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15 Days Overland Tour from Nepal with Mt. Kailash Pilgrimage

Tour Route: Gyirong - Saga - Lake Manasarovar - Darchen - Mt. Kailash - EBC - Shigatse - Gyantse - Lhasa

Trip Overview:

The 15-day overland tour from Katmandu to Lhasa offers you the extraordinary scenery along the way. Heading from Gyirong to Mt. Kailash to the city of sun, Lhasa, You will visit two of the three holy lakes in Tibet, Lake Yamdrok and Manasarovar. The picturesque blue sky, green lake and towering mountains will greatly impress you as a life-time memory.

In remote and harsh Ngari, you will enjoy the breathtaking beauty of Lake Manasarovar before experiencing a holy Mt. Kailash kora. Along the way, you'll also come across some monasteries. It will be a a trek to purify the soul. At night, camp on the holy mountain, you'll feel so close to the shinning stars and night sky. It's just a heavenly state away from hustling secular life.

Arriving at Everest Base Camp, you can get a great view of the four highest peaks in the world. After that, we will drive back to Lhasa via Shigatse. When you arrives Lhasa, we will explore mysterious Tibetan Buddhism in three famous monasteries in which to marvel at the exquisite murals, countless of precious relics, various solemn Buddha statues and sincere Tibetans coming for praying. The majestic Potala Palace perching on the hill peak will present you the hissoty and fascinacing legends of this highland on plateau.

  • Tour Code:
    TTO-TT-14C
  • Max Altitude:
    5,310 m
  • Tour Type:
    Private tour with private guide and vehicle
  • Phisycal Demand:

    Phisycal Demand Level Guide:
    1. Easy (1 point) - suitable for all level of fitness, family with kids and senior groups.
    2. Moderate (2-3 Points) - suitable for those having average level for fitness, family with kids bigger than 12 years.
    3. Moderate to Strenous (4 Points) - suitable for those physically fit and have experiences of high altitude trekking.
    4. Strenuous (5 Points) - suitable for adventures and individual with physically fit and healthy.

  • Season:
    springSpringautumnAutumn

Highlights:

  • Sleep in nomad tents and gaze upon the north face of Mt. Everest.
  • Hike the sandy shores of scared Lake Manasarovar, or just marvel at the turquoise waters and snowcapped-mountain backdrop.
  • Join the pilgrims looking to erase the sins of a lifetime on the three-day trek around holy Mt. Kailash.
  • Have a deep discovery of the two important cities of Tsang, Gyantse and Shigatse, climb the dazzling Gyantse Kumbum, and worship before a 26m gold Buddha at Tashilumpo Monastery.
  • Marvel at the turquoise waters of Lake Yamdrok-tso, one of Tibet’s most sacred lakes.
  • Fully explore the sunlight city Lhasa with its well-known Potala Palace and holy monasteries of Jokhang, Sera and Drepung.
  • Follow monks, mendicants and fellow pilgrims around the Barkhor Street, Lhasa’s fascinating medieval pilgrim circuit.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Kathmandu to Syabrubesi

In the morning, our driver will pick you up in your hotel and drive to China Tibet border. There is a distance about 160km from Katmandu to Gyirong Border which usually takes about 7-9 hours on the way. So we will live in the Syabrubesi adjacent to Gyirong for a night before crossing the border in the second day morning.

On the way, will pass Mt. Himalaya, where you can see the deep gorges, snow-capped mountain. We will also drive across the LuangTang National Park, one of the well- preserved national parks in Nepal.

Stay overnight in village guest house in Syabrubesi.

Day 2: Syabrubesi to Kyirong

After breakfast, we will drive 15km away to the Nepal-China border. Our guide will meet you at the Gyirong Border in Tibet side. Then transfer to Gyirong county, a small town built on the side of Himalayas. It would be nice to see the Himalayan mountains and vibrant forest from there. We need to spend one night for a good acclimation for next days’ ascent to EBC.

In the afternoon, you will visit Padmasambava cave and trek 2 hours to Kepu village.

Stay overnight in Gyriong.

Day 3: Gyirong to Saga

In the morning we will drive to the stunning alpine lake Peiku-tso. An amazing picture of the lake with Shishapangma in the background will come into your sight when you arrive there. Then keep driving to Saga. Today's driving is amazing with excellent views of Himalaya Mountains, a lot of wildlife including wild horses, wolves, foxes, deer, gazelle, black-necked cranes as well as yaks and sheep.

Stay overnight in Saga.

Day 4: Drive to Lake Manasarovar, 500km, 8-9hrs

From Saga it is 145 km to Zhongba, the road there is good and there is also a small monastery at the western end of town on a hill. From Zhongba onwards the southern road deteriorates. There is also danger of vehicles getting stuck. But this section of the road has panoramic views of mountains on either side of the road. There will be several river crossings and we drive past Mayum la pass (4600 M) from Paryang to Lake Manasarovar. The scenery is stunningly beautiful with panoramic views of the Himalayas.

Stay overnight in Guest House.

Day 5: Drive to Darchen (4560m), 30km

In the morning, you can hike around the lake and take pictures of Mt. Kailash in distance. Lake Manasarovar is one of the holiest lakes in Tibet which cover 400km sq. Lake is devoted by billions of buddhists and hindus.

In the afternoon, drive forward to Darchen, the main gateway and the village in front of Mt. Kailash. At Darchen, accommodations are very simple and basic. You can relax and rest and prepare for next day trekking. The guide will help you organize yaks or ponies for the Kailash circuit trek at Darchen. And Darchen is also the Point of Exit to the Sacred Mount Kailash (Kang Rimpoche) for the Kailash Pilgrimage Circuit (Kailash Kora).

Stay overnight in Darchen.

Day 6: Start Kailash Circuit Trekking, O/N: Camp

Start the Kailash circuit today, this kora covers 53 kms and can be done in 3 days. We head west in clockwise direction. Only 4 kilometers from Darchen the trail climbs up over the southwest end of the ridge to reach a cairn (4,730m). Then, trail bends around to north to the Tarboche flagpole. The flagpole is replaced each year at the Saga Dawa festival. After passing the Lha-chu valley, we arrive in Chuku monastery where we can have a break. Another 3 hours trek along the river, we hit our first day’s stop, the Dirapuk monastery.

Stay overnight in the camp on Kailsh.

Day 7: Trekking, O/N: Camp

Trek along Drolma Chu and reach the Jarok Donkhang (5,210m). A little while, Shiva-tsal (5,330m) comes in front. It is a rocky expanse dotted with stone cairns draped with items of clothing. Our next challenge is to get over Drolma La Pass (5,630m), the highest point of the entire kora, where you can look south for your last glimpse of the north face of Kailsh.

After the ascent, we are experiencing a steep descent. Almost immediately, Gauri Kund Lake comes into view. Finally, after a long valley and river, we reach our second day’s stop, the Zutulpuk monastery.

Stay overnight in the camp on Kailsh. 

Day 8: Trekking, O/N: Camp

The final day's walk begins with the easy stroll down to where the river emerges onto the plain. The valley narrows and the prayer flags fluttering across the river. There is a rough road from here back to Darchen and it’s less than an hour’s walk, passing many mani walls embellished with yak skulls. Finally, our kora end up at Darchen.

Stay overnight in the camp on Kailsh.

Day 9: Drive back to Saga

Drive back to Saga from Darchen. The rest of the day is free for you to explore Saga at your leisure.

Stay overnight in Saga.

Day 10: Saga to Tingri

From Saga, your guide will take you to Old Tingri, via the Tong La Pass, at 5,100 meters above sea level. Sice there is a long distance from Saga to EBC, we will stop in Old Tingri for one day before driving to Everest Base Camp in the next day. The route from Saga passes along the beautiful border country of Tibet, with its spectacular evergreen forests and stunning snow-covered mountains. The views of the awe-inspiring mountains along the road to Tingri are some of the most beautiful in the world, and well worth the long drive.

Stay overnight in Old Tingri.

Day 11: Tingri to Mt. Everest to Shigatse

Open your eyes, and wake up to the first sunlight shining over the pyramid-shaped summit of imposing Mt. Everest. Grab your camera for an epic shot and stroll to the Rongbuk Monastery, exploring this world’s highest Buddhist compound. If you wish, you can do the meditation and experience the unparalleled tranquility and harmony there. Or you can interact with monks and nuns with the help of guide to learn more of their unique spiritual life.

The temperature can get bitterly cold in the early morning. Do wear enough cloths like your down jacket, scarf and mittens to protect the extreme coldness. Finally, jump into our tour vehicle and say farewell to the world’s highest peaks through the rearview mirror of the van. By following the zigzag roads on Sino-Nepal Friendship Highway, we head back to Shigatse.

Stay overnight in Shigatse.

Day 12: Drive to Lhasa

The following morning, you will get to visit the famed Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, with its ancient statue of Jampa, the “future god”. Tashi Lhunpo is also the seat of the Panchen Lama, the second highest spiritual leader in Tibetan Buddhism. You can also see the monastery's Barley Mill, and the fields of barley around the site, and see how the barley is ground into flour to make the staple food of Tibetans, tsampa.

Continue drive to Gyantse, you'll visit Pelkor Monastery as well as the splendid Kumbum Stupa (100-Thousand-Buddha Pagoda) nearby, both of them built in the 15th century and situated in the northwestern edge of Gyantse. Afterwards pass by the 5,010 m high Karo-la and the Simi La to Lhasa.

Then you will have a chance to get lost in the endless Tibetan landscape while you take a short hike along the turquoise waters of Lake Yamdrok, one of the four holy lakes in Tibet. This dazzling lake is normally first seen from the summit of the Kamba-la (4700m). The lake lies several hundred metres below the road, and it is shaped like a coiling scorpion. Far in the distance is the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangstsang (7191m).

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 13: Lhasa sightseeing

After breakfast, we go to the Potala Palace, a golden feather upon the roof of the world, which Tibetans proudly claim to be the prime miracle since the creation of this world. It is visible from any distance, with the golden roof shinning in the sun, spend one hour wondering around the inside of this magnificent building exploring the rooms previously used by the Dalai Lama and the many Buddhist icons within.

In the afternoon we go inside of the Jokhang Temple. Then stroll around the back alleys of the Barkhor area of Old Lhasa. The streets smelled of yak butter and incense while hordes of pilgrims shuffled along the main Kora (circumambulations) around Jokhang Temple. If someone just walked at a normal pace, one kora would take about 15-20 minutes.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 14: Drepung and Sera Monastery

In the morning have a tour for Drepung Monastery, the ever largest monastery with more than 10 thousand monks, Buddhist debates often occur there. Seen from afar, its grand, white construction gives the monastery the appearance of a heap of rice. As such, it was given its name which, in the Tibetan language, means Monastery of Collecting-Rice. Learn about the lives of Tibetan monks there.

The afternoon is spent touring Sera Monastery, have a little hike for the beautiful valley scenery nearby and picnic there. Sera monastery was created in 1419 and has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Catch the famous debate session of the monks before returning back to Lhasa.

Stay overnight in Lhasa.

Day 15: Finish this unforgettable tour

Free time at your disposal this morning, explore the bustling markets of the Barkhor to buy some souvenirs for your families and friends. After lunch, departure transfer to see off, tour services end and Tibet welcome you back forever.

What’s included?

1.Tibet Entry Permit

2. Comfortable, clean and safe vehicle depending on your group size with reliable local driver;

3. Admission fees of tourist sites listed in the itinerary;

4. Professional English speaking tour guide;

5. Accommodations depend on your preference. Please tell us your preferred accommodation class when submitting the enquiry, and we will arrange the best-value hotels for you.

6.All measl listed in the itinerary;

7.Tourist Accident/Casualty Insurance

What’s not included?

1. International flight to and out of China;

2. Chinese Visa

3. Domestic flight / train not listed in the itinerary (If you need ticket booking service, please leave your requirements in the Online Inruiry form.)

4.Meals not specified in the itinerary;

5.Tips to driver and tour guide, Tip as you wish

6.Personal expenses, such as laundry, phone call, optional tour activities and so on.

Trip Notes:

1. Tibet Travel Permit

Tibet Travel Permit is a must for Tibet tour. Its cost is included in the tour quotation. Send your passport and China visa copies to us 20 days in advance, and we will apply for the permit after you book a Tibetan tour with us. Shortly after we get your permit from Tibet Tourism Bureau, we will inform you and mail it to your hotel in China via express.

In some extreme cases, our staff will hand it over to you at the airport or railway station. In our experience, we can virtually guarantee to get your permit during times when Tibet is open to foreign travelers.

2. Accommodation

Tibet is never known for its 5-star luxury resorts, though you can find some like Intercontinental Lhasa Paradise, St.Regis Lhasa Resort, Sheraton hotel, etc in Lhasa. Overall, the accommodation facilities and services are not as good as those in coastal and central parts of China. However, from cheap and clean youth hotel, to distinct Tibetan style 3-star and international 5-star luxury hotel, you will find one that suits your interest and pocket in Lhasa.

We’ve handpicked cozy and safe hotels in the central area of Lhasa, where you will find Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street are just steps away from you. You can easily experience more of the local life and culture. Normally, as you travel to remote areas in some parts of Shigatse like Tingri, or EBC, Ngari, Nagqu, etc. the accommodation would be much poorer. Some may have air-conditioning in the hotel;others may only have electric blanket in the guesthouses. And the food is also very basic.

3.Guiding and Tipping

Our English-speaking guides are natives of Tibet with good knowledge of Tibetan culture, history, and Buddhism. Most are trained to offer Western-standard service. Throughout your stay in Tibet, we will minor your health and provide prompt help to you. If you run into any trouble, please do not hesitate to reach them or our customer service manager.

Travelers’s tipping to Tibetan guide and driver is taken as an extra gratitude to their good service, just like what you do in the west. Normally, a tipping of 7 USD/day is acceptable. The basic rule is good service for good pay.

4. Toilet

Admittedly, to many western tourists, using toilets in Tibet is the most dreadful experience. So, please down play your expectation. If you take Tibet train to Lhasa, both western toilet and squat toilet are available in the train. If you stay in hotel above 3-star hotels in Lhasa, Shigatse, etc. you will have no complaining using standard western flash toilet.

However, if you visit some of the attractions like Yamdrok or Namtso, EBC outdoor, mostly you will see the smelly and filthy pit toilet.It's better to carry enough toilet paper.

5. Tibet Weather

One of the biggest features of weather on Qinghai-Tibet Plateau is the dramatic temperature change between day and night. The annual temperature in Lhasa is -2℃-- 12℃(spring), 9℃-- 22℃(summer), 7℃-- 19℃(fall), -7℃-- 9℃(winter). Do wear clothes properly such as thermal tops, fleece jacket, breathable underwear, down jacket, jeans, beanie, etc.

Of course, sun screen, lip balm, sun glasses are essential to shield you from powerful blinding sunlight on the plateau. Do drink more water and eat more vegetable as you travel in Tibet. It can prevent you from dehydration.

6. Acclimatization to the High Altitude

For the first timer to Tibet, either by flight or train, a good rest is a must for quick acclimation to the high altitude in Lhasa. Never rush to tour the street or attractions on your own. Walk slower and do not exert yourself like running or jumping. Spending at least two days in Lhasa is a good way to get acclimatized before heading to Shigatse or Namtso. If you have any discomfort, do tell it to your guide,and he will help you out.

7. Other Dos and Don'ts

Normally, taking photos is forbidden in the monastery. If you want to take photos of Tibetan pilgrims, a gentle ask of permission would be appreciated or you can do it from a long distance. Swimming and fishing are not allowed in holy lakes in Tibet; Do not talk about sensitive topics like politics; International tourists are not allowed to travel alone in Tibet according to the policy; Walk clockwise around Barkhor Street; Never venture into the unknown trails; do as much as you can to protect the fragile eco-system in Tibet, etc.

As Tibetan Buddhism is deeply-rooted in every facet of Tibetans' life, always follow and respect the unique customs in Tibet. If you are uncertain about something, it’s advisable to ask your guide before you do it at will.

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