We begin the in Kathmandu to have the visa and permits issued then fly to Lhasa, stay three full days for better acclimatization then drive to Rongbuk and Everest Base Camp. After some acclimatization we trek up to Everest ABC, sometimes called Camp 3 at 6340m, and after a couple more days acclimatizing then we climb up to the North Col at just over 7000m on a day trip, then trek out and drive onto Kathmandu.
Arriving early can be a great way to begin unwinding, we will arrange airport transfer (included) and hotel (extra). In particular, we recommend arriving a day early and therefore having an extra night in Kathmandu as part of acclimatization preparation before flying to Lhasa.
Day 1 - arrive Kathmandu
You must arrive this day or earlier. You’ll be met at the airport, look for a Project Himalaya signboard with your name on it.
Our office staff will show you around Thamel.
We collect your passports ready for processing the Chinese visa tomorrow, and discuss how to acclimatize for Lhasa.
Day 2 - Kathmandu
Today we’ll explore the sights of Kathmandu and the valley with a good local guide.
Day 3 - fly Kathmandu 1350m to Lhasa 3660m
We check in early for the for the hour long flight to Tibet. This spectacular flight taking us right across the main Himalayan range with magnificent mountain views. After landing at Gonggar Airport and meeting our Tibetan guide, it is 45 minutes more to Lhasa via the tunnel. It's advisable to rest or take it easy for the remainder of the day due to Lhasa's altitude.
Note that in the past the rough roads in Tibet necessitated travelling in Landcruisers, now with good roads we will travel in a good vehicle suitable for the group size. This could be Landcruisers, could be the surprisingly comfortable Ford Transit Van (which is faster than a Landcruiser) or another suitable, high quality vehicle.
Days 4, 5 and 6 - in Lhasa 3660m
These days will be spent visiting four of Lhasa's main sites in the company of a guide-interpreter. The order is decided by the guide.
We visit Sera Monastery or Drepung Monastery, both are the best preserved monasteries in Tibet. Within their white-washed walls and golden roofs, several hundred monks live and study.
Norbulingka is the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, a quiet place of gardens and a pleasant house with impressive murals of Tibetan history and beliefs.
The Jokhang (temple) is the most sacred shrine in Tibet and on public days there is a procession of devout Tibetans through the complex. This is the real Tibet as it was and is usually a highlight of the trip. Surrounding the Jokhang is the Barkor - a maze of narrow cobbled streets which is the central market of Lhasa and since our hotel is close to this you can wander around any time.
The Potala is the icon of Tibet, with its eighth wonder architecture, and dominates the city of Lhasa. A spectacular building, it contains the private quarters of the Dalai Lama as well as numerous grand state rooms and many important chapels. There has been a palace on this site since the 5th or 6th century, but the present palace was constructed in the 17th century.
The Potala is also extremely busy. Once past the ticket office and thru the main courtyard, from that point you might only be allowed one hour for the interior, you guide will explain the latest rules. You do have plenty of time prior to the point, however.
You have more time available so can arrange with the guide and drive for an extra charge to visit Ganden or similar.
Day 7 - drive Shigatse 3900m ~250 km
We drive to Shigatse, arriving in time for a late lunch. Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and Tashilhunpo Monastary is the seat of the Panchen Lama, often considered the second most important Rinpoche after the Dalai Lama. Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet and there is much to explore within its high surrounding walls.
Tashi Lunpo monastery
Day 8 - drive Shegar 4350m ~244km
We continue along the Friendship Highway. Beyond the small town of Lhatse we cross the highest pass on our journey, the Gyamtso La, 5220m. From here we descend to some of the most spectacular panoramas of the drive.
Travelling in comfort
Day 9 - Shegar 4350m
This is a rest and acclimatization day. The best day trip is to walk or drive to the new town of Shegar and climb to the monastery and past that to the top of the fort.
Climbing above Shegar on a day trip
Day 10 - drive Rongbuk 5000m or base camp tea houses ~75km
Shortly after leaving Shegar, we turn off the Friendship Highway and head south over the Pang La 5150m towards the main Himalayan range. The view from the top is incredible with uninterrupted views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma, and including Everest. Below the pass, Everest initially is hidden from view, but as we turn the corner into the upper Rongbuk Valley it reappears, more impressive than ever.
The Pang La with Everest distant center-right
Day 11 - Base camp then drive Zhangmu (2300m) 246km
This morning we see Everest Base Camp, 5150m. The base camp itself is dry and barren, but the views of Everest more than compensate for this. It is a truly awe-inspiring place with the sheer north face of the highest mountain in the world towering above us.
Everest from Rongbuk
No vehicles, except for Everest expeditions, are allowed beyond the teahouse camp so you can walk the 8kms or take a horse cart that will cost $3-5 per person. After lunch, we return to the Friendship Highway and drive to Zhangmu, crossing two high passes, the Lalung La 5124m and the Shung La 5200m. Once more we are rewarded with magnificent views of the surrounding peaks of Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar.
We descend from the arid Tibetan Plateau to Zhangmu on the Nepalese border. After Tibet, it appears an incredibly lush and green town. We overnight here.
Driving along the Friendship Highway with Everest as the backdrop - Jamie
Day 12 - drive Zhangmu - Kodari - Kathmandu (1400m) 123km
From Zhangmu we drive a few kilometres to the Friendship Bridge which spans the Bhote Kosi River and marks the Chinese - Nepalese border. We say goodbye to our Tibetan guide and driver and walk to Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari where we will be met by our Nepalese staff. After completing the re-entry formalities we continue the drive to Kathmandu which, depending on road and weather conditions, should take about 5 hours.
Occasionally the road between the Nepali and Chinese border posts becomes impassable; this is often the case in late July and August. In that case your luggage will be carried by porters for what is sometimes a 4km walk. Our border staff will arrange everything, but you will have to pay extra.
Day 13 - depart
We take you to the airport for your flight home. We hope you had a fantastic trip, the journey of a lifetime.
We hope you had a great trip!