Lhasa to Kathmandu via Everest Base Camp
My girlfriend Sara and I signed up for a fully-supported supported tour to Lhasa to Kathmandu via Everest Base Camp. We flew into Kathmandu meeting the rest of the group on the trip and spending some time exploring being tourists. We spent a few days there and then went to Lhasa acclimatizing and getting to know the area. We visited the Dalai Lama’s palace, went to a lot of monasteries, ate some interesting food. And were a bit shocked to see the Chinese infiltration of this country.
On the Road
Most of the trip was on dirt roads, so we chose to take our mountain bikes. Some others had rented bikes, and they looked rather suspect, so I’m glad we paid to bring our own. On the road we had 7 tour riders, a bike guide and two support vehicles. We ended up having 7 staff which seemed like a lot (considering two people on the trip eventually quit so we had more people helping than riding).
After several days of anticipation, we hit the road. The first thing the guide did was take us straight into crazy Lhasa traffic. We asked him to ride on the other side of the road but no he said it’s best to ride straight into traffic because ‘the cars could see you coming.’ After this extremely scary experience we left town and managed to persuade him to ride on the other side of the road. After we got out of the city, the whole day was on paved roads with a lunch stop halfway through the day. It was quite pleasant to arrive at camp with the tents already set up and a cup of tea waiting for us.
The first few days after this were mainly on paved roads with some decent switchbacks that went back and forth for hours. This helped us we were slowly acclimatize as we rose in altitude.
One of the strangest things along the way was when we set up camp on the side of the road in a deserted field with no sign of life in any direction. As soon as we got settled we would see small specs of people far away moving towards us. It turned out they were kids miles away in the distance who would wander down from the hillsides to see what was going on. It was a bit erie at first since we didn’t know what they wanted, but it turned out they were just curious. Sometimes they would sit and watch us for hours as we prepared camp and relaxed. Eventually we gave them our water bottles as a little gift and they’d run home with them.
We were now truly in the Himalayas, where we seemed to climb the same mountain all day long switch back off the switchback. We’d ride up from a valley all day. Eventually, we’d be at the top, only to turn and be in a new valley heading back up. The new road were actually really nice, but they’d change suddenly to either construction or dirt road. This was a bit rough as we had to continue to navigate the changed terrain. Eventually, as we got closer to base camp, the roads finally turned to all dirt. This was kind of a relief as we were on mountain bikes afterall.
While riding we were mixed in with light traffic, mainly trucks. These drivers were pretty good at giving us lots of space, with one friendly habit that startled the hell out of us. They had musical horns that they would sound right as they pulled up next to us. We knew it was coming but it shocked the heck out of us every single time because of how loud it was.
Generally we were riding in shorts and a long-sleeve top, which was comfortable, but when we would stop it was super windy and cold. Every time we reached the top of the pass the views were incredible. Because we were quicker than the rest of the group, we’d usually end up at a summit first. We’d stop at little villages (about 10 tents or so) decorated with prayer flags strung across the hills. They’d invite us in for butter tea and noodles. The tea wasn’t my favorite, but the hospitality was wonderful the people were so friendly. They’d come touch the bikes, say hello and let us warm up.
One of the strangest things along the way was when we set up camp on the side of the road in a deserted field with no sign of life in any direction. As soon as we got settled we would see small specs of people far away moving towards us.
As we were getting closer to Everest climbing higher and higher passes I realized with the lack of oxygen in the air my breathing became faster. With my breathing faster I also rode faster. It didn’t really make any sense as I hyperventilated to get the oxygen my legs wanted to spin quicker that worked got to the top of the hill.
As we rode we knew we were close to Everest and we were getting ready for the site of seeing it for the first time. Every time we ran around the corner we were hoping it was the celebrated mountain. Finally after one corner, there it was towering above us. What a site, we were truly in awe. As we climbed the last few miles up to our campsite for the night in the gardens of a monastery, I couldn’t help but sit outside my tent just looking up at the mountain. The next day we rode a few miles up to the base camp, going through the small village with tents on both sides. This was called ‘Hotel Everest. We got to the wall where we couldn’t go further without a permit, and that is where we stopped.
Today was the day I be looking forward to we were supposed to get 100+ miles of downhill the trouble was something that gone wrong and we missed the day will gain today we ended up on the downhill in the afternoon instead of the morning with strong headwinds we battled our way downhill with and arrived on a huge traffic jam zigzagging our way to the front we were told that being a mudslide on the road was blocked we asked if we could walk around it we were told we could walking across dynamite laid into the side of the hill felt rather uneasy but when we got to the other side the best thing ever the road was closed behind us so all the trucks and cars was stopped we had our road to ourselves and went downhill for hours one of the best days ever. We totally lost our support trucks and the rest of our group so we checked into a hotel hoping that somehow our guys would find us and they did a knock at the door and relief to be found.
We had to sign out of Tibet and then had to go into no-man’s land in the middle.
When we cross the border there was a one-mile no man’s land in between the two border controls the problem was that in Tibet a drive on the right-hand side of the road in the pole the left-hand side of the road so it is no man’s land in the middle no one knew which side of the road to be on which made for some interesting writing every other car was a different side of the road.
The scenery had totally changed we were now in the Paul in what the jungle trees much more humid as we got closer and closer to Kathmandu the traffic got worse and worse when we finally got to Kathmandu it was a relief to be finished in a relief that nobody been run over is lost few hours were pretty damn scary with all those cars will and will and is or will he he yes is there a you and you and what is he in no here is the
Hotel at the top of the World: After this bitch of a climb we got to go to a spa, but super humid. We wander into the hotel they hand us a beer and usher us out to a deck where we can see the view of the rich, green forest valley, dotted with houses. It went on forever towards misty clouds at the end. It was truly an amazing, beautiful trip.