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Travel across the roof of the world from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Experience breathtaking vistas in this remote and rugged region.

Lhasa – Shigatse – Everest Base Camp – Zhangmu – Kathmandu

Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkor Street, Ganden Monastery, Sera Monastery, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse, Sakya Monastery, Shegar, Everest Base Camp, Zhangmu, Kathmandu


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 weekday afternoon between 3.00pm and 5.00pm 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, Tsampa Workshop

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 Shegar (7 hours driving)

Attractions: Shigatse Local Market, Tashilunpo Monastery, Sakya Monastery

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. You may also want to stock up on some extra food and snacks here as Shigatse is the last large town you will visit.

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.

We will detour a short distance off the main road to visit Sakya Monastery. Sakya means ‘gray soil’ because of the colour of the surrounding area. The Northern monastery was built in 1079 as a palace but is now just a ruin. The Southern monastery was built in 1268 as a fortress and is called the ‘Second Dunhuang’ because of its huge collection of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, murals and thangkas. Its most significant treasure is the Burde Gyaimalung, an enormous volume which measures an amazing 1.8 metres by 1.3 metres and is 0.67 metres thick.

Just before Shegar the Gyatsola Pass is crossed. At 5248 meters it is the highest point on the route and many travelers hang prayer flags here.

Overnight at Shegar also known as New Tingri (4150m)

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 6 – Shegar to Everest Base Camp (4 hours driving)

Attractions: Gawu La Pass, Rongbuk Monastery, Everest Base Camp

Although it is only about 100 kilometres from Shegar to Everest Base Camp it takes about four hours to cover the distance as the condition of the road is very bad. However the views are astounding especially at Gawa La Pass where on a clear day you can see five peaks over 8,000m in height – Mt. Makalu (8463m), Mt. Lotse (8516m), Mt. Everest (8844m), Mt. Cho Oyu (8201m) and Mt. Shishapama (8020m) – as seen from left to right.

In the afternoon you can visit Rongbuk Monastery. At around 5,000m it claims to be 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.

From there it is a two hour hike to Everest Base Camp or you can take the minibus (25RMB/per person/round trip). If you walk you will have a better chance to enjoy the amazing scenery but you may find it hard to breathe because of the high altitude. Don’t try to go too fast. If the weather cooperates you will see a beautiful sunset.

The accommodation in this area is extremely basic. You are advised to bring an extra sleeping bag with you for warmth as the nights are very cold. You may also want to bring your own food to supplement what is locally available. The altitude is around 5,000 metres.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 7 – Everest Base Camp to Zhangmu (8 – 9 hours driving)

Attractions: Sunrise at Everest Base Camp, Mountain Scenery

You can rise early to view the sunrise over Mt Everest before beginning the long drive to Zhangmu. The road to Old Tingri is in poor condition and very bumpy but the mountain views will continue to impress. After crossing Thongla Pass and driving through Nyalam the road descends to Zhangmu on the border with Nepal.

Overnight at Zhangmu. (2520m)

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel

Day 8 – Zhangmu to Kathmandu

Today you will cross the border into Nepal. Your guide will drive you to China Customs at the Friendship Bridge and help you to clear customs. At the Nepalese Immigration you can apply for a visa if you don’t have one already. The town where you enter Nepal is called Kodari. There you can rent a car or taxi to go to Kathmandu or take a seat in a local bus. If you wish a Nepalese guide and driver can meet you and drive you to Kathmandu.

China built the 115 kilometre road to Kathmandu during the 1960’s. It is currently being upgraded so expect delays for construction.

Meals: Breakfast at your hotel