Gathering in the Holy City
On the first day, participants will independently arrive at the designated hotel in Lhasa. Given the high altitude of this journey, it’s recommended that travelers arrive in Lhasa at least two days prior to adapt to the plateau conditions and minimize the risk of altitude sickness. Lhasa, the capital of Tibet, is revered as the “City of Light,” famous for its stunning scenery, rich history, unique customs, and vibrant religious culture.
Exploring Lhasa’s Landmarks
For those arriving early, a visit to the world-renowned Potala Palace, the highest palace globally, is a must. This architectural marvel houses Tibet’s most exquisite cultural treasures. Additionally, the historic Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Street are perfect for immersing oneself in Tibetan customs and Buddhist art.
- Early arrivals can choose their preferred hotel or opt for the accommodation arranged by the club. The night before departure, all participants must gather at the hotel at a specified time for a pre-departure meeting led by the group leader.
- On initial exposure to the high plateau, avoid strenuous activities. Walk slowly, eat moderately (about 70% full), focus on vegetables, avoid alcohol, and for the first three nights, refrain from bathing and shampooing to prevent colds.
- As this route includes border areas, it’s necessary to apply for a border permit in advance, listing the regions (Tibet, Shannan, Rikaze).
- Due to the distance from Lhasa Airport to the city (about 140 km, taking 2-3 hours), there’s no airport pickup. Participants can take an airport bus to the terminal (30 yuan/person) and then a taxi to the hotel (around 10 yuan).
Day Two: Journey from Lhasa to Shannan City via Yanghu and Samye Temple
The Unconventional Route to Yanghu
The day begins early with a drive along the Lhasa River, crossing the Garola Pass and skirting the rarely visited northern shore of Yanghu. This area features a picturesque crescent-shaped bay and a clear, translucent lake. Standing beside the road, the view of the holy lake is simply magnificent.
The Secluded Daycare Temple
Our focus then shifts to the “Daycare Temple,” located on a peninsula in Yanghu’s heart. This temple, possibly the most isolated in Tibet, has a history spanning over 700 years and houses a sacred stone believed to cure all diseases. The temple’s sole monk maintains daily practices of fetching water and chanting sutras.
Visiting Samye Temple
Next, we proceed to the famous Samye Temple in the Shannan area. Established in the 8th century AD during the Tubo Dynasty, Samye was the first monastery in Tibet to ordain monks. Its architecture, blending Tibetan, Han, and Indian styles, makes it a unique cultural landmark.
The full name of Samye Monastery, “Bezama Sangye Min Gyulenji Bai Zu Lakang,” translates to “Auspicious Red Rock Pondering Boundless and Unchanging Dayton Temple.” Built under the reign of Chisong Dezen, it was established with the aid of Indian Buddhist masters Shantideva and Padmasambhava.
Samye Temple is renowned for its four-color pagoda, representing white, red, black, and green, placed in the four corners of the main hall. These pagodas serve to ward off evil spirits and prevent natural and man-made disasters, embodying unique architectural styles and profound Buddhist artistry.
Day Three: Shannan City to Lebugou via Yumbulakang and Nari Yongcuo
Journey to Yumbulakang
The day starts from Shannan City, leading to the ancient Yumbulakang. “Yumbulakang,” meaning “female deer,” is Tibet’s first palace, dating back over two millennia. Originally a palace, it was converted into a monastery during the reign of Songtsen Gampo. Princess Wencheng frequently stayed here during summers. Later, during the 5th Dalai Lama’s time, a golden top was added, transforming it into a Yellow Sect monastery. Yumbulakang houses a Sakyamuni Buddha statue, and its murals vividly recount Tibet’s earliest history.
The Serene Nari Yongcuo
Leaving Yumbulakang, we soon encounter the stunning plateau lake – Nari Yongcuo. At an elevation of 4900 meters, it resembles a sapphire nestled in snow-capped mountains and grasslands. Its pristine waters reflect the surrounding landscape, including the 6505-meter-high Kongbu Gang Snow Mountain.
Through Bora Pass to Lebugou
Our journey continues through the southernmost county in Tibet, passing the eastern section of the Malaya Mountain Grand Canyon – Loeb Ditch, and climbing over the 4550-meter-high Bora Pass. The transition from alpine cold to humid subtropical climates is striking. Lebugou, meaning “good place,” is a region of rich biodiversity, with a climate resembling Tibet’s own Jiangnan. The route winds through ancient forests, home to playful monkeys and birds.
Historic Site of the Sino-Indian Counterattack
Descending from Bora Pass, we reach the site of the 1962 Sino-Indian Self-Defense Counterattack War’s frontline headquarters. This secret location, built under a cliff, is now a revered red tourist attraction, showcasing the bravery and triumphs of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army during the conflict.
Cangyang Gyatso’s Summer Residence
Nearby, we find a unique house built on a boulder, once the summer residence of the famous Tibetan poet Cangyang Gyatso. Known as “Cangyang Gyatso Palace,” this site holds a sacred status among Tibetans.
Day Four: Exploring Lebugou’s Natural Wonders
Sentry Box Waterfall and Senmuzha Scenic Area
We begin with a visit to Sentry Box Waterfall, a refreshing retreat within the green forest. A legend ties this waterfall to Padmasambhava, who is said to have brewed barley wine here. Our next stop is the Senmuzha Scenic Area, known as the “Witch Valley,” where Padmasambhava is believed to have subdued demons. This area, rich in flora and fauna, is a natural oxygen bar.
The Sacred Wolf Valley
Our journey takes us to Wolf Valley, a site of pilgrimage with no actual wolves but significant for its association with Padmasambhava. He is believed to have practiced here, subduing demons and wolves. Visitors can explore various caves and scenic spots in this serene valley.
Day Five: From Lebugou to Kajiu Temple and Sexiang Hot Springs
The Ancient Seabuckthorn Forest and Kajiu Temple
Departing from Lebugou, we pass through an ancient seabuckthorn forest, home to trees thousands of years old. The forest is a testament to the resilience and diversity of Tibetan flora. Later, we reach the ancient Kajiu Temple, known for its mystical beauty and rich history. The temple, set amidst lush vegetation and pleasant climate, is a heavenly retreat for spiritual seekers.
Relaxing at Lapu Hot Springs
We conclude the day at Lapu Hot Springs in Sexiang. According to legend, Padmasambhava created 108 springs here, of which 14 have been developed. The hot springs, rich in minerals, offer a perfect way to unwind and rejuvenate after the day’s journey.
Day Six: From Color Township to Loza via White Horse Linco and Saikaguto Temple
Saikaguto Temple Visit
Our journey begins in Color Township, where we visit the Saikaguto Temple. This ancient temple, facing east and surrounded by walls, is renowned for its nine-story tower and 28-meter-tall dole tower, both adorned with golden tops. Inside, the temple preserves murals and artifacts significant to the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism and the early Mendang School of Painting.
Baima Lin Cuo and Kula Gangri
Next, we proceed to Baima Lin Cuo, a lake revered as one of Guru Padmasambhava’s three soul lakes. The lake’s varying depths create a stunning array of blue, green, and white hues, surrounded by Guru Padmasambhava’s footprints and practice caves. Nearby stands the magnificent Kulagang Snow Mountain, reaching 7538 meters and forming a breathtaking ice and snow barrier.
Trek to Baima Lin Cuo Observation Deck
We’ll arrange a light hike to Baima Lin Cuo’s observation deck, offering a panoramic view of the Holy Mountain and Lake. The night will be spent in a hotel in Loza County City.
Day Seven: From Loza to Yadong via Pumoyong Co and Amorous Cuo
Pumoyong Co Visit
Departing Loza, we head to Pumoyong Lake, crossing the Monda Gangri Pass with views of the majestic Monda Gangri Snow Mountain. Pumoyong Co, the world’s highest lake at 5010 meters, is surrounded by three magnificent snow-capped peaks, offering stunning views and a serene atmosphere.
Exploring Amorous Cuo and Historical Sites
We continue along the newly built 219 National Road to Amorous Cuo, a sacred lake nestled at 4000 meters. This picturesque site is flanked by Zhuo Mu La God Peak and represents a beautiful love story. We also visit the Qumei Xionggu anti-British monument, marking the entrance to Yadong and a tragic piece of history.
Zhuomulari Snow Mountain and Parry Grassland
The journey leads us to Zhuomulari Snow Mountain, offering an awe-inspiring view of the 7326-meter peak. The trip also includes a visit to the Parry Grassland, known as the “five color meadow.”
Arrival in Yadong
Our day concludes in Yadong, a lush valley known as the “Jiangnan of Tibet.” The night will be spent in a boutique hotel in Yadong County.
Day Eight: From Yadong to Chentanggou via Qudeng Nyima Glacier
Journey Through the Himalayas
Starting from Yadong, we traverse the Himalayan landscape, witnessing the stunning snow-capped peaks of the Sino-Indian border. The route includes views of the Zhuomi Yumo and Kanchenjunga peaks, among others.
Qudeng Nyima Glacier Exploration
Our destination is the Qudeng Nyima Glacier, located in Gamba County and known as “the end of the world.” This glacier, alongside the breathtaking Himalayan backdrop, offers a unique and profound experience.
Arrival in Chentanggou
The day concludes in Chentanggou, a valley nestled in the Himalayas with a subtropical monsoon climate. This “Natural Museum” offers a diverse range of landscapes, from snow-capped mountains to dense forests.
Day Nine: From Chentanggou to Dingjie County via Jiuyan Hot Spring
Sherpa Village Visit
Chentanggou is home to Sherpa communities, known for their unique culture and history as Everest guides. We’ll visit original Sherpa villages, showcasing traditional architecture and customs.
Hiking to Jiuyan Hot Spring
A hike to Jiuyan Hot Spring allows us to experience this natural wonder, divided into nine streams, creating a series of blue hot springs. Immersing in these springs is a uniquely soothing experience.
Departure from Chentanggou
After lunch in Chentang, we depart for Dingjie County. The journey sees a dramatic shift from lush jungles to snow-capped mountains, marking a fitting end to this leg of our journey.
Day 10: From Dingjie County to Tingri via Everest Rongbuji Temple and Jiawu Pass
Dingjie Wetland Exploration
Our day begins in Dingjie County, leading us to the Dingjie wetland. Situated at the Himalayas’ northern foot and south of the Brahmaputra River, this area boasts sprawling wetlands, winding rivers, and numerous lakes. Home to rare birds like black-necked cranes and bar-headed geese, it’s a paradise for birdwatchers. Weather permitting, we might also glimpse the 8,516-meter-high Lhotse Peak.
Gaura Pass and Views of Snow-Capped Peaks
Next, we pass the Gaura Pass, a vital gateway to Everest Base Camp, situated at 5210 meters. This vantage point offers stunning views of four 8000-meter peaks: Makalu, Lhotse, Everest, and Cho Oyu.
Journey to Everest Rongbuji Monastery
Our winding mountain road journey leads to Rongbuk Monastery, the world’s highest temple and a significant site for climbers seeking blessings before ascending Everest. While the base camp area is off-limits for environmental protection, Rongbuk Monastery offers one of the best views of Everest.
Sunset at Jiawu Pass
Our special arrangement includes waiting for Everest’s sunset at the Jiawu Pass. This spot, at 5210 meters, presents a breathtaking view of the four towering snow peaks, especially as they glow golden in the setting sun.
Return to Tingri
Given the high altitude and cold temperatures at Rongbuk Monastery, we return to Tingri for the night, staying in a hotel equipped with heating for comfort.
Day 11: Return to Lhasa from Tingri via Gyangze and Rikaze
Journey Back to Lhasa
Today marks the final leg of our journey. We’ll travel back to Lhasa along National Highway 318 and Yaya Expressway, passing through various counties including Lazi, Rikaze, and Qushui. We expect to reach the holy city of Lhasa around 6pm, concluding our unforgettable eleven-day Himalayan Snow Mountain Tour.
Travelers should be aware that the road conditions along National Highway 219 can be challenging, with variable climate and differing epidemic control policies across regions. Delays of 1-2 days are possible, so it’s advisable to reserve some flexible time. Any additional accommodation costs due to unforeseen delays will be the responsibility of the travelers.