8 Days: Lhasa to Mount Everest Base Camp
DEPARTURES FROM LHASA:
(Please inquire for option to extend to trip to include Namtso Sky Lake before returning to Lhasa)
DAY 1: Arrive Lhasa by plane or train. Check-in to he Tibetan style House of Shambhala Hotel (Trip Advisor #3 of 324 hotels in Lhasa.)
DAY 2: Visit the Jokhang Temple and the Barkhor in the morning. The Jokhang, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the spiritual heart of Lhasa and of Tibetan Buddhism. The most sacred of all temples, it houses a Shakyamuni statue consecrated by the Buddha himself. Built by Princess Bhrikuti of Nepal in the early seventh century, the temple is built on an important geomantic site and has undergone continuous renovations. The Jokhang is widely celebrated because it is not controlled by one particular school of Tibetan Buddhism.
The Barkhor a street (without vehicles) that encircles the Jokhang Temple. It also includes a large plaza in front of the Jokhang where locals and pilgrims gather for devotional practice, relaxing and shopping. It's very enjoyable to join in and observe a lot of ethnic diversity. There are also places for devotional practices such as offering candles and incense.
In the afternoon, you will be driven to the nearby Sera Monastery. Founded in 1419, this is still one the great religious institutions of Tibet. About 600 monks are currently in residence, down from a historical population of 5,000. The complex features spectacular prayer halls, chapels and views. There is an inspiring, hour-long path that is relatively easy to complete. Return to the Shambhala Palace Hotel.
DAY 3: Visit Potala Palace in the morning and Norbulingka Palace in the afternoon.
The Potala was named after the mountain abode of Chenrezig, the Buddha of Compassion. For centuries, the palace served as the winter residence of the Dalai Lamas. Built in the 7th century and reconstructed by the Great Fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century and many times since, it towers over the city of Lhasa. There are several palaces within the complex, designated by color—red, yellow and white. With thirteen levels and containing over 51,000 rooms and 200,000 images, the Potala is an invaluable monument of historical, cultural and spiritual significance. UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Norbulingka, Jewel Park, served as the traditional summer residence of the Dalai Lamas from the 1780's until 1959. It also consists of several complexes and gardens and embodies the culture of Tibet. Return to Shambhala Palace Hotel
DAY 4: Leaving Lhasa and driving south, you will arrive at breathtaking views of shimmering turquoise waters against a backdrop of glaciers—Yamdrok Yutso Turquoise Lake and Karola Glacier. Yamdrok Lake lies at 4,408 m/14,461 ft. It is revered as the life force of Tibet. Stretching over 754 km, its teal blue waters make it the largest lake in southern Tibet. Surrounded by snow capped mountain ranges, the lake is fed by icy streams and inlets that flow down from the higher elevations during the warm summer months. Its curved pincer shape boasts nine islands, numerous bays and is home to several monasteries.
In the afternoon, you will reach Gyantse, a town famous for having retained its rural Tibetan character through the centuries. You will visit the unique 15th century octagonal Kubum Stupa, Stupa of 100,000 Deities, and, the beautiful Pelkor Monastery next to it. Both are exquisite examples of ancient Buddhist architecture, murals and imagery.
Then you will drive onward to the city of Shigatse with a population of just over 100,000. Shigatse is slightly higher in elevation than Lhasa and was once Tibet's second largest city. Traditionally, an important trading center, it was also the home of the famous Panchen Lamas.
Check-in to the Tashi Choten Hotel.
DAY 5: Leaving Shigatse, you will drive to Mount Everest Base Camp (EBC). In 1865, Mount Everest was so-named by the Royal Geographical Society of England. Tibetans honor the mountain as Jomolangma or Queen of the Universe. Often pictured with a plume of condensation streaming from its pyramidal summit, the mountain peaks at 8,848 m/29,029 ft. Tibet is home to Everest’s stunning North Face. From Everest Base Camp at 5,100 m/17,000 ft., the mountain face soars another 3,648 m/11,969 ft overhead.
A 15-minute drive past Rongbuk Monastery brings you to the Everest Base Camp (18,192 ft (5,150 m). You will have several hours to explore or hike back to Rongbuk Monastery. The night will be spent in a comfortable tent hosted by locals.
Day 6: Waking early, you will have a chance to enjoy the sunrise over Mt. Everest before driving back to Shigatse and the Tashi Choten Hotel. Depending on time, you may visit Tashilunpo Monastery founded by the First Dalai Lama in 1447.
Day 7: You will arrive back in Lhasa and still have a few hours for last-minute shopping or a farewell visit to the Jokhang and Barkhor. Last night at the House of Shambhala Hotel.
Day 8: You will leave Lhasa from the airport or train station unless you have plans to stay on in the TAR.