Lhasa, the remote abode of the Dalai Lamas, object of devout pilgrimage and heart and soul of Tibet, is still a city of wonders, despite the large-scale encroachments of modern Chinese influence. First hint that Lhasa is close is the Potala, a vast white-and-ochre fortress soaring over one of the world’s highest cities. It’s a sight that has heralded the marvels of the Holy City to travellers for close to four centuries and it still raises goose bumps. It is hard to imagine a thriving city at such an altitude, functioning as the religious, cultural and economic hub of Tibet.
While the Potala dominates the skyline, the Jokhang, some 2km to the east, is the real spiritual heart of the city. An otherworldly mix of flickering butter lamps, wafting incense and prostrating pilgrims, the Jokhang is the most sacred and alive of Tibet’s temples. It is here and the encircling Barkhor pilgrim circuit that most visitors first fall in love with Tibet.
Important Note :
Your safety is of paramount importance to us at Alpine Club of Himalaya. We have the absolute authority to cancel the trip or change the itinerary, when deemed necessary or when we have reason to believe your safety is at stake. Weather conditions, the health condition of a group member, natural disasters, and such, can contribute to changes in the itinerary when traveling in remote mountainous regions. In these extreme situations, we kindly request that you offer your full co-operation to the trusted leader of the group appointed by Alpine Club of Himalaya. However, we assure you that we will make every effort to keep to the above itinerary.
Day 01: Kathmandu to Nyalam (3,800m/12,467ft): 153 km, 5 – 6 hours
After breakfast, we drive along the Friendship Highway, an 800-kilometre scenic route connecting Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, with the Nepalese border. The route offers a beautiful landscape with cascading waterfalls, rivers, and hill-side villages. We will stop for lunch at the border and pass through the Nepalese customs and immigration checkpoint. Upon crossing the Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge between Zhangmu and Kodari, we will be in Tibet! Then, we take a 30-minute drive from Kodari to Zhangmu where we must pass the Tibetan immigration checkpoint. From Zhangmu we drive up a steep winding road to Nyalam, a small Tibetan town near the Nepal border. Overnight in Nyalam.
Day 02: Nyalam to Lotingri (4,050m/13,284 ft): 150 Km, 3 hours
In the morning, we stroll around Nyalam to help you acclimatize with the high altitude of 3,750 metres. After lunch, we depart for Lotingri, also known as Dingri which used to be an important trading post where Sherpas from Nepal exchanged rice, grain and iron for Tibetan wool, livestock and salt. During the journey, we will stop by the Milarapha Cave and Chamda Hot Spring. We will also enjoy fabulous views of two spectacular passes, the Thong La pass (5050m/16,568ft) and Lalung La pass (5082m/16,668 ft), and the Himalayan mountain range including Mt. Everest (8848m/29,028 ft) and Shishapangma (8,013m/26,289 ft). We spend the night in Lotingri.
Day 03: Lotingri to Shegar (4,150m/13,615 ft) via Everest Base Camp (5,250m/17,220ft): 270 km, 9-10 hours
We drive to Rongbuk, an adventurous route with coarse and bumpy roads. In Rongbuk, we will visit the Rongbuk monastery, which is the highest monastery in Tibet. Then we drive towards the Everest Base Camp (5,250m/17,220ft) while enjoying views of high peaks such as the Cho Oyu (8,201m/26,906 ft), Shishapangma (8,013m (26,289 ft) and the mighty Everest, known as Mt. Chomolongma in Tibet. We will make an approximately 16km round trip around the Everest Base Camp. The base camp itself is dry and barren, but the view of Everest is spectacular with its north face towering above us. Overnight in Shegar.
Note: On rare occasions, due to bad weather or political riots, the local government may close down the road to the Everest Base Camp for safety reasons, and without prior notice!
Day 04: Shegar to Shigatse(3,900m/12,795 ft) via Sakya Monastery: 300km, 5 -6 hours
We drive towards Shigatse via Sakya. In Sakya, we visit the Sakya Monastery, which is the ancestral temple of the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The main architectures inside the castle are the Dajing Hall, the Buddhism Hall and the hall where the Sakya archbishop lived. We continue our drive to Shigatse, the second biggest city in Tibet. Overnight in Shigatse.
Day 05: Shigatse to Gyantse (3,950m/12,959 ft)via Shalu Monastery: 95km, 2 hours
We visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, a historic and culturally important monastery in Shigatse founded by the 1st Dalai Lama in 1447. We then continue our drive to Gyantse, located in the Nyang Chu valley on the ancient trade routes from the Chumbi Valley, Yatung and Sikkim. On the way, we visit the Shalu Monastery., founded in 1040 and known for its beautiful ancient mural paintings. In Gyantse, we visit the Khumbum Stupa, Phalkot Monastery, and the Gyantse Fortress that was constructed in 1390 and guarded the town. The town is surrounded by a wall 3 km long. Overnight in Gyantse.
Day 06: Gyantse to Lhasa (3,650 m/11,972ft) via Karo La pass and Yamdrok Tso Lake: 200km, 4-5 hours
We drive to Lhasa crossing the Karo La (5,010m/16,432 ft) and Kamba La (4794m/15,725 ft) passes and Lake Yamdrok Tso (Turquoise Lake), one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet, also believed to be a transformation of a Tibetan goddess. Then, we cross the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahamaputra) river and view the Potala Palace from a distance. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 07: Lhasa sightseeing: Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and Tibet Museum: 5 – 6 hours
Sightseeing in Lhasa begins with a visit to the Potala and Norbulingka Palaces. Built in the 17century, Potala Palace provides amazing views of the entire city and houses the private quarters of the Dalai Lama, numerous grand state rooms, and chapels. Norbulingka Palace is the summer palace of the Dalai Lama and houses what is considered to be the largest man-made garden in Tibet. Next, we visit the Tibet Museum, the official museum of Tibet, which has a permanent collection of around 1000 artifacts related to the cultural history of Tibet. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 08: Lhasa Sightseeing: Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar: 5 – 6 hours
We visit the Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Jokhang Temple, and Barkhor Bazaar. The Drepung Monastery, which was built in the 14th century, is believed to have sheltered around 10,000 monks in the past. The history, culture, and religious beliefs of the Tibetan people are strongly concentrated and centered in this marvelous monastery. The Sera Monastery is a preserved monastery with white-washed walls and golden roofs. Jokhang Temple is another important sacred site which unravels more deep-seated mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. We then stroll through the Barkhor Bazaar (market). With its open air stalls, shops and crowd of pilgrims, it is the epicentre of Lhasa. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 09: Final Departure
Your adventure in the Himalayas has come to an end. You can do some shopping, return to Kathmandu, or continue to mainland China.
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