Nepal and Tibet: Rooftop of the World (10 days)
Our Rooftop of the World trip highlights the scenery and cultures of Nepal and Tibet overland from Kathmandu to Lhasa.
Travellers will experience Tibet of past and present, witness the customs and rituals of Tibetan Buddhism, see the palaces, monasteries and temples of this fabled land while marveling at the majesty of this remote land in the heart of the Himalayas.
Our departures to Tibet take travelers to a land that combines magnificent scenery and unique cultural and religious expression. Tranquil, serene and spectacular best describe the landscape of this pocket of Asia composed of mountains, glaciers, rivers and green valley. Tour highlights include Kathmandu, Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and Tsedang.
2017 Departure Dates & Costs
May 18, June 15, July 13, August 17, November 14, October 12, November 16 ~ 2017
Departures are monthly on a seat-in-coach with English speaking escort, on 2nd or 3rd Thursday from Kathmandu. Moderate 3 star accommodation.
Tour cost: $ 1,395 USD per person
Airfare Supplement: Kathmandu / Lhasa one way $ 495 USD or return fare $ 785 USD
Single Supplement: $ 425 USD
1 extra night pre-tour is suggested in Kathmandu to allow extra time for Tibet Visa processing. Add $ $ 35.00 USD per peson (based on twin share) for the extra night.
DAY 1 ARRIVE KATHMANDU
Arrive at the Kathmandu Tribhuwan International Airport where you will be met and transferred to the Hotel Shambala or similar. Balance of the day at leisure. 2 nights Hotel Yellow Pagoda or similar.
DAY 2 KATHMANDU (PATAN) (B)
City tour of the Nepalese capital with a visit to Durbar square and the many temples and palaces in the vicinity and sacred Swayambhunath temple on a hill top overlooking Kathmandu valley. Included is a visit to Hanuman Dhoka, the former Royal Palace, whose courtyard was the coronation site of the Shah Kings and contains some of the finest wood carvings you'll see anywhere. The 14'th century Jagannath Mandir is the oldest temple in the area. In the afternoon a visit to Patan and its Durbar square will be included (10 kilometers from Kathmandu). Additional days in Kathmandu may be added.
DAY 3 KATHMANDU/LHASA (B)
Early morning transfer to the airport for the 90 minute flight to Lhasa. On arrival you will be met and transferred to the hotel. Rest of the day is at lesiure to acclimatize to the high altitude. 3 nights hotel Yak or similar. Light walking may be done from the hotel.
DAY 4 LHASA (B)
Settle down for breakfast at the hotel before a morning briefing on todays programme, which takes in three of Lhasa’s most famous landmarks. Begin with a guided tour of the Jokhang Temple, whose origins can be traced back to the seventh century. It is considered to be the most sacred temple in Tibet. Jokhang temple is also known as the ‘House of the Buddha’. The temple is renowned for an irreplaceable collection of sculptures, prayer wheels and other religious items. Architecturally the complex blends Tibetan, Nepalese, Indian and Chinese styles that are spread out over its vast area. You will head out some 5km from central Lhasa to the Sera Monastery which has nestled at the foot of Mount Purbochok since 1419. Today some 500 monks reside here but at the height of its prestige as a scholarly retreat, as many as 6,000 would meditate debate and celebrate the teachings of Buddha. The most important structures inside the monastery are the Great Assembly Hall that has five sensational chapels, the three Zhacangs (Buddhist colleges) and the 29 khangtsens (dormitories). At the Great Assembly Hall you can observe the monks debating among themselves as they pitch their knowledge against each other. Head back to town to the Barkhor market where you can appreciate the colour and vibrancy of Lhasa life. Browse the stalls packed with myriad Tibetan handicrafts, Buddhist artefacts, carpets, paintings, spices etc. and maybe find a souvenir or two to take home.
DAY 5 LHASA (B)
The shadows of the Potala Palace looms large over Lhasa and after three days in the capital, the time has finally come to visit this 13-storey, 1,000-roomed fortress that crowns Marpo Ri (Red Mountain) rising more than 300 metres above the city. A limited number of visitors per day is allowed in the palace so the order of the sightseeing may change but the schedule is for the guided tour to take place after breakfast at the hotel. The Potala is the image not just of Lhasa but Tibet – a landmark that was known the world over despite the decades of isolation endured by the land. To explore the hundreds of halls and 10,000 shrines is an overpowering experience; a spiritual, cultural and educational journey into the very soul of this kingdom of heaven. As you are guided through the historic chambers of the palace, you will see Tibetan art at its best – just a fraction of the 200,000 statues here. The Potala has two main sections: the White Palace, which was the official residence of the Dalai Lama, and the Red Palace, which is dedicated to the study of Buddhism and prayer. In the White Palace, you can see the tombs of eight Dalai Lamas and the monks’ assembly hall. Lunch is at your own arrangement. The day’s other visit is to the Drepung Monastery, some 10km west of central Lhasa. The Dalai Lamas lived here until the fifth Dalai Lama built the Potala, and as such it boasts a wealth of treasures. This is a beautifully landscaped monastery and you can observe nuns and monks debating, chanting and performing religious discourses. After tour you will return to the hotel.
DAY 6 LHASA/GYANTSE (B) (265 km - 4 hours)
Rise up early for what will be an unforgettable journey. Head southwest along the friendship highway towards the 4,970 meter Khamba La Pass. Pause briefly to savour the views of sacred Lake Yamdrok and the 7,191 meter Mount Noijin Kangsang, whose snowcapped summit rises majestically behind the lake. Continue through the Karo La Pass to Gyantse, a historic Nyang Chu valley town nestling at the foot of a walled fortress (dzong) dating from the 14th century. Get a feel for this picturesque town, which despite the march of time has preserved a number of traditional dwellings. Arrive Gyantse (3950 m) and immediately leave for visit to Khumbhum Stupa, one of the largest and holiest of its kind in Tibet and Phalkor Monastery which is actually comprised of 16 monasteries of different sects, making it unique in Tibet. Kumbum means '100,000 holy images' and while the actual figures involved aren't anywhere as large, they are nonetheless impressive as the nine-storey stupa is built in the style of a 108-sided mandala and houses 112 chapels within (though just 23 are open to the public). Walk along the pathway flanked by golden prayer wheels that lead to the temple, and feel the spirituality that permeates this holy site, which is home to about 30 monks from three sects. Optional visit of Gyantse Fort (Dzong), historically significant and now a ruined museum, it is currently under renovation. Enjoy the panoramic views over the city and valley balcony of the fort. Overnight Hotel Yeti or similar.
DAY 7 GYANTSE/SHIGATSE (B) (90 km 1 hour)
After breakfast, bid farewll to Gyantse and take the friendship highway once more. Enroute to Shigatse take a sidetrip to visit the Shalu monastery. This thousand-year old retret was once the most prestigious monasteries for scholarly learning. Continue to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet and situated 3,900 metres above sea level. Shigatse is dominated by the Dzong Palace, which guards over the city from the crown of a large hill. This Palace is residence of Panchen Lama but tourists are not permitted.
Afternoon to explore fantastic Tashilhunpo Monastery, the official residence of the Panchen Lama and home to over 700 monks. Explore the rest of the city with a sightseeing tour, including a visit to colourful local markets. En route visit 22km off the road to Shalu Monastery. This thousand-year-old retreat was once one of the most prestigious monasteries for scholarly learning. It boasts some priceless frescoes of the Lord Buddha and mandalas in the chapels. Overnight Hotel Mansarovar or similar.
DAY 8 SHIGATSE/TSEDANG (B) (350 kim - 6 hours)
After breakfast, depart for Tsedang, driving along the River Yarlong Valley. Pass by 7,191 meter Noijin Kangsang holy mountain as well as one of the highest and most popular railway lines on the planet. You will pass several remote villages. Stop enroute at Dranang to visit the Samye Gompa, one of the most magnificent in Tibet. Dating from the 7'th century, it was designed to be an earthly representation of the universe. Continue to Tsedang for check-in at the hotel. Overnight Hotel Yarlung or similar.
DAY 9 TSEDANG (B,D) (350 km - 6 hours)
Breakfast at the hotel is followed by a day exploring the main attractions in Tsedang and its hinterland. Visit Yungbulakang Palace, whose name means "the palace on the legs of a doe'. the castle is famous for the legends associated with it and its collection of statues of ancient Tibetan kings as much as its imposing location atop a hill overlooking the city. The views from her are awe-inspiring. Continue to Tradruk Monastery in the outskirts to admire its pricelss collection of Tibetan art, including a thangka decorated with 30,000 pearls as well as gemstones of diamonds, sapphires and rubies. Farewell dinner tonight.
DAY 10 TO LHASA/DEPARTURE (B) (65 km - 1 hour)
Morning transfer to the Lhasa airport for the flight onwards.
Tibet Visa ($ 85 - $ 155 USD depending on Nationality has a pre-approval process and is officially issued on arrival in Kathmandu (so 2 - 3 nights needed in Kathmandu for processing).
Other programs in Nepal and Tibet are available on request.
Overland road into Tibet from Nepal is temporarily unavailable due to damage from the most recent earthquake. Until open again, the trip into Tibet will be by air.
Flight into Lhasa is included however flight out of Lhasa is not. Flights are available back to Kathmandu, and to some cities in China and can be booked through Tours of Exploration. We are also able to book the train Lhasa/Beijing (2 nights Sleeper car) as an extension for those wishing to continue to China. Extensions in Nepal or China will be offered on an individual basis. IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT EARLY BOOKING IS MADE IN ORDER TO PROPERLY PROCESS THE TIBET VISA.