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This 20 day adventure takes you on a spectacular walk to Kangshung Everest Base Camp, amongst some of the grandest Himalayan scenery to be found, followed by a visit to Everest North Face Base Camp and exploring the holy city of Lhasa.

Departure: Kathmandu
Duration: 20 Days
Best season: May to October
Grade: Strenuous

This is a spectacular walk along steep-sided alpine valleys, past glacial lakes of stunning turquoise and gaining views of some of the most spectacular Himalayan scenery to be found. In the summer, flowers are in bloom in the remote Kangshung Valley, also known as the Valley of Flowers.

This trek requires some stamina but it is truly amazing and well worth the effort. The highest point on our trek is Langma La at 5320 metres. From the pass (La) on a clear day, the outstanding view south features Makalu dwarfing all the other peaks, including Everest. Complementing the incredible mountain views, the valleys and ridges below the snowline are richly covered with vegetation nurtured by the monsoon rains that manage to sneak behind this immense range.

After finishing our trek spend a few days on the road to Lhasa, visiting Everest Base Camp to see the stunning north face of the world’s highest mountain and stopping overnight in Lhatse and Gyantse on the way. Lhasa, once the Forbidden City, is seen as the heart and soul of Tibet, a place of devout pilgrimage and it is still truly a city of wonders. The medieval feel of the city, with its ancient architecture, stalls hawking everything from prayer flags and turquoise to yak skulls, and pilgrims completing prostrations at each step of their devotional kora – this is an exotic brew that few people can resist.

BRIEF ITINERARY

Day 01: Kathmandu [1300m] to Nyalam [3780m]
Day 02: Rest day at Nyalam for acclimatisation
Day 03: Driving to Kharta (3690m) past Lalung La [5050m] and Pang La [5150m]
Day 04: Rest day in Kharta for further acclimatisation
Day 05: Trek to meadow camp [4160m]
Day 06: Cross Shao La [4790m] to Kaamo Tsangpo Valley [4000m]
Day 07: Trek to Shalung Tsho [4420m]
Day 08: Trek to Pethang Ringmo [4820m]
Day 09: Trek to Kangshung Everest base Camp [5090m]
Day 10: Ridge view then back to Pethang Ringmo
Day 11: Trek to base of Langma La [4800m]
Day 12: Cross Langma La [5320m] and trek to Shomale [4160m]
Day 13: Trek back into Kharta and relax!
Day 14: Drive to Rongbuk and Everest Base Camp [5020m]
Day 15: Explore Everest base camp and drive to Lhatse [3990m]
Day 16: Drive to Gyantse [3950m]
Day 17: Sightseeing and drive to Lhasa [3650m]
Day 18: Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 19:
One more sightseeing day in Lhasa
Day 20: Flight to Kathmandu

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 01: Drive from Kathmandu [1300m] to Nyalam [3750m]
We leave Kathmandu after an early breakfast and drive northwards through Nepal’s beautiful terraced hillsides, river valleys and forests and catching glimpses of the Himlayas. We reach Kodari on the Nepal - Tibet border and must complete the border formalities at both the Nepalese and Chinese immigration posts. Once in Tibet we follow a series of incredibly steep switchbacks climbing up a mossy gully with cascading waterfalls to Nyalam where we stay the night..
 
Day 02: Acclimatisation day
With Tibet’s average altitude being over 3500m above sea level we take altitude sickness very seriously, so we spend today resting in Nyalam in order to acclimatise before heading up higher.

We take the opportunity to go a short way out of town to visit a small temple, Nyalam Pelgye Ling, associated with eleventh- and twelfth-century poet-lama and saint Milarepa, credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet.

Day 03: Drive to Kharta [3690m]
The drive to the Lalung La (pass) which sits at 5050m is simply spectacular. On a clear day the north side of the main Himalaya Range from Shishapangma (8046m) to Gauri Shanker (7134m) in the east is visible and a stunning view.

The drive continues across the Tibetan Plateau past a series of villages to the vast Tingri plains where we gain our first views of Cho Oyu (8201 m) and Mt Everest. 10 km before the town of Shegar we leave the Friendship Highway and head south into the Everest region.

We cross the Pang La, at 5150m, gaining great views of Everest and the surrounding area. The view from the top is incredible with uninterrupted views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma. From here we head down to the village of Phadhruchi where the jeep track divides - the west road heading to the Rongbuk Valley and the east road takes us to the Arun Valley (Phung Chu) and the village of Kharta, the administrative headquarters of the region.

Day 04: Rest day in Kharta for acclimatisation
We use this day for acclimatisation and can enjoy our time exploring in and around Kharta, which also gets our bodies used to walking around in this altitude.  Unlike valleys even a few ridges away, the area around Kharta is affected by the monsoon, pushing up from India and Nepal. We enjoy forests of scrub juniper, dwarf rhododendrons and birch in the higher ridges, with dense thickets of willow along the creeks lower down.

Day 05: Trek to meadow camp [4160m]
Today we begin our first day of trekking after a hearty breakfast and start walking on a jeep trail along the banks of the Kharta River. At the end of the jeep road we cross a bridge and follow a winding trail above small, scattered villages set amid barley fields.

Coming to a fork in the trail we take the smaller left trail towards Shao La, which gives us a more gradual climb in elevation than the fast ascent to Langma La. Both trails lead eventually to the Kangshung Face Base Camp. Tonight we camp in a meadow (4160m) above the Dambuk Chu (river valley) which drains from the Shao La.

Day 06: Cross Shao La and onto Kaamo Tsangpo Valley [4000m]
We make an early start to ascend the Shao La (4790m) past a pair of lakes called the Tsho-Shao and up to the pass to gain incredible views of Everest (8848m), Makalu (8475m) and Lhotse (8501m).

From the pass there is a steady descent to some yak pastures and a set of four stunning lakes, before some steep, rocky switchbacks. Reaching better terrain we then wind downwards through rather idyllic birch groves and dwarf rhododendrons to our meadow camp (4000m). It takes us about 3 hours to reach our lovely campsite, set in pine and fir forest just above the Kaamo Tsangpo Valley. This comparatively lush vegetation reflects the monsoon influence and summer rains that surge up the nearby Arun Valley throughout the summer months.

Day 07: Trek to Shalung Tsho [4420m]
After breakfast this morning we have a bit of a heartstarter as we climb from the Karma Tsangpo Valley floor through surprisingly lush juniper, birch and rhododendron forest. This is stunning walking as we pass through meadows and then dwarf rhododendron, keeping a look out for views of Mt Everest and Lhotse at the head of the valley.

Our trail crosses alpine ridges where yak herders' from Kharta village make their summer camps. We pass through a series of these meadows and past two beautiful lakes before setting camp in a meadow  (4420m) and ascending a ridge and seeing our first uninterrupted views of the Kangshung Face of Everest, flanked by Lhotse.

Day 08: Trek to Pethang Ringmo [4820m]
About half an hour from our campsite we gain our first views of Lhotse Shar (8383m) and views of this immense glaciated landscape that is the headwaters of the Karma Tsangpo. After about an hour we meet the trail from Langma La and our trail plunges down onto the valley floor at Rabka Chu.

We continue up the Kangshung Valley, entering thick forest where the rhododendrons grow up to 6m high, enormous for this altitude. We then cross a series of morainal hills to the meadows of Bathang, above which is a sacred lake and cave temple where Guru Rimpoche was said to have meditated.
 
We continue up this stunning valley into the afternoon to reach Pethang Ringmo. This is a truly stunning camp, set in a meadow which is full of wildflowers in the monsoon and ringed by huge ice flows pouring from the peaks into the Kangshung Glacier. Mt Everest, Lhotse and Lhotse Shar are with us at the west end of the valley, while Jomolonzo’s frequent avalanches give us plenty of exposure to the power of the ice!

Day 09: Pethang Ringmo to Kangshung Base Camp [5090m]
From our lovely camp at Pethang Ringmo we head out across the meadow to Kangshung Everest Base Camp, where we will camp for the night.

It is a walk of only 2 ½ to 3 hours up to camp, so in the afternoon we can either relax or explore to the west of the camp, following the crest of a long morrain for about 45 minutes to its end at 5200m. Below us is a large glacial lake and across the valley we have one of the finest views in the Himalaya, with three of the world’s highest peaks in clear view. If we have enough energy we can climb another 2 hours to the crest of the main ridge for even more incredible views.

Day 10: Explore around Kangshung Base Camp
This morning, after and early and hearty breakfast we make the climb north of camp past two glacial lakes and on up to a ridge overlooking the Kangshung Valley. From our vantage point at 5580m we have a truly spectacular view described in 1921 by Lieutenant Colonel Charles Howard-Bury as “a huge amphitheatre of mighty peaks culminating in a new and unsurveyed peak…to which we gave the name Lhotse, which in Tibetan means South Peak”. We see the massive triangular peak to the east of Lhotse Shar is Pethangtse (6710m) and we can see Makalu poking out form behind Jomolonzo.

We will return to Pethang Ringmo’s stunning meadow campsite tonight.

Day 11: Trek to the base of Langma La [4800m]
After another hearty breakfast we follow the trail from Pethang Ringmo back down the valley to Rabka Chu, 2 hours or so below camp. From here we begin a big climb back up to where we came down from Shao La and our turn off north towards the Langma La. We continue on through the afternoon with great views of Makalu summit to our camp at the base of the Langma La, to get ready for our last big pass of the trip!

Day 12: Cross Langma La and down to Shomale [4160m]
While crossing the Langma La should only take us about 2 hours, we will leave early this morning as a precaution. From our camp we climb past a stunning glacial lake, with more great views of the world’s highest mountains to the top of the pass at 5320m. From here we have a truly spectacular view, seeing Everest, Lhotse, and Makalu - the highest, 4th highest, and 5th highest mountains in the world respectively!

From here we have a steep descent to the valley floor, which opens up as we pass yak herders' camps from Kharta and the nearby villages. Heading down to where we join the Kharta Valley we have views of the stunning Kangchenjunga massif rearing above the ridges beyond Kharta on the Nepal- Sikkim Border. This is a special sight, with Kanchenjunga being the 4th highest mountain in the world and one of the most beautiful.

We plunge down into the Kharta Tsangpo Valley, through the wild rocky terrain below the pass, past stunning Tsho Dramnyen, shaped like a Tibetan guitar, where we may see Blue Poppies. We continue coming into the first rhododendrons, meadows and juniper, into our delightful camp at Shomale (4160m).

Day 13: Trek to Kharta
We continue along our trail down into Lungdrubling, above the Kharta Tsangpo. We head downwards through terraced barley fields, stands of wild rose and stone fences, following the river valley back down into Kharta.

We make camp here for the night, and prepare to drive to Rongbuk in the morning.
 
Day 14: Drive to Rongbuk/Everest Base Camp [5020m]
From Kharta we load into jeeps and drive to the village of Phadhruchi before continuing onto the Rongbuk Valley reaching the Dza Rongbuk Monastery and the Rongbuk Everest Base Camp. Dza Rongbuk Gompa and its accompanying hermitage retreats were introduced to the world in the 1920s through the accounts of the first British mountaineering teams. It is situated 8 kilometres below the Base Camp and was reconstructed after the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960's. We continue up to Everest Base Camp at 5020m where we camp for the night.

Day 15: Explore Everest Base Camp and drive to Lhatse [3990m]
Today we have the opportunity to explore Everest Base Camp, which is actually quite dry and barren, but the views of Mt Everest more than compensate for this. It is a truly awe-inspiring place with the sheer north face of the highest mountain in the world towering above us. Nowhere is the view of Mt Everest as spectacular as it is from right here.
 
We leave the Rongbuk Valley, taking our last long look at the awe inspiring view it has offered us for the last few days. We have a short drive towards Shegar, crossing the Pang La, a 5150m pass set back away from the main Himalayan Range. The view from the top is stupendous (weather permitting) with uninterrupted views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma.

We come back onto the Friendship Highway just before Shegar and continue on to Lhatse, where we stay the night. Before reaching Lhatse we cross the highest pass on our journey, the Gyatso La (5105m), no doubt thankful we are not trekking now, before descending once more to the barren splendour of the plains.
 
Day 16: Drive to Gyantse [3950m]
Continuing along the Friendship Highway, we pass by lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders. On our way to Gyantse for the night, we pass through Tibet’s second largest city, Shigatse, home to the Tashilhunpo Monastery and formerly home of the Panchen Lama.

Day 17: Sightseeing and drive to Lhasa [3650m]
This morning we can explore the Pelkor Chode Monastery and the Gyantse Kumbum. The Kumbum is a large gold-domed stupa and its many chapels house an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals.
 
Leaving Gyantse behind, we have a spectacular drive taking us over yet another high pass, the Karo La at 4690m. From here we have the awesome sight of a huge glacier tumbling down towards the road!

Leaving the pass and passing through the small town of Nagartse, we reach the stunning Yamdrok Tso. Also known as the Scorpion Lake, this is one of the four holiest lakes in Tibet, where the landscape is mapped out with holy lakes and mountains. We wind around the banks of this stunning turquoise lake for about 20km, before we cross our last pass, the Khamba La (4700m) and continue on into Lhasa. We have arrived in the Forbidden City!
 
Day 18: Sightseeing in Lhasa
Today we can immerse ourselves in this amazing city – the heart and soul of Tibet! Our sightseeing will be accompanied by a guide and interpreter and we will visit the Sera Monastery, one of the best-preserved monasteries in Tibet. Within its whitewashed walls and golden roofs, several hundred monks live and study.

After lunch we'll visit the Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, followed by the Jokhang Temple. This temple is possibly the most sacred shrine in Tibet and there is always a procession of devout Tibetans through the complex. Surrounding the Jokhang is the Barkor - a maze of narrow cobbled streets, which is the central market of Lhasa. This is truly fascinating stuff and you will be mesmerised by the energy and feel of this area of Lhasa.
 
Day 19: Sightseeing in Lhasa
No visit to Tibet could be complete without visiting the Potala Palace. A spectacular building, it literally dominates the skyline of Lhasa. It contains the private quarters of the Dalai Lama as well as numerous grand staterooms and many important chapels. There has been a palace on this site since the 5th or 6th century, but the present palace was constructed in the 17th century.

After lunch we will visit the Drepung Monastery which was founded in the 14th century. This monastery was once the largest in the world, with a population of around 10,000 monks! These days that figure is down to several hundred, but there is still much here of interest as it was left relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution.
 
Day 20: Fly to Kathmandu
We bid farewell to Lhasa this morning and take an early 2 hour drive to the Gonggar Airport for our flight back to Kathmandu.

This is a truly awesome flight, as any crossing of the Himalayan Range should be! It takes two hours and is without doubt one of the most spectacular commercial flights in the world. Our flight path takes us just east of Mt Everest before circling to the south where the entire Himalayan Range from Makalu to the Annapurnas can be appreciated.

This flight is a fitting end to our Tibetan journey and we have a final evening to celebrate our adventure in Kathmandu.

 

 

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