This tour starts in Lhasa, the sacred city and capital of Tibet, where we will explore its great palaces, monasteries and temples. We drive to Ganden Monastery and start 4-day trek over the Tibetan mountains to Samye, the first and holiest monastery of Tibet.
The breathtaking views of the snow-capped peaks as well as the views of Tibetan countryside will make this trek an unforgettable one. Witness Buddhist prayer ceremonies, visit the homes of local Tibetans and observe religious customs to help understand the Tibetan religion and life. Once in the Yarlung valley we visit the impressive Yambu Lakang and the tombs of the ancient Tibetan Kings. A wonderful journey to the heart and soul of Tibet.
Our guide will meet you at Konggar Airport and take you into Lhasa with a relaxed pace to allow you adjust to the effects of altitude (3650m). Over the next few days you will explore this fantastic city on the roof of the world.
On the way, you’ll be greeted by Nie Tang Buddha, an image of Buddha that is engraved in the mountain face.
Overnight in 3* Shangbala Hotel.(L.D.)
Day 2 Lhasa
The first day of sightseeing starts from Lhasa’s cardinal landmark–Potala Palace. A structure of massive proportions, its towering image is an awe-inspiring moment in anyone’s life! It takes at least 2 hours to visit all the rooms, halls and chapels. Afternoon see the most revered religious structure in Tibet,Jokhang Temple. Bustling with worshippers and mystery, the Jokhang is an unrivalled experience. The quadrangle of streets surrounding the Jokhang is the Barkhor, Lhasa’s most interesting pilgrimage circuit. This area of the Old Town is both the spiritual heart of Lhasa and the main commercial district for Tibetans.
Overnight in 3* Shangbala Hotel.(B.L.D)
In the morning visit the Drepung monastery, once the world’s largest monastery with about 10,000 monks. We have an afternoon visit to the Sera monastery, one of Tibet’s four great Gelugpa monasteries. The “Buddhism Scriptures Debating” in Sera is very famous. Followed by a visit to Norblingkha, the summer palace of Dalai lamas. Overnight in 3* Shangbala Hotel. (B.L.D.)
Day 4 Gandan
After breakfast, drive 60km to visit Ganden Monastery. Ganden (4500m) is the seat of the head of the Gelukpa order, the Ganden Tripa. Founded by Tsong Khapa in 1417, the monastery has exercised powerful political influence and perhaps because of this suffered almost total destruction in the 1960s. Rebuilding is well underway, but the extent of the damage is quite evident. The kora, pilgrimage curcuit, here is one of the most fascinating with numerous pilgrims and great views of the Kyi Chu valley. (B.L.D.)
Day 5 Gandan
We begin the trek from the highest point of the Ganden kora and continue to ascend towards the top of the ridge, marked by a cairn. From here the view is down the Kyi Chu Valley to Lhasa. The trail now descends through Hepu village with its red and yellow protector-deity ,the Divine White Yak. The trail continues along the stream as the valley narrows to the site of a ruined nunnery before emerging onto marshy meadow land and Yama Do.
Day 6 Gandan
Damp alpine meadows continue to the pass, Shuga La (5250m) where cairns, prayerflags and yak horns mark the summit. Descend past a small lake into the Tsotup Chu Valley, an area of rich pasture supporting yak, sheep and goats. There are often herders camped here and it is an ideal opportunity to get a glimpse of this traditional Tibetan lifestyle.
Climbing a wide basin the Chitu-La (5100) is visible as a rocky rampart at the head of the valley. On the far side small lakes dot a shrub area where herders have carved out small level areas for their tents. A narrow gorge leads out onto the wider meadows where there are larger herder’s camps along the river.
Day 8 Gandan
Scrub willow and rosebush forest become thicker as we descend down the river, into forest of juniper and rhododendron. This is one of the most attractive sections of the trek, especially in May and June when the rhododendrons are in flower and the hillside is a blaze of color. There is a shrine to the protector of the area, Dorje Yudronma, and further down the valley, the first permanent settlement since Hepu Chanda. Looking south the mountain range across the Yarlung Tsangpo is visible in the distance.
Day 9 Samye
A slight detour leads us to Yamalung Hermitage where Guru Rinpoche meditated and received empowerment from the Buddha Amitayus. There are several small temples, a sacred spring and numerous carvings; the temple enclosing Guru Rinpoche’s meditation cave contains a hand and footprints of the saint. Those of us in the group not wish to do the 1 hour climb may wait by the bridge and rest.
From the tiny hamlet of Pisha we can see Hepo Ri, one of Tibet’s most sacred mountains, in the middle of the Samye Valley below. From here the valley is a tapestry of fields, woods and villages contrasting with the sandy river bank. Tiny temples and shrines dot the path down towards the golden roofs of Samye.
Samye, built in the form of a mandala, was the first monastery to be built in Tibet and where Guru Rinpoche subdued many local demons, converting them to Buddhism.
Overight in Guesthouse(B.L.D.)
Day 10 Samye
Today will be spent exploring Samye and the local village, a typical and fascinating Tibetan farming community, climb to the top of nearby Hepo Ri for magnificent views, wander the willow studded sand dunes along the river, a live with bird life or, for the more energetic, a trek to the Chimphu Hermitages. At the head of the beautiful Chimphu valley there is a small ani gompa (nunnery) and the hillside is littered with meditation huts.
Overnight in Guesthouse (B.L.D.)
An early morning drive to the ferry takes us across the Yarlung Tsangpo. It is surely one of the most scenic and spectacular drives in Tibet. Cross the Khamba La and Kora La (passes), along the shores of Lake Yamdrok Tso to Gyantse. Once an important trading town, Gyantse retains a feel of ‘old’ Tibet.
Day 12 Shigatse
After breakfast, drive to Shigatse via Shalu Monastery. Visit Pelkor Chode Monastery founded in 1418 and Kunbum Stupa which was founded in 1440. Kunbum Stupa (meaning a house of 100,000 Buddha images) can be considered not only a magnificent museum but also the most stunning architectural wonder in Tibet. This afternoon, make our way to Shigatse.
Overnight in Shigatse Hotel(B.L.D.)
This morning, see Tashilunpo. Afternoon, head back to Lhasa.
Overnight in Lhasa Shambhala Hotel
Day 14 Transfer to the airport. Tour ends.