Discover the sheer magic of Tibet visiting not merely highlights of this eminently spiritual place but experiencing the culture and character of the land and its people revealed by every encounter. Explore historic Yarlung Valley, by the banks of the mighty Tsangpo (Brahamaputra River) visiting Sayme the first Tibetan monastery constructed in Tibet. Cross high mountain passes with glorious Himalaya vistas. Tour the markets and monasteries of Lhasa. Pay enlightening visits to Kumbum chörten—bestowing its amazing chambers of many thousands of ornate religious images—and to the majestic Potala Palace, a treasure of Tibetan history and winter home for many generations of Dalai Lamas.
Our Quick Escape series of short journeys are designed for the modern traveler who seeks to experience the majestic beauty and diverse cultures of exotic lands far far away, but has time constraints that only allow for a one-week break from the demands of the office, home, or family.
May - Oct, 2021
$4,730 Per Person
$550 Per Person
$1,035 Per Person
INCLUSIONS & EXCLUSIONS + span>
Inclusions & Exclusions
LAND PRICE INCLUDES:
Ground transportation in Mongolia as described in the itinerary
Transfers upon arrival and departure
All accommodations based on double or twin occupancy (hotel rooms and gers)
All meals in Mongolia including a camp cook while tenting
Bottled/filtered water throughout the trip and soft drinks at meals
All excursions, entrance fees, and visits as described in itinerary
Extensive pre-departure Travel Guide, reading list, important information about your trip, and luggage tags
Bilingual Nomadic Expeditions guide throughout your stay.
LAND PRICE DOES NOT INCLUDE:
International airfare; internal airfare is quoted separately and subject to change by airlines
Passport and visa fees
Comprehensive medical and trip insurance
Excess baggage charges
Photography and video fees
Tips to guides and drivers
Food and beverages not included in the group meals
Items of personal nature, including alcoholic beverages, laundry, and telephone calls
Other items not specifically mentioned as included
On arrival in Chengdu, you will be met by a Nomadic Expeditions representative and escorted to your hotel. Like most large Chinese cities, Chengdu is a bustling metropolis (in fact, Chengdu translates as “Perfect Metropolis”). Home to roughly 14 million people, the city is a participant in the Chinese trend toward modernization, yet it is also a verdant and lovely place. Its charming old section nestled on the banks of the Jin Jiang River, with a history stretching back over 2,000 years.
Day 2 FLY TO TIBET / DRIVE TO TSEDANG
You will be met at your hotel in the early morning and escorted to the airport. If the weather is clear, the flight from Chengdu to Lhasa will offer spectacularly majestic panoramic views of the eastern ramparts of the Himalayas. China’s highest mountain peaks, the 24,783’ MinyaKonka, and the mighty Namche Barwa (25,439’) loom majestically on the horizon, surrounded by countless snowcapped peaks and high alpine valleys, climbing vertiginously upwards to the high- altitude
Tibetan plateau. Upon arrival at Gonggar, Tibet’s international airport, you will be met by your guide and driver. From Gonggar you drive across Yarlung Valley to Tsedang (1.5 hrs). On our way, enjoy the exquisite beauty of the mighty Brahmaputra River, known as the Yarlung Tsangpo in this part of Tibet.
The Yarlung Valley is certainly one of the most beautiful parts of Tibet, and the historic town of Tsedang will be our day’s destination. We spend the rest of the day relaxing and enjoying the sights in Tsedang (11,152 ft.) nestled beneath the slopes of the sacred Gangpo Ri.Tsedang was at the crux of Tibetan civilization until Lhasa emerged as the preeminent center of Tibetan society in the 7th Century. In Tsedang we will have the opportunity to visit the monasteries of Ganden Chökhorling and Ngachö, and the ancient castle of Yumbu Lakang, the oldest building in Tibet. As this is your first day at the higher elevation, a minimum amout of physical exertion is recommend to allow your bodies to acclimate to the altitude. Enjoy a late afternoon walk through the bazaar.
(Tsedang Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 3 EXPLORING YARLUNG VALLEY & SAMYE MONASTERY
We begin our day with a drive through the stunningly beautiful Yarlung Tsangpo Valley as we head toward the important monastery of Samye. Aside from its tremendous scenic beauty, the Yarlung Valley is also famed for its place of honor in the Tibetan mythological canon. According to tradition, it was in the Yarlung Valley that Tibetan civilization came into being. At Gangpo Ri, it is said that Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, descended to earth in the guise of a monkey, and together with an incarnation of the goddess Tara, was the progenitor of the Tibetan race. To reach Samye, we cross the mighty Tsangpo River to reach Surkhar on the river’s north bank. From here it is a short drive to Samye, Tibet’s first monastic institution, founded in the 8th Century CE by the fabled King Trisong Detsen. This monastery is closely associated with the legendary Padmasambhava, aka Guru Rinpoche, who established the Buddhist faith in this regionof Tibet. Due to its close connection with Guru Rinpoche, Samye was originally tied to the Nyingmapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism, though it later came to be associated with the Sakyapa school. Samye is distinctive in that it is laid out as a mandala of the Buddhist cosmological vision. In its center rises the pivotal structure, the Ütse, which symbolizes Mt. Meru, the center of the Buddhist universe. Samye’s many temples, chapels and chörtens are laid out around the Ütse in a circular pattern, signifying the oceans and continents of the Buddhist cosmos. After thoroughly exploring Samye, we will return through the Yarlung Valley to Tsedang.
(Tsedang Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 4 TO GYANTSE
Following breakfast, begin your drive along the old trade route over high passes, by the turquoise waters of Yamdrok Lake to Gyantse (13,050 ft). Yamdrok Lake is known as the “scorpion lake,” 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 itsshores. The lake will be our companion for a good portion of our drive to Gyantse. From the rushing waters of the Tsangpo to the high mountain passes of Kamba-la and 15,800 foot Karo-la, festooned with prayer flags, the drive from Tsedang to Gyantse is a breathtaking and photogenic journey. Stopping along the way to enjoy the scenery, meet local villagers (a must is taking a break at Karo La pass and making the short 20-minute hike to the glacier), and arrive Gyantse in the late afternoon. Situated in the fertile and agriculturally productive Nyang-chu Valley with the impressive Gyantse Dzong (fort) sitting stolidly atop its lofty perch. Check in to the hotel, unwind from the drive, and perhaps take in some of the sites in Gyantse.
(Gyantse Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 5 EXPLORE GYANTSE & 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. Traveling on the modern road that traverses the fertile green fields and dun-colored hills of the Nyang-chu Valley, you arrive in Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city, and home to the monastery of Tashilhunpo, residence of the Panchen Lamas. Founded in 1447 by another disciple of the great Tsongkhapa, Tashilhunpo was the resting place of the first 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). 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 and 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.
(Shigatse Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 6 ARRIVE LHASA
Today you will travel on the same road that Younghusband led his army on his famous (or infamous) de facto invasion of Tibet a century ago. Drive along the powerful Tsangpo (meaning The 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 couple of 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 and then head out on a walking tour to explore some of the ‘old’ alleyways of Lhasa.
(Shangri-La Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 7 EXPLORE LHASA
Today’s schedule includes a morning 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 monasticinstitution 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 Lamas until the construction of the Potala by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th Century. Drepung’s many colleges, halls, and temples extend up the hillside towards the peak of Gephel Ri, encouraging the visitor to wander the many byways that meander through the compound’s whitewashed structures. One of Drepung’s many attractions is the massive two-story statue of Maitreya, the Future Buddha, which attracts pilgrims from throughout Tibet.Drepung’s dramatic location offers splendid views of the Kyi-chu Valley below, including the monastery of Nechung nestled at the foot of the hill below Drepung.
In the afternoon, explore 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. As legend has it, Songtsen Gampo’s Chinese and Nepalese brides brought the Dharma to Tibet, as well as the holiest Buddhist relic in Tibet, the “Jowo Rinpoche.” This golden bejeweled statue of the Buddha Shakyamuni is the highlight of any visit to the Jokhang. The roof of the Jokhang, with its wonderful golden gables and carvings, offers a magnificent view of the Potala and the busy Barkhor markets below. The Barkhor, the maze-like warren of shops and stalls that surrounds the Jokhang, will beckon us to join the Tibetans who travel here to pay homage to the Jokhang as they circumambulate the sacred shrine. Pilgrims journey from throughout Tibet to make prostrations and to complete this ritual kora. Join with these amazing pilgrims as they make their way around this venerable site, and lose yourself amongst the vibrant sites, fantastic smells, and distinctive sounds of the bazaars of the Barkhor. You can also do some shopping and enjoy bartering with the friendly Barkhor merchants.
(Shangri-La Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 8 LHASA
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 today 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-kings, the Dalai Lamas. 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. This afternoon we 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. Sera was founded in 1419 by a student of the legendary Tsongkhapa, and was once home to several thousand Gelugs monks. Although the monastery is populated by far fewer monks these days, Sera, like many other Tibetan monasteries, is reemerging as a prominent center of Tibetan Buddhist studies. After exploring the Main Assembly Hall and many colleges, 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. Enjoy a farewell dinner with our Tibetan staff on your last evening in Tibet.
(Shangri-La Hotel; B, L, D)
Day 9 DEPARTURE
After an early breakfast you will be transferred to Lhasa Airport for your flight to Chengdu, where you will connect to your onward connection.