Day 01: Arrival in Lhasa (3,650m/11,972ft)
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.
Day 02: Lhasa sightseeing: Potala Palace, Norbulingka Palace and Tibet Traditional Hospital
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 03: Lhasa Sightseeing: Sera Monastery, Drepung Monastery, Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Bazaar
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 04: 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 05: 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 06: 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 07: 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/17,220ft). On our way, we enjoy spectacular views of high mountains like Cho Oyu (8,201m/26,906ft), Shishapangma (8,013m/26,289ft) and, of course, the mighty Everest (8,848m/29,028ft) 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 Mt. Everest we make Zhangmu our next destination. On the way, we cross the Lalung La Pass (5,124m/16,068ft), Shung La Pass (5,200m/17,056ft) and Nyalam Pass (3,800m/12,464ft), which offers enchanting views of the surrounding Himalayan peaks. We further drive downwards towards the verdant and fertile vegetation of Zhangmu in the Nepalese 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 08: 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, walk across the river where a Himalayan Glacier representative will be waiting for us. After around 4 hours of driving through deep valleys, we reach Kathmandu. In the evening, we enjoy authentic Nepalese food on our farewell dinner hosted by Himalayan Glacier to celebrate the successful completion of our journey. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 09: Sightseeing in Kathmandu: Kathmandu Durbar Square, Pashupatinath Temple, Swayambhunath and Bauddhanath
After breakfast, we begin our sightseeing tour by visiting UNESCO World Heritage Sites within Kathmandu. Kathmandu Durbar Square showcases Nepalese art and architecture at its best. The architecture is typical of the Malla dynasty who ruled over Nepal from the 12th to the 18th century. Swayambhunath Temple is popular among the foreigners as the Monkey Temple owing to the large monkey population residing in the area. Pashupatinath Temple is situated on the banks of river Bagmati and is one of the principal temples of Lord Shiva. The Bauddhanath Stupa is one of the largest stupas in South Asia which is built on the ancient trade route to Tibet. Overnight in Kathmandu.
Day 10: Sightseeing in Patan and Bhaktapur and Sunset views from Nagarkot
Listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Patan Durbar Square is rich in ancient arts and architecture. We also visit Bhakatpur, an irresistible city with an authentic local lifestyle preserved over centuries of isolation from the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. While in the city square, we get to admire the Nyata-Pola Temple, the Golden Gate, water spouts and the 55 Window Palace which merge together to provide an ambiance of a magical outdoor theater to its visitors. We also immerse ourselves in the authentic delicacy of the locals in Bhaktapur. Then we drive to Nagarkot, a village renowned for its sunrise and sunset views of the Himalayas and enjoy spectacular sunset views amidst the Himalayas. Overnight in Nagarkot.
Day 11: Fly to Paro (2,250m / 7,382ft), city sightseeing
As our flight nears Bhutan, we can enjoy amazing views of the Himalayas including the sacred Jumolhari and Jichu Drake peaks. At the airport, we will be greeted by a representative from Himalayan Glacier who will take us to our hotel. Today, we will visit Rinpung Dzong which was built in 1646 and now houses the district Monastic Body and government administrative offices of Paro Dzongkhag. We will also visit Kichu Lhakhang, the oldest temple in the country and Drugyal Dzong, built in 1646 to commemorate Bhutan's victory over Tibetan invaders during the 1600s. Overnight in Paro.
Day 12: Paro to Thimphu (2,320m/7,610ft): 54 km, 1 hour, hike to Taktsang Monastery
After breakfast, we hike for 4 -5 hours to Taktsang (Tiger's Nest) Monastery, which is Bhutan's most famous monastery situated at 3,180 meters. Guru Rinpoche (spiritual master) is said to have flown on the back of a tigress to meditate in a cave where Taktsang Monastery now stands. Lunch will be served in the Cafeteria Restaurant, located about halfway up the mountain. After having explored the monastery, we hike down to the valley floor and drive to Thimphu. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 13: Sightseeing in Thimphu
In the morning, we visit Memorial Chorten (built in memory of the third King of Bhutan who reigned from 1952-1972), the nunnery temple, the mini-zoo to see Takin, the national animal of Bhutan and the radio tower (for a great view of the Thimphu Valley and the Thimphu Dzong). After lunch, we visit other landmarks of Thimphu including the National Institute of Traditional Medicine, Bhutanese traditional painting school, folk-heritage museum, the majestic Tashichho Dzong and the traditional paper factory. However, some of the landmarks are closed on the weekends (Saturdays and Sundays). Therefore, if we are in Thimphu during the weekends, we explore the Weekend Market instead. Overnight in Thimphu.
Day 14: Final Departure
Druk Air generally departs in the early morning to avoid adverse weather conditions. Therefore, after having breakfast, we will be transferred to the airport depending on the flight schedule.