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Tibet Overland

This adventure will take you all the way to Tibet, overland. Great lakes, Tibetan grassland scattered with nomad tents, and grand rivers pushing their way through Arizonian landscapes. The wide open spaces of the Tibetan plateau, historic Tibetan villages and ancient monasteries accompany us along the road to Lhasa.

At a glance

Date:2014: April 27 – May 11
Price:LIGER 250: 2980 Euro / YAMAHA YBR 250: 3480 Euro / Pillion Rider: 2480 Euro
Highlights: Kumbum Monastery, Yellow River, Qinghai Lake, Tagula Pass, Camping with Nomads, Namtso Lake, Tashilhunpo Monastery, Gyantse Old Town, Lhasa
Length:~ 2525 km
Days:15 days total / 10 riding days / 1 rest day (Namtso Lake)
Longest riding day (approx.):8h / 350 km
Average riding day (approx.):6h / 250 km
Style:Expedition motorcycle tour with overnight stays in camps, basic accommodation and mid-range hotels.

 

Map view of the route

Tibet Overland Route Map

Route description

Daily itinerary

DayRoute: Description
1First meeting at the airport in Chengdu: Joint evening flight from Chengdu to Xining.
2Acclimatization day in Xining: In the morning we visit Beichan Si on the foot of a barren hillside. The cave temples are thought to be 1700 years old and offer a great view over the city and the surrounding landscape. The culturally interested can join a visit to the Tibet Culture Museum in the afternoon. The museum features ancient pictures (Thangkas) about traditional Tibetan medicine, a large sand mandala, and the world´s longest scrip (618 m) describing the history of Tibet.
3Xining – Yellow River: On our first day on the road we ride our bikes first to Kumbum monastery south of Xining. After only a few kilometers we are out of the city and enter countryside roads. The monastery is dating back to the 16th century and is one of the most important in Tibetan history. The surrounding mountain ranges offer great views, and we follow the rugged landscape to the shores of the Yellow River where we pitch camp.
4Yellow River – Qinghai Lake: On our way to the Qinghai Lake we follow the Yellow River higher up into the mountains. We cross green grassland inhabited by Tibetan nomads and their livestock, mostly herds of yak. Before we cross a almost 4000 m high mountain pass and decent again we can enjoy the view over the vastness of the lake, which from here looks like an ocean. At the lake we camp next to a small local monastery. The monks are always happy to receive visitors and serve them locally brewed butter tea.
5Qinghai Lake – Dulan:  On our first day on the vast Qinghai plateau we are surrounded by stone and sand desert. Sand storms are not unheard of.
6Dulan – Golmud: Golmud is a green oasis on the plateau, the streets are lined with trees. Here we can take a good rest. 
7Golmud – Tagula Pass: From Golmud the road winds up, between several mountain ranges, to 5200 m high Tagula Pass. After conquering the pass and ourselves in that high altitude we decent again. Here, on the highest plateau on earth, on around 4600 m pitch our camp near a small village of yak herders. 
8Tangula Pass – Amdo:  Our last day on the plateau. On the way to Amdo we have great views on Geladandong, the highest peak (6621 m) of the Tanggula mountain range. Shortly after we cross the border to the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR).
9Amdo – Namtso Lake: Namtso lake, the world´s highest elevation lake in the world, appears like an ocean: white clouds mirrored on the flat and even surface on the lake. On the surrounding hills prayer flags blow in the wind, and the local monastery of Tashi Dor and the centuries old meditation caves have been a major draw for pilgrims ever since.  
10Namtso Lake rest day: We ride our bikes to the lake where we will spend the day with taking pictures, hiking up to the surrounding hills for the view, or just relaxing.
11Namtso Lake – Shigatse: Today we ride on back country roads to Shigatse town, host to one of the largest and historically most important monasteries of Tibet: Tashilhunpo.
12Shigatse – Gyantse: In the morning we have the opportunity to visit the monastery and see the monastic life there. From Shigatse we ride on a minor road to Gyantse. Gyantse is famous for Palcho Monastery, the largest Chörten (or: Stupa) in Tibet, and the restored fort on top of a hill, Gyantse Dzong.
13Gyantse – Lhasa: Our last day on the road. We head further north to Lhasa, the once forbidden city and dream of all adventurers. Before we reach Lhasa we we ride along the YamzhoYumco lake and river.
14Lhasa visiting day: we visit the Potala Palace and the Norbulingka summer palace of the Dalai Lama. After lunch we take a walk with hundreds of pilgrims and circumbulate the Jokhang Temple, Tibet’s most important temple in the heart of the old town. In the afternoon we have time for the bustling traditional Bharkor market. 3-star boutique hotel accommodation in the old town of Lhasa.
15All good things come to an end: our adventure ends after breakfast in Lhasa.

Included services

14 overnight stays
All Tibet permits / Chinese self-driving permit
Breakfast & Lunch, mineral water
The motorcycle and gas
German Guide, English speaking
Additional Tibetan Guide
Support vehicle with driver for pillion riders
Entrance fee tickets to sights
Additional motorcycle or outdoor gear if needed
Spare parts / engine oil
Support organizing your trip to China
Support Chinese visa application in your country

Airplane ticket Chengdu – Xining

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