Nepal, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal, is a landlocked country in South Asia and is the world’s youngest republic. It is bordered to the north by the People’s Republic of China, and to the south, east, and west by the Republic of India. With an area of 147,181 sq. km. (56,827 sq. mi) and a population of approximately 30 million, Nepal is the world’s 93rd largest country in land mass and the 41st most populous country. Kathmandu is the nation’s capital and is the country’s largest metropolitan city.
Nepal is a country of highly diverse and rich geography, culture, and religion. The mountainous north contains eight of the world’s ten highest mountains, including the highest, Mount Everest, at 8848 m. The fertile and humid south is heavily urbanized. By some measures, Hinduism is practiced by a greater majority of people in Nepal than in any other nation. Buddhism, though a minority faith in the country, is linked historically with Nepal as the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama who, as the lord Buddha Gautam, gave birth to the Buddhist tradition.
Tibet is known as the roof of the world and it covers a massive 1,220,000 sq. km. (470,920 sq. mi) area, which is about 12.8% of the whole of China. Xinjiang, Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan are Tibet’s internal borders while India, Burma, Bhutan, Sikkim, and Nepal meet its external borders. One of the youngest mountain ranges in the world at only 4 million years old lies within Tibet. Nearly all Tibetans follow Tibetan Buddhism, known as Lamaism, and there are therefore numerous monasteries, murals, sculptures and solemn stupas built in honor of Buddha. Lhasa and Shigatse, the most important cities in Tibet, feature most of the religious monuments. Western Tibet, Ngari, is a vast barren plateau and as the place where the Holy Lake (Lake Manasarova) joins the Sacred Mountain (Mt. Kailash), Ngari is a holy pilgrimage destination for both Tibetans and Hindus, as well as a popular challenge for trekkers. As the climate is so difficult, few people live in this region; therefore, Ngari is also the home of wild yak, Tibetan antelope, wild donkey and many other rare and wild animals.
Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu
You will be welcomed at the Kathmandu Airport (Tribhuwan International Airport) and then driven to your hotel. Check-in and rest.
The Kathmandu valley (Central Nepal) offers some of the most praised adventure holiday trips. Cultural tours of this valley and its temples are the most compact, concise adventure programs found anywhere in the world. Kathmandu, the capital city of Nepal, is well-known throughout the world as the city of the Living Goddess (Kumari) who is worshipped and taken on an annual chariot procession.
Day 02: Kathmandu Full Day Tour
After breakfast you will be taken for your sightseeing tour.
Boudhanath Temple: This is the country’s largest stupa and is a site of great veneration to Buddhists. Boudhanath is a colossal stupa northeast of Pashupatinath, a mere 2 km. journey by road.
This colossal stupa, one of the biggest in the country, is situated 8 km. east of the capital. Like Swayambhu, the stupa is inset on four sides with the all-seeing eyes of the Lord Buddha gazing in each direction. Built on a huge octagonal base, the stupa is also inset with prayer wheels. It is common to see dozens of worshippers constantly perambulating the stupa while taking care to spin each of the sacred prayer wheels. Around the stupa are various smaller shrines and the houses of the important Lamas (Buddhist priests). The stupa takes on added importance at all Buddhist festivals when Buddhist pilgrims come from all over the country to take part in the sacred rituals.
Pashupatinath Temple: This is the most sacred of the Hindu temples in Nepal dedicated to Lord Shiva, first established in 5th century. Dedicated to Shiva the lord of destruction, Pashupatinath is the holiest Hindu pilgrimage place in Nepal and has received the attention of worshippers for at least 1500 years. The temple is situated on the banks of the holy River Bagmati. A circuit of the Pashupatinath Temple area takes visitors past a 6th century statue of the Buddha, an 8th century statue of Brahma the Creator, freshly painted skeletal images guarding the temple gates, and other magnificent temples dedicated to various deities throughout the complex.
Swayambhunath Temple: This is the oldest Buddhist shrine. Looking east from here, one can see the entire Kathmandu valley spread out below and lunch break in the Kathmandu Durbar Square. Swayambhunath is the best place to observe religious harmony between Nepalese Buddhists and Hindus. The stupa is one of the most ancient in this part of the world and its worshippers come from diverse ethical backgrounds. Situated on the top of a hill, it provides an excellent view of the Katmandu Valley. Huge prayer wheels and fine Buddhist paintings are displayed in the monasteries, along with the largest Buddha statue in the country. Special butter lamps can be lit after monetary gifts are offered to the images.
Kathmandu Durbar Square: This is home to the temple of the Living Goddess and the old Royal Palace.
Kasthamandup: Finally, you will visit Kasthamandup, a temple built from a single tree from which Kathmandu derives its name.
The Square: This place teems with life as vendors, children, tourists and others crowd around the Temple of the Living Goddess Kumari, Goddess Taleju and the Kastamandap Resthouse. Many pay homage to the monuments of Kal Bhairav and Lord Hanuman and to the images of Shiva and Parbati. The buildings here are the greatest achievements of the Malla dynasty, and they resulted from the great rivalry between the three palaces of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhakatpur. The wood carvings, statues and architecture in this area are exceptionally fine.
Kathmandu became the seat of the valley’s royalty when King Jayasthiti Malla unified the valley in the 14th century (although it was divided later by his descendants). The Malla King’s Royal Palace was located at Hanuman Dhoka, and it is still retained as the ceremonial palace of the present Shah dynasty. Although the present King Birendra does not reside there, important traditional royal ceremonies, including HM the king’s coronation, are still conducted at Hanuman Dhoka.
Hanuman Dhoka (literally, Hanuman Gate): It takes its name from the monkey god Hanuman, whose idol lies at the entrance of the palace. Kneeling in his usual posture on a pedestal, Hanuman is a hero from the Hindu epic Ramayana, who endows military success to his devotees; this is the reason why he has been placed there.
Evening dinner will be accompanied by a cultural show.
Day 03: Drive to Zhangmu
Wake up in the early morning, have breakfast at the hotel, and then drive to Kodari (114 km.). We will reach Kodari at around 10:00 a.m. After completing the immigration formalities (on the Nepal side), we will meet our Tibetan team. After the final immigration formalities we will drive up to Zhang Mu to stay for the night.
Day 04: Zhangmu – Nyalam
This day is free for acclimatization. We will be going for short trek around the area, which is in preparation for Kailash Parikrama (Rounding), and it will help us to acclimatize more quickly.
Day 05: Drive to Saga
After breakfast drive to Saga.
Saga County in southern Tibet is located at an altitude of 4,640 m. Its seat is Saga Town, an army town with a Chinese garrison which patrols the whole length of the Sino-Nepal border. Saga means “happy land” in the Tibetan language.
Day 06: Drive to Mansarovar
The driving day starts full of excitement, and by the late afternoon you can have your first sights of Holy Kailash Parbat and Manasarovara. We will spend the night at the small village nearby Lake Manasarover.
Day 07: Mansarovar sightseeing, religious rites viewing and/or participation, and travel onwards to Darchen
Mount Kailash is known as a holy site among the Hindu, Bon, Buddhist and Jain religions. Mount Kailash is believed to be the ultimate destination of souls and the spiritual destination of the whole world. In Hinduism this is believed to be the place of Lord Siva’s “The God of all Gods”, in Buddhism it is known as the home of Buddha Damchok, who represents the supreme bliss of Buddhism, and in the Bon religion as the place all spiritual power. In this Holy Yatra, the Lake Manasarovar, Lake Raktsesh, Tirthapuri, Asthapath, Nandi and Kailash Parikrama are the most popular pilgrimage sides, and all have their own important historical stories and legends. With all of these finding themselves in one location, along with the beauty of the nature and view itself, you could almost say that Kailash and Manasarovar are something like heaven on earth.
The holy Lake Mansarovar is known as the lake of compassion, tranquility and bliss. After completing the memorable morning bath and puja, we will be heading, with a packed lunch, for Holy Mansarovar Parikrama by land cruiser, and then will continue the drive towards Tarchen (Darchen). If time permits, we visit Chui Gompa. Tarchen is considered a base camp for the holy Kailash Parikrama. During the auspicious pilgrimage time, this place will be flooded with pilgrims with hundreds of tents all around.
Day 08: Trek to Dirapuk
Today we will start the Kailash rounds. This is the first day of Kailash Parikrama (Rounding). We will drive first from Darchen to the Valley of the Gods, and then will continue the walk to Dirapuk. From time to time the face of Kailash Parvat Mountain will keep on appearing. We will stop finally at the Dirapuk Hotel (5000 m).
Day 09: Trek to Zulthulphuk
Today, after breakfast, we will begin the climb to Drolma La (18600 ft. / 5200 m) and then descend gradually to Zuthulphuk (4760 m).
Today is the most challenging day of the trek. Once you reach the top, you can do the holiest offering and then sit down for meditation and relaxation. After this we will continue on and by late afternoon will arrive in Zuthulphuk (known as the Cave of Miracles, as the great ascetic Milerappa is supposed to have performed miracles here).
Day 10: Trek to Zuthulpuk, then drive to Mansarovar
In the morning there will be free-time for exploring the caves, temples and shrine around Milarepa caves. After this, a trek of approximately 3 hours will bring us to Darchen, and from there it’s just a short drive to Mansarovar Lake.
Day 11: Drive to Saga
After breakfast we begin the drive back to Saga.
Saga straddles the Dargye Tsangpo River above its junction with the Brahmaputra River.
Saga is an important traffic hub, for it is strategically located at the junction of three roads – the Lhatse road coming from the east, the Dzongka road from the south and the Purang and Drongpa roads from the west.
Saga is also a significant stop-off point for pilgrims and tourists on the way to visiting Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar because it is the last town on the southern route with supplies for travellers, having both a store and a restaurant as well as several guest houses and hotels.
Day 12: Drive to Shigatse
After breakfast at the hotel, we will drive onwards to Shigatse. A 6-7 hour drive brings us to Tibet’s second largest city, Shigatse. A traditional capital of Tsang, Shigatse has long been an important trading town and administrative center. The Tsang kings exercised their power from the once imposing heights of the Shigatse Fortress – the present ruins only hint at its former glory – and the fort later became the residence of the governor of Tsang. Here we visit the Tashilumpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, and thus one of the most important monasteries in Tibet.
Day 13: Drive to Lhasa via Gyantse
This will be a longer drive because we are going to see Gyantse City also.
While approaching the small farming town we can clearly see the old fort that was captured by Francis Younghusband during his 1904 raid into Tibet. Here the main attraction is the Kumbum monastery with its extraordinary architecture. The altitude here is 3990 m.
From here, we cross the Karola with its spectacular glacier, and we see Yamdrok Tso Lake, also known as the Turquoise Lake, and cross the Kamba-la Pass, from where we descend to the main road which brings us all the way to Lhasa, at an altitude of 3650 m.
The Yamdrok Tso Lake is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet, and lies about a hundred kilometers’ distance to the southwest of Lhasa. It is within Langkamu County, and has an area of 638 sq. km. and a coastal line of 250 km. The deepest point in the lake is 60 m. Throughout the lake are dotted a number of hilly islands standing independently one from the other which give home to flocks of wild ducks. Many colorful ducks and geese are able to be seen swimming on the surface of the lake. There is also plenty of natural fodder for the fish in the lake. The lake has a fish reserve of about 300 million kg., which is why it is called “the fish store of Tibet”. Along the coastline of the lake is an ideal pasture. All of these factors make for an intoxicatingly beautiful and picturesque view.
Day 14: Lhasa tour
Today we will visit the Potala Palace, the gold roofed palace built in the time of 5th Dalai Lama. From there we will explore the Jorkhang temple, known as the spiritual center of Tibet, founded in 7th century by the King Songtsan Gompo, and then we will continue on to Barkhor, a colorful market with lots to see and do. Finally, we will visit Norbu Lingkha, the beautiful summer palace of the Dalai Lama. Then, it’s back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.
Day 15: Lhasa Tour
On this day we will have an excursion tour to Drepung Monastary, which is the largest monastery in Tibet, founded in 1416. From there we continue to Sera Monastery, one of the great institutions of the Gelugpa Sect. Once again, we stay overnight in our pleasant hotel accommodations.
Day 16: Fly home
After a good breakfast, we will drive to Lhasa airport (55 km.), and from there, fly home.
Note: For China visas one must arrive in Kathmandu in the morning and it must also be on Embassy working days (Monday to Thursday).
• If 6 – 9 pax: USD 2841 per person
• If 10 – 13 pax: USD 2670 per person
• If 14-19 pax: USD 2586 per person
• If 20+ pax: USD 2544 per person
Single room supplement: USD 760
Tour price includes:
• All arrival/departure transfers
• Hotel (specified below or similar)
• Breakfast daily
• Local tour guide
• Entry fees for all monasteries/temples mentioned in the program
• Private transport using land cruisers
• Porter for Kailash Trek
• Food & accommodations for our staff
• Tibet travel permits
• All other necessary permits
• China visa service in Kathmandu (for the Nepal to Tibet program)
• Mineral water daily during sightseeing
Tour price excludes:
• Any personal expenses, such as laundry/bar, etc.
• All airfares
• Lunch & dinner except one dinner on the last evening
• China visa fee USD 175 each
• Camera fees