Tibet 18 Days - 17 Nights

Lake Manasarovar

Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu

Overnight Hotel. Included meals: breakfast. Alt: 1,350m.

At Kathmandu International Airport, you will be met by a Trek Nepal representative and transferred to your hotel. There will be a full tour briefing in the evening.

Day 2 Nyalam

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Alt. 3,750m. Drive 6 hours. Distance 155km.

Leaving Kathmandu, we head northeast along the Araniko Highway that connects Kathmandu with Kodari, the Nepal-Tibet border village. The highway takes us through the beautiful Panchkhal Valley, passing terraced fields, lush green countryside and local villages as it follows the Bhote Koshi River. At the confluence of the Bhote Koshi and Sun Koshi the highway follows the latter to the Friendship Bridge at the border village.   After completing immigration and customs formalities a short steep winding drive brings us to the port town of Zhangmu. The drive continues to climb to Nyalam via the Matsang Tsangpo gorge, along a winding road with numerous hairpin bends with spectacular views.

Day 3 Nyalam – Acclimatization Day

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt. 3,750m. Trek 1½ hour.

Today is an acclimatization day to allow us to adjust to the high altitude. We will walk to the cultural site of Milarepa's Cave. Milarepa is a great Tibetan Buddhist philosopher most famous as a mystic and composer of song and poetry, in which he expresses his wisdom of realizing dharma. It is said, he is the first to attain complete enlightenment, Vajradhara, within one lifetime. Although he became a wandering teacher, he spent many of his years in this cave; impressions in the rock are attributed to Milarepa's meditation position and a handprint on the roof was created when he held up the ceiling. Milarepa survived on nettle tea, which turned his skin green and he is often depicted in this colour. Over the top of the cave is Nyalam Pelgye Ling Temple.

Day 4 Saga

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt. 4,280m. Drive 6 ½ hours. Distance 205km.

The journey today takes us into the heart of Tibet’s wilderness as we travel on metal roads and wide open dusty plains of the Tibetan plateau, ascend over several passes and encounter nomadic life. We leave Nyalam on a metal road that climbs steeply to the Thong La pass (5,120m) then drops before climbing again to Lalung La pass (5,124m). From here, in the south there are incredible views of Shisha Pangma (8,012m) with distant views of Gaurishanker, Langtang Himal and Ganesh Himal. Shortly after leaving the pass we continue the journey off-road over the Tibetan plateau. At times it feels arduous as we cross the uneven and dusty trails but the magnificent scenery of the wide plateau valleys interspersed with the occasional nomadic family and its herd of yaks more than makes up for it, as we head to the beautiful lake of Pelgu Tso. Continuing across the plains with stunning views of the Himalaya we reach a road that takes us down to the Yarlung River. Crossing over the river the road continues to Saga, the pilgrims’ gateway to Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.

Day 5 Paryang

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt. 4,750m. Drive 7 hours. Distance 255km.

The roads out of Saga to Zhongba are in good condition thus making the journey comfortable as we travel over a number of passes and negotiate the winding route to the small town. In Zhongba there is a small monastery named Dargyelling at the western end of town, time permitting, we can visit it. The road beyond Zhongba reverts to an off-road plateau trail and makes the going slow. The stunning, wild, raw and untouched scenery along this part of the route to Paryang is particularly spectacular horizon. Suddenly you have the feeling of being on the “Roof of the World”.

Day 6 Lake Manasarovar

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt. 4,5
56m. Drive 5 ½ hours. Distance 260km.

As we make our way to the sacred region of Mount Kailash the roads are poor on the arid plateau and the route requires us to make several river crossings. The highlight is the drive over Mayum La pass (4,600m) where there is an unforgettable panoramic view of the Himalayas consisting of Cho Oyu, Langtang Himal, Manaslu, Ganesh Himal, and the ranges of Annapurna and Dhaulagiri. Approaching Lake Manasarovar the Lake historic Chiu Monastery comes into view on the northwestern shore. We will make camp on the shores of Manasarovar’s Kora/Parikarama where we will have a good view of Mount Kailash.

Day 7 Darchen

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt. 4,600m. Drive 2 ½ hours. Distance 51km.

We will spend some time enjoying and exploring the stunning and tranquil Lake Manasarovar before driving north to Darchen. Previously an important sheep station for nomads, Darchen is situated in front of the sacred Mount Kailash, and it is the start and end point for our Kora/Parikarama, which begins tomorrow. On arrival the support team will organize the yaks and ponies for the holy journey, as you prepare for your journey.

Day 8 Diraphuk

Overnight Nomadic Tent / Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt. 4,730m. Trek 7 hours.  

Your pilgrimage begins today. A Kora/Parikarama of Mount Kailash covering 53km over 3 days. We will head west in a clockwise direction, the trail starts gently but then climbs to a cairn at 4,730m, from this vantage point stunning views of the magnificent south face of Mount Kailash are enjoyed along with Nanda Devi (7,816m) in India. The route enters the Lha Chu valley taking us through the village of Tarboche, where an annual flagpole raising ceremony takes place during Saga Dawa. As we continue our holy walk we pass through green meadows and along a number of streams as we make our way through the valley. The trail takes us to the 13th century monastery of Diraphuk where we are able to seek blessings for our pilgrimage. Along the trail to Diraphuk we will have views of the north and west faces of the sacred mountain and at points these can be seen together. The first section of our pilgrimage ends at Diraphuk.

En route we may encounter Bonpos and Jains walking towards us as they complete their Kora/Parikarama in a counterclockwise direction.

Day 9 Zutrulphuk

Overnight Nomadic Tent / Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt. 5,480m. Trek 8½ hours.

pilgrimsToday we leave behind Lha Chu valley and continue our holy walk through the Dolma Chu valley, which takes us to the highest point of the tour, Dolma La (5,630m). Prior to the pass there is an area known as Shive Tso where pilgrims are said to undertake a symbolic death, as they leave behind an item of clothing before going over Dolma La. The challenging ascent to the pass’s summit is rewarded with breathtaking views including Gouri Kunda Lake, also known as the Lake of Compassion. The pass is adorned with many colourful prayer flags that flutter over the summit releasing their prayers to the heavens. As we make our descent to the flat grassy fields of Zutrulphuk, we stop at Gouri Kunda Lake (5,608m) where Hindus worship and immerse themselves in the sacred, icy water. Around Zutrulphuk there are several meditation caves, including one used by Milarepa whose cave we visited at Nyalam, and a monastery.

Day 10 Trita Puri

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt. 4,200. Trek 3½ hours. Drive 1½ hour. Distance 105km

The final section of the Kora/Parikarama is an easy 3½ hours walk which heads down to the river where it emerges on to the Barga plain, which we cross to return to our starting pointing. The trail takes us along stunning gorges and past numerous mani stones and mani walls. Our 3 days holy walk completes when we return to Darchen. According to local beliefs we have been absolved of our sins. Our transportation will be waiting to take us to the famous pilgrim site of Trita Puri. It is said, no merit is earned in the pilgrimage of Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar without a visit to Trita Puri, where one is blessed by the mystical sights. Guru Rimpoche carried out various miracles during his time here, and the area is considered a holy place. Trita Puri is also famous for its hot springs and geyser with white and pink terraces. It is believed the hot springs cure all sickness, and many pilgrims bathe to wash away their bad karmas. Without a doubt, it is simply relaxing to sit in the hot water after a challenging and demanding 3 days.

Day 11 Saga

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt: 4,280m. Drive 9 hours. Distance 660km.

Today we begin our journey to Lhasa. Retracing the route that brought us to the lake, our first overnight stay will be at Saga, which is situated on the Tibetan plateau. The drive will take between 9 hours with fantastic high desert landscape on the both sides of the road.

Day 12 Lhatse

Overnight Guesthouse. Included meals breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Alt: 3,900m. Drive 5 hours. Distance 280km.

Today we continue on towards Lhasa with spectacular views of wilderness landscape. Nomads are often seen in summer roaming these lands in search of new areas for their herds to graze. The drive continues to the colourful valley of Lhatse. In Lhatse at the western end of town is a small monastery, Changmoche Monastery

Day 13 Shigatse

Overnight Hotel. Included meals breakfast only.
Alt: 4,000m. Drive 5 hours. Distance 334km.


We continue our drive to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. Located in the city’s Tibetan quarter are the Tashilhumpo Monastery and the imposing castle of Shigatse Dzong. The original castle was built around the 15th century and was a smaller version of Potala Palace. The building has been reconstructed following it’s dismantle in 1961.

The famous Tashilhumpo Monastery is an impressive complex of temples and monks’ residences at the foot of Nyizer Ri. Founded by the First Dalai Lama, Gendun Drup, in 1447. Its role in the Gelugpa hierarchy changed significantly in the mid 17th century when the Fifth Dalai Lama identified its abbot as an incarnation of Amitabha – the Buddha of Infinite Light. Since this time the abbot has been titled the Panchen Lama (“Great Scholar”). For the Tibetans the Panchen Lama is the next revered spiritual leader after the Dalai Lama. They regard him as a political figure, as well as a spiritual one, due to the role he traditionally takes in selecting the next Dalai Lama.

Tashilhumpo on the whole weathered the Cultural Revolution; the main casualties were the monks’ residences, tombs of several Panchen Lamas and the nearby fort. In this huge complex attractions of particular interest are: Chapel of Jampa (Maitreya – the ‘Buddha to Be’); tomb of the Tenth Panchen Lama, which is said to be enshrouded with over 300kg of gold; tomb of the Fourth Panchen Lama, which is encased in silver and gold; and the Assembly Hall in the Kelsang Temple. Also of interest is the kora, which takes an hour to complete and provides outstanding views of the monastery and the Tibetan’s devotion.

Day 14 Gyantse

Overnight Hotel. Included meals breakfast only.
Alt: 4,000m. Drive 1 ½ hours. Distance 90 km.

Our journey continues to Gyantse, taking you through intensely cultivated agricultural areas. We take a short drive to visit Pala Manor, a well-preserved dwelling of casino an aristocratic family, which gives a valuable insight to the lifestyles of the different classes.

Gyantse is famous for its 15th century Kumbum (stupa) within the grounds of Palcho Chode Monastery, the main monastery in Gyantse. The stupa is the largest and grandest in Tibet with 108 chapels over four floors packed with exquisite paintings and sculptures. A gold dome crowns the stupa, which sits over the four sets of all seeing eyes. Founded in 1418 it became an important center for the Sakya sect of Tibetan Buddhism. The town also houses an old Dzong (fort). In the afternoon we will explore this remarkable town that has escaped the Chinese influence that is noticeable in other major towns.

Day 15 Lhasa

Overnight Hotel. Included meals breakfast only.
Alt: 3,650m. Drive 5 hours. Distance 280km.

yamdrokWe head east out of the town to Lhasa. We travel through a stunning valley with a series of villages. An ascent will lead us over Karo La pass, which lies at 5,050m. From here there is a spectacular view of an imposing glacier. We encounter Yamdrok Lake which leads us up and over another pass, Khamba La pass at 4,790m. The views are breathtaking with the stunning turquoise waters of Yamdrok Lake against the backdrop of the distant snow-capped massif of Mount Nojin Kangtsang (7,191m). Crossing the Yarlung Tsangpo river takes us into the Kyi Chu Valley. We arrive in Lhasa late afternoon. You may wish to take a walk in the Barkhor area, which is the heart of the old Tibetan part of town both in terms of religion and economics. Following the crowds of pilgrims clockwise past stalls selling anything from ceremonial goods to household wares you feel as though you have slipped back in time. This is one part of Lhasa where the modern world has been resisted, and where you can while away many hours watching the world go by.

Day 16 Sightseeing in Lhasa

Overnight Hotel. Included meals breakfast only. Alt. 3,650m.

Our time today will be spent soaking up the rich cultural history of Lhasa, as we continue to acclimatize to the high altitude. This includes visits to Jokhang and Sera Monastery.   The city of Lhasa was built around the Jokhang Temple Monastery in the 7th century when Buddhism was first introduced into Tibet. It is the most sacred structure in Tibet, and pilgrims travel from every corner of the country to pray in this spiritual heart. There are a number of chapels situated on the ground and first floors adorned with statues including the most sacred Jowo Sakyamuni. Many of the chapels are closed to the public but those open are captivating. At the main entrance to the monastery you will find pilgrims prostrating as they pray before embarking on a kora, a ritual circuit, around the temple. Jokhang Temple Monastery is a UNESCO World Heritage site along with the Potala Palace and Norbulingka Palace.

Sera Monastery, along with Drepung Monastery and Ganden Monastery, is one of great three Gelugpa university monasteries (major order associated with the Dalai Lama). Founded in 1419, several of the original colleges may be visited today. It is one of the best locations to witness the monks debating, as they outwit each other on the teachings of Buddha and the philosophy of Buddhism. A noisy affair, with the monks clapping their hands to emphasize their point!

An important element of Tibetan culture is its traditional medicine system. The main ingredients traditionally consist of: medicinal plants, metals and minerals, ordinary and semi-precious stones, salt and a variety of mushrooms. We will visit Men Tsee Khang Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute that practices gSowa-rigpa, the Tibetan system of medicine, astronomy and astrology, to gain a greater insight to this ancient art of healthcare.

Day 17 Sightseeing in Lhasa

Overnight Hotel. Included meals breakfast only. Alt. 3,650m.

potala palace

One of Lhasa’s highlights is a visit to Potala Palace. Today we shall visit this magnificent landmark with its incredible architecture of red and white buildings. Sited on Marpo Ri – Red Hill, which is 130m high, the palace was founded in 1645 during the reign of the fifth Dalai Lama. The palace comprises of mainly two complexes, the White Palace and the Red Palace. The outer white buildings housed the administration whilst the Red Palace is the abode for the chapels, tombs and living quarters. Since its completion it has been the home of each Dalai Lama. Following the construction of Norbulingka (summer palace) in the 18th century it served as the winter residence.

Entrance is usually through the Western Gate, which leads you through a labyrinth of chambers to the lower floor of the Red Palace. It is on the upper floors you will find the reception hall and living quarters of the Dalai Lama. We complete our visit by exiting the main gate of the Red Palace and then descend the stairway to the marketplace immediately in front of the palace. Time spent at Potala Palace is dependent on the number of pilgrims and tourists. It may take up to 3 hours, please be patient for this is a significant cardinal site to the Tibetans.

Our next visit is to the other great palace, Norbulingka (literally means jewel park). This summer palace is located in the west of the city. Founded in 1755 the forested complex became the summer base from where the country was administered. The New Summer Palace, commissioned by the 14th Dalai Lama is situated in the centre of the complex. The majority of the private quarters are open to the public as well as the palaces of the eighth and thirteenth Dalai Lamas.

Continuing westwards to the foot of Mount Gephel we arrive at Drepung Monastery. Founded in 1416, it was once the largest monastery, home to around 10,000 monks. Today the number is significantly less with around 600 monks in residence.

Day 18 Depart Lhasa

Transfer to airport for departure flight.

This itinerary is subject to change resulting from a change in regulations either by the Government or Communities and natural circumstances


What Is Included

  • All transfers to and from the airport accompanied by an English speaking representative
  • Accommodation based on twin sharing as detailed in the itinerary. Twin rooms are provided for non-couples as well as couples. When camping we provide two-person expedition tents and all the necessary communal cooking equipment
  • Meals as outlined in the itinerary
  • Activities as shown in the itinerary, note this may vary from day to day
  • Provision of sterilized drinking water except in Kathmandu
  • All necessary transportation, whether private or public
  • Visa for Tibet
  • All trekking permits and fees
  • All city and monument entrance fees
  • Experienced English speaking guide
  • Experienced Tibetan guide responsible for the logistics within Tibet
  • Assistant guides, cooks and porters to support the group size
  • Gamow bag PAC (Portable Altitude Chamber), oxygen and a comprehensive first aid kit



What Is Excluded

  • International airfare, airport taxes, visa fees, passport costs, insurance premiums of any kind and excess baggage charges
  • Personal Travel Insurance (cover your adventure activity as well as medical, emergency evacuation and personal belongings).   It is imperative to be insured with suitable cover
  • Personal clothing and footwear such as down jacket, gloves, hat, waterproofs, hiking boots
  • Personal equipment, for example rucksack, day backpack, torch, water bottle, sleeping bag and mat
  • Personal medical supplies and vaccinations
  • Optional single accommodation supplement
  • Personal expenses such as phone bills, room service charges, porterage, bar bills (meals exclude bottle and alcohol drinks), tips to guides, porters and drivers, laundry
  • Expenses incurred during emergency evacuation due to any reason
  • Optional tours, excursions and activities
  • Any item not detailed in the “What Is Included”
  • Costs incurred due to natural calamities, strikes, breakdowns and those beyond the control of Trek Nepal Int’l (P) Ltd and its associates