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Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Shigatse, Everest Base Camp
Private vehicle with driving distance 1300KM (Return)
Starts and ends in Chengdu (for group orientation before flying 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 at your hotel, it is off to the heart of this ancient city for 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.
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 will precede a later dinner.
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.
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. Distance: 340km.
Today will be another breathtaking day on the Friendship Highway, winding through high-altitude valleys toward New Tingri. This is a small and basic town that has grown up around a Tibetan village, offering a short hike to some nice views of the area. This will be the most basic accommodation of the trip. The following day we 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, you will encounter a few other 8,000+ meter sentinels 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 to Shigatse is one of immense satisfaction. The Friendship Highway provides one last sweeping view of the Tibetan Plateau before a comfortable night at the Gesar Hotel where you can review your photo spoils and enjoy a relaxing evening meal. Distance: 290km.
The morning drive to Lhasa Gonggar Airport follows the great Yarlung Tsampo River and offers beautiful views of idyllic Tibetan farming villages along the way. A late afternoon flight awaits to take you from Lhasa back to the lowlands of the Sichuan basin.