowded together below the hillside, very old Tibet in style, and worth a walk around for a glimpse of Tibetan village life. There are some real Tibetan characters roaming the streets doing business; or perhaps passing us on the street in their horse-carts or prayer-flag festooned tractors. The wild west of central Tibet! There is an impressive viewpoint at the remains of an old garrison called Ganggar Ri with views of Everest, Cho Oyu and the Nangpa La route to the Khumbu region of Nepal. We cycle on a bit further to our camp beside the Tsamda Hot Springs. Enjoy! (90 km)

Day 20 - Bike Lalung La Camp
Great views of Everest and Cho Oyu as we bike across the Tibetan plateau, passing the ruins of several large forts, which guarded the trade route to Nepal and were destroyed in 18th century wars. We soon reach our our idyllic camp just below the Lalung La. Enjoy the green grass and sparkling stream at camp. (55 km)

Day 21 - Bike Nyalem 3650m (cross Lalung La 5125m + Shung La 5200m)
Another epic Himalayan cycling day, the ultimate downhill ride! We cycle high on the plateau, where we soon pass the road leading Shishapangma North Base Camp and then on to Kailash and Western Tibet. Lots of inspiring views as we cycle past road that passes Peiko Tso (lake).

Our first challenge of the day is cycling up the high Lalung La (5125m - where's the oxygen?) and after a short scenic drop with Shishapangma in the foreground we reach the prayer-flag festooned Shung (Tong) La (5200m). Here we stop to admire a Himalayan panorama that includes Shishapangma and Khambachen on the west (right) and a hard to recognize Gauri Shankar (Chomo Tseringma for Tibetans and Sherpas). We are standing on the geographic divide, although the main Himalayan mountain divide is further south. Down, down, down, an epic cruise, into warmer climes to reach our camp which the staff have set up camp near Nyalem. (87 km)

Day 22 - Bike The Last Resort, Nepal
The descent to Zhangmu at 3650m takes a couple of hours of fast and furious downhill. This is one of the most impressive gorge roads in the world, often atmospheric with cloud and waterfalls streaming off the cliffs.

From Zhangmu, it's a short drive to the Friendship Bridge which spans the Bhote Kosi River and marks the Chinese - Nepalese border. We say goodbye to our Tibetan guide and driver and walk to Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari where we will be met by our Nepalese jeep and continue to cycle to the Last Resort a few hours further on.

The Last Resort is a wonderful place to spend a night after the rigors of Tibet; let's see if they can get the sauna started! Beers in the bamboo bar/restaurant afterwards is the perfect way to wind down ... (58 km)

Optional Extra Days - Last Resort
Let us know if you would like to book an extra day (or 2 or 3!)  in this piece of tropical Nepa! Bungee, canyoning, sauna, hiking anyone?

Day 23 - Bike + Drive Kathmandu
We're in steamy Nepal, and we cycle through idyllic countryside past terraced fields and traditional villages, always river-side. Eventually we reach the long ascent, past slow trucks, to Dhulikhel on the rim of the Kathmandu Valley. A long-ish 'city-ride' brings us finally to the Kathmandu Guest House where cold beers, hot showers and a good dinner out await. (110 km)

Day 24 - Kathmandu
An extra day in Kathmandu to do some more exploring, or to relax in the Kathmandu Guest House garden.

Day 25 - Depart
We send you off to the airport for your flight home. Tashi Delek & Namaste!

____________

Kyirong | Rasuwa Langtang Route

Day 21 - Bike Peiko Tso Camp 4590m
Heading west from Lalung La Camp, we cycle towards beautiful Peiko Tso lake, biking past the southern turnoff to Shishapangma Base Camp and setting up camp near the lake with incredible views of Shishapangma (8013m), the 14th highest mountain in the world.

Day 22 - Bike Kyirong
These next two days are exploratory, an incredible route if we're allowed to cross the border into the Langtang (Rasuwa) region of Nepal. From Peiko Tso Camp we either take a small road over the Tsalung La down to the main road, or cycle slightly northwest around the lake to join the road heading south to Nepal from Saga. From Dzonga, the capital of Kyirong Country, we follow the Kyirong Chu south, which becomes the Trishuli River in Kathmandu, passing several prominant chortens en route. We camp in Kyirong village.

Day 23 - Bike + Drive Kyirong | Rasuwa Border (Rasuwagadhi 1814m) + Dunche 1960m
Our last few kilometers of cycling in Tibet, we bike to the border to meet our trucks and transport back to Kathmandu. This is a newly opened border, used mostly for trade between Nepal and Tibet during the earthquake and otherwise by local Nepalis and Tibetans. There is a new road being built on the Nepal side. We may be able to ride part of the route depending on time; in any case, we'll head past Timure and Syabru Besi, aiming for Dunche to camp for the night.

Day 24 - Bike + Drive Kathmandu
Again we may be able to ride some of this route, heading down the long, switch backing road leading from Langtang back to Kathmandu. One at Trisuli, we continue southeast along the long, winding road leading to Kathmandu.

Day 25 - Depart
We send you off to the airport for your flight home.

____________

Peiko Tso | Lhasa Flight Route

Day 21 - Bike Peiko Tso Camp 4590m
Heading west from Lalung La Camp, we cycle towards beautiful Peiko Tso lake, biking past the southern turnoff to Shishapangma Base Camp and setting up camp near the lake with incredible views of Shishapangma (8013m), the 14th highest mountain in the world.

Day 22 - Drive Sakya 4316m or Shigatse
Back in the jeeps, we begin the scenic drive back to Kathmandu. If all goes as planned we can stop for the night at Sakya Gompa, one of the oldest in Tibet, the turnoff about an hour before Shigatse heading south 25 kilometers off the Friendship Highway.

Sakya Gompa was established in 1268 and is one of Tibet's largest monasteries, even larger before the Cultural Revolution. The massive, grey monastery of the Sakya sect (the first one) features defensive watchtowers on its four corners, stuffed jackals with barred teeth under the protector deity chapels from the more tantric sect of Buddhism. A white conch shell in the main assembly hall was a gift from Kublai Khan. North of the monastery are the ruins of the Northern Monastery, worth a wander.

Day 23 - Drive Lhasa
Back to Lhasa, with time for a last evening kora of the Barkor Square and Jokhang Temple.

Day 24 - Fly Kathmandu
We board our flight back to Kathmandu, arriving in time for hot showers and a pizza at Roadhouse!

Day 25 - Depart
We send you off to the airport for your flight home.

Tashi Delek + Namaste!

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!

Lhasa

UNESCO LIST OF SITES IN LHASA
Copied directly from the UNESCO website

Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa
The Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The complex, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of 3,700m. Also founded in the 7th century, the Jokhang Temple Monastery is an exceptional Buddhist religious complex. Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace, constructed in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of Tibetan art. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, add to their historic and religious interest.

Brief synthesis
Enclosed within massive walls, gates and turrets built of rammed earth and stone the White and Red Palaces and ancillary buildings of the Potala Palace rise from Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3,700 metres. As the winter palace of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century CE the complex symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The White Palace contains the main ceremonial hall with the throne of the Dalai Lama, and his private rooms and audience hall are on the uppermost level. The palace contains 698 murals, almost 10,000 painted scrolls, numerous sculptures, carpets, canopies, curtains, porcelain, jade, and fine objects of gold and silver, as well as a large collection of sutras and important historical documents. To the west and higher up the mountain the Red Palace contains the gilded burial stupas of past Dalai Lamas. Further west is the private monastery of the Dalai Lama, the Namgyel Dratshang.

The Jokhang Temple Monastery was founded by the regime also in the 7th century, in order to promote the Buddhist religion. Covering 2.5ha in the centre of the old town of Lhasa, it comprises an entrance porch, courtyard and Buddhist hall surrounded by accommodation for monks and storehouses on all four sides. The buildings are constructed of wood and stone and are outstanding examples of the Tibetan Buddhist style, with influences from China, India, and Nepal. They house over 3,000 images of Buddha and other deities and historical figures along with many other treasures and manuscripts. Mural paintings depicting religious and historical scenes cover the walls.

Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace constructed in the 18th century, is located on the bank of the Lhasa River about 2km west of the Potala Palace in a lush green environment.  It comprises a large garden with four palace complexes and a monastery as well as other halls, and pavilions all integrated into the garden layout to create an exceptional work of art covering 36ha. The property is closely linked with religious and political issues, having been a place for contemplation and for signing political agreements.

The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka embody the administrative, religious and symbolic functions of the Tibetan theocratic government through their location, layout and architecture. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, contribute to their Outstanding Universal Value.

Criterion (i): The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace is an outstanding work of human imagination and creativity, for its design, its decoration and its harmonious setting within a dramatic landscape. The three-in-one historic ensemble of the Potala Palace, with Potala the palace-fort complex, Norbulingka the garden residence and the Jokhang Temple Monastery the temple architecture, each with its distinctive characteristics, forms an outstanding example of traditional Tibetan architecture.

Criterion (iv): The scale and artistic wealth of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, which represents the apogee of Tibetan architecture, make it an outstanding example of theocratic architecture, of which it was the last surviving example in the modern world.

Criterion (vi): The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace forms a potent and exceptional symbol of the integration of secular and religious authority.

Integrity
The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace owns tens of thousands of collections of diverse cultural relics. The wall paintings are rich in themes, form the best of Tibetan painting art and precious material evidence for learning Tibetan history and the multi-ethnic cultural fusion. The historic scale, architectural typology and the historic environment remain intact within the property area and within the buffer zone, carrying the complete historic information of the property.

Authenticity                                         
In terms of design, material, technology and layout, the historic ensemble of the Potala Palace has well retained its original form and characteristics since it was first built and from successive significant additions and expansions, convincingly testifying to its Outstanding Universal Value.

Protection and management requirements
The three components of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, the Potala Palace, Norbulingka and the Jokhang Temple are all State Priority Protected Sites, and protected by the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relies of the People's Republic of China.The Potala Palace was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994, the Jokhang Temple in 2000 as an extension to the property, and Norbulingka in 2001 as a further extension to the property. The buffer zone of the property has been confirmed as originally demarcated. Any intervention must be approved by the responsible cultural heritage administration, with restoration strictly in accordance with the principle of retaining the historic condition. The Potala Palace Management Regulations have been put into force; measures are formulated and taken for better visitor management. A World Heritage Steering Committee has been established in Lhasa. The conservation and management plans for the three component parts of the World Heritage property have been formulated and will be submitted and put into force as soon as possible.

Long Description
The Potala Palace symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. Also founded in the 7th century, the Jokhang Temple Monastery is an exceptional Buddhist religious complex. Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace, constructed in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of Tibetan art. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, add to their historic and religious interest.

Construction of the Potala Palace began at the time of Songtsen of the Thubet (Tubo) dynasty in the 7th century AD. It was rebuilt in the mid-17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama in a campaign that lasted 30 years, reaching its present size in the years that followed, as a result of repeated renovation and expansion.

The Potala is located on Red Mountain, 3,700 m above sea level, in the centre of the Lhasa valley. It covers an area of over 130,000 m2 and stands more than 110 m high. The White palace is approached by a winding road leading to an open square in front of the palace. Its central section is the East Main Hall, where all the main ceremonies take place. The throne of the Dalai Lama is on the north side of the hall, the walls of which are covered with paintings depicting religious and historical themes. At the top of the White Palace is the personal suite of the Dalai Lama.

The Red Palace lies to the west of the White Palace. Its purpose is to house the stupas holding the remains of the Dalai Lamas. It also contains many Buddha and sutra halls. To the west of the Red Palace is the Namgyel Dratshang, the private monastery of the Dalai Lama. Other important components of the Potala complex are the squares to the north and south and the massive palace walls, built from rammed earth and stone and pierced by gates on the east, south and west sides.

Building of the Jokhang Temple Monastery began in the 7th century CE, during the Tang dynasty in China. The Tibetan imperial court eagerly espoused Buddhism when it was introduced,

The site of the Temple Monastery was selected, according to legend, when the cart in which Wen Cheng was bringing the statue of Sakyamuni sank into the mud by Wotang Lake. Divination identified this as the site of the Dragon Palace, the malign influence of which could only be counteracted by the building of a monastery. The foundation stone was laid in 647 and the first major reconstruction took place in the early 11th century. During the century following the reunification of the Tibetan kingdom by the Sakya dynasty in the mid-13th century, a number of new developments took place. These included extension of the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni and construction of a new entrance and the Hall of Buddha Dharmapala.

The Temple Monastery is in the centre of the old town of Lhasa. It comprises essentially an entrance porch, a courtyard and a Buddhist hall, surrounded by accommodation for monks and storehouses on all four sides. The buildings are constructed of wood and stone. The 7th Dalai Lama is reported to have had health problems and he used to come here for a cure.

The construction of Norbulingka started in 1751 with the Uya Palace. Successive Dalai Lamas continued building pavilions, palaces and halls, making it their summer residence, and soon the site became another religious, political, and cultural centre of Tibet, after the Potala Palace. Norbulingka (treasure garden) is located at the bank of the Lhasa River about 2 km west of the Potala Palace. The site consists of a large garden with several palaces, halls, and pavilions, amounting to some 36 ha. The area is composed of five sections.

Lhasa
According to historical records, construction of the Potala Palace began in the time of Songtsen Gampo of the Thubet or Tubo dynasty in the 7th century AD. It was rebuilt in the mid 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. It reached its present size and form in the years that foilowed, as a result of repeated renovation and expansion.

Songtsen Gampo (reigned c. 609-649) played a very important role in the political, economie, and cultural development of Tibet; he also encouraged close links with central China. He united Tibet and, for political and military reasons, moved the capital from Lalong to Lhasa, where he built a palace on the Red Mountain in the centre of the city. He married Princess Tritsun (Bhrikuti) of the Nepalese Royal House and Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. 1t is recorded that his palace was an enormous complex of buildings with three defensive walls and 999 rooms, plus one on the peak of the Red Mountain.

Following the collapse of the Tubo Dynasty in the 9th century, Tibetan society was plunged into a long period of turmoil, during which the Red Mountain Palace fell into disrepair. However, it began to assume the role of a religious site. During the 12th century Khyungpo Drakse of the Kadampa sect preached there, and it was later used for the same purpose by Tshurpu Karmapa and Tsongkapa, founder of the Gelukpa sect, and his disciples.

The Gelukpa sect developed rapidly in Tibet during the 15th century, assuming the dominant place. With the help of Gushri Khan, leader of the Mongol Khoshotd tribe, the 5th Dalai Lama defeated the Karmapa Dynasty in the mid 17th century and founded the Ganden Phodrang Dynasty. The dynasty's first seat of government was the Drepung Monastery; however, since the Red Mountain Palace bad been the residence of Songtsen Gampo and was close to the three major temples of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden, it was decided to rebuild it in arder to facilitate joint political and religious leadership. Reconstruction began in 1645, and three years later a complex of buildings with the White Palace (Phodrang Karpo) as its nucleus was completed. The 5th Dalai Lama moved there from Drepung Monastery, and ever since that time the Potala Palace bas been the residence and seat of government of succeeding Dalai Lamas.

Building of the Red Palace was begun by Sangye Gyatsho, the chief executive official of the time, eight years after the death of the 5th Dalai Lama, as a memorial to him and to accommodate his funerary stupa. It was completed four years later, in 1694, and is second in size only to the White Palace. With its construction the Potala Palace became a vast complex of palace halls, Buddha halls, and stupas. Funerary stupas (chortens) were added in memory of the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 13th Dalai Lamas, each within its own hall. The most recent is that of the 13th Dalai Lama, the building of which lasted from 1934 to 1936.

Special mention should be made of the fact that the Meditation Cave of the Dharma King, situated at the top of the mountain where Songtsen Gampo is said to have studied, and the Lokeshvara Chapel, both of which preceded the building of the present Palace, have been incorporated into the complex.

Building of the Jokhang Temple Monastery began in the reign of Srong-brtsan-sgam-po XXXII in the 7th century CE, during the Tang Dynasty in China. This ruler united Tibet and moved his capital to Demon (present-day Lhasa). The Tibetan imperial court eagerly espoused Buddhism when it was introduced, and this process was intensified when Princess Bhikruti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty came to Tibet as royal consorts.

The site of the Temple Monastery was selected, according to legend, when the cart in which Wen Cheng was bringing the statue of Sakyamuni sank into the mud by Wotang Lake. The Princess used divination to identify this as the site of the Dragon Palace, the malign influence of which could only be counteracted by the building of a monastery. The foundation stone was laid in 647 and the foundations were completed within a year.

In 823 the Tibetan regime and the Tang Dynasty entered into an alliance. To commemorate this event a stone was erected outside the monastery, known as the Stone Tablet of Long- Term Unity.

The first major reconstruction of the Jokhang Temple Monastery took place in the early 11th century. The Jokhang Buddhist Hall was extensively renovated and the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni was added to its eastern side. The circumambulatory corridor around the hall was added around 1167, when the mural paintings were restored. Upward curving tiled eaves were added in the early 13th century.

During the century following the reunification of the Tibetan kingdom by the Sakya Dynasty in the mid-13th century, a number of new developments took place. These included extension of the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni, construction of a new entrance and the Hall of Buddha Dharmapala, and the introduction of sculptures of Srong-brtsan-sgam-po, Wen Cheng, and Bhikruti Devi. Buddhist halls and golden tiled roofs were added on the third storey on the east, west, and north sides.

Tsongka Pa founded the reforming Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism in the early 15th century, initiating the Great Prayer Festival. At his instigation part of the inner courtyard of the main Jokhang Hall was roofed.

Tibet was formally included in the Chinese domain during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). In 1642 the 5th Dalai Lama, who had received an Imperial title from the Qing rulers of China, began a project of restoration that was to last thirty years. It was continued during the regency of Sangyetgyatso (1679-1703). The main entrance of the Temple Monastery, the Ten Thousand Buddha Corridor (Qianfolang), the Vendana Path, and the third and fourth storeys of the main Buddhist Hall all date from this period.

Norbulingka
The site of Norbulingka was a place with gentle streams, dense and lush forest, birds, and animals known as Lava tsel. The 7th Dalai Lama is reported to have had health problems and he used to come here for a cure. The construction of Norbulingka started in 1751 with the Uya Palace, benefiting from financial assistance from the central government. Successive Dalai Lamas continued building pavilions, palaces, and halls, making it their summer residence, and soon the site became another religious, political, and cultural centre of Tibet, after the Potala Palace. The Gesang Palace was built in 1755 and included a court for debates. The Tsoje Palace and the Jensen Palace were built by the 13th Dalai Lama in the 1920s, influenced by his time in Beijing; the Gesang Deje Palace was constructed in 1926. The Tagtan Migyur Palace was built in 1954-56 with support from the Central People's Government. Since the departure of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959, Norbulingka has been managed first by the Culture Management Group under the Preparatory Committee of the Autonomous Region and later directly by the Cultural Management Committee and Bureau.

Notes on Tibet

Note on Traveling in Tibet
'Tibetians employ a lunar calendar, which would in theory assign to each month 29½ days. Since the solar year is 365¼ days, each lunar year - twelve lunar months - is 11 days too short. To make up for this, every three years an additional month is added. However, like wild cards in a poker game, the extra month can be added anywhere in the Tibetan calendar year, the position being determined by an astrological forecast indicating what would be the lucky place to add the new month. Actually, even this is a slight oversimplification. In practice Tibetans round off the lunar month to exactly thirty days, but then they go ahead and add the extra month every three years anyway. To make up the difference, certain days of the month - again decided by the official astrologers - are simply eliminated, or, if some days are thought to be particularly fortunate, they may be doubled. At the end of each year the official astrologer presents the calendar for the following year. Until then, there is no future calendar. The new year begins in February, except in those years that begin following an added month, when the year begins in March. Hence when modern historical writers on Tibet indicate that some even occurred, say in April of 619 A.D., it gives one pause for thought.

The days of the Tibetan week - seven in number - are named after the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets; Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. Sa is the Tibetan word for "planet" and the seven days are then names: Sa Nyi-ma [Sunday - Sun], Sa Da-wa [Monday - Moon], Sa Mik-mar [Tuesday - Mars], Sa Lak-pa [Wednesday - Mercury], Sa Pur-bu [Thursday - Jupiter], Sa Pa-sang [Friday - Venus] and Sa Pen-pa [Saturday - Saturn]. Until the eleventh century, a twelve-year calendar cycle was used; each year being named after one of the following animals: mouse, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, sheep, ape, bird, dog, and hog. In the year 1027 A.D. - one hopes the historian have made the correct conversion - the Tibetans began a sixty-year cycle as advocated in the Kalacakra-Tantra, a Sanskrit religious text that was translated into Tibetan that year. To make up the sixty-year cycle, the twelve animals are combined with five elements: wood, fire, earth, iron, and water. Thus the years have colorful names like Fire-Mouse or Iron-Ape. Tibetan historical documents contain phrases like "On the thirteenth day of the eighth month of the Water-Tiger year . . .'
- 'In the Himalayas' - Jeremy Bernstein (1989), pp 228-229.

Namaste & Tashi Delek!

© Kim Bannister

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