Lhasa- Yamdrok Tso Lake- Gyantse- Shigatse- Lhasa

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.

Breakfast. On arrival at Gonggar airport, you will be met and driven to Lhasa. Transfer to Hotel. Lhasa, the remote abode of the Dalai Lamas, object of devout pilgrimage and heart and soul of Tibet, is a city of wonders. It is the second most populous city on the Tibetan Plateau, after Xining, and at an altitude of 3,490 meters (11,450 ft), Lhasa is one of the highest cities in the world. The city contains many culturally significant Tibetan Buddhist sites such as the Potala Palace, Jokhang temple and Norbulingka palaces. Rest of the day at leisure to acclimatize to the high altitude. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning tour of Potala Palace, the dominant landmark of Lhasa, rising up to 117 meters above the city below. An immense building, 13 storeys high with walls 3 meters thick, containing over 1000 rooms, 10,000 shrines and 200,000 statues it was both residence of the current Dalai Lama and tomb of the former Heads of state. The entire building is made of stone and wood and covers an area of 130,000 square meters. Also, visit Jokhang, the real spiritual heart of the city. The foremost monastery in Tibet, built in the 7th century AD houses the most prized Buddhist relic, a 1300 year old Sakyamuni Buddha statue. Afternoon, visit the Sera Monastery. It is the main teaching monastery and one of the three great Gelukpa 'Universities' - once housing more than 5500 monks. Here one can see the young novices learning scriptures in the Debating Garden and being rewarded for a correct answer with a resounding hand-clap from their Master. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning tour of the Drepung Monastery and a Carpet Factory. Drepung monastery is situated in the west suburbs of Lhasa city, over the side of a mountain. It was formerly, the largest and richest monastery in the world with 10,000 monks (now 400). From the roof of the monastery, enjoy the natural beauty of the Lhasa valley. Afternoon visit the Norbulignka Palace or the Jewel Park. Covering a total area of 360,000 square meters, the park was originally laid out in the 1750s. There are fountains, pavilions, terraces and stone tablets amidst the numerous kinds of flowers and various colors. Norbulingka is also the site of the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas (8th-14th century). The small palace of the 13th Dalai Lama is an odd mix of traditional Tibetan architecture and modern paraphernalia. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning drive along the Yamdrok-Tso Lake to Gyantse (3,950 meters). The breathtaking view at Khamba La allows one to see all the way to the summit of Nazin Kang Sa. While continuing west we travel over the Karo La, a high pass surrounded by stupendous glaciers. The rest of the day will be spent enjoying the many magnificent valleys and exquisite Tibetan villages we pass through. Gyantse was once Tibet's third most important city, lying in the Nyangchu valley along the main routes from India and Nepal to Lhasa. In former times it was a fort, the centre of Tibet's wool trade and a gateway to the outside world. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning tour of the Palcho Monastery and Kumbum Pagoda. This magnificent tiered structure is the largest stupa in all of Tibet, and is packed with Tibetan sculptures and paintings. Short drive to Shigatse (3,990 meters), the second largest city in Tibet. Afternoon visit the Tahilhumpo Monastery, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet which was also able to last through the Cultural Revolution nearly unscathed. Overnight at Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning drive back to Lhasa. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning tour of Ganden Monastery, one of the 'great three' Gelukpa university monasteries of Tibet. Rest of the day at leisure to explore Barkhor Bazaar, etc. on your own. Overnight at the Hotel.

Breakfast. Morning transfer to the airport for your flight back home.

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