14 days Tibet Shishapangma Base Camp Trekking
Mt. Shishapangma is probably the least known of the world's fourteen 8000-meter peaks, despite being only 80 km. north east of Kathmandu. The mountain is hidden from Nepal, tucked behind the Lang tang Hyman and the main Himalayan ridge. The round trip to Shishapangma takes us five days, it is one of Tibet's best kept trekking secrets, and it is also one of Tibet's finest high alpine walks. This trek is one of the few treks that do not involve pass crossing, which makes it a bit easier than our other treks in Tibet, but none the less rewarding.
Here on the southeast side of Shishapangma, the monsoon from the Indian subcontinent manages to push over the Juggle Hyman, bringing some rain most nights from June until early September. Most days are clear and we will have nourishing lush meadows and an outstanding display of wildflowers high into the mountains.
After finishing the trek we make our way towards Lhasa, in the towns of Shigatse and Gyangtse where we explore monasteries and fully immerse ourselves in the Buddhist culture. Before we fly back to Kathmandu we spend a couple of days in Lhasa, the heart and soul of Tibet and an object of devout pilgrimage, it is still a city of wonders. The medieval push and shove of crowds, the street performers, the stalls hawking everything from prayer flags to jewel-encrusted yak skulls, and the devout tapping their foreheads to the ground at every step is an exotic brew that few newcomers can resist.
Detail Trekking Itinerary Day to Day
Day1: Drive Kathmandu
We leave Kathmandu early in the morning, driving for 123km through the beautiful Nepalese countryside to Kodari on the Nepal - Tibet border. After completing the border formalities at both the Nepalese and Chinese immigration posts we drive up a series of incredibly steep switchbacks, which passes through a mossy gully with cascading waterfalls to Nyalam on the Tibetan side of the border.
Day2: Rest Day for Acclimatization
We spend a day resting in Nyalam today in order to acclimatize before heading up higher. A short way out of town there is a small temple, Nyalam Pelgye Ling, which is associated with eleventh- and twelfth-century poet-yogi Milarepa. Beside Nyalam you can find the contemplative cave of one of Tibet’s most famous yogis and poets, 10 km north of Nyalam, near the village of Zhonggang (Tibetan name). A monastery built around a cave where the enlightened yogi Milarepa (1040-1123) and his disciple Rechungpa spent many years in meditation. Rebuilt in 1983 with assistance from Nepalese craftsmen.
Day3: Trek to Darpoche
On this our first day of trekking, we head out of Nyalam and up along the Tshongde Phu river valley. After a couple of hours we have the choice to head directly up to Darpoche or make a detour to the lake Tara Tsho. The pilgrimage route up to Tara Tsho is a long climb of two - three hours on a steep trail. The lake is quite large, though it remains hidden until you are fairly close. The shoreline is speckled with hundreds of small stone offering piles and larger Cairns with prayer flags. Tara Tsho has neither inlet nor outlet, it is said to be 40 meters deep. According to local legends, the lake manifested from a piece of ice brought here by a lama returning from Mount Kailash. We spend the night camping at the herders' camp at .
Day4: Trek to Shingdip
Today we start out by climbing to the top of a ridge; the climb is about one hour. From the summit we walk parallel to the ridge, along some nice hills thick with dwarf grass. We end up in Shingdip a beautiful meadow camp with a large boulder near the junction of converging moraine valleys. The south base camp is only two hours away, but it is nearly 450 meters higher in elevation, so we stop here for the night.
Day5: Trek to Base Camp from Shingdip
We take a cross-country route west towards the Base camp. Again today climb to a ridge and follow it for some time, with Jugal Himal towering across the valley to the south of us. We reach the base camp by a little glacial lake after two hours of walking. Shishapangma is out of view from the base camp, but we have plenty of time to head further up towards advanced base camp and explore around base camp, there is good views of Shishapangma on a boulder-plateau one hour above base camp.
Everest trekking offers you great opportunity to have unique experience. The Everest area is situated in eastern Nepal. It is protected by the Sagarmatha National Park, established in 1976 with an area of 1148 square kilometers. The park is largely composed of the rugged terrain and gorges of the high Himalayas. Altitude ranges from 2845 meters above sea level (9,330ft) to the top of the world, Mt. Everest at 8848 meters (29,028ft). Mount Everest, the highest mountain in the world, which is known in Nepal as "Sagarmatha" the goddess mother of the world, has long been the greatest attraction for nature lovers and trekkers alike. Solukhumbu, the heartland of the Everest Region and an integral part of the Himalayan mystique, thus provides a welcome destination for these adventurers.
Throughout this trek trekkers are overwhelmed with views of unbelievable peaks, Buddhist monasteries, and friendly Sherpa villages. Perhaps some may even have a glance of the Yeti! The local people believe that the Pangboche Monastery actually has in its possession the real scalp of this Himalayan legend. As we proceed slowly to allow for maximum acclimation, we will have plenty of opportunity to visit monasteries and Sherpa homes of this region. Most of our Sherpa crew comes from the Sherpa households of this area. Incredible views of Everest and the surrounding peaks are the inescapable fare while we ascend Kala Patthar.
Day6: Trek to Draabochhan
We walk all the way down to Draabochhan today; all the way we will have outstanding views of Jugal Himal. We will walk through the beautiful alpine meadows and the dwarf rhododendrons on the hills. After a long descent we once again use the herders' camp in Draabochhan.
Day7: Trek to Nyalam
We again reach lower and more fertile ground in the Tshongde Phu river valley, and soon we once again find ourselves in Nyalam.
Day8: Drive to Lhatse
Today's drive takes us from the lush, green lower hills into the dry, arid landscape of the Tibetan Plateau. We cross several high passes including the Lalung La [5050m] from which, [weather permitting], there is a breathtaking panorama of the Himalayan range including Mt Everest - a fitting backdrop to the vastness of the Tibetan Plateau. We stay overnight in the town of Lhatse in guest house.
Day 09 Drive to Shigatse
Continuing along the Friendship Highway, we pass by lonely monasteries and the camps of nomadic herders. We then cross the highest pass of our journey, the Gyatso La [5220m] before descending once more to the barren splendor of the plains. Tonight, we stay in Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet at either the Shigatse Hotel or Shandong Mansion. In Shigatse town you can visit Tashilunpo monastery which is seat of Panchen lamas.
Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the Six Big Monasteries of Gelugpa (or Yellow Hat Sect) in Tibet. Also called the Heap of Glory, the monastery is located at the foot of Drolmari (Tara's Mountain), Shigatse. Founded by the First Dailai Lama in 1447, the monastery's structure was expanded by the Fourth and successive Panchen Lamas. Tashilhunpo Monastery covers an area of nearly 300,000 square meters (3,229,279 sq. ft.). The main structures found in the Tashilhunpo Monastery are The Maitreya Chapel, The Panchen Lama's Palace and The Kelsang Temple. Tashilhunpo is the seat of the Panchen Lama since the Fourth Panchen Lama took charge in the monastery, and there are now nearly 800 lamas.
Day10: Drive to Gyantse
This morning we have time to visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet, before setting off on the relatively short drive to Gyantse. Once in Gyantse, we can explore the Pelkor Chode Monastery and the Gyantse Kumbum. The Kumbum is a large gold-domed stupa and its many chapels house an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals. Our overnight accommodation is at Hotel Gyantse or similar type.
Day11: Drive to Lhasa
A spectacular day's drive today will take us over the Karo La [5045m] where we are treated to the awesome sight of a huge glacier tumbling down to within a few hundred meters of the road. Beyond the small, developing town of Nagartse, the road follows the bank of a beautiful turquoise lake, the Yamdrok-tso, for about 20 Km we then cross the Khamba La [4794m.] and continue on to Lhasa, where we check in Hote
About Lhasa: Surrounded by colossal mountain ranges in southwestern China, the city of Lhasa ("Place of the Buddhas ") is the spiritual heart of the Tibetan world. Every Tibetan Buddhist aims to visit Lhasa at least once in his or her lifetime. Lhasa rose to prominence following the founding of three large Gelugpa monasteries by Tsong-kha-pa and his disciples in the 15th century. Two centuries later, the Fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso (1617–1682) moved to Lhasa and began construction on the Potala Palace. Today, although most of the temples and monasteries of Lhasa remain active and visited by throngs of Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims, Over 1 million visitors come to Tibet each year. Lhasa tourists and pilgrims alike spend most of their time in the Tibetan Quarter, also known as the Barkhor District, which centers on the sacred Jokhang Temple
Day12: Lhasa sight seeing Sera Monastery, Norbulingka, Jokhang Temple, Bharkor Street
Today will be spent visiting several of Lhasa's many monasteries in the company of a guide and interpreter. One of these is the Sera Monastery, one of the best-preserved monasteries in Tibet. Within its whitewashed walls and golden roofs, several hundred monks live and study. After lunch we'll visit the Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, as well as the Jokhang Temple. This temple is possibly the most sacred shrine in Tibet and there is always a procession of devout Tibetans through the complex. Surrounding the Jokhang is the Barkor - a maze of narrow cobbled streets, which is the central market of Lhasa. The Sera Monastery at the foot of Tatipu Hill is located in the northern suburb of Lhasa City. It is one of three famous monasteries in Lhasa along with the Drepung monastery and the Ganden monastery The Sera Monastery is dedicated to the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Tsong Khapa. Jamchen Chojey, one of Tsong Khapa's disciples built the monastery in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The monastery was named Sera which means wild rose in the Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom when the monastery was built. The monastery is magnificent and covers an area of 114,946 square meters (28 acres). Its main buildings are the Coqen Hall, Zhacang (college) and Kamcun (dormitory). Scriptures written in gold powder, fine statues, scent cloth and unparalleled murals can be found in these halls. Colorful debates on Buddhist doctrines are held here and these employ a style distinctive from those at Lhasa's other famous monasteries. Norbulingka Palace, situated in the west side of Lhasa is just around a km southwest of Potala Palace. Norbulingka meaning 'Treasure Park' covers an area of around 360000 sq. m. and is considered to be the biggest man made garden in Tibet. You will be amazed to know that there are more than 370 rooms inside its premises. It is called summer palace because after the 7th Lama, Dalai Lamas used to visit here during summers to hold religious and government related activities. As a part of "Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace", UNESCO added Norbulingka in its list of world heritage sites. Jokhang Temple was founded in 647 by King Songtsen Gampo (r.617-49), the first ruler of a unified Tibet, and his two foreign wives who are credited with bringing Buddhism to Tibet. The king's first wife, Princess Bhrikuti (married in the 630s), was the sister of the Nepalese king, while his second wife, Princess Wencheng (married 641), was the niece or daughter of the Chinese emperor. The temple was constructed to house a sacred image of the Buddha, the Jowo Rinpoche, which Queen Wengcheng brought with her from China as a dowry. This statue is still enshrined within the temple and is the holiest object in Tibet. Jokhang's interior is a dark and atmospheric labyrinth of chapels dedicated to various gods and bodhisattvas, illuminated by votive candles and thick with the smoke of incense. Although some of the temple has been rebuilt, original elements remain: the wooden beams and rafters have been shown by carbon dating to be original; the Newari door frames, columns and finials date from the 7th and 8th centuries. Barkhor Street or Bazaar is the oldest street in Lhasa, as well as the most representative. It is a place full of religious atmosphere and a world of exotic articles. Traditional Tibetan houses and narrow lanes in and around the street whisper the stories of old Lhasa. Located in the old area of Lhasa City, Tibet, Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Temple. Combining ancient and modern, religious and everyday life in perfect harmony, Barkhor Street is indeed a must-see for all visitors.For tourists, Barkhor Street is a magical place showing the original outlook of Lhasa. The street was paved by hand-polished stone boards.A place full of religious atmosphere Today many pilgrims hold the prayer wheels to walk clockwise there from dawn to dark. Also you can see some pilgrims walking or progressing body-lengths by body-lengths along the street.Even some of them are teenagers or have experienced thousands of miles' walk to reach this sacred place. The way they express their piety could make you understand the holiness of religion.
Day13: Lhasa sight seeing visit Potala Palace, Drepung Monastery
This morning we will visit the Potala Palace, which dominates the city of Lhasa. A spectacular building, it contains the private quarters of the Dalai Lama as well as numerous grand staterooms 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. A visit to the Drepung Monastery this afternoon will complete a truly awe- inspiring day. Founded in the 14th century, this monastery was once the largest in the world, with a population of around 10,000 monks. These days that figure is down to several hundred, but there is still much here of interest as it was left relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution.
Detail Description of Potala Palace: The Potala Palace in Lhasa was the primary residence of the Dalai Lama until 1959. Today the Potala Palace is a state museum, a popular tourist attraction, and a UNESC world heritage site. It was also recently named one of the "New Seven Wonders of the World" by the television show Good Morning America and the newspaper USA Today.
History: This hilltop site above the city of Lhasa originally hosted the meditation retreat of King Songtsen Gampo, who built the first palace there in 637 in order to greet his bride Princess Wencheng of China. Construction of the present palace began in 1645 under the fifth Dalai Lama, Lobsang Gyatso, an important figure in Tibetan history. Known as the "Great Fifth," he unified Tibet and made the Yellow Hat sect the state religion. The White Palace was completed in 1648, after which it was used as winter quarters by the Dalai Lama. Construction on the Red Palace was still underway when the Great Fifth died in 1682. Fearing the project would be abandoned, the monks kept his death a secret for 10 years until the Red Palace was completed. In the meantime, the Dalai Lama was impersonated by a monk who looked most like him.
What to See: Built on a rocky hill overlooking the city of Lhasa, the Potala Palace has a sturdy fortress-like appearance. It contains more than a thousand rooms spreading over an area of 1,300 feet by 1,000 feet. The stone walls are 16 feet thick at the base, but more finely constructed (without the use of nails) in the upper stories. The palace is fronted by a great plaza at the south base of the rock, enclosed by walls and gates. A series of fairly easy staircases, broken by intervals of gentle ascent, leads to the summit of the rock. It is important to become acclimated to the high altitude of Lhasa before making the climb. The Potala Palace is made of two main parts, easily distinguished by their color: the Red Palace and White Palace. The two are joined by a smaller, yellow-painted structure that houses the sacred banners hung on the exterior for the New Year festivals. The rooms inside the palace are identified by numbers as well as names.
Red Palace: The heart of the complex is the Red Palace (Potrang Marpo), painted a deep red and used primarily for religious purposes. Richly decorated with painting, jewelled work, carving and other ornament, it contains several shrines and the tombs of eight past Dalai Lamas. Before the tombs are precious votive offerings, including a pagoda made of 200,000 pearls. Especially celebrated throughout the Red Palace is the fifth Dalai Lama, whose life story is depicted in murals. His mummified body rests inside a 50-foot stupa covered with four tons of gold and encrusted with semi-precious stones. In another chapel he is shown enthroned as an equal to the Buddha. Also impressive is the golden tomb-stupa of the last Dalai Lama (d.1933). The Red Palace also houses the monks' assembly hall, numerous chapels and shrines (dedicated to the full extent of Tibet's pantheon of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, saints and demons) and libraries of important Tibetan Buddhist scriptures (the Kangyur in 108 volumes and the Tengyur in 225, all hand-painted from carved wooden blocks).
White Palace: Surrounding the Red Palace is the secular White Palace (Potrang Karpo), the former home of the Dalai Lama and his monks. Originally built in the 1650s, it was extended to its present size by the 13th Dalai Lama in the early 1900s. The most important shrine in the Potala is the Saint's Chapel in the White Palace, which contains a revered statue of Chenrezi, bodhisattva of compassion. Below the Saint's Chapel is the Dharma Cave, where King Songtsen Gampo studied the Buddhist scriptures after his conversion in the 7th century. These rooms are the oldest part of the Potala Palace.
Detail Description of Drepung Monastery: Founded in 1416, Drepung Monastery on the outskirts of lhasa was once Tibet's largest and most influential monastery, with over 10,000 monks. Today, Drepung houses about 700 monks and attracts pilgrims and visitors from around the world. Drepung is especially known as the site of the annual Shoton Festival, with its dramatic unfurling of a giant thangka painting on the hillside.
History: Drepung Monastery was founded in 1416 by Tsongkapa's disciple Jamyang Choeje. It was the home of the Dalai Lamas before the Potala palace was built in the 17th century. Resembling a heap of white rice from a distance, it was dubbed "Monastery of the Collecting-Rice" (Drepung Gompa) in Tibetan. Drepung lost a major source of income with the death of the charismatic teacher Gen Lamrim in 1997, whose lectures drew devotees from all over the Tibetan world. The monastery therefore gratefully accepts donations from pilgrims and visitors, which can be made in the kitchen.
What to See: The first floor of the Assembly Hall holds a striking statue of Dalai Lama XIII, magnificently lit by filtered sunshine and pungent yak butter lamps. Readings of the scriptures are often held here at midday, during which novices race one another to fetch tea from the kitchen for their elders. To the left (west) of the Assembly Hall is the kitchen, where butter tea is prepared and donations are accepted. The most revered image at Drepung is a 15m (49-ft.) tall statue of the 8-year old Maitreya Buddha (the future Buddha), designed by Tsongkapa and housed on the third floor of the main building. Visitors are offered holy water; to receive it, cup your right hand above your left, take a sip, and splash the rest on your head. The second floor houses Buddhist scriptures and the first floor contains multiple Buddha statues and other decorations. A chapel to the north of the second floor houses a sacred mirror said to cure the facial diseases of those who gaze into it. Several courtyards in the forest around the monastery are used by the monks for debating the sutras (Buddhist scriptures). The winners of the debates can take a test to earn the senior degree of Geshi.
Festivals and Events: Before the 17th century, Buddhist discipline required monks to stay in their temples for weeks in the summer. This prevented them stepping on small creatures outside for a time, and taught them to live in harmony with one another. When finally allowed to leave their confinement, monks went down to the mountains, where laymen would prepare yogurt for them as alms. The monks enjoyed the yogurt and happily celebrated their newfound freedom. This is the origin of the Shoton Festival at Drepung, which takes place every August. Today, the Shoton Festival is a time for monks to go the mountains for contemplation, after which time their families will meet them on the mountainside. Many lay Buddhists make a pilgrimage to Drepung during this time and participate in the festivities, which include performances by the Tibetan Opera. The Shoton Festival begins with the dramatic unfurling of a giant thangka banner of the Buddha, amidst incense smoke, the sound of bugles, and scripture recitations. Devotees rush to make offerings before it is rolled up again in less than two hours.
Day14: Departure from Lhasa Flight - Kathmandu
Sadly we leave Lhasa early in the morning for the 2-hour drive to Gongkar Airport and our flight back to Kathmandu or your onward destination. The Air China Boeing 757 takes us right across the main Himalayan range and the mountain views are spectacular. Tibet warm heartily welcome you back home forever. We would love to send you our best wishes for your continue happy journey.