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Visiting Las Islas Cies in Galicia

A sailing trip out to Las Islas Cies from the coastal city of Vigo is a must to check out one of the arguably most beautiful beaches in the world.

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Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

Las Islas Cies, or the Cies Islands, were once named as one of the top 10 beaches in the world by The Guardian newspaper. And after a recent sailing trip to the three islands near Vigo, we definitely agree that the beach is stunning.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

Las Islas Cies

Las Islas Cies is made up of three islands, Monte Agudo, O Faro and San Martiño, and are situated at the entrance to the Ría de Vigo off the coast of Vigo in the northwest of Spain. While a protected National Park, you are allowed to wander around on the islands of Monte Agudo and O Faro.

Although the only way to make it out to Las Islas Cies is to sail.

In summer a number of companies operate regular services, but due to the islands popularity, there are only a limited number of visitors allowed to step on to the pristine beaches everyday. And a maximum of 800 people per night are allowed to camp on O Faro Island in summer, so bookings are essential!

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

Sailing out from Vigo harbour.

On one of our mornings exploring Vigo as part of their new #VigoAlive campaign we joined the Sailing charter company Sailway for a relaxing cruise out to Las Islas Cies. Climbing aboard one of their 10m yachts we set out for the hour long trip across the harbour.

Spending the day sailing past the mussel farms and old light houses standing sentry along the shoreline is the perfect way to see more of the Galician coastline.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

The only place to land at Las Islas Cies is on the island of Monte Agudo and as you get closer to the shoreline you begin to realise just why it was included as one of the top 10 beaches.

Walking up the gangplank you get your first proper look across the islands. Sunlight filters through the clouds and reflects off the white particles of sand and tufts of coarse grass protect the fragile dunes from eroding into the Atlantic.

Rodas Beach, the beach proclaimed as one of the top 10 most beautiful beaches, actually joins the two islands of Monte Agudo and O Faro islands via its curving length of golden sand. While the water was freezing in October, it is possible to swim and snorkel straight off the beach in the height of summer.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

At each end of Las Islas Cies there are lighthouses which are easily accessible on winding walkways for the more adventurous explorers.

Strolling along the gravel path across the artificial roadway to O Faro Island we made our way up the zigzagging paths. Between breaks in the trees we could catch glimpses of the protected island of San Martiño to the south. On which only the remains of a few abandoned houses crowd the shoreline from a time when you were allowed to live there.

Now no one except for the Park Rangers are allowed to disturb the native birds nesting on the island.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

Views from O Faro Island to San Martiño Island

Pausing for breath at the top of Faro Island, we watched the birds cartwheel through the skies along the rocky outcrops. A sense of insignificance settled upon us as we gazed across the icy Atlantic Ocean. If you decided to dive in here and start swimming, then the next outcrop of land you stumbled upon would be somewhere in North America.

With so much empty space between the two continents you can only imagine how the waves have changed the landscape over the past millions of year. And how it will change in years to come as the deep turquoise water still churns to white around the base of the three Islands.

Las Islas Cies, Cies Island, Vigo, Galicia

View from Faro Island back across 

As the sun swept low across the ever darkening sky we raced the rain back to the shelter of boat.

The sky began to drizzle and a rush of adventure and excitement filled us as the increasing winds snatched at the sails. The weather threatening to send us on a wild journey should we loosen our hands on the wheel.

But as we drew closer to Vigo and back to civilisation it seemed the further we were from relaxing. I could definitely get used to wandering the deserted paradise of Las Islas Cies and becoming the next Robinson Crusoe.

Expert Travel Information for Las Islas Cies:

Where to stay?

Check out the AC Hotel Palacio Universal if you would like a relaxing Hotel in Vigo. Nice and close to the harbour to visit Las Islas Cies easily.

What to do?

Sail out to the gorgeous Islas Cies of course! Check out the Sailway Facebook page if you want to learn a little bit more about them.

How to get there?

Unfortunately Vigo airport is quite small. But there are lots of flights into Madrid which is only a 50 minute flight from Vigo.

Helpful Travel Guides to use in Vigo and Spain:

Disclaimer: We were guests of the Vigo Tourism Board on the trip to Las Islas Cies. Although our photos and thoughts are always our own.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Karen @ Trans-Americas Journey

    October 29, 2012 at 4:18 PM

    The Jandals as castaways…I can see it!

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      Should be some sort of reality TV show about this 😉

  2. Oriana

    October 29, 2012 at 10:38 PM

    Nice post Cole! I had never heard of these islands, and now you made me want to go, it looks so peaceful and uncontaminated! Do you know whether you are allowed to sail there by yourself (I mean privately)?

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      Definitely can sail there privately. Just not sure how they enforce who is allowed to stop on the Island. Just get there nice and early 😉

      • Oriana

        October 31, 2012 at 11:01 AM

        I see, thanks. Will suggest it to my dad and his sailing-buddies then!

  3. Stephen Schreck

    October 30, 2012 at 12:38 AM

    You make it sounds amazing and the pictures make it look amazing so I am going to say yes it should be on the Top ten beaches in the world.

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:39 AM

      If the water had been warmer and we were able to swim then it would definitely jump on the Top 10 list 😉

  4. Laurie

    October 30, 2012 at 1:58 AM

    The three islands, Monte Agudo, O Faro and San Martiño are great places to visit.

  5. Shamis @ Gawaya Travel Blog

    October 30, 2012 at 4:37 AM

    Oh no, don’t become the next Robinson Crusoe, although this scenic island is a great vacation spot, because there are so many waiting to read about your adventures 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:41 AM

      Maybe we can get a satellite phone or something to give us WiFi haha.

  6. Turtle

    October 30, 2012 at 6:41 AM

    It is beautiful… but I get the feeling the Guardian editors were being cheap and wouldn’t let their reporters go more than 1000 miles away for research… 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:42 AM

      Haha that is true. I sometimes wonder about the truth behind these “Top 10 Lists”. Obviously never been to the South Pacific!

  7. Laurence

    October 30, 2012 at 6:25 PM

    I can totally see you as Robinson Crusoe. Although what would that make Adele?

  8. Matthew Karsten

    October 30, 2012 at 11:08 PM

    I could see myself sailing to these islands to do some camping. Looks peaceful!
    But 800 campers? That seems like a lot. It must be pretty big…

    • Cole Burmester

      October 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM

      The campground would be packed with that many people as it wasn’t that big. Would spend half your time tripping over the tent flys!

  9. Arti

    October 31, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    Looks so pretty!! No wonder it was featured in the top 10!! Would love to spend some time there. Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • Cole Burmester

      November 1, 2012 at 4:38 PM

      No worries Arti! Hope you visit the area one day. Little bit harder to get to, but worth it 🙂

  10. Molly

    November 1, 2012 at 7:08 PM

    The undiscovered part of Spain for me, the North. I hope to get chance to visit Vigo, Galicia and Asturias at some part. Thanks for great pics.

    • Cole Burmester

      November 2, 2012 at 8:47 AM

      We need to head south now to find our undiscovered part of Spain! Heard it is a lot more laid back down there? And cheaper too?

  11. D.J. - The World of Deej

    November 2, 2012 at 9:21 PM

    Love the view from Faro Island!

  12. Angela

    November 3, 2012 at 5:48 PM

    Beautiful views, I could easily spend a month there catching up with proper, much needed relax.

  13. Susan@Travel Universally

    November 5, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    It’s a perfect place for spending and enjoying the time with the dear ones. For Nature Lovers like me, It’s like Heaven. Awesome!

    • Cole Burmester

      November 8, 2012 at 4:40 AM

      Would love to visit in summer when the water was warm so we could go swimming!

  14. Ashley of Ashley Abroad

    November 6, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    I can’t tell what’s prettier, the sky or the water! GORGEOUS photos. I’ve heard of these islands before but haven’t made it over there yet.

    • Cole Burmester

      November 8, 2012 at 4:46 AM

      Wish we had a chance to dip into the water! Pity it was a bit too chilly for us, but summer is meant to be lovely 🙂

  15. Mary @ Green Global Travel

    November 12, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    Beautiful photos. I haven’t had a chance to explore northern Spain and the protected areas of Monte Agudo and O Faro look like a stunning place to explore.

    • Cole Burmester

      November 12, 2012 at 9:01 PM

      Lots of bird spotting up there on the Cies Islands if you guys make it out to Northern Spain!

  16. Ali

    November 13, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    Looks gorgeous! Spain is one of my favorite countries, and I’d love to explore more. Never been to Galicia.

  17. Tom @ Waegook Tom

    November 18, 2012 at 11:11 AM

    This looks gorgeous! Although gotta say, I’m actually curious about costs – this looks like it’d be a pretty expensive place to go to and stay in?

  18. Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home

    November 18, 2012 at 2:53 PM

    The clouds in those pictures are fantastic 🙂 I didn’t know about these islands until now.

  19. Muhammad Talha

    December 4, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    You know I love adventure…. Love to see the wonders of the world… btw nice photos.. 🙂

  20. Laura @Travelocafe

    December 4, 2012 at 2:28 PM

    I cannot believe I still haven’t been to Galicia and to Las Islas Cies. How difficult is to get there from Valencia? Your article should finally convince me to make the trip.

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Adventure Travel

WHY WE LOVE TRAVELLING IN ANTIPOLO (AND YOU SHOULD, TOO)

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Antipolo is one of the seven most popular cities in Philippines which is located in the province of Rizal. The city of Antipolo is famous for being a pilgrimage site and is popularly known as the “pilgrimage site of Philippines”. Being the heritage city of the country Antipolo holds many beautiful and amazing places where you can explore your travel buds. The main and the enshrined attraction of the place is the marine image of the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage present in the Antipolo museum which was brought from Mexico during the year 1626.

There are many beautiful and extravagant places present in the beautiful city of the Antipolo where one can easily find peace and can explore the beauty of Philippines, the Antipolo style.  The city consists of many historic and natural sites which will blow your mind off and are worth visiting. We have some tourist attractions in Antipolo where you can go exploring with your friends or family or even alone.

Antipolo Cathedral: – Being the most historic and antique church present in the city the Antipolo church is widely famous for its renowned icon, the Our Lady of Peace and Good Voyage. The church is located in the proper town and every year on the month of May Antipolo becomes the centre of attraction for many of the visitors and tourists who travel from faraway lands and locals in order to pay homage to the Our Lady.

Boso Boso church: – This church is mostly a remnant of a centuries old church which was destroyed during the Second World War. This beautiful remnant of the church belongs to the Spanish era that dominated the country of Philippines that for more than 300 years. It was constructed in the year 1700 under the Jesuits. After getting destroyed by earthquake in 1800, the church was abandoned in the 1930 and got into a fire scandal in the year 1945; it got restored back by the government in the year 1995. If you are a great lover of history and past things this place might fascinate you.

Hinulugang Taktak: – The name of the place means “where the bell was dropped”, is a waterfall that was designated by the government of Philippines as a national park. The mesmerizing waterfall got its interesting name due to a turn of event down the history. The priest of the nearby church on the demand of the town people had thrown the church bell into the river as it was causing unwanted sound in the town every time it rang during the Angelus.

Mystical Cave: – The cave is named as mystical because one can see the several religious images that appear inside the cave. Mostly the images are in stalactite and stalagmite formations that mainly resembles religious Gods. The cave consists of two floors but the visitors are allowed to explore the first one without permission.

Pinto Art Museum: – If you adore art and paintings and want to connect with the Antipolo’s culture then this art museum is an amazing chance you to get connected with the locals. The museum mainly displays the art, sculptures and paintings of the local artist bringing out the cultural background of the place.

Not only have these amazing historic places given you a clear image of the Antipolo’s beauty and history but there is a little more than just places that you will find fascinating. As the city of Antipolo is situated in a higher elevation than the Metro Manila, it gives you a breathtaking view of the metropolis at night, which is a sight to behold in the ancient city. In order to stay in the city you can easily find vacation home in Antipolo Philippines where you can stay and enjoy of your own.

Not only just places the city of Antipolo provides you exquisite food choices to make your taste buds go bananas or you can have fresh locally grown mangoes and cashews. The most famous dish in the city is the Suman, which is normally a local delicacy that is made from glutinous rice.

Antipolo is a breathtaking place hidden in the depth of Philippines with a mesmerizing history and culture. It will not only make you fall in love with itself but also will make your eyes reach with beauty.

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Adventure Travel

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

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Top of Cappadocia day trek with Middle Earth Travel

Trekking through the valleys of Cappadocia’s fairy chimneys with Middle Earth Travel feels more like the set of a Star Wars movie than a historical region once carved out and lived in by humans. Churches, homes and pigeon houses are scattered throughout the valleys, all waiting to be explored. The best part is, Middle Earth Travel know all the hidden secrets.

Standing at the top of Cappadocia

Top of Cappadocia day trek – with Middle Earth Travel

On the 26th of July (which just so happens to be my birthday!) Middle Earth Travel took us on their private and guided Top of Cappadocia day trek. From Pasabag, along the top of Cappadocia and down through the Gulludere Rose Valley to Goreme, we trekked 15kms in one day! (We recommend getting your bearings with this map)

Upon arrival to the Middle Earth Offices, we were warmly greeted by our new friend Atil whom we had met a few days earlier while mountain biking through the Kizilcukur Red Valley. We were then introduced to our guide and given a briefing regarding the day. Normally, the Top of Cappadocia tour would start from Çavuşin, however, since we had already explored Çavuşin Castle, they adapted our tour to compensate ensuring we would explore new terrain!

With charged cameras, plenty of water and our running shoes on, we were driven to our starting point of Pasabag. We wandered through the fairy chimneys, coming across camels and markets – then the true hike began.

Pasabag in Cappadocia

The police station in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

Camel in Pasabag, Cappadocia

It was a slow and gentle incline. With no trees to provide shade, I quickly realised why our tour guide had chosen to wear fully covered clothing! As the sweat quickly set in (a waterfall in Moss’s case) we snapped away with our cameras and enjoyed the entertaining shapes of Imagine Valley and the amazing view. We also passed a lot of rock piles, which according to our guide mean ‘father’ and are built to help lead the way.

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Animal shaped formations in Imagine Valley

Middle Earth Travel, Cappadocia

Making our way to the top of Cappadocia

Father leading the way (rock pile)

Father leading the way (rock pile)

The higher we trekked, the more breath taking the views became! As we walked along the summit of Bozdag mountain (the Top of Cappadocia) we could see EVERTHING – Pasabag, Çavuşin Castle, Kizilcukur Red Valley, Gulludere Rose Valley and Goreme. We were on the Father of Valleys! After a quick nod of agreement to the guide, we pushed ourselves the extra distance and made our way to the flag, as this HAD to be the highest point and was definitely worth a photo and a selfie or two!

View from the top of Cappadocia

View from the top of Cappadocia

Flag at top of Cappadocia

From the flag we looked down upon Aktepe Hill which is known as a popular destination for watching the sun set and could spot Kizilvadi Restaurant, our destination for lunch! Kizilvadi Restaurant is an attraction of its own. With its own historic winery and Grape church, plus some Middle Earth Travel treks even stay there for the night! After having a massive feed of soup, salad and pasta plus a surprise birthday cake, we made our way down into Gulludere Rose Valley.

Kizilvadi Restaurant

Kizilvadi Restaurant

The scenery is amazing, with strong colours visible in perfect layers on the chimneys, you would wonder what an artist was thinking, had it been a painting. Also, hidden to the side of the track we walked across a little bridge and not expecting anything to be there we were wowed by the massive church carved. It was absolutely huge and hard to believe that its most recent use has been as a pigeon house!

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Coloured chimneys in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Pigeon houses in Cappadocia

Church in Gulludere Rose Valley

Hard to believe this Church is carved inside a fairy chimney!

Middle Earth Travel Review

  • The team at Middle Earth Travel were extremely knowledgeable and certainly know Cappadocia’s hidden secrets. They have friendships with local tea garden owners which is also of benefit as it gained us entry to locked churches and hidden rooms that we would not have otherwise seen.
  • We covered a lot of ground, however we did not feel rushed. The whole day focused on showing us the region, therefore we had as much time as we needed to explore each church and to take ‘just one more photo’.
  • It wasn’t all about trekking. With a whole day and 15kms to cover, there were a few silly poses (especially in Imagine Valley), and we learnt a lot about the myths, legends and way of life in Cappadocia.
  • In conclusion I highly recommend Middle Earth Travel if you wish to go trekking or mountain biking in Cappadocia.
  • Cost: Day treks with Middle Earth Travel range from 50-90 euro, depending on the number of people taking part. This includes lunch, guide, vehicle transfers and entrance fees to historical sites, but excludes alcoholic and soft drinks.
  • Middle Earth Travel are outdoor enthusiasts and offer multi-day over night treks, mountain biking, abseiling, or custom made itineraries, in multiple regions throughout Turkey.
  • www.middleearthtravel.com

Disclaimer: We were provided with a discount for the trek with Middle Earth Travel, however, as always our thoughts on our adventure travel blog our own.

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Adventure Travel

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

Tibet Cycling: The Complete Guide to Lhasa to Ganden Monastery Cycling Tour

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Tibet appeals to travellers in many ways. The first and most important thing is the beautiful natural scenery. However, Tibet is a bit different from the other scenic spots. There is a charm to this place, which is not found anywhere. Travellers have a mind which wanders and loves to explore new things. They can get this experience for their Tibet travel as the various associated activities can completely thrill them. From photography to trekking and cycling, the options never seem to end.

Almost everyone is well acquainted with the various joys of cycling in Tibet, the atmosphere is absolutely perfect. Tourists can pass through several spots and they can enjoy every bit of this beautiful natural land. Cycling happens on various routes and these routes have to be understood thoroughly. In this article, we will discuss about the cycling tour to Ganden Monastery from Lhasa and provide you every detail that you need.

Why travel to Ganden Monastery?

Tibetan Buddhism has a unique appeal which calms the soul of all wanderers. They are struck by wanderlust and the monasteries in Tibet, offer them something to cherish about forever. For those who love religious places, Tibet has plenty of offerings. The monasteries, the temples and the rituals, Tibet’s heritage have always echoed through the ages.  This brings us to Ganden Monastery, which is truly a magical place. It is an absolute wonder in front of the eyes and the viewers are left completely captivated. This was the very first monastery, which laid the foundation of Tibetan Buddhism. The vast expanse of land on Tibet’s western site is absolutely heavenly. Emperor Yongzheng who was from Qing Dynasty gave a very special name to this monastery and called it “Yong Tai”. Situated at a height of 3,800m from the sea’s level, the elevation is majestic. Lagyi Hall, Angyiukang, Yangbagyain Hall are the major construction in this monastery.

Located 47Km away from the capital city of Lhasa, this monastery witnesses a huge influx of people every year. This is an important structure as far as Tibet’s cultural heritage is conserved and it is preserved for this reason. The cultural and artistic significance is terrific and Ganden will always be the centre of Tibet’s attraction. It joins the famous Sera Monastery in a unique list, which also features Drepung Monastery. These three temples are considered “great” and the visitors value them greatly. Tibetan Buddhism features many activities and some of them are grand and marvellous. Once in a year, a giant picture of Buddha is unfolded and it easily attracts disciples from all parts of the country. Cycling to this monastery can provide a great experience, but you must follow the basic guidelines. Once these points are followed, your trip will not only be great, it will be perfect.

Highlights of the amazing cycling tour from Lhasa to Ganden Monastery

Cyclists are of different types and they begin their journey, by having different trips in their minds. We have introduced trips of various lengths and they are tailor-made for each type of traveller. Some people can opt for the short and customized tour, while, others can choose the longer version. The distance from Tibet’s Lhasa to this amazing monastery can vary slightly, depending on the route taken. Cyclists have to travel 60Km to reach their destination and not much difficulty is faced in the process.  Don’t forget to be in a relaxed mood, as you take this trip. Lhasa is a great spot to be in the right frame of mind and two days can be easily spent here.  The famous trip begins from Lhasa River and cyclists go upstream.  Picturesque villages and some amazing farmlands fall between that and they are just perfect. Reaching Ganden is easy and once you reach here, your soul will be touched by a positive vibe. The environment is filled with peacefulness and everything seems perfect here. One night can be spent here to soak in the feeling. The return journey can start next day and Chubuxi village falls in the route. Tibet is all about the unique lifestyle of the locals and this is something you can’t afford to miss.  From Chubuxi, the trekking trip to Samye commences.

The most classic 6 days Lhasa and Ganden Monastery Bike tour, you will enjoy the cycling joy and Tibet wonderful natural landscape and Tibetan monasteries architecture. Most tourists can complete this short ride after relaxing yourself in Lhasa for two days. The ride route begains upstream along the Lhasa River, and you will pass some farmlands and small villages. Then arrive in Gandan monastery, one of six Gelug sect monasteries, and worship this famous monastery. Then you are expected to spend a night at Gandan monastery to experience the peaceful environment. Next day, you will head back to Lhasa, and visit Chubuxi village at the foot of Gandan monastery. On the way you can experience the daily life of local people. Moreover, Chubuxi village is the starting point of Ganden to Samye trek. Finally we move back to Lhasa and the ride ends.

Tackling the changing altitude on the way to Ganden Monastery

The altitude in Lhasa is about 3600m, and that of Ganden Monastery is 3800m. There is no strict change of altitude, so it’s relatively easy for travellers who want to try short cycling in Tibet.  Cycling is a strenuous activity and it can take a toll on your health. That being said, cycling in the rough terrains of Tibet is even more challenging. Ganden is situated high above the normal sea level and this steep rise can often weaken cyclists. The high altitude woes will continue, if proper precaution is not taken. Carrying additional oxygen cylinders is a must and this should be done in advance. The temperature changes greatly and travellers should also be aware of this. However, if you choose us for this trip, everything becomes easier. The freezing months can pose a far bigger threat and that should be avoided at all costs.

The perfect time to take Lhasa – Ganden Monastery cycle tour

Tibet embraces every season fabulously, though the conditions are not favourable every time. Travellers and especially cyclists must understand the timing absolutely well. If the activity is done in a pleasant month instead of the harsh winter, the fun can increase manifold. The best time for cycling is from May to October because good weather and temparature. The other months can be targeted as well, but the safety issues become important in the hilly roads.

Getting the Tibet Travel Permit – How can we help?

Exploring Tibet is a fun activity, but Tibet travel permits matter greatly. Foreign travellers must fulfil the necessary travel guidelines to get in this region and we can help you from all sides. We make the process easier, by getting you the right documents at the right time.

What to pack for this cycle tour? – Bicycle Rent and Other Tips

Taking the most essential things can do the job here. The all-important ID card and travel permit is absolutely essential and it gets the first priority. Take a medium-sized backpack to put in your things and pack it with the right kind of warm clothes. Waist packs also come in handy, as they store many important things. This is a place where you will see high elevation, so oxygen should be there in abundance. Avoid getting sunburn by taking a good sun-screen cream or lotion and lastly don’t miss out on the medicines. Helmets and other cycling wear can be taken, as it is very essential. The bicycle can be rented easily and it is supplied by the tour operator itself. An important trip in this aspect would be to prepare for the changing weather. It can stay sunny or it can rain, so plan accordingly.

The challenges in Tibet are quite tough, but it will gift you an experience, which you will not forget in a long time. Cycling here is precious and it is an important aspect that strengthens Tibet’s tourism.

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Meet Cole and Adela

Cole and AdelaWe have been wearing out our jandals (Kiwi for flip-flops) on our travel adventures around the world since 2009. We think our blog is thought provoking and a little witty. But we have been proven wrong before. Find out more about us here...

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