PREPERATION – PASSPORT COLLECTION FOR GROUP VISA APPLICATION – AT THE LATEST, SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 20th
We encourage guests to arrive at least 2-3 days prior to the journey’s starting date in order to give yourself the minimal time needed to rest up, acclimatize, shake off jet-lag, and most importantly for the group visa application.
In regards to the VISA application:
It is important that your flight arrives in Kathmandu no later than 5:00pm on Sunday September 20th. At 6:00pm all participants’ passports will be collected for the group application of the Chinese visa + travel permit for Tibet. Booking your flight ticket to arrive at least 2-3 days prior to the journey’s starting date will also compensate for any unforeseen flight delays.
DAY 1 – ARRIVAL IN KATHMANDU – SUNDAY SEPTEMBER 20th
When your flight arrives at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, a private car will pick you up from the Airport (lookout for the ‘Himalayan Hermitage’ sign!) and drop you off at the hotel where we stay in Boudhanath. At 3pm we will have a group orientation and introduction to the pilgrimage journey, led by your hosts and facilitators Sisse Budolfsen and Alex d’Artois, at the Hotel. Dinner in Boudha.
DAY 2 – BOUDHA & PASHUPATINATH
Morning visit to Pashupatinath – the largest Hindu temple complex in the Kathmandu Valley. We have lunch at the Boudha Stupa. In the afternoon we pilgrimage around Boudha and pay homage to Shechen Monastery, the first Tibetan Buddhist monastery to be built in Nepal in the late 1980’ies.
DAY 3 – DAY IN KATHMANDU
After breakfast we venture out to Swayambhu and pay homage to the one of the three most sacred Stupas in the Kathmandu valley and Nepal (Boudha, Swayambhu and Namo Buddha Stupas). We take lunch in the city and return early afternoon. Dinner in Boudha.
DAY 4 – ARRIVAL IN LHASA
We arrive in Lhasa by flight and go straight to the hotel where we spend the afternoon resting before dinner. Lhasa is at an altitude of 3,650 meters (12,000 feet), so it is important to acclimatize by taking it easy/not over-exerting ourselves, resting, and hydrating during our first few days in this new environment. Dinner at the hotel.
DAY 5 & 6 – LHASA
In the next couple of days during of our stay in Lhasa we visit the Potala Palace, which used to be the residence of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, followed by the spiritual heart of Lhasa – the Jorkhang temple.
The following day we visit two of the greatest Gelugpa monasteries of Tibet, Drepung and Sera monasteries, located on the outskirts of Lhasa.
DAY 7 – SAMYE
The following day we venture out of Lhasa to the first ever founded monastery in Tibet, the ‘unchanging, and spontaneously arisen’ Samye. Starting in the 8th century, Samye held great importance for the origins of Buddhism throughout Tibet. On our journey to Samye we drive along the sacred Yarlung Tsangpo river (Brahmaputra river) and the many willow trees along its river banks. We spend the night in Tsetang, near Yarlung Tsangpo river.
DAY 8 – GYANTSE
We depart from Tsetang and travel south-west toward Gyantse – this is our next overnight stay on our journey toward Mount Kailash and a slight increase in altitude. Gyantse is 4,000m (13,125 feet) above sea level. The ride is beautiful with majestic scenery along the way. After we have climbed the first pass we will come to one of the four most sacred lakes in Tibet – the Yamdrok Tso. The turquoise colour of the lake is simply pristine.
DAY 9 – SHIGATSE
After breakfast we visit the Gyantse ‘Kumbum‘ which literally means ‘100,000 images‘ of Buddhist deities. The Kumbum is a magnificent Chörten (stupa) from the 15th century and is unique in the Himalayas as it is partially made from wood (most stupas are made from stone). After lunch we have a shorter day’s journey as we travel through farm land from Gyantse to Shigatse. During the afternoon we pay homage while visiting Tashilungpo – the residency of the Panchen Lamas. We spend this night in Shigatse a little lower in altitude than our previous night. Shigatse is 3,845m (12,615 feet) above sea level.
DAY 10 – SAGA
After a morning ‘kora’ (circumambulation – this is a walking practice) around Tashilungpo, the most important monastery in Shigatse, we journey onward to Saga – 4,640m (15,225 feet) above sea level). This is the last stop before we reach the holy lake of Manesarovar and Mount Kailash.
DAY 11 – CHIU GOMPA
Today we arrive at Chiu Gompa and lake Manesarovar. For the first time on our journey we are able to see the majesty of Mount Kailash. We stay in a guesthouse by the sacred lake Manesarovar, located at 5,000m (16,405 feet) above sea level. The guesthouse is modest, but will provide us with a comfortable bed and a warm meal.
DAY 12 – DARCHEN – GATEWAY TO MOUNT KAILASH
We travel from Lake Manesarovar onto Darchen, the gateway to where the kora around Mount Kailash starts will start the next day. We spend the night in Darchen, 4,575m (15,010 feet) above sea level.
DAY 13 & 14 – KORA STARTS AROUND KAILASH
The next morning we start the kora around Kailash – for the next three days we circumambulate/walk around the sacred mountain clockwise. The mountain itself is 6,700 meters (21,982 feet) high. The highest point we reach on the kora is Drolma-la pass and is 5,630m (18,470 feet). We stay in comfortable tea houses on our way around the mountain. Accommodation will be basic, but we will have a clean bed, a warm meal. Hot showers cannot be guaranteed during these two nights in the tea houses around Kailash.
DAY 15 – KORA AROUND KAILASH
We complete the kora late morning and travel back to Saga.
DAY 16 – WE TRAVEL TO NUWAKOT IN NEPAL
In the early morning we depart from Saga and make our way southward down to Nepal. We will cross the new border between Tibet and Nepal called Kyirong. This spectacular road descends from one of the highest passes in Tibet, at 5,200m (17,060 feet), to the Kyirong border which is situated at 1,850m (6,070 feet). Once we reach Nepal the road will travel alongside the Langtang National Park on our way to Nuwakot. This will be one of our longest travel days with a lot of hours spent in a bumpy jeep! However, the views are exquisite for the entire drive. Our destination for the night is a beautifully located eco-resort on top of a hill in Nuwakot – here we will enjoy a delicious dinner after a long day of adventurous travel.
This day presents one of the most astonishing scenic drives on the planet: from desert-like Tibet, down to the lush and green vegetation in Nepal, all within a few hours!
DAY 17 – RETURN TO KATHMANDU
This morning we make our way back to Kathmandu. The drive from Nuwakot to Kathmandu is approximately 3-4 hours, depending on traffic. We spend the night at the same guesthouse in Boudhanath from where the journey started. Farewell dinner at the Boudha Stupa.
DAY 18 – DAY OF DEPATURE
Day of departure. We provide transportation to Tribhuvan International airport either today or on a later date if you wish to stay longer in the Kathmandu Valley – please let us know your travel plans 🙂