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An amazing mountain flight over the highest mountain range in the world, three full days in the ‘Forbidden City’ of Lhasa, Everest North Face and more...

Departure: Kathmandu
Duration: 11 Days
Best season: April to October
We begin our journey by exploring Nepal’s bustling capital, Kathmandu. From here we take one of the most beautiful mountain flights in the world, across the Himalayas and past Mt Everest, into Tibet.

We spend our first few nights in Lhasa. Seen as the heart and soul of Tibet, Lhasa, once the Forbidden City, is a place of devout Buddhist pilgrimage and 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.

Leaving Lhasa behind, we travel south through the incredibly vast Tibetan landscape, over high passes and visiting ancient monasteries on the way to visit Everest North Face Base Camp. 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.

Carrying on over highland passes and through some of the most stunning mountain vistas in the world we eventually cross the Himalayas and begin our descent down through the lush, green foothills and cultivated terraces of Nepal, back to the Kathmandu Valley.

BRIEF ITINERARY

Day 01: Fly Kathmandu (1300m) to Lhasa (3650m)
Day 02: Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 03: Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 04: Free day in Lhasa
Day 05: Drive Lhasa to Gyantse (3950m) 261km
Day 06: Sightseeing & drive Gyantse to Shigatse (3900m) 90km
Day 07: Sightseeing & drive Shigatse to Shegar (4250m) 244km
Day 08: Drive Shegar to Rongbuk Everest base Camp (5020m) 68km
Day 09: Drive Everest Base Camp to Tingri (4250m) 65km
Day 10: Drive Tingri to Zhangmu (2300m) 181km
Day 11: Drive Zhangmu to Kathmandu, via The Last Resort 123km

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 01: Fly Kathmandu (1400m) to Lhasa (3660m)
Surely we have the world’s most spectacular flight ahead of us this morning as we board the flight in Kathmandu. We fly over the highest mountain range in the world and land deep inside Tibet, the mysterious land for so long closed to outsiders.

We will be met at Gonggar Airport by our Tibetan guide and take the 2 hour drive to Lhasa, through a mountain! Due to the jump in altitude today we advise that you rest and take it easy for the remainder of the day.
 
Day 02: 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 03: 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 04: Free day in Lhasa
Today is our final day in Lhasa for acclimatisation. This is a day at leisure in which we are free to explore further, revisit a favourite monastery or simply sit in a café overlooking the Barkor and watch the pilgrims as they circumambulate the Jokhang, or plunge into the madness of the market and check out the merchandise at the stalls lining the cobbled streets.

Day 05: Drive Lhasa to Gyantse (3950m) 261km
Today we start our overland journey through Central Tibet to Kathmandu. Traveling by jeep along the Friendship Highway we cross the Khamba La (‘la’ means ‘pass’) (4794m) from which there are stunning views across the waters of Yamdrok-tso (lake) to the snowy summit of Nazin Kang Sa (7252m). Coming down from the pass, we wind around the banks of this stunning turquoise lake for about 20km.

We continue westwards over yet another high pass, the Karo La at 5045m. From here we are have to the awesome sight of a huge glacier tumbling down towards the road. After passing through beautiful valleys and colourful Tibetan villages we arrive in the town of Gyantse.
 
Day 06: Sightseeing & drive Gyantse to Shigatse (3900m) 90km
Before leaving Gyantse we have time this morning to visit the Gyantse Dzong, the Pelkor Chode Monastery and the famous Kumbum. The Dzong is a fort dating from the 14th century from which there are amazing views of both Gyantse itself and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. The Kumbum is a large gold-domed stupa and its many small chapels house an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals.
 
We then continue on to Shigatse, a short drive of only 90kms, arriving in time for lunch. Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and after exploring the local market we will make a detailed visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery. This monastery is one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet and there is much to explore within its high surrounding walls.
 
Day 07: Sightseeing & drive Shigatse to Shegar (4050m) 244km
After breakfast we continue along the Friendship Highway, marveling once more at the barren yet spectacular landscape of Tibet. Beyond the small town of Lhatse we cross the highest pass on our journey, the Gyamtso La (5220m). From here we descend to the plains, passing lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders, en route to Shegar.

Day 08: Drive Shegar to Rongbuk Everest Base Camp (5000m) 68km
Shortly after leaving Shegar, we turn off the Friendship Highway and head south over the Pang La [5150m] towards the main Himalayan range. The view from the top is incredible with uninterrupted views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma. Below the pass, Mt Everest initially is hidden from view, but as we turn the ‘corner’ into the Rongbuk Valley it reappears, more impressive than ever.

The 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 15 kilometres below the Base Camp and was reconstructed after the excesses of the Cultural Revolution in the 1960's. We stay overnight at the Rongbuk Gompa Guest House.
 
Day 09: Drive Everest Base Camp to Tingri (4390m) 65km
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.
 
After lunch, we rejoin the Friendship Highway and drive to Tingri where we will stay overnight.
 
Day 10: Drive Tingri to Zhangmu (2300m) 181km
Leaving Tingri, we cross another two high passes, the Lalung La [5124m] and the Shung La [5200m]. Once more we are rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding peaks of Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar.
 
Now we begin our descent from the arid Tibetan Plateau to Zhangmu on the Nepalese border. After Tibet, it appears an incredibly lush and green town and we stay overnight at the Zhangmu Friendship Hotel.
 
Day 11: Drive Zhangmu to Kathmandu, via The Last Resort (1400m) 123km
From Zhangmu we drive a few kilometers to the Friendship Bridge which spans the Bhote Koshi River and marks the Chinese - Nepalese border. Bidding farewell to Tibet , our Tibetan guide and driver, we walk to Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari where we will be met by our Nepalese staff.

After border formalities we head to the Last Resort for lunch in this lovely canyon setting. If you like we can arrange a stop over here for you to check out Nepal’s only bungy jumping, the world’s biggest swing and the high ropes course (optional and extra). Otherwise we head back to Kathmandu for a final dinner to celebrate our Tibetan adventure!

 

 

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