23 days Kharta Valley Trekking
Khata Valley trek is an absolute classic and quite special with only a few people trekking this region in a year. A real Tibetan journey passing through some of the most spectacular landscapes, several other verdant tiny valleys along the way which are dotted with beautiful lakes on a journey to the Khangshung face, the Eastern face of the Mt. Everest...Khata Valley trek is a quite isolated region borders Mt. Everest in the Western side, to the southern side lays the jagged Himalayan range of Mt. Makalu, north and east lays the dry Tibetan Plateau. Kharta Valley trekking region is famous for its pristine wilderness, amazing, incredible views of Mt. Makalu 8480m, beautiful lakes and breathtaking view of Mt. Karma Changri 6295m along with the massive Khangsung glacier. This is a real journey into Tibet, the 'Abode of the Snows' and land of Lamas, where nomads in yak-hair tents roam the plateaus with their yaks, a land of spectacular, snow-topped peaks and the wonderful, spirited Tibetan people themselves.
Detail Trekking Itinerary Day to Day
Day1: Arrive Lhasa
Upon your arrival at Lhasa airport or train station our representative will meet and transfer to your hotel in Lhasa. Afternoon have a good rest to acclimatize the high altitude. Overnight at Lhasa.
Day2, 3, 4: Potala palace, Jokhang temple, Norbulingka, Ganden Monastery, Tsurphu Monastery, Barkhor market
Over the following three days we visit the palaces, Buddhist temple, Stupa and monasteries of Lhasa with Local guide. Most afternoons will be free to discover the endlessly interesting markets, walk around Jokhang temple with the numerous other pilgrims, or perhaps best of all, sit in Barkhor square and immerse you in the exotic atmosphere. There is also the option of additional tours to places such as Ganden Monastery and Tsurphu Monastery at an extra cost.
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, and 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, jeweled 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 Buddha’s, 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.
JOKHANG TEMPLE: Jokhang Temple ("House of the Lord") in lhasa is the holiest site in Tibetan Buddhism, attracting crowds of prostrating Tibetan pilgrims and curious foreign tourists every year. It hosts the annual Great Prayer Festival, as well as all ceremonies of initiation for the Dalai Lama and Panchen Llamas.
History: 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 Wencheng brought with her from China as a dowry. This statue is still enshrined within the temple and is the holiest object in Tibet. Various traditions explain the foundation of the temple. In one version, Queen Bhrikuti founded the temple to house the statue, while Queen Wencheng chose the site based on the principles of geomancy (feng shui). Another legend says that the king threw his ring into the air, asking the spirits to show him where to build the temple. The ring fell into a lake, from which a Stupa emerged. The lake was filled in to support Jokhang Temple, whose central shrine was built over the miraculous Stupa. The temple has been regularly expanded over the years, including extensive reconstruction under the fifth Dalai Lama in the 17th century. Remarkably, however, the core of the temple is still original from the 7th century.
What to See: Tourists can only tour Jokhang Temple in the afternoon; the morning is reserved for pilgrims. The best way to experience the temple is to arrive at 8am to watch the pilgrims perform their devotions, then visit the interior in the afternoon. The temple is relatively quiet then, Tibetan Local tour guides. Standing four stories tall and covering an area of about 25,000 square meters in the heart of Lhasa, Jokhang Temple combines local Tibetan elements with influences from Nepal, China and India. In the front is a large plaza and open porch, which is usually filled with prostrate Tibetan pilgrims. The exterior of the temple is decorated with deer and wheel motifs, early symbols of Buddhism. Both represent the Buddha's first sermon, in which he "turned the wheel of the Dharma" in a deer park near Varanasi, India. 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. The main cloister is ringed with large prayer wheels, kept spinning throughout the day by pilgrims. The cloister leads to the central hall, which contains Jokhang Temple's star attraction: the Jowo Rinpoche (or Jowo Shakyamuni) this life-sized (5 foot/1.5m) statue of the Buddha at age 12 is the holiest object in Tibet. Probably originating in India, it was brought to Lhasa as part of the Chinese Princess Wencheng dowry in 641. The richly gilded and bejeweled image is flanked by altars of King Songtsen Gampo and his two wives, who together introduced Buddhism into Tibet. The third floor contains an image of Paden Lhamo, fierce protector of both Lhasa and the Dalai Lama. She is said to have murdered her own child to bring her husband to his senses and put an end to his endless military campaigns. The roof is accessible and provides fine views over the temple, the Barkhor path and the Potala Palace. A chapel on the south side of the complex contains more recent yab-yum images of sexual union. Many mistakenly believe tantric practice has no place in the "reformed" Geluk School, but Tsongkhapa simply restated the principle that only advanced practitioners should engage in tantric sex.
Pilgrimage: Jokhang Temple is a very important pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Buddhists. Pilgrims come from all corners of Tibet, usually on foot and often performing austerities for penance along the way. The most devout pilgrims cover the last several miles prostrate on the ground. More prostrations are undertaken in the plaza in front of the temple. Before entering, most pilgrims circumambulate the temple on the Barkhor, a sacred path that is also lined with market stalls selling yak butter and jewelry. Inside the temple, pilgrims make their way gradually to the central shrine, often crawling on their hands and knees or prostrate on their bellies. They hum prayers while also spinning prayer wheels, and bring offerings (typically white scarves and yak butter for the votive candles) to the many chapels that ring the shrine. Finally, they pray before the sacred image of the Jowo Shakyamuni.
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.
Ganden means "joyful" and is the Tibetan name for Tushita. The heaven where the bodhisattva Maitreya is said to reside. It was the original monastery of the Gelugpa order, founded by Je Tsongkhapa himself in 1409, and traditionally considered to be the seat of Gelugpa. It was the original monastery of the Gelugpa order, founded by Je Tsongkhapa himself in 1409, and traditionally considered to be the seat of Gelugpa administrative. The Ganden Tripa or 'throne-holder of Ganden' is the head of the Gelugpa School.
Tsongkhapa 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 before 1959 (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 300 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 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.
Tsurphu Monastery: Lying to the northwest of Lhasa at Tolung. Tsurphu Monastery was founded by the first Karmapa, Dusum Khyenpa in 1189. In 1263, it was rebuilt by the Karmapa II, Karma Pakshi. It is the main monastery of the Kamtsang Kagyu Tradition. This tradition is among the four major Dagpo Kagyu lineages directly deriving from disciples of Gampopa. Tsurphu has been the traditional seat of the Activity of the Karmapas.?From the II up to the IV, all the Karmapas had visited China and Mongolia. They also taught the Mongol Emperors of China. In North China there are numerous monasteries found by them. They also found the place what the Manchus many centuries later called "Inner Mongolia." Khochiti Khambo is the main Kagyu Lineage monastery of Mongolia. It is located in the Shilinggol District of Inner Mongolia. It was also a branch of Tsurphu Monastery.
Tsurphu Kora. It takes two hours to walk the Tsurphu kora. But it could be hard if you have not got used to the altitude yet. If you have, then it will provide you with a beautiful view of past springs, shrines and meditation retreats, as well as the view of Tsurphu below. If you want to see more, you can follow the kora, taking the track from the west of Tsurphu. The track leads up to a walled garden. On the way, it also foes past walls of many stones. There is a sky burial site. And you can also follow the can that goes up the hill to a small pass marked by prayer flags. Here you can sew all the colorful kora dancing with the winds in all directions, just on the ridges above the monastery. And finally, you can go up to the Samtenling retreat. It is recommended that you pay a visit there before descending eastward. Because after the descending, you will go into a gully locating to the chorten at the northeastern corner of the monastery. After visiting all the sites at and around Tsurphu Monastery, trekking from Tsurphu to Yangpachen will add more interests to your trip. This rugged walk cross several high valleys before emerging into the broad and windswept Yangpachen valley. The best time for this trekking is from April to October.
The Barkhor Bazaar Highlights: 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.
Marketplace Barkhor Street is also a marketplace in which visitors can buy many beautiful souvenirs. Varied shops stand on both sides of the street and thousands of floating stands are on every corner. Most of them offer the prayer wheels, long-sleeve 'Chuba' (the Tibetan people's traditional clothes), Tibetan knives and some religious articles for sale. Furthermore, some shops sell 'Thangka' (the Tibetan scroll painting), which is a unique art of Tibet with the themes of religion, history, literature, science and customs. Surprisingly, there are some articles from India and Nepal in this street as well.
Day5: Lhasa-Yamdrok lake- Gyantse
A long, yet scenic day's drive across the Khamba La and Kora La passes, along the shores of Lake Yamdrok Tso to Gyangtse. Once an important trading town, Gyangtse retains a feel of ‘old' Tibet. Over night at hotel.
Yamdrok Lake is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet. It is over 72 km (45 mi) long. The lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and is fed by numerous small streams. The lake does have an outlet stream at its far western end. Around 90 km to the west of the lake lies the Tibetan town of Gyangtse and Lhasa is a hundred km to the northeast. According to local mythology, Yamdrok Yumtso lake is the transformation of a goddess.
Gyantse: is a small agricultural town is at 13, 050 ft above sea level and is famous for its wool carpets and Palkhor Chode chorten. The Palkhor Monastery built in 1427, is notable for its superb Kumbum (10,000 images) Stupa, which has nice tiers and, according to the Buddhist tradition, 108 chapels. The lower tiers contain excellent murals.
A Kumbum ("One hundred thousand holy images", is a multi-storied aggregate of Buddhist chapels in Tibet. It forms part of Palcho monastery. The first Kumbum was founded in the fire-sheep year 1427 by a Gyangtse prince. It has nine Lhakhangs or levels, is 35 meters (115 ft) high surmounted by a golden dome, and contains 77 chapels which line its walls. Many of the statues were damaged during the Cultural Revolution but have since been replaced with clay images, though they lack the artistic merit of the originals. The 14th century murals showing Newari and Chinese influences, survived much better. The Kumbum or great gomang (many-doors) chorten at Gyangtse is a three dimensional Mandala, meant to portray the Buddhist cosmos. The Kumbum, like other Mandalas, which are portrayed by a circle within a square, enables the devotee to take part in the Buddhist perception of the universe and can depict one's potential as they move through it. Mandalas are meant to aid an individual on the path to enlightenment. The Kumbum holds a vast number of images of deities throughout its structure with Vajra holder the cosmic Buddha, at the top.
Day6: Morning visit Gyangtse Monastery
Palkhor Chode – and the justifiably famous Kumbum, within the same complex. We will try our best to take you to visit the Dzong (fort) that towers above the town. In the afternoon we make the short (90 km, 2 hours) drive along the valley to Shigatse. Over night at hotel.
Day7: Drive to Shigatse
Visit Shigatse city including Tashilhunpo monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, second only in importance to the Dalai Lama. Its numerous halls contain a 21.6-meter wooden statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha and elaborate, jewel encrusted reliquary chorten. In the early afternoon we drive to Shekar. Over night at hotel. in Shigatse you ca n visit Tashilunpo monastery which is seat of great 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.
Our trekking begins with a gentle hike up the Kharta Valley, passing wealthy farmhouses and fields. After lunch we turn south and ascend to our camp in what the English called the Valley of Lakes. Overnight in tents.
Walking up the chain of alpine lakes, reminiscent of marvelously magnified Colorado timberline country, to our camp below the Shao La (15, 300 feet). From here, if the weather permits, we have a chance to view of the massive Mt. Makalu and Mt. Everest. Overnight in tents.
We reach the Shao La (15, 300 feet) Pass in early morning and as we descend on tundra gives way to stunning green, gold, and pastel red vegetation: juniper, silver fir, mountain ash, and rhododendron. We make camp near the mouth of a superb side valley that plunges a thousand feet to the Kama River .Over night in tents.
Trek Begins with a steep winding climb through a Japanese wood-block forest. Wecontour above the Kama Valley, through dwarf rhododendron and blue primula, looking down-valley deep into Nepal, across to the looming mountain wall, dripping with hanging glaciers, and ahead for our first views of Everest. We camp near a pretty lake at 14,500 feet; just over a rise peek the summits of Chomolonzo (25,551 feet), Lhotse, and Everest. Overnight in tents.
W e continues contouring to a spot called Sakyetang on the best map of the area, the "Mount Everest Region" 1:100,000 maps published by the Royal Geographic Society (more on this map at itinerary's end). From here we look Kangshung Valley and three of the world's five highest mountains. The summit of Mount Everest is only 18 miles away. From Sakyetang we drop down to the confluence of the Kangshung and Kama valleys, cross a bridge, and hike into the Kangshung, camping in a clearing in dense foliage at about 14,150 feet . Lt. Col. C.K. Howard-Bury, who led the first expedition into these parts, wrote in Mount Everest,: the Reconnaissance, 1921: "It was very curious to see fir trees, birch, and juniper, and a very luxuriant vegetation growing on either side of the ice and the moraines beneath it." Overnight in tents.
Further trek takes us into the heart of the "valley like no other." We ascend gradually on a pleasant trail through willows and wind flowers, then steeply up and across a landslide - caused a decade ago by the slow collision of the Kandongshung Glacier with the mountainside we're walking on to a meadowy morainal shelf above the tumbling gray mass of the Kangshung Glacier. Few hours further on are our high camp, Pethang Ringmo. Overnight in tents.
Pethang Ringmo was discovered by George Mallory and G.H. Bullock on that first expedition. When Howard-Bury joined them there he found: “...a most delightfully sunny spot at 16,400 feet, right under the gigantic and marvelously beautiful cliffs of Chomolonzo...separated from us by the Kangshung Glacier, here about a mile wide. Everest from here is seen to fill up the head of the valley with a most formidable circle of cliffs overhung by hanging glaciers.” Overnight in tents.
Some of us will want to get closer to the gargantuan East Face. Depending on the weather and other factors, our trip leader will decide if it is possible to hike to "Land's End". The walk takes a couple of hours along the grassy shelf and ends up overlooking the glacier at just over 17,000 feet. Only the daunting glacier separates us from the immense Kangshung wall. The summit of Everest is just over eight horizontal and two and a third vertical miles away. We're nearly encircled by mountains: (from the right) Khartse, the mass of Everest. Over night in tents.
Climb steeply to a point near Sakyetang, then contour northward, the whole Everest extravaganza just in back of us, and ascend to a camp next by an austere lake at 16,385 feet. The sunrise from this camp can be almost frighteningly spectacular; in a few intense moments Everest and the whole panoply of peaks change from cold pewter to rose, to gold, to blinding white. Above the camp is the 17,600 foot Langma La. Overnight in tents.
in few hours for last views of Chomolungma, Goddess Mother of the World and her towering court. From Langma La we descend a couple of thousand feet (passing a rare rock glacier on the way), back into Tibet, as it were, to camp (14,000 feet). Overnight in tents.
Mount Everest "Holy Mother" is the earth's highest mountain, with a peak at 8,848 metres (29,029 ft) above sea level. It is located in the Mahalangur, section of the Himalayas . The international border between Tibet and Nepal runs across the precise summit point. Its massif includes neighboring peaks Lhotse, 8,516 m (27,940 ft); Nuptse , 7,855 m (25,771 ft); and Changtse , 7,580 m (24,870 ft).
In 1856, the great trigonometric survey of established the first published height of Everest, then known as Peak XV, at 29,002 ft (8,840 m). In 1865, Everest was given its official English name by the Royal Geographical society upon a recommendation by Andrew Waugh, the British Surveyor Generalof india . Waugh named the mountain after his predecessor in the post, Sir George everest . Although Tibetans had called Everest "Chomolungma" for centuries, Waugh was unaware of this because Nepal and Tibet were closed to foreigners.
The highest mountain on the earth attracts many well-experienced mountaineers as well as capable climbers willing to hire professional guides. While not posing substantial technical climbing challenges on the standard route, Everest presents dangers such as altitude sickness, weather and wind.
We descend to the Khata Valley, farmhouses, fields, yaks, and kids, into the riverside camp where we began (12,500 feet). Overnight in tents.
Day19: Drive from Khata to Rongbuk Base Camp.
Over night in tents or local guest house.
Day20: Rongbuk to Everest Base Camp (2 to 3 hour walk of 7kms)
Continuing along the barren and rock strewn valley. This is followed by a fantastic drive through almost uninhabited valleys to the small town of Lao Tingri. Catch as last view of the mountain from here. Another high pass gives a last, spectacular view of the Himalaya before descending to Nyalam. Over night at local guest house or in tents.
Day21: Descending to Zhangmu
On the China-Nepal border. Completing border formalities the drive back to Kathmandu continues down the Bote Khosi valley. Over night at hotel in Kahtmandu.
Day22: Free Day for relaxing and shopping in Kathmandu
Nepal Over night at hotel.
Day23: Final Departure.
Your beautiful Tibet Tour end here and Tibet warmheartedly welcome you back home forever.