HRTL High Road to Lhasa

We begin our journey in Kathmandu; a vibrant metropolis with nearly two thousand years of history, ancient architecture and strong Buddhist and Hindu influences with a fascinating city tour.

A beautiful trip. This is an absolute once in a lifetime experience that will remain in one’s heart forever! When describing Tibet images that spring to mind are breathtaking scenery, spiritual awareness, spectacular vistas, huge tracts of emptiness and of course cheerful, devout and serene people.

Tibet is a place where sometimes it seems time forgot! Wandering nomads with their ponies, yaks, sheep, goats and dogs… then there are the pilgrims, sometimes prostrating for years at a time. These people living more or less the same way as they have been for centuries. We travel through this pristine and spiritual environment amongst them.

Where accommodation is unavailable or inadequate we have additional crew with their own vehicle setting up our camps in advance and preparing all meals. Camps consist of kitchen, dining, personal and toilet tents.

On this particular trip we take our time and acclimatise slowly. We do it properly! On board BOA’s vehicles we constantly monitor and record all passengers oxygen saturation levels with a pulse oxymeter. BOA’s mountaineering experience kicks in here… we know how to manage altitude properly and carefully.

Finish in Kathmandu with an international flight from Lhasa.

If you would like to really explore Kathmandu thoroughly, we suggest you arrive at least couple of days before our start date. There is so much to see and do and the markets are never ending. Wander up and down Freak Street and Thamel and bargain with the shopkeepers, chill out in a local restaurant and try the local staple… ‘daal bhaat’ (some Nepalis eat this three times a day, every day of the year!!), settle into one of the many restaurants and coffee houses that now have free wi-fi for their patrons.

There are plenty of environmentally friendly cycle rickshaws that can be hired very cheaply but be sure to agree on a price before your wallahs begin to pedal away. As well as the many well-known and frequented sites in and around Kathmandu, there are literally hundreds of shrines, temples and other oddities tucked away in nooks and crannies all over and around the ancient city. Both Thamel and New Road are a shopper’s paradise.

If you would like to check out our all of our other Tibet itineraries, please go to the 'Tibet' section on our 'Trips and Itineraries' page.

 

Itinerary

Our scheduled drive times include lunch, photo and toilet stops but please remember that this is genuine adventure travel, so while we endeavour to follow the itinerary, it will not always be possible and it should be used as a guide only. You will need to remain open-minded and flexible in order to get the most out of your trip.

Day 01: Namaste. Arrive in Kathmandu to be greeted by BOA staff at the Tribhuvan Airport from where you will be driven to the beautiful Dwarikas Hotel, a living museum, where you will be made to feel very welcome with the wonderful and friendly service. The food is a treat here and the setting very peaceful and relaxing. Overnight Kathmandu.

Day 02: Members of the group who would like to participate in the optional Mount Everest scenic flight will be picked up around 05:45hrs and whisked off to the airport, returning for a delicious Dwarikas breakfast before taking in the sites of Kathmandu. The city tour which includes visits to Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple), Pashpathinath, Durbar Square (Kathmandu) and Bodhnath. Finish the day with a nine course Nepali meal at the unforgettable Krishnapan Restaurant at Dwarikas. Overnight Kathmandu. 

Day 03: We travel north towards Tibet on the Arniko Highway and stay at the Last Resort. The Tibetan border is less than 15km from here. Immerse yourself in the ambient atmosphere of the Last Resort and indulge in a soothing massage finishing off with a relaxing sauna. Drive time, four to six hours. Overnight Last Resort.

Day 04: Enter China (Tibet) after all border formalities. Stay at Zhangmu Hotel which is literally only metres away from Chinese immigration. Our crew will shop for perishable foods which cannot be brought in from Nepal. This will be a good time for you to change currency and familiarise yourselves with a new country. The elevation of Zhangmu is just over 2,200m. Today we will begin to record everyone’s oxygen saturation levels with our pulse oxymeter. We will be doing this for the next week or so until everyone is well and truly acclimatised. Drive time (including border formalities) four to six hours. Overnight Zhangmu. 

Day 05: For the next two days we don’t travel very far but concentrate on becoming acclimatised to the altitude! We consider this to be very important. Often Kathmandu to Lhasa trips are done too quickly which can be uncomfortable and unsafe for the passengers and disruptive to the journey. We will also visit Milarepa’s Cave today. Milarepa was a great 11th-century Tibetan magician and poet. Day five is the first of ten bush camps on the journey. The elevation of our first bush camp will be over, 3,800m, we will have risen very quickly but there is no reasonably practical way to avoid this. Drive time, two to four hours. Overnight bush camp (near Nyalam).

Day 06: After a late breakfast, leave the crew to pack up camp and we head to the top of La Lungla Pass. Here we take in the spectacular views while acclimatising. The altitude is around 5,000m. When we are ready, we will head back down the way we have come to our second bush camp where the crew will have already set everything up and food will be on the go. Our bush camp will be higher than the night before. When it comes to altitude, there is a golden rule that we will be implementing… climb high and sleep low! Tonight we sleep at an altitude of over 4,000m. Drive time, three to six hours. Overnight bush camp.

Day 07: We have finally made it over La Lungla and, until we are in Lhasa, we won’t go below an altitude of 4,000m except for a couple of occasions, and then it’s so close to 4,000m it’s negligible! We stay at the Snow Leopard Guesthouse in Lao Tingri. Make the most of four solid walls because after Lao Tingri, due to the remoteness of our journey, we have no choice but to bush camp for the next eight nights! Drive time, three to five hours. Overnight Lao Tingri.

Day 08: We drive over Pang La Pass (5,050m) which is between Lao Tingri and Everest Base Camp (EBC). On the ascent and descent of this pass there are over eighty switchbacks… we know because we have counted them! As we are still acclimatising we don’t camp at EBC, or even Rongbuk Monastery, as the altitude is still too high for us to camp sensibly at our rate of acclimatisation. We bush camp at a lower altitude of around 4,500m. Drive time six to eight hours. Overnight bush camp.

Day 09: Drive to Rongbuk (Rongphu) and EBC. Rongbuk is not only the highest monastery in Tibet (4900m), but the world! Standing within a stones throw of Mount Everest rarely fails to bring out ones emotions. Elevation is around 5,150m. After leaving EBC we backtrack to the Friendship Highway travelling along it for some time before deviating to the northwest. We will bush camp at the very remote and beautiful Paiko Tso (lake) very close to Shishapangma, the fourteenth highest mountain in the world. Drive time, six to eight hours. Overnight bush camp.

Day 10 and 11: For the next three days we drive in some of the most remote countryside many of you will have encountered in your lifetime. There are no trees and very little vegetation with only the occasional nomad camp and ruined monasteries scattered along parts of the road. We take our time to explore and take photos. Meanwhile our support crew will be busy looking after all of your needs and at the end of every drive day we will arrive at our camp to a welcoming hot cuppa. Drive times six to eight hours each day. Overnight(s) bush camps. 

Day 12: Arriving at Lake Manasarovar will be the culmination of three drive days through breathtaking scenery. You will be rewarded with stunning views of Mount Kailash and we will be camping on the edge of Lake Manasarovar with it’s pristine sapphire blue waters with a beautiful back drop of snow capped mountains. Take a well-deserved wash in hot springs behind Chui Monastery. Drive time six to eight hours. Overnight bush camp.

Day 13: We drive to Darchen, which is the starting point for the Mount Kailash Kora where we get the chance to mix and mingle with many of the pilgrims who are about to begin, or have just completed this arduous pilgrimage. The Mount Kailash Kora is one of the most important pilgrimages in Asia and to date, no one has climbed this incredibly symmetrical and spiritual mountain. Mount Kailash is one of the most sacred mountains in the world. We bush camp at the same site as the night before at Lake Manasarovar. Drive time two to three hours. Overnight bush camp. 

Day 14 and 15: We head back east towards Saga, the same way as we came, giving us more opportunities to appreciate this magnificent and unique countryside. At Saga we turn onto the road to Sakya. These will be our last two nights of bush camping. Drive times six to eight hours each day. Overnight(s) bush camps. 

Day 16: Arrive in Sakya. We stay at Sakya Hotel, quite refreshing to have a normal bed and a piping hot shower after eight straight nights of bush camping! Drive time six to eight hours. Overnight Sakya.    

Day 17: Before heading east on the Friendship Highway we take time out to explore the imposing fortress-like Sakya Monastery. In the afternoon we arrive in Shigatse and stay at Hotel Manasarovar for two nights. Drive time two to four hours. Overnight Shigatse.

Day 18: A whole day is spent in Shigatse, the capital of Tsang province, giving time for a guided tour through the huge Tashilhunpo Monastery, seat of the Panchen Lama, and to also wander around the Shigatse Dzong. Overnight Shigatse.

Day 19: It’s a relatively short drive to Gyantse. We spend one night here and are accommodated at Gyantse Hotel. In the afternoon there will be plenty of time to explore Gyantse Kumbum which is the largest chorten in Tibet. Time will also be available to explore the magnificent Gyantse Dzong, which dominates Gyantse’s skyline as it majestically perches over the town. Drive time two to three hours. Overnight Gyantse.

Day 20: We arrive in Lhasa in the afternoon after skirting Yamdrok-Tso, one of the four holy lakes of Tibet, and having driven over the last high pass of our trip, Kamba La, 4,700m. We spend four nights in Lhasa (3,650m) staying at the very tasteful Yak Hotel. It’s literally only a few minutes walk from Barkhor Square and is home to the mouth-watering Dunya Restaurant. Drive time seven to nine hours. Overnight Lhasa.

Day 21 and 22: Our first two days in Lhasa are spent exploring the city and surrounding areas. Included will be Barkhor Square and the Jokhang, the Potala Palace and Norbulingka (the Summer Palace) and both the Sera and Drepung Monasteries! Sera is famous for monks yelling and gesticulating at each other… they debate very vocally! Overnight(s) Lhasa.

Day 23: Lhasa is a wonderful city to get lost in. it’s so fascinating and spiritual in places, especially the Jokhang. We have left day twenty-three free so one can wander at their leisure, explore the markets and buy a few souvenirs, walk a kora with the pilgrim’s… or just chill out. If you decide to just chill out… you’ve deserved it! Overnight Lhasa.

Day 24: The drive from Lhasa to the Gongkar Airport is approximately 65km. On our flight back to Kathmandu Mount Everest, as well as Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu are on the flight path and can easily be spotted. We will again stay at Dwarikas Hotel. Drive time(s) two hours. Overnight Kathmandu. 

Day 25: BOA also offers another tour of Kathmandu. This time we check out Patan and Bhaktapur. Patan used to be a separate city but is now part of Kathmandu. Bhaktapur was also a separate city and still is, but is only a short drive from Kathmandu. On our last night together we have a final group meal at the Kaiser Café Restaurant in the beautiful Garden of Dreams in the centre of Kathmandu. A lovely way to conclude our trip. Overnight Kathmandu.

Day 26: Farewell and end of trip. We personally bid you farewell and arrange transport to get you safely to the airport.

We thank you for choosing to travel with us. Best Of Asia Overland, the specialists in ‘Adventure in Comfort’, welcome you anytime.

Crew: One permanent western leader/driver plus local guides.

To find out what is included on our trips, please go to the 'TRAVEL THE BOA WAY' tab and click on 'what is provided'.

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