Getting there and away
Our Nepal cycling holiday starts in Kathmandu on Saturday. We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world and no matter what time you arrive at the airport you and your luggage will be transferred to your hotel. Please bear in mind that if you arrive before midday you may have to wait for your room to be made available. If you decide to arrive before this date redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and will organise a transfer to your hotel at an additional cost. Our holiday price does not include your international flights.
The tour ends in Kathmandu on Saturday. Please feel free to book your flight for anytime on Sunday, as you will be staying in Kathmandu the previous night. If you are flying home on Sunday your transfer to the airport is included in the price with redspokes. If you decide to stay in Kathmandu beyond the last day of the tour redspokes can help you organise extra accommodation and transfers to the airport if needed.
You must be in possession of a valid passport and visa. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months after date of arrival or 1 month after expiration of visa. Visa application forms can be obtained from any Royal Nepalese Embassy or Consulate in your country or at the Immigration office at Tribhuvan International Airport, Kathmandu.
If you would prefer to pay an agent to get your visa, we would suggest using Travcour (UK) Ltd. They have been in the visa business for 25 years & offer our customers a £5 discount on all visas purchased.
Insurance and vaccination
It is a condition of joining our trips that you must be adequately insured. All persons are expected to arrange their own insurance. Polices should cover any potential risks involved in a mountain cycling holiday. We ask for copy of your policy to be sent in with your completed booking form.
Snowcard Insurance Services specialize in all mountain sports holidays including mountain biking. Their policies include emergency medical and repatriation expenses as well as mountain rescue. They are also able to insure personal belongings including equipment as well as travel cover for cancellation, delay and missed departure. Follow the link below to obtain full information and a quote: www.snowcard.co.uk.
Plan ahead for your vaccinations, some of them require more than one injection you should seek medical advice at least six weeks before travel. No vaccinations are currently required for the tour, but the following are recommended: Hepatitis A, Hepatitis B, Japanese encephalitis, Rabies, Typhoid, MMR Tetanus-diphtheria and Polio.
Cycle support and grading
All of the time you will have the security of a back-up vehicle; either a jeep or a bus. The vehicle will carry our entire luggage (we transport your main baggage by support vehicle from each overnight stop to the next) and yourself if you want. The back up van will be with us throughout the day stopping around every 15 miles. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems so all you normally need to carry is a daypack, for your camera etc, however, we cannot guarantee that we will be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If in doubt, have it fully serviced by a bike shop before you travel.
Equipment and bike stuff
Only mountain bikes are suitable for the Nepal tour. Although 65% of the route is on roads some of these are rough and rocky. If you're not hiring from us you need to ensure that you bike is in good working order before you leave on tour. If you are not the most mechanically minded we suggest that you get your bike looked at by a professional bike mechanic. In particularly we would suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition make sure the bike is well serviced and ride it with as much care and attention as possible.
We would also advise the following tools to accompany you on your tour: multi-tool, tyre levers, pump, 2 spare inner tube, spare spokes of the correct length to fit your wheels - check with a bike shop, brake pads, a few spare links for your chain, spares for any unique or high-tech items on your bike, e.g. fluid and bleed kit for hydraulic brakes.
For this tour we have Trek 4300 bikes (or similar) in a range of sizes. They are mostly new for this season and all are well maintained bikes with Shimano components and suspension forks. Spare parts (tubes, tyre, chains etc.) are included in the price of the bike rental and will be carried in the support vehicle with a tool kit and track pump. The bikes are equipped with flat pedals. Those who prefer to use spd or clip-in pedals, are welcome to bring these with you, along with your own cycling shoes and cleats. You are also welcome to bring your own saddle. The guide will carry some spares and tools for fixing punctures etc. but we suggest bringing a couple of spare inner tubes (26 x 1.75), a pump and a puncture repair kit. If you are able to do a simple repair yourself this will avoid the need to wait for assistance should the team or support vehicle be any distance away. Helmets are not included in the bike hire, you will need to bring your own helmet.
Baggage allowances and your bike
Your bike must be carried as a part of your luggage allowance and, to this end, we do ask you to make every effort to keep your total check-in baggage to an absolute minimum. The baggage allowance for most airlines for an economy-class ticket is 20kg per person; although a degree of flexibility is usually extended to groups and the check in staff may accept up to 26kg per person without imposing excess baggage charges.
Your bike (in its cardboard box) will weigh 15 to 18kg. So, that means you will have a small allowance for clothing, etc. You should carry small heavy items in your day pack / pannier which you can take onto the plane as hand luggage.
Your hand luggage is not included as a part of your overall allowance, as it is not weighed. Please inform your airline that you will be taking your bike on the flight, and attempt to make every effort to secure from the airline an additional baggage allowance - but this is not always granted. Although we cannot guarantee that there will not be excess baggage charges, this is something, which very rarely happens.
In terms of clothing this is clearly up to you and we can only supply a rough guide as to what to take. This guide is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs. Sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes, cycling footwear, lightweight socks (3 pairs), heavy socks (1 pairs), underwear (4 pairs), lightweight thermal long johns, lightweight, long-sleeved thermal shirt, lightweight trekking shorts, padded cycling shorts (2 pairs), shorts, t-shirts (2), lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket, waterproof (breathable fabric), fingerless biking gloves, warm gloves, fleece hat or cap with earflaps, headlamp & spare bulbs/batteries, spare laces, sunglasses, toiletries, basic first aid kit, towel (small), small padlock, 2 large plastic bags (for keeping items dry in your bag), sun cream, lip balm. Dust mask for cycling when entering/exiting Kathmandu and Pokhara and possible stretches of road construction. If you have any questions about this list please feel free to contact us.
You will need a small bag in which to pack some of your clothing etc for the cycling days from Jomson back to Pokhara as you won't be able to take all your luggage on the flight to Jomson
What's included and what's not
All accommodation will be in hotels, guest houses or tea houses. We choose accommodation on the basis of comfort rather than luxury. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are sometimes available at extra cost.
All food is provided on the tour, except in Kathmandu, Chitwan and Pokhara. This includes: 14 breakfasts, 10 lunches and 8 evening meals are included in the price. You can expect to pay around £3 - £10 for a 3 course meal in a simple but nice restaurant.
All transportation and local guides within Nepal are included. International flights are not included in the tour costs. However, the two internal flights are included. Entrance fees to Chitwan national park are included however other optional sights are not covered on the tour cost.
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £250 will be more than enough to cover the 15 day tour. You can apply for a visa in advance of travel or on arrival in Kathmandu. Visas are £35 (30 days / multiple entry).
Our local guide will arrange your permit for Jomson. You will need to provide a photocopy of the photo page of your passport and a passport size photograph for this.
Respecting local customs is important. It is considered very rude to point at a person or a statue with your finger (or with your foot). You must never offer food or drink that you have started to eat or even taste; never offer or accept anything with your left hand, always use your right or both hands.
Don't ever step over another person's feet, always walk round. A shake of the head commonly signifies a 'yes'. When entering a building you should remove footwear. This applies especially to kitchens, or shrines. It is rude to stand in front of a person who is eating. The common form of Nepalese greeting is to press the palms together in a prayer-like gesture (Namaste). Shaking hands is not a recognised greeting.
Casual clothing is acceptable unless attending formal meetings or social occasions. But please note, bikinis, shorts, bare shoulders and backs may cause offence. Men remove their shirts only when bathing. Displays of affection in public are not appropriate, especially near places of religious importance. Always ask before entering a temple, and never take leather items inside.
Some suggestions for reading prior to the tour include:
"The Snow Leopard" by Peter Matthiessen, the famous naturalist and explorer and National Book Award Winner.
"The Waiting Land: A Spell In Nepal" by Dervla Murphy. An account by the well known Irish travel writer of working in a Tibetan refugee camp in Nepal.
"Nepal Himalaya" by H. W. Tilman. He has been called "arguably the best expedition writer and best explorer mountaineer" of the 20th Century. If you read this or "The Seven Mountain-Travel Books" you will understand why.
Area: 147,181 sq km (56,827 sq miles)
Population: 28.3 million (UN estimate 2007)
Languages spoken: Nepali is the official language (spoken by 49%). Other languages, including Maithili and Bhojpuri.
Religion: Hindu (81%) Buddhist (11%), Muslim (4%) Mundhum (4%), Christian (0.5%)
Local Time: GMT + 5.45
Electricity: 220 volts AC, 50Hz. There are often power cuts.
Currency: The official and most commonly used currency in Nepal is the Rupee. Exchange - In Kathmandu and Pokhara, currency can be exchanged, and travellers cheques can be cashed.
Credit/Debit Cards and ATMs: American Express is widely accepted, with MasterCard and Visa in tourist shops, hotels, restaurants and agencies. ATMs are widely available in Nepal.
Nepal is mountainous with hills, valleys and lowland ranging from 60 metres above sea level to the highest on Earth (Mt. Everest). Temperatures are tropical in the low-land plains of the Terai (south Nepal) whereas in the Himalayan region they are sub-zero; but the sun can bring some warmth during the day, even in the mountains. In Kathmandu the temperature goes below 1 °C in winter and rises to an average of 25 °C in summer. Nepal has four seasons:
1. Spring (March - May):
A mild time of year in the Terai (south Nepal) and moderate at higher altitudes where there are many views of the snow capped mountains and imposing Himalayas. This is the season for flowers to blossom; rhododendrons (the national flower of Nepal) sweep the ascending altitudes with their colour and beauty. Spring is the second busiest tourist season in Nepal and best time for a mountain expedition, peak climbing, trekking and other adventure activities.
2. Summer (June - August):
The monsoon season in Nepal; the climate is hot and wet with rain almost every day and the odd thunderstorms in the evening. All the rain makes for lush, green vegetation. During this time water levels rise making it the optimal season for river rafting in Nepal.
3. Autumn (September - November):
The peak tourist season in Nepal with the fantastic weather, and the most popular time for trekking as mountain views are guaranteed. Autumn is also a season of festivities as Nepal celebrates the biggest Hindu festivals Dashain and Tihar (Deewali).
5. Winter (December - February):
Winter weather is cool and the sky is clear with occasional snowfalls high up in the mountains. This is a good time of year for trekking at lower altitudes. At morning and night the weather is cold but the days are warm when it is sunny.
Average temperatures in Kathmandu:
16 - 23 °C - Spring
23 - 25 °C - Summer
15 - 24 °C - Autumn
9- 12 °C - Winter