Kharta Valley + Everest Kangshung Face Trek - Tibet

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Kharta Valley + Kangshung Face of Everest is one of the Tibet Himalaya's most spectacular treks, a remote journey through one of Tibet's most unique regions! The trip is a feast of Himalayan peaks and vignettes of old Tibet - Tibetans clad in traditional gear, yak-hair tent, burly yaks, traditional Tibetan villages, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, high altitude pastures painted with springtime flowers and glaciers tumbling down from 8000+ meter peaks.

The Kangshung Face of Everest (Chomolungma in Tibetan, 8848m) is Everest's remote, eastern face, tucked away between long glaciers and soaring Himalayan snow peaks, and rising almost 500 kilometers above Rongphu Base Camp. Mallory's 1921 Everest Reconnaissance Expedition discovered the route up Everest via the Kharta Valley, an arduous journey trekking from Sikkim.

Our Tibet journey begins in Lhasa, the once forbidden capital of Tibet, where we explore the history laden city with its living monasteries and fortress-like Potala Palace. We visit Ganden Monastery, doing a kora of its sacred peak, and spend nights at Gyantse, with its ancient dzong and multi-tiered Gyantse Kumbum (Buddhist temple) and Shigatse, where we have the afternoon to explore the resplendent Tashilhungpo Monastery.

Our Kharta Valley + Kangshung Face of Everest is a region of alpine lakes, soaring peaks and grassy meadows, a semi-nomadic region which turns shades of pinks and purples with the spring flowers. Waking to reflections of Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,463 meters, and its sister peak Jomolonzo, we cross the relatively simple Sha-U La (pass) to get into the higher reaches of the Kharta Valley. Trekking further west towards the border of Nepal the panoramas open up and we're surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful Himalayan peaks. From Pethang Ringmo, the high grazing plateaus of the local Tibetan herders, we trek right to the Kangshung Face base camp along the Kangshung glacier, finishing off the trek with the spectacular pass crossing of the Langma La, perhaps the most beautiful pass in all of the Himalaya!

Join us for our journey into Tibet, the 'abode of the snows' and land of Tibetan Buddhist lamas, where nomads in yak-hair tents roam the plateaus with their yaks, a land of spectacular, snow-topped peaks and the wonderful, spirited Tibetans themselves.

Tashi Delek!

Trip

NOTE: Please plan to arrive early in Kathmandu. We need your passports by 8:30 am on Day 1

Kharta Valley + Everest Kangshung Face Trek | Tibet
Day 0 - Saturday, 28 April 2019 - Early Arrival
Day 1 - Sunday, 29 April 2019 - Meet Kathmandu | Passport Collection 8:30am
Day 2 - Kathmandu
Day 3 - Fly Lhasa | Barkor Square Kora
Day 4 - Lhasa | Drepung + Sera Monasteries
Day 5 - Lhasa | Potala Palace + Jokhang Temple
Day 6 - Lhasa | Day Trip Ganden Monastery
Day 7 - Drive Gyantse | Gyantse Kumbum + Gyantse Fort
Day 8 - Drive Shigatse | Tashilungpo Monastery
Day 9 - Drive Shegar
Day 10 - Drive Kharta Qu
+ Optional Extra 2 Days | Trek Valley of Lakes
Day 11 - Trek Dambu
Day 12 -  Trek Sha-u Tso
Day 13 - Trek Jokshim | Cross Sha-U La
Day 14 - Trek Thangsum
Day 15 - Trek Pathang
Day 16 - Trek Pethang Ringmo
Day 17 - Pethang Ringmo
Day 18 - Trek Karbus
Day 19 - Trek Pethang Ringmo
Day 20 - Trek Tsho Shungrim | Cross Langma La
Day 21 - Trek Lundrubling
Day 22 - Trek Kharta + Drive Tashidzong
Day 23 - Drive Everest Base Camp, Rongbuk Gompa + Tingri
Day 24 - Drive Peiko Tso Camp
Day 25 - Drive Kyirong Camp
Day 26 - Cross Rasuwa Ghadi Border (Nepal) + Drive Kathmandu
Day 27 - Friday, 25 May 2019 - Trip Ends

Add Ons | Per Person
+ Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
+ Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)
+ Bhaktapur Heritage Sightseeing Tour (+$100)
+ Patan Heritage Sightseeing Tour (+$50)
+ Extra Day Chitwan (+$125)
+ Everest Sightseeing Flight (+$250)
+ Everest Sightseeing Helicopter Tour (+ $Inquire)
+ Shivapuri Heights Cottage (+ $Inquire)
+ Cycling Trip in Kathmandu Valley (+Trip Price)

Chitwan National Park | Maruni Sanctuary Lodge
Chitwan + Tharu Villages Wildlife Safari
+ Upgrade to Tharu Lodge Chitwan (+$300 Per Room)

Nepal Modules
Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip!

Travel Advice
+ Purchase travel insurance with helicopter evacuation!
+ Purchase trip cancellation + travel insurance

Highlights+Reviews

Trek Highlights

  • Kharta Valley + Kangshung Face of Everest Trek
  • Vignettes of Old Tibet
  • Lhasa | Potala Palace, Jokhang, Drepung + Sera Gompas, Barkor Square + Tibetan Quarter
  • Shigatse + Tashilunpo Monasterys
  • Gyantse, Palkor Chode Monastery + Kumbum
  • Everest's Southeast Kangshung Face
  • Makalu + Chomo Lonzo Peaks from Tibet
  • Spectacular Crossing of Langma La Pass
  • Tibet Everest Base Camp
  • Rongbuk Monastery
  • Crossing the New Rasuwa Ghadi Border to Nepal
  • Exotic Kathmandu + World Heritage Sightseeing

Trip Advisor Reviews

Read More Testimonials
Trekker's Comments

Kim Bannister Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Kamzang Journeys | Country + Regional Photos
Kamzang Journeys Photos

Market + Street Food Photos
Asian Markets + Street Food

Himalayan Photos
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Himalayan Bird Photos

Himalayan Flower Photos

Kamzang Journeys Group Photos
Group Photos

Articles on Tibet

China Fences in its Nomads & an Ancient Life Withers | New York Times

The Last Dalai Lama? | New York Times

The Extraordinary Life of Alexandra David-Neel

Alexandra David-Neel | Adventure Journal

A Tibetan's Journey for Justice | New York Times

As the Dalai Lama Turns 80, Tibet Still Suffers | Wall Street Journal

Tibetan Fight to Salvage Fading Culture in China | New York Times

A Showcase of Tibetan Culture Serves Chinese Political Goals | New York Times

Tibet Never Before Seen Footage | TIME

Travel Reading | Enhance Your Trip!
Travel Books

Date+Price

2019 Dates
(28) 29 April - 25 May
25 Days

2019 Trek Price
$5680

+ Tibet Single Supplement Tibet - $350

 

Includes

 

  • Western + Sherpa Guide | Kim + Lhakpa Sherpa
  • Tibetan  Guide
  • Tibet Permit
  • Tibet Hotels (Breakfast)
  • Kathmandu Guest House (Breakfast)
  • Tibet Sightseeing + Entrance Fees
  • Kathmandu Lhasa Flight
  • Hotels En Route to Trek
  • Group Transportation by Private Vehicle
  • Airport Transfers
  • NO Single Supplement on Trek!
  • Kamzang Journeys Boutique Trekking
    Marmot Thor (or similar quality) Western tents, 'gourmet' food with seasonal, fresh produce, French-press coffee, chai, Kashmiri + herbal teas, Katadyn filtered drinking water, warm washing water, library, 'lounge' with colorful Indian rugs, camp chairs, blankets, occasional tent music in evenings, oxygen & PAC bag (when needed), full medical kit, horses, yaks or porters, Western, Sherpa & local guides (when needed), our 5-star Kamzang staff + the signature yellow Kamzang dining tent!

Safety & Health Precautions | Included in Trek

  • Thuraya Satellite Phone (When Allowed)
  • InReach Satellite Messaging System (Free Texts on Trek) (When Allowed)
  • Updated Route Published on InReach Site (When Allowed)
  • Helicopter Evacuation Services (Excluding Cost of Evacuation) (When Allowed)
  • Oxygen Saturation Monitoring System
  • PAC Bag (Portable Oxygen Chamber)
  • Full Medical Kit + Stretcher
  • Kayadyn Filtered Drinking Water
  • SSafe, Sanitary, Delicious + Plentiful Food + Drinks

Excludes

  • International Flights to Nepal
  • Travel Medical + Travel Insurance (Both Required)
  • Nepal or China Visa (We Get Chinese Visas in Kathmandu)
  • Helicopter Evacuation
  • Meals (While Not on Trek)
  • Monastery Donations
  • Equipment Rental
  • Alcohol, Sodas & Packaged Drinks
  • Laundry
  • Tips

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $300 for meals (while not on trek), drinks (on trek) + tips. We recommend $300 per trekker thrown into the tips pool for the crew. There are ATMs in Kathmandu + Tibet.

Kathmandu Guest House Single or Double Upgrades
Garden Single - $20 Per Night
Deluxe Single or Double - $70 Per Night

Kathmandu Guest House Extra Nights
Includes breakfast + 25% taxes
Book with Kamzang Journeys + save on room rates

Kathmandu Guest House | Room Prices
Standard Single - $80
Standard Double - $100
Garden Single - $120
Garden Double - $140
Deluxe Single - $200
Deluxe Double - $220

Kamzang Journeys | Room Prices
Standard Single - $55
Standard Double - $65
Garden Single - $70
Garden Double - $80
Deluxe Single - $125
Deluxe Double - $135

Contact+Details

Travelers Comments
Travel Books

Kamzang Journeys Contact + Guide
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Mobile: +(977) 9803414745
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21277980 (Nepal)
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21274092 (Tibet & India)

Kathmandu Contact
Khumbu Adventures
hiking.guide@gmail.com
Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 235461, 9813 371542
Doma Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 510833, 9803 675361

Tibet Contact
Tibet Kawajian Travel
Lobsang Dhardul

travellingtibet@yahoo.com
Mobile: +(86) 18076999966, +86 15289188887
Office: + (86) 891 6336565

Arrival Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House

Kathmandu Guest House Single or Double Upgrades
Garden Single - $20 Per Night
Deluxe Single or Double - $70 Per Night

Kathmandu Guest House Extra Nights
Includes breakfast + 25% taxes
Book with Kamzang Journeys + save on room rates

Kathmandu Guest House | Room Prices
Standard Single - $80
Standard Double - $100
Garden Single - $120
Garden Double - $140
Deluxe Single - $200
Deluxe Double - $220

Kamzang Journeys | Room Prices
Standard Single - $55
Standard Double - $65
Garden Single - $70
Garden Double - $80
Deluxe Single - $125
Deluxe Double - $135

Trip Photos
Kharta Valley & Everest Kangshung Face Trek 2014
Lhasa & Central Tibet
Lhasa Prostrations | Barkor Square & Jokhang Temple

Arrival Kathmandu

Early Arrival
You will be met at the airport by a representative from the Kathmandu Guest House (look for their sign - they will be looking for you) and escorted to the guest house. Kim will book the extra nights for you, so your room will be ready.

Arrival Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House
Thamel, Kathmandu
Tel: +(977 1) 4700632, 4700800

Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home. Make sure you have a multiple-entry visa for re-entering Nepal from Tibet. We will submit your passport for the Chinese visa, and we will get the group permit for Tibet.

NEPAL ONLINE VISA FORM

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Extra Days in Kathmandu
If you wish to stay longer, we can offer plenty of suggestion! Mountain biking or rafting in the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa in Pokhara, paragliding or zip-lining in Pokhara, an Everest sightseeing flight, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for a bit of luxury and expansive sunrise & sunset mountain panoramas, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, visits to interesting temple villages such as Changu Narayan, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, or a weekend of adventure and pampering at The Last Resort. Kim can help to arrange any of these excursions for you.

Gear

Travel Photography Gear Guide
The Complete Guide to Gear for the Landscape Photographer

Gear List
This is a guideline - not a bible - for the gear you will need on the trek. You will have to adjust what you pack if we have a mountain flight with a 15 kg weight limiit. Ask if you have questions! One 15 kg (33 lbs) maximum weight limit for duffel bag for flights. 20 kg (50 lbs) weight limit for treks!

  • Duffel Bag
  • Day Pack (30-45 L)
  • Sleeping Bag (-10 to 20F/-23C to 30C)
  • Air Mattress
  • Down Jacket
  • Trekking Boots
  • Running Shoes or Lighter Shoes (optional)
  • Crocs (evenings + washing) 

  • Hiking Sandals (or Crocs - river crossings)
  • Trekking Pants (2-3)
  • T-Shirts (2-3)
  • Long-sleeve Trekking Shirts (2-3)
  • Trekking Jacket
  • Wind + Waterproof Jacket + Pants
  • Fleece or Thermal Top + Bottom (evenings)
  • Lightweight Long Underwear (sleeping + layering)
  • Socks (4-6)
  • Gloves (lighter + heavier for passes)
  • Wool Hat
  • Baseball Cap or Wide-brimmed Hat
  • Camp Towel
  • Trekking Poles (optional, recommended)
  • Down Booties (optional, recommended)
  • Sunglasses (+ extra pair)
  • Water Bottles | Nalgenes (2-3)
  • Bladder (optional, recommended)
  • Toiletries, Sunscreen with SPF, Lip Balm with SPF
  • Watch (or alarm)
  • Extra Batteries
  • Battery Chargers
  • Head Lamp
  • Yak Trax or Micro Spikes (for treks with icy passes)
  • Small Water Filter or Steripen (optional, to carry in daypack)
  • Camp Washing Bowl (optional, collapsible for clothes)
  • Laundry Detergent or Bio-degradable Clothes Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Small Solar Panel (optional, recommended for iPods, iPhones, camera batteries, Kindles)
  • Book(s)
  • Zip-Lock Plastic Bags (extra protection for electronics, toiletries)
  • Soft Toilet Paper | Tissues (we supply toilet paper but you will want something softer for blowing your nose)
  • Baby-Wipes | Wet-Wipes (for personal cleaning)
  • Handi-Wipes, J-Cloth or Chux (optional - quick clean, fast drying)
  • Rehydration | Electrolytes
  • Snacks!
  • Personal Medical Supplies

NOTE: We have a 'dress code' for the evenings in the tent, which essentially means you'll be changing out of your trekking clothes and into clean, dry evening clothes!

Medical Supplies
We strongly suggest bringing Western meds with you as there are a lot of Indian fakes on the market!

Suggested: Diamox, Azithromyacin, Ciprofloxacin, Tinidazole or Flagyl & Augmentin. Bring COMPEED for covering blisters & good tasting electrolytes &/or rehydration salts (Emergen-C is a good American brand). The local versions aren’t very appealing.
We also recommend bringing strong knee & ankle supports & braces, ACE bandages for sprains & strains, Tegaderm &/or other would coverings. Duct tape is always useful. We're happy to take excess medical supplies off your hands when you leave if you won't need them and pass them on to others. We use lots of the large amount we have with us to treat locals as well as our own trekkers ...

Comments on Gear
Layers are essential for trekking. Quality is more important than quantity. It’s worth investing in the great, newer lightweight trekking gear available in all gear shops, online or in Kathmandu.

Kim's Gear Suggestions: I generally wear a trekking t-shirt, light trekking pants, a mid-weight shirt, a lightweight synthetic jacket (instead of a fleece), a lightweight jacket and pants for wind and rain. If the weather looks stormy or it’s a pass day I carry a lightweight down jacket and a storm-weight jacket. I always have a pair of lightweight gloves (heavier ones additionally for pass days), a hat, a baseball cap and an extra pair of socks in my day-pack. I generally trek in low Merrill hiking shoes, and Keen boots on very cold days and over passes. I always carry Crocs with me in case of river crossings, or to air my feet at lunch. I carry a 38 L (although it looks larger) Black Diamond day pack although I also love Osprey packs. On pass days I carry Yak Trax and trekking poles, and I always have an extra pair of sunglasses, electrolytes, my camera, a medical kit, a Steripen, snacks and lots of water in my pack. My favorite gear brands available in Kathmandu are Sherpa Gear, Mountain Hardwear and Marmot. I wear lots of Patagonia gear although it's not available in Kathmandu.

Good trekking boots are essential. High boots are best, but you don’t need climbing or plastic boots (for mini-crampons or micro-spikes). You can also get away with low, sturdy trekking boot, which I wear quite often except for over the passes. Trekking poles are not required but strongly recommended, especially for going down passes which are often steep and icy and for treks with river crossings. Bring gators if you tend to use them but they’re not required if you don't own a pair. Micro-spikes (mini-crampons) or YakTraxs are almost always useful (or essential) for the pass crossings. We will have at least one ice ax with us. It’s also good (possibly essential) to have a pair of plastic Crocs for washing and to wear in the lodges in the evenings. Tevas take a long time to dry and are relatively heavy.

Good, polarized sunglasses are essential. Do bring an extra pair. Don’t forget a sun hat and/or a baseball cap, an extra headlamp and have plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with SPF!

The weather is changeable in the Himalaya, so again I recommend that everyone has a strong, WATERPROOF duffel bag for the trip (although they do tend to weigh more). We supply covers that go over the duffel bags to protect them from rain, dirt & rips.

Nights are chilly to cold, so a down jacket and a WARM sleeping bag are essentials. For your sleeping bag, we recommend a DOWN bag of 0 to -20 F (-18 to -28 C). Mine is -20 F. At lower altitudes I open it and sleep under it like a quilt and up higher am toasty warm during the cold nights. Campsites near passes can get COLD. Rentals available. The dining tent is a Tibetan style ‘yurt’, with blankets and camp chairs on the ground. It warms up in the evenings with the gas lamp but it is still important to have warm clothes for the evenings. I always use down booties which are great when it’s cold, but a pair of thick wool socks also work.

Bring extra large plastic bags or stuff-sacks in case of rain. You can pack electronics in them or stash your sleeping bag and clothes. The weather is changeable in the Himalaya, so again I recommend that everyone has a strong, WATERPROOF duffel bag for the trip. We supply covers that go over the duffel bags to protect them from rain, dirt & thorns.

Tents
Everyone gets their own Marmot Thor 2 tent without a single supplement. Singles have a 2-person tent and couples share a larger, 3-person version.

Day Pack
We recommend a 35-45 liter day pack (ask at your gear shop if you’re not sure of the capacity). Better to have it too large than too small as on pass days you’ll need to carry more warm gear. Most have internal water bladders built in, which are good for ensuring that you stay hydrated. Make sure it fits and is comfortable before purchasing!

In your day pack, you will be carrying your camera, 2 liters of water, a jacket, wind & rain pants, hat, gloves, extra socks, sunscreen, snacks, electrolytes, water purifying tablets, filter, or Steripen camera, hand sanitizer, a pack-cover and often a down jacket. I slip my Crocs on the back in case of unexpected stream crossings or for lunch. Lhakpa & I carry small medical kits in our day packs.

Water
We bring KATADYN expedition-sized water filters along on the trek for fresh drinking water, ecologically the best way to get water in the Himalaya’s fragile trekking regions. Bring your own filter pump, Steripen/UV purifier or iodine/chlorine tablets for fresh water while trekking. NOTE: To be extra safe with your drinking water, you can drop one purifying tablet into your water bottle after filling with our filtered water. Make sure you wait the required amount of time before drinking, and don’t add anything with Vitamin C as this negates the iodine.

Please bring at least TWO (and better three) Nalgene, Sigg or other unbreakable plastic/metal water bottles. Camelbacks and other bladder systems are good for trekking but can leak, so as a back-up it’s best to also bring a Nalgene or other water bottle.

NOTE: We do not provide boiled water for drinking on either our tea-house/lodge or our camping treks although there is endless hot water for herbal, black or green teas, hot chocolate, hot lemon as well as Indian chai and Kashmiri tea.

Snacks
You will NEED snacks hiking at altitude, even if you’re not a snacker. People crave unusual foods at altitude!  Energy bars, ‘GU’ gels, chocolate bars, dried fruit & nuts, beef jerky (or whatever) are important to have along for long days, pre-lunch bonks and passes. Lemonade mix, Emergen-C or similar drink mixes are great to have for hot days in your water bottles, and it is ESSENTIAL to bring electrolytes with you every day.  

Bring something to share in the tent in the evenings if you want. Cheese is great as a treat on a cheese-board before dinner (Blue, Stilton, Yarlsburg, good Cheddar, Brie, etc). If you would like, bring a bit of your favorite and we’ll throw it on a cheese board for appetizers one night.

NOTE: Nothing besides your personal snack food is required, but it’s fun to see what everyone comes up with!  Almost all basics available in Kathmandu, so no need to over-load.

Rentals
We have Western down jackets to rent for $1.50 per day.  We also have good super-down sleeping bags to rent (0 to -10 F) for $2.50 per day.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face-style duffels with Kamzang logos for sale, L & XL. They’re very good quality and come in Yellow (L) for $35, Orange (XL) for $40 or Orange (XS) for $30.

Packing & Storage
It’s easiest to pack and unpack from a duffel bag, especially when the temperature drops, and easiest for porters to carry. Inexpensive and decent quality duffels are available in Kathmandu but it’s best to invest in a strong, waterproof duffel such as a North Face. You can store extra gear in Kathmandu at the Kathmandu Guest House storage room free of charge. Valuables can be stored at the Kathmandu Guest House in private safety-deposit boxes for 2 NRP per day.

Shopping
Almost all gear is now available in Kathmandu, from real (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Sherpa, Marmot shops in Thamel) to inexpensive knock-offs. The real gear shops take credit cards.

Lhasa

UNESCO LIST OF SITES IN LHASA
Copied directly from the UNESCO website

Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa
The Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The complex, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of 3,700m. Also founded in the 7th century, the Jokhang Temple Monastery is an exceptional Buddhist religious complex. Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace, constructed in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of Tibetan art. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, add to their historic and religious interest.

Brief synthesis
Enclosed within massive walls, gates and turrets built of rammed earth and stone the White and Red Palaces and ancillary buildings of the Potala Palace rise from Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3,700 metres. As the winter palace of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century CE the complex symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The White Palace contains the main ceremonial hall with the throne of the Dalai Lama, and his private rooms and audience hall are on the uppermost level. The palace contains 698 murals, almost 10,000 painted scrolls, numerous sculptures, carpets, canopies, curtains, porcelain, jade, and fine objects of gold and silver, as well as a large collection of sutras and important historical documents. To the west and higher up the mountain the Red Palace contains the gilded burial stupas of past Dalai Lamas. Further west is the private monastery of the Dalai Lama, the Namgyel Dratshang.

The Jokhang Temple Monastery was founded by the regime also in the 7th century, in order to promote the Buddhist religion. Covering 2.5ha in the centre of the old town of Lhasa, it comprises an entrance porch, courtyard and Buddhist hall surrounded by accommodation for monks and storehouses on all four sides. The buildings are constructed of wood and stone and are outstanding examples of the Tibetan Buddhist style, with influences from China, India, and Nepal. They house over 3,000 images of Buddha and other deities and historical figures along with many other treasures and manuscripts. Mural paintings depicting religious and historical scenes cover the walls.

Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace constructed in the 18th century, is located on the bank of the Lhasa River about 2km west of the Potala Palace in a lush green environment.  It comprises a large garden with four palace complexes and a monastery as well as other halls, and pavilions all integrated into the garden layout to create an exceptional work of art covering 36ha. The property is closely linked with religious and political issues, having been a place for contemplation and for signing political agreements.

The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka embody the administrative, religious and symbolic functions of the Tibetan theocratic government through their location, layout and architecture. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, contribute to their Outstanding Universal Value.

Criterion (i): The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace is an outstanding work of human imagination and creativity, for its design, its decoration and its harmonious setting within a dramatic landscape. The three-in-one historic ensemble of the Potala Palace, with Potala the palace-fort complex, Norbulingka the garden residence and the Jokhang Temple Monastery the temple architecture, each with its distinctive characteristics, forms an outstanding example of traditional Tibetan architecture.

Criterion (iv): The scale and artistic wealth of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, which represents the apogee of Tibetan architecture, make it an outstanding example of theocratic architecture, of which it was the last surviving example in the modern world.

Criterion (vi): The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace forms a potent and exceptional symbol of the integration of secular and religious authority.

Integrity
The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace owns tens of thousands of collections of diverse cultural relics. The wall paintings are rich in themes, form the best of Tibetan painting art and precious material evidence for learning Tibetan history and the multi-ethnic cultural fusion. The historic scale, architectural typology and the historic environment remain intact within the property area and within the buffer zone, carrying the complete historic information of the property.

Authenticity                                         
In terms of design, material, technology and layout, the historic ensemble of the Potala Palace has well retained its original form and characteristics since it was first built and from successive significant additions and expansions, convincingly testifying to its Outstanding Universal Value.

Protection and management requirements
The three components of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, the Potala Palace, Norbulingka and the Jokhang Temple are all State Priority Protected Sites, and protected by the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relies of the People's Republic of China.The Potala Palace was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994, the Jokhang Temple in 2000 as an extension to the property, and Norbulingka in 2001 as a further extension to the property. The buffer zone of the property has been confirmed as originally demarcated. Any intervention must be approved by the responsible cultural heritage administration, with restoration strictly in accordance with the principle of retaining the historic condition. The Potala Palace Management Regulations have been put into force; measures are formulated and taken for better visitor management. A World Heritage Steering Committee has been established in Lhasa. The conservation and management plans for the three component parts of the World Heritage property have been formulated and will be submitted and put into force as soon as possible.

Long Description
The Potala Palace symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. Also founded in the 7th century, the Jokhang Temple Monastery is an exceptional Buddhist religious complex. Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace, constructed in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of Tibetan art. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, add to their historic and religious interest.

Construction of the Potala Palace began at the time of Songtsen of the Thubet (Tubo) dynasty in the 7th century AD. It was rebuilt in the mid-17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama in a campaign that lasted 30 years, reaching its present size in the years that followed, as a result of repeated renovation and expansion.

The Potala is located on Red Mountain, 3,700 m above sea level, in the centre of the Lhasa valley. It covers an area of over 130,000 m2 and stands more than 110 m high. The White palace is approached by a winding road leading to an open square in front of the palace. Its central section is the East Main Hall, where all the main ceremonies take place. The throne of the Dalai Lama is on the north side of the hall, the walls of which are covered with paintings depicting religious and historical themes. At the top of the White Palace is the personal suite of the Dalai Lama.

The Red Palace lies to the west of the White Palace. Its purpose is to house the stupas holding the remains of the Dalai Lamas. It also contains many Buddha and sutra halls. To the west of the Red Palace is the Namgyel Dratshang, the private monastery of the Dalai Lama. Other important components of the Potala complex are the squares to the north and south and the massive palace walls, built from rammed earth and stone and pierced by gates on the east, south and west sides.

Building of the Jokhang Temple Monastery began in the 7th century CE, during the Tang dynasty in China. The Tibetan imperial court eagerly espoused Buddhism when it was introduced,

The site of the Temple Monastery was selected, according to legend, when the cart in which Wen Cheng was bringing the statue of Sakyamuni sank into the mud by Wotang Lake. Divination identified this as the site of the Dragon Palace, the malign influence of which could only be counteracted by the building of a monastery. The foundation stone was laid in 647 and the first major reconstruction took place in the early 11th century. During the century following the reunification of the Tibetan kingdom by the Sakya dynasty in the mid-13th century, a number of new developments took place. These included extension of the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni and construction of a new entrance and the Hall of Buddha Dharmapala.

The Temple Monastery is in the centre of the old town of Lhasa. It comprises essentially an entrance porch, a courtyard and a Buddhist hall, surrounded by accommodation for monks and storehouses on all four sides. The buildings are constructed of wood and stone. The 7th Dalai Lama is reported to have had health problems and he used to come here for a cure.

The construction of Norbulingka started in 1751 with the Uya Palace. Successive Dalai Lamas continued building pavilions, palaces and halls, making it their summer residence, and soon the site became another religious, political, and cultural centre of Tibet, after the Potala Palace. Norbulingka (treasure garden) is located at the bank of the Lhasa River about 2 km west of the Potala Palace. The site consists of a large garden with several palaces, halls, and pavilions, amounting to some 36 ha. The area is composed of five sections.

Lhasa
According to historical records, construction of the Potala Palace began in the time of Songtsen Gampo of the Thubet or Tubo dynasty in the 7th century AD. It was rebuilt in the mid 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. It reached its present size and form in the years that foilowed, as a result of repeated renovation and expansion.

Songtsen Gampo (reigned c. 609-649) played a very important role in the political, economie, and cultural development of Tibet; he also encouraged close links with central China. He united Tibet and, for political and military reasons, moved the capital from Lalong to Lhasa, where he built a palace on the Red Mountain in the centre of the city. He married Princess Tritsun (Bhrikuti) of the Nepalese Royal House and Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. 1t is recorded that his palace was an enormous complex of buildings with three defensive walls and 999 rooms, plus one on the peak of the Red Mountain.

Following the collapse of the Tubo Dynasty in the 9th century, Tibetan society was plunged into a long period of turmoil, during which the Red Mountain Palace fell into disrepair. However, it began to assume the role of a religious site. During the 12th century Khyungpo Drakse of the Kadampa sect preached there, and it was later used for the same purpose by Tshurpu Karmapa and Tsongkapa, founder of the Gelukpa sect, and his disciples.

The Gelukpa sect developed rapidly in Tibet during the 15th century, assuming the dominant place. With the help of Gushri Khan, leader of the Mongol Khoshotd tribe, the 5th Dalai Lama defeated the Karmapa Dynasty in the mid 17th century and founded the Ganden Phodrang Dynasty. The dynasty's first seat of government was the Drepung Monastery; however, since the Red Mountain Palace bad been the residence of Songtsen Gampo and was close to the three major temples of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden, it was decided to rebuild it in arder to facilitate joint political and religious leadership. Reconstruction began in 1645, and three years later a complex of buildings with the White Palace (Phodrang Karpo) as its nucleus was completed. The 5th Dalai Lama moved there from Drepung Monastery, and ever since that time the Potala Palace bas been the residence and seat of government of succeeding Dalai Lamas.

Building of the Red Palace was begun by Sangye Gyatsho, the chief executive official of the time, eight years after the death of the 5th Dalai Lama, as a memorial to him and to accommodate his funerary stupa. It was completed four years later, in 1694, and is second in size only to the White Palace. With its construction the Potala Palace became a vast complex of palace halls, Buddha halls, and stupas. Funerary stupas (chortens) were added in memory of the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 13th Dalai Lamas, each within its own hall. The most recent is that of the 13th Dalai Lama, the building of which lasted from 1934 to 1936.

Special mention should be made of the fact that the Meditation Cave of the Dharma King, situated at the top of the mountain where Songtsen Gampo is said to have studied, and the Lokeshvara Chapel, both of which preceded the building of the present Palace, have been incorporated into the complex.

Building of the Jokhang Temple Monastery began in the reign of Srong-brtsan-sgam-po XXXII in the 7th century CE, during the Tang Dynasty in China. This ruler united Tibet and moved his capital to Demon (present-day Lhasa). The Tibetan imperial court eagerly espoused Buddhism when it was introduced, and this process was intensified when Princess Bhikruti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty came to Tibet as royal consorts.

The site of the Temple Monastery was selected, according to legend, when the cart in which Wen Cheng was bringing the statue of Sakyamuni sank into the mud by Wotang Lake. The Princess used divination to identify this as the site of the Dragon Palace, the malign influence of which could only be counteracted by the building of a monastery. The foundation stone was laid in 647 and the foundations were completed within a year.

In 823 the Tibetan regime and the Tang Dynasty entered into an alliance. To commemorate this event a stone was erected outside the monastery, known as the Stone Tablet of Long- Term Unity.

The first major reconstruction of the Jokhang Temple Monastery took place in the early 11th century. The Jokhang Buddhist Hall was extensively renovated and the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni was added to its eastern side. The circumambulatory corridor around the hall was added around 1167, when the mural paintings were restored. Upward curving tiled eaves were added in the early 13th century.

During the century following the reunification of the Tibetan kingdom by the Sakya Dynasty in the mid-13th century, a number of new developments took place. These included extension of the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni, construction of a new entrance and the Hall of Buddha Dharmapala, and the introduction of sculptures of Srong-brtsan-sgam-po, Wen Cheng, and Bhikruti Devi. Buddhist halls and golden tiled roofs were added on the third storey on the east, west, and north sides.

Tsongka Pa founded the reforming Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism in the early 15th century, initiating the Great Prayer Festival. At his instigation part of the inner courtyard of the main Jokhang Hall was roofed.

Tibet was formally included in the Chinese domain during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). In 1642 the 5th Dalai Lama, who had received an Imperial title from the Qing rulers of China, began a project of restoration that was to last thirty years. It was continued during the regency of Sangyetgyatso (1679-1703). The main entrance of the Temple Monastery, the Ten Thousand Buddha Corridor (Qianfolang), the Vendana Path, and the third and fourth storeys of the main Buddhist Hall all date from this period.

Norbulingka
The site of Norbulingka was a place with gentle streams, dense and lush forest, birds, and animals known as Lava tsel. The 7th Dalai Lama is reported to have had health problems and he used to come here for a cure. The construction of Norbulingka started in 1751 with the Uya Palace, benefiting from financial assistance from the central government. Successive Dalai Lamas continued building pavilions, palaces, and halls, making it their summer residence, and soon the site became another religious, political, and cultural centre of Tibet, after the Potala Palace. The Gesang Palace was built in 1755 and included a court for debates. The Tsoje Palace and the Jensen Palace were built by the 13th Dalai Lama in the 1920s, influenced by his time in Beijing; the Gesang Deje Palace was constructed in 1926. The Tagtan Migyur Palace was built in 1954-56 with support from the Central People's Government. Since the departure of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959, Norbulingka has been managed first by the Culture Management Group under the Preparatory Committee of the Autonomous Region and later directly by the Cultural Management Committee and Bureau.

Note on Tibet

Note on Traveling in Tibet
'Tibetians employ a lunar calendar, which would in theory assign to each month 29½ days. Since the solar year is 365¼ days, each lunar year - twelve lunar months - is 11 days too short. To make up for this, every three years an additional month is added. However, like wild cards in a poker game, the extra month can be added anywhere in the Tibetan calendar year, the position being determined by an astrological forecast indicating what would be the lucky place to add the new month. Actually, even this is a slight oversimplification. In practice Tibetans round off the lunar month to exactly thirty days, but then they go ahead and add the extra month every three years anyway. To make up the difference, certain days of the month - again decided by the official astrologers - are simply eliminated, or, if some days are thought to be particularly fortunate, they may be doubled. At the end of each year the official astrologer presents the calendar for the following year. Until then, there is no future calendar. The new year begins in February, except in those years that begin following an added month, when the year begins in March. Hence when modern historical writers on Tibet indicate that some even occurred, say in April of 619 A.D., it gives one pause for thought.

The days of the Tibetan week - seven in number - are named after the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets; Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. Sa is the Tibetan word for "planet" and the seven days are then names: Sa Nyi-ma [Sunday - Sun], Sa Da-wa [Monday - Moon], Sa Mik-mar [Tuesday - Mars], Sa Lak-pa [Wednesday - Mercury], Sa Pur-bu [Thursday - Jupiter], Sa Pa-sang [Friday - Venus] and Sa Pen-pa [Saturday - Saturn]. Until the eleventh century, a twelve-year calendar cycle was used; each year being named after one of the following animals: mouse, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, sheep, ape, bird, dog, and hog. In the year 1027 A.D. - one hopes the historian have made the correct conversion - the Tibetans began a sixty-year cycle as advocated in the Kalacakra-Tantra, a Sanskrit religious text that was translated into Tibetan that year. To make up the sixty-year cycle, the twelve animals are combined with five elements: wood, fire, earth, iron, and water. Thus the years have colorful names like Fire-Mouse or Iron-Ape. Tibetan historical documents contain phrases like "On the thirteenth day of the eighth month of the Water-Tiger year . . .'
- 'In the Himalayas' - Jeremy Bernstein (1989), pp 228-229.

Itinerary

Early Arrival Kathmandu
Welcome to Nepal! Plan to arrive a day early in Kathmandu as we need your passports for Chinese visas at 8:30 am on Day 1. You'll be met at the Tribuvhan International Airport by a representative from the Kathmandu Guest House. Once you exit the airport, look for the Kathmandu Guest House sign and a sign with your name on it. Rajendra +977 9841623270 +/or the Kathmandu Guest House driver will transfer you to the Kathmandu Guest House, where your rooms have been booked for you. Relax in their beautiful, newly expanded garden and recover from your jetlag. Kim's mobile is +977 9803414745.

Kim will meet you at the guest house and introduce you to Thamel, the bustling tourist area of Kathmandu. Thamel is a myriad of banners, signs, music shops, bakeries, cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops of all imaginable varieties and eccentrically clad backpackers.

We are happy to arrange trips to Pokhara, Chitwan National Park, Dwarikas Dhulikhel Resort & Spa or bicycling, hiking or touring in the Kathmandu Valley on your free days.

Day 1 - Meet Kathmandu 1340m | Chinese Visas
Meet at 8:30 in the Kathmandu Guest House garden with photo and passport for your Chinese visas! The rest of the day and tomorrow are free for sightseeing in Kathmandu and the Kathmandu Valley, shop, visit the spa, have a massage or just read a book in the lovely Kathmandu Guest House gardens. We'll have time for a bit of gear shopping in Thamel for anyone who needs to, and in the evening will head out for dinner of wood-oven pizza at the Roadhouse Cafe.

We'll have time for a bit of gear shopping in Thamel for anyone who needs to, and in the evening will head out for dinner at New Orleans or Dechenling in Thamel. (B)

Day 2 - Kathmandu
A free day to explore Kathmandu, take excursions into the Kathmandu valley, shop, visit the spa, have a massage or just read a book in the lovely Kathmandu Guest House gardens. We'll have time for a bit of gear shopping in Thamel for anyone who needs to, and in the evening will head out for dinner of wood-oven pizza at the Roadhouse Cafe.

ALTITUDE: We strongly advise taking 250 mg of Diamox before the flight up to Lhasa at 3700 meters. Take either 125 or 250 mg tonight and one tomorrow morning, and then continue for a day or so until we discuss further in Lhasa. (B)

Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing | Optional Tours
Kathmandu is filled with World Heritage sites and sacred destinations, crowded with traditional neighborhoods and colorful festivals. Spend a few days exploring Nepal's exotic capital and the history-laden Kathmandu valley. We can arrange sightseeing guide, vehicles and guides as required. See Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings for more details.

We recommend beginning with Pashupatinath in the early morning, and moving on to Boudhanath mid-morning. Hindu Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river and its sacred temple complex is one of Nepal's most important sites, a powerful cremation site and Nepal's most important Hindu temple. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating, when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Local guides can explain the significance of the complicated ceremonies. Please be respectful when taking photos.

Boudhanath, in the midst of traditional monasteries (gompas) and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the iconic stupa. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. There are wonderful spots for lunch at Boudhanath (Roadhouse Cafe has wood-oven pizzas and a breathtaking view of the stupa and colorful Nepals circling it), and it's a good place to learn the technique of thanka painting and purchase a thanka (Buddhist mural). See also Bhaktapur for more options for shopping for thankas.

Wander through the many temples, pagodas, courtyards and the museum at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a timeless gathering spot and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kathmandu Durbar Square, including the old royal palace, is Kathmandu's 'Palace Square', a showcase for the world renown artisans and craftsmen of Kathmandu and a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist palaces, temples, stupas and statues. The Malla and Shah kings ruled over the Kathmandu Valley during the centuries of the building of the layers of this Durbar Square. Along with their opulent palaces, the square surrounds numerous courtyards and temples, all works of art with intricate and often erotic carvings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace. The social, religious and urban focal point of the city, Durbar Square is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies such as Teej. Some important structures are Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju Temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the 17th century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.

In the evening (take the interesting back streets from Durbar Square) climb the many steps to the gilded Swayambhunath stupa (known as the monkey temple) which rises from the Kathmandu valley floor at 1420 meters and is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. . Swayambunath, the 'self created’  stupa, was founded over 2000 years ago at a time when the Kathmandu valley was filled by a large lake, with a single lotus in the center. Mythology says that Manjusri, a bodhisvatti, drained the lake with one cut of his sword and the lotus flower was transformed into the stupa. From its commanding views of Kathmandu, circumambulate Swayambunath's white-washed stupa, painted with distinctive Buddha eyes, the complex a unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Another interesting time to visit Swayambunath is in the mornings, when Nepalis visit the temple dedicated to the God of Smallpox to with colorful offerings for the goddess.

Stop to photograph reflections in Kathmandu's many pokhari's, or ponds, including the beautiful Rani Pokhari (queen's bath) near New Road, and the Naga Pokhari (pond of the snake gods of the underworld) just beyond the palace gates. The many bathing ghats, square enclosures with steps leading down to water spouts, often decorated with naga heads, are also interesting and colorful gathering spots.

Day 3 - Fly Lhasa 3650m | Barkor Square
Our spectacular hour long China Air flight takes us right across the main Himalayan range, over such Himalayan giants as Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga, for magnificent mountain views. After landing at Gonggar Airport and meeting our Tibetan guide, we'll drive the 45 minutes to Lhasa.We check in to our Tibetan-run hotel, the New Yak. We're staying near the Jokhang temple and the Barkor square, where the character of the city is still very Tibetan.

Over the following three days we visit most of the most important sites in and around Lhasa with our Tibetan guide. Late afternoons will be free for you to discover the endlessly fascinating bazaars, walk koras around the Jokhang with the myriad other pilgrims, or sit in the Barkor square, immersing yourself in the exoticism of Lhasa. There is also the option of additional tours to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery or Tsurphu Monastery at a slight extra cost, although after our last few weeks, a bit of rest in Lhasa is usually the top choice.

Some of our favorite restaurants are Dunya (right next door), Makye Ame & Ganglamedo (across the street from the New Yak Hotel), Western Cafe just around the corner for coffee and the New Mandala for a sunny breakfast.

Days 4 + 5 - Lhasa | Potala Palace, Sera + Drepung Monasteries, Jokhang Temple
We have three more days to wander the streets of the Tibetan section of Lhasa, and continue with our touring of the monasteries and the famous Potala Palace, home of the Dalai Lamas.

Jokhang Temple & Barkor Square - The holiest temple in Tibet, and shelters the sacred Jowo Sakyamuni statue. Shuffle among the pilgrims, butter lamps permeating the air, and find gruesome Gods in hidden annexes. There is always a procession of devout Tibetans through the complex. After walking the holy inner circle, complete a circuit of the Barkhor, the market surrounding the Jokhang, for good luck. It is the best market to shop for all things Tibetan, and just about anything else you ever wanted as well. Kim has lots of practice, and is happy to assist with any buying ... no commission attached.

Drepung & Sera Monasteries – Sera is one of the best preserved monasteries in Tibet, renown for its lively debating sessions in the courtyard each afternoon. Within its whitewashed walls and golden roofs, several hundred monks live and study. Drepung was founded in the 14th century and was once the largest gompa in the world with a population of around 10,000 monks. These days the figure has been reduced to several hundred, but there is still much of interest to see here, as the structure escaped relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution.

Potala Palace - The magnificent white, black, red and gold Potala Palace dominates the skyline of Lhasa. It was the winter quarters of the Dalai Lama, housing jewel-encrusted gold and silver stupas of previous Dalai Lamas, numerous grand state rooms and many important chapels. There has been a palace on this site since the 5th or 6th century, but the present palace was constructed in the 17th century.

Norbulingka – Norbulingka is the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, set in a quiet and relaxing garden which used to house the Dalai Lama’s pets. One particularly interesting mural inside depicts the history of Tibet and all the Dalai Lamas.

Some of our favorite restaurants are Dunya (right next door), Makye Ame & Ganglamedo (across the street from the New Yak Hotel), Western Cafe just around the corner for coffee and the New Mandala for a sunny breakfast.

Day 6 - Lhasa | Day Trip Ganden Gompa 4265m
We'll set off early for a scenic 36-kilometer drive to the Gelugpa Ganden Monastery, on of the 'three great' Gelugpa monasteries in Tibet. Ganden is situated atop Wangbur Mountain in Tagtse County. Its full name is Ganden (meaning joyful, the Tibetan name for Tusita, the heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside) and Namgyal Ling (victorious temple).

Ganden was founded by Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa tradition, in 1409. It's history is interesting so I will quote from Wikipedia: 'The Ganden Tripa or 'throne-holder of Ganden' is the head of the Gelukpa school. Tsongkhapa's preserved body was entombed there in a silver and gold encrusted tomb by his disciples in 1419. Being the farthest from Lhasa of the three university monasteries, Ganden traditionally had a smaller population with some 6,000 monks in the early 20th century (although Waddell reports an estimate of about 3,300 in the 1890s and there were, apparently only 2,000 in 1959. At this time there are about 170 monks.

Ganden Monastery consisted of two principal original colleges, Jangtse and Shartse, meaning North Peak and East Peak respectively. The three main sights in the Ganden Monastery are the Serdung, which contains the tomb of Tsongkhapa, the Tsokchen Assembly Hall and the Ngam Cho Khang the chapel where Tsongkhapa traditionally taught. The monastery houses artifacts which belonged to Tsongkhapa. It contained more than two dozen major chapels with large Buddha statues. The largest chapel was capable of seating 3,500 monks. Tenzin Gyatso, the present Dalai Lama (born 1935), took his final degree examination in Ganden in 1958 and he claims to feel a particularly close connection with Tsongkhapa.

Ganden was completely destroyed during the rebellion of 1959. In 1966 it was severely shelled by Red Guard artillery and monks then had to dismantle the remains. Most of Tsongkhapa's mummified body was burned but his skull and some ashes were saved from the fire by Bomi Rinpoche, the monk who had been forced to carry the body to the fire. Re-building has been continuing since the 1980s and the "red-painted lhakang in the centre is the reconstruction of Ganden's sanctum sanctorum containing Tsongkapa's reliquary chorten called the Tongwa Donden, 'Meaningful to Behold.' - Wikipedia

The kora of Ganden, around the small Wangbur Mountain, takes about 45 minutes and is a great way to come into contact with Tibetan pilgrims, atired in their pilgrimage best. Every once in a while you might see a sky burial on a nearby hillside, a tradition that is rarely found in Tibet anymore ...

Day 7 - Drive Gyantse 4025m
Leaving Lhasa, the 'city of gods' (or 'sunlight city' due to its 3000 hours of sunshine yearly), we switchback up the Khamba La pass (4795m) to overlook the turquoise Yamdrok Tso far below. Yamdrok Tso is one of the four holy lakes of Tibet, home to wrathful deities, and a spectacular site. Be ready to have your photo taken at the top of the pass with yaks, Tibetan mastiffs and goat by enterprising Tibetans.

After switchbacking down the pass, we continue to drive through the fertile plain of the Nyang River valley, a traditional vingette around every corner. Once in Gyantse, we'll check into the Yeti Hotel, a great hotel with a wonderful restaurant and friendly staff, and head out for a walk around town to stretch our legs.

Gyantse, strategically located in the Nyang Chu valley, was once part of an ancient trade route from the Chumbi Valley, Yatung and Sikkim. From Gyantse, trade routes led south to Shigatse and also over the Karo La into Central Tibet. The Gyantse Dzong (fort), built in 1390, guarded the southern approaches to the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley and Lhasa, and the town was surrounded by a long, protective wall 3 kilometers in length. Part of this wall still survives and is a dramatic backdrop for photos. Gyantse was once the third largest city in Tibet but was overtaken by Younghusband and the British in 1904. During the fierce battle, Tibetan forces fought the British for most of two months with dire consequences for both sides. (See 'Younghusband' by Patrick French).

We will visit the 15th century Palkor Chode Monastery and the magnificent Kumbum, translated as '100,000 images', the largest chorten in Tibet. Kumbum was commissioned by a Gyantse prince in 1427 and was an important center of the Sakya school. It still contains 77 chapels within its six floors and is illustrated with over 10,000 murals, many still intact and exhibiting a strong Nepali influence, the last of their kind to be found in Tibet.

'The town of Gyantse was nearly destroyed by flooding in 1954, and after rioting in 1959, local industries were dismantled and artisans fled while others were placed in workcamps. Some 400 monks and laypeople were imprisoned in the monastery. During the Cultural Revolution the fort, the monastery and Kumbum were ransacked. Precious objects were destroyed or sent out of Tibet. Fortunately, the chorten was spared. The main building of the Pelkor Chode or Palcho Monastery and the Kumbum have been largely restored but the dzong or fort is still largely in ruins but there is an Anti-British Imperialism Museum there which gives the Chinese version of the 1904 British invasion.' - Wikipedia.

Day 8 – Drive Shigatse 3850m
We will spend the morning visiting the gompa complex at Gyantse and hiking up to Gyantse Fort, and then head to Shigatse mid-day. It's a short but beautiful drive through flat countryside, surrounded by snow peaks, to Shigatse, previously known as Samdruptse. Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and is home to perhaps the best preserved but most controversial monastery in Tibet, Tashilhunpo. This Gelugpa gompa, administred by the Panchen Lama, is one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet and there is much to explore within its surrounding walls.

'In the 19th century, the 'Tashi' or Panchen Lama had temporal power over Tashilhunpo Monastery and three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by two Dzongpön (prefects) appointed from Lhasa. Before military conflict between the PRC's People's Liberation Army and the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan territory was divided into 53 prefecture districts called Dzongs. There were two Dzongpöns for every Dzong—a lama (Tse-dung) and a layman. They were entrusted with both civil and military powers and are equal in all respects, though subordinate to the generals and the Chinese Amban in military matters. However, there were only one or two Ambans representing the Chinese emperor residing in Lhasa, directing a little garrison, and their power installed since 1728, progressively declined to end-up as observer at the eve of their expulsion in 1912 by the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1952, shortly after the PRC sent forces to the region, Shigatse had a population of perhaps 12,000 people, making it the second largest city in Tibet.' - Wikipedia

We will take a few hours for a visit in the late afternoon or early morning. We stay at the Manasarovar Hotel in Shigatse, and head out for a good dinner and Lhasa beers in the evening.

Day 9 - Drive Shegar 4360m
We continue past scenic Tibetan villages past dusty Lhatse, the crossroads to sacred Mount Kailash in far western Tibet. A few hours of driving along the Himalayan range brings us to Tingri, the gateway to Everest Base Camp. Tingri is an atmospheric village composed of new and old Tingri, and including a Chinese Army post. Old Tingri, once called Ganggar, includes about 100 mud-brick houses crowded together below the hillside, very old Tibet in style, and worth a walk around for a glimpse of Tibetan village life. There are some real Tibetan characters roaming the streets doing business; or perhaps passing us on the street in their horse-carts or prayer-flag festooned tractors. The wild west of central Tibet! There is an impressive viewpoint at the remains of an old garrison called Ganggar Ri with views of Everest, Cho Oyu and the Nangpa La route to the Khumbu region of Nepal.

Soon afterwards we reach New Shegar where we stop for the night at a hotel. We'll spend the afternoon exploring the fantastic ruins of Shegar fort, just 7 km down a small road and above traditional Shegar village. The views over the valley from the high walls of the ruins are sublime, a truly Tibetan scene.

Day 10 - Drive Kharta Qu
Ten kilometres after the town of Shegar we divert from the main highway and drive south towards the Everest region. From the top of Pang La (5150m) we gain views of Everest and the lie of the surrounding country. From the pass we descend to the village of Phadhruchi where the jeep track divides - the track to the west heading to the Rongbuk Valley - the one to the east leading to the (Phung Chu) Arun Valley and the village of Kharta - the administrative headquarters of the region.

Optional Extra Days | Trek Valley of Lakes (Exploratory)
This sublime valley is just to the east of the Kharta valley trek, generally off limits to Westerners for trekking but we're keeping it in the itinerary in case it opens up!

Day 11 - Trek Dambu 4290m
We begin trekking! We trek along the Dambuk Chu river valley, initially following a jeep trail, passing Yulok and Yulba, settlements of stone houses amid rich barley fields which contrast with the stark hillsides. When the valley narrows the trail divides, the lower path leading to the Langma La which we return on; instead we begin climbing on the Sha-u La route to the first possible camping place near a stream at 3995m. The trail continues climbing into the greenery and prayer flags mark the end of the steep section. Soon after is another good camping place, although sometimes the crew prefer a spot five minutes up just over a small bridge at a place called Dambu. The small lhakhang (altar) of Tarpaling is across the Kharta Tsangpo, and lower along the ridge the ruins of Ganden Chopel Gompa are visible. We have made a 640 meter jump in altitude which you should feel. If you arrive at camp with a headache consider taking 125mg or 250mg of Diamox and drink plenty.

Day 12 - Trek Sha-u Tsho 4650m
Today is only a few hours trekking to put us in the best position for crossing the Sha-u La, and to help acclimatize. We follow the sparkling stream up on a mostly rocky trail. After passing a widening of the stream, up and along from the next rise is a beautiful lake, which we camp near. Again today you are likely to feel the altitude so it is worth taking drugs. From camp, or nearby at the lake, we will be treated to views of Makalu to the south and Jomo Lonzo, the north peak of Makalu, to the west. Exploring around, there is a second large lake and several more smaller ones.

Day 13 - Trek Jokshim 3980m | Cross Sha-u La (4900m)
We start early as this is a fairly tough day’s trekking. At the end of the lake begin climbing, looking back there are several more turquoise lakes, the biggest in a matching rock circ. The top of the pass is marked with prayer flags and an inspiring view, including Everest (8848m, #1), Makalu (8475m, #5) and Lhotse (8501m, #4). Soon after the descent begins the trail forks, take the right past a rough pond, wait for your guide if unsure, and soon the trail becomes slightly bigger, dropping in lush pastures, all the while with spectacular peaks visible. Descending further we swing around right to a curious sheer-sided valley, the terrain soon making sense; bounder erratics dumped by glacial retreats pepper the landscape. Passing thru rhododendron shrubs at the base of the valley there is a rocky sparkling stream and pretty meadows then juniper forest. Our idyllic camp, Jokshim or Joksham, is just above the Kaamo Tsangpo Valley and by the stream at the base of the ascent of the next day.

Day 14 - Trek Thangsum 4480m
We climb steeply out of Joksham thru Juniper, Birch and Rhododendron forests with Usnea lichen hanging low from the trees, typical of Nepali cloud forests and some of the most interesting in the Himalaya. Climbing into alpine tundra there are views down to the Karma Tsangpo and the Arun River into Nepal, and not far upstream is a glacier coming from Makalu. Look to the right for views of Everest and Lhotse. Traversing and climbing further we reach a doksa, or seasonal herding settlement. Here take a traversing trail out to more doksas and to either Tso Nak, the black lake, or Shalung Tso (we're not sure which) and then Lhotse Shar, all the while with views of awesome rock faces on the opposite side of the valley. The rubble in the main valley is the Kangshung Glacier, and the Kangdoshung Glacier spills out from the bottom end. From the north, coming from the Karma Gangri peak is the massive, glaciated tributary valley of the Rabka Chu. The junction of these valleys form the Karma Tsangpo (river). We camp at the third doksa, called Thangsum. This is a short day and you are welcome to explore around in the afternoon.

Day 15 - Trek Pathang 4240m
Crossing out of Thangsum thru more meadows soon we come to Chahataphu, where the trail to the Langma La branches off. The panorama is truly awe-inspiring. From here we can see our camping area at Pathang, but first we have to drop steeply through dwarf rhododendron and scrub juniper to the river and gently ascend again. The main valley is the Kangshung Valley glacier, which we follow for a few days.

Close to the camp at a small trail junction an obvious trail heads north (right) to the Tsechu Tsho, a holy lake with a Guru Rimpoche cave temple, a beyul, or hidden sanctuary; it's less than an hour away to the lake. The views are well worth the short climb, and the energetic could even circumambulate the lake (clockwise), which takes around two hours; be warned the first section has no real trail.

Day 16 - Trek Pethang Ringmo 4960m
The small trail soon begins to climb steeply along the Kangshung Valley glacier rim, seeming never to end as it avoids the glacier pushing in below. There are several tight sections; in 2005 Jamie's group lost the kitchen equipment down the hill, most was retrieved, two years earlier two personal barrels fell, lost to the river. After the climb the views open up the valley with the huge Lhotse and Chomolungma wall dominating the head of the valley. The faces of Chomo Lonzo (7790m) are just as awesome, being much closer. Although the steepest section is over, the trail still ascends above one doksa, Woaka or Oka, and continues up the ablation valley eventually reaching the nomad tents on the large meadows of lush grass, Pethang Ringmo, where we normally camp. What a panorama, accentuated by white ice floes fall from the peaks into the Kangshung Valley Glacier. This was the Base Camp for George Mallory and the 1921 Everest Reconnaissance Team.

Day 17 - Pethang Ringmo 4960m
A rest and acclimatization day at last; there are plenty of day trips possible above the campsite, and the delightful meadows of Pethang Ringmo are perfect for a relaxing day.

Day 18 - Trek Karbus - Kangshung Base Camp 5090m
It is well worth staying higher at the base camp. It is about three hours away and at 5290m, so a high place to camp and likely you will feel the altitude. It is an absolutely stunning location, ringed by mountains and with an awesome view of the Kangshung face, and Lhotse, and by exploring only a little further you can see the steep amphitheatre falling from Lhotse. North of camp, on a ridge overlooking the Khangshung Valley, are two greeny-gray lakes, and in between a spur that rises to at least 5800m, probably higher, just a walk up. Or go north past Base Camp for about 45 minutes following the crest of the long moraine for great Himalayan views as well as the glacial lake below.

Day 19 - Trek Pethang Ringmo 4960m
In the morning there is time to have a look around here before heading back down to our lovely campsite at Pethang Ringmo.

Day 20 - Trek Tsho Shungrim (Langma La Base Camp) 4970m
Returning, the views are always surprisingly different. After the scrub we cross the river for the one hour climb back up to the Rabka Chu Meadow Camp where we separate at the intersection of the Sha-U La trail. At Chahataphu, we traverse and climb out of the valley looping around a few small ridges with spectacular views opening up on the opposite side of a glaciated valley. After a couple of hours we head into the main valley that leads to the pass, camping by a lake. Looking back are impressive views of many peaks (not that we saw them) and just above us are more lakes. This is the last camp before the pass, at a doksa 20 minutes past Tso Melogma.

Day 21 - Trek Lundrubling 4390m | Cross Langma La 5390m
The climb to the Langma La takes two hours with further views back of Lhotse Shar, Lhotse and Everest (from left to right), Makalu (which dwarfs the others) and Jomo Lonzo as well as some beautiful lakes closer in too, as well as the impressive peak above the pass. Pethangtse is the bullet shaped peak to the right, or west. From the pass (5390m) there is a series of steep descents. After passing the guitar-shaped lake of Damnye Tsho (a Tibetan guitar is called a damnye), there is one more descent along a rocky moraine, along some cliff-side trails, to a series of doksas, often filled with sheep and goats. Gary McCue calls this settlement 'a medieval-looking collection of stone houses and muddy alleyways'. He also mentions that arak (Tibetan whiskey), chang (Tibetan beer) milk, yogurt and vegetables might be available. Look for blue poppies en route. At the end of the valley the terrain changes, the earth suddenly drier as we reach our camp. Apparently it is possible to see the Kangchenjunga massif rearing above the ridges beyond Kharta on the Nepal-Sikkim Border. Hidden but near our camp is the village of Lundrubling.

Day 22 - Trek Kharta. Drive Tashidzong 4110m
Just around the corner from our camp is a wonderful village scene of billowing barley fields and old houses; passing thru the kids often mob you. The road is being extended, so we have less than three hours to trek to Kharta, the main administrative 'shang' in the Everest region. Your leader will decide the itinerary depending on the time, but probably we will drive to Tashidzong, the main transportation junction, and stay at the rustic Chomolungma 'Hotel'.

Day 23 - Drive Everest Base Camp + Dza Rongphu (Rongbuk) Gompa + Tingri 4300m
Less than an hour after leaving Tashidzong we reenter the Chomolungma Nature Preserve and drive on a once rustic and now paved road to Dza Rongphu (Rongbuk) Monastery, a gompa first 'discovered' by the early Everest expeditions and described as a remote monastic hideaway. Rongbuk over a hundred years old, founded by a Nyingmapa lama, although it has been an important religious site for over three hundred years. From here its eight kilometers past the ruins of two ani gompas, or nunneries, Changchub Tarling and Rongchung, older than Rongbuk Gompa (the nuns fled Tibet in 1959) to Everest Base Camp. Once at base camp you can hang some 5-colored prayer flags (lung-ta) to send your prayers out across Tibet.

We return via a stunning shortcut, now a main road, to Tingri. This was once a trekking route and is still a beautiful, if rough drive. Tingri is an atmospheric village composed of new and old Tingri, and including a Chinese Army post. Old Tingri, once called Ganggar, includes about 100 mud-brick houses crowded together below the hillside, very old Tibet in style, and worth a walk around for a glimpse of Tibetan village life. There are some real Tibetan characters roaming the streets doing business; or perhaps passing us on the street in their horse-carts or prayer-flag festooned tractors. The wild west of central Tibet!

There is an impressive viewpoint at the remains of an old garrison called Ganggar Ri with views of Everest, Cho Oyu and the Nangpa La route to the Khumbu region of Nepal. We stay at the Snowleopard Guest House, quite nice with a great Tibetan-style dining area upstairs and late-afternoon sun.

Day 24 - Drive Peiko Tso Camp
Two more beautiful days of driving on the Tibetan plateau, with a few passes to cross, to reach the border of Nepal at Rasuwa Ghadi, a recently opened border. We camp at the turquoise Peiko Tso, with views of Shishapangma at sunset and sunrise!

Day 25 - Drive Kyirong Camp
A last day of scenic driving to reach the Kyirong Camp, near the border of Nepal.

Day 26 - Cross Rasuwa Ghadi Border (Nepal) + Drive Kathmandu
Sadly, time to cross the newly opened border and leave Tibet, but we have an incredible drive to look forward to through Rasuwa (Langtang Region) down to the Trisuli Highway to Nuwakot and on to Kathmandu!

Day 27 - Friday, 25 May 2019 - Trip Ends
Transfer to the airport for your flight home. We hope you had a wonderful trip into the heart of Tibet on the roof of the world, the journey of a lifetime!

Tashi Delek!

Old Route | Zhangmu Kodari Border

Day 24 - Drive to Zhangmu 2250m
Our last day of driving in Tibet, we spend all of the day on a good road driving through stunning Tibetan landscapes with Himalayan vistas throughout the drive. After breakfast we head back west - probably the same way we came - and soon we're back on the Friendship Highway heading south towards the border of Nepal, driving on a good road through a wide, green valley. We reach (old) Tingri after 1-1 1/2 hours and will stop and hike up to an impressive viewpoint at the remains of an old garrison called Ganggar Ri with views of Everest, Cho Oyu and the Nangpa La route to the Khumbu region of Nepal.

Just past Tingri we pass the ruins of several large fortresses which guarded the trade route to Nepal and were destroyed in 18th century wars, and more ruins of monasteries and deserted villages. Further along the road to Shishapangma north base camp and to Kailash is sign-posted, and above are inspiring views along that road that passes Peiko Tso.

The first pass we crest is the Lalung La, 5124m and after a short scenic drop between we reach the Tong La 5200m (although often called other names). Here we stop to admire a Himalayan panorama that includes Shishapangma and Khambachen on the west (right) and a hard to recognize Gauri Shankar (Chomo Tseringma for Tibetans and Sherpas). We are standing on the geographic divide, although the main Himalayan mountain divide is further south.

The descent to Nyalam at 3650 meters takes a couple of hours, with Zangmu, at 2250 meters, another 1 1/2 hours further south. Along the way we'll pass both newly built and old white-washed Tibetan villages, and sometimes herders herding their flocks of sheep and goats or their yaks. This is one of the most impressive gorge roads in the world, a winding road through a green rainforest with waterfalls streaming over the road at points. It's a relief to reach the winding streets of Zangmu, a typical border town but perched precariously on a steep hill, making the most of its meager land allotment. We will stay at Zhangmu at the Zhangmu Hotel, the best in town ... 

Day 25 - Cross border to Nepal. Drive to The Last Resort
From Zhangmu, it's a short drive to the Friendship Bridge which spans the Bhote Kosi River and marks the Chinese - Nepalese border. We say goodbye to our Tibetan guide and driver and walk to Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari where we will be met by our Nepalese staff and driven to the Last Resort, just half an hour south.

The Last Resort is a wonderful place to spend a night after the rigors of Tibet. Let's see if they can get the sauna started! Beers in the bamboo bar/restaurant afterwards is the perfect way to wind down ...

Day 26 - Drive Kathmandu
We'll have the morning to relax at the Last Resort, enough time for a bungy jump if anyone wants! We continue the drive to Kathmandu which, depending on road and weather conditions, should take about five hours. Back in Kathmandu, we'll send grungy clothes to the laundry, and then head out to The Roadhouse Cafe for some wood-oven pizza and cold beers!

Day 27 - Trip Ends
Transfer to the airport for your flight home. We hope you had a wonderful trip into the heart of Tibet on the roof of the world, the journey of a lifetime!

Tashi Delek!

Extra Days in Kathmandu
If you wish to stay longer, we can offer plenty of suggestion! Mountain biking or rafting in the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa in Pokhara, paragliding or zip-lining in Pokhara, an Everest sightseeing flight, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for a bit of luxury and expansive sunrise & sunset mountain panoramas, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, visits to interesting temple villages such as Changu Narayan, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, or a weekend of adventure and pampering at The Last Resort. Kim can help to arrange any of these excursions for you.

Kathmandu Tours

Kathmandu | Bhaktapur  Sightseeing Tour
One more day in Kathmandu, with a sightseeing excursion by private vehicle to Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur which translates as 'Place of Devotees’ and is also known as Bhadgaon, is an ancient Newar city approximately 15 kilometers east of the Kathmandu Valley. Bhaktapur is one of three ancient capitals of the Kathmandu valley, the capital of the Newar Kingdom and a city of artisans and craftspeople famous for its art and architecture: intricate carvings, sculptures, paintings, thankas, pottery, statues and temples, or pagodas. Bhaktapur has a well-preserved ‘durbar square’, or palace square, and has been named a World Heritage site by UNESCO because of its incredible temples, pagodas, wood carvings, stone carvings and metalwork. Bhaktapur is also famous for its yogurt, called curd in Asia, a taste which hasn’t been duplicated anywhere.

Spend a full day exploring Bhaktapur and its rich cultural heritage, where a majority of enthnic Newaris live in traditional ways, and life seems to stand still. There are many great restaurants and cafes to rejuvenate, and it's possibly the best spot in Kathmandu for purchasing a thanka after watching the technique, as well as shopping for endless other locally produced crafts. Bhaktapur is home to countless local festivals, so if you are lucky and arrive on a festival day, enjoy the timeless and colorful events unfold.

+ Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Bhaktapur (+$100)
+ Entrance Fees not Included for Single Person

Kathmandu | Patan Sightseeing Tour
Visit the third of Kathmandu's ancient capitals, known as 'The City of Fine Arts', best if you have an extra day in hand as Patan is also rich in cultural heritage, has many lovely roof-top cafes for lunch and world-class museums. Some of the highlights of Patan are its Durbar Square, the Krishna Temple within the palace complex of Patan (entirely made of stone, with 21 distinctive spires), and Hiranya Varna Mahavir, or the Golden Buddha Temple.

+ Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Patan (+$50)
+ Entrance Fees not Included for Single Person

Kathmandu | World Heritage Sightseeing Tour
Kathmandu is filled with World Heritage sites and sacred destinations, crowded with traditional neighborhoods and colorful festivals. Spend a few days exploring Nepal's exotic capital and the history-laden Kathmandu valley. We can arrange sightseeing guide, vehicles and guides as required. See Kathmandu Heritage + Happenings for more details.

We recommend beginning with Pashupatinath in the early morning, and moving on to Boudhanath mid-morning. Hindu Pashupatinath on the sacred Bagmati river and its sacred temple complex is one of Nepal's most important sites, a powerful cremation site and Nepal's most important Hindu temple. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating, when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees. Local guides can explain the significance of the complicated ceremonies. Please be respectful when taking photos.

Boudhanath, in the midst of traditional monasteries (gompas) and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the iconic stupa. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. There are wonderful spots for lunch at Boudhanath (Roadhouse Cafe has wood-oven pizzas and a breathtaking view of the stupa and colorful Nepals circling it), and it's a good place to learn the technique of thanka painting and purchase a thanka (Buddhist mural). See also Bhaktapur for more options for shopping for thankas.

Wander through the many temples, pagodas, courtyards and the museum at Kathmandu Durbar Square, a timeless gathering spot and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Kathmandu Durbar Square, including the old royal palace, is Kathmandu's 'Palace Square', a showcase for the world renown artisans and craftsmen of Kathmandu and a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist palaces, temples, stupas and statues. The Malla and Shah kings ruled over the Kathmandu Valley during the centuries of the building of the layers of this Durbar Square. Along with their opulent palaces, the square surrounds numerous courtyards and temples, all works of art with intricate and often erotic carvings. Kathmandu Durbar Square is known as Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square, a name derived from a statue of Hanuman, the monkey devotee of Lord Ram, at the entrance of the palace. The social, religious and urban focal point of the city, Durbar Square is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies such as Teej. Some important structures are Hanuman Dhoka Palace, Kumari Ghar (Abode of the Living Goddess), Taleju Temple, built between the 12th and 18th centuries, the 17th century stone inscription set into the wall of the palace with writings in 15 languages.

In the evening (take the interesting back streets from Durbar Square) climb the many steps to the gilded Swayambhunath stupa (known as the monkey temple) which rises from the Kathmandu valley floor at 1420 meters and is one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Nepal. Swayambunath, the 'self created’  stupa, was founded over 2000 years ago at a time when the Kathmandu valley was filled by a large lake, with a single lotus in the center. Mythology says that Manjusri, a bodhisvatti, drained the lake with one cut of his sword and the lotus flower was transformed into the stupa. From its commanding views of Kathmandu, circumambulate Swayambunath's white-washed stupa, painted with distinctive Buddha eyes, the complex a unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. Another interesting time to visit Swayambunath is in the mornings, when Nepalis visit the temple dedicated to the God of Smallpox to with colorful offerings for the goddess.

Stop to photograph reflections in Kathmandu's many pokhari's, or ponds, including the beautiful Rani Pokhari (queen's bath) near New Road, and the Naga Pokhari (pond of the snake gods of the underworld) just beyond the palace gates. The many bathing ghats, square enclosures with steps leading down to water spouts, often decorated with naga heads, are also interesting and colorful gathering spots.

+ Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
+ Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)
+ Entrance Fees not Included for Single Person

Everest Sightseeing Flight
An hour long extravaganza of the world's 8000 meter peaks, including airport transfers. (+$270)

Everest Sightseeing Helicopter Tour
Inquire for prices + options. Cost per helicopter.

Shivapuri Heights Cottages
A wonderful get away 20 km north of Kathmandu, Shivapuri Heights Cottages are stylishly designed and personal cottages built around a 'common house', where you can breakfast overlooking the stunningly beautiful Kathmandu valley. Massages available on request. (+$Inquire for Options)

Cycling Trip Kathmandu Valley
Many options for day trips, or extended trips, in the Kathmandu Valley. We can customize a cycling trip for you in partnership with one of our knowledgeable partners in Kathmandu. (+$Inquire for Option)

Extra Days in Kathmandu | Customize your Journey!
We have plenty of great suggestions for extra days, or weeks, in Nepal! See our Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip! to put together the perfect journey.

Mountain biking, rafting, vespa tours or yoga retreats around the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a visit to the Newari temple of Changu Narayan and a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for sublime Himalayan panoramas, an Everest sightseeing flight, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa, paragliding, hiking or zip-lining in Pokhara, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, a weekend of adventure, sauna and pampering at The Last Resort or five-star treatment in historic Dwarika's in Kathmandu.

Kamzang Journeys can customize any of these excursions for you, just inquire!


Namaste & Tashi Delek!

© Kim Bannister

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