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Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu, Nepal
Arrive in Kathmandu and transfer to our centrally located hotel. The rest of the day is free to explore this historic and vibrant city. Tonight we meet for an orientation session. Overnight in Kathmandu. (Altitude 4,600 ft/ 1,400 m)
Day 2: Kathmandu - Old City
Today, we explore the old city of Kathmandu. We visit Swayambhunath, an ancient stupa sacred to Hindus and Buddhists, and the majestic stupa at Boudhanath.
Day 3: Fly to Lhasa - Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Bazaar
Fly from Kathmandu to the high altitude airport of Gonggar outside of Lhasa.
Day 4: Lhasa - Drepung and Sera Monasteris
Explore more of Lhasa today with some of the "must-sees", which are the Drepung and Sera monasteries, two of the largest religious centers in Tibet. Drepung is the largest of all Tibetan monasteries and at its peak, the monastery housed 15,000 monks. It was also known for the high standards of its academic study.
Day 5: Lhasa - Potala, Dragon Pool, Chagpori Hill
In the morning, we explore the magnificent Potala, the former winter palace of the Dalai Lama. Built of earth, wood and stone, the 13 stories of the palace rise to a height of 380 feet and are filled with a maze of rooms - over a thousand in all. After leisurely taking in the astounding beauty of the Potala, we head to the Dragon Pool and then up to Chagpori, the hill that commands an excellent panoramic view of the entire Potala complex.
Day 6: Lhasa - Norbulinka
Today we visit Norbulinka, the former summer palace of the Dalai Lama, with 370 rooms of different sizes and a large garden covering an area of 46 acres. We overnight in Lhasa.
Day 7: Tsedang - Yambu Lakang Fort, Samye Monastery
On the wide open plains of the Tibetan plateau, we acclimatize to the high altitude. We cross the Yarlung Tsampo River and explore Tibet's first monastery, Samye, built in the 8th century. Architecturally, it is built as a representation of the universe; the central temple represents Mount Meru and the temples around it represent the oceans, continents, and subcontinents that ring Mount Meru in Buddhist cosmology.
Day 8: To Gyantse via Kamba La and Karo La Pass
In the morning, we begin the scenic drive to Gyantse, crossing Kamba La Pass (16,000 ft/4,794 m) and the scenic Karo La Pass (16,800 ft/5,010 m), which climbs between two lofty mountains, Nozin Khang Sa (24,000 ft/7,223 m) and Ralung (16,000 ft/6,236 m).
Day 9: Palcho Monastery, Khumbum Stupa, to Shigatse
In the morning we visit the Palcho Monastery, which is comprised of 16 monasteries representing different sects and schools of Buddhism in Tibet. It is regarded as a unique and fine example of tolerance between different Buddhist practices. We also visit Khumbum Stupa, one of the largest and holiest monasteries in Tibet. We continue from Gyantse to Shigatse and enroute we will stop at Shalu Monastery which dates back to the 11th century. Overnight in Shigatse. (Altitude 12,600 ft/ 3,840 m)
Day 10: Shigatse Sights
Today we explore the fantastic Tashilhunpo Monastery, the official residence of the Panchen Lama and home to over 700 monks.
Day 11: Xegar, Base of Mount Everest
Our journey today takes to the monastic town of Sakya (4,280 m), crossing two passes; the Tropu La (4,950 m) and the Lhakpa La (5,200 m). With clear skies, the Himalayas now stand ahead of us on the horizon of the plateau, like icebergs in a sea of sand. The highlights of Sakya are its two monasteries, located on either side of the Trum-chu River. After our deviation to Sakya, we take the road turning off the Friendship Highway and head west for Xegar. Overnight in Xegar. (Altitude 13,287 ft/ 4,050 m)
Day 12: Rongbuk Monastery - In the Shadow of Mt. Everest
Today we drive from Xegar to Rongbuk Monastery, the highest monastery in the world at 16,338 ft (4,980 m). While Rongbuk is not the oldest monastery in Tibet, it is located in a spectacular setting with Everest towering in the background. The Tibetan name for Everest is Qomolangma which means "mother goddess of the universe" and for many, even the name inspires visions of its snow-capped peak and black north face rising up into piercing blue sky. It is the highest mountain in the world, at 29,035 ft (8,850 m).
Day 13: Mt. Everest Base Camp Hike (Driving Option), Return to Xegar
Up early with the sunrise for our 2 hr morning hike to the Everest Base Camp. For those that do not want to hike, a local bus from the camp will be arranged to meet the group at camp. After a group photo with majestic Mt Everest behind us, we can either walk back or hop on the bus back to camp.
Day 14: To Kerung-Rasuwagdhi Border
We continue driving across the dramatic Tibetan plateau to the recently opened Trans-Himalayan trading post of Kerung (5-6hrs approx) via the stunningly beautiful, Peiku Tso Lake - a spectacular drive on the road that cuts through the Himalayas; dramatic change in vegetation & landscape in such a short distance is truly mind boggling. Prayer flags flutter continuously, with the eternal Himalayan panorama facing us, leaving the rooftop of the world behind. The surreal scenery will leave you in awe. Overnight in Kerung. (Altitude: 10,499 ft/3,200 m)
Day 15: Through the Himalayas to Nuwakot
After customs & immigration formalities, we cross over to the other side of the Kerung - Rasuwagadhi border where you'll board our vehicle for a bumpy 15km ride to the gateway to the Langtang region (1hr approx). Road conditions improve from Syabrubesi onwards as the rural scenes of Nepal will enchant you on your drive to the idyllic little hill-top village of Nuwakot (4-5hrs approx), hidden from the mainstream tourist route and famed of its much historic citadel. Later in the afternoon, take a leisurely stroll to the Nuwakot Bazaar - a centre-piece of the Nepalese story, embellished by the rich history behind the 17th century fortress and Royal palace, depicting the shaping of far-flung tribes and of trans-Himalayan races into a unified kingdom. Overnight in Nuwakot.
Day 16: Exploring Ancient Bhaktapur & Patan
Descending from Nuwakot, we soon follow the course of the Trisuli river to emerge on to the main arterial highway to the capital city (3hrs approx). Entering Kathmandu, the drive continues to the medieval town of Bhaktapur. After lunch, we explore the walled city of Bhaktapur, an ancient city that has been lovingly restored to its authentic style. This medieval town of Bhaktapur, is known though for its woodcarvers and "peacock" windows. We also visit Patan and its lesser known, but equally impressive Durbar Square. The second largest city in the valley, Patan is also known as the "City of Arts". Overnight in Bhaktapur. (Altitude 4,600 ft/ 1,400 m)
Day 17: Depart Bhaktapur (Kathmandu)
A morning departure from Kathmandu for international flights home.
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