Length 28 days

Price US$4015

(see notes at bottom of this page relating to possible price changes)

Grade E - high altitude, strenuous activity but no pack carrying
Extras - Return flights to Kathmandu
Start - Kathmandu
Finish - Kathmandu

2012 Departure Date
Contact us for date.



Tibet Dossier

Mountain Bike Llasa to Kathmandu

This trip dossier contains all the information you require for booking this trip. Please print off and read carefully before booking.

In 2011 time constraints mean we are running this itinerary over 28 days instead of 34 days as listed below. Contact us if you want to find out more.

Maximum 12 people.



Kathmandu in Nepal is the starting point of the trip. While our Nepali team organises Chinese visas for everyone, you can explore Kathmandu. Go on a guided tour to Baktapur, an interesting village of artisans, then explore the Thamel shops. Our bikes and most of the heavy luggage are transported by truck to Llasa during this time. On about day 3/4 we fly to Llasa, right past Mt Everest. Llasa is at 3600m, so we take it easy for a few days, acclimatising, visiting markets and perhaps a monastery, and of course the Potala Palace, the ancient home of the Dalai Lama. At this altitude it is initially difficult to walk up stairs, but after a few days your body adjusts and you are able to do a lot more. During this period our bikes arrive and we assemble them. If we feel up to it we may do a short ride around the city.

We head off on our bikes...destination Everest Base Camp and eventually Kathmandu. Having stayed in four star hotels, we now move into tents. The tents are very comfortable, as are the mattresses, and if you wish you can hire high quality sleeping bags rather than take your own. We are looked after by a Tibetan guide, a couple of Tibetan drivers, who transport all our gear in a truck and Land Cruiser, and a team of 3 to 4 Nepalese, including a trip leader, cooks, and general helpers. Our Nepali team generally gets to campsites or lunch spots before us and erects tents, prepares meals and the campsite. The support vehicles are usually no more than 5km in front of the last rider. Should any cyclists feel the need, they can retire to a vehicle for parts of the journey. On up hill sections, the distances between last rider and vehicle could be as short as 1km.

Every day is a challenge. Sometimes it is the hills, which are built at a very gentle gradient so the big old Chinese trucks can negotiate them. Some days it is the altitude that affects everyone in different ways. Other days it is the cold or the heat of the day. Sometimes the altitude nulls your hunger. Or perhaps it will be the road conditions. Most of the Friendship Highway from Llasa to the Everest turnoff is now sealed. After that the road condition deteriorates, to rough rutted four-wheel drive country. Sometimes the challenge is negotiating the local kids and their reaction to us as strange westerners.

Wherever we stop, we are an attraction, and locals congregate to view these strange cycling folk. There are numerous opportunities to get to know and to communicate with locals. Along the route, we twice stop off in hotels (Chinese) where we get the chance to sleep indoors and have showers.

Then there is the terrain and grandeur of the Tibetan plateau and the Himalayas. We descend through kilometres of road works to Nepal. Border crossings are an experience not to be missed, along with the change in landscape, culture, weather and the locals’ reactions to us.

What more can we say? This truly is an incredible journey.


Days 1-2 Join trip in Kathmandu

Guided trip to the artisan village of Baktapur. Explore Thamel shops.


Days 3-4 Fly to Llasa

Fly to Llasa, right past Mt Everest. Visit Potala Palace, the ancient home of the Dalai Llama. Acclimitise to altitude, visit markets and monasteries.


Days 5-6 Assemble bikes

Assemble bikes at Lhasa hotel. Visit Monastery on bikes.


Day 7 Lhasa to Nam/Tsepanang (3600m) – 40km biking

We're off, out of the city and into the wilds...but not off the main road just yet.


Day 8 Nam to the Base of Khampa La (3600m) – 40km biking

The foot of our first pass. It doesn't really look that far from here.


Day 9 Bike across Khampa La (4794m) to Dzong (4450m) – 35km biking

Exhilaration on finally reaching the top. There are bound to be tears (of relief, happiness, exhaustion), but what a fantastic experience. Our first La, prayer flags and La dweller souvenir sellers. Then it's off downhill.


Day 10 Dzong to Nagartse/Langla (4420m) – 50km biking

It's great to be at a lower altitude with incredible lake scenery.


Day 11 Nagartse/Langla (4475m) to Ralung via Karo La (5015m) – 50km biking

Another big climb and our first 5000m+ La. Wow, it's high up here! We've already done 180km and there's more downhill to follow.


Day 12 Langma to Gyantse via Simi La (4330m) – 45km biking

Another La today, but it's a relatively small one at only 4330m.


Day 13 Gyantse to Penam Xian – 50km biking

A downhill amble today, to recover from all the hard work of the last couple of days.


Day 14 Penam Xian to Shigatse (3860m) – 45km biking

We enter a real town today, with shops, cars and markets, and we get to stay in a real bed in a hotel. With a bit of luck we might even get a real shower, possibly even hot, and a chance to explore and eat out if we wish.


Day 15 Shigatse – no biking

A whole day spent off our bikes. There are markets and monasteries to explore as well as internet and shopping opportunities.


Day 16 Shigatse to Shab Geding (3920m) via Tra La (4050m) – 58km biking

After the earlier Las this one is a doddle. In fact, unless you really look you may even miss it. Still, it goes in to the diary as another La cycled!


Day 17 Shab Geding to Renda (4090m) via Yulong La (4540m) – 70km biking

There are some long, flat sections of road today, as well as another La. Acclimitisation must be really kicking in now as this one doesn't seem as bad as earlier uphill sections.


Day 18 Renda to Mangaphu (4070m) – 35km biking

This is a shorter day, with the possibility of a visit to a local hot pool. We negotiate our passage through a small town and possibly a check point. We will be on our best behaviour and won't take any photos of the guards.


Day 19 Mangaphu to Gyastso (4560m) via Lhakpa La (5258m) – 55km biking

The climb all the way up to 5282m today is rewarded with our first fantastic view of Everest. A really fun downhill ride makes all the hard work worth it.


Day 20 Gyastso to Base Pang La (4430m) – 35km biking

Another check point, then we turn off the tar seal road and head towards Everest Base Camp. We stop before we climb too far.


Day 21 Pang La (5210m) to Nyomda (4210m) – 45km biking

Another 5000m+ La and this one is great. You can see the winding hairpins for miles in front and behind you. We've been higher than this before so the climb doesn't feel that bad, and there's always the downhill...


Day 22 Nyomda to just past Chodzom (4570m) – 30km biking

An easier day today, and with a bit of luck we'll camp near a beautiful river on green grass.


Day 23 To Rongbuk (5001m) – 30km biking

Everest is monopolising our thoughts. We are very close and at every turn we expect to see the mountain. For some, this is the whole reason for being here.


Day 24 Rongbuk to Everest Base Camp and return (5163m) – 30km biking or hiking

Today you have the option of biking to Base Camp or some choose to walk, and perhaps hire a ride in a horse and cart back down to the campsite. This is an amazing and inspirational place to be.


Day 25 Rongbuk to Zamphuk (4930m) – 25km biking

We head back the way we've come and take an even less used road as a shortcut back to the Friendship Highway. For some this will be the highlight of the trip, as the road roughens and some of our mountain biking skills are put to the test.


Day 26 Zamphuk to just before Tingri (4355m) – 35km biking

An amazing countryside lines our path downhill through the valleys, all within sight of the magnificent Himalayan range, with Cho Oyo off to the left.


Day 27 Tingri to Takoya (4460m) – 56km biking

Tingri is known as the town of dogs. We have another big valley to conquer today, but with not much climb and amazing views.


Day 28 Takoya to between Lalung La and Thang La (4870m) – 35km biking

There are only two big Las left in Tibet and today we tackle the first. We are fully acclimitised now so it really doesn't seem hard, although the wind coming off the Himalayan range may be a little cool. We camp next door to a brothel.


Day 29 To just beyond Nyalam (3790m) – 62km biking

Our last La in Tibet today. It's probably going to be cold with the wind off the mountains, and we're up at 5050m. Then it's downhill, through the town of Nyalam, and into the head of the gorge into Nepal.


Day 30 Nyalam to Tatopani (1600m) – 50km biking

Down, down, down and more down. Lots of green, steep gorges, fast flowing rivers and quite a dramatic temperature change. Then the apparent chaos as we cross into Nepal.


Day 31 Tatopani to Dolalghat (540m) – 50km biking

Today we start to experience a new culture, warmer temperatures and a lot of green.


Day 32 Dolalghat to Kathmandu (1300m) – 70km biking

Someone may have forgotten to mention this last hill, but at least we don't have the altitude to contend with. Fortunately we stop for refreshments halfway up. Who said the challenges were over, there is still Kathmandu traffic to battle with. Stay in hotel.


Day 33 Kathmandu

Rest up while dismantling, cleaning and packing up your bike. A free day for a school visit or shopping. We stay in a hotel with hot showers, a bar and pool, and really close to restaurants and souvenir shops.


Day 34 Depart Kathmandu

That's all folks. We head off on new adventures, or perhaps even home to work.



The quoted price of US$4015.00 (ex-Kathmandu) is based on November 2009 quotes and exchange rates. The trip price is subject to change until the final date of payment. Given the volatile nature of the US$ we felt pricing in this way avoids us having to put on a big margin to cover exchange risk. The cost is an indicative cost until final confirmation. The final trip cost will be confirmed 60 days before departure. Please contact us if you need to know more about pricing.

All information here was correct at the time of publication. Any updates about this trip, communicated to you, take precedence over information written here. This includes price, departure date and itinerary. Tibet and Nepal are volatile areas and changes may need to be made. Please contact us for more information.



• An experienced New Zealand guide who has completed this trip before.
• A Tibetan guide who will act as an interpreter.
• A Nepalese team of 3-4 including a trip leader, cook and helpers.
• Tents and sleeping mats.
• A bike bag that your bike can be packed into for the flight to/from Kathmandu.
• Land Cruiser 4WDs to transport gear and people.
• Transportation of bikes and luggage from Kathmandu to Llasa.
• All accommodation.
• Three tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals per day except when in Llasa and Kathmandu.
• Guided trip to the artisan village of Baktapur.
• Visa for Tibet.


Additional costs

• Meals in Llasa and Kathmandu (approximately 4 days).
• Meals when not cycling, and optional meals out when staying in towns while cycling.
• Snacks and drinks.
• Souvenirs.
• Visa for Nepal (you will need to supply this yourself).


For more information contact


Please note: if you have e-mailed us and did not get a reply within 1-2 working days, it may be that spam filters (ours or yours) are getting in the way. Consider calling us during our working hours to see what's going on! Our telephone numbers are on Contact Us.


Biking and fitness – E

Average of 6-8 hours physical activity per day.
Some long days, 8-9 hours biking.
Altitude gains of up to 1500 metres on harder days.
The roads are sealed in places but are rough, rutted four-wheel drive tracks in others.
Exposure to heights and altitudes of 5060 metres.
Biking experience necessary.
High level of fitness required.


Visa and entry procedures

These are subject to change. We start the trip in Kathmandu so you will need a multiple entry visa for Nepal which can be obtained either from your nearest Nepalese consulate or on arrival in Nepal. If you are staying only 3 days in Nepal some nationalities are entitled to a free visa.

For Tibet, we organise a group visa, and in order to do this we will need a copy of your passport at least 30 days prior to the commencement of your trip, followed by your actual passport one day before the visa issuing days. Visa regulations in Tibet keep changing so please ask us for the latest Tibet visa information.


Guides and support staff

Throughout your time in Nepal and Tibet you will be accompanied by a knowledgeable Kiwi guide, and in Tibet by a Tibetan guide who will not only act as an interpreter, but will also provide a valuable insight into the Tibetan way of life. We will also be accompanied by a Nepali team who will assist with camping and cooking duties.


What to take

Despite the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau, the daytime temperatures are actually quite mild. Between April and November the average temperature ranges from 15-25 degrees Celsius and the skies are generally clear and blue. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius. During the day biking gear needs to be worn, and an extra layer needs to be carried, and a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings. Having said that, on previous trips the daytime temperatures have ranged from -5ºC on top of some of the La’s (passes) to 35ºC in the valleys. You will need to pack clothing to cope with both extremes.


Cycling clothes

• helmet
• gloves: bike, windproof fleece, ski gloves
• bike shoes
• bike pants x 2
• long tights, long johns
• sunglasses
• socks: windproof x 2
• warm hat
• thin windproof fleece
• raincoat
• headband
• bike tops x 3
• warm vest

Camp clothes

• down jacket or warm fleece top
• thermal underwear (top and bottom)
• fleece pants
• overtrousers
• greenie camp pants
• long johns
• sarong
• campsite socks
• warm tops x 2-3
• headtorch


• alcohol hand gel
• ear plugs
• small padlock for bike bag
• visa photos, copies of documents (passport, travel insurance)
• book to read
• sleeping bag inner
• towel
• toiletries
• water bottle
• sleeping bag (these can be hired and are very good quality and warm)
• camera (and plenty of film and spare batteries)
• high spf sunscreen and lip protector cream
• dust masks
• cable ties
• snacks – eg. jellybeans, sports drinks and/or bars


We supply

A bike bag that your bike can be packed into for flights (with a little disassembling). Once the bike is reassembled, this bike bag is suitable for placing all your other gear into for the rest of the trip. Other than that you only need a daypack and or a biking backpack for your daily needs. Tents and sleeping mats are provided.


Equipment hire

You may hire a sleeping bag if you wish. They are excellent quality, clean and warm. The cost is approximately US$1 per day.
You can also rent a mountain bike, but we recommend you bring your own.



The roads in Tibet can, at times, become quite rough and impassable for many vehicles, so for this reason we use the best Land Cruiser 4WDs (Toyota 4500). These vehicles are extremely reliable and will make the journey as comfortable as possible, if you feel the need to rest your buttocks from the bike seat. While we are biking, there will be a truck for carrying luggage and other equipment. The support vehicles stop after a maximum of 5km, so riders can replenish drinks and other supplies. They will also stop along the way for photographs or at places of special interest, before stopping for lunch at around midday. After lunch we continue our journey, generally arriving at our destination by 3pm or 4pm.



Your cook will provide 3 tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals daily with a variety of local and Western dishes, apart from when you are staying in hotels. Breakfast consists of a choice of porridge, muesli and cereal followed by an omelette, fried or scrambled eggs with chapattis or bread. Lunch is generally a selection of salad, cooked vegetable dishes, pasta and traditional breads. After a long day on the bike, dinner is a hearty 3-course meal: soup, followed by a variety of vegetable, meat, rice and pasta dishes and completed with a simple dessert. Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are provided at all meals. We use as much fresh produce as possible and our cooks and kitchen crew maintain exceptional standards of cleanliness and food preparation hygiene. Special dietary requirements can always be catered for. Generally the meals are vegetarian, as meat supply is unreliable.



In Kathmandu and Lhasa we will be accommodated in hotels. In Lhasa, accommodation will be at Dhood Gu or a similar standard hotel. It is renowned for its hospitality and warm Tibetan atmosphere and is perfectly situated in the centre of town just a few minutes walk from the Jokhang Temple and Barkor. Elsewhere along the route, accommodation will be in tents. These are generally two person Expedition tents and are reasonably roomy. Excess luggage can be stored in the support vehicle, giving you more room in your tent.


Health requirements

Vaccination requirements change frequently, so we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. We also recommend that each person carries a basic first aid kit. The main health consideration in Tibet is altitude-related illness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times should it be required. If you have ever suffered from altitude sickness, or have a heart or breathing complaint, we highly recommend you consult your doctor about your suitability for travelling to Tibet before booking. When flying to Lhasa we recommend you rest for the afternoon to help acclimatisation. Age is no barrier to enjoy an unforgettable trip to Tibet. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, please consult your doctor before booking and bring adequate medication for any such condition.



Do we all get involved with camp duties?

We will be accompanied by a Nepali team who will assist with camping and cooking duties. Occasionally we may need to help put up tents before inclement weather strikes.


Does it matter if I am travelling alone?

Not at all. You will meet some wonderful people, all here for an amazing adventure.


What do I do with my valuables (passport, airline tickets, money) while we are biking?

This can either be carried in your bike bag, or stashed in one of the support vehicles.


I'm a vegetarian – is that a problem?

Not at all. During the course of the trip we generally eat vegetarian meals as meat supply and refrigeration is unreliable. Some of the carnivorous types eat up large when we hit the towns and visit local restaurants.


Will I be fit enough?

You need to prepare. On this trip you will be on your bike for between 6 and 8 hours most days. Your bum needs to be prepared otherwise you are going to suffer. Don’t worry too much about the hills as they are not that steep (huge Chinese trucks need to be able to climb them). They are however, long. Six hours climbing is not unheard of, but most of that is coping with altitude. Get out on your bike and get some hours in before you come.


What is the weather going to be like?

Despite the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau, the daytime temperatures are actually quite mild. Between April and November the average temperature ranges from 15-25 degrees Celsius and the skies are generally clear and blue. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius. During the day biking gear needs to be worn, and an extra layer needs to be carried, but a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings. Having said that, on previous trips the daytime temperatures have ranged from -5ºC on top of some of the La’s (passes) to 35ºC in the valleys.


Who is in my group?

Adventurous spirited persons from all over the world.


How far in advance do I need to book?

The earlier the better, as spaces are limited. We also need to organise visas well before the trip embarks.


Will I be able to do laundry during my trip?

A couple of times when we hit major towns and stop off for a day. Other than that, it’s washing and cleaning in the nearest waterway.


How much cash will I need during the trip?

Very little, unless you are a rampant souvenir buyer. The occasional meal in towns, maybe the odd chocolate bar or coke, but otherwise there aren’t too many shops. Most people have a bit of a buy up in Lhasa early on, then in Kathmandu at the end of the trip.


What if I can’t keep up with the rest of the group?

Altitude takes its toll on everyone, so you will be surprised how little you fall behind. The support vehicle is never more than 5km in front, and on hilly sections often no more than 1km away, so you have ample opportunity to rest, catch up, or if you are feeling weary, to jump in and cruise with the crew for a few kms.


Are we going to encounter dangerous animals?

Only Chinese Land Cruiser drivers.


Booking conditions


The quoted price of US$4015.00 (ex-Kathmandu) is based on November 2009 quotes and exchange rates. The trip price is subject to change until the final date of payment. The trip cost is an indicative cost until final confirmation. The final cost may increase or decrease depending on exchange rate fluctuations. The final trip cost will be confirmed 60 days before departure. Please contact us for payment procedure.



Meals while in Kathmandu (2 days) and Llasa (3 days), travel insurance, air travel and airline taxes (US$25 leaving Kathmandu), Nepal re-entry visa, emergency evacuation.



Registrations close 01 May 2011.



A deposit of US$1,000.00 per person is required at the time of booking. The balance of the trip cost is due 30 days before departure. Please contact us for payment procedure.



Monies paid will be refunded in full up to 1st July 2011 (less a US$50 booking fee). After that date no refunds will be given.



Active Earth New Zealand reserves the right to cancel the trip for any reason up to 30 days prior to departure. In such circumstances all payments (including booking fee) shall be reimbursed and the registrant shall have no further claim for any loss or inconvenience caused as a result of cancellation. Active Earth New Zealand reserves the right to exclude any registrant from a tour if, at any time prior to departure, Active Earth New Zealand has good cause to believe that because of the state of health or other condition of a registrant, that person is likely to prejudice the safe and expeditious conduct of the trip.


Travel insurance

We strongly recommend that you have travel insurance. We ask you to fill out a disclaimer before you begin a trip. You must follow the instructions of your guide at all times.

In the unlikely event of a serious illness or injury, you will be driven by a Land Cruiser to the nearest Nepal – Tibet border as helicopters are not allowed to fly in to Tibet. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation, please make sure that it is covered by your travel insurance or be prepared to pay yourself after getting back to Kathmandu.


Medical conditions

When you book you must notify us of any medical condition or medical history and any medications that you are on. In particular, we want to know about altitude sickness, asthma, diabetes, heart conditions, allergies to stings, and food allergies.


Client responsibilities

With any outdoor activity, there is an element of risk. Active Earth New Zealand operates in remote and mountainous areas. Risks could include hypothermia due to adverse weather conditions, or personal injury or property damage from biking over rugged and uneven terrain.

The staff and management of Active Earth New Zealand take all practicable steps to identify and minimise potential dangers. However, you must follow our instructions (and use the safety equipment provided) at all times. Adults accompanying any person under the age of 18 must ensure that the underage person follows our instructions at all times. You must release or indemnify Active Earth New Zealand and our staff against any liability we incur to anyone else, resulting from your failure to follow our instructions or the failure of any person accompanying you under the age of 18 to follow our instructions.

Active Earth New Zealand and their guides reserve the right to make any alterations to the itinerary in the interest of safety, comfort, or unforeseen circumstances due to causes such as weather, illness, or misadventure.

Active Earth New Zealand operates in remote areas. Every reasonable endeavour will be made to keep to our published schedules but no guarantee is given. Active Earth New Zealand will not be held liable for costs incurred by change, delay, or the missing of connecting services.

Active Earth New Zealand reserves the right to exclude a person from a tour at any time if, in the opinion of the guide or operator, that person may be likely to risk the health, safety, or comfort (because of unsociable behaviour) of him or herself, other clients, or the environment. In such circumstances Active Earth New Zealand will not be obliged to offer any refund or transfer of ticket.

Active Earth New Zealand
Postal Address: PO Box 93, Lyttelton 8841, New Zealand
Phone: +64 3 384 3706; Fax: +64 3 376 6483
Free Phone New Zealand: 0800 697 232
Email: info@ActiveEarthNewZealand.com