On this trip we get to experience two very special mountain areas, the former kingdom of Nepal and the autonomous region of Tibet in China. Nepal has had a very special and exciting history for many centuries. The country is perhaps best known for the fact that the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest, is located here. In Nepal, we visit the capital Kathmandu and some of the world-famous shrines in the Kathmandu Valley. Tibet, with the capital Lhasa, perched high in the mountains of the Himalayas, was for centuries inaccessible to most people and was associated with religious mysticism and inaccessible mountain regions. We see the huge Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, the old city of Gyantse, the Tashilun Monastery in Shigatse and the sacred lake Yamdrok Yamtso. On the way back to Nepal, we travel along an incredibly beautiful road with glorious views of Mount Everest, among other places.
Day 1: Travel to Nepal
We fly to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal. Meals are included on board the long-haul flight.
Day 2: Arrival in Nepal (Kathmandu)
Arrival in the morning to the million city of Kathmandu which is located in a valley at an altitude of 1,400 meters. We go directly into the center, to visit Durbartorget or Hanumna Dhoka Palace. Nepal’s royal family used to live here, but the monarchy was abolished in 2006 after a long civil war with the Maoist guerrillas. Now the country of Nepal is a republic. On Durbartorget, lots of different buildings coexist, most dedicated to different Hindu gods and goddesses. Many of the temples are over 600 years old. Then we continue to the Pashupatinath Temple which is considered to be Nepal’s holiest Hindu shrine, dedicated to Shiva. The next stop is the Boudhanathstupan which is one of the largest Buddhist stupas in the world. Then we go out to a hill outside Kathmandu. At the top is Swayambhunath, or the Temple of Ape. The impressive complex consists of a shrine, a large stupa, and other temples and shrines. The place is considered one of the finest examples of religious architecture, and here you always see tourists. A Tibetan monastery with a museum and library has been established recently. The four sites we have now visited are all selected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In the evening we have dinner together. Overnight in Kathmandu. (Lunch and dinner)
Day 3: Kathmandu – Tibet
After breakfast we go to the airport. We will now make a flight over the Himalayas and in clear weather the view is beautiful. The trip takes about an hour and a half and after arrival we get the first meeting with Tibet. Lhasa is located at an altitude of 3,600 meters, and we take it very easy the first day to get used to the high altitude. Overnight in Lhasa. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 4: Lhasa
The emperors of Beijing had their summer palace, and in the same way the Dalai Lama had a summer place on the outskirts of Lhasa, Norbulinka. The name means “Jewel Garden”. We walk around this beautiful place where the current Dalai Lama stayed until 1959. Then we continue to the Jokhang Temple, Lhasa’s oldest building and the holiest shrine of Tibetan Buddhism. We follow, just like the pilgrims, the special pilgrimage, the Barkhor Quran, on the streets around the temple. It is always full of people and lots of vendors marketing traditional Tibetan handicrafts. We also get the opportunity to visit a regular local family to see how people live and work here. Overnight in Lhasa. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 5: Lhasa
In the morning we start with the Potala Palace, one of the world’s most famous and distinctive buildings. The building, once home to the Dalai Lama, is considered a prime example of Tibetan architecture and its whitewashed walls, and the gilded, sun-shiny copper roof is visible for miles around. In the afternoon we head to the famous Serak Monastery, located just outside Lhasa. Sera’s monks gather every afternoon to argue about Buddhist theology, an important part of their training and education, something that often gets loud as each argument is emphasized by clapping hard! We may visit a Tibetan hospital where patients are treated with traditional Tibetan herbal medicines. Overnight in Lhasa. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 6: Lhasa – Gyantse
In the morning we travel by bus along the Yarlung Zangbo River, or Brahmaputra, and enjoy the spectacular scenery. We travel on narrow serpentine roads up to Kamba-Lapasset, located at an altitude of 4,794 meters, above Lake Yamdrok Yamtso, which is located at an altitude of 4,400 meters and which is surrounded by high, snow-capped peaks. Jakas and other cattle graze on the lush alpine meadows and the sparkling snow, the clear blue sky and the green grass together create a fantastic panorama! Via the Karo lap pass, at 5,045 meters, we reach Gyantse in the afternoon. Overnight in Gyantse. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 7: Gyantse – Shigatse
Gyantse is Tibet’s third largest city. Here is the Palkhor Monastery with the Kumbum Stupan, Tibet’s largest building and one of the foremost examples of Tibetan shorts or stupas. Gyantse was formerly an important junction on the caravan road to India and here caravans traveled with traders, British spies and soldiers back and forth on the way to Lhasa. In the afternoon we take the bus to Tibet’s second largest city, Shigatse, where we visit the Tashilhun Monastery, seat of the Panchen Lama, the second most important incarnation in the Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy. Overnight in Shigatse. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 8: Shigatse – Xegar (Tingri)
From Shigatse it is not too far to the small town of Xegar. On the way to Xegar, weather permitting, you will get your first glimpse of the stunning Mount Everest, or Mount Quomolangma as it is called in Tibet. On the way we drive over two high mountain passes, Tropu La at 4,050 meters altitude and Gyatsola at 5,200 meters. In Tingri we will visit the remains of a famous fort, Xegar Dzong, which remains after a spectacular invasion from Nepal in the 18th century. Overnight in Tingri. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 9: Mount Everest (Rongbuk Monastery)
We have impressive Himalayan mountains around us. Not far from here we also have the base camp that mountaineers use when they are to climb Mount Everest from the north side. To protect the environment around Mount Everest, the former Everest base camp has been abandoned and the new base camp is located near Rongbuk Monastery. We will go to Rongbuk Monastery, from where we will, weather permitting, have a fabulous view of Mount Everest. Overnight in Xegar. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 10: Xegar-Zhangmu
In the morning we move on to today’s destination, Zhangmu, which is the border town with Nepal. Along the way we stop in Nyalam. From here, the road descends steeply into a gorge, Matsang Tsangpo, and we meanwhile get the most breathtaking views of both Mount Everest and other mountain peaks in the Himalayas. Late in the afternoon we arrive at the fast growing border town of Zhangmu. This beautiful city is built against the mountain and here is lots of commerce with goods from India, Nepal and Tibet. Overnight in Zhangmu. (Breakfast and lunch)
If the border crossing at Zhangmu were to be closed, we would use the border crossing at Gyrong instead.
Day 11: Zhangmu – Kathmandu
Today we cross the border and return to Nepal. We arrive in Kathmandu in the afternoon. Overnight in Kathmandu. (Breakfast and lunch)
Day 12: Kathmandu
Early we head out into the surroundings of Kathmandu. The city of Patan is the oldest of the three cities located in the Kathmandu Valley. First we see Patan Durbar Square in the center which is also a museum. Fantastic wood carvings and metal statues demonstrate the craftsmanship that has always existed in Nepal. The journey continues to Bhaktapur, which was the capital of the area in the 16th and 17th centuries. Parts of the old city are on the UNESCO World Heritage List. We visit Bhaktapur Durbar Square, which is an absolutely charming square with architectural gems. Around a large palace of brick and wood are beautiful pagodas and temples with many old traditional wood carvings and sculptures. In the evening we go to the airport for the journey home. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner)
Day 13: Arrival in Sweden
Meals are included on board the long-haul flight.