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This is the ultimate tour for the more adventurous. Explore Lhasa before conquering long distances and high altitudes to visit one of the world’s most famous tourist destinations.

Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse – Everest Base Camp – Shigatse – Lhasa

Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkor Street, Ganden Monastery, Sera Monastery, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse Kumbum, Shigatse, Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery, Tashilunpo Monastery

Itinerary Day By Day

Day 1 – Arrival in Lhasa

Lhasa is the capital of Tibet and is located at an altitude of 3,650 metres. Because of its remoteness it has long been a ‘must see’ place for adventurous travellers. It has over 1300 years of cultural and spiritual history and is a centre for Tibetan and Buddhist culture in China.

Upon arrival at Gongkar Airport you will be met by your local guide and driver. The airport is located 70 kilometres from Lhasa so you will have the opportunity to enjoy some magnificent scenery on the way to your hotel. The remainder of the day is for relaxing and acclimatizing to the altitude. Drink plenty of water and don’t overexert yourself.

Overnight in Lhasa. (3658m)

Meals: No meals provided

Day 2 – Lhasa

Attractions: Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street

No tour to Lhasa is complete without visiting the Potala Palace and that is where your tour will begin today. The Potala Palace is one of world’s most famous buildings and it is an impressive sight as it towers above Lhasa. The Red Palace contains various chapels and mausoleums for previous Dalai Lamas while the White Palace was the living quarters for successive Dalai Lamas and their tutors. Altogether it is a vast awe inspiring maze of corridors and rooms full of articles pertaining to Tibetan history, religion, culture and arts.

The Jokhang Temple is Tibet’s spiritual centre and the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists. It was originally built in 647AD and has been added to over the years making it a mix of Han, Tibetan and Nepalese architectural styles. You will see many pilgrims prostrating themselves at the entrance.

Finish your day with a lap around the Barkor Street ‘kora’ or pilgrim circuit. It is a photographer’s paradise with marvellous wares for sale to crowds of exotically dressed pilgrims. Spiritual souvenirs and pilgrim accessories line the circuit and you can buy anything Tibetan from yak butter to prayer flags and turquoise jewellery. It is a place you can return to again and again for continually changing experiences. Out of respect for the pilgrims you should always move in a clockwise direction.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 3 – Lhasa

Attractions: Ganden Monastery, Sera Monastery

Fifty kilometres from Lhasa, Ganden Monastery is the largest of the Buddhist Gelupa sect and is three times the size of the Potala Palace. It is located at an altitude of 4,500 metres and offers a fabulous view of the Kyi Chu Valley. One of the highlights of your visit will be the chance to walk the hour long pilgrimage route. Aside from the amazing views you will learn about the Tibetan culture and religion as you pass prayer flags and rock faces rubbed with yak butter offerings.

Your tour of Lhasa concludes at the magnificent Sera Monastery. The main attraction here is watching the debating monks. Every afternoon between 3.00pm and 5.00pm (except Mondays) there is a debate about Buddhist doctrines in the shady courtyard behind the main temple. The red robed monks gather in small groups to practice their debating skills in a very dynamic and lively manner. Tourists are welcome to watch quietly and respectfully from the edges.

Optional program: In the evening, your guide can take you to enjoy a local Tibetan performance. (Extra cost)

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 4 – Lhasa to Shigatse (7 hours driving)

Attractions: Yamdrok Lake, Karo La Pass and Glacier, Gyantse Kumbum

This morning’s drive takes you beside Yamdrok Lake, one of the three holiest lakes in Tibet. The scenery is stunning as the lake is surrounded by snowcapped peaks and there are numerous islands. According to local mythology the lake is the transformation of a goddess. At one end is a power station which is not only the largest in Tibet but also the highest in the world. It takes about half an hour to drive beside the lake. You can stop here to walk to the lake’s shore and take photos. Next we drive through Karo La Pass at 5100 metres. This is another photo opportunity as it overlooks the Mt Nyenchen Kangsar Glacier.

At Gyantse you will visit the Gyantse Kumbum which is the most famous and spectacular kumbum in the region. A kumbum is a type of multi-storied Tibetan chapel which represents a three dimensional path to the Buddha’s enlightenment. This one has multiple levels and 108 small chapels.

The final stop of the day is at a Tsampa workshop where you can see how barley is made into the Tibetan staple food of Tsampa.

Overnight at Shigatse (3836m)

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 5 – Shigatse to Everest Base Camp (7 hours driving)

Attractions: Shigatse Local Market, Gyastsola Pass, Gawu La Pass, Sunset at Everest Base Camp

In the morning your guide will need to make the final arrangements for your Everest Permit. While he is doing that you can visit the local market in the old town of Shigatse. Tibetan handicrafts and all sorts of local wares are sold there, especially bamboo products.

There is lots of driving today as the road climbs upward towards Mt Everest and through two high passes. There will be photo stops at Gyastola Pass (5200m) and Gawu La Pass (5250m). At Gawu La pass you can see the spectacular panorama of the Himalayan Range and the glorious peaks of Mt. Makalu (8463m), Mt. Lotse (8516m), Mt. Everest (8844m), Mt. Cho Oyu (8201m) and Mt. Shishapama (8020m) – from left to right in your view at the pass.

Because you can only enter Everest Base Camp once per ticket you will need to nominate whether you will see the sunset or the sunrise. It is a two hour hike or you can take the minibus (25RMB/per person/round trip). Walking is more interesting but you will find it hard to breathe because of the high altitude.

NOTE: It may be worth your while to bring an extra sleeping bag if you can as the nights are very cold here. A good torch is also essential and perhaps some food to supplement what is on offer.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 6 – Everest Base Camp to Shigatse (6 -7 hours driving)

Attractions: Sunrise at Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Monastery, Gawu La Pass, Gyastsola Pass,

If you did not go to Everest Base Camp the evening before for the sunset you can rise very early to go and see the sunrise or you can visit Rongbuk Monastery. At around 5,000m it is the highest monastery in the world and has amazing views of the north face of Everest. Both monks and nuns live here in the same monastery and celebrate the Buddhist festivals together.

The rest of the day will be spent driving back to Shigatse with spectacular scenery all around.

Overnight at Shigatse.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 7 – Shigatse to Lhasa (5 hours driving)

Attractions: Tashilunpo Monastery, Brahmaputra River Scenery

Before leaving Shigatse you will visit Tashilunpo Monastery. It was founded in 1447 by the first Dalai Lama and is one of the six big monasteries of the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat sect in Tibet. It is the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second ranking person after the Dalai Lama. There you will find the biggest copper stature in the world and amazing murals. Make sure you walk around the Kora (pilgrimage path) for a great hike with panoramic views.

It is a long drive back to Lhasa along the Northern Friendship highway but the scenery is breathtaking as the road follows the Brahmaputra River.

Overnight in Lhasa.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 8 – Depart Lhasa

Today you will have some free time in the morning before being transferred to the airport for your flight to your next destination.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel