Tibet: Roof of the World

Travel Idea:

Tibet: Roof of the World

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Length of trip:

13 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 2450

Best travel dates to go:

Sep 14, 2008 to Sep 26, 2008; Apr 05, 2009 to Apr 17, 2009; Sep 21, 2008 to Oct 03, 2008; May 10, 2009 to May 22, 2009; Oct 19, 2008 to Oct 31, 2008; Apr 26, 2009 to May 08, 2009; Oct 05, 2008 to Oct 17, 2008;


Detailed Description of this trip:

A trip to Tibet is not an easy journey - it is an adventure in every sense. Tibet was only opened to tourism in 1985 and the Lhasa - Kathmandu highway enabling overland travel was officially opened a year later. Until the mid-1980s, Tibet avoided most outside influences, allowing its unique culture and religion to develop independently. This arduous but exhilarating journeys begins by a flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa, then travels overland from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp (Tibetan side) and then back to Kathmandu. The views of the Himalayas from the northern side are dramatically different from the Nepalese side of the border, and it's easy to see how the title "Roof of the World" has been given to Tibet.



Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - Kathmandu

    Arrive Kathmandu.

    Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be transferred to the Hotel Shangri-La or a similar hotel.

    Hotel

    There will be a briefing in the evening regarding the tour. Your passports will also be collected for presentation to the Chinese Embassy in order to obtain your Tibet group visa. **Note** You must be in Kathmandu on this day in order to process your Tibet Travel Permit with the rest of the group. If you do not arrive on this day, you will not be allowed to join the tour and will not be entitled to a refund. We highly recommend the purchase of travel insurance, and to avoid problems caused by flight delays, we recommend arriving in Kathmandu a day or two earlier.

  • Day 2 - Kathmandu

    Sightseeing

    In the morning you'll begin your guided tour with a visit to Bodhnath Stupa, one of the biggest Buddhist shrines in the world, where you'll observe Buddhist monks in prayer.

    Sightseeing

    Afterwards, visit Pashupatinath, the most famous Hindu temple in the country. Here you see Hindu holy men (or Sardhus), pilgrims bathing, and occasionally funeral pyres burning on the ghats.

    Shopping

    The afternoon is free for you to relax or you may wish to visit Thamel for shopping or further exploring before tomorrow's very early morning departure for Tibet.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 3 - Lhasa

    Commercial Flight

    After breakfast, you will be transferred to the Kathmandu airport for your flight to Lhasa. The view of the Himalayan chain and Tibetan Plateau make this one of the most spectacular flights in the world.

    Private Car Service

    Arrive at Gongga airport, and drive for an hour and a half to the downtown area of Lhasa. Situated at 11,480 ft., Lhasa and its surroundings may appear slightly barren except for the trees lining the roadside.

    Relaxation

    You will spend most of the afternoon resting and adjusting to the high altitude.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 4 - 5 - Lhasa

    Sightseeing

    Your sightseeing begins at Lhasa’s cardinal landmark, Potala Palace. Perched high above Lhasa on the Marpori (red mountain), the Potala is a place of spiritual pilgrimage and a tribute to Tibetan architectural skills. It was started by the fifth Dalai Lama and has been the official winter residence of the successive Dalai Lamas since then. Built of wood, earth, and stone, the Potala has 13 stories rising over 380 feet high. The whole structure is a maze of over 1,000 rooms, with 10,000 shrines and some 200,000 statues. No steel frame or nails were used in the Palace's construction.

    Sightseeing

    Just east of the Potala is the Jokhang Temple, the religious and geographical center of Lhasa. From morning until night, chanting, prostrating pilgrims revolve around Barkhor Bazaar (Lhasa's inner pilgrim circuit, which runs around the Jokhang) and the Jokhang. Hundreds of faces, ornaments, clothes and colors swirl in a whirlpool of religious fervor. The temple was founded in 650 by Songsten Gampo on the former site of a great underground lake which showed visions of the future. About five miles west of Lhasa is the Deprung, which was founded in 1416 and was once the largest monastery in the world. Various paths lead up from the road past storerooms and quarters that once housed 10,000 monks.

    Hotel

    Overnight again in Lhasa.
    Meals: Breakfast.

    Sightseeing

    Continue on to another great Gelupga monastery – the Sera, a monastic university that is smaller than Drepung, but similar in the layout of its building. Sera was once famous for its fighting monks, who spent years perfecting the martial arts. Only 100 monks remain out of a population that once exceeded 5,000.

  • Day 6 - China

    Gyantse.
    Private Car Service

    Get set for a long drive today and head out on the spectacular Friendship Highway for a 160 mile drive to Gyantse (approx 7 hrs).

    Sightseeing

    On the way you will stop and visit Yamdrok Tso Lake, one of Tibet’s three holy lakes, which is first seen from the Kamba-La pass at 16,400 feet. For Tibetans, this deep turquoise lake is very holy, as it is the home of wrathful deities. Far in the distance, you will also be able to see the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangsang. Descending from the mountain, you may decide to take a leisurely walk by the lakeside while enjoying views of barley fields. Leaving Yamdrok Tso is as spectacular as arriving, as you cross the 16,550-foot Karola with its awesome roadside views of the Nojin Kangtsang Glacier.

    Sightseeing

    You'll still be enjoying the glacier scenery when you arrive in Gyantse 55 miles later. Here stands the famous 115 foot high Kumbum, packed with exquisite Tibetan sculptures and paintings - a true architectural wonder.

    Hotel

    Overnight in a hotel.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 7 - 8 - China

    Shigaste.
    Sightseeing

    In the morning you'll explore Gyantse, a town renowned for the exploits of Colonel Younghusband in the 1920s. You'll walk down the newly rebuilt main street to the Nepali Kumbum Stupa.

    Private Car Service

    In the afternoon you'll take a three-hour drive across the Tibetan Plateau to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet with a population of some 40,000 people.

    Sightseeing

    The Tashi Lumpo Monastery is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, the most important incarnation for Tibetan Buddhists after the Dalai Lama. This impressive religious center contains a giant statue of Buddha in the Temple of Maitreya, as well as an ornate tomb that is the final resting place of the fourth Panchen Lama. Its huge size makes it almost a town within itself. As one of Tibet's most active monasteries, it is currently being restored to its former beauty.

    Hotel

    Overnight in Shigatse.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 9 - China

    Shegar.
    Private Car Service

    Your adventure continues with an eight-hour drive over rough, dusty roads to Shegar.

    Sightseeing

    In the morning, you cross the Gyatso-La Pass with stunning views of the Himalayan peaks to the south. Although the scenery is desolate, the country is dotted with busy villages and ruined monasteries. Among these villages is the major town of Lhaze, which makes a convenient halfway stop where you have a local-style lunch break.

    Hotel

    After a long day of driving, you arrive in Shegar, your last stop before reaching Everest Base Camp. Shegar is a small village of about 1,500 inhabitants with an interesting fort.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 10 - China

    Shegar/Everest Base Camp.
    Private Car Service

    You will leave early in the morning from the hotel, branching off onto a small road that leads to Everest Base Camp. It is a rather long day (approx. 6-7 hours drive), but extremely rewarding.

    Sightseeing

    The initial part of the journey involves climbs in a series of zigzags to the top of the Pang-la pass (17,000 feet), where you stop to take photos of Mount Everest before descending to the Rongphu Valley.

    Sightseeing

    You continue on to the famous Rongphu Monastery and then on to the Base Camp itself, situated at 16,500 feet above sea level. The towering North Face of Mount Everest dominates the horizon, creating a spectacular view. This will certainly be a major highlight of your incredible journey. The Tibetan name for Everest is “Quomolangma,” which literally means “The Third Goddess.” The best moments to watch Everest are in the early morning and late evening when it is shining like a real goddess in the sun.

    Bed & Breakfast

    Overnight at a monastery guesthouse near Base Camp.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 11 - China

    Zhangmu.
    Private Car Service

    Today you will travel for 140 miles, taking between seven and eight hours.

    Sightseeing

    From the hotel you'll pass through a checkpoint and continue to Tingri where you'll enjoy more views of the world's highest peaks, including Everest and Cho Oyu, the 26,000-foot giants. Traveling from Tingri, the road ascends to the Lalung La (16,565 feet) where the scenery is again fantastic. This Himalayan panoramic view includes Xixapangma (26,000 feet).

    Sightseeing

    From the top of the pass you descend nearly 10,000 feet to the small town of Nyalam before continuing to the border town of Zhangmu. As you near the border, the road is cut into the cliffs high above the valley floor.

    Hotel

    In Zhangmu you say farewell to your Tibetan guide and driver, and stay at a local hotel for your overnight.
    Meals: Breakfast.

  • Day 12 - Kathmandu

    Zhangmu/Kathmandu.
    Car Rental

    After finalizing departure formalities, you will exit China and enter Nepal. Descending steeply down the zigzag road, you reach the Nepalese immigration and customs at Tatopani. During the monsoon season there may be landslides, which may cause sections of the road near the border to be closed. Should this be the case, porters then carry your luggage as you walk across the border to your Nepalese vehicle.

    Hotel

    It is then a four and a half hour drive back to Kathmandu, where you return to your hotel.
    Meals: Breakfast

  • Day 13 - Kathmandu

    Kathmandu/Onward.

    Your tour ends after breakfast and you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight home.

    Optional
    Hiking

    Alternatively, you may wish to extend your travels in Nepal and take advantage of the country's magnificent trekking opportunities.

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