A journey across remote lands: Tibet and Mongolia (by Nicolas Marino)

Today's guest post "A journey across remote lands: Tibet and Mongolia" is by Nicolas Marino (Website | Blog | Facebook | Flickr | Twitter):

Hi Everybody! My name is Nicolas and I am a documentary and landscape photographer who, since 2006 has chosen a bicycle as means of transportation to travel and reach some very remote regions of this world. I have cycled 41.000 km (25.000mi) in Asia so far and due to the nature of traveling by bicycle I can relate very intimately to the people of the places I visit, as most of the time I can share quality time with them. So in this opportunity, allow me to take you for a ride along two places that truly touched my heart out of all the ones I have been to, Tibet and Mongolia.

Exploring the Tibetan plateau by bicycle has been one of the most rewarding yet tough experiences of my life. Throughout my years based in Chengdu, China I have made several solo extreme cycling trips across the provinces of Kham and Amdo and in each one of them, I had to endure the extreme weather of the region to be able to experience the soothing warmth of the Tibetan people. Averaging 5000 m (16400ft) of altitude, the Tibetan plateau is by nature an inhospitable land where I would spend several days, riding solitary tracks and getting across one after another and another incredibly high and cold mountain pass.

Stitched Panorama

When you are cycling uphill a sea of stones at walking speeds, running out of breath at 5000 m and struggling to keep your body warm when the cold catches your body soaked in sweat, that's when your mind starts playing tricks on you and telling you: “why in the world are you doing this?” Sometimes even making me hate being a photographer. I carry an average of 60kg (132lb)including the bike's weight, out of which 15kg (33lb) belong to photography related stuff. This is a lot of extra extra weight to take and it is only when you look at the LCD and you know you got that shot that the pain suddenly disappears and everything you've gone through was totally worth it.

Stitched Panorama

Opposite to what one might think, it is in these harsh lands where I found some of the most wonderful people in this world. The more I travel the more I am convinced that the harshest the environment the more hospitable the people are. In the roughest of the environments I met nothing but smiles.

Tibetan nomad on the grasslands. Tibetan plateau
People who even in the middle of a blizzard, while undertaking the tough task of bringing their yaks back to their camp, would stop to welcome a complete stranger on a bicycle (while wondering what the hell he is doing there) , pose for a photograph, feed him later and make a space in their tent at night.

Tibetan nomads herding yaks at 4400mts high in the Tibetan plateau
When the night sets in, temperatures plummet and you bury yourself deep in your sleeping bag while seeking courage to go out and capture that insane retreating blizzard that had just caught you on your bike before camping, leaving the cleanest of the starry skies and a shinning moon illuminating a 4340 m (14370ft) high azure lake.

Despite 60 years of invasion and violent harassment, Tibetan nomads still struggle to keep their way of living and their spiritual beliefs. In very remote regions, kids still wrap themselves up in traditional clothes. Their houses are warm inside while outside can be blistering cold.

Tibetan kid wearing traditional clothes. Remote Tibetan plateau
They come outside regardless of how cold it is and they become resilient from very early in life. They use to look curiously at me because most of the time I am riding across regions where foreigners simply do not go, let alone riding a bicycle.

A tibetan kid from a nomad family on the grasslands of the Tibetan plateau
They are used to be outside following their parents around, learning how to engage in a life that it is essentially about dealing with surviving a harsh environment.

Tibetan kid on traditional clothes. Tibetan plateau
In regions where the Han Chinese influence has become strong enough for people to start giving up their culture, traditional clothes are sadly gone and even in nomad's tents, you can see the new generation wearing cheap Chinese-made clothes that are completely foreign to their culture.

Nomad Tibetan kid inside her tent. Grasslands around Zorge.
Life inside revolves around the stove, it's the only place where you can keep yourself warm. Mothers prepare the food for the whole family and are in charge of constantly adding dry yak dung to fill the stove and keep it running.

Tibetan woman in her golden kitchen.  Tibetan plateau
Spirituality is as inherent to a Tibetan as breathing is to life. Praying and reciting mantras is something they do pretty much any time of the day but early morning and late afternoon is the time when they particularly dedicate time to it.

Tibetan woman deep into her prayers. Tibetan plateau
Nobody but Tibetans understand more the harshness of their environment and there was not a single time that I haven't felt safe thanks to their care and their love. They give it to whoever is in their land. If you liked these images, then don't forget Tibetans, their culture is in the hands of a sadistic government who is year by year strengthening their measures to wipe it off the map.

Tibetan kids waking up in the morning. Tibetan plateau
Far up north from the Tibetan plateau lies Mongolia, a nation of nomads and rigorous weather where I have ridden 3300 km (2050 mi) earlier this year, now together with my life's partner. Entering Mongolia is like coming into a tale, it's like going back 400 years and take part of a life that can only be compared to what one has read in history books. The scenery is nothing but stunning all over and like in Tibet, the nomads' hospitality is overwhelming.

Stitched Panorama
Riding on the steppe is a truly magical experience. Mongolia has only a handful of paved roads and thousands and thousands of miles of tracks that have been engraved on the soil by thousands of years of nomads moving around the country. The flashy green and the smooth shape of the hills is beautifully intoxicating, a true treat to the eyes. Life happens at a slow pace and you can see shepherds going around with their herds.

Nomads live in their gers, the traditional Mongolian yurts that can be seen scattered all over the country. They are cool in summer and warm in the extremely harsh winter and beautiful inside. It takes only a couple of hours to mount them or dismantle them. They are the ultimate perfection in terms of vernacular architecture.


Like in Tibet, life inside revolves around the stove and everything in the ger is arranged around it.

In the high steppe, bordering Siberia there are less gers and more cabins made of tree trunks. People are extremely welcoming and as soon as they would see us from a distance, they would wave their hands to invite us and come inside. They would treat us with salted tea,dry goat's cheese and airag (fermented mare's milk) the national drink.

The beauty of cycling the world is having the place completely to yourself and having total freedom over what you photograph. Even places that are visited by tourists can be shot from places where these don't go. You have all the time you want to explore and get unique perspectives. Lake Terkhin Tsagaan is one perfect example of this, a place where I could've spent a month in solitude.

The Gobi desert covers the southern half of the country and we rode 1200 km (745mi) across it, most of the time in complete solitude as gers are very few and far between and most of the time seen from miles away. The Gobi is harsh and inhospitable and even though this is the nature of a desert, the colors and the scenery can be as stunning as those of the steppe and people even friendlier.

Undertaking the crossing of a desert by bicycle isn't an easy task. It takes huge determination, courage and strength, its immensity is intrinsically intimidating and without the ability to determine your orientation it can be deadly as tracks split dozens of times in very short stretches and most of the time there is absolutely nobody around, perhaps for more than 2 or 3 days. Finding a ger in the middle of it is relieving experience as people will see you and take you in as part of their family. Like Tibetans, they are fully aware of how harsh their environment is so they do everything they can to help you and treat you like a guest of honor.

When the day is over and the tent is pitched, you are left to enjoy the best of what the world has to offer. True beauty, dazzling skies and the most absolute silence, an experience that sublimates the soul. The desert offers little foreground subjects, that's when you and your stuff come into place to be the subjects that accompany an unforgettable night.

The beauty of cycling the world as a photographer comes from having total freedom, the ability to reach places where very few can and participate intimately of the life of the people you visit which gives you unprecedented photographic opportunities and the chance to enrich yourself with experiences that you can hardly find when traveling with motor transport.

If you have an interesting idea for a guest postyou can contact me here.

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  • Marko Drazic


    • nico

      Thanks a lot Marko!

  • Jordi Fiol

    Amazing. Thanks for sharing

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Jordi! Muchas gracias!

  • peter marshall

    I’ve been wanting to go to Mongolia for years… hopefully I’ll make it. These pictures make me want to go more now! Thanks for sharing. Beautiful pictures!

    • nico

      Well, don’t postpone it anymore!!! Once you are there, you’ll be wondering what kept you so long, it is a truly amazing country outside of its hideous cities.
      Thanks for reading Peter!

  • Lubos

    Magnificent pictures, and environment 🙂 Thank you for sharing …

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Lubos!

  • broxibear

    Really interesting images Nicolas, did you mange the whole trip without getting the front element of your 14-24mm scratched ?

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Broxibear!
      Yes, I did. I have been using the 14-24 for 4 years now and never ever got a scratch on its front element. It’s the one thing that looks scary to everybody before buying it, but it really is not a major problem as long as you are careful enough and treat the lens as you would treat any other top-notch glass of course. t is the lens that I have on the camera most of the time.

  • mikeswitz

    Beautiful images, an amazing journey. You and your partner must have an incredible relationship to share what must be both a trying and rewarding journey. Thanks for sharing.

    • nico

      THanks a lot Mike! Indeed, we do have a great sense of friendship apart from our relationship and that keeps us going. On the downside, fights and quarrels do happen, sometimes more often than not and those times are not easy when you are in the middle of nowhere and you can’t find space for yourself. But all in all, we do great 🙂

  • Aldo

    Always fascinated by galaxy shots… I wish I could have a view of the stars like that in LA

    • mikeswitz

      Griffith Park Planetarium?

    • nico

      I know exactly the feeling, having lived always in big cities with virtually no stars! The Gobi was a true blessing 🙂
      Thanks Aldo!

  • Rodolfo Arechiga

    Gorgeous photography!

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Rodolfo! Gracias!

      • Rodolfo Arechiga

        Un placer Nico. I am also following you on FLICKR! Thanks for sharing!

  • Thomas Lozinski

    Thanks for sharing. Makes me want to take a bike trip there. Very impressive photos, would like to see more details (lighting etc) on some. The portraits are incredibly genuine.

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Thomas !

  • Scott M

    Very nice story! You are a brave man to bicycle so far and with all the struggle that entails. Obviously, the people you see on your journey appreciate the courage you have and want to help you.

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Scott ! The little girl is actually inside the traditional Tibetan nomad tent, which is made of that black material made of yak hair.

  • Maji

    Gorgeous images and a nicely told story. Thank you for sharing. It looks like the harshest of the climates bring the best out of people.

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Maji! Indeed the people are the most wonderful in the world I know 🙂 (51 countries and counting…)

  • Chuanxiao Li

    “Despite 60 years of invasion and violent
    harassment”, you need read more history book, it is 1100 years, not 60 years

    • Nico

      Tibet has always been an independent country, but it is only after 1949 that the government decided to invade and steal the land and exterminate tibetan culture. I lived in china for 6 years and I love it but I am always sad to see that most Chinese people are amazing people but don’t know anything about this and believe the lies of their government . So it is 64 years that China has terrorized Tibet and killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and it is for the whole history, not 1100, that Tibet was an independent country, so perhaps it would be good for you to read books coming from outside China. If you knew the truth, you would try to change your government. 我希望我说的不冒犯你。 我爱中国而且我特别爱中国人但是你们的政府可怕死了。

      • vastseawy

        So do you think they are the truth of your foreign books and Chinese books will certainly be fake? What is your standard of identifying the true and the false? Since you’ve been to Tibet, so did you see the government was killing Tibetans? Do you know what was real Tibet like 64 years ago?

        I just want to remind you that people who come from the city-state with small territory and population cannot understand another form of society from the other side of the earth by their national outlook and ethnic outlook.

        • nico

          well, the debate could go on for a long time, and you know, I lived 6 years in China and I have discussed it several times with my Chinese friends, but this is not the right place to do it.
          And since you are probably Chinese, let me make clear that I love China and Chinese people probably more than any other foreigner you know, I consider it my second home.
          A completely different thing are governments, I don’t trust ANY of them as they all cheat on people and they don’t care about you or me, or Tibetans or whoever….

  • Art

    Absolutely beautiful work. Belongs in NatGeo. Just wondering … How many spare tires and tubes do you carry? Getting bike parts out there could be a bit of a problem.

    • how?

      wow! how does one even get here from Chicago o’hare?

      fly to india, then train, then rickety truck, then by foot? always wondered…

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Art! I usually get the necessary spare parts before venturing into the middle of nowhere, in any city or small towns. I carry 2 tubes and I carry a spare tire only when one is weakening. I use Schwalbe tires which are really worth every penny, so they give me some peace of mind when I’m not carrying a spare.
      I also carry most of the stuff that I would need in case of a break down, but not everything of course. So far,so good !

      • Groosome

        Spare brake pads for the downhill? 🙂

        • nico

          hahah you know what? I carry few of those and it already happened to me twice that I completely ran out of breaks, especially when cycling in the jungle in Indonesia, where the mud completely ground 3 pairs of pads in 10-30 min each…..You can check the two videos that leg of the trip in YouTube, the links are in response somewhere here to another member. You’ll get the idea of what we did there. 🙂

  • Really amazing story and beautiful photographs.

    I get a feel, not only for the adventure you’re having, hardships lived, places seen and people and cultures discovered.

    At once awed and a little jealous.

    • nico

      Thanks so much 🙂

  • Chuanxiao Li

    The Mongol invasion of Tibet can refer to the following campaigns by the Mongols against Tibet. The earliest is the alleged plot to invade Tibet by Genghis Khan in 1206,[1] which is considered anachronistic; there is no evidence of Mongol-Tibetan encounters prior to the military campaign in 1240.[2] The first confirmed campaign is the invasion of Tibet by the Mongol general Doorda Darkhan in 1240,[3] a campaign of 30,000 troops[4][5] that resulted in 500 casualties.[6]
    The campaign was smaller than the full-scale invasions used by the
    Mongols against large empires. The purpose of this attack is unclear,
    and is still in debate among tibetologists.[7] Eventually Tibet capitulated to the Mongols, whose administrative rule over this region lasted until the mid-14th century, when the Yuan Dynasty began to crumble.

    In the early 17th century, the Mongols again conquered the region and
    established their empire. Since then the Mongols had intervened in
    Tibetan politics until the Qing conquest of Mongolia and Zungharia.

  • vastseawy


  • Jon Ingram

    Absolutely stunning photography! This is very inspiring. I have great respect for the poster and choosing to travel to these regions by bike. Thanks for sharing.

    • nico

      Thanks so much Jon 🙂

  • silmasan

    wow. I’ll just breathe it in now..

    Btw Nicolas, do you have video from these trips uploaded somewhere? And thank you for sharing.

  • desmo

    Really outstanding post and photos
    also great point you made for the Tibetans and their need for our support to continue their independence

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Desmo, and yes, to me the most important is to bring awareness about the existence of Tibetans.

  • Fabio Mitrano

    Wonderfull! A great travel and amazing photo!

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Fabio!

  • George Gravett

    Unbelievable! Incredible! Fascinating! All of it!!

    • nico

      Thanks so much George :)))

  • chokes

    What a contrasting world,in spirit and vision. To get a better idea may I suggest you to read SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL, A GUIDE FOR THE PERPLEXED both written by FRITZ SCHUMACHER who brings out the contrasting attitude from the western view.

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Chokes, I’ll definitely check those books out for the nights in the tent 🙂

  • John

    Hi Nico,

    Thank you so much for the wonderful post and fantastic pictures
    of a beautiful place.

    Well done and thank you again.


    • nico

      Thanks a lot John 🙂 !

  • Nikonianer

    @ nicolas

    Firstly, thank you very, very much for posting and sharing your experiences, “thrilling” pictures and stories behind!

    But what about your equipment “you said round about 15 kg” equipment….”

    What do you carry with you on your trips (d800e as a landscpae photographer or less bulky d600?, which lenses, which filters, fisheye for astro-/panaoramaphotography?, tripod etc.??)

    I think everybody is interested about that, so it would be nice to see your list of used equipment on that trip, too….

    And do you consider buying a mirrorless camera system fuji x series or olympus omd em1 because of their lightweight, compactness (especially the lenses!) in order to travel more comfortable but with a small decrease of image quality, DOF possibilities, low light?

    Or do you think that you stick with your Nikon DSLR because of the bigger sensor and better image quality as a landscape photographer (it’s all about details, resolution!)..??

    Hopefully, i will not get bashed …..;)

    Thanks in advance!

    • nico

      hehehe no worries, it’s a pleasure to share that info as well, i’m not into keeping secrets, it’s just that I didn’t want the post to focus on gear. Here’s the list (the one I currently have on this trip)
      Nikon D800
      14-24 f2.8
      50 1.4G
      70-200 f4
      Manfrotto carbon fiber tripod, very small one. With no strong winds it does the job.

      For tibet was almost the same but I had a D700 and since the trips were shorter, I carried the 24-70 f2.8 and those days the 70-300 VR.

      +GoPro Hero2

      +Asus Ultrabook UX-32VD i7-10GB ram-NVIDIA GeForce-HD IPS screen+ 128GB SSD (this is my 1.36kg amazing portable studio) I carry it inside a superb bag, ELEMENTS
      + 2x 1TB WD Passport USB 3.0

      + all the s**t: chargers, cables, rechargeable batteries, 3 EN-EL15-2 GoPro batt.
      No filters at all.

      It would take a bit long to explain all the decisions. I’ll mention the main factors
      – mirrorless systems are VERY attractive for sure and I won’t lie, so many times I think about them….but in the end it goes like this: most of the situations I shoot in when doing portraiture in remote regions are very very low light conditions, for this I need specifically very good performance and as of now, you can’t still beat FX. On the other hand, and this is valid also for the decision over the D600, it is a must to have a very strong body. My gear is subject to really extreme conditions sometimes, can be super cold, or super hot and humid, can be terrible vibration, can be anything really, so I need pro built equipment otherwise it will simply won’t make it. After 6 months in the tropics this year (Philippines and Indonesia) the salt from the sweat of my body permeated through the LowePro Outback case without me noticing it and corroded the body of the D800 like paper. Nikon replaced it completely when I serviced it in China. I couldn’t believe my eyes. So, the D600 body is very good, but not as good+I was coming from the D700 so the switch was seamless. I DO HATE the 36MP, I cannot stress this enough, but that’s what Nikon is giving us so I had to take it, not much of an option.
      You might ask yourself why not a D4 then: best body+best low light performance. Simple answer, too heavy, too big and too expensive, it is not an option.

      Finally, here’s an article I wrote last year for Luminous Landscape, it’s not perfectly consistent with what I finally decided to take on this 5 year long trip gear-wise, but it’s almost almost there and the whole article still explains how I work today.

      Hope this helps and do not hesitate to keep asking 🙂

      • Thanks for stopping by Nico!

      • Mark Finney

        I was wondering Nico how you recharge the batteries? That’s a lot of kit to run off solar and electrical outlets must be very few!

        • nico

          Hi Mark!

          basically, I charge everything whenever i have the chance. If I reach a village and I stop in a restaurant, then I would pull chargers out and while I eat I would charge. It was like this all over Mongolia. So far, with 3 fully charged batteries I did well most of the time, as I could go on for a few days with those. I was tempted to buy one of those Brunton solar chargers, but the size, the weight and the price didn’t really justify for the amount of days that I would really really need it. Instead, I am very very stingy when I know I might not be able to find electricity for a few days, that means, VERY little use of the LCD basically, and very selective using video.

          We will start cycling towards Africa next month where we will cycle for a couple of years, that might change the game since for what I read, electricity is even scarce in villages and towns. I will see how it goes 🙂

          • nightmedia

            just curious – why not invest in a bike-powered generator to charge batteries? It would re-define regenerative braking 🙂

            • Nicole

              Actually there is a similar thing available already. A hub in the front wheel that generates energy while riding, but until now it only has USB connectors. It’s great for phones, iPods and those sort of devices, I wish camera batteries were smaller and easier to charge!

            • nico

              Sorry , that was me, nico, not Nicole. I hate auto correctors!!

  • FredBear

    Many of us dream of doing something like this but some go out and not just make it happen but do a damn good job of it.
    Being able to blend in and be accepted, as it appears you were, is an art in itself.
    Stunning series and well narrated Nicolas 🙂 Congratulations!
    I’m more than a little envious 🙂

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

    • nico

      THanks so much Fred, such kind words I find them too big for me 🙂

  • Steven

    Fantastic. Beautiful work. Thank you for sharing.

    • nico

      thanks a lot Steven 🙂

  • Neopulse

    If you plan on doing the same trip again let us from NR know 😀

    • nico

      hehehe the trip is still going on 🙂 we are on a short break in Tokyo now, but cycling all the way to and around Africa after it. 🙂
      Lots more to come. I’ll be updating blog, facebook, flickr 🙂

      • Neopulse

        Ahhhhh damn…. Nice man. Have fun then doing it, make sure you document it all for us to see! 😀

      • Neopulse

        Where are you from by the way? De donde eres?

        • Nico

          Originally from Argentina but I’ve been living around the world for the last 8years so my nationality is dissolving every day and I like that:) I prefer a world without nationalities 🙂

          • Neopulse

            Ahh I’m asking because I currenty am living in Buenos Aires. From one of your profiles you put “El Libro de los Abrazos” and that’s very particular of here. So had to ask. And yeah I agree that the world should be that way. Lived in Europe for a bit before and now here although I am originally from the EEUU (aunq mis padres son cubanos). But cool though. If you ever swing by your homeland lemme know.

  • Tong Heng

    Truly amazing!
    Thanks for sharing!

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Tong! It’s always a pleasure to share experiences 🙂

  • Absolutely wonderful…thank you. Excellent photography made possible by your openness and affection for the people and the land they live in. Doesn’t matter a whit what gear you used.

    • nico

      Thanks so much Pete! That’s how I felt when I wrote it. Gear is just a set of tools, the important thing is that it works out there and that we can make it work the way we need it. Whatever we have, it doesn’t matter much 😉

  • Groosome

    I don’t recall exactly how but I saw your video 6-12mths ago. Maybe from related videos on youtube via a cycling and photography nut friend of mine but worth watching again 🙂 Great work! I remember wondering how you managed to get a D800 + gear around the country on a bike like that!

    • nico

      hehehe thanks a lot 🙂 I actually added the Mongolia ones now, so check them out. YouTube kills the quality a lot, but I can’t do much about it. 🙂

  • Mike

    Wonderful travel log with marvelous photo’s and what determination to cover all by bike, adventure is still possible in wild places

    • nico

      Thanks so much Mike. At this stage, I don’t even see myself traveling without bicycle, it is truly the most intimate way to discover the world.

  • Michael

    These are some of the most interesting photos I have ever seen! And your explanations are really interesting to read. Thanks a lot for sharing this. I once read something I like a lot: “To become a better photographer, live a more interesting live.” You certainly manged that!

    • nico

      Thanks so much for such kind words Michael! :))

  • Bagi S

    Wow, thanks Nicolas! You made me feel like I was in my home country Mongolia again, the smell of wood and dang fire… aaah!

    • nico

      Ohhh Bagi! I love your country and your people SO MUCH SO MUCH! Both my girlfriend and I, are in love with Mongolia 🙂 And we already want to go back !
      I’m glad my photos made you remember 🙂

  • gr8fan

    Congratulations on the quality and artistic feel of your pictures!

    • nico

      Thanks a lot 🙂

  • Joseph Li

    Astounding….totally admirable how u made it out alive. Such determination and courage to get great photography…everyone dreamed of doing stuff like that but how many actually did

    • nico

      Thanks so much for such kind words, Joseph :))

  • binotto

    Really amazing photographs and a great narrative too. Thanks Nicolas!

    • nico

      Thanks a lot Binotto!

  • Bikeload

    Great story and amazing pictures! Thanks for sharing! I am myself currently traveling the world by bicycle (www.bikeload.com) and are planing to cycle East Tibet in May 2014. Your story increases my pleasent anticipation:-)

  • drokpa

    My warmest tashi delek to you Nico! Thank you also for reminding us that the natural progression to appreciating the beauty of Tibet and its people, is to do our bit to help protect it. Check out these organizations doing that work when you have a moment: http://www.machik.org, http://www.tibetanvillageproject.org. Thank you again for your beautiful images and even more beautiful thoughts.

    • nico

      Dear Drokpa! Tashi Delek!! it brings a smile to my face to be in contact with TIbetan. As I said to Losel, above this message, my heart is with all of you. I have been to many corners of Kham and Amdo with my bicycle, away from tourists and sometimes even away from Chinese police, and Tibetans have shown me their love and protection. With my Tibet photos I try to raise awareness about your country and the terrible things that happen there. I will every thing I can to help and protect TIbetans from the Chinese government.
      Thanks so much for the links, I will get in touch with these organizations to see if there’s anything I can do to contribute.
      Tashi Delek Drokpa 🙂

  • Losel

    All I can say is Tashi Delek and thank you very much for taking me around through your beautiful photographs of my beautiful homelands that I haven’t seen for last 16 years, or maybe I won’t be able to see for the rest of my life.

    • nico

      Tashi Delek Losel, my heart is with you. I have cycled around the Tibetan plateau for thousands of kilometers, away from tourists and in many places away from Chinese authorities and every time I fell more and more in love with Tibet and Tibetans. Everywhere I went, I have been treated like family and I consider Tibetans my family. Showing these photos to the world is important to me because I want the world to know that Tibet exists and it’s an illegally occupied country by a horrible government, that also cheats on and punishes his own people, not only Tibetans. I wish I could do much more.
      I can tell you that the Tibetan people I met, are very strong and they keep their spirit up despite so many abuses against them. You should be very proud of your people, they are certainly a lesson for all of us westerners.
      In this two links you can see more photos of your beautiful country,
      May the peace be with you
      Tashi Delek

  • nico

    Hey ! Vielen Dank! Ich habe dein Blog gesehen, bist du jetzt im Neuseeland? Mai ist nicht so gut um Tibet mit dem Fahrad zu fahren Du solltest am endes September und Oktober dort gehen. Im Mai es ist noch kalt, und die Farbe sind nicht so schön, alles ist braun. Juni und Juli regnet es viel und könnte serh problematisch sein.

    Viel Glück!!

  • Jimmy

    Beautiful photographs! I’ve always wanted to go there but never got a chance. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos.

    However, please don’t sell your political opinions with your photos and article. For example, “despite 60 years of invasion and violent harassment,”, how many years have you been in Tibet? How do you know what indeed happened before you go there? You only read those “horrible history” from the media, didn’t you? Media is the last thing you would want to trust.

    You also feel sad that traditional Tibet culture and religion are fading away in some areas. But do you know that today’s China is completely different from the China before industrialization? Almost everything in today’s China is rooted from the west. There are tens of millions of christian in China today – let me remind you that christianity is a complete foreign religion to the Chinese. Compared to the whole China, Tibet’s culture and religion loss is just a tiny fraction. Why turn blind to the whole China but only focusing on Tibet?

    Lastly, we admire Tibetan’s struggle to live in such a harsh condition. Do we want those people to live in such life generation after generation forever just for the sake of allowing us to enjoy the view of their unique living? Are we saying that people are not born equally. Only we from the west can sit in our cozy houses enjoying all the benefit of modern civilization, but those people can only stay in their cold tent in order to preserve their “culture” and “religion”?

    • nico

      Jimmy, let me thank you first for sharing your honest thoughts and let me start by saying that I would love to have a longer debate with you in the proper place. That being said, let me clarify a few things. Yes, most of what I have studied about TIbetan history comes from books, scholars and I even read quite a lot from Chinese authors, but one thing is that, and another is what I have seen with my own eyes while traversing so many different regions of the TIbetan plateau. I have seen enough to confirm what is happening there and I have been able to communicate in person with dozens of Tibetans who shared their life stories with me at an intimate level and if they were all lying or exaggerating, they would certainly be all psycopaths to do it so well. So, I tried to keep politics to the minimum in my article, but I cannot, definitely cannot ignore it, because Tibetans are truly suffering, they have been for 64 years and I am committed to help them in their cause, not because the books and media say it but because I have seen it myself first hand and from Tibetan themselves in several regions of the plateau.
      On the other hand, let me tell you that I lived in China for 6 years and I have uncountable Chinese friends with whom I have had this kind of discussions many times. I have seen both sides of the coin you know? and I am not in the position “love Tibetans, hate the Chinese” that most activists fall, because I know how wonderful Chinese people are and I consider China home. But one thing is the people and another one is their government. I am the first in line to say that the first ones being affected but that government are Chinese themselves. In that aspect, I try to help them everyday in their long and tough journey to get rid of their corrupt, dictatorial and abusive government.
      I hope this clarifies the reason why politics are involved in my work in this particular case and please, do not hesitate to contact me in private for a follow up on this talk


  • Bradley Aaron

    Really beautiful work.

  • Bradley Aaron

    Really beautiful work.

  • randyradio

    Nicolas, I thought I’d traveled to many world spots and thought I knew how to take pictures. But you and your depictions are in a world class by themselves. Your composition and color just touched me so much and to know you got a true love partner who will enjoy these scenes with you and your passion for them is truly life changing for her I’m sure. she will be a blessed lady to go on these travels with you. Salute!!!
    Randy in south Georgia US

  • Andy Selters

    Wonderful updates, I too have ridden a bike across Tibet back in the 1980s. But now I have heard that China does not allow lone bicycle travel there. What sort of restrictions have you found?

  • Stunning, breathtaking photography. Thanks,immensely for a peak into the landscape and culture.

  • OffBalance

    Thanks for your blog Nico. I clicked a link expecting to see beautiful bike travel photos, and I found them here, but what really brought tears of joy to my eyes was your description of the people.
    Thank you.

  • Sam

    Thank you ,,, Thank you Thank you !!!!

  • rose ben

    I recently saw a testimony about a spell caster of some sort, i saw the testimony in a blog I visited for relationship and dating counseling because i have been having serious issues with my husband and we have been married for six months, he just suddenly changed, he started cheating, he was hurting me in so many ways i never thought it was possible for him to change and be good again, and I just thought I should contact the spell caster, maybe i tried it out of desperation of some sort, and I contacted them. At first everything felt dreamy and unbelievable, their consultations was strange and I was scared a little cos I have read and heard lots of stories of fake spell casters, scams and i never really believed in magic. So i played along with a little hope and faith, so they asked me to send them sum things which they said will help in preparing the spell and i did, when they finished the spell they sent some few stuffs to me after they have prepared it, and to my greatest surprise it worked like a miracle!everything went to a new direction, it was and it’s amazing, my husband started loving me the way i can’t explain… I guess it was all because of the good faith that made me read That particular post that faithful day..I hope they could help other people too like they did to me…I did a little and I got everything I wanted and wished for. You too can receive help from this great spell caster because he told me that he can help in any problem. You too can try: okpasigbespellhome@gmail.comJust give it a try,


  • hey nicolas, great post.
    what do you think about riding across mongolia in march, would it be way too cold? and what about spring in the eastern tibetian kham and amdo provinces?
    we’re looking for a sensible route between march and july and would apreciate some advice on timings in terms of weather and temperatures in these regions.
    cheers robin

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