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Tibet Tour

We journeyed by road from Lhasa to Kathmandu, taking in some of the wonderful sights of Tibet – stunning lakes, ancient monasteries and the mighty Mount Everest. It’s worth spending a few days in Lhasa to acclimatise to the altitude and thinner air. Accommodation was very basic although they claim it to be 3 star, mmh…!


It is strictly enforced that non-Chinese nationals are required to obtain a special permit to visit Tibet and hire a tour guide every day they stay in Tibet. Individual permits are almost impossible to obtain for average tourists. Some agencies in Kathmandu are able to obtain a permit for 4 persons of the same nationality so we were lucky to have a permit for 2 people.


Lhasa (3650m)- Gyantse (3950m) 261 km
We began our overland journey from Lhasa towards the Rongbuk valley, following Friendship Highway, crossing the Khamba La (4794m) from which there are stunning views across the turquoise waters of the holy Yamdrok-tso Lake to the snowy summit of Nazin Kang Sa (7252m). The freshwater lake is 4480m above sea level, around 500sq miles in size and 305m deep.


We continued  westward over another high pass. the Karo La (5045m), and viewed the spectacular sight of a huge glacier tumbling down to within a few hundred meters of the road. After a few hours, we arrived in Gyantse passing the beautiful valleys and colourful Tibetan villages. Gyantse is an agricultural town famous for its wool.carpets and the Kumbum, the largest stupa in Tibet, housing 10000 images in hundreds of chapels at the Palkhor Chose Monastery.

Overnight at Gyantse Hotel.


Gyantse (3950m) - Shigatse (3900m) - 90 km

Before leaving Gyantse, visited the Gyantse Dzong and Gyantse Kumbum, which is a large gold-domed stupa. The Dzong is a fort dating from the 14th century from which there are amazing views of both Gyantse itself and the surrounding Nyang Chu Valley.


We drove to Shigatse  and explored a local market before continuing on to the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet. Overnight at Utse Hotel.


Shigatse (3900m) - Shegar (New Tingri) (4050m) - 244 km
We continued along the Friendship Highway, through spectacular landscape of Tibet, crossing the  highest pass on our journey, the Gyamtso La (5220m). Then we continued towards the plains passing lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders, en route to Shegar. Overnight at Everest Hotel.


Shegar (4050m) – Rongbuk (5000m) - 68 km – Tingri (4390m) 65km
We turned off the Friendship Highway and headed south over the Pang La (5150m) towards the main Himalayan range with magnificent views stretching from Makalu to Shishapangma. Below the pass, as we turned the corner into the Rongbuk Valley, we saw an amazing view of Mount Everest. (We were supposed to stay at Everest View Hotel but the agent didn’t book it so we have to drive an additional 65km to the Snowland Guest House at Tingri)


Mount Everest, Rongbuk (5000m)

We drove 65km back to Rongbuk. After looking around Rongbuk Monastery we set off on the 8km walk to Everest Base Camp (2 to 3 hour walk). Drove back to Tingri and overnight at Snowland Guest House.


Tingri (4390m) - Zhangmu (2300m) - 181 km
We left Tingri and crossed two high passes, the Lalung La (5124m) and the Shung La (5200m). On route we saw magnificent scenery of the surrounding peaks including Shishapangma, Cho Oyu, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar. Then we rejoined the main route over the arid Tibetan Plateau to the town of Nielamuzhen where we had to wait until we had the OK to drive down the deep valley of the Bhote Koshi which was nearly unpassable in places.


We were given the clearance to drive down the valley (traffic coming up had been halted) but it was probably the scariest route of all our travels. Heavy rain had washed away much of the mountain pass so there was little room for one vehicle to drive and in places the waterfalls were running across the road. Surprisingly, we met a guy who was cycling around the world on his pennyfarthing bike! Finally, we arrived at the lush, green town of Zhangmu on the Nepalese border. Overnight at Zhangmu Hotel.


Zhangmu (2300m) - Kodari - Kathmandu (1350m) - 123 km
Leaving Zhangmu, we had a short drive to the Chinese - Nepalese border where there were very long queues of vehicles. We were relieved to say good-bye to our extremely bad Tibetan guide. He wasn’t even qualified to take us to the Nepalese border but we were fortunate to get the assistance of a tour guide who was taking a group through. We walked across the Friendship Bridge over the Bhote Koshi River to the Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari and waited in a café unto our Nepalese guide came along.  We then drove 5 hours in very bad weather and road conditions to Kathmandu. At one point there was water flowing over the road and all passengers had to get out of the vehicles and walk across with their luggage, incase the vehicle went over the cliff!

Overnight at Hotel de l’Annapurna.



For the first time ever in our extensive travel  (see we had a dud tour company, (see the full story about Nepal trailblazers), who said that it is OK to provide a unqualified student instead of an English Speaking Guide as they had specified and to not pre-book hotels. (We understand that it is law to be accompanied in Tibet by a qualified tour guide at all times)