- Ground Operators
Rooftop of the Potala Palace
Day 2 of itinerary
Potala view from Jokhang roof
Day 3 of itinerary
Debating monks, Sera Monastery Day 4 of itinerary
Barkor bazaar, Lhasa Day 5 of itinerary
Yamdruk Lake - Day 6 of itinerary
Karo La Glacier Day 6 of itinerary
Kumbum Chorten, Gyantse Day 7 of itinerary
Hike to Ngor Monastery Day 8 of itinerary
Sunrise on Everest from Pang La Day 10 of itinerary
North face of Everest - Days 10, 11 of itinerary
Tingri plains - Day 11 of itinerary
n the Roof of the World, locked away for centuries, Tibet has always held a unique place in the human imagination, conjuring an unearthly realm beyond our reach. What causes our enduring fascination with Tibet? Surely its inaccessibility, mysterious gimps, lunar landscape and tenacious people transfix us. In this isolated land cut off from the world for all but the last century, beauty and strangeness appear in equal measure. Frozen peaks and windy flatlands constitute the landscape of this high desert plateau. The annals of great travel writing are full of the accounts of early explorers, Father Desideri, Abbe Huc, Csoma de Koros, Sven Hedin, Fosco Maraini, Younghusband, Kingdom Ward, dazzled by what they saw, described Tibet in superlatives, just as do travelers of today.
Our award winning itinerary (“Trip of a Lifetime,” National Geographic Traveler, 2011) is designed to touch the deep spiritual, natural, and cultural beauty and history of this region. We begin our journey of Tibet with four days exploring Lhasa, the magical capital of Tibet. Here, we visit the majestic Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, secluded monasteries, and other fascinating sites. Leaving Lhasa, we explore the turquoise waters of Yamdruk Lake on our way to Gyantse to explore the Kumbum chörten. Continuing via Shigatse and the monastery at Tashilhunpo, home of the Panchen Lamas, we reach the North Face of Everest. After spending a night near Everest base camp in a small lodge, visiting the local temple and enjoying sunset on Everest, we drive down a dramatic gorge to Zhangmu on the border of Nepal. From here, we travel to the colorful city of Kathmandu, Nepal, where we end our tour.
Your guide on this journey will be Sanjay Saxena who has been travelling across Tibet since the 1980’s. He will introduce you to his friends along way, visit secluded rooms in monasteries, regal you with stories of the early (and recent) Tibet explorers and help you understand the cultural heritage and the religion of the Tibetan people.
Demanding High Altitude Touring
High-Altitude touring generally indicates that the majority of the tour spends time above 10,000 feet and participants must stay on their feet for 4-6 hours a day in order to partake in all tour activities. The itinerary relies on long overland journeys over rough terrain (with some dirt roads). On some days, the drives may be as long as 6-8 hours. Because of the nature of mountain roads, which are subject to closures due to landslides, it may be necessary to revise our schedule before or during the trip. (In that event, we will keep all travelers advised of the latest information we obtain.) Bathroom facilities during these long drives are frequently nonexistent and limit one’s privacy to a nearby tree or rock. Anyone who would be uncomfortable in such a situation should not consider this trip.
High Altitude: Please note that we will reach altitudes of more than 17,000 feet as we drive over high passes, with sleeping elevations consistently above 11,500 feet. This tour is subject to mountain weather (snowfall, storms, ice, rain, wind) and other high mountain hazards. Circumstances may mean that some days could be long and arduous for some people.
Anyone with a history of medical problems, particularly cardiac or respiratory, should consult a doctor before considering this tour. A release of liability and a medical certificate, signed by a physician, will be required from all participants.
Flexibility, a good sense of humor, and an adventurous spirit are essential on this tour.
Day 1, October 10: Arrive Chengdu
You will be met on arrival and transferred to our hotel.
Day 2, October 11: To Lhasa
This morning, our group takes the sunrise flight from Chengdu to Gongkar, home to Tibet’s international airport. When the weather is clear, this flight offers magical panoramic mountain views, including the 24,783-foot Minya Konka and the mighty Namche Barwa, at 25, 439 feet. Upon arrival in Gongkar, we will be met and transferred to our hotel in Lhasa.
Days 3 – 5, October 12, 13, & 14: Exploring Lhasa
The goal of many an intrepid traveler and explorer, the “forbidden city” of Lhasa will reveal its unique character and many mysteries as we visit its most significant historical and cultural sites. We have three days to leisurely explore and photograph Lhasa, while allowing our bodies to acclimate to the high elevation. In addition to the Potala Palace, we will also visit Drepung and Nechung monasteries to the northwest, and Sera Monastery to the northeast. We will make a pilgrimage to the Jokhang, Tibet’s most sacred religious temple. The roof of the Jokhang, with its wonderful golden gables and carvings, offers a magnificent view of the Potala. The Barkhor—a maze-like warren of shops and stalls that surrounds the Jokhang—will beckon us to join the Tibetans who travel here to pay homage as they circumambulate the sacred shrine.
Day 6, October 15: To Gyantse
After an unforgettable four days in Lhasa, we set out toward Gyantse via the turquoise waters of Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s four great sacred lakes. As we drive over the 16,000-foot Karo La pass, we will take an hour-long acclimatization hike toward Karo glacier.
Yeti Gyantse Hotel
Day 7, October 16: To Shigatse
This morning we explore the beautiful Kumbum stupa (the Temple of the Hundred Thousand Buddhas), one of the greatest buildings in the Tibetan Buddhist world—renowned both for its religious significance and dramatic architectural splendor. After arriving in Shigatse (Tibet’s second-largest city), we will visit Tashilhunpo Monastery, home to the Panchen Lamas.
Chomo Langdzong Hotel
Day 8, October 17: Day Hike to Ngor Monastery
Today is another acclimatization day as we take a lovely hike through the Tibetan countryside and over a pass to the rarely visited Ngor Monastery. We will be back in Shigatse in the late afternoon, with the balance of the day at your leisure.
Chomo Langdzong Hotel
Day 9, October 18: To Shegar
This is a travel day, as we leave the hustle and bustle of Shigatse and head out across the starkly beautiful Tibetan Plateau toward our destination, the town of Shegar.
Day 10, October 19: To Rongbuk & Everest
A pre-dawn departure brings to Pang La—a 17,000-foot-high pass offering a panoramic view—in time to see the sunrise over the Himalaya. Our descent brings us to a one-of-a-kind destination: base camp at the north face of the mighty Everest, at 29,017 feet the world’s tallest mountain peak. We watch the sunset on Everest.
Day 11, October 20: To Zhangmu
After sunrise on Everest, we leave the majestic north face behind as we head to Nepal. We begin the precipitous drop in elevation—9,000 feet in total—as we reach the frontier town of Zhangmu, elevation 7,500 feet.
Day 12, October 21: To Kathmandu
This morning we clear customs and cross the Friendship Bridge into Nepal. We then drive to legendary Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city, where we visit Durbar Square, Hanuman Dhoka, and the bazaars of old Kathmandu. Tonight we enjoy a splendid Farewell Dinner.
Yak & Yeti Hotel
Day 13, October 22: Depart Kathmandu
We are transferred to Kathmandu’s airport in time for our return flights home.
2016 Trip Dates: October 10 – 22, 2016
Trip Duration: 13 days / 12 nights
Starting City: Chengdu, China (Airport Code – CTU)
Ending City: Kathmandu, Nepal (Airport Code – KTM)
2016 Land Cost
6 + participants: $5,880 per person
Single Supplement: $650
Minimum: 6 participants
Maximum: 10 participants
Internal China Airfare (subject to change by airline)
Chengdu – Lhasa: $280
Not Included in Land Cost
• International airfare to/from Asia
• All internal Asia airfare (listed separately)
• Movie and video camera fees
• Items of a personal nature, such as alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone calls, etc.
• Gratuities to Tour Manager
• Trip cancellation, travel delay, or baggage insurance.
(Note: This optional coverage is highly recommended and can be purchased through TourDirect)
At TourDirect, we will assist you in obtaining the necessary Visa and any other travel permits required for your journey, all done through our Visa Service Partner. Detailed Visa instructions, with application forms, will be included in your Pre-Departure Packet.
You must have a valid passport whose expiration date is beyond 6 months from the date of your return to the U.S. The passport must also have at least 2 blank pages for each country that you will be visiting in Asia.
Tibet/China: A China Tourist Visa is required for all foreigners traveling to Tibet. China Visas are NOT granted on arrival and must be obtained prior to departure from your home country. A special “Tibet Travel” permit is also required for travel to Tibet, which will be obtained on your behalf by TourDirect.
Nepal: Visas on arrival are granted to all nationals. Visas may also be procured prior to departure from your home country.
No immunizations are required for entry into China/Tibet or Nepal, or to return to the U.S. However, proof of yellow fever vaccination is required if you are coming from (or have recently visited) a country that has risk of yellow fever. Several immunizations are recommended by the U.S. Center for Disease Control.
A copy of the CDC’s recommended immunization list and additional health information will be included in our Pre-Departure Packet.
High Altitude: Please note that we will reach altitudes of more than 17,000 feet on this tour with sleeping elevation above 12,000 feet. Anyone with a history of medical problems, particularly cardiac or respiratory, should consult a doctor before considering this tour. A medical certificate, signed by a physician, will be required from all participants.
Please let us know if you wish to arrive early to walk on the Great Wall (Beijing), see the pandas (Chengdu), or extend your stay in Nepal to explore Kathmandu Valley. Extensions to the neighboring countries of Bhutan or India are also possible.
– Bill B, FL
– Caroline H, CO
TourDirect connects you to the world’s best Ground Operators, giving you direct control of your tour, with ground operations at the high quality that you desire. All Ground Operators are tested, vetted by our Management team and comply with our Operational Standards.
179 Drakewood Place, Novato, CA 94947 USA
Ground Operators are local companies that provide the actual travel services in a destination. Typically, they own vehicles, employ guides, and negotiate special rates with hotels, combining these and other elements to create a quality full-service experience.