The North Face of Everest (LZT-EBC-17)
Base Camp on the north face of the world's highest mountain is much more accessible than from the southern Nepalese side, even though the altitude is much the same.
This overland journey between Lhasa and Kathmandu includes all the highlights of central Tibet - the sights of Lhasa, the high passes bordering Yamdrok-tso, Gyantse and Shigatse - and incorporates a 4 day trek through the Qomolangma Nature Reserve to Rhongphu Monastery and Base Camp.
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: A long, yet scenic day's drive across 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.
Day 8: 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 9: 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.
Days 10-13 : Entering Qomolangma Nature Preserve the route heads up towards the Geu-La (5170), a more attractive route than that flowed by the road across the Pang-La. There are usually a number of herders' camps as you head up the valley. The Geu-La is festooned with prayer flags and cairns and reveals a dramatic view of the Himalaya Makalu, Qomolangma, Cho Oyo and Shisha Pangma.
Heading towards the Dzaka valley pass the ancient fortified settlement of Dzongkog Pongdro. The area supports a number of small settlements surrounded by barley fields, pea and mustard fields- amongst them is the small town of Tashi Dzom, headquarters of the region.
On the hill behind Pasum is the tiny monastery of Dzabug, home to a handful of monks. The route continues up the valley through fields and pasture.
Meeting the Zombuk Valley the trail turns south into much drier terrain, sheer rock slopes now form the sides of the valley. The ruins of hermitages and a nunnery are visible on the hillsides. The view as you round the corner and first glimpse Rhongphu Monastery with Qomolangma behind, filling the valley is one of the most awesome in Tibet. Rhongphu was established in 1902, although there have been hermitages in the area for centuries, and can claim to be the highest monastery in the world.
Day 14 : From Rhongphu to base camp is a 1½ to 2 hour walk of 7kms, continuing along the barren, 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.
Day 15: 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 16: Completing border formalities the drive back to Kathmandu continues down the Bote Khosi valley.
Day 17: Depart