What to Expect
Drive across the roof of the world on a stunningly scenic 4WD trip through the valleys and mountain passes of Tibet. Go to Everest North Base Camp, where mountaineers prepare for their hike ahead, and see glaciers tumbling from mountain sides.
Learn more about the Tibetan way of life, stopping at hillside cities and towns, such as Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, Ronbuk, and Shegar. Visit the official residence and palace of the Dalai Lama, and see remote Buddhist monasteries as you traverse the Friendship Highway.
Day 1: Arrival Lhasa (3,650 Meters/11,972 Feet)
There are two ways to arrive in Lhasa. If you choose to fly from Kathmandu, take the 70-minute Trans-Himalayan flight, considered one of the most beautiful air routes in the world as it flies over Everest (29,000 feet/ 8,848 meters), Kanchenjunga (27,998 feet / 8,536 meters) and other Himalayan peaks. If you are coming via mainland China, you can fly from any major city, or take the world’s highest train route to Lhasa.
You will be met by your Tibetan guide at the airport or train station for a 1.5-hour drive to Lhasa. Take it easy for the remainder of the day and acclmatize to Lhasa's altitude. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 2: Lhasa Sightseeing
Enjoy a full-day sightseeing tour of Lhasa, visit the Sera Monastery, a preserved monastery of white-washed walls and golden roofs. Exciting rhythm builds while exploring Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama. You will also go to the Jokhang Temple, another important sacred site, which unravels deep-seated mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism.
Stroll around Barkhor Markets, experiencing Tibetan culture and customs up-close. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 3: Lhasa Sightseeing
Today you will visit Potala Palace and Drepung Monastery. Dominating the city, with awesome views from Mar Po Ri Hill, Potala Palace was the chief residence of the Dalai Lama until the 14th Dalai Lama fled to Dharamsala during the 1959 Tibetan uprising. The spectacular palace contains his private quarters, as well as numerous grand staterooms and important chapels.
Founded in the 14th century, Drepung Monastery was once the largest in the world, with a population of around 10,000 monks. These days that figure is down to several hundred, but there is still much of interest as it was left relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 4: Lhasa Sightseeing
Visit the Tibet Museum to learn more about the rich history of this fascinating country. Officially inaugurated in October 1999, the museum houses a collection of prehistoric relics, including Buddha statues in various postures, imperial jade seals, gold albums, gifts granted by emperors, colorful Thankas, and printed Sanskrit and Tibetan scriptures.
You will also see folk art and unique Tibetan handicrafts, costumes, jewelry, and adornments made of gold, silver, and jade, as well as fine Chinese pottery. The museum building complex of ornamented beams, pillars, lintels, banners, and wall hangings also exhibits traditional Tibetan architectural styles. Your afternoon is free for shopping. Overnight in Lhasa.
Day 5: Drive to Gyantse (3,950 Meters/12,956 Feet - 160 Miles/265 Kilometers)
Drive along the Friendship Highway, passing Khamba La (15,724 feet / 4,794 meters). Stop for majestic views of the deep blue of Yamdrok Tso Lake, and the towering glacier of Nazin Kang Sang (23,787 feet / 7,252 meters). Heading west, you will come to the Karo Lass Pass. Catch glimpses of the glaciers tumbling down the road, before continuing to Gyantse, from where you can see beautifully landscaped Tibetan villages. Overnight in Gyantse.
Day 6: Drive to Shigatse (3,900 Meters/12,792 Feet - 55 Miles/92 Kilometers)
Explore the 14th-century fort of Gyantse Dzong, and get mesmerizing views of Gyantse and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley. Continue to Kumbum (meaning 100,000 images in Tibetan) to admire a 115-foot (35 meter) gold-domed chorten (stupa), and houses with several chapels and Buddhist murals.
Next, drive to Shigatse, stopping en route at the Shalu Monastery of Han, Tibetan, and Indian styles. Upon arrival in Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet, you will make a detailed visit of the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet. Overnight in Shigatse.
Day 7: Drive to Shegar (4,150 Meters/13,612 Feet) Natang & Sakya Monastery (164 Miles/274 Kilometers)
Continue your drive along the Friendship Highway, marveling at the spectacular landscape of Tibet. Beyond the small town of Lhatse, cross the highest pass on your journey, the sublime Gyamtso La (17,121 feet / 5,220 meters).
Stop to explore Natang Monastery, just short of Xigatse, and continue to Sakya Monastery, where you can see the largest book in the world, housed in Sakya's great library, and written in gold.
Descend to the plains, passing lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders en route to Shegar, where you will check into your overnight accommodation.
Day 8: Drive to Rongbuk (5,050 Meters/16,564 Feet) Explore Everest Base Camp (5,250 Meters/17,220 Feet - 51 Miles/85 Kilometers)
Shortly after leaving Shegar, turn off the Friendship Highway and head south over the Pang La (16,892 feet / 5,150 meters) towards the main Himalayan range. The view from the top is incredible, with uninterrupted views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma. Below the pass, Everest is initially hidden from view, but as you turn the corner into the Rongbuk Valley it reappears, more impressive than ever.
Explore Everest Base Camp. As this privilege is usually reserved only for expeditions, walk, or take a horse or local bus, to the camp where mountaineers prepare for their mighty journeys ahead. You will also visit Ronbuk Monastery, a Buddhist pilgrimage site founded in 1902 by a Nyingmapa Lama in an area of meditation huts used by monks and hermits for over 400 years.
Hermitage meditation caves dot the cliff walls all around the complex and up and down the valley. Many walls and stones, carved with sacred prayers line the paths. Overnight in Rongbuk.
Day 9: Drive to Zhangmu (2,300 Meters/7, 544 Feet - 147 Miles/245 Kilometers)
Watch the sunrise on Mt. Everest, with the north face of the world’s highest mountain soaring above you.
Rejoin the Friendship Highway and drive to Tingri, before crossing another 2 high passes - the Lalung La (16,807 feet / 5,124 meters) and the Shung La (17, 056 feet / 5,200 meters). Take in the magnificent views of the surrounding peaks of Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar. Then, begin your descent from the Tibetan Plateau to Nyalam, just 18 miles (30 kilometers) before the Nepalese border. With a dramatic change, everything suddenly appears lush and green. Overnight in Zhangmu.
Day 10: Drive to Kathmandu (1,350 Meters/4,428 Feet - 74 Miles/123 Kilometers)
Drive the last few miles to the Friendship Bridge, spanning the Bhote Koshi River on the Chinese-Nepalese border. Say goodbye to your Tibetan guide and driver and walk to the Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari, where the Nepalese tour staff will meet you.
After completing entry formalities, continue the drive to Kathmandu, which, depending on road and weather conditions, should take about 4 hours. In monsoon season, be prepared to walk stretches of this road due to the landslips from higher ground. Overnight in Kathmandu (accommodation not included).