Nepal and Tibet , Cultural Discovery

Arrive in Nepal’s capital city, Kathmandu (1400m), for sightseeing and acclimatizing before flying to Lhasa (3600m) in Tibet.  (This time is also spent obtaining visas for Tibet).

Spend time in and around Lhasa visiting monasteries, Potala Palace and temples.

You then start your long road journey over several high passes (5000m), surrounded by high peaks and lakes to the start of your short walk (or drive) to Everest base camp (5150m). Enjoy a train journey over the Tibetan Plateau to Lhasa before a return flight to Kathmandu.

OPTION to extend your trip by white water rafting, visiting Pokhara, Lumbini, Chitwan national park in search of rhino and other wildlife or trekking.

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Day 1

Arrive at Kathmandu airport (1400m), pass through immigration and meet up with your vehicle to take you to your hotel in the tourist area of Thamel, close to shops, money changers and plenty of restaurants.  Check in to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the day to relax.  Optional visit to The Garden of Dreams, near the Royal Palace

Day 2

Sightseeing in Kathmandu with your private guide and transport.  Visit Swoyambhunath a.k.a. Monkey Temple – the Buddhist temple on top of a hill, over-looking the city with many monkeys running around.  Access is up steps, with colourful pray flags flapping overhead.  Drive the short distance to Kathmandu Durbar Square and see the many historical buildings, some of which were badly damaged in the 2015 earthquake.  See various temples and chowks - if you are very lucky you might see the Kumari Goddess in her house – The Kumari Bahal.  Return to your hotel to relax for the remainder of the day

Day 3 

Sightseeing with your guide and private transport.  Visit Pashupatinath to see the cremation ghats, the Hindu temple which is the most important in Nepal for Hindus and the Holy men (Sadhus), before going to Bodhnath Stupa – the largest in Nepal and one of the biggest in the world.  Walk around the stupa, in a clockwise direction and visit one of the Gompas with their paintings and prayer wheels.  Return to your hotel to relax for the remainder of the day

Day 4

Sightseeing in Bhaktapur with your guide and transport.  The 3rd major town in the valley, about 1 hour east of Kathmandu.  Visit the squares, see the temples, 5 story buildings and walk in the narrow streets soaking up the atmosphere of this interesting area.  Return to your hotel

Day 5

Fly to Lhasa (3,700m).  The 1hr 10 min flight takes you past Mount Everest, Kanchenjunga, Makalu and over the southern Tibetan Plateau. Pass through immigration and meet up with your driver, guide and private transport for your one hour 30-minute drive to Lhasa. Check in to your hotel in Lhasa for a 4-night stay and relax – your pace will be slow due to the altitude as you adjust to being at over 3500m

Day 6

Sightseeing in Lhasa - Potala Palace & Jokhang Temple - the principle landmarks of Tibet.  Walk up nearly 1000 steps to the main entrance of the White and Red Palaces and visit many rooms within the palace complex.  Jokhang Temple hums with pilgrims murmuring chants and spinning prayer wheels amongst the flickering yak butter candles.  Also visit The Dalai Lama's Summer Palace, Norbulingka, which is a shady retreat a short distance from the town 

Day 7

In the morning, travel 5 km north to one of the great monasteries of the Gelugpa, yellow hat order of monks.  Founded in 1419, Sera Monastery became famous for its Tantric teachings - its fame also comes in part from the active role it has played in Tibet's politics.  At Sera, the monks perform a clapping ritual which is good-natured, boisterous fun and all part of their Philosophy debates.  Later in the day, visit Drepung Monastery and see the colourfully painted rocks where monks spend solitary time.  Within the complex lies the Ganden Palace, home to the Dalai Lamas from the time it was founded by the 2nd Dalai Lama until the 5th Dalai Lama built Potala Palace

Day 8

Drive 40 kms north-east of Lhasa to Ganden (4500m) - the first Gelugpa Monastery is the main seat of this Buddhist group. The monastery lies in a hilly amphitheatre with superb views of the valleys around.  Walk around to the religious landmark of Drak Yerpa which has gained much of its fame for being a meditation retreat for great Tibetan Buddhist figureheads - Guru Rinpoche & King Songsten Gampo.  Return to Lhasa

Day 9

Drive to Samye, passing through the sand-dunes and seeing lovely landscapes.  Cross the broad Yarlung-Tsangpo River on the new bridge (known to us as the holy Bramahputra), to explore Tibet's first monastery, Samye Monastery – the main building with colourful chortens in the garden.  Built in 8th century, Samye Monastery compound is modelled to resemble the Buddhist conception of the universe and all the temples in the courtyard are cosmological symbols.  Overnight stay Zedang

Day 10

Head back west, partially retracing the route from yesterday, before turning south.  Drive alongside the Bramahputra River before starting to see snow-capped mountain peaks.  Start the ascent up the twisting road to the Kampa-La (4,794m) pass, with lots of colourful prayer flags, from where you can get the first glimpse of the stunning beauty of Yamdrok-tso (Turquoise) lake, one of the four holy lakes of Tibet.  Pass glaciers as you arrive at the Karo-La (5,010m) pass.  Superb scenery takes you on to your overnight stay in Gyantse – 3950m

Day 11

Morning visit to the Kumbum Chorten (influenced by Nepalese and Indian design) and Pelkor Chode 

Monastery at Gyantse.  Drive for about 2 hours, through agricultural and hilly landscapes to reach Shigatse (3,900m) - the 2nd city in Tibet (after Lhasa) in size and prominence.  Afternoon sightseeing to Tashilhunpo Monastery to see the Chapel of Maitreya, which is home to an 28m tall Buddha coated in 275 kgs of gold, and the Palace of the Panchen Lama.  Option – to walk around the perimeter of the monastery following all the prayer wheels as you go, with great views of the old and new areas of the city.  Overnight in Shi-gatse

Day 12

Drive to the monastic town of Sakya (4,280 m), reached in about 3hrs crossing the Tropu La (4,950 m).  Have lunch in a local restaurant before visiting the monastery.  Return to the main road and head west for Xegar, crossing the Lhakpa La pass (5,200 m) at the entrance to Qomolangma (Everest in Tibetan) National 

Nature Reserve with views down in to the valley.  Continue to the little town of Shegar/Xegar for your 2-night stay

Day 13

Today you head for the mountains, driving up the zig-zagging road to the Kya Wy Lha high pass at 5198m with views of the Himalayan range, where four, 8000+m high peaks including Mount Everest can be seen.  Arrive at Rongphu, home to the highest monastery in the world at 4980m and have views of the northern face of Mount Everest (locally known as Qomolangma).  Drive for about 15 minutes, up the newly tarmac road to Base Camp, where you are surrounded by mountains.  Return to your hotel in Shegar/Xegar

Day 14

Return to Shigatse and take the train (approx. 3-hour journey) through the vast scenic plateau that is Tibet to your overnight stay in Lhasa

Day 15

Your tour of Tibet ends as you are transferred to the airport for your scenic flight back to Kathmandu.  Check in to your hotel in Thamel

Day 16 

Tour ends – transfer to airport or extend your trip with trekking, walking, rafting or sightseeing in Nepal


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