While the itinerary centers around reaching the North Base Camp of Everest—exalting in its magnificent golden glow—this journey simultaneously connects you with the many splendid holy places and cultural encounters of this enchanting land. Fall into step with centuries of traders, pilgrims and explorers along Tibet’s ancient silk and salt caravan route, variously also tracing the approach taken by George Mallory and Andrew Irvine on their historic 1924 attempt to summit Everest. Journey through the highest Himalaya, hiking to rapturous panoramas of unimaginable mountainscape. Visit the majestic fortress of Potala Palace, the historic winter home for many generations of Dalai Lamas. Explore the turquoise waters of holy Yamdruk Lake. Examine the myriad religious imagery decorating the historic Kumbum chörten. Discover the enigma of this rarefied kingdom.
Sept. 20 - Oct. 1, 2021
$6,400 Per Person
$5,410 Per Person
$385 Per Person
$935 Per Person
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS + span>
Inclusions & Exclusions
LAND PRICE INCLUDES:
• All accommodations based on double occupancy in hotels listed in the above itinerary and inclusive of all taxes
• All taxes and service charges
• All special events listed in the itinerary
• All transportation using non air-conditioned private vehicles within Tibet
• All meals after arrival in China through departure from Nepal (Breakfast Day 2 to Breakfast Day 12)
• Transfer by private vehicle from Tibet border to Kathmandu
• Special “Welcome and Farewell” dinners
• All arrival/departure airport/hotel transfers
• All entry fees at all temples, museums and monuments on excursions
• Tips/gratuity to local staff (guides, drivers, bell boys, etc.)
• Services of full time Tibetan Tour Manager
LAND PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
• International airfare to China (Chengdu) and return from Kathmandu
• Internal China airfare (Chengdu to Chengdu)
• Lunches and dinners in Chengdu or other en route cities
• Items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone calls, etc.
• Movie or video camera fees
• Tips/gratuity to Tour Manager
• Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage insurance.
• Charges incurred as a result of delays beyond Nomadic Expeditions control
"Everything went to plan. Nomadic fulfilled all the necessary requirements for a successful trip."
Patrick V., PA
Tsering is simply one of the best guides I've had on any trip and gave one a true feeling of not only the Tibetan land but the feelings of its people and the difficult political situation Tibet has with China.
Met upon arrival and transferred to your hotel. In the evening we have an “orientation meeting” with your trip leader, discussion on “High Altitude Travel,” “Do’s & Don’t” for Lhasa/Tibet. We will have an early night as we head of to Tibet at the crack of dawn. (Shangri-La Hotel)
Day 2 - FLY TO LHASA
We will have an early start to the day, as we head to the airport for our flight to Lhasa (11,975 ft.). If the weather is clear, the flight (we try to obtain window seats for everyone) from Chengdu to Lhasa will offer spectacularly majestic panoramic views of the eastern ramparts of the Himalayas from either side of the plane. China’s highest mountain peaks, the 24,783’ Minya Konka, and the mighty Namche Barwa (25,439’) loom majestically on the horizon, surrounded by countless snow-capped peaks and high alpine valleys, climbing vertiginously upwards to the high-altitude Tibetan plateau. Upon arrival at Gongkar, Tibet’s international airport, we will be joined by members of our Tibetan staff for the two-hour drive to Lhasa.
We cross the powerful Tsangpo River as we make our way through the beautiful countryside of Ü, the historically rich province of Central Tibet. Winding our way through the stunningly austere Tibetan landscape, we finally enter the environs of Lhasa, Tibet’s most populous city. There before us, standing imposingly upon its lofty precipice, is the staggeringly beautiful and instantly recognizable Potala Palace, its regal red and white façade and glittering golden gables towering over the Kyi-chu Valley. We will have the next few days to spend in and around Lhasa, the legendary Tibetan capital. The goal of many intrepid travelers and explorers, the “forbidden city” of Lhasa will reveal its unique character and enchanting mystique as we visit many of its most significant historical and cultural sites. Upon our arrival in Lhasa,we will check in to our hotel, the Kyi Chu, located in the heart of Lhasa, near to both the Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple.
(Shangri-La Hotel; B, L, D)
Days 3 & 4 - EXPLORING LHASA
We have two full days to explore and photograph the historic capital of Tibet, while allowing our bodies to acclimate to the higher altitude. We start with a visit to two of the area’s most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, Drepung and Nechung. We will spend the afternoon exploring the Jokhang and Barkhor area in old Lhasa. Drepung Monastery, beautifully situated in the unpopulated hills west of Lhasa, is a remarkable place. At one time Drepung was home to 10,000 monks, establishing it as the largest monastic institution in the world. Drepung is a large establishment and it is worth the time to explore in depth. Drepung was founded in 1416, just prior to the establishment of Sera. Notably, Drepung’s Ganden Palace was home to the Dalai Lama until the construction of the Potala by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th Century.
Arguably Drepung’s main attraction is the massive, two-story statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, which attracts pilgrims from throughout Tibet. Looming over Lhasa and the Kyi-chu Valley is the monumental Potala Palace. A visit to this amazing historical site is certainly a highlight of any trip to Tibet, and we will explore the many chapels, halls and tombs of the Red Palace. Based on the mythical Potala in South India, this more tangible incarnation of the palace was the home of Tibet’s god-king, the Dalai Lama. Begun by the 5th Dalai Lama in the 17th Century, the Potala was the winter residence of the Tibetan spiritual leader from the time of “The Great Fifth” until the current and 14th Dalai Lama, His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, occupied it. Now a museum, the Potala is a treasure trove of Tibetan history, its dark and mysterious chapels luring the visitor to discover its many secrets.
We will make a pilgrimage to the Jokhang, Lhasa’s sacred religious temple. While the Potala Palace played host to Tibet’s affairs of state, Lhasa’s second great historic site, the Jokhang temple, is the religious heart and soul of Tibetan Buddhism. The Jokhang, arguably Tibet’s holiest religious shrine, was constructed in the 7th Century CE under the guidance of the indomitable King Songtsen Gampo.
We will also visit Sera Monastery, located to the north of Lhasa, which is perhaps most famous for the renowned and always lively sessions which take place in the Debating Courtyard. It is arguably the highlight of any visit to Sera, to relax beneath the shady canopy of the Debating Courtyard’s many trees and revel in the sights and sounds as Sera’s monks energetically argue the finer points of Buddhist philosophy.
(Shangri-La Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 5 - GYANTSE
Today we start our drive along the old trade route over high passes, by the turquoise waters of Yamdrok Lake to Gyantse (12,795 ft). Yamdrok is known as the “scorpion lake,” (photo on page 2 of itinerary) due to its twisting shoreline, which, as the moniker suggestions, resembles a scorpion. Yamdrok is one of the four sacred lakes of Tibet, and is a major pilgrimage site in its own right, with a kora path ringing its shores. The lake will be our companion for a good portion of our drive to Giants and we will stop at various vantage points for photography. From the rushing waters of the Tsangpo to the high mountain passes of Kamba-la and Karo-la, festooned with prayer flags, the drive from Lhasa to Gyantse is a breathtaking photogenic journey. Early evening we arrive in Gyantse, situated in the fertile andagriculturally productive Nyang-chu Valley with the impressive Gyantse Dzong (fort) sitting stolidly atop its lofty perch. We will check in to our hotel and unwind from the drive, and perhaps take in some of the sites in Gyantse.
(Yeti Gyantse Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 6 - GYANTSE TO SHIGATSE
The highlight of our time in Gyantse will be a visit to the city’s most famous site, the sublime Kumbum chörten, located at the Pelkor Chöde Monastery. At one time, both the Gelugs and Sakya sects had monasteries at Pelkor Chöde. As with most of Tibet’s great monastic institutions, Pelkor Chöde suffered greatly during the Cultural Revolution, but is nevertheless enjoying a period of revival. Of course, the highlight of a visit to Pelkor Chöde is the Kumbum, a massive chörten, from which the protective eyes of the Buddha survey the surrounding countryside. The Kumbum (which means “100,000 images” in Tibetan), is blessed with a plethora of amazing Buddhist murals, frescoes and statuary. You will also see many devout pilgrims completing the short kora around the Kumbum, spinning prayer wheels as they circumambulate the mystical Gyantse Kumbum, protected by the ever-watchful eyes of the Lord Buddha.
After exploring the Kumbum and the marketplace we head off to Shigatse on the new blacktop road, reaching there for lunchtime. Founded in 1447 by another disciple of the great Tsongkhapa, Tashilhunpo was the resting place of the 1st Dalai Lama, but since has come to be identified with the Panchen Lamas, the second most important spiritual reincarnation in Tibetan Buddhism (after the Dalai Lamas). Although the original manifestation of the Panchen Lama was identified by the “Great Fifth” Dalai Lama, a rivalry between the two great figures developed over the course of the following centuries. Controversy continues to shroud the identity of the current Panchen Lama, the subject of much speculation and contention over the past several years between the Chinese government and the Tibetan government in exile. Tashilhunpo is an intriguing place to visit. It is a very large complex and, like Drepung, rewards the visitor who takes the time to explore the wander the monastery’s byways. Tashilhunpo is an active monastery with a fairly sizeable contingent of monks in residence. The highlight of a visit to the monastery is the massive, 75 foot-plus gilded statue of Maitreya.
(Chomo Langdzong Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 7 - SHIGATSE | DAY HIKE TO NGOR
Today’s main activity will be a 4 hour hike over a 14,000 ft pass, in the environs of Ngor Monastery, in the hills outside of Shigatse, as we take a break from driving to stretch our legs and acclimate to the higher altitude. Ngor sits on a popular trekkers trail between the monasteries at Shalu and Nartang. Ngor was founded in 1429 as a Sakya monastery, and is a beautiful little complex. After dropping us off at the trailhead our vehicle will drive around and wait for us at Ngor monastery. On our return to Shigatse, we have the late afternoon free to explore the markets and bazaars in Shigatse, the Shigatse Dzong, or possibly a return visit to Tashilhunpo.
(Chomo Langdzong Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 8 - SHEGAR
Essentially a travel day as we cover a vast distance across the plateau. Leaving Shigatse, we drive due west through spectacular landscapes, crossing the Jia Tsuo La, 17,121 foot high pass before descending to the small town of Shegar at 14,300 ft. Just as the early Everest expeditions took a break at Shegar, so shall we before heading south to Everest’s base camp at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning.
(Baiba Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 9 - RONGBUK & EVEREST BASE CAMP
A pre-dawn departure from Shegar finds us on the top of Pang La (a 17,000-ft pass) at sunrise. Braving the cold we will be afforded an unparallel photographic opportunity as we see the rising sun light up the vast panorama of Himalaya peaks spread in front of us fromMakalu (27,817’) to Everest (29,028’) and Lhotse (27,916’) to Gyachung Kang (25,980’), to Cho Oyu (26,714’), and to the west, Shisha Pangma (26,286’). After watching the rising sun light up the summit of Everest we leave Pang-la and snake down to the Zakar River Valley and onto Rongbuk Valley, arriving at Everest’s base by late morning. In Everest 1933 Hugh Ruttledge wrote of coming at last into the storied valley: “The approach was dramatic. At the moment we were walking up the rough, snow-covered track, in the valley, which seemed to lead to nowhere in particular. At the next moment a last corner was turned and there was the monastery, with its great chorten;and beyond, the wind-torn but still impenetrable mists behind which we knew was Mount Everest.”
We overnight at Rongbuk monastery in the shadow of Chomolungma, Goddess Mother of the World. Many other peaks cast their shadows on the exquisitely barren and beautiful valley. Every climber who has gone up to Rongbuk has looked up at the hall of inviting mountains lining the valley and wanted to get up there and begin climbing, for the joy of it, for the unique views, and for the history. Weather permitting, we have the whole afternoon, as well as sunset to photograph Everest. As night falls we prepare for the coldest night of our trip.
(Monastery Guesthouse; B, L, D)
Day 10 - KRIYONG
Today will be another spectacular “landscape” day as we cross the spine of the Himalaya and descent into Nepal. We will wake up early to see Everest at sunrise, before making our drive through the Himalaya, from the barren Tibetan Plateau to the lush foothills of Nepal.Leaving the Base Camp we first cross the rolling meadows of Tingri with our last views of Everest, to reach our first pass of the day Lalung-la (16,564’) offering spectacular views Langtang Peaks that are also visible from Kathmandu. Stopping at Thong- la for views of Shisha Pangma - 26,390’ the fourteenth highest mountain in the world and the Langtang Himal, we continue to the new border crossing town of Kriyong. A steep and dramatic descend we reach the Nepal border by late afternoon. Kriyong is a bustling and colorful border town built on the side of a dramatic Bhotia Khosi gorge. We will have a “farewell dinner” with our Tibetan guide and drivers as tomorrow we will be picked up by our Nepalese staff for our drive to Kathmandu.
(Kriyong Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 11 - KATHMANDU
As all of China is on Beijing time (here we’re three normal times zones away from the Chinese capital), as we cross the Friendship Bridge to Nepal, it will be two hours forty-five minutes earlier! We pass through customs/immigration just before the bridge and then walk across to Nepal, while our porters will carry our baggage. Once we have cleared the entry formalities on the Nepal side, we will make the drive to legendary Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city. Like Tibet, the legendary locale of Kathmandu conjures images of the ultimate mysterious and exotic travel destination.
Located in Central Nepal, the Kathmandu area is the center of Nepali cultural and political life. Indeed, the Kathmandu Valley has been a hub of civilization for over two millennia. Kathmandu is living history, where the modern and ancient continue to mingle. It is an unforgettable experience to wander the mysterious bazaars of old Kathmandu. “Namaste” is the greeting you will receive from the friendlyNepalese people, a traditional Hindu greeting, derived from Sanskrit, which means “I salute the soul (God?) within you.” We will check in to our hotel, the classic Yak & Yeti, before spending the afternoon taking in some of the sites of Kathmandu, including Durbar Square, Hanuman Dhoka, the ancient palace of the Gorkha Kings and the old bazaar. This evening we will gather for a special Farewell Dinner, as we bring our incredible journey to a close.
(Yak & Yeti Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 12 - DEPARTURE
We will be transferred to Kathmandu’s airport in time for our flights to our respective Asian transit cities for connecting return flights to the USA and Europe.