Dzogchen valley, birthplace of Namkhai Norbu and Lhasa: from Kham to Kathmandu overland tour -17 days
DAY 01: Arrival in Chengdu (500m), sightseeing
Upon your arrival at Chengdu airport, our local guide will meet for you and transfer you to the hotel. Sightseeing of Panda Base,Zhaojue and Webshu temples. Panda Base is located in the northern suburb of Chengdu. The Research Base is one of the important centers in China for the captive conservation of giant pandas. We will also visit the Zhaojue and Webshu temples. In the evening, visit the Old town.
DAY 02: Transfer Chengdu to Kangding (2616m, 376km, 6hrs)
Today we drive to Kangding, 376Km and 6hrs from Chengdu. Kangding is the capital city of Ganzi Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Enjoy the idyllic scenery and visit the local people. After dinner, enjoy the hot spring at Erdaoqiao and visit Anjue monastery(Ngachu Gompa, built under direction of fifth Dalai Lama) - our first visit to Tibetan monastery on this trip. Overnight in Kangding.
DAY 03: Transfer Kangding to Dawu (3040m, 210km)
Drive to Dawu, 210 km from Kangding toward Garze. On the way visit Tagong monastery. After arrival at Dawu visit a Tibetan Buddhism school. More than 30 lamas including adults and kids study obligatory subjects like Tibetan, Tibetan literature, Buddhist philosophy, painting and Chinese. Panchen Erdini once was the honorary president of the school. Overnight at Dawu.
DAY 04: Transfer Dawu to Garze (3394m)
Drive for 182 km to Garze. After arrival at Garze the real cultural, religious centre for the Tibetans living in Sichuan, visit Garze monastery of yellow hats-sect (Gelukpa), with more than 1100 monks living in this biggest monastery in Kham and the constructions of this monastery just like a huge free market. From Garze, we head toward Dzogchen gon, the elusive Dzogchen Gompa. There is a Mani wall, covered with brightly-coloured prayer flags, fluttering against a backdrop of mountains.
DAY 05: Sightseeing of Dzogchen Gompa
Dzogchen Gompa, a 17th century center of scholarship and spiritual teaching, home of the Dzogchen school of Buddhism, the most popular form of Tibetan Buddhism in the west. It is a major pilgrimage site and is one of the largest Nyingma monasteries in Kham, and the primary university of the Nyigmapa sect in old Tibet. Dzogchen Gompa became famous for its surrounding caves where many great meditation masters spent their lives in retreat. The main temple is huge with statues of Guru Rimpoche,Vajrasattva, and Shakyamuni Buddha. We will spend the entire day exploring this fantastic monastery. The Gompa is at the foot of a gorgeous glacial valley, the gold shimmered in the sun. There are hundreds of small nomadic villages along the route. Overnight at Hotel in Manigango, 53 kms and an hour's drive from Dzogchen Gompa.
DAY 06: Transfer Dzogchen Gompa to Dege (3270m), the birthplace of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche
Drive to Dege, It takes 3 to 4hrs to Dege. Dege is the birthplace of Namkhai Norbu Rinpoche, the founder and guide of theDzogchen Community in the West. At an early age, he was recognized as the reincarnation of Adzam Drugpa, another great teacher of Dzogchen. He was later pronounced the mental manifestation (Mind Emanation) of Drug Shabdrung Rinpoche. He has lived in the West since 1960, when he came to Italy at the invitation of Professor Giuseppe Tucci, as a staff member of the Institute for Middle & Far Eastern Studies of Rome.He was Professor of Tibetan and Mongolian Language and Literature from 1964 to 1992 at the Oriental Institute of the University of Naples. A leading authority on Tibetan civilization, particularly expert in the fields of history, literature, and medical and astrological science. In the morning visit Dege scripture printing press which was built in 1729 and the biggest scripture printing press in the world today. Dege is the cultural center of Kham area as well as Tibetan Printing Center, we will visit a Tibetan library-Dege Press-printing House, and appreciate the ancient woodcut for printing. In the afternoon, we will visit Tibetan hospital.
DAY 07: Transfer from Derge to Chamdo (3200m, 342km, 7 hours)
Drive across the Jinsha River (upper reaches of Yangtze) Bridge connecting Sichuan and Tibet heading for Chamdo. Chhamdo located in the Kham region of east Tibet, 305kms west of Dege. The town sits at the confluence of the Ngom River and the Mekong River at an elevation of 3300m / 10,825 feet above sea level.We will cross over no less than four passes: Khargang La (4,352 m), Lashi La (4,450 m), Jape La (4,680 m), and Tama La (4,511 m), with clutters of prayer flags waving in the wind on the peaks and friendly nomads on grasslands.
DAY 08: Chamdo, sightseeing
Chamdo was the former capital of Kham in East-Tibetan area and has a rich history as one of the earliest centers of the Tibetan plateau and home of Kalden Jampaling (Qiangbalin Monastery). The monastery was founded was founded in the mid15th century and developed through the centuries by successive Living Buddhas. The Karub site in Chamdo dating back 4,000 to 5,000 years is the first site of the Neolithic Age scientifically excavated in Tibet, displaying the ancient civilization created by Chinese ancestors in the Lancangjiang river range.
DAY 09: Transfer Chamdo to Baxoi (Pashod Dzong)
Drive to Bangda, a town junction where Lhasa connects to the Chamdo-Kunming Highway. Turn west to cross the Lona Pass (4,511 m) and follow the Yu-chu River downstream to Bangda, a town junction where Lhasa connects to the Chamdo-Kunming Highway. Bangda Grassland is the watershed of Nujiang system and Lancangjiang system. The Yu-chu valley lies north of the Salween gorges in the highlands of Tsawagang, where the immense geographic spatial dimensions of the land dwarf our presence. While distance covered is less than 100 km, the terrain is steep. Drive across Gama La Pass (4,618 meters) to Baxoi.
DAY 10: Transfer Baxoi to Bome
The scenery becomes quite different. Ranwu Lake lies by the road. A barrier lake created by landslides, and a main source for the Parlung Zangbo River - a tributary of the Yarlung Zangbo River. Surrounded by forests and mirroring the views in the distance, the lake changes its color with change of the weather. On the road to Bome, we will stop in Ranwu to cast our lines in the pristine waters of Ngan Tso (Ranwu Lake), a spectacularly crystal blue lake cupped by snow peaks. After lunch, we wander along the Poto-chu Valley at Tramog (2,743 m), located deep in the thickly forested gorge of Parlung Tsangpo with glacial waterfalls streaming from the mountainsides. Bome is surrounded by vast forests, and Gangxiang is the most famous one. Farms, pastures and Tibetan villages can be seen all the way along the road.
DAY 11: Transfer Bome to Nyingchi (Bayi town)
We will go down several hundred meters in altitude as we reach the lowland jungle settlement of Tongmai where the Tsangpo and Parlung Tsangpo rivers meet. When passing through Mt. Segrila, the charming figure of Mt. Namcha Barwa, the most beautiful Snowy Mountain in China, may come in sight if we are lucky with the weather. Tongmai is the entrance of the Grand Canyon of Yarlung Zangbo. Known as the greatest Canyon in the world, Yarlung Zangbo Canyon stretches 509km, and the deepest part of the canyon is 6009m. Nyingchi means "the throne of the sun" in Tibetan language. It is reputed as the Switzerland in Tibet because of its snowy mountains and dense forests.
DAY 12: Transfer Nyingchi to Lhasa (3650m)
The Brahmaputra River flows through this town. A mountain pass of 5018m called Mt. Mila is the highest point before we reach Lhasa. The garrison site Nyingchi is an ideal place for the discovery of two neighbouring high points: From the golden roof of the Gelugpa monastery Buchu to view the unique scenery of the Lamaling temple which is only a few kilometers runway. Afterwards we drive to the Basum Tso Lake. more than 6000 m high snow covered mountains make the lake film like, well, the leading actor is, without doubt, is the island monastery - Tsodzong. We take a boat travel around the island and up to the Tsodzong monastery on it. In the afternoon we drive on along the Niyang river for Lhasa. We pass through scenic terrain with lush alpine forests and clear snow-melted streams and over the impressing Mi La pass (4865 m) to Lhasa.
DAY 13: Lhasa sightseeing: Drepung, Potala, etc
Sightseeing tour of Lhasa. Visit important landmarks in Lhasa. Lhasa life certainly offers glimpses into one of the most preserved ancient cultural heritages including Potala Palace and Drepung Monastery. This 17th century Potala Palace offers an awesome view of entire city and also has private quarters of the Dalai Lama, numerous grand state rooms and chapels. Ancient history has it that Drepung Monastery which was built in 14th century used to shelter around 10,000 monks but as now there has been quite a declination resulting in only few hundreds. Tibetans' respect and belief are immensely knotted with this monastery. Visit to Barkhor Markets can be quite a change from other visits as we roam around the city.
DAY 14: Transfer Lhasa to Shigatse (3900m) via Gyantse. Sightseeing of Gyantse.
Depart Lhasa for Shigatse, Tibet's second largest city. Reach the banks of the Tsang Po, which becomes the Brahmaputra River in India. Drive up-stream for a while before turning southwest through barren desert-like valleys. Along the way, you will have opportunity to visit the Yomdrok Lake, one of the Holy Lakes in Tibet. Visit Pelkor-Chode Monastery and Khumbhum Stupa with 100,000 images. Continue driving to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. Overnight stay in a Shigatse hotel.
DAY 15: Transfer Shigatse to Xegar (4050m) via Sakya. Sightseeing: Trashilungpo monastery, Sakya monastery
We head toward Xegar, also called the gateway to Mt. Everest. Cross the two high passes the Gyula and Gyatsola beyond the town of Lhatse. Then we descend to the plains, passing lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders. We visit the Sakya Monastery. Also called New Tingri. Xegar was isolated in 1855 by the Nepalese Gurkhas who cut off the dzong's water supply and settled in for a long siege.
DAY 16: Transfer Xegar to Zangmu (2300m) via Everest Base Camp
About 13,800 ft above sea level, Xegar is also a base from where expeditions to Mt. Everest and other peaks are launched. The total distance from Xegar to Everest Base Camp is about 110 km. Rongbuk is the last inhabited place before the Everest base camp. The Rongbuk monastery, the highest monastery on the earth must be visited before u start your trek. Zhangmu perches on a mountain side 10km from the Friendship Bridge across the Bhotekoshi River. The town is also called Khasa by the Nepalis, and is a major trading post between Tibet and Nepal. Overnight at Hotel Zangmu or better.
DAY 17: Cross the border to Kathmandu
Drive to Zhangmu Border, the Tibet side of Nepal-Tibet Border. Go through the custom formalities. After reaching Friendship Bridge, we'll be leaving our Tibet side vehicles, and will walk for approximately 15 minutes towards Nepal. From Kodari it takes another 8-9 hours drive to Kathmandu. Overnight at Hotel in Kathmandu.
Hotel, arrival/departure transfer
All necessary Tibet travel permits
All necessary permits and entry fees (including Tibet Travel permit)
Tibet boarder (Zhang-Mu) to Kathmandu transportation by comfortable vehicle
Chengdu, Dege, Lhasa, EBC, Zangmu by non AC Land Cruiser (4WD Toyota)
Accommodation in Dawu, Bowo and Zangmu in 2** hotel on twin sharing basis with breakfast
Accommodation in Chengdu, Kangding, Cahmdo, Bowo, Lhasa, Shigatse, Lhatse, Zangmu in 3** hotels on twin sharing basis with breakfast
Accommodation in other places in Tibet in best available guesthouses without breakfasts
English speaking guide in Kathmandu and Tibet
All applicable taxes and service charges
All necessary paper-work
All flights and transfers not mentioned above
Meals other than breakfast in above mentioned places
Tips for guides and driver
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