Day 01: Arrival in Lhasa and transfer to Tsedang (3,550m/11,646ft): 95km, 1.5 hours
We arrive in Lhasa, at Gonggar Airport either from a direct flight from Nepal or via mainland China. If we decide to fly from Nepal, we get to enjoy around an hour long trans-Himalayan flight, considered to be one of the most beautiful air routes in the world. It takes us over Everest (8,848m), Kanchenjunga (8,536m) and other Himalayan peaks and glaciers. If we choose to go to Lhasa via mainland China, we may fly from any of the major Chinese cities or take the world's highest train route to Lhasa. Upon our arrival in Lhasa, a representative from Himalayan Glacier will pick us up either from the airport or the train station and drive us to our designated hotel in Tsedang where we are advised to take plenty of rest for proper acclimatization and the next day’s activities. Overnight in Tsedang.
Day 02: Tsedang to Lhasa (3,650m/11,972ft) via Samye Monastery, Chim Phu caves and Yambulakhang palace: 150 km, 8-10 hours
On the way to Lhasa, we visit Samye Monastery, which is located in the north bank of the Yarlung Tsangpo River among the open farmlands. The monastery was founded in 770 A.D by Guru Rimpoche and is Tibet’s first Buddhist monastery with a 1200-year-old history. Next we visit the Chim Phu caves, which is located above the monastery. These caves are used as a long term retreats by those who wish to meditate in peace. Then we visit the beautiful Yambulakhang palace which is perched dramatically on a pinnacle above the Yarlung river valley and secures great views of the entire region. After touring the palace, we continue to Lhasa to spend the night.
Day 03: Lhasa sightseeing: Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and Tibet Traditional Hospital: 5-6 hours
We begin sightseeing in Lhasa after breakfast. Today is the day we visit the beautiful Potala and Norbulingka Palaces. Built in the 17th century, Potala Palace provides amazing views of the entire city and houses the private quarters of the Dalai Lama, numerous grand state rooms and chapels. Norbulingka Palace is the summer palace of the Dalai Lama and houses what is considered to be the largest man-made garden in Tibet. Next, we visit the Tibet Traditional Hospital which is the center for the treatment, training, research and production of Tibetan medicine. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 04: Lhasa sightseeing: Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar: 5-6 hours
After breakfast we visit Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar. Drepung Monastery, which was built in the 14th century, is believed to have sheltered around 10,000 monks in the past but as of now there has been quite a declination resulting in only a few hundreds. The history, culture, and religious beliefs of the Tibetan people are strongly concentrated and centered in this marvelous monastery. Sera Monastery is a preserved monastery of white-washed walls and golden roofs. Jokhang Temple is another important sacred site which unravels more deep-seated mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism. We further stroll through Barkhor Bazaar (market). With its open air stalls, shops and crowd of pilgrims, it is the nerve centre of Lhasa. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 05: A day excursion to Ganden Monastery and Drayerpa Cave: 5-6 hours
Today, we drive 110km to Ganden monastery, Drayerpa Cave and back in Lhasa. Ganden Monastery is located at the top of Wangbur Mountain (3,800m) in the Lhatse County, around 55km east of Lhasa. It is the oldest and one of the ‘great three’ of the six Gelug Sect monasteries in Tibet. Ganden Monastery has extremely delicate and fine murals and sculptures. It also keeps a suit of armor decorated with gems, which was worn by Emperor Qianlong and was bestowed to the monastery as an offering to Tsong Khapa, founder of the Gelug Sect. During the afternoon, we drive to Drayerpa Cave located in a beautiful valley with a stunning landscape. There are more than 30 caves for Lamas who wish to meditate in a silent environment. In the evening, we drive back to Lhasa and spend the night.
Day 06: Lhasa to Gyantse (3,950m/12,956ft) via Karo La Pass and Yamdrok Tso Lake: 325km, 5-6 hours
Today, we take a scenic drive to Gyantse. On the way we cross the Khamba La Pass (4,794m) with a brief halt to savor the beauty of the Yamdrok Tso (Turquoise Lake), one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet and the beautiful Nazin Kang Sang glacier (7,252m). Soon, we come across another pass, The Karo La Pass (5,045m). From our vehicle, we can enjoy views of huge glaciers tumbling down into the road before reaching Gyantse. In Gyantse, we visit the Khumbum Stupa, Phalkot Monastery and Gyantse Dzong (Fortress), which is one of the best preserved dzongs in Tibet. Overnight in Gyantse.
Day 07: Gyantse to Shigatse (3,900m/12,795ft) via Shalu Monastery: 95km, 2 hours
After breakfast, we drive towards Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. On the way, we visit Shalu Monastery. Founded in 1040, Shalu Monastery is known for its beautiful and ancient mural paintings. Next, we continue to Shigatse. In Shigatse, we visit the popular Tashilhunpo Monastery which holds both historical and cultural importance for being founded by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama in 1447. After sightseeing in Shigatse, we will have the remainder of the day free for resting. This will help us with acclimatization and the next day’s long drive. Overnight in Shigatse.
Day 08: Shigatse to Rongbuk (5,000m/16,400ft) via Sakya Monastery: 355km, 8-9 hours
After breakfast, we leave Shigatse for Rongbuk. On the way, we visit the Sakya Monastery which is the ancestral temple of the Sakyapa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. After the visit to Sakya Monastery, we continue driving towards Rongbuk. Here, we visit the Rongbuk monastery, which is located at the foot of the mighty Everest and is the highest monastery in the world. While here, we also enjoy the stunning mountainous scenery all around us. Overnight in Rongbuk.
Day 09: Rongbuk to Zhangmu (2,300m/7,544ft) via Everest Base Camp: 257km, 5-6 hours
We leave Rongbuk in the morning to visit the Everest Base Camp (5,250m). On the way, we enjoy spectacular views of high mountains like Cho Oyu (8,201m), Shishapangma (8,013m) and, of course, the mighty Everest (8,848m) also known as Mt. Chomolongma in the Tibetan side. Today, we accomplish one of the major highlights of our trip, reaching the base camp of Mt. Everest. We make approximately a 16km round trip around the Everest Base Camp. The base camp itself is dry and barren, but the view of Everest is more than compensating. After spending some quality time at the base of the world’s highest mountain, we make Zhangmu our next destination. On the way, we cross the Lalung La Pass (5,124m), Shung La Pass (5,200m) and Nyalam Pass (3,800m) which offers enchanting views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks. We then drive gradually down from the dry Tibetan Plateau towards the verdant and fertile vegetation of Zhangmu on the Nepalese side of the border. Overnight in Zhangmu.
Note that on rare occasions due to bad weather or political riots the local government may close down the road to the Everest base camp for safety reasons and without prior notice.
Day 10: Zhangmu to Kathmandu (1,350m/4,428ft): 153km, 4-5 hours
A few kilometers drive from Zhangmu to Friendship Bridge over the Bhote Koshi River brings us to Immigration Control in Kodari where we are expected to complete some custom formalities. We then depart with our Tibetan guide and walk across the river where a Nepalese staff will be waiting for us. After around 4 hours of driving through deep valleys, we reach Kathmandu.