Time: Middle April-to early October 2020
Duration: 16 days (3 days Mt. Kailash Trekking, covering 52 km)
Start: Lhasa, Tibet
Finish: Kathmandu, Nepal
Highest point: Drolma La [5630m]
Accommodation: Camping and Monastery guesthouses in West Tibet, hotels in downtowns
Day to day itinerary
Day 1 Lhasa Arrival
Welcome to Lhasa, capital of Tibet. Our local Tibetan guide will meet you at Lhasa airport or railway station and then transport you to your hotel in downtown Lhasa. You can spend the rest of the day exploring the old town center, Barkhor, which is Tibet’s ancient market area around the sacred Jokhang Temple. You will see many Tibetan locals making ritualistic prostrations on the square. Lhasa has an elevation of 3600 meters (12,000 feet). Tonight you will stay in a comfortable hotel, such as Shambhala Palace, House of Shambhala, Shangbala Hotel, Kyichu Hotel, Yak Hotel, or Heritage Hotel, etc. They are all within walking distance from the Barkhor square and popular among foreign tourists.
Day 2 Lhasa sightseeing: Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Streets, Tsamkhung Nunnery, Sera Monastery
After breakfast, you will visit Jokhang Temple, the holiest and most famous Buddhist temple in Tibet. Founded nearly 1400 years ago, Jokhang Temple houses a vast collection of precious Tibetan artworks and religious artefacts. You will walk around in this fascinating temple alongside pilgrims from every corner of Tibet. You will smell the yak butter candle offerings and hear the sound of pilgrims chanting mantras. Then, you will visit the quiet nunnery of Tsamkhung, where you can listen to the morning prayer during meditation time. In the afternoon, you will go to the 600-year-old Sera Monastery, one of Tibet’s largest Buddhist monasteries. Each weekday afternoon starting at 3pm, monks engage in Buddhist philosophical debates in a unique manner, which is mesmerizing to watch for every visitor. You will finish the afternoon by doing a small hike on the pilgrimage circuit near Sera Monastery.
Day 3 Lhasa sightseeing: Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery
You visit Tibet’s most iconic architecture today, the Potala Palace. It is the winter residence of Dalai Lama and currently a UNESCO world heritage site. Inside Potala Palace, you will see both the public and private quarters of Dalai Lama and imagine the way of royal life here. In the afternoon, we will visit Drepung monastery, another important Gelugpa monastery. You can do another pilgrimage circuit on the hill and enjoy the good views before returning to down Lhasa.
Day 4: Lhasa—Yamdrok Lake—Karo La Glacier—Gyantse Distance: 260kms Elevation: 3840m
In the early morning you will depart Lhasa and drive to Yamdrok, one of Tibet’s most beautiful lakes. From the lake, you can see the 7191 meter peak of Nojin Kangtsang in the distance. You will then travel along the lakeshore and drive up to the amazing Karo La Glacier before arriving in the town of Gyantse.
Day 5: Gyantse—Farming Villages—Shigatse Distance 95kms Elevation: 3840m
In Gyantse, you will visit the Pelkhor Chode Monastery where you can see the largest stupa (Buddhist pagoda) in Tibet. From Gyantse, you will then make the short drive to Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city. Between Gyantse and Shigatse, you will stop at a couple of traditional farming villages. In Shigatse, you will explore the large monastery complex of Tashi Lhunpo.
Day 6: Shigatse—Gyatso La Pass—Shelkar Distance 235kms Elevation: 4320m
This day you will continue traveling west to the small town of Shelkar. Along the way you will cross over the Gyatso La Pass, which rises to over 5200 meters in elevation. The pass offers a nice view of the surrounding Himalaya Mountains.
Day 7: Shelkar—Rongphu Monastery—Everest Base Camp Distance: 115kms Elevation 5150m
On the morning, you will cross over the Geu La Pass from Shelkar, which gives a sweeping view of the Himalaya Range, where you can see 4 of the world’s 14 highest peaks, including Everest. You will continue through small villages until you reach Rongphu, the world’s highest monastery at 5000 meters in elevation. Rongphu offers a fantastic view of Everest. A few kilometers beyond Rongphu Monastery is the Everest Base Camp Region, where you can spend the night in front of the world’s highest peak.
Day 8: Everest—Peiku Lake—Saga : 300kms Elevation: 4500m
From the Mt. Everest Region, the next destination is the stunning alpine lake of Peiku Tso. While driving to the lake, there are terrific views of 7000+ meter Himalayan peaks and the possibility of seeing wildlife. After visiting the lake, you will drive to the town of Saga.
Day 9: Saga—Lake Manasarovar 485kms Elevation: 4590m
The ninth day of this journey will take you across the wilderness of western Tibet to the shores of the holy lake of Manasarovar. The lake offers spectacular views of the surrounding Himalayas. You will stay at a simple guesthouse not far from the shores of the holy lake.
Day 10: Lake Manasarovar—Darchen: 35kms Elevation: 4690m
In the late morning, you will make the short drive to Darchen, the traditional starting point for the trek around Mt. Kailash. In Darchen, you will make final preparations for the 3 day trek around the peak.
Day 11: Kailash Trek Day 1 trekking 20kms Elevation: 5080m
The first day of our trek will take us 20 kilometers from Darchen around Mt. Kailash to Dira Puk Monastery. You will follow this ancient pilgrimage route with Tibetan Buddhist and Indian Hindu pilgrims. You will stay in a small guesthouse near the monastery. The elevation of Dira Puk Monastery is 5080 meters.
Day 12: Kailash Trek Day2 trekking 18kms Elevation: 4820m
The second day of our trek around Kailash will take us up and over the Dolma La Pass, the highest pass on the circuit at 5630 meters. Excellent mountain and glacier views will follow you for most of the day. From the Dolma La Pass, you will descend to Zultul Puk Monastery, elevation 4820 meters. The total trekking distance this day is 18 kilometers
Day 13: Kailash Trek Day3 trekking 14kms Elevation: 4590m
The third and final day of our trek will cover 14 kilometers from Zultul Puk Monastery back to the town of Darchen where you will stay at for the night.
Day 14: Darchen—Saga: 485 kms Elevation: 4500m
After breakfast, you will begin the journey back to Kathmandu, Nepal. From Darchen, you will head east to the town of Saga driving through the rugged beauty of Western Tibet. Accommodation: Saga Hotel or West Grand Post hotel or similar
Day 15: Saga—Kyirong: 175kms Elevation: 2800m
Your final full day in Tibet will take you from Saga to near the Tibet—Nepal international border crossing near the town of Kyirong. You will stay the night at a guesthouse in the border area.
Day 16: Kyirong—Nepal border—Kathmandu: 150kms Elevation: 1350m
This day you will cross the international border crossing from Tibet into Nepal and continue on to Kathmandu. Your journey will conclude upon arriving to Kathmandu.