A Journey Across Tibet

From Lhasa to Everest to Kathmandu

  • Retrace the footsteps of renowned mountaineers at Everest's legendary north base camp
  • Sakya Monastery, headquarters to one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism
  • Unforgettable insight into one of the most fascinating cultures of our time
Tibet China
Trip Type: Scheduled Departure
Trip Length: 12 Days
Activity type(s): Cultural Tour
Trip Extensions: Call 888-570-7108 for custom extension options

This is a journey close to our hearts; it was one of the first trips we operated back in the mid-1980s. Back then we called it Across the Forbidden Border, because after we visited Everest North Base Camp in the earliest ’80s, we had to retrace our route all the way back through Tibet and on to Beijing. The Nepal-Tibet border in those days was forbidden, and when we made the first crossing, spiraling down from Central to South Asia, we were—and have ever since been—highly stoked.

After a few days in the Holy City of Lhasa, visiting the Potala, joining pilgrims at the Jokhang Temple, wandering and bargaining in the Barkhor, the city’s old quarter, we begin the momentous drive, one of the world’s most dramatic. We slip over 15,700-foot Khampa La, and whirl past turquoise lakes and icy Trans- Himalayan peaks to Gyantse’s magnificent giant chorten, the Kumbum, which the great traveler-writer Fosco Maraini called “a sanctuary not only for the faithful but for the whole of humanity, for the men of all times and all countries who believe in beauty and bow before the mystery of inspiration.” We continue to Shigatse’s grand and gilded Tashilunpo Monastery complex and onward, over the high and dry Tibetan Plateau, to Shekar, stopping at Sakya, the core monastery of the Sakya school of Tibetan Buddhism. And then up to the foot of Everest via 17,000-foot Pang La, and a visit to the base camp from which the early British expeditions of the 1920s and ’30s made their valiant, doomed attempts on the earth’s apex, “a great white fang excrescent from the very jaws of the earth,” as George Leigh Mallory, who died on its slopes, wrote.

Now we begin another tremendous drive, down from the utter austerity of the plateau to the warmth and greenery of Zhangmu, across the frontier bridge that spans the Bhotia Kosi, linking Tibet and Nepal, and through classic Nepalese landscapes to the bright lights of Kathmandu, where we can look back at the mountain bulwark we just crossed.


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Himalayan travel tour map

Itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 1: arrive in Beijing
  • Day 2: fly to Lhasa
  • Days 3 & 4: Lhasa
  • Day 5: Lhasa to Gyantse
  • Day 6: Gyantse to Shigatse
  • Day 7: Shigatse to Shekar via Sakya Monastery
  • Day 8: excursion to Everest North Face Base Camp
  • Day 9: Shekar to Zhangmu
  • Day 10: Zhangmu to Kathmandu
  • Day 11: Kathmandu
  • Day 12: depart Kathmandu.