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From Tibet to Nepal by train (or bike)

China loves ambitious infrastructure projects, and normally not only announces them but also finishes these projects – and finishes them quickly (something that does not always happen in Holland, many projects there are eventually cancelled or drag on forever). Just last month the train connection between Beijing and Lhasa (in Tibet) was finished, a project that was impossible to carry out according to more than one foreign scientist. But the Chinese managed to pull it off, although there are still some questions about what will happen if the ice melts on which part of the railway is built.

And now the next project has been announced already, a rail link between Lhasa and Kathmandu (capital of Nepal). This is a stretch of well over 1000 km through very remote territory. Because I am planning to ride this route on my mountain bike, I did a bit of research on the area over the past months. The railway would need to go over several mountain passes that are over 5000 meters high, and would run along the foot of Mount Everest. Construction is planned to start next year, and should be finished within 3 years.

And in case you are wondering, the bike trip from Lhasa to Kathmandu that was planned for this year will still take place. However, it had to be postponed until spring next year. Last week we (Gary from Toodou, my dad and I) decided to start this gruelling ride around April 22 next year. We should be able to finish the distance in about 3 weeks. There will still be quite some snow along the route, but it promises to be a fantastic journey. The trip is open to other sportive people as well, contact me if you are interested. Costs should be around USD 3000 per person (excl. flights, but incl. permits and jeeps that carry our food, luggage and tents). We expect to cover the trip on Toodou, Flickr and our blogs, so everyone can follow our experiences.

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  1. i wish i could have the time to read all of your articles.

  2. Marc,

    I have been to Tibet before and I can tell you mobile phone reception is not always the best in these remote areas … so I am wondering how you are going to survive these three weeks 😉


  3. hmmm,a rail link from Tibet to Kathmandu seems very interesting,but now since 2007 is already over,I wonder when the work will really start?

  4. Maybe they found out that it was a bit more difficult than planned? I have not heard anything about the project anymore. Honestly, I hope they will not build it, because the nature is so beautiful that train tracks would spoil it.

  5. Hi Marc I was wondering if you know when the bus service from Nepal to Lhasa starts and how long it takes?thanks

  6. I am not sure about this. But I doubt if there is one, because foreigners cannot enter Tibet from Nepal (you have to go through China). You may want to try to take a bus to the border which takes about 3-4 hours, and see if there is a possibility to cross it. Honestly, I think you will be sent back. But if you manage you can take a bus or truck from there to Lhasa.