Do not hesitage to give us a call.
A private departure that begins with a magnificent flight across the Himalayan chain where several days are spent exploring the ‘forbidden’ city of Lhasa, including a visit to the Potala Palace, the winter residence of the Dalai Lama. This is followed by an overland drive across the Tibetan plateau, the highest country in the world, visiting ancient monasteries and seldom-visited villages, to the Nepal-Tibet border.
|Price (per person)||$1,825|
|Internal airfare (per person)||N/a (subject to change)|
Accommodation in double sharing room as per hotels mentioned above or in similar category
All transfers by air conditioned vehicle
Entrance fees to monasteries & monuments as per program
Current Government Taxes
– International airfare from/to USA (we will be glad to help you arrange your flights)
Visa fee, Tibet permit
Tips to the guide, driver, and restaurants
Porterage at hotels/airport
Any meals other than breakfast
Any expenses of personal nature such as, drinks, laundry, telephone calls, insurance, camera fees, excess baggage, emergency / medical cost etc.
Any increase in costs beyond our control such as fuel and airfare increase, additional Government taxes etc.
Take the magnificent flight across the Himalayas to Lhasa. Upon arrival met and transferred to the city of Lhasa and the Lhasa/Himalaya Hotel.
The city’s streets are narrow, with whitewashed stone houses whose walls slope inwards as they rise. Windows are framed in black trapezoids, with protruding fan-shaped eaves above. Many houses have brightly painted woodwork. In contrast ‘New Lhasa’, the Chinese-built district, was constructed in the last thirty years around the base of the Potala. It is characterized by straight, broad streets and utilitarian buildings that house Chinese-style department stores and all kinds of government houses. The ‘Revolutionary Museum’ below the Potala displays evidence of the economic and social change that China has brought about since her invasion. In spite of its forced pace of modernization, Lhasa has not yet lost its soul. It remains a friendly city where a Tibetan will always return your smile.
Overnight in Lhasa.
We visit Drepung monastery which lies a few kilometers west of Lhasa. Drepung means ‘Rice Heap’, so-called because of the jumble of white buildings piled up against the slope of Mount Gyengbuwudze. Drepung was the biggest and richest monastery in Tibet and housed the ‘Nechung’, the State Oracle. Founded in 1416 by a disciple of Tsongkhapa it had over ten thousand monks and governed seven hundred subsidiary monasteries. The monastery was divided into four Tantric Colleges which, at the highest level, specialised in different branches of knowledge. Each had its own chanting hall, dormitories, kitchens and offices. The entire monastic community assembled only for special ceremonies. Murals decorate many of the walls. Today, about four hundred monks and novices live there, and their orchards turn a reasonable profit.
In the afternoon we visit Sera monastery. Sera meaning ‘Merciful Hail’ and lies on the northern edge of Lhasa. Its name denotes its rivalry with the Drepung since hail destroys rice. Founded in 1419 by one of Tsongkhapa’s eight disciples, it became famous for its tantric teachings. The warrior monks of Sera, the ‘Dob-Dobs’, were admired as athletes but also feared. A central lane and fairly simple layout make Sera easy to explore. A long driveway leads up to the monastery. Sera had three colleges but the chanting halls and chapels seem dark and more demonic. Today it houses some three hundred monks and some of its buildings include farms.
We visit the Potala Palace. This architectural wonder – a spectacular edifice whose gold roofs soar high above the town and rise more than 300 meters above the valley floor – can be seen from in all directions for miles around. The present Potala was built mainly in the Fifth Dalai Lama’s reign between 1645 – 1693. Until recently it remained the centre of political and religious power for the Dalai Lamas. With over one thousand rooms, it contained the living quarters of the Dalai Lamas while they lived, and their magnificent golden tombs when they died. Tegents, tutors and other high lamas had apartments. A huge printing house and a seminary was run by the elite order of monks in order to train the government officials. Hundreds of elaborately decorated chapels and shrines, halls and corridors contain thousands of gilded statues – Tibet’s pantheon of Buddhas, Boddisattvas, saints and demons. Today the Potala is a state museum with 35 caretaker-monks, but to many thousands of Tibetan pilgrims it remains a beloved shrine (note that the Potala Palace is closed on Sundays).
In the afternoon we visit Norbulingka and Jokhang monasteries. Norbulingka – the Jewel Park – contains the summer palaces of the 13th and 14th Dalai Lamas and is characterised by its spacious walled garden, the main throne hall, an audience hall, the Dalai Lama’s private apartment and his mother’s apartment. Jokhang, the spiritual centre of Tibet, is a most holy place and has been a focal point for millions of Tibetan pilgrims. The oldest part of the building dates back from the 7th century AD. Legend says that Songtsen Gampo, who built the temple, threw his ring into the air, promising to build a temple wherever it landed. The ring fell into a lake and struck a rock whereupon a white stupa miraculously appeared – an auspicious sign. Even today a pool exists under the Jokhang’s main courtyard.
Drive to Gyantse (159mi – approximately 7-8 hours).
Cross Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) River bridge and shortly begin climb to Kampo La, a pass reaching 4794m/15728 ft. Watch for colorful yaks and horses ploughing the fields. Descend to the beautiful holy lake of Yamzhog Yumco. Then climb this pass of Karo La Solom (5,011m/16,437′) and admire the glacier of Noijinkangsang Peak (7191m/23,586’). Descend to a beautiful emerald green Lake that has been formed by a hydro electric scheme before climbing yet another pass of 4,500m/14,760’ before descending into Gyantse.
Gyantse, altitude 3,800 m/12,465′, is about 130mi from Lhasa and was once Tibet’s third most important city. In former times it was a fort, the centre of Tibet’s wool trade and a gateway to the outside world. A high rocky ridge topped by a ruined fortress runs through the middle of Gyantse, dividing it into two parts. On the west is a large monastery complex and part of the original city with a main market street.
There is a major crossroads at the southeast edge of Gyantse. The right hand turn leads into the suburbs and the left hand road turning southwards leads a traveller either to Shigatse and Nepal or to Yadong and India. Overnight Gyantse Hotel.
Drive to Shigatse (56mi approximately 2-3 hours).
A flat bumpy rides through an agricultural region brings one to Shigatse.
Shigatse lies at an altitude of 3,900m/12,800′, is Tibet’s second largest city and the administrative centre of a vast area. Shigatse stands near the confluence of the Yarlong Tsangpo and Nyangchu rivers and is one of Tibet’s richest farming areas.
The was previously both a stronghold and a monastery city and forms a horseshoe around a rocky prominence that was formerly topped by an awesome fortress. At the western tip, beneath Mt. Dormari, lies Tashilhunpo monastery, seat of the Panchen Lamas and one of Tibet’s greatest monasteries.
Visit Tashilhunpo monastery
TASHILHUNPO – meaning “Heap of Glory”, the seat of the Panchen Lamas lies at the foot of Mt. Dormari and is today one of Tibet’s most active monasteries. Founded in 1447, its enlargement took place mostly under the Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Panchen Lamas.
Tashilhunpo once had over 4000 monks and was organized like Lhasa’s great monasteries. It had four tantric colleges, each with its own abbot. After the death of the Panchen Lama, the abbots led the search for his infant reincarnation, under the control of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa. Tashilhunpo was disbanded as a monastery by the Chinese army in 1960 while the Panchen Lama was absent. Today there are 610 monks in Tashilhunpo. Overnight in Shigatse.
Drive to Xegar (143mi – approximately 7-8 hours)
A long drive but spectacular scenery. Road conditions might allow us to detour to one of Tibet’s oldest and most important Bon Po monasteries at Sakya. In the afternoon cross the a 5000m/14,404′ pass before reaching Xegar.
Drive to Zangmu (approximately 8 hours)
This has to be one of the most spectacular drives in the world. The road follows a gradual ascent up to the Lalung Leh at about 5000m/16,404′ – from here it is usually possible to see Everest, Cho Oyu, Makalu, Lhotse and Shishapangma – five of the world’s highest mountains. All of their summits reach for more than 8000m/26,247′ into the sky. The road then descends again before a crossing of the Nyalam pass is required that provides spectacular views of the Jugal Himal before finally descending through the Himalaya range and down into the beautiful, deep valley of the Bhote Khosi.
After having cleared Chinese immigration and customs descend through “no-man’s-land” down to the Friendship bridge where one will have to clear Nepal immigration. From here Nepalese vehicles will be awaiting us for approximate 5 hour drive to Kathmandu.