True to its nickname, “the Roof of the world”, Tibet is the highest plateau in the world with an average altitude in excess of 3500 meters. Lying to the north of the great Himalayan range which separates it from its neighbors, India, Nepal and Bhutan, Tibet is more or less an untamed land of nomads (drokpas), monasteries, yaks, sand dunes and high altitude desert that goes as far as our eyes can take it.
On this Tibet overland tour you have 4 days/3 nights in Lhasa to acclimatize and to absorb the exoticism of Tibetan heritage and to explore this history-laden city to its core. You will be expertly guided around the most significant and ancient Gompas (monasteries) of Lhasa, Gyantse & Shigatse by your Tibetan guide, who will illuminate you with the knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism and mysticism. With its spectacular mountain scenery and rich Buddhist culture, Tibet would certainly be a unique mystical destination to visit.
You drive down in a luxury Toyota land cruiser 4 WD passing through small Tibetan settlements where you get upfront views right from your vehicle of nomadic herdsmen wandering across the wide arid plains amidst a backdrop of awe-inspiring mountain peaks. A special highlight of this trip is the visit to Everest Base Camp where you will be rewarded with panoramic and breath-taking views of Mount Everest from the north side. This overland tour will be a mystical delight that will be remembered by the fireside in many winters to come.
You will be met at Gonggar Airport by your Tibetan guide. After immigration formalities, you will be driven to Lhasa (3650m). It takes around 45 minutes to reach the old city. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude. Note: There is no fixed program arranged for today. .
After breakfast, you will be briefed on the day’s program. An experienced guide will take you on a tour to Sera Monastery, Norbulingka and Barkhor Square. At the famous Sera Monastery, you will get an insight into the important aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. You will also pay a visit to Norbulingka, the summer retreat of Dalai Lama. Completed in 1956, the handsome building is ornately decorated with Tibetan carvings and paintings. Jokhang temple provides yet another glimpse of the rich Tibetan cultural heritage. You will also get the chance to stroll around the busy Barkhor Square, the nerve centre of Lhasa. After the day’s tour, you will be escorted back to your hotel..
After an early breakfast, you will be escorted by your guide to the majestic Potala Palace. The imposing structure of the palace dominates the landscape of Lhasa. As you are guided through the ancient chambers of the palace, you get to see Tibetan art at its best. The Potala Palace has a vast array of intricate Tibetan murals and beautiful statues. You will also get to view the tombs of the eight Dalai Lamas. Later in the day you will visit the beautifully landscaped Drepung Monastery where you can observe nuns and monks chanting and performing religious discourses. After the day’s tour is over, you are escorted back to your hotel for a well- earned rest. Note: Since only a limited number of visitors are allowed inside the Potala palace every day, the order of sightseeing places will be decided upon by your guide. .
This day is for you to spend as per your wish. Explore and soak in the sights and sounds of the old city, revisit your favorite monastery, go for souvenir hunting in the busy local market at Barkhor Square, or simply sit in a café and watch pilgrims as they circumambulate the Jokhang. There is also the option of an additional tour to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery and Tsurphu Monastery. But this additional tour will incur an extra cost..
Moving along the Friendship Highway, you will drive past Khamba La, at 4794m, with a brief halt to savor majestic views of Yamdrok-tso Lake and Nazin Kang Sa, standing at 7252m. On turning westwards, you will come across another pass, Karo La at 5045m. If you look at the road, you can see huge glaciers tumbling down. After driving 261 km, beautifully landscaped Tibetan villages become visible as you enter the town of Gyantse..
Gyantse prides on Gyantse Dzong and Kumbum. Gyantse Dzong, a 14th century historical fort, overlooks the entire Gyantse and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. Kumbum has a large gold-domed stupa and houses several chapels and Tibetan Buddhist murals. After exploring Gyantse, you take a 90 km drive and arrive at Shigatse (3900m), the second largest Tibetan city. Tashilhunpo Monastery, being one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet is the major attraction of Shigatse..
Today you will traverse along the Friendship Highway amidst picturesque landscape driving past small town of Lhatse and Gyamtso La pass at 5220m. As the route opens into plains, many monasteries and camps of nomadic herders become visible en route to Shegar. At Shegar, you will be accommodated at a comfortable local hotel..
Away from Shegar, you will drive to the south crossing Pang La pass at 5150m. Along the drive you can bask in the splendor of majestic views of snow-capped peaks from Makalu to Shishapangma. After driving for 68 km, you eventually reach Rongbuk at 5000m. You can then view spectacular sight of Mount Everest. You have the opportunity to explore Everest Base Camp (5200m.) The Base Camp itself is dry and barren, but the views of Everest more than compensates for it. It truly is an awe-inspiring place with the sheer north face of the highest mountain in the world towering above you. .
You will drive past the enchanting views of the surrounding peaks of Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar. After driving for 246 km, you find yourself in Kerung at 2450m meter. This is your last point in Tibet. .
Today, you will part with your Tibetan guide and driver and cross Nepal-China border. Then after, you will meet your Nepali representative who will escort you to Kathmandu. It will take about 7/8 hours to reach Kathmandu (175km)..
You take an adventurous drive by best 4WD land cruiser across the ‘roof of the world’ with an English speaking local Tibetan guide. A highlight of this trip is the visit to the Everest Base Camp at 5200m, from where you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Mount Everest’s north face. This trip does not involve any trekking or physical activity, unless you opt to walk 9 km (2 hours) from Rongbuk to the Everest Base Camp. Otherwise, it’s a short drive from Rongbuk to Everest Base Camp.
Tibet is connected by railway line from Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Xining and Shanghai.
Air China and Sichuan Airlines operate regular flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa. This flight offers spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Makalu and many other Himalayan giants. We will organize your pick up once you reach Lhasa and drive you to your hotel.
For Tibet, we organize a group visa, and in order to do this we will need a copy of your passport at least 30 days prior to the commencement of your trip. Tourism regulations in Tibet are subject to change without prior notice. As per current regulation Chinese Embassy issues visa from Monday to Friday (9am – 11am) in Kathmandu, and it takes 4 days for visa processing. We will need your original passport 1 day before the visa processing day.
VIA MAINLAND CHINA
Those entering Tibet from mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, Guilin etc) have to get Chinese visa from their country (please ask us for the best way of doing it).
We bring together a small group of like-minded people. During the trip, not only do they gain a memorable and insightful travel experience but also get an invaluable opportunity to interact with each other. On our fixed scheduled departures, group comprises of maximum 12 & minimum 2 persons. You are likely to join a group from different countries. Average age ranges from early 20s to mid 50s.For private trips, no minimum and maximum number apply.
If you would like to travel independently or with your friends, families and colleagues you are invited to choose any of our trips at your convenient time frame for any number of people (min 1 to max 100 at a time).
In Lhasa, accommodation will be at 3 star hotel. This hotel is renowned for its hospitability and ethnic Tibetan ambience. It is centrally located, just a few minutes’ walk from the Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Square. Elsewhere along the route, accommodation will be at the available hotels. If you would like to book a single room, please do inform us. A supplement charge will incur in that case.
We shall try our best to provide the best accommodation available but please do keep in mind that you are taking an adventure tour, and sometimes the arrangement may be basic. Traveling in Tibet is a fantastic experience but sometimes you have to put up with a bit of discomfort. To enjoy this trip you need to have an adventurous spirit and the ability to adapt to minor discomforts.
Throughout your time in Tibet you will be accompanied by an experienced English speaking Tibetan guide who will not only act as an interpreter but will also provide valuable insights into the Tibetan way of life.
After breakfast, we begin our day's drive at about 9am. We'll drive for several hours, stopping along the way for photographs or places of special interest, before stopping for lunch at around midday. After lunch we continue our journey, generally arriving at our destination by 3 or 4pm.
We use the best 4WD Land cruisers for the overland drive across the Tibetan highland. These vehicles are extremely sturdy, spacious and reliable and they make the journey as comfortable as possible.
Communication facilities in Tibet have been improved over the past few years. All the hotels we use in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse have international IDD phone and fax services. Phone calls can also be made from public booth in bigger towns. Internet cafes are also available at bigger towns, check with your guide for the best cyber cafes in each town.
These days, mobile phones work fine up to the Everest Base Camp. You can also have a roaming facility added to your mobile phone. If you buy a Chinese SIM card at the border, you could stay in touch with your family and friends most of the time. Please ask us for the latest facilities and schemes on Chinese mobile phones.
The best time of year to take the Lhasa- Everest BC tour is from April to October. During these months the average temperature ranges from 15C to 25C, with blue skies and clear weather. Though from July to August there can be odd shower during the day. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degree Celsius.
During the day a light shirt or jumper and lightweight pants will be suitable, but a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings.
Comprehensive list of equipments will be provided once you book your trip.
Besides Chinese Yuan, only US dollars can be accepted in Tibet. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China. While changing money at the local money exchange centers, please make sure that you are accompanied by your guide and do consult him as you may easily be duped with counterfeit notes.
Tibet is becoming more expensive every year. There are many shops in Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyantse that sell traditional Tibetan handicrafts. We recommend you to bring extra money to spend on souvenirs.
Tips are appreciated by your support team, after completion of the trip. The amount you give depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. For this you can allocate around 5% of your total tour cost.
Vaccination requirements change frequently, so we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. The main health consideration in high altitude is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), people take pills called ‘Diamox’. You can also use these pills after consulting with your doctor. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times. Chinese doctors will also be available at places like Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, and Shegar. Our itinerary will allow your body to acclimatize properly and to handle the low oxygen rate. We have been organizing trips in Tibet since 1998, and only negligible numbers have suffered from severe AMS.
In case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we hope will not happen, you shall be transferred to the nearest hospital. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back to Kathmandu.
One should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip that takes you into one of the remotest corners of the Tibetan plateau, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in the itinerary. Depending on the prevailing situation, the itinerary can be modified to some extent after consulting with your guide. However, the date of tour completion should always coincide with the original itinerary.
The Tibetans are classified as belonging to the Mongoloid family of people. They are probably descendents of a variety of nomadic tribes who migrated from the north and settled along sedentary cultivation of Tibet’s river valleys.
The Tibetans living within the borders of present day Tibet are easily identified by their distinctive dialects, social customs and dress. The Topas live in the highland regions (Lato and Ngari), the Tsangpas in the West Tibet (Tsang), the Upas live in central Tibet, the Horpas comes from the north (Nagchu/Jangtang), the Kongpowas from the south, the Khampas live in the east, the Amdowa in the northeast, and the Gyarongwa in the extreme east.
Travelers to Tibet inevitably find Tibetans to be friendly and possessing a great sense of humor. It is appreciated when you try and use Tibetan language when communicating with Tibetans. The further from Lhasa you travel, the more often is Tibetan used.
Religion is extremely important to the majority of Tibetans, and travelers should endeavor to respect their customs and beliefs. Always circumambulate Buddhist religious sites or monastery in a clockwise direction, and when in a monastery do not wear a hat, smoke or touch frescoes. In addition, refrain from climbing onto statues, mani stones or other sacred objects. Tibetans are warm and friendly people. Some speak a bit of English and are happy to have a chat with you. Don't photograph people without permission, and be aware that some locations prohibit photography.
Losar or “New Year” is celebrated in the month of February by the Tibetans. During Losar, Buddhist monks offer prayers for good health and prosperity at monasteries. People exchange various goods and gifts among them. Families organize feasts and perform dances.
Saga Dawa, celebrated on the 15th day of the fourth lunar month, is an occasion for outdoor operas. You can see many pilgrims at the Jokhang Temple and Mount Kailash.
Gyanste Damang (Gyantse Horse Racing and Archery), celebrated in May/June, honors the Tibetan marksmanship while riding at full tilt. Horse riding and archery competitions are held during this festival.
Samye Dholdhe Festival is celebrated in the month of June. Pilgrims and monks from distant monasteries journey to Samye to watch masked dances and obtain blessings of Buddha.
Zabling Chi Sang (World Incense Day) is a special day dedicated to pray for peace in the world.
Ganden Khi-khu (Ganden Thangka Festival) is celebrated in July to honor the founder of the Gelugpa sect.
Karma Durba (Bathing Week) is celebrated in August/ September. During the festival, the Lhasans flock to the waters of the Kyi Chu River which literally means “Changing the stars” in the belief that if they bathe all week, they will drive evil spirits away from their bodies and enjoy good health in the following year.
In addition to Everest Base Camp tour, we can organize trip extensions both within Nepal and other neighboring countries. You may want to try white water rafting or go on a jungle safari in the deep jungles of Chitwan or take a cultural tour. You may as well take a trip to India or Bhutan, whichever appeals more to you. Please ask us for details or check our website https://www.explorehimalaya.com/
I look forward to working with your team on future treks when I am able to return to Nepal - perhaps as September 2010 with my wife.
We work with the motto "Tourism for Development". Explore Himalaya Community Service Project was conceived to empower underprivileged segments of Nepal.