Lhasa to Kathmandu Ride Trip Notes

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Last Modified: 15 Jan 2013
Lhasa to Kathmandu Ride
Trip code: CZXT
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Mar 2013
Tibet, protected by the great Himalayan chain in the south and west, and even more inhospitable mountains to the north and east, has haunted the ambition of explorers for centuries. The allure is as high as the altitude, and for the adventurous cyclist this land of rugged beauty, vast landscapes, brilliant skies and glittering peaks offers one of the ultimate biking challenges. After some essential time acclimatising around Kathmandu and Lhasa, our route takes us across high altitude desert, over awesome mountain passes, stopping off at Rongbuk Monastery and Base Camp for the north face of Everest, before making the 160km 4600m descent into Nepal and the lush Kathmandu Valley. In recent years much of the route has been surfaced making it perfect for cycling. A tough trip, but for those who venture to the spectacular beauty of Tibet, a sense of achievement is guaranteed.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency contact
ThemesImportant notesEmergency funds
MapGroup sizeVisas
ItineraryYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
We also recommendSingle travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationHealth
Culture shock rating Meals introductionSafety
Physical ratingMealsTravel insurance
Included activitiesTransportResponsible Travel
Money ExchangeJoining point A couple of rules
Spending moneyArrival complicationsThe Intrepid Foundation
TippingFinish point Feedback
Style
Original
  • Original trips are classic Intrepid adventures. With a mix of included activities and free time, they offer plenty of opportunities to explore at your own pace and take part in activities that really get beneath the skin of a destination. While the occasional meal may be included, you'll have the freedom to seek out your own culinary adventures. Accommodation is generally budget or tourist class (2-3 star), but you're as likely to find yourself as a guest of a local family as staying in a hotel or camping. Transport will vary as well. Depending on the destination and the itinerary you could find yourself travelling on anything from a camel to a train or a private safari vehicle. It's all part of the adventure! Original travellers have a desire to make the most of their travel time and really get to know a place, its people and cultures.
Themes
Cycling
Map
Lhasa to Kathmandu Ride
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
Your leader will also collect your passports, your return flight ticket and a copy of your insurance to secure the group visa for Tibet.
Kathmandu is a mixture of ancient architecture and modern development and, with its rich artistic and cultural heritage, it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Crowded markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life and the narrow streets are home to holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats and sacred cows.
After breakfast the following day we will issue local hire bikes for anyone who requires them, and then head east into the Kathmandu Valley to explore the fantastic network of country roads and off-road trails that this area has to offer. Today is the ideal opportunity to stretch your legs and begin the process of acclimatisation.
Ride approx. 25 km
50% off-road
NB There won't be any vehicle support for the off-road sections.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 3-5 Lhasa
An early rise to take the morning flight to Tibet. This is one of the world's most spectacular flights, with a one hour flight over the incomparable Himalayas - keep your eye out for Everest! After landing at Gongkar airport we transfer 70 km to our hotel in Lhasa's beautiful Tibetan Quarter. After checking into the hotel, we go for a walk around the Barkhor Square, the spiritual heart of Tibet.
Colourful and historic, the holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley 3,650 m above sea level. For many years it was a mysterious place, virtually unknown to the outside world with even the most adventurous and hardy of explorers rarely reaching the city without being turned away, either by the treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. While now welcoming tourists and much modernized, Lhasa remains an intriguing city with deeply fascinating culture, sights and stories.
Acclimatisation is very important at this considerable altitude (Lhasa is at 3680 m), so for the first couple of days we will make exploratory local rides to become accustomed to the thin air. Points of interest include:
- Sera Monastery, one of Lhasa's two great Gelugpa monasteries - once housing a population of around 5000 monks, though now it numbers only a couple of hundred
- The dramatic Potala Palace and the Norbu Linka, the palaces of the Dalai Lama, with many temples and rooms to explore
- The Jokhang Temple - the most revered religious structure in Tibet where the bustle of worshippers creates an atmosphere and spectacle as absorbing as the Temple itself.
Optional Activities
  • Norbulingka - CNY60
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 6 Chusul
Now fully acclimatised, we take to our bikes and cycle out to the Drepung Monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa. The Freedom Highway then leads us away from Lhasa down the Lhasa Valley and to our guesthouse in Chusul.
Maximum ride distance is 70 km.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 7 Yamdrok Lake/Nagatse
Following breakfast, those who feel up to it can tackle the 25 km climb up to the pass of Kamba La. This tough climb will take 3-4 hours but the views from the prayer-flag-strewn summit at 4794 m are spectacular. We then descend to the turquoise Yamdrok Lake where we have lunch, before taking the gentle and scenic road around to the small town of Nagatse.
Maximum ride 105 km.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 8 Gyantse
Following breakfast, there is the opportunity to tackle the first and (fortunately) 'lowest' of the high passes - the 5045 m Karol La. This climb will take approximately 3 hours. The subsequent descent is twice as long and descends over 1000 m in altitude to Gyantse in the heart of the Yang Chug Valley.
Gyantse is a small agricultural town set at 3950m above sea level, famed for its wool carpets. It has a very traditional feel to it and everyday Tibetan rural life continues here much as it has done for centuries. There are a number of interesting buildings in the town, including the Pelkhor Chode Temple complex, a unique structure built in 1414, with five stories representing the five steps to enlightenment.
As well as many religious sites, Gyantse is a great place to see contemporary Tibetan life in the backstreets where pilgrims, pop music, cows, "cowboys" on motorbikes, kids and monks all mingle in a lively mix of cultures.
There is plenty to catch the eye here, including the Palcho Monastery and the magnificent Kumbum Stupa - a fantastic tiered structure that is now unique in the Buddhist world. You will also be able to see the beautifully located Gyantse Dzong - where Lt. Col Francis Younghusband made his infamous first stronghold in 1904.
Maximum ride distance 100 km
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 9-10 Shigatse
Today's ride is a scenic and gentle 94 km across beautiful plains with a dramatic mountain backdrop. After a mid-ride lunch stop, we continue across the plains into Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city and home to the controversial Panchen Lama, whose home is traditionally at the Tashihunpo Monastery.
Maximum ride distance 94 km
Shigatse is Tibet's second biggest city and an important cultural centre. Having been the capital of Tibet from 1565 to 1642 the city is home to some fantastic architecture including monasteries, fortresses and palaces. The most famous is the Tashilhunpo Monastery - the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second most important spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism behind the Dalai Lama. Perhaps the most impressive building is the monastery, the Chapel of Jampa, which houses the world’s largest gilded statue. Standing at 26 metres high, the image of Jampa (the future Buddha) took four years to complete and used a remarkable 300 kg of gold in its construction.
The next day is a free day in Shigatse. Here we will visit the huge Tashihunpo Monastery complex.
Visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the few in Tibet to have come out virtually unscathed from the Cultural Revolution. With its expansive territory inside thick stone walls it's almost like a town in itself. We visit with our local guide, but if you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the myriad monastic buildings each with their own intricate decorations, legends and religious imagery, ask for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world's largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks prepare for ceremonies.
In the evening we can join the pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels as we walk around the perimeter of the monastery and taking in the great views and atmosphere. The walk takes around 1 hour to complete.
During our time in Shigatse, the necessary permits will be issued for visiting Everest Base Camp.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 11 Lhatse
A gentle start to the day with rolling terrain across the Shigatse Plains. A gradual but long climb then takes us to the double passes of Tra La (4050 m) and Tsuo La (4520 m). There is then a fantastic descent which flattens out before we arrive at our guesthouse at Lhatse.
Maximum ride distance 150 km
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 12 Gyatso La
A day to test the legs... We leave Lhatze and ride to the foot of the Gyatso La, before climbing to the summit of the pass at 5248 m! This is the highest pass on the Friendship Highway and a steady effort will be needed to conquer it. The sight of Everest looming into view is the reward for attaining the summit, as we gradually approach the Himalayan chain.
Maximum ride distance 85 km
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 13 Pang La
After the initial smooth tarmac from the door of the hotel, we then turn south and head off-road for the next few days. For the very fittest there is another pass - this time the 5200 m Pang La - where we feast on the extensive views of the Himalayas. On a clear day, the sheer scale of the mountain views throughout is unequalled in the world. The descent from the pass is fast and twisty and brings us down in to the Rongbuk Valley and to our overnight stop in Tashi Zom.
90% off-road
Maximum ride distance 62 km
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Rongbuk/Everest Base Camp
Cycling on a vehicle-width jeep trail today in full view of Everest's North Face, we approach both the mountain itself and the Rongbuk Monastery. Taking lunch in the airy tranquillity here is one of the highlights of the trip. After lunch, we continue the short distance to our overnight accommodation at the Jarongbuk tented camp. The remainder of the afternoon is free to allow for acclimatisation to the lofty (5200 m) altitude. The stunning views of Everest, visible from our campsite, hopefully make up for the lack of air...
100% off-road
Maximum ride distance 52 km
After breakfast the next day, we take to our bikes and head slowly up the gravel jeep trail to Everest Base Camp. The route is only 4 km, but the stunning views and thin air mean it might well take 90 minutes. The views from Base Camp are stunning and offer a 360 degree panorama of the high Himalaya to put your photographic skills to the test. After enjoying the ambience of Base Camp, we return to our tented accommodation where our cooks will have prepared another amazing lunch. The afternoon is free to relax and enjoy the incredible surroundings.
100% off-road
Maximum ride distance 8 km
Included Activities
  • Everest NP - Base Camp visit
Accommodation
Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts)
Day 16 Tingri
Heading back out of the wide valley, a turn-off takes us over the Nam La pass and along smaller tracks to Tingri, a little town overlooking the sweeping plains. Tingri is bordered by the mighty Himalayas and we will have distant views of Everest, Cho Oyu, as well as the ruins of buildings destroyed in the 18th century Nepalese invasion of Tibet.
100% off-road
Maximum ride distance 70 km
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 17 Nyalam
We usually drive to the first of the double passes of Lalung La (4950 m) before riding down and up to the Shung La (5200 m), the last pass in Tibet. The high-altitude lunch spot here is fantastic with tantalising views of Shishipangma. Lunch is made even more enjoyable for knowing that it is now more than 4000 m down to Nepal! We begin our epic descent by thundering down to Nyalam where we will spend our last night in Tibet.
Maximum ride distance 75 km
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 18 Dhulikhel
Not a high pass to be found today! At Zhangmu we pass through Chinese customs before continuing down to Nepal, crossing the famous Friendship Bridge at Kodari. Please remember to ride on the left in Nepal. From Dolalghat we transfer to Dhulikhel.
Maximum ride distance 50 km
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 19-20 Kathmandu
After a fine breakfast we head off through the greenery of the Kathmandu Valley towards our final destination, Kathmandu via the Unesco World Heritage city of Bhaktapur, where we will have the time to visit the beautiful Durbar square. From here we transfer to our hotel where we pack up the bikes, shower, and prepare for our well-earned farewell celebration dinner.
80% off-road
Maximum ride distance 20 km
The next day is departure day. There are no activities planned and you may depart at any time.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
  • CZXT Bicycle Hire (CZXT)
  • CZXT Single supplement (CZXT)
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Itinerary disclaimer
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
Culture shock rating

The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
Physical rating

Our highest physical rating. Get ready for a heart-pumping adventure with plenty of challenges and some extreme conditions. You'll be required to be seriously fit for this trip as difficult activities are included.
Included activities
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
Money Exchange
The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.
Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.
The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali Rupee (NPR).
ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur.
The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.
While travellers' cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. If you choose to bring travellers' cheques, make sure they are a major brand and major currency.
Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.
Spending money
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
Tipping
CHINA:
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
Tipping in China is not customary, but in the travel industry it is. Many guides and drivers would usually supplement their income by taking tourists to shops and restaurants from which they receive commission. Intrepid does not encourage this practice as we believe it can be detrimental to our travellers' experience. Instead we try to ensure we pay our drivers, guides and leaders fairly for their services. Tips are still very much appreciated for those situations in which you believe you have received excellent service.
Please don't tip with coins, notes of or less that CNY1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.
Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-5 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
NEPAL:
Please don't tip with coins or notes of or less than NPR1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
Hotels: Service charges have been introduced in Nepal. Hence there is no need for tipping; except for porters, for whom NPR20-30 is adequate.
Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 5-10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
Local guides: US$1-2 per person, per day for local guides. (Including city tour guides, jungle guides, rafting guides, assistant trek guides).
Porters: US$1-2 per person, per day, per porter.
Drivers: US$1-2 per person, per day is generally appropriate.
Local transport: For a city tour we suggest US$1 per person, per day.
Departure tax
All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
A departure tax of NPR200 each way for the flight to and from Jomsom is NOT included. All international departure taxes should be included in your flight ticket.
Important notes
PROFILE:
- Average daily distance: 70 km
- No. of days cycling: 14
- Vehicle Support: 100%
- Terrain and route: 85% tarmac, 15% unsurfaced.
- Extended periods at high altitude (av. 4000m).
- Fairly level on vehicle-width track but there are five high passes, all of which are optional. Lots of downhill including 4600m over 3 days.
There is very little really technical riding and the majority of roads are in good condition. There is now only a very small part of the trip that is on dirt roads. However the altitude should not be underestimated and presents a considerable challenge. Some of the riding will be at above 5000m and there will also be some steep and long climbs. However, the ride is 100% supported (except while riding to and back from the Everest base camp) so there is always the option to enjoy the scenery from the bus.
Bike Hire in Nepal: Trek or Giant mountain bikes with front suspension GBP175.
LOCAL PARTNER:
This trip is operated by our trusted local partners, Exodus.
SCANNED PASSPORT COPY
Please note we require a scanned colour copy of your passport at the time of booking
Group size
Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
Single travellers
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (9 nts), Hotel (8 nts), Camping (with basic facilities) (2 nts)
Please note, the standard of accommodation in Tibet varies considerably and can be basic at times. At Jarongbuk (where we stay during the Everest Base Camp section of the trip) we will be staying in a seasonal tented camp. The tents are spacious, well-equipped 8 person sized, which come with dormitory style single beds, solid flooring and a central heating stove. There are no showers here and the toilet facilities are a little primitive but the view of the north face of Everest should make up for the lack of creature comforts!
Meals introduction
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
Meals
19 Breakfasts
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
USD 400.00
In order that clients have access to hygienically prepared, healthy and energy-rich food during the trip, our local partner company in Tibet has offered the services of a local chef, who will travel with the group during the Tibet section of the trip and who will prepare high quality, locally sourced meals at lunchtime and dinner time. The cost of this service, which will also include drinking water throughout the trip, will be US$400 per person (paid locally). The cook can cater to a number of dietary requirements (please let us know in advance). Breakfast is included throughout the Tibetan & Nepali sections of this trip. During the Nepal section of the trip, there is a much greater choice of food available at restaurants and guesthouses, so meals are not included here to allow clients greater flexibility of choice.
We would recommend that you bring a supply of your favourite energy snacks, and also electrolyte drink if you use it, on the trip with you. You can buy muesli type cereal bars in both Kathmandu and the larger supermarkets in Lhasa but the quality and range of flavours isn't as good as you are probably used to at home.
Transport
Bicycle, Plane, Minibus
We use a minibus for clients when not cycling and a truck for the luggage/bikes. These will be present for 100% of the route, (except while riding to and back from the Everest Base Camp), but please note that road conditions can be affected by landslides and this can affect how closely the support vehicle follows the group.
Joining point
Kathmandu Guest House
P.O Box 21218
Thamel
Kathmandu
NEPAL
Phone: +9771 4700004
Arrival complications
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
Finish point
Kathmandu Guest House
P.O Box 21218
Thamel
Kathmandu
NEPAL
Phone: +9771 4700004
Emergency contact
In the case of genuine crisis or emergency please call our partner EXODUS on their 24 HOUR EMERGENCY NUMBER Tel: +44 (0) 1582 644 100.
For all other enquiries please contact our Reservations department which is open 24 hours, 6 days per week. For further contact details please use the following page:
Emergency funds
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
NEPAL:
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: Yes - on arrival
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad or on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport. If getting the visa at the airport be prepared for long queues. There have been instances when passengers were asked to show return flight tickets. You will also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars cash only: multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25, multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40, multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100.
***Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, there is a nominal charge of US$5 and two photos are required.
CHINA - NEPAL to TIBET
Australia: Yes - on arrival
Belgium: Yes - on arrival
Canada: Yes - on arrival
Germany: Yes - on arrival
Ireland: Yes - on arrival
Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
South Africa: Yes - on arrival
Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
USA: Yes - on arrival
GROUP VISA:
Tibet is a province of China and all travellers require a Chinese visa. Current regulations require that all foreign visitors entering Tibet from Nepal do so on a Group Visa. Your tour leader will arrange for a Single Entry Group Visa in Kathmandu on Day 1 of your tour. Please do NOT obtain a Chinese visa before you travel. Any existing Chinese visa in your passport will be cancelled upon application for the Group Visa. The cost of the Group Visa is approx US$115 per person (US citizens US$200) to be paid in cash to your group leader.
RETURNING TO CHINA:
If you are planning to continue your travels in China after your tour (ie. flying from Kathmandu to Beijing) you will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa at the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. Please check with the embassy for any specific application requirements. At time of writing the embassy is open for visa applications on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and may be able to provide same day service.
DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TIBET PERMIT & FLIGHT BOOKINGS:
Tibet permits are arranged with the help of our local partners. If you are travelling on an itinerary that visits Tibet you will need to email the following document to us as soon as possible after booking and no later than 30 days before departure:
* Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
Please make sure that this copy is of the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well. This may also cause significant delays in obtaining your Tibet permit so please plan ahead. If we do not receive these documents from you in time, your name and passport details will not be listed on the group permit and you will not be able to board the flight to travel to Lhasa with the group.
WARNING – TRAVEL TO TIBET
Please be aware that this is a politically sensitive area of China which has in the past been closed to foreign travellers without warning. A change in the political situation can also lead to unforeseen delays in issuing visas and permits. We aim to keep our travellers as up to date as possible with any changes, however these are often made without any official announcement by authorities and as such are out of our control.
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
BRINGING YOUR OWN BIKE:
Plenty of people choose to bring their own bikes on our cycle trips. If you wish to bring your own bike, please note that we cannot guarantee against small scratches and paintwork damage involved in the loading and unloading from support vehicles.
HELMETS:
Please note that helmets must be worn when riding on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
EXTRA BIKE BITS:
You may like to bring your own saddle (excluding the seat post), or over gel cover to fit to the hire bikes. We encourage this, if it's your preference. However, please note that you are responsible for your own equipment, and removing your saddle at the end of the trip. We can't guarantee the return of any bike parts left behind.
PERSONAL EQUIPMENT::
A helmet, eye-protection (sunglasses), cycling gloves and water bottles or hydration system (e.g. camelbak). Please note that helmets must be worn when riding off-road on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
RECOMMENDED CYCLING CLOTHING::
Padded cycling shorts (with loose 'over-shorts' where recommended), breathable clothing, and a lightweight waterproof / windproof top. Shoes with relatively stiff soles are better for biking, but are not essential unless you are cycling long distances. Most people want to carry certain items with them during the day while cycling, for this for this we recommend a large bum-bag or small close-fitting day pack.
FIRST AID KIT:
You should bring a small, personal first aid kit with you including items such as high factor sunscreen, lip balm and chamois cream if required.
HELMETS: Please note that helmets must be worn when riding on all our Cycling holidays. You must bring your own helmet with you for this trip, as they are not available for hire.
Health
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip.
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor
We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip.
While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
All our leaders in the Himalayas are trained in the use of a PAC bag (Portable Altitude Chamber) and this is carried on all trips which go above 4,200m. The PAC bag is used in an emergency only to treat altitude sickness in the mountains. A First Aid kit is carried with the group and all our leaders are First Aid trained. Please ensure that your travel insurance policy does cover you up to the maximum altitude on this trip, and includes helicopter evacuation. Please take proof of this with you on the trip, as you will need to show it to the leader.
DRINKING WATER:
As a rule we recommend you don't drink tap water, even in hotels, as it contains much higher levels of different minerals than the water you may have at home. For local people this is not a problem as their bodies are used to this and can cope, but for visitors drinking the tap water can result in illness. Generally this isn't serious, an upset stomach being the only symptom, but it's enough to spoil a day or two of your holiday. Bottled water is widely available and your leader can recommend safe alternatives when available. Water consumption should be about 3 litres a day. Rehydration salts, motion sickness tablets, and diarrhoea blockers are available from many pharmacies.
Safety
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Feedback
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.