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: Arrival in Lhasa (3,650 m/11,972ft)
You arrive at the Gonggar Airport in Lhasa, Tibet’s administrative capital and one of the highest cities in the world. If you fly in to Lhasa from Nepal, you will enjoy an hour of breathtaking views of The Himalayas on what is considered to be one of the most beautiful air routes in the world. If you choose to travel via mainland China, you may fly in or take the world’s highest train route to Lhasa. You will be greeted by a representative of Alpine Club of Himalaya upon your arrival at the airport or train station. You are advised to rest for the rest of the day to adjust to the altitude and minimize altitude sickness, as Lhasa has an elevation of about 3,600 m (11,800 ft) and lies in the centre of the Tibetan Plateau with the surrounding mountains rising to 5,500 m (18,000 ft), and thus the air only contains 68 percent of oxygen. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 02: Lhasa sightseeing – Day 1: Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and Tibet Museum: 5-6 hours
Lhasa, which means the “place of the gods”, is also the religious capital of Tibet, where Buddhist master Padmasambhava is said to have magically pinned down the earth demoness and built the foundation of the Jokhang Temple over her heart. You will visit the Potala Palace, which was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama and is now a museum and World Heritage Site. The building measures 400 metres east-west and 350 metres north-south, with sloping stone walls that have copper poured into the foundations to help proof it against earthquakes. The palace has thirteen stories containing over 1,000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and about 200,000 statues, and is situated at 117 metres (384 ft) on top of Marpo Ri, the “Red Hill”, rising more than 300 m (about 1,000 ft) in total above the valley floor. It is magnificent and provides a breathtaking view of the valley.
Next we visit the Norbulingka Palaces, which was built by the 7th Dalai Lama and served both as administrative centre and religious centre, was also the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. Also a World Heritage site, the palace has 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 03: Lhasa Sightseeing – Day 2: 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. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 04: Lhasa to Gyantse (3,950m/12,956ft) via Karo La Pass and Yamdrok Tso Lake: 325km, 5-6 hours
Today, we take a scenic drive to Gyantse, located in the Nyang Chu valley on the ancient trade routes from the Chumbi Valley, Yatung and Sikkim. We will cross the Karo La (5,010m/16,432 ft) and Kamba La (4794m/15,725 ft) passes, the beautiful Nazin Kang Sang glacier (7,252m), 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. If lucky, you may see huge glaciers tumbling down to the road before reaching Gyantse. 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 05: Gyantse to Shigatse (3,900m/12,795ft) via Shalu Monastery: 95km, 2 hours
We drive towards Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet, and on the way, we visit the Shalu Monastery, founded in 1040 and known for its beautiful ancient mural paintings. We then visit the massive and magnificent Tashilhunpo Monastery, a historic and culturally important monastery in
Shigatse founded by the 1st Dalai Lama in 1447. Overnight in Shigatse.
Day 06: Shigatse to Rongbuk (5,000m/16,400ft) via Sakya Monastery: 355km, 8-9 hours
After breakfast, we leave Shigatse for Rongbuk. On the way, 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 drive to Rongbuk, and visit the Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in the world, which lies near the base of the north side of Mount Everest at 4,980 metres (16,340 ft) above sea level, at the end of the Dzakar Chu valley. Overnight in Rongbuk.Day 07: Rongbuk to Zhangmu (2,300m/7,544ft) via Everest Base Camp: 257km, 5-6 hours
Day 07: Rongbuk to 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.
We then journey on to Zhangmu, enjoying 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 drive down a steep winding road to Zhangmu, a small Tibetan town near the Nepal border. Overnight in Zhangmu.
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 08: Zhangmu to Kathmandu (1,350m/4,428ft): 153km,4-5 hours
We take a 30-minute drive from Zhangmu to Kodari where we must pass the Tibetan immigration checkpoint.
Upon crossing the Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge over the Bhote Koshi River, you will be greeted by our Alpine Club of Himalaya representative. You bid goodbye to your Tibetan guide and drive back to Kathmandu. Overnight in Kathmandu. (Cost of staying in Kathmandu not included).
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