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15 days to experience Everest Base Camp’s glorious views then explore central Tibet and Lhasa.

Departure: Kathmandu
Duration: 15 Days
Best season: April to October
Grade: Moderate

With unobstructed views of the stunning north face, Tibet’s Everest Base Camp at Rongbuk is truly the best place to see the world’s highest mountain. A trek into Base Camp from Tingri could follow several routes and we are taking a more demanding route than most, but also the most rewarding in terms of scenery. We will follow a high ridge with good views of Mount Everest, to the village of Zommug and then to Rongbuk to explore the glacier.

After our trek we will travel overland to Lhasa, via the towns of Shigatse and Gyantse.  Shigatse is Tibet’s second largest city and is where we visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, formerly home of the Panchen Lama. In Gyanste we will visit the medieval Pelkhor Chode Temple complex with its huge Kumbum stupa, and can also see famous Gyantse fort and ‘Memorial Hall of Anti-British’.

We will spend two days in Lhasa, once the Forbidden City, seen as the heart and soul of Tibet. A place of devout pilgrimage, 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 [3750m]
Day 02: Rest day at Nyalam for acclimatisation
Day 03: Drive to Tingri [4350m]
Day 04: Trek to Lung Thang [4510m]
Day 05: Trek to Lamna La [5150 m]
Day 06: Trek to Zommug [4790m]
Day 07: Trek to Everest Base Camp [5020m]
Day 08: Exploration at Everest Base Camp
Day 09: Drive to Lhatse [3990m]
Day 10: Drive to Shigatse [3900m]
Day 11: Sightseeing and drive to Gyantse [3950m]
Day 12: Sightseeing and drive to Lhasa [3650m]
Day 13: Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 14: Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 15: Fly 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 Tingri [4250m]
Today's drive takes us from the lush, green lower hills into the dry, arid landscape of the Tibetan Plateau. We cross several high passes including the Lalung La at 5050m from where (weather permitting) there is a breathtaking panorama of the Himalayan range including Mt Everest – an incredible backdrop to the vast and arid Tibetan Plateau. We spend the night in Tingri.
 
Day 04: Trek to Lung Thang [4510m]
We start our first day of trekking on the Tingri plain and will really feel the vastness of this huge land as we walk through it for the first time. We pass through some villages as we make our way south, heading in the direction of Cho Oyu. We will pass through the village of Chholung, and we can visit the small Gompa there.

Not far from Chholung we come to Lungthang, our campsite for today and the last village in this part of the Tingri plains. It is a somewhat bleak region surrounded by barren flats, yet the people do manage to harvest barley showing their resilience and hard work. Most villagers here are also herders as the harvest would not be enough to sustain a livelihood.

Day 05: Trek to Lamna La [5150m]
After breakfast today we get into some more serious trekking. We head up in the mountains, towards the top of Lamna La (5150m). This is a hard days trekking with a lot of uphill walking, but of course the higher you go the better the views are! We have sensational views as we ascend of the Himalayan Range. We camp near the Langma La this night. 
 
Day 06: Trek to Zommug [4790m]
Today we begin with a steep decent from Lamna La, towards Zommug, where we will camp tonight. On this side of the pass the vegetation here is more lush than on the Dingri side and is capable of supporting hundreds of yaks and a few herders' families.

As we get approach we can see the whitewashed walls of Zommug village. This is the highest permanent settlement in the Everest region and is set high above the valley in a moon like landscape of barren hills, with views of Mount Everest and Gyachung Kang. Because crops cannot survive at this elevation, all of the families residing here rely upon animal husbandry.
 
Day 07: Trek to Everest Base Camp [5020m]
Today is our last day of trekking and we make our way towards 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 08: Exploration of Everest Base Camp and Rongbuk Glacier
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.

Day 09: Drive to Lhatse [3990m]
Today 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 10: Drive to Shigatse [3900m]
After breakfast we continue along the Friendship Highway to Shigatse, marvelling again at just how vast this place is and simply immersing ourselves in the barren yet spectacular landscape of Tibet.

Tonight we stay in Tibet’s second largest city, Shigatse, home to the Tashilhunpo Monastery and formerly home of the Panchen Lama.

Day 11: Drive to Gyantse [3950m]
Today we have a relatively short drive, so this morning we have time to visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet.

Reaching Gyantse where we will stay the night, 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.

Day 12: Drive to Lhasa [3650m]
Today 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 13: Explore 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 14: Explore 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 15: Fly Lhasa 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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