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Namtso & Yangpachen-Tsurphu Trek

An excellent trip for those interested in the semi-nomadic lifestyle of the Tibetan herders (drokpa). After exploring some of the many wonders of Lhasa head north to the spectacular turquoise blue lake, Nam-tso. The lovely Tashi Dor peninsula is home to myriad species of migrating birds, a small gompa, hermitage caves and it is a popular place for herders to camp.

The rugged walk from the broad, windswept Yangpachen Valley, through alpine valleys to cross the Lasar-La (5300m) takes place at over 4400m, a scenically stunning combination of sweeping mountain panoramas and alpine tundra.

From Tsurphu, one of the most important monasteries in Tibet, return to Lhasa to either fly back to Kathmandu or continue on an amazing overland journey across the roof of the world.

Where are you going?

Days 1-2 : Flying into Kathmandu is an unforgettable experience with the Himalaya spread out before you. You will be met at the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel. In the morning of day 2 a half-day city tour will introduce you to some of the highlights of Kathmandu.

Day 3: The flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa is spectacular. From Gongkar airport it is about 1½ hours' drive to Lhasa, first along the Yarlung Tsangpo then into the Kyi Chu Valley.

Days 4-6 : With a relaxed pace to allow for the effects of altitude, explore this fantastic city on the roof of the world. The spiritual heart of Tibet is the Jokhang Temple and every morning is full of life as pilgrims bring offerings of butter and barley flour. The Potala Palace rises above the city and, more than any other sight, symbolizes the history and culture of Tibet. Nearby are the huge monastic universities of Drepung and Sera – still active institutions.

Day 7 : The sacred lake, Nam-tso, is the second largest in China and utterly stunning. Yak, sheep, goats and horses graze the rich surrounding grasslands, the snow covered Nyenchen Tanglha dominates the southern skyline and the whole area is temporary home to hundreds of migrating birds. The rocky Tashidor peninsula is the site of numerous hermit caves and a small monastery with a lovely, short kora.

Day 8 : Drive to Yangpachen Gompa, head monastery of the Karma Kagyupa Zharmapa. Many of its monks, including the head monk, have fled to Sikkim and have become embroiled in the debate over the legitimacy of the 17 th Karmapa.

Day 9 : Fantastic views of the trans-Himalaya mark the Yangpachen Valley as you ascend towards Dorje Ling Nunnery. The simplicity of the red-painted, central Lhakhang reflects the attitudes and life-style of the 50-odd friendly nuns who live here.

Day 10 : A ridge gives provides fantastic views of Nyenchen Tangla (7111m), holiest mountain in central Tibet and home to a god of the same name. Juniper bushes cover the hillsides around the small dropka village of Bartso.

Day 11 : Behind you the broad Yangpachen Valley spreads below the Nyenchen Tanghla range, dividing southern Tibet from the Changtang. The views are superb as you climb the valley towards the pass, to the north is the heavily glaciated peak of Brize and to the west, the distinctive pinnacle of Tarze. Brize is the female yak herder and Tarze the horse keeper, both belonging to the mythical society ruled by the mountain god Nyenchen Tanghla.Descending from the Lasar-La (5300m) cross an arctic tundra-like valley before climbing to pass a spur known as Damchen Nyingtri, which is sacred to the god ruling the area. Overnight at the permanent drokpa settlement of Leten.

Day 12 : From the ridge the narrow valley leads via a herder's camp to reach Tsurphu's kora as it enters the wooded garden. Tsurphu was founded by the first Karmapa in 1189 and remains the head monastery of the Karma Kagyupa order. The current, 17 th , Karpama fled to India in 2000. Many Karma Kagyupa followers are from eastern Tibet and it is a great place to watch impressively clothed and bejeweled Khampa pilgrims.

Day 13 : Drive back to Lhasa with the afternoon free for further sightseeing or shopping.

Day 14: Cross the Khamba La and Kora La (passes), along the shores of Lake Yamdrok Tso to Gyantse. Once an important trading town, Gyantse retains a feel of ‘old' Tibet.

OR: Early departure fro Gongkar airport and return flight to Kathmandu.

Day 15: In the morning visit Gyantse's monastery – Pelkor Choede – and the justifiably famous Kumbum, within the same complex. There may also be time to visit the dzong (fort) that towers above the town. In the afternoon we make the short (2-3 hour) drive along the valley to Shigatse.

Day 16: Tashilhunpo is 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 afternoon we drive to Xegar.

Day 17 : Turn off the Friendship Highway for a stunning drive through Qomolangma National Park to reach the tiny Rhongphu Gompa at 5000m. The view from here is utterly spectacular!

Day 18: Trek or drive the 7kms to Everest Base Camp (5200m) before heading to Lao Tingri via a rough, yet scenic track crossing small rivers and passes.

Day 19: Another high pass gives a last, spectacular view of the Himalaya before we leave the Tibetan Plateau, descending to Zhangmu – on the China-Nepal border.

Day 20: Completing border formalities the drive back to Kathmandu continues down the Bote Khosi valley.

Day 21: Depart

Namtso Lake


Day Altitude
Arrive Kathmandu
Fly to Gongkar
1 hr
drive to Lhasa
1½ hrs
6 hrs
3 hrs
trek Dorje Ling
4 hrs
trek Bartso
5 hrs
trek Lhasar-La
5 hrs
trek Leten
trek Tsurphu
4 hrs
2 hrs
9 hrs
3 hrs
6 hrs
5 hrs
Everest Base Camp
Lao Tingti
4 hrs
6 hrs
6 hrs

Trip Grade: Moderate
Trek Grade: 4 (4 days)
Duration: 21 Days
Trip style: Combination hotel/guest house & fully supported camping.
Best time to go: May - October

If you are restricted by time, you may choose to fly Lhasa-Kathmandu on Day 14. To do this you must have flown into Lhasa on a Tuesday flight.

For detail information and reservation




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