Kharta Valley & Everest Kangshung Face Trek - Tibet

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The Kharta Valley trek is one of Tibet & the Himalaya's most spectacular treks, a feast of Himalayan snow peaks and sublime Tibetan panoramas, peppered with Tibetans and their yaks, flowering high-altitude pastures, glaciers tumbling down from 8000+ meters and traditional Tibetan villages.

The Kangshung face of Mount Everest (or Chomolungma, as it is known in Tibetan, the world's highest peak at 8848 meters) is the remote, eastern face of Everest, tucked away between long glaciers and between soaring Himalayan peaks, rising almost 500 kilometers above the Rongphu Base Camp. Mallory's 1921 Everest Reconnaissance Expedition discovered the route up Everest via the Kharta Valley, trekking from Sikkim.

Our trip begins in Lhasa, the once-forbidden capital of Tibet, where we explore the history-laden city, its ancient gompas and palaces. Near Lhasa we visit the hilltop Ganden monastery, doing a kora of its sacred peak, and spend nights at both Gyantse, with its ancient dzong (fortress) and many-tiered Gyantse Kumbum (temple), and Shigatse where we have the afternoon and evening to explore the resplendent Tashilhunpo Gompa.

Our Kangshung Face trek begins in Kharta Qu, from where we first spend two days exploring the Valley of Lakes to the south east of the traditional Kharta Valley route. The Kharta Valley is a region of alpine lakes, soaring peaks and grassy meadows, a semi-nomadic region which turns shades of pinks and purples with the spring flowers. Waking to reflections of Makalu, the fifth highest mountain in the world at 8,463 meters, and its sister peak Jomolonzo, we cross the relatively simple Sha-U La (pass) to get into the higher reaches of the Kharta Valley.

Trekking further west towards the border of Nepal the panoramas open up and we're surrounded by breathtakingly beautiful Himalayan peaks. From Pethang Ringmo, the high grazing plateaus of the local Tibetan herders, we trek right to the Kangshung Face base camp along the Kangshung glacier, finishing off the trek with the spectacular pass crossing of the Langma La, perhaps THE most beautiful pass in all of the Himalaya ...

Join us for our journey into Tibet, the 'abode of the snows' and land of Tibetan Buddhist lamas, where nomads in yak-hair tents roam the plateaus with their yaks, a land of spectacular, snow-topped peaks and the wonderful, spirited Tibetans themselves!

Itinerary

Pre-Arrival - Wednesday, 28 May 2014
Day 1 - Thursday, 29 May 2014 - Arrive Kathmandu (Passport collection 9 AM)
Day 2 - Kathmandu
Day 3 - Fly Lhasa
Day 4 - Lhasa
Day 5 - Lhasa
Day 6 - Lhasa
Day 7 - Lhasa (day trip Ganden Monastery)
Day 8 - Drive Gyantse (visit Gyantse Kumbum & Gyantse Fort)
Day 9 - Drive Shigatse (visit Tashilungpo Monastery)
Day 10 - Drive Shegar
Day 11 - Drive Kharta Qu
Days 12 & 13 - Trek Valley of Lakes
Day 14 - Trek Dambu
Day 15 -  Trek Sha-u Tso
Day 16 - Trek Jokshim (cross Sha-U La)
Day 17 - Trek Thangsum
Day 18 - Trek Pathang
Day 19 - Trek Pethang Ringmo
Day 20 - Pethang Ringmo
Day 21 - Trek Karbus
Day 22 - Trek Pethang Ringmo
Day 23 - Trek Tsho Shungrim (cross Langma La)
Day 24 - Trek Lundrubling
Day 25 - Trek Kharta. Drive Tashidzong
Day 26 - Drive Everest Base Camp - Rongbuk Gompa - Tingri
Day 27 - Drive Zhangmu
Day 28 - Cross Tibet-Nepal Border. Drive to The Last Resort
Day 29 - Drive Kathmandu
Day 30 - Depart

Chitwan National Park | Maruni Sanctuary Lodge
Chitwan + Tharu Villages Wildlife Safari

Add Ons
Kathmandu World Heritage Sightseeing Tour | Pashupatinath, Boudhanath + Swayambunath (+$75)
Kathmandu Durbar Square Walking Tour | Durbar Square (+$50)
Bhaktapur Heritage Sightseeing Tour (+$100)
Patan Heritage Sightseeing Tour (+$50)
Extra Trek Day Gandruk (+105)
Extra Day Chitwan (+$125)
Everest Sightseeing Flight (+$250)
Extension Shivapuri Heights Cottage (+75 Night Depending on Room)
Cycling Trip in Kathmandu Valley (+Trip Price)

Nepal Modules
Nepal & Kathmandu Modules | Customize Your Trip!

Highlights & Reviews

Trip Advisor Reviews

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Trekker's Comments

Trek Highlights

  • Lhasa - Potala Palace, Jokhang, Drepung & Sera Gompas, Barkor Square and the Tibetan Quarter
  • Shigatse & Tashilunpo Monastery
  • Gyantse, Palkor Chode Monastery & Kumbum
  • The spectacular Kharta Valley & Kangshung Face of Everest trek
  • Everest's Southeast Kangshung Face
  • Views of Makalu
  • The spectacular crossing of Langma La pass
  • Stay at Tibet Everest BC
  • The Last Resort (Nepal)
  • Exotic Kathmandu

Kim Bannister Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
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Himalayan Photos
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Himalayan Bird Photos

Himalayan Flower Photos

Market + Street Food Photos
Asian Markets + Street Food

Travel Reading | Enhance Your Trip!
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Trip Photos
Kharta Valley & Everest Kangshung Face Trek 2014
Lhasa & Central Tibet
Lhasa Prostrations | Barkor Square & Jokhang Temple

Date & Price

2018 Dates
May

2018 Trek Price
$5680

+ Single Supplement Tibet - $350

Includes

  • Kathmandu Guest House 
  • Tibet hotels (3-star, breakfast included)
  • Lhasa-Kathmandu flight
  • Airport transfers & departure taxes
  • Group transportation by Landcruiser in Tibet
  • Tibet permit
  • Entrance fees
  • Kamzang-Style Trekking:
    Marmot or Big Agnes tents (2x, or 3x for couples), delicious & copious 'gourmet' food with seasonal, fresh produce, French-press coffee, chai, Kashmiri & herbal teas, Katadyn filtered drinking water, warm washing water, library, 'lounge' with dhurri rugs, Crazy Creek camp chairs, blankets & the occasional music at night, oxygen & PAC bag (when needed), full medical kit, horses, yaks or porters, Western, Sherpa & local guides (when needed), our 5-star staff & the signature yellow 'Kamzang Dining Tent', NO single supplement for single tents. And flexibility ...

Safety & Health Precautions

  • Thuraya satellite phone (when allowed)
  • InReach satellite messaging system (when allowed)
  • Updated route published on InReach site (when allowed)
  • Helicopter evacuation services (when allowed)
  • Support by Khumbu Adventures in Kathmandu & Tibet Kawajian Travels in Lhasa
  • Oxygen saturation monitoring system
  • PAC bag (portable oxygen chamber)
  • Full medical kit & stretcher
  • Kayadyn filtered water
  • Safe, sanitary, delicious & plentiful food and drinks

Excludes

  • Insurance (travel & medical)
  • Nepal & Chinese visas (although we get the Chinese visas & Tibet permits for you)
  • Meals in Kathmandu
  • Lunch & dinner in Tibet (when not camping)
  • International flights to/from Nepal
  • Oxygen (we have it but your insurance will need to pay for this)
  • Equipment rental
  • Alcohol & soft drinks
  • Laundry
  • Tipping and other items of a personal nature.

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $300 for meals (while not on trek), drinks (on trek) and tips. We recommend $200 per trekker thrown into the tips pool for the crew. There are ATMs in Kathmandu & Tibet.

Contact & Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

Guide
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Mobile: +(977) 9803 414745
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21277980 (Nepal)
On-Trek Satellite Phone: +88216 21274092 (Tibet & India)

Nepal (Kathmandu) Contact
Khumbu Adventures
Lhakpa Dorji & Lhakpa Doma Sherpa
hiking.guide@gmail.com
Office: +(977) 01 4488352
Lhakpa Dorji mobile: +(977) 98412 35461
Lhakpa Doma mobile: +(977) 98415 10833

Tibet Contact
Tibet Kawajian Travel
Lobsang Dhardul

travellingtibet@yahoo.com
Mobile: +(86) 18076999966, +86 15289188887
Office: + (86) 891 6336565

Arrival Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House
Thamel, Kathmandu
Tel: +(977 1) 4700632, 4700800

Standard Single | breakfast included in the trek. Options for upgrades & extra nights below:

Kathmandu Guest House Upgrades |Cost Per Night
Including breakfast & 25% taxes
Garden Single - $20
Deluxe Single or Double - $80

Kathmandu Guest House Extra Nights
Including breakfast & 25% taxes
(20% Discounted Room Price)

Standard Single - $48
Standard Double - $65
Garden Single - $65
Garden Double - $80
Deluxe Single - $120
Deluxe Double - $135
Deluxe Single Suite - $135
Deluxe Double Suite - $150

Trip Photos
Kharta Valley & Everest Kangshung Face Trek 2014
Lhasa & Central Tibet
Lhasa Prostrations | Barkor Square & Jokhang Temple

Arrival Kathmandu

Early Arrival
You will be met at the airport by a representative from the Kathmandu Guest House (look for their sign - they will be looking for you) and escorted to the guest house. Kim will book the extra nights for you, so your room will be ready.

Arrival Hotel
Kathmandu Guest House
Thamel, Kathmandu
Tel: +(977 1) 4700632, 4700800

Visas
You can get your Nepal visa either at the airport (or any land border) when you arrive in Nepal, or before you leave home. Make sure you have a multiple-entry visa for re-entering Nepal from Tibet. We will submit your passport for the Chinese visa, and we will get the group permit for Tibet.

NEPAL ONLINE VISA FORM

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Extra Days in Kathmandu
If you wish to stay longer, we can offer plenty of suggestion! Mountain biking or rafting in the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa in Pokhara, paragliding or zip-lining in Pokhara, an Everest sightseeing flight, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for a bit of luxury and expansive sunrise & sunset mountain panoramas, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, visits to interesting temple villages such as Changu Narayan, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, or a weekend of adventure and pampering at The Last Resort. Kim can help to arrange any of these excursions for you.

Gear List

Gear List
This is a guideline, not a bible, for the gear you will need on the trek. Ask if you have questions!
NOTE: Your duffel bag can NOT be any larger than a North Face XL (140 Liter, 32" x 19" by 19").
ONE duffel bag only!
20 kg (50 lbs) weight limit for treks

  • Strong, waterproof DUFFEL BAG (North Face are perfect, available online)
  • Daypack (35-35 Liter)
  • Sleeping Bag (-20F/-30C recommended)
  • Thermarest (Air Mattress)
  • Down Jacket
  • Trekking Boots
  • Sneakers or Light Shoes (optional)
  • Crocs (at camp & washing) 

  • Trekking Pants (2-3 pairs)
  • T-Shirts (3)
  • Long-sleeve Trekking Shirts (3)
  • Fleece Jacket (daytime)
  • Fleece or Thermal Top (evenings)
  • Fleece or Thermal Bottoms (evenings)
  • Yoga-type Pants (evenings: optional)
  • 
Jacket (fiber-filled, soft or hard-shelled)
  • Lightweight Gortex Jacket & Pants (wind & rainproof)
  • Storm-weight Jacket (optional: for treks with multiple pass crossings over 5000 meters)
  • Lightweight Long Underwear (to sleep in or layer under clothes)
  • Socks (4-5)
  • Gloves (2: lightweight & heavier for pass crossings)
  • Hat
  • Baseball Cap &/or Wide-brimmed Hat
  • Trekking Poles
  • Yak Tracks or Micro-Spikes (for crossing passes or ice on trail)
  • Down Booties (optional but recommended)
  • Gators (optional)
  • Sunglasses (2: bring extra pair)
  • Nalgene or Sigg Water-bottles (3)
  • Bladder (optional but recommended)
  • Toiletries, Sunscreen with SPF, Lipbalm with SPF & Personal Medical Supplies
  • Watch (or small clock with alarm)
  • Extra Batteries & Battery Chargers
  • Headlamp 
(2: bring extra)
  • Water-purifying Tablets, Small Filter or Steripen
  • Compactable Washing Bowl (optional, for clothes)
  • Laundry Detergent (Kathmandu) or Bio-degradable Clothes Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer (lots)
  • Small Solar Panel (optional, recommended for iPods, iPhones, camera batteries, Kindles)
  • Book(s)
  • Zip-lock Bags
  • SOFT roll of Toilet Paper &/or Tissues (NOTE: we supply toilet paper but it’s not soft! You’ll want something softer for blowing your nose)
  • Baby-Wipes or Wet-Wipes (for personal cleaning)
  • Handi-wipes, J-clothes or Chux (optional: easy for a quick daytime clean, fast drying)
  • Electrolytes &/or Rehydration salts
  • SNACKS!

Medical Supplies

We strongly suggest bringing Western meds with you as there are a lot of Indian fakes on the market!

Suggested: Diamox, Azithromyacin, Ciprofloxacin, Tinidazole or Flagyl & Augmentin. Bring COMPEED for covering blisters & good tasting electrolytes &/or rehydration salts (Emergen-C is a good American brand). The local versions aren’t very appealing.
We also recommend bringing strong knee & ankle supports & braces, ACE bandages for sprains & strains, Tegaderm &/or other would coverings. Duct tape is always useful. We're happy to take excess medical supplies off your hands when you leave if you won't need them and pass them on to others. We use lots of the large amount we have with us to treat locals as well as our own trekkers ...

Comments on Gear

Layers are essential for trekking. Quality is more important than quantity. It’s worth investing in some of the great, warm, lightweight gear available in all gear shops or online. I generally wear a trekking t-shirt, light trekking pants, a mid-weight shirt, a lightweight fiber-filled jacket (instead of a fleece usually) and always carry a lightweight wind & rain jacket. If the weather looks stormy or it’s a pass day I carry my down jacket with me. I always have a pair of gloves, hat, baseball cap and extra pair of socks in my day-pack. Good trekking boots are essential. High boots are best, but you don’t need climbing or plastic boots (for mini-crampons or micro-spikes). You can also get away with low, sturdy trekking boot, which I wear quite often.

Nights are chilly to cold, so a down jacket and a WARM sleeping bag are essentials. For your sleeping bag, we recommend a DOWN bag of 0 to -20 F (-18 to -28 C). Mine is -20 F. At lower altitudes I open it and sleep under it like a quilt and up higher am toasty warm during the cold nights. Campsites near passes can get COLD. Rentals available. The dining tent is a Tibetan style ‘yurt’, with blankets and camp chairs on the ground. It warms up in the evenings with the gas lamp but it is still important to have warm clothes for the evenings. I always use down booties which are great when it’s cold, but a pair of thick wool socks also work.

Trekking poles are not required but strongly recommended, especially for going down passes which can be quite steep and are often icy. Bring gators if you tend to use them but they’re not required if you don't own a pair. Micro-spikes (mini-crampons) or YakTraks are almost always useful (or essential) for high pass crossings. We will have at least one ice ax with us, just for emergencies (and they are great for digging toilet tents). It’s also good (possibly essential) to have a pair of plastic Crocs for washing and the evenings; wear a pair of warm socks under them for going in and out of the dining tent which is a 'shoes off' zone. Tevas take a long time to dry, not recommended. You can bring a pair of light sneakers or running shoes for the afternoons or easy days if you have room in your pack, or if you are used to hiking in them.

Good, polarized sunglasses are essential; please bring an extra pair if you tend to lose them! Don’t forget a sun hat &/or baseball cap and have plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with SPF!

Bring extra large plastic bags or stuff-sacks in case of rain. You can pack electronics in them or stash your sleeping bag and clothes. The weather is changeable in the Himalaya, so again I recommend that everyone has a strong, WATERPROOF duffel bag for the trip. We supply covers that go over the duffel bags to protect them from rain, dirt & thorns.

NOTE: We have a 'dress code' for the evenings in the tent, which essentially means you'll be changing out of your trekking clothes and into clean, dry evening clothes!

NOTE: We'll have several days in hotels in Tibet so you'll want some 'street clothes' for going out at night. Low hiking shoes are perfect for during the day as will your trekking jackets, etc.

Clothes for Tibet
We'll have several days staying in hotels in Tibet, so bring a pair of jeans or something casual and warm for the evenings. Your hiking shoes or a pair of Keen sandals are perfect for wandering around the towns, monasteries and bazaars.

Tents
Everyone gets their own Marmot Thor 2 tent without a single supplement. Singles have a 2-person tent and couples share a larger, 3-person version.

Daypack
We recommend a 35-45 liter daypack (ask at your gear shop if you’re not sure of the capacity). Better to have it too large than too small as on pass days you’ll need to carry more warm gear. Most have internal water bladders built in, which are good for ensuring that you stay hydrated. Make sure it fits and is comfortable before purchasing!

In your daypack, you will be carrying your camera, 2 liters of water, a jacket, wind & rain pants, hat, gloves, extra socks, sunscreen, snacks, electrolytes, water purifying tablets, filter, or Steripen, hand sanitizer, a pack-cover and often a down jacket. I slip my Crocs on the back in case of unexpected stream crossings or for lunch. Lhakpa & I carry small medical kits in our daypacks.

Water
We bring KATADYN expedition-sized water filters along on the trek for fresh drinking water, ecologically the best way to get water in the Himalaya’s fragile trekking regions. Bring your own filter pump, Steripen/UV purifier or iodine/chlorine tablets for fresh water while trekking. NOTE: To be extra safe with your drinking water, you can drop one purifying tablet into your water bottle after filling with our filtered water. Make sure you wait the required amount of time before drinking, and don’t add anything with Vitamin C as this negates the iodine.

Please bring at least TWO (and better three) Nalgene, Sigg or other unbreakable plastic/metal water bottles. Camelbacks and other bladder systems are good for trekking but can leak, so as a back-up it’s best to also bring a Nalgene or other water bottle.

NOTE: We do not provide boiled water for drinking on either our tea-house/lodge or our camping treks although there is endless hot water for herbal, black or green teas, hot chocolate, hot lemon as well as Indian chai and Kashmiri tea.

Snacks
You will NEED snacks hiking at altitude, even if you’re not a snacker. People crave unusual foods at altitude!  Energy bars, ‘GU’ gels, chocolate bars, dried fruit & nuts, beef jerky (or whatever) are important to have along for long days, pre-lunch bonks and passes. Lemonade mix, Emergen-C or similar drink mixes are great to have for hot days in your water bottles, and it is ESSENTIAL to bring electrolytes with you every day.  

Bring something to share in the tent in the evenings if you want. Cheese is great as a treat on a cheese-board before dinner (Blue, Stilton, Yarlsburg, good Cheddar, Brie, etc). If you would like, bring a bit of your favorite and we’ll throw it on a cheese board for appetizers one night.

NOTE: Nothing besides your personal snack food is required, but it’s fun to see what everyone comes up with!  Almost all basics available in Kathmandu, so no need to over-load.

Rentals
We have Western down jackets to rent for $1.50 per day.  We also have good super-down sleeping bags to rent (0 to -10 F) for $2.50 per day.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face-style duffels with Kamzang logos for sale, L & XL. They’re very good quality and come in Orange (XL) for $40, Yellow (L) for $35 or Orange (XS) for $30.

Packing & Storage
It’s easiest to pack and unpack from a duffel bag, especially when the temperature drops, and easiest for porters to carry. Inexpensive and decent quality duffels are available in Kathmandu but it’s best to invest in a strong, waterproof duffel such as a North Face. You can store extra gear in Kathmandu at the Kathmandu Guest House storage room free of charge. Valuables can be stored at the Kathmandu Guest House in private safety-deposit boxes for 2 NRP per day.

Shopping
Almost all gear is now available in Kathmandu, from real (North Face, Mountain Hardwear, Sherpa Gear, Marmot shops in Thamel) to inexpensive knock-offs. The real gear shops take credit cards. Lhasa also has lots of gear near Barkor Square if you find you don't have something you need ...

Lhasa

UNESCO LIST OF SITES IN LHASA
Copied directly from the UNESCO website

Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa
The Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The complex, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of 3,700m. Also founded in the 7th century, the Jokhang Temple Monastery is an exceptional Buddhist religious complex. Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace, constructed in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of Tibetan art. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, add to their historic and religious interest.

Brief synthesis
Enclosed within massive walls, gates and turrets built of rammed earth and stone the White and Red Palaces and ancillary buildings of the Potala Palace rise from Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley at an altitude of 3,700 metres. As the winter palace of the Dalai Lama from the 7th century CE the complex symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The White Palace contains the main ceremonial hall with the throne of the Dalai Lama, and his private rooms and audience hall are on the uppermost level. The palace contains 698 murals, almost 10,000 painted scrolls, numerous sculptures, carpets, canopies, curtains, porcelain, jade, and fine objects of gold and silver, as well as a large collection of sutras and important historical documents. To the west and higher up the mountain the Red Palace contains the gilded burial stupas of past Dalai Lamas. Further west is the private monastery of the Dalai Lama, the Namgyel Dratshang.

The Jokhang Temple Monastery was founded by the regime also in the 7th century, in order to promote the Buddhist religion. Covering 2.5ha in the centre of the old town of Lhasa, it comprises an entrance porch, courtyard and Buddhist hall surrounded by accommodation for monks and storehouses on all four sides. The buildings are constructed of wood and stone and are outstanding examples of the Tibetan Buddhist style, with influences from China, India, and Nepal. They house over 3,000 images of Buddha and other deities and historical figures along with many other treasures and manuscripts. Mural paintings depicting religious and historical scenes cover the walls.

Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace constructed in the 18th century, is located on the bank of the Lhasa River about 2km west of the Potala Palace in a lush green environment.  It comprises a large garden with four palace complexes and a monastery as well as other halls, and pavilions all integrated into the garden layout to create an exceptional work of art covering 36ha. The property is closely linked with religious and political issues, having been a place for contemplation and for signing political agreements.

The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple and Norbulingka embody the administrative, religious and symbolic functions of the Tibetan theocratic government through their location, layout and architecture. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, contribute to their Outstanding Universal Value.

Criterion (i): The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace is an outstanding work of human imagination and creativity, for its design, its decoration and its harmonious setting within a dramatic landscape. The three-in-one historic ensemble of the Potala Palace, with Potala the palace-fort complex, Norbulingka the garden residence and the Jokhang Temple Monastery the temple architecture, each with its distinctive characteristics, forms an outstanding example of traditional Tibetan architecture.

Criterion (iv): The scale and artistic wealth of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, which represents the apogee of Tibetan architecture, make it an outstanding example of theocratic architecture, of which it was the last surviving example in the modern world.

Criterion (vi): The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace forms a potent and exceptional symbol of the integration of secular and religious authority.

Integrity
The Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace owns tens of thousands of collections of diverse cultural relics. The wall paintings are rich in themes, form the best of Tibetan painting art and precious material evidence for learning Tibetan history and the multi-ethnic cultural fusion. The historic scale, architectural typology and the historic environment remain intact within the property area and within the buffer zone, carrying the complete historic information of the property.

Authenticity                                         
In terms of design, material, technology and layout, the historic ensemble of the Potala Palace has well retained its original form and characteristics since it was first built and from successive significant additions and expansions, convincingly testifying to its Outstanding Universal Value.

Protection and management requirements
The three components of the Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, the Potala Palace, Norbulingka and the Jokhang Temple are all State Priority Protected Sites, and protected by the Law on the Protection of Cultural Relies of the People's Republic of China.The Potala Palace was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1994, the Jokhang Temple in 2000 as an extension to the property, and Norbulingka in 2001 as a further extension to the property. The buffer zone of the property has been confirmed as originally demarcated. Any intervention must be approved by the responsible cultural heritage administration, with restoration strictly in accordance with the principle of retaining the historic condition. The Potala Palace Management Regulations have been put into force; measures are formulated and taken for better visitor management. A World Heritage Steering Committee has been established in Lhasa. The conservation and management plans for the three component parts of the World Heritage property have been formulated and will be submitted and put into force as soon as possible.

Long Description
The Potala Palace symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. Also founded in the 7th century, the Jokhang Temple Monastery is an exceptional Buddhist religious complex. Norbulingka, the Dalai Lama's former summer palace, constructed in the 18th century, is a masterpiece of Tibetan art. The beauty and originality of the architecture of these three sites, their rich ornamentation and harmonious integration in a striking landscape, add to their historic and religious interest.

Construction of the Potala Palace began at the time of Songtsen of the Thubet (Tubo) dynasty in the 7th century AD. It was rebuilt in the mid-17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama in a campaign that lasted 30 years, reaching its present size in the years that followed, as a result of repeated renovation and expansion.

The Potala is located on Red Mountain, 3,700 m above sea level, in the centre of the Lhasa valley. It covers an area of over 130,000 m2 and stands more than 110 m high. The White palace is approached by a winding road leading to an open square in front of the palace. Its central section is the East Main Hall, where all the main ceremonies take place. The throne of the Dalai Lama is on the north side of the hall, the walls of which are covered with paintings depicting religious and historical themes. At the top of the White Palace is the personal suite of the Dalai Lama.

The Red Palace lies to the west of the White Palace. Its purpose is to house the stupas holding the remains of the Dalai Lamas. It also contains many Buddha and sutra halls. To the west of the Red Palace is the Namgyel Dratshang, the private monastery of the Dalai Lama. Other important components of the Potala complex are the squares to the north and south and the massive palace walls, built from rammed earth and stone and pierced by gates on the east, south and west sides.

Building of the Jokhang Temple Monastery began in the 7th century CE, during the Tang dynasty in China. The Tibetan imperial court eagerly espoused Buddhism when it was introduced,

The site of the Temple Monastery was selected, according to legend, when the cart in which Wen Cheng was bringing the statue of Sakyamuni sank into the mud by Wotang Lake. Divination identified this as the site of the Dragon Palace, the malign influence of which could only be counteracted by the building of a monastery. The foundation stone was laid in 647 and the first major reconstruction took place in the early 11th century. During the century following the reunification of the Tibetan kingdom by the Sakya dynasty in the mid-13th century, a number of new developments took place. These included extension of the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni and construction of a new entrance and the Hall of Buddha Dharmapala.

The Temple Monastery is in the centre of the old town of Lhasa. It comprises essentially an entrance porch, a courtyard and a Buddhist hall, surrounded by accommodation for monks and storehouses on all four sides. The buildings are constructed of wood and stone. The 7th Dalai Lama is reported to have had health problems and he used to come here for a cure.

The construction of Norbulingka started in 1751 with the Uya Palace. Successive Dalai Lamas continued building pavilions, palaces and halls, making it their summer residence, and soon the site became another religious, political, and cultural centre of Tibet, after the Potala Palace. Norbulingka (treasure garden) is located at the bank of the Lhasa River about 2 km west of the Potala Palace. The site consists of a large garden with several palaces, halls, and pavilions, amounting to some 36 ha. The area is composed of five sections.

Lhasa
According to historical records, construction of the Potala Palace began in the time of Songtsen Gampo of the Thubet or Tubo dynasty in the 7th century AD. It was rebuilt in the mid 17th century by the 5th Dalai Lama. It reached its present size and form in the years that foilowed, as a result of repeated renovation and expansion.

Songtsen Gampo (reigned c. 609-649) played a very important role in the political, economie, and cultural development of Tibet; he also encouraged close links with central China. He united Tibet and, for political and military reasons, moved the capital from Lalong to Lhasa, where he built a palace on the Red Mountain in the centre of the city. He married Princess Tritsun (Bhrikuti) of the Nepalese Royal House and Princess Wencheng of the Chinese Tang Dynasty. 1t is recorded that his palace was an enormous complex of buildings with three defensive walls and 999 rooms, plus one on the peak of the Red Mountain.

Following the collapse of the Tubo Dynasty in the 9th century, Tibetan society was plunged into a long period of turmoil, during which the Red Mountain Palace fell into disrepair. However, it began to assume the role of a religious site. During the 12th century Khyungpo Drakse of the Kadampa sect preached there, and it was later used for the same purpose by Tshurpu Karmapa and Tsongkapa, founder of the Gelukpa sect, and his disciples.

The Gelukpa sect developed rapidly in Tibet during the 15th century, assuming the dominant place. With the help of Gushri Khan, leader of the Mongol Khoshotd tribe, the 5th Dalai Lama defeated the Karmapa Dynasty in the mid 17th century and founded the Ganden Phodrang Dynasty. The dynasty's first seat of government was the Drepung Monastery; however, since the Red Mountain Palace bad been the residence of Songtsen Gampo and was close to the three major temples of Drepung, Sera, and Ganden, it was decided to rebuild it in arder to facilitate joint political and religious leadership. Reconstruction began in 1645, and three years later a complex of buildings with the White Palace (Phodrang Karpo) as its nucleus was completed. The 5th Dalai Lama moved there from Drepung Monastery, and ever since that time the Potala Palace bas been the residence and seat of government of succeeding Dalai Lamas.

Building of the Red Palace was begun by Sangye Gyatsho, the chief executive official of the time, eight years after the death of the 5th Dalai Lama, as a memorial to him and to accommodate his funerary stupa. It was completed four years later, in 1694, and is second in size only to the White Palace. With its construction the Potala Palace became a vast complex of palace halls, Buddha halls, and stupas. Funerary stupas (chortens) were added in memory of the 7th, 8th, 9th, and 13th Dalai Lamas, each within its own hall. The most recent is that of the 13th Dalai Lama, the building of which lasted from 1934 to 1936.

Special mention should be made of the fact that the Meditation Cave of the Dharma King, situated at the top of the mountain where Songtsen Gampo is said to have studied, and the Lokeshvara Chapel, both of which preceded the building of the present Palace, have been incorporated into the complex.

Building of the Jokhang Temple Monastery began in the reign of Srong-brtsan-sgam-po XXXII in the 7th century CE, during the Tang Dynasty in China. This ruler united Tibet and moved his capital to Demon (present-day Lhasa). The Tibetan imperial court eagerly espoused Buddhism when it was introduced, and this process was intensified when Princess Bhikruti of Nepal and Princess Wen Cheng of the Tang Dynasty came to Tibet as royal consorts.

The site of the Temple Monastery was selected, according to legend, when the cart in which Wen Cheng was bringing the statue of Sakyamuni sank into the mud by Wotang Lake. The Princess used divination to identify this as the site of the Dragon Palace, the malign influence of which could only be counteracted by the building of a monastery. The foundation stone was laid in 647 and the foundations were completed within a year.

In 823 the Tibetan regime and the Tang Dynasty entered into an alliance. To commemorate this event a stone was erected outside the monastery, known as the Stone Tablet of Long- Term Unity.

The first major reconstruction of the Jokhang Temple Monastery took place in the early 11th century. The Jokhang Buddhist Hall was extensively renovated and the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni was added to its eastern side. The circumambulatory corridor around the hall was added around 1167, when the mural paintings were restored. Upward curving tiled eaves were added in the early 13th century.

During the century following the reunification of the Tibetan kingdom by the Sakya Dynasty in the mid-13th century, a number of new developments took place. These included extension of the Hall of Buddha Sakyamuni, construction of a new entrance and the Hall of Buddha Dharmapala, and the introduction of sculptures of Srong-brtsan-sgam-po, Wen Cheng, and Bhikruti Devi. Buddhist halls and golden tiled roofs were added on the third storey on the east, west, and north sides.

Tsongka Pa founded the reforming Gelugpa School of Tibetan Buddhism in the early 15th century, initiating the Great Prayer Festival. At his instigation part of the inner courtyard of the main Jokhang Hall was roofed.

Tibet was formally included in the Chinese domain during the Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368). In 1642 the 5th Dalai Lama, who had received an Imperial title from the Qing rulers of China, began a project of restoration that was to last thirty years. It was continued during the regency of Sangyetgyatso (1679-1703). The main entrance of the Temple Monastery, the Ten Thousand Buddha Corridor (Qianfolang), the Vendana Path, and the third and fourth storeys of the main Buddhist Hall all date from this period.

Norbulingka
The site of Norbulingka was a place with gentle streams, dense and lush forest, birds, and animals known as Lava tsel. The 7th Dalai Lama is reported to have had health problems and he used to come here for a cure. The construction of Norbulingka started in 1751 with the Uya Palace, benefiting from financial assistance from the central government. Successive Dalai Lamas continued building pavilions, palaces, and halls, making it their summer residence, and soon the site became another religious, political, and cultural centre of Tibet, after the Potala Palace. The Gesang Palace was built in 1755 and included a court for debates. The Tsoje Palace and the Jensen Palace were built by the 13th Dalai Lama in the 1920s, influenced by his time in Beijing; the Gesang Deje Palace was constructed in 1926. The Tagtan Migyur Palace was built in 1954-56 with support from the Central People's Government. Since the departure of the 14th Dalai Lama in 1959, Norbulingka has been managed first by the Culture Management Group under the Preparatory Committee of the Autonomous Region and later directly by the Cultural Management Committee and Bureau.

Trip Photos
Kharta Valley & Everest Kangshung Face Trek 2014
Lhasa & Central Tibet
Lhasa Prostrations | Barkor Square & Jokhang Temple

Detailed Itinerary

Pre Arrival - Wednesday, 28 May
We'll need your passports by 9 am on THURDAY, 29 MAY for the Chinese visa. Please arrange to arrive in Kathmandu a day early.

Day 1 - Arrive Kathmandu 1340m
You'll be met at the airport by a representative from the Kathmandu Guest House, so look out for a Kathmandu Guest House sign when you leave the airport. The van will bring you back to the Kathmandu Guest House where your rooms are booked.

Kim will meet you at the guest house and introduce you to Thamel, the main tourist area of Kathmandu. Thamel is a myriad of banners, signs, music shops, bakeries, internet cafes, restaurants, bars, hotels, shops of all imaginable varieties and eccentrically clad backpackers. Over dinner we'll go over some of the logistics of the trek and get to know each other over a few beers ...

NOTE: We will meet in the Kathmandu Guest House back garden at 9 AM on Thursday, 29 May to collect passports and have a meeting ...

Day 2 - Kathmandu
A free day to explore exotic Kathmandu and the mythical Kathmandu valley. Climb the many steps to Swayambhunath (the monkey temple), with its commanding views of Kathmandu (at 1420 m), its whitewashed stupas and its unique synthesis of Buddhism and Hinduism. The striking Buddha eyes of Boudhanath Stupa watch over a lively and colorful Tibetan community and attract pilgrims from all over the Himalayan Buddhist realm. In the midst of traditional gompas, and hung with long strings of multi-colored prayer flags, Boudhanath attracts Sherpas, Tibetans and tourists alike for daily circumambulations (koras) of the stupa. Durbar Square, one of the old capitals of the Kathmandu valley, is a synthesis of Hindu and Buddhist temples, stupas and statues, and is often the site of festivals, marriages and other ceremonies. Hindu Pashupatinath and its sacred temple complex on the banks of the holy Bagmati river. Here, monkeys run up and down the steps of the burning ghats, and trident-bearing saddhus draped in burnt-orange and saffron sit serenely meditating - when they’re not posing for photos-for-rupees.

We'll have time for a bit of gear shopping in Thamel for anyone who needs to do this, and in the evening will head out for dinner of wood-oven pizza at the Roadhouse Cafe. We would recommend taking 250 mg of Diamox for the next day’s jump to 3700 meters 2x/day a day before flying to Lhasa.

Day 3 - Fly Lhasa 3650m
Our spectacular hour long China Air flight takes us right across the main Himalayan range, over such Himalayan giants as Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Kanchenjunga, for magnificent mountain views. After landing at Gonggar Airport and meeting our Tibetan guide, we'll drive the 45 minutes to Lhasa.We check in to our Tibetan-run hotel, the New Yak. We're staying near the Jokhang temple and the Barkor square, where the character of the city is still very Tibetan.

Over the following three days we visit most of the most important sites in and around Lhasa with our Tibetan guide. Late afternoons will be free for you to discover the endlessly fascinating bazaars, walk koras around the Jokhang with the myriad other pilgrims, or sit in the Barkor square, immersing yourself in the exoticism of Lhasa. There is also the option of additional tours to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery or Tsurphu Monastery at a slight extra cost, although after our last few weeks, a bit of rest in Lhasa is usually the top choice.

Some of our favorite restaurants are Dunya (right next door), Makye Ame & Ganglamedo (across the street from the New Yak Hotel), Western Cafe just around the corner for coffee and the New Mandala for a sunny breakfast.

Days 4, 5 & 6 - Lhasa
We have three more days to wander the streets of the Tibetan section of Lhasa, and continue with our touring of the monasteries and the famous Potala Palace, home of the Dalai Lamas.

Jokhang Temple & Barkor Square - The holiest temple in Tibet, and shelters the sacred Jowo Sakyamuni statue. Shuffle among the pilgrims, butter lamps permeating the air, and find gruesome Gods in hidden annexes. There is always a procession of devout Tibetans through the complex. After walking the holy inner circle, complete a circuit of the Barkhor, the market surrounding the Jokhang, for good luck. It is the best market to shop for all things Tibetan, and just about anything else you ever wanted as well. Kim has lots of practice, and is happy to assist with any buying ... no commission attached.

Drepung & Sera Monasteries – Sera is one of the best preserved monasteries in Tibet, renown for its lively debating sessions in the courtyard each afternoon. Within its whitewashed walls and golden roofs, several hundred monks live and study. Drepung was founded in the 14th century and was once the largest gompa in the world with a population of around 10,000 monks. These days the figure has been reduced to several hundred, but there is still much of interest to see here, as the structure escaped relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution.

Potala Palace - The magnificent white, black, red and gold Potala Palace dominates the skyline of Lhasa. It was the winter quarters of the Dalai Lama, housing jewel-encrusted gold and silver stupas of previous Dalai Lamas, numerous grand state rooms and many important chapels. There has been a palace on this site since the 5th or 6th century, but the present palace was constructed in the 17th century.

Norbulingka – Norbulingka is the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, set in a quiet and relaxing garden which used to house the Dalai Lama’s pets. One particularly interesting mural inside depicts the history of Tibet and all the Dalai Lamas.

Some of our favorite restaurants are Dunya (right next door), Makye Ame & Ganglamedo (across the street from the New Yak Hotel), Western Cafe just around the corner for coffee and the New Mandala for a sunny breakfast.

Day 7 - Lhasa. Daytrip Ganden Gompa 4265m
We'll set off early for a scenic 36-kilometer drive to the Gelugpa Ganden Monastery, on of the 'three great' Gelugpa monasteries in Tibet. Ganden is situated atop Wangbur Mountain in Tagtse County. Its full name is Ganden (meaning joyful, the Tibetan name for Tusita, the heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside) and Namgyal Ling (victorious temple).

Ganden was founded by Je Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa tradition, in 1409. It's history is interesting so I will quote from Wikipedia: 'The Ganden Tripa or 'throne-holder of Ganden' is the head of the Gelukpa school. Tsongkhapa's preserved body was entombed there in a silver and gold encrusted tomb by his disciples in 1419. Being the farthest from Lhasa of the three university monasteries, Ganden traditionally had a smaller population with some 6,000 monks in the early 20th century (although Waddell reports an estimate of about 3,300 in the 1890s and there were, apparently only 2,000 in 1959. At this time there are about 170 monks.

Ganden Monastery consisted of two principal original colleges, Jangtse and Shartse, meaning North Peak and East Peak respectively. The three main sights in the Ganden Monastery are the Serdung, which contains the tomb of Tsongkhapa, the Tsokchen Assembly Hall and the Ngam Cho Khang the chapel where Tsongkhapa traditionally taught. The monastery houses artifacts which belonged to Tsongkhapa. It contained more than two dozen major chapels with large Buddha statues. The largest chapel was capable of seating 3,500 monks. Tenzin Gyatso, the present Dalai Lama (born 1935), took his final degree examination in Ganden in 1958 and he claims to feel a particularly close connection with Tsongkhapa.

Ganden was completely destroyed during the rebellion of 1959. In 1966 it was severely shelled by Red Guard artillery and monks then had to dismantle the remains. Most of Tsongkhapa's mummified body was burned but his skull and some ashes were saved from the fire by Bomi Rinpoche, the monk who had been forced to carry the body to the fire. Re-building has been continuing since the 1980s and the "red-painted lhakang in the centre is the reconstruction of Ganden's sanctum sanctorum containing Tsongkapa's reliquary chorten called the Tongwa Donden, 'Meaningful to Behold.' - Wikipedia

The kora of Ganden, around the small Wangbur Mountain, takes about 45 minutes and is a great way to come into contact with Tibetan pilgrims, atired in their pilgrimage best. Every once in a while you might see a sky burial on a nearby hillside, a tradition that is rarely found in Tibet anymore ...

Day 8 - Drive to Gyantse 4025m
Leaving Lhasa, the 'city of gods' (or 'sunlight city' due to its 3000 hours of sunshine yearly), we switchback up the Khamba La pass (4795m) to overlook the turquoise Yamdrok Tso far below. Yamdrok Tso is one of the four holy lakes of Tibet, home to wrathful deities, and a spectacular site. Be ready to have your photo taken at the top of the pass with yaks, Tibetan mastiffs and goat by enterprising Tibetans ...

After switchbacking down the pass, we continue to drive through the fertile plain of the Nyang River valley, a traditional vingette around every corner. Once in Gyantse, we'll check into the Yeti Hotel, a great hotel with a wonderful restaurant and friendly staff, and head out for a walk around town to stretch our legs.

Gyantse, strategically located in the Nyang Chu valley, was once part of an ancient trade route from the Chumbi Valley, Yatung and Sikkim. From Gyantse, trade routes led south to Shigatse and also over the Karo La into Central Tibet. The Gyantse Dzong (fort), built in 1390, guarded the southern approaches to the Yarlung Tsangpo Valley and Lhasa, and the town was surrounded by a long, protective wall 3 kilometers in length. Part of this wall still survives and is a dramatic backdrop for photos. Gyantse was once the third largest city in Tibet but was overtaken by Younghusband and the British in 1904. During the fierce battle, Tibetan forces fought the British for most of two months with dire consequences for both sides. (See 'Younghusband' by Patrick French).

We will visit the 15th century Palkor Chode Monastery and the magnificent Kumbum, translated as '100,000 images', the largest chorten in Tibet. Kumbum was commissioned by a Gyantse prince in 1427 and was an important center of the Sakya school. It still contains 77 chapels within its six floors and is illustrated with over 10,000 murals, many still intact and exhibiting a strong Nepali influence, the last of their kind to be found in Tibet.

'The town of Gyantse was nearly destroyed by flooding in 1954, and after rioting in 1959, local industries were dismantled and artisans fled while others were placed in workcamps. Some 400 monks and laypeople were imprisoned in the monastery. During the Cultural Revolution the fort, the monastery and Kumbum were ransacked. Precious objects were destroyed or sent out of Tibet. Fortunately, the chorten was spared. The main building of the Pelkor Chode or Palcho Monastery and the Kumbum have been largely restored but the dzong or fort is still largely in ruins but there is an Anti-British Imperialism Museum there which gives the Chinese version of the 1904 British invasion.' - Wikipedia.

Day 9 – Drive to Shigatse 3850m
We will spend the morning visiting the gompa complex at Gyantse and hiking up to Gyantse Fort, and then head to Shigatse mid-day. It's a short but beautiful drive through flat countryside, surrounded by snow peaks, to Shigatse, previously known as Samdruptse. Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and is home to perhaps the best preserved but most controversial monastery in Tibet, Tashilhunpo. This Gelugpa gompa, administred by the Panchen Lama, is one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet and there is much to explore within its surrounding walls.

'In the 19th century, the 'Tashi' or Panchen Lama had temporal power over Tashilhunpo Monastery and three small districts, though not over the town of Shigatse itself, which was administered by two Dzongpön (prefects) appointed from Lhasa. Before military conflict between the PRC's People's Liberation Army and the Central Tibetan Administration, the Tibetan territory was divided into 53 prefecture districts called Dzongs. There were two Dzongpöns for every Dzong—a lama (Tse-dung) and a layman. They were entrusted with both civil and military powers and are equal in all respects, though subordinate to the generals and the Chinese Amban in military matters. However, there were only one or two Ambans representing the Chinese emperor residing in Lhasa, directing a little garrison, and their power installed since 1728, progressively declined to end-up as observer at the eve of their expulsion in 1912 by the 13th Dalai Lama. In 1952, shortly after the PRC sent forces to the region, Shigatse had a population of perhaps 12,000 people, making it the second largest city in Tibet.' - Wikipedia

We will take a few hours for a visit in the late afternoon or early morning. We stay at the Manasarovar Hotel in Shigatse, and head out for a good dinner and Lhasa beers in the evening.

Day 10 - Drive Shegar 4360m
We continue past scenic Tibetan villages past dusty Lhatse, the crossroads to sacred Mount Kailash in far western Tibet. A few hours of driving along the Himalayan range brings us to Tingri, the gateway to Everest Base Camp. Tingri is an atmospheric village composed of new and old Tingri, and including a Chinese Army post. Old Tingri, once called Ganggar, includes about 100 mud-brick houses crowded together below the hillside, very old Tibet in style, and worth a walk around for a glimpse of Tibetan village life. There are some real Tibetan characters roaming the streets doing business; or perhaps passing us on the street in their horse-carts or prayer-flag festooned tractors. The wild west of central Tibet! There is an impressive viewpoint at the remains of an old garrison called Ganggar Ri with views of Everest, Cho Oyu and the Nangpa La route to the Khumbu region of Nepal.

Soon afterwards we reach New Shegar where we stop for the night at a hotel. We'll spend the afternoon exploring the fantastic ruins of Shegar fort, just 7 km down a small road and above traditional Shegar village. The views over the valley from the high walls of the ruins are sublime, a truly Tibetan scene.

Day 11 - Drive to Kharta Qu
Ten kilometres after the town of Shegar we divert from the main highway and drive south towards the Everest region. From the top of Pang La (5150m) we gain views of Everest and the lie of the surrounding country. From the pass we descend to the village of Phadhruchi where the jeep track divides - the track to the west heading to the Rongbuk Valley - the one to the east leading to the (Phung Chu) Arun Valley and the village of Kharta - the administrative headquarters of the region.

Days 12 & 13 - Trek Valley of Lakes (exploratory)
This sublime valley is just to the east of the Kharta valley trek. We'll spend 2 days exploring here ...

Day 14 - Trek to Dambu 4290m
We begin trekking! We trek along the Dambuk Chu river valley, initially following a jeep trail, passing Yulok and Yulba, settlements of stone houses amid rich barley fields which contrast with the stark hillsides. When the valley narrows the trail divides, the lower path leading to the Langma La which we return on; instead we begin climbing on the Sha-u La route to the first possible camping place near a stream at 3995m. The trail continues climbing into the greenery and prayer flags mark the end of the steep section. Soon after is another good camping place, although sometimes the crew prefer a spot five minutes up just over a small bridge at a place called Dambu. The small lhakhang (altar) of Tarpaling is across the Kharta Tsangpo, and lower along the ridge the ruins of Ganden Chopel Gompa are visible. We have made a 640 meter jump in altitude which you should feel. If you arrive at camp with a headache consider taking 125mg or 250mg of Diamox and drink plenty.

Day 15 - Trek to Sha-u Tsho 4650m
Today is only a few hours trekking to put us in the best position for crossing the Sha-u La, and to help acclimatize. We follow the sparkling stream up on a mostly rocky trail. After passing a widening of the stream, up and along from the next rise is a beautiful lake, which we camp near. Again today you are likely to feel the altitude so it is worth taking drugs. From camp, or nearby at the lake, we will be treated to views of Makalu to the south and Jomo Lonzo, the north peak of Makalu, to the west. Exploring around, there is a second large lake and several more smaller ones.

Day 16 - Cross Sha-u La (4900m) to Jokshim 3980m
We start early as this is a fairly tough day’s trekking. At the end of the lake begin climbing, looking back there are several more turquoise lakes, the biggest in a matching rock circ. The top of the pass is marked with prayer flags and an inspiring view, including Everest (8848m, #1), Makalu (8475m, #5) and Lhotse (8501m, #4). Soon after the descent begins the trail forks, take the right past a rough pond, wait for your guide if unsure, and soon the trail becomes slightly bigger, dropping in lush pastures, all the while with spectacular peaks visible. Descending further we swing around right to a curious sheer-sided valley, the terrain soon making sense; bounder erratics dumped by glacial retreats pepper the landscape. Passing thru rhododendron shrubs at the base of the valley there is a rocky sparkling stream and pretty meadows then juniper forest.

Our idyllic camp, Jokshim or Joksham, is just above the Kaamo Tsangpo Valley and by the stream at the base of the ascent of the next day.

Day 17 - Trek to Thangsum 4480m
We climb steeply out of Joksham thru Juniper, Birch and Rhododendron forests with Usnea lichen hanging low from the trees, typical of Nepali cloud forests and some of the most interesting in the Himalaya. Climbing into alpine tundra there are views down to the Karma Tsangpo and the Arun River into Nepal, and not far upstream is a glacier coming from Makalu. Look to the right for views of Everest and Lhotse. Traversing and climbing further we reach a doksa, or seasonal herding settlement. Here take a traversing trail out to more doksas and to either Tso Nak, the black lake, or Shalung Tso (we're not sure which) and then Lhotse Shar, all the while with views of awesome rock faces on the opposite side of the valley. The rubble in the main valley is the Kangshung Glacier, and the Kangdoshung Glacier spills out from the bottom end. From the north, coming from the Karma Gangri peak is the massive, glaciated tributary valley of the Rabka Chu. The junction of these valleys form the Karma Tsangpo (river). We camp at the third doksa, called Thangsum. This is a short day and you are welcome to explore around in the afternoon.

Day 18 - Trek to Pathang 4240m
Crossing out of Thangsum thru more meadows soon we come to Chahataphu, where the trail to the Langma La branches off. The panorama is truly awe-inspiring. From here we can see our camping area at Pathang, but first we have to drop steeply through dwarf rhododendron and scrub juniper to the river and gently ascend again. The main valley is the Kangshung Valley glacier, which we follow for a few days.

Close to the camp at a small trail junction an obvious trail heads north (right) to the Tsechu Tsho, a holy lake with a Guru Rimpoche cave temple, a beyul, or hidden sanctuary; it's less than an hour away to the lake. The views are well worth the short climb, and the energetic could even circumambulate the lake (clockwise), which takes around two hours; be warned the first section has no real trail.

Day 19 - Trek to Pethang Ringmo 4960m
The small trail soon begins to climb steeply along the Kangshung Valley glacier rim, seeming never to end as it avoids the glacier pushing in below. There are several tight sections; in 2005 Jamie's group lost the kitchen equipment down the hill, most was retrieved, two years earlier two personal barrels fell, lost to the river. After the climb the views open up the valley with the huge Lhotse and Chomolungma wall dominating the head of the valley. The faces of Chomo Lonzo (7790m) are just as awesome, being much closer. Although the steepest section is over, the trail still ascends above one doksa, Woaka or Oka, and continues up the ablation valley eventually reaching the nomad tents on the large meadows of lush grass, Pethang Ringmo, where we normally camp. What a panorama, accentuated by white ice floes fall from the peaks into the Kangshung Valley Glacier. This was the Base Camp for George Mallory and the 1921 Everest Reconnaissance Team.

Day 20 - Pethang Ringmo 4960m
A rest and acclimatization day at last; there are plenty of day trips possible above the campsite, and the delightful meadows of Pethang Ringmo are perfect for a relaxing day.

Day 21 - Trek to Karbus - Kangshung Base Camp 5090m
It is well worth staying higher at the base camp. It is about three hours away and at 5290m, so a high place to camp and likely you will feel the altitude. It is an absolutely stunning location, ringed by mountains and with an awesome view of the Kangshung face, and Lhotse, and by exploring only a little further you can see the steep amphitheatre falling from Lhotse. North of camp, on a ridge overlooking the Khangshung Valley, are two greeny-gray lakes, and in between a spur that rises to at least 5800m, probably higher, just a walk up. Or go north past Base Camp for about 45 minutes following the crest of the long moraine for great Himalayan views as well as the glacial lake below.

Day 22 - Trek to Pethang Ringmo 4960m
In the morning there is time to have a look around here before heading back down to our lovely campsite at Pethang Ringmo.

Day 23 - Trek to Tsho Shungrim (Langma La Base Camp) 4970m
Returning, the views are always surprisingly different. After the scrub we cross the river for the one hour climb back up to the Rabka Chu Meadow Camp where we separate at the intersection of the Sha-U La trail. At Chahataphu, we traverse and climb out of the valley looping around a few small ridges with spectacular views opening up on the opposite side of a glaciated valley. After a couple of hours we head into the main valley that leads to the pass, camping by a lake. Looking back are impressive views of many peaks (not that we saw them) and just above us are more lakes. This is the last camp before the pass, at a doksa 20 minutes past Tso Melogma.

Day 24 - Cross Langma La 5390m. Trek to Lundrubling 4390m
The climb to the Langma La takes two hours with further views back of Lhotse Shar, Lhotse and Everest (from left to right), Makalu (which dwarfs the others) and Jomo Lonzo as well as some beautiful lakes closer in too, as well as the impressive peak above the pass. Pethangtse is the bullet shaped peak to the right, or west. From the pass (5390m) there is a series of steep descents. After passing the guitar-shaped lake of Damnye Tsho (a Tibetan guitar is called a damnye), there is one more descent along a rocky moraine, along some cliff-side trails, to a series of doksas, often filled with sheep and goats. Gary McCue calls this settlement 'a medieval-looking collection of stone houses and muddy alleyways'. He also mentions that arak (Tibetan whiskey), chang (Tibetan beer) milk, yogurt and vegetables might be available. Look for blue poppies en route. At the end of the valley the terrain changes, the earth suddenly drier as we reach our camp. Apparently it is possible to see the Kangchenjunga massif rearing above the ridges beyond Kharta on the Nepal-Sikkim Border. Hidden but near our camp is the village of Lundrubling.

Day 25 - Trek to Kharta. Drive to Tashidzong 4110m
Just around the corner from our camp is a wonderful village scene of billowing barley fields and old houses; passing thru the kids often mob you. The road is being extended, so we have less than three hours to trek to Kharta, the main administrative 'shang' in the Everest region. Your leader will decide the itinerary depending on the time, but probably we will drive to Tashidzong, the main transportation junction, and stay at the rustic Chomolungma 'Hotel'.

Day 26 - Drive to Everest Base Camp - Dza Rongphu (Rongbuk) Gompa - Tingri 4300m
Less than an hour after leaving Tashidzong we reenter the Chomolungma Nature Preserve and drive on a once rustic and now paved road to Dza Rongphu (Rongbuk) Monastery, a gompa first 'discovered' by the early Everest expeditions and described as a remote monastic hideaway. Rongbuk over a hundred years old, founded by a Nyingmapa lama, although it has been an important religious site for over three hundred years. From here its eight kilometers past the ruins of two ani gompas, or nunneries, Changchub Tarling and Rongchung, older than Rongbuk Gompa (the nuns fled Tibet in 1959) to Everest Base Camp. Once at base camp you can hang some 5-colored prayer flags (lung-ta) to send your prayers out across Tibet.

We return via a stunning shortcut, now a main road, to Tingri. This was once a trekking route and is still a beautiful, if rough drive. Tingri is an atmospheric village composed of new and old Tingri, and including a Chinese Army post. Old Tingri, once called Ganggar, includes about 100 mud-brick houses crowded together below the hillside, very old Tibet in style, and worth a walk around for a glimpse of Tibetan village life. There are some real Tibetan characters roaming the streets doing business; or perhaps passing us on the street in their horse-carts or prayer-flag festooned tractors. The wild west of central Tibet!

There is an impressive viewpoint at the remains of an old garrison called Ganggar Ri with views of Everest, Cho Oyu and the Nangpa La route to the Khumbu region of Nepal. We stay at the Snowleopard Guest House, quite nice with a great Tibetan-style dining area upstairs and late-afternoon sun.

Day 27 - Drive to Zhangmu 2250m
Our last day of driving in Tibet, we spend all of the day on a good road driving through stunning Tibetan landscapes with Himalayan vistas throughout the drive. After breakfast we head back west - probably the same way we came - and soon we're back on the Friendship Highway heading south towards the border of Nepal, driving on a good road through a wide, green valley. We reach (old) Tingri after 1-1 1/2 hours and will stop and hike up to an impressive viewpoint at the remains of an old garrison called Ganggar Ri with views of Everest, Cho Oyu and the Nangpa La route to the Khumbu region of Nepal.

Just past Tingri we pass the ruins of several large fortresses which guarded the trade route to Nepal and were destroyed in 18th century wars, and more ruins of monasteries and deserted villages. Further along the road to Shishapangma north base camp and to Kailash is sign-posted, and above are inspiring views along that road that passes Peiko Tso.

The first pass we crest is the Lalung La, 5124m and after a short scenic drop between we reach the Tong La 5200m (although often called other names). Here we stop to admire a Himalayan panorama that includes Shishapangma and Khambachen on the west (right) and a hard to recognize Gauri Shankar (Chomo Tseringma for Tibetans and Sherpas). We are standing on the geographic divide, although the main Himalayan mountain divide is further south.

The descent to Nyalam at 3650 meters takes a couple of hours, with Zangmu, at 2250 meters, another 1 1/2 hours further south. Along the way we'll pass both newly built and old white-washed Tibetan villages, and sometimes herders herding their flocks of sheep and goats or their yaks. This is one of the most impressive gorge roads in the world, a winding road through a green rainforest with waterfalls streaming over the road at points. It's a relief to reach the winding streets of Zangmu, a typical border town but perched precariously on a steep hill, making the most of its meager land allotment. We will stay at Zhangmu at the Zhangmu Hotel, the best in town ... 

Day 28 - Cross border to Nepal. Drive to The Last Resort
From Zhangmu, it's a short drive to the Friendship Bridge which spans the Bhote Kosi River and marks the Chinese - Nepalese border. We say goodbye to our Tibetan guide and driver and walk to Nepalese Immigration Control in Kodari where we will be met by our Nepalese staff and driven to the Last Resort, just half an hour south.

The Last Resort is a wonderful place to spend a night after the rigors of Tibet. Let's see if they can get the sauna started! Beers in the bamboo bar/restaurant afterwards is the perfect way to wind down ...

Day 29 - Drive to Kathmandu
We'll have the morning to relax at the Last Resort, enough time for a bungy jump if anyone wants! We continue the drive to Kathmandu which, depending on road and weather conditions, should take about five hours. Back in Kathmandu, we'll send grungy clothes to the laundry, and then head out to The Roadhouse Cafe for some wood-oven pizza and cold beers!

Day 30 - Depart
Farewell! We take you to the airport for your flight home. We hope you had a wonderful trip into the heart of Tibet on the roof of the world; the journey of a lifetime ...

Extra Days in Kathmandu
If you wish to stay longer, we can offer plenty of suggestion! Mountain biking or rafting in the Kathmandu valley or Pokhara, a luxurious stay at Temple Tree Resort & Spa in Pokhara, paragliding or zip-lining in Pokhara, an Everest sightseeing flight, trips to Bhaktapur or Patan (Kathmandu Valley's other historic capital cities), a night at the Fort Hotel in Nagarkot for a bit of luxury and expansive sunrise & sunset mountain panoramas, a spa & wellness getaway at Dwarikas Resort in Dhulikhel, visits to interesting temple villages such as Changu Narayan, a relaxing excursion to Chitwan National Park Wildlife Safari & Tharu Villages (staying at Maruni Sanctuary Lodge) or Bardia National Park, or a weekend of adventure and pampering at The Last Resort. Kim can help to arrange any of these excursions for you.

Note on Tibet

Note on Traveling in Tibet
'Tibetians employ a lunar calendar, which would in theory assign to each month 29½ days. Since the solar year is 365¼ days, each lunar year - twelve lunar months - is 11 days too short. To make up for this, every three years an additional month is added. However, like wild cards in a poker game, the extra month can be added anywhere in the Tibetan calendar year, the position being determined by an astrological forecast indicating what would be the lucky place to add the new month. Actually, even this is a slight oversimplification. In practice Tibetans round off the lunar month to exactly thirty days, but then they go ahead and add the extra month every three years anyway. To make up the difference, certain days of the month - again decided by the official astrologers - are simply eliminated, or, if some days are thought to be particularly fortunate, they may be doubled. At the end of each year the official astrologer presents the calendar for the following year. Until then, there is no future calendar. The new year begins in February, except in those years that begin following an added month, when the year begins in March. Hence when modern historical writers on Tibet indicate that some even occurred, say in April of 619 A.D., it gives one pause for thought.

The days of the Tibetan week - seven in number - are named after the sun, the moon, and the five visible planets; Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. Sa is the Tibetan word for "planet" and the seven days are then names: Sa Nyi-ma [Sunday - Sun], Sa Da-wa [Monday - Moon], Sa Mik-mar [Tuesday - Mars], Sa Lak-pa [Wednesday - Mercury], Sa Pur-bu [Thursday - Jupiter], Sa Pa-sang [Friday - Venus] and Sa Pen-pa [Saturday - Saturn]. Until the eleventh century, a twelve-year calendar cycle was used; each year being named after one of the following animals: mouse, ox, tiger, hare, dragon, serpent, horse, sheep, ape, bird, dog, and hog. In the year 1027 A.D. - one hopes the historian have made the correct conversion - the Tibetans began a sixty-year cycle as advocated in the Kalacakra-Tantra, a Sanskrit religious text that was translated into Tibetan that year. To make up the sixty-year cycle, the twelve animals are combined with five elements: wood, fire, earth, iron, and water. Thus the years have colorful names like Fire-Mouse or Iron-Ape. Tibetan historical documents contain phrases like "On the thirteenth day of the eighth month of the Water-Tiger year . . .'
- 'In the Himalayas' - Jeremy Bernstein (1989), pp 228-229.


Namaste & Tashi Delek!

© Kim Bannister

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