01Arrival in Kathmandu
Upon arrival in Kathmandu you will be met and assisted by an Escape 2 Nepal representative and transferred to you to the Shivapuri Heights Cottage.
Shivapuri Heights Cottage is located in 2 Acres of land at an altitude of 6,000 feet on the edge of the protected Shivapuri National Park, looking down into the Kathmandu Valley.
The cottage is an ideal escape from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu whilst having the advantage of being only 30 minutes drive plus a short walk away from the city centre.
02Leisure day in Kathmandu
Leisure day in Kathmandu with own activities. Optional sightseeing is available on request.
This day will also be used for processing your Tibet visa and for a trek briefing. Gentle hikes are also available from the Cottage.
Overnight at Shivapuri Heights Cottage.
03Leisure day in Kathmandu
Leisure day in Kathmandu with own activities. Overnight at Shivapuri Heights Cottage.
04Fly Kathmandu - Tibet
After breakfast transfer for a flight to Tibet Lhasa upon arrival you will be met by your Tibetan representative, & transferred to the Hotel Kyichu. The hotel is one of Lhasa’s better properties with friendly family-style service. Today is a day to relax and adjust to the high altitude.
Overnight at Kyichu Hotel/ Dhodgu Hotel Or similar Standard Hotel (BB).
05Exploration of Lhasa
In Lhasa, you spend two days exploring, joining pilgrims who gather at the candle-lit altars of the Jokhang (Tibet’s most sacred temple), walking in the Barkhor, a pilgrimage circuit that encircles the Jokhang, and visiting some of the massive, ancient monasteries of the Lhasa Valley. Overnight at Kyichu Hotel/ Dhodgu Hotel Or similar Standard Hotel (BB).
Breakfast each day and see our recommendations for a variety of restaurants located close to the hotel.
06Exploration of Lhasa
Lhasa & the Lhasa Valley: Tibet’s enormous Potala Palace is a striking thousand-room monument that dominates the Lhasa skyline. From the roofs of the Potala, the view over Lhasa is unforgettable, and it is on the roof terraces that you can visit the Dalai Lama’s residences and courtyard. Eight Dalai Lamas are buried in this famous building.
The original parts of the Potala date back to the 7th century. Also visit Drepung Monastery, a former Buddhist university cradled in rock ridges five miles west of Lhasa. Drepung was once the largest and most powerful of the six great Gelugpa religious centers in Tibet. The kora (pilgrim trail circling a sacred place) around Drepung offers a panoramic one-hour walk with views of the Lhasa Valley and the monastery grounds. There is always something interesting to observe at Tibetan monasteries and temples, and likely to see monks engaging in ritual philosophical debates or chanting prayers and pilgrims in their devotional activities. Visit the Jokhang, Tibet’s most sacred temple, a place that draws multitudes of pilgrims from all over the country. It houses Tibet’s most revered statue, a magnificent image of Jowo Sakyamuni. Walk in the Barkhor, a pilgrimage circuit that encircles the Jokhang and serves as Lhasa’s central bazaar, where you will find everything from precious Kham amber to prayer flags. One afternoon, visit Norbulingka (“Jewel Park”), official summer residence for the Dalai Lamas and their families since the mid-18th century. Norbulingka is a park-like enclave surrounded by trees, ponds, and pavilions on the outskirts of Lhasa.
The current Dalai Lama lived here until he fled to India in 1959 and his residential quarters have been left untouched, remaining furnished they were at that time.
07Visit to Ganden Monastery / Return to Lhasa
Today a full-day journey brings us to Ganden (13,700'), a stunning monastic city where the His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, studied as a youth. Ganden was founded as a cave hermitage in 1409 and was once one of the three great religious centers of the Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Though it was sacked by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution of 1966, much has been beautifully reconstructed and Ganden remains a fantastic sight—a city dramatically set in a high, natural amphitheater above the Lhasa River. We explore Ganden’s temples and have a chance to walk the pilgrim kora, which takes about 1.5 hours. A kora is always walked clockwise, and along the way we meet groups of Tibetans pilgrims performing various religious rituals to earn spiritual merit. Our picnic lunch today is on the monastery’s kora route, with a spectacular view down into the Kyi Chu Valley and beyond to the snowy, 23,000-foot summits of the Nyenchen Thanglha peaks. Those choose to can enjoy an optional two- or three-hour hike into the steep grasslands of Ongo Ri, high above the kora route (weather permitting).
Return to Lhasa for overnight.
08Drive to the Yarlung Valley / Tsedang
Depart the Holy City and head out across the vast Tibetan Plateau to the beautiful Yarlung Valley, cradle of Tibetan civilization. It was from this valley in the 7th century that the early Tibetan kings unified Tibet. We visit the massive burial mounds of the Tibetan kings at Chongye. We also visit the ruined hilltop fortress of Yumbu Lakhang, with a stop en route at Trandruk, one of the earliest Buddhist monasteries in Tibet. Yumbu Lakhang, considered the oldest building in Tibet, is perched on a crag like a medieval European castle.
Overnight at a comfortable hotel in the regional town of Tsetang (BLD).
09Visit to Samye / return to Tsetang
A full day’s excursion in the Yarlung Valley brings us to 8th century Samye, Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery, whose remarkable murals are an encyclopedic representation of Tibetan culture and religion. A visit to this monastery is a special treat because we take a 1.5-hour ferry ride across the sprawling Tsongpo River to get there (we recommend you bring a fleece jacket and windbreaker for the ride). The ferry boats often carry Tibetan pilgrims, giving us a chance to mingle with the local people. Samye’s fantastic architecture mirrors the structure of the universe according to Buddhist cosmology. The vibrant, wellpreserved murals offer a rare glimpse of the original artistry of the master mural painters who once flourished in Tibet. Return to Tsetang for overnight.
Overnight at a comfortable hotel in the regional town of Tsetang (BLD).
10Drive from Tsetang to Yamdrok Lake to Gyantse .
Head further to the historic outpost of Gyantse, crossing two high passes and visiting Yamdrok Lake (“Jade Lake”), one of the three largest lakes in Tibet and an oasis for migrating wildlife in certain seasons. There are dozens of islets within the lake on which flocks of birds roost. During some seasons, herders ferry their sheep across to these islets for safe grazing, since there are no predators on the islands. Yamdrok is a holy lake and a site of pilgrimage, so one of the islets.
Overnight at a comfortable hotel in the regional town of Gyantse (BLD).
11Visit the Gyantse Kumbum and drive to Shigatse
This morning we explore Gyantse Kumbum, the town’s famous mandala-shaped monastery for a chance to see the mastery of the famed 15th century Newari artisans of Nepal. Because of Tibet’s cold, dry climate, the murals are well preserved, whereas in Nepal, the monsoon and humidity has damaged many of them. Magnificent and gold-capped Gyantse Kumbum has two mysterious eyes painted on its circular upper walls. Nearby is the well-preserved Pelkor Chode Monastery, founded in 1418. Later we drive across the Tibetan Plateau passing through high plains where nomads tend herds of yaks. There are ancient, ruined forts perched on distant hilltops and we see an occasional small villages with colorful prayer flags fluttering from atop the houses. We arrive at Shigatse, the commercial and political center of Tsang Province. We have the late afternoon free to explore the local market, filled with Tibetan artifacts, jewelry, cloth, and leather.
Visit Tashilumpho Monastery/Lhatse Sprawled across the foot of Nizer Ri Mountain, gold-topped Tashilumpho is an impressive complex of temples and monks' residences. Founded in the 15th century, it is one of Tibet’s most vibrant and breathtaking monasteries, and is the seat of the Panchen Lama. We explore the elaborate temple and monastery complex and enjoy watching the pilgrim activity around the monastery.
Overnight at a comfortable hotel in the regional town of Shigatse (BLD).
12Drive from Shigatse to Sakya Monastery
From Shigatse we head West across the Tibetan Plateau and drive for approximately 4-5 hours“. Sakya, meaning "Grey Soil" in Tibetan since the soil surrounding it is grey; its walls were painted in red, white and grey strips, which represent Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani respectively. Sakya Monastery, reputed as the "Second Dunhuang", is the first Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. It occupies 14,700 square km.
Sakya Monastery has 900 years history and the Sakya Sect ruled Tibet for more than 70 years. So the monastery has a colossal collection of highly valuable art pieces, including abundance of hand written sutra that is said that copied by all the Tibetan calligraphists organized by Basiba. Sakya’s collection of treasures also contains 3,000 pieces of sutras that have thousands of years history.
Overnight at a comfortable hotel in the regional town of Shakya (BLD).
13Drive to New Tingri ( Shegar) 4200m/13776ft
Driving from Shigatse to Shegar takes approx 6/7 hours. You will be crossing one of the highest Thongla Pass (5220) of the tour; you are likely to come across many nomads and their yaks. Overnight at a comfortable hotel in the regional town of Shegar (BLD).
14Drive to Rongbuk Monastery
Continue to descend through the valley as far as the “environment vehicles”. From here we transfer to the government vehicles and continue on for an hour or so to spectacularly situated Dza Rongphu Monastery. Dza Rongphu is acclaimed as the highest monastery in the world and may have been the inspiration for James Hilton's classic novel, Lost Horizon. The Tibetan name for Everest is Chomolungma, often translated as "Abode of the Mother Goddess of the Universe." Reasonably fit hikers can be dropped off along the way at Pasum and take an optional two-hour hike (weather permitting) to Dza Rongphu on the motor road through the Rongbuk Valley. From our camp at Dza Rongphu Monastery (16,500'), we gaze at the icy ramparts where the legendary British mountaineers Mallory and Irvine disappeared into the mists of history. The legend of Mallory and Irvine is one of mountaineering's enduring myths. The question of whether they died climbing up or down from the summit has intrigued mountaineers for 75 years.
Overnight at a the basic hotel close to Rongbuk Monastery (BLD).
15Visit to Everest Base Camp & drive to Old Tingri
Drive or walk up to Everest Base Camp for stunning views of the sheer North Face of the world’s highest peak. The Rongbuk Glacier is an impressive frozen river of ice, and panoramas of the glacier with Everest as a backdrop are some of the most dramatic in all the Himalayas. Those who want to can hike (about two hours) from camp up to Everest Base Camp instead of driving, or can drive up and hike back to hotel.
After lunch we drive from Rongbuk to Old Tingri where there is a spectacular views of Cho Oyu and Everest. Overnight at a comfortable hotel in the regional town of Old Tingri (BLD).
16Drive Old Tingri/ Lalung La / Shishapangma / Nyalam/ Zhangmu
You will drive past Tingri crossing Lalung La pass at 5124m and Shung La pass at 5200m. Savoring the enchanting views of the surrounding peaks of Shisapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar, you descend from the arid Tibetan Plateau to verdant Zhangmu on the Nepalese border. After driving for 181 km, you find yourself amidst the lush and verdant vegetation of Zhangmu at 2300 meter.
Overnight at a comfortable hotel in Zhangmu (BLD).
17Zhangmu Tibet / Kathmandu, Nepal
After breakfast, cross the Friendship Bridge into Kodari, Nepal and drive into Kathmandu via Araniko highway. By now, you will have entered into a completely different landscape one which is vastly different from just where you were a few days ago. The return drive to Kathmandu takes approximately 4-5 hours.
Overnight at Shivapuri Heights Cottage.
18Leisure day in Kathmandu
Leisure day in Kathmandu with own activities.(Sightseeing etc can be arrange at an extra cost).
Overnight at the Shivapuri Heights Cottage.
Transfer to the International airport for your final departure from Kathmandu.