What to Expect
With an average altitude in excess of 11,480 feet (3,500 meters) Tibet can truly be described as the roof of the world. Experience all that the stunning country has to offer on a 13-day sightseeing tour of Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, Rongbuk and more. Drive along the dramatic Friendship Highway, linking Lhasa with the Chinese-Nepalese border at the Sino-Nepal Friendship Bridge.
Day 1: Kathmandu
Arrive at Kathmandu, capital of Nepal, and transfer to your hotel.
Day 2: Kathmandu Valley
Today you will explore the Kathmandu Valley, home to 7 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Experience a crossroads of ancient Asian civilizations and the former center of the Gorkha Kingdom. See historic temples and stupas, as well as bustling bazaars and trekkers at the start or end of their long Himalayan hikes.
Day 3: Kathmandu (4,590 Feet / 1,400 Meters) - Lhasa (12,000 Feet / 3,660 Meters)
Transfer to Kathmandu Airport for a spectacular 1-hour flight across the magnificent mountains of the Himalayan range. After landing at Tibet’s Gonggar Airport, meet your Tibetan guide and transfer a further 2 hours by road to Lhasa, where you will check into the Hotel Dhood Gu or Dhood Gu. Relax for the remainder of the day and acclimatize to Lhasa's high altitude.
Day 4: Lhasa
Today will be spent visiting several of Lhasa's monasteries in the company of a guide and interpreter. Go to the Sera Monastery, where several hundred monks live and study. One of the best-preserved monasteries in Tibet, the whitewashed walls and golden roofs are a miraculous sight.
After lunch, visit the Norbulingka complex, the traditional summer palace of successive Dalai Lamas, and location of the Jokhang Temple, possibly the most sacred shrine in Tibet. There is always a procession of devout Tibetans walking through the complex to create an enchanting atmosphere. Stroll the maze of narrow cobbled streets of Barkor, and explore the central market of Lhasa.
Day 5: Lhasa
This morning you will visit the Potala Palace, dominating the city of Lhasa, and chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala during the 1959 Tibetan uprising.
The spectacular palace contains the private quarters of the Dalai Lama as well as numerous grand staterooms and many important chapels. A visit to the Drepung Monastery in the afternoon completes a truly awe-inspiring day. Founded in the 14th century, the 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 of interest as it was left relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution.
Day 6: Lhasa
Enjoy a final day in Lhasa at leisure in which you are free to rest, explore further, revisit a favourite monastery, or simply sit in a café overlooking the Barkor to watch the pilgrims as they walk around the Jokhang, stopping to peruse the merchandise at the stalls.
For an additional fee, there is also the option of an add-on tour to the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery, or Tsurphu Monastery.
Day 7: Lhasa - Gyantse (12,956 Feet / 3,950 Meters) - 130 Miles / 216 Kilometers
Today you will start your overland journey towards Kathmandu. Travelling by jeep along the Friendship Highway, cross the Khamba La (15,724 feet / 4,794 meters), from where there are stunning views across the waters of Yamdrok-tso Lake to the snowy summit of Nazin Kang Sa (23,786 feet / 7,252 meters).
Continue westwards over the high pass of Karo La (16,547 feet / 5,045 meters), where you are rewarded with the spectacular sight of a huge glacier tumbling down to within a few hundred meters of the road. After passing through beautiful valleys and colorful Tibetan villages, arrive in the town of Gyantse and check into the Gyantse Hotel.
Day 8: Gyantse (12,956 Feet / 3,950 Meters) - Shigatse (12,792 Feet / 3,900 Meters) - 54 Miles / 90 Kilometers
Before leaving Gyantse, visit the Gyantse Dzong and Gyantse Kumbum. The Dzong is a 14th-century fort, from where there are amazing views of both Gyantse itself and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. The Kumbum is a large gold-domed stupa, where the many small chapels house an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals.
Continue to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. After lunch and a tour of the local market, you will make a detailed visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet. Overnight at either the Shigatse Hotel or Woutse Hotel.
Day 9: Shigatse (12,792 Feet / 3,900 Meters) - Shegar/New Tingri (13,284 Feet / 4,050 Meters) - 146 Miles / 244 Kilometers
Continue your drive along the Friendship Highway, marveling at the barren yet spectacular landscape of Tibet. Beyond the small town of Lhatse, cross the highest pass of the sublime Gyamtso La (17,121 feet / 5,220 meters). Descend to the plains, passing lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders en route to Shegar, where you will check into your overnight accommodation at the Hotel Quomolongma.
Day 10: Shegar (13,284 Feet / 4,050 Meters) - Rongbuk (16,400 Feet / 5,000 Meters) - 41 Miles / 68 Kilometers
Shortly after leaving Shegar, turn off the Friendship Highway and head south over the Pang La (16,892 feet / 5,150 meters) towards the main Himalayan range. The view from the top is incredible, with uninterrupted views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma. Below the pass, Everest is initially hidden from view, but as you turn the corner into the Rongbuk Valley it reappears, more impressive than ever. Stay overnight at the Gompa Guest House.
Day 11: Rongbuk - Everest Base Camp - Rongbuk
Today you will visit the North Base Camp of Everest, located half-way between Rongbuk Monastery and the climbers Base Camp at the foot of Rongbuk glacier. This is a good place to unwind with a book and sit staring at the stunning views of Everest's north face.
Day 12: Rongbuk (16,340 Feet / 5,000 Meters) - Nyalam 129 Miles / 215 Kilometers
Rejoin the Friendship Highway and drive to Tingri, before crossing another 2 high passes - the Lalung La (16,807 feet / 5,124 meters) and the Shung La (17, 056 feet / 5,200 meters). Take in the magnificent views of the surrounding peaks of Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar. Then, begin your descent from the Tibetan Plateau to Nyalam, just 18 miles (30 kilometers) before the Nepalese border. With a dramatic change, everything suddenly appears lush and green.
Day 13: Nyalam – Kathmandu (4,592 Feet / 1,400 Meters) - 92 Miles / 153 Kilometers
From Nyalam, drive the last 18 miles (30 kilometers) to the Friendship Bridge, spanning the Bhote Koshi River on the Chinese-Nepalese border. Say goodbye to your Tibetan guide and driver and walk to the Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari, where the Nepalese tour staff will meet you.
After completing the re-entry formalities, continue the drive to Kathmandu, which, depending on road and weather conditions, should take about 5 hours. In monsoon season, be prepared to walk stretches of this road due to landslips from higher ground.
14: Departure from Nepal
Transfer to Kathmandu Airport for your final departure.