2018 The Holy Mountains of Tibet and Nepal (Including Saga Dawa Festival)
Monday, May 21, 2018
19 days (18 nights)
USD$9975 (tentative) per person (twin share) Single Occupancy USD$950 Deposit USD$2975 per person
AN EXPEDITION TO MOUNT KAILASH, SHISHA PANGMA AND MOUNT EVEREST
(Including the Saga Dawa Festival at Mount Kailash)
Tibet, the fabled Land of Snows, is the highest region of western China. It is home to the world’s tallest and most spiritual mountains including the incredible Chomolungma or Mount Everest.
In May 2018 I am leading an expedition in Tibet that will traverse a triangular route to visit two of its most famous peaks, Mount Kailash and Mount Everest. En-route we shall be skirting the northern plateau that abuts the isolated and beautiful mountain of Shisha Pangma, near Paiko Tso.
Starting and ending in Kathmandu, the trip will offer a stunning exploration of Lhasa, the central Tibetan Plateau and the remote northern side of the Himalayas.
PLEASE NOTE: I will NOT be leading this Kathmandu section of the trip. It will be led by a highly skilled Nepalese guide who will be travelling with the group to meet me in Tibet.
The bustling and colourful capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu is perhaps the centre of Himalayan cultural diversity and the the most famous start and end point for trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the mighty Himalaya.
The Main Stupa at Swayambhunath in Kathmandu, Nepal
Arriving in Kathmandu you will be met by an experienced guide who will accompany you on your transfer to a comfortable hotel in the city. He will be available should you have any queries at all during your Kathmandu stay, he will be able to guide you through some of Kathmandu’s famous sights including Pashupatinath, Swayambhunath, Patan, Bodhnath and Durbar Square.
Colourful Dyes at Pashupatinath, Nepal
Most importantly, he will meet with the group to assist with the entrance formalities to Tibet before you fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa.
Saddhu at Pashupatinath, Nepal
After an incredible flight over the Himalayas from Kathmandu, you will be met in Lhasa by Inger where you will spend the rest of the day acclimatising to the altitude and resting. Over the course of the following four days we will explore some of Lhasa’s major sites including the Potala, Jokhang, Norbulingka, Sera, Drepung and Ganden.
Potala in Lhasa, Tibet
The Rooftop of the Jokhang in Lhasa, Tibet
MOUNT KAILASH AND THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF SAGA DAWA.
The iconic peak of Mount Kailash is perhaps the holiest mountain in Asia. It’s incredible snow capped dome is revered by Tibetan buddhists whose aim is to do the holy prayer circuit or kora around the base of the mountain at least once in their life.
Mount Kailash is the birthplace of some of Asia’s longest rivers including the Indus, Brahmaputra and the Karnali on the upper reaches of the Ganges. It is also considered holy by Buddhists, Jains, Hindus and the followers of Bon.
The expedition has been timed to visit Mount Kailash during the famous annual festival of Saga Dawa or the birthday of Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism. Drawing thousands of pilgrims each year to Tibet and to Mount Kailash in particular, the highlight of the Saga Dawa festival at Darchen is the raising of the Tarboche pole (below). Each year on the full moon of the fourth month in the Tibetan lunar year, they replace the Tarboche flagpole, a huge pole that stands on the Kailash kora, south of the mountain. People from all over Tibet gather here that day to attach their prayer flags they brought from home, to pray, and to help erect the flagpole. The flagpole should stand perfectly upright, or else things are not good for Tibet. The whole ceremony is led by a Lama from the nearby monastery. It’s his job to make it work ‘right first time’.
Tarboche Flagpole at Mount Kailash in Tibet
Nearby Mount Kailash is the beautiful high altitude lake of Lake Manasarovar, also a place of pilgrims. The most recent time I visited Lake Manasarovar with a group, we were lucky enough to meet with some nomadic Tibetan herders who were on their way to far western Tibet with their sheep.
Tibetan Nomad Girl in Traditional Dress, Lake Manasarovar, Tibet
While we explore the Lake area, we will also visit Chiu Gompa, the ancient and barely occupied monastery that lies next to the lake.
Sunset at Chiu Gompa Monastery, Lake Manasarovar, Tibet
SHISHA PANGMA AND PAIKO TSO
Departing from the Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar area, we will slowly make our way eastward across the Tibetan Plateau towards the beautiful high altitude lake of Paiko Tso. From Paiko Tso, the stunning mountain range that is home to another of Tibet’s holy mountains, Shisha Pangma, can be seen on a clear day.
CHOMOLUNGMA (MOUNT EVEREST)
The crown in Tibet’s mountainous glory is the world’s most famous, Mount Everest. The Tibetan side of the world’s highest peak is, without a doubt, its most spectacular. The main viewing point is just a short trek from where we will be staying at Rongbuk Monastery in a guest house. We will be arriving in the Mount Everest area to visit the view point and its memorial to George Mallory. Even from our guest house we will be able to see the sunset and sunrise if the conditions are clear.
Mount Everest from the Tibetan Side
Our final leg of the expedition will see us returning from Mount Everest to Lhasa via an overnight stop in Shigatse, where we will visit the immense monastery of Tashi Lunpho.
PLEASE NOTE: This part of the trip will be escorted by myself and your Nepalese guide the accompanied the group in Tibet.
After flying in from Lhasa to Kathmandu, we will enjoy a few days of relaxing and sightseeing around the city. I have held a long established relationship with Kathmandu, one that spans over two decades. To wind down after the high altitude expedition in Tibet, I would be delighted to show you around the Kathmandu I know and love.
Over two and a half days before the trip ends in Kathmandu, I will be happy to show you around the Hindu ghat of Pashupatinath, the rural villages of Bungamati and Khokana, Dakshinkali Temple, Neydo Monastery, Patan, Bhaktapur, Changu Narayan and Panauti town.
Departure will be after breakfast on our last day in Kathmandu.
Saddhu at Pashupatinath, Nepal
Prayer Candles at Swayambhunath, Nepal
Day 1 (Saturday 19 May) – Arrival in Kathmandu, walking tour of Kathmandu Durbar Square (Overnight Kathmandu)
Day 2 (Sunday 20May) – Sightseeing around Kathmandu and Chinese visa processing day (Overnight Kathmandu)
Day 3 (Monday 21 May) – Flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa (Overnight Lhasa)
Day 4 (Tuesday 22 May) – Lhasa acclimatisation day and walking tour of the Barkhor (Overnight Lhasa)
Day 5 (Wednesday 23 May) – Visits to Drepung, Nechung, Norbulingka and Sera (Overnight Lhasa)
Day 6 (Thursday 24 May) – Visits to Potala, Jokhang and the Barkhor (Overnight Lhasa)
Day 7 (Friday 25 May) – Drive from Lhasa via Yamdrok Tso to Gyantse (Overnight Gyantse)
Day 8 (Saturday 26 May) – Visit Pelkhor Dzong and drive to Lhatse (Overnight Lhatse)
Day 9 (Sunday 27 May) – Drive from Lhatse to Paryang (Overnight Paryang)
Day 10 (Monday 28 May) – Drive from Paryang to Darchen (Overnight Darchen)
Day 11 (Tuesday 29 May) – Full day sightseeing around Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar (Overnight Darchen)
Day 12 (Wednesday 30 May) – Drive from Darchen to Saga (Overnight Saga)
Day 13 (Thursday 31 May) – Drive from Saga to Everest Base Camp (Overnight Rombuk)
Day 14 (Friday 1 June) – Drive from Everest Base Camp to Shigatse (Overnight Shigatse)
Day 15 (Saturday 2 June) – Drive from Shigatse to Lhasa (Overnight Lhasa)
Day 16 (Sunday 3 June) – Fly from Lhasa to Kathmandu (Overnight Kathmandu)
Day 17 (Monday 4 June) – Kathmandu sightseeing
Day 18 (Tuesday 5 June) – Kathmandu sightseeing
Day 19 (Wednesday 6 June) – Depart Kathmandu
Please note that the above itinerary is an outline only. En-route I reserve the right to make changes to this itinerary should the situation in Tibet change or the weather creates problems for road access. The start and end dates and times will, however, be adhered to.
- 18 nights accommodation in medium/basic standard guest houses and 4 star hotel in Lhasa
- Room only in Tibet
- Room and Breakfast daily in Nepal
- All land transfers to start and end points from airports
- Return flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa
- Nepalese guide and translator for the duration of the tour
- All ground transport in Tibet
- All entrance fees
- Services of Inger Vandyke as leader (in Tibet and second Nepal section)
- All gratuities for leaders and drivers in Tibet plus Nepal tour guide
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED:
- International flights
- All meals in Tibet
- Lunches and dinners in Nepal
- Travel insurance
- Laundry, telephone calls, wifi and other items of a personal nature
- Pre and post trip accommodation should you wish to extend your trip in Kathmandu.
Old Lady Praying at Pashupatinath, Nepal
Accommodation will be in mid-range to basic guest houses during the expedition. In Kathmandu and Lhasa, we will be staying in four star hotels.
There are small walks through villages and to monasteries on this tour. I have tried to restrict longer treks due to the very high altitudes we will be travelling in in Tibet.
Tibet in May is still classified as the end of winter. Although the roads may have cleared from snow and ice, the temperatures will still be quite cold. I would suggest you bring thermal underwear to wear under your clothes and adhere to a layering concept each day while we are travelling. The vehicles will be warm and extra clothes can be left inside them when we are visiting our destinations. However a warm jacket will be handy if the winds pick up anywhere en-route and in particular when we are exploring the area around Budong Quan which is very high. At the end of the tour when we reach Kathmandu, the daytime temperatures should be pleasant enough to wear lightweight shirts and trousers.
Ganden Monastery in Tibet
This trip is a combination of wildlife, landscapes and people photography. We will be searching for wildlife like Kiang and wild sheep principally around Mount Kailash and Mount Everest. For the wildlife on this trip a 200mm or 300mm will often be the most useful lens, but I also recommend a 400, 500mm or 600mm lens for many bird shots, mammal close-ups etc. (If your budget does not run to prime lenses, a high quality 100-400mm or similar zoom can be a great alternative.) Alternatively, you can get wonderful results with a high quality digital compact camera with a 20x or higher optical zoom.
For landscape and night photography I suggest you bring a wide angle lens from 10mm wide plus a tripod.
For the people of Tibet you may wish to have either a wide angle lens, point and shoot camera, a standard zoom i.e. 24-105mm or even iphones and ipads.
If you have questions about what equipment you ought to bring, please contact me.