TIBET, THE LAND OF SNOWS, is known as the roof of the world. Tibet is dominated by the vast, dry Tibetan plateau, a region roughly the size of Western Europe, with an average elevation of 4,700m (15,400 ft.). For centuries, this mysterious Buddhist kingdom, locked away in its mountain fastness of the Himalaya, has exercised a unique hold on the imagination of the West. For explorers, imperialists and traders it was a forbidden land of treasure and riches. Dreamers on a spiritual quest have long whispered of a lost Shangri-la, steeped in magic and mystery. It offers fabulous monastery sights, breathtaking high-altitude treks, stunning views of the world’s highest mountains and one of the most likeable peoples you will ever meet. There are over 800 settlements in Tibet. Lhasa is Tibet’s traditional capital and the capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. It contains two world heritage sites – the Potala Palace and Norbulingka, which were the residences of the Dalai Lama. Lhasa contains a number of significant temples and monasteries, including Jokhang and Sera. Extend your journey to Gyantse, in the Nyang-chu Valley, famed for the largest chörten (stupa) in Tibet and Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city. The adventurous extension trip will take you past glittering mountain turquoise lakes and over high passes draped with prayer flags.