Dates: Yours to choose
Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Shigatse, Everest Base Camp
New Toyota Landcruiser
Starts and end in Chengdu (incl. return flight to Lhasa)
Your tour commences with pick up in the morning at your hotel for a shuttle to Chengdu Shuangliu airport. Today you are flying to the roof of the world (3700m). It is hard to find such a short flight anywhere else on the planet where the geography, climate, elevation, and culture change so dramatically. After some refreshments in the unpretentious luxury of the Shangri-La Hotel, Lhasa , it is off to the heart of this ancient city and a walk through the lively Barkhor Bazaar that surrounds the venerated Jokhang Temple. It is an exotic experience to mix with nomads and religious pilgrims who have converged from all over Tibet. Your evening meal will be enjoyed with the accompaniment of traditional Tibetan music and dance.
This morning will take you on a leisurely stroll through the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Norbulingka , meaning "Treasure Park." The central feature of this 89 acre park and gardens is Norbulingka Palace - the traditional summer residence of the successive Dalai Lamas. After lunch, it is a short drive to the foothills north of town where Sera Monastery sits. This includes the fascinating experience of seeing monks engage in their daily practice of religious debate. A full day already, an afternoon rest in the comfort of your hotel will precede enjoying one of Lhasa's more special dining experiences: dinner in a converted old Tibetan home.
Following breakfast, this morning's cultural highlight is a tour of the 17th century Potala Palace, the former chief residence of the Dalai Lama. With walls as thick as 5 meters and containing over 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines, and 200,000 statues, any length of time in this historic engineering wonder is considered an abbreviated tour. A well deserved rest after lunch will be appreciated before a visit to one of Lhasa's Tibetan rug factories for an introduction to their trade and an opportunity to pick up a unique souvenir. Evening includes a massive 800 actor live performance on the mountains north of Lhasa dramatizing Princess Wencheng's impact on the history of Buddhism in Tibet.
Today begins the overland trip by private vehicle to Mt. Everest National Park. The Friendship Highway will take you by the turquoise waters of mystical Yamdrok lake, akin to Canada's Lake Louise in Banff, but grander in scale. From there, you'll view Karola Glacier and then onto Gyantse - home of the largest stupa in Tibet - before reaching your destination for the day. Shigatse is home to Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, seat of the Panchen Lama, the highest ranking Tibetan Buddhist Lama in the People's Republic of China. After a long day of travel, a well earned dinner will be enjoyed at a beautiful restaurant just down the street from the Tibetan style Gesar Hotel. Distance: 340km.
Today will be another breathtaking day on the Friendship Highway, winding through high-altitude valleys toward New Tingri (Shegar). This is a small and basic town that has grown up around a Tibetan village. For those feeling well enough acclimatized, the most interesting feature of this town is an ancient Tibetan fortress (Dzong) that sits atop a nearby ridge. The considerable effort to walk up there is rewarded not only by the opportunity to visit the ruins of the fortress, but also with views of Everest on a clear day. This will be the most basic accommodation of the trip. The following day you will rise well before sunrise and journey to Basecamp to the catch the sun's morning greeting of the highest point on earth (weather permitting). Distance: 290km.
As dawn nears on the way to Everest Base Camp a few other 8,000+ meter sentinels will be encountered along the way, including Lhotse, Cho Oyu, Makalu. Upon approaching Everest Base Camp, the first stop will be at Rhongpu Monastery to enjoy the best views of Everest's North Face. Your camera will be busy as Everest awakes to the changing shades of sunlight. Proceeding further up to the tent hotels affords an opportunity for a hot drink and some food before boarding a park bus for the final stretch to Everest Base Camp. After a relaxed morning in the shadow of Everest's north face, you'll journey back down to the tent hotels for lunch before returning to New Tingri for one more night. Return Distance: 160km.
Having realized your dream of visiting Everest the previous day, today's return journey is one of immense satisfaction. The Friendship Highway provides one last sweeping view of the Tibetan Plateau before arriving back in Shigatse for a relaxing lunch. The afternoon includes a visit to Tashilhunpo Monastery, the seat of the second most important spiritual leader in Tibet, the Panchen Lama. For those happy to continue to stretch their legs, joining the Tibetan pilgrims on their Kora (circuit) around the monastery is an option, as well as the opportunity to walk in the old quarter of town to enjoy scenes of an ancient way of life. Dinner and a comfortable night at the Gesar Hotel to review your photo spoils of the preceding days will follow. Distance: 290km.
The morning drive to Lhasa follows the great Yarlung Tsampo River that begins its long journey at Mt. Kailash in western Tibet and crosses the plateau before carving its way through the Himalaya mountains on its way to India where it becomes the Brahmaputra River. The drive offers beautiful views of idyllic Tibetan farming villages along the way that are scattered along the banks of the river. A late lunch will be enjoyed back at the Shangri-La Hotel. Following check-in you are at your leisure to schedule a complimentary spa package while also allowing yourself opportunity for any final souvenir shopping around the Barkhor Bazaar. Your guide will be available at your convenience. Enjoy a buffet dinner at the hotel before a well earned restful night in the comfort of your Shangri-La room.
An optional early morning walk with the pilgrims around Jokhang Temple precedes an international buffet breakfast at your hotel. Your reluctant departure from the roof of the world is scheduled for mid-day.