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Welcome to Nepal and the start of your Himlayan Adventure. Arrive Kathmandu airport and transfer to hotel. This evening enjoy a welcome drink and briefing.
Kathmandu is a fascinating blend of old and new, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Nepal and yet in places, seemingly unchanged since the middle-ages with temples, shrines and living gods. We spend the day exploring the Kathmandu Valley; highlights include the Buddhist Swayambhunath Pagoda and the colossal Bodhnath. We also visit Patan Durbar square, which is brimming with temples and unique architecture. This evening enjoy dinner and a dance performance at the cultural village.
This morning head to the skies for the fantastic scenic flight to Tibet - the ‘Roof of the World’. Rising more than 2 miles above sea level the Tibetan plateau is a mystical realm of breathtaking mountain scenery, spectacular Buddhist architecture and fascinating culture. Upon arrival transfer to Lhasa, where the rest of the day is free to relax and acclimatize.
Our exploration of Lhasa begins today, we travel to the Potala Palace - an enduring symbol of Lhasa and the winter home of the Dalai Lama. Our sightseeing also includes the monastery of Drepung; once the largest monastery in the world, home to 10,000 monks, but tragically torn asunder during the Cultural Revolution and still rebuilding its walls and status today.
Enjoy a full day of sightseeing in the fabled city of Lhasa, visiting the 15th century Drepung Monastery, formerly one of the largest monasteries in Tibet, once housing 10,000 monks and bustling Barkhor Street. The highlight of the day is a visit to Jokhang Temple, the most sacred and important temple in Tibet and also the most captivating. There is an electric atmosphere as crowds of pilgrims travel around the chapels, praying and prostrating themselves.
Departing Lhasa we drive to Shigatse. The journey is incredibly scenic, crossing two mountain passes, the Kambala pass (4794m) and Karola (5010m) pass via the beautiful lake Yamdrok Tso. Then we pass Gyantse with its main highlight the Kumbum, constructed in 1440, it is an eight storey building and the best preserved example of unique Tibetan architecture. Kumbum means “a hundred thousand images” and this fabulous building is lavishly decorated, with paintings smothering the walls and topped with a gold dome. After sightseeing at the Kumbum stupa and Phalor Monastery in Gyantse we continue our journey to Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city.
This morning a visit to Tashilunpo Monastery; a huge monastic compound of golden roofed buildings and cobbled lanes, founded by the first Dalai Lama in 1447. Be prepared for a bumpy ride driving through the spellbinding Everest Region to Xegar which was once the Capital of the Tingri region. Here we visit the impressive Xegar Dzong (fortress).
This morning drive the Pangla pass to the Rongbuk; at 4930metres above sea level, it is the world’s highest monastery and the spectacular views of Everest’s north face are well worth the arduous journey. The Himalayas boast eight out of the ten highest mountains in the world and extend across 2400 kilometres. The mighty Mount Everest has the world’s tallest peak and today we visit it’s famous base camp; the starting point of many intrepid expeditions to reach its lofty summit. We spend a few hours exploring the area before taking a short drive south to the town of Old Tingri (via the stunning Lamna pass), where we spend the night.
Today begin the journey back to Nepal, driving up to the steep Lalung La Pass, where we’ll be treated to some amazing views of the Himalayas and Everest, before our sharp decent along narrow windy roads, through lush forested mountainsides and deep gorges. Continue to the Tibet-Nepal border town of Zangmu. Crossing the border back into Nepal we stop at a border resort for the night where bungee jumping and rafting are available to book locally if you’re feeling adventurous! Overnight - Nepal Border (permanent tented camp) (B)
Today we drive to Bhaktapur, a typical Newari town. Despite its close proximity to Kathmandu, Bhaktapur seems worlds apart. This enchanting old town is peacefully traffic free and has retained its centuries old traditions, crafts and trades. Bhaktapur Durbar Square is home to beautifully carved Malla dynasty palaces and pagodas and the cobblestone streets, temples, shrines and squares are full of character.
This morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Bhutan. Upon arrival at Paro airport you will be met by our local rep and transferred to your hotel. After lunch, enjoy a visit to the Paro Rinpung Dzong “the Fort of the heap of Jewels” which houses the Paro Monastic body, Paro District Civil Administration and the Paro District Court. On the way back to the hotel visit Kyichu Lhakhang, built in 638 AD under the order of the Tibetan King Songtsengampo, it is one of the oldest temples in Bhutan.
After an early breakfast, drive for approx 1.5 hours to Thimphu, capital of Bhutan. This afternoon visit the Memorial Chorten built in memory of Late His Majesty, the 3rd King of Bhutan. Also visit a handmade paper unit. Bhutan boasts of some of the best handmade papers in the world. The Handicrafts Emporium is yet another interesting place to visit, where you will fine an excellent variety of well woven Bhutanese textiles. The rest of the afternoon is free for you to explore the Thimphu market
After breakfast walk around Thimphu city and then drive on to Punakha. Stop for lunch at Docho la, where if the weather permits you’ll be treated to an incredible panoramic view of the Bhutanese Himalayas. Punakha is a 2.5 hour drive from Thimphu. After crossing Docho la the vegetation changes from predominantly Blue Pine forest to a greater variety of plants and trees. In spring, it is colorful with all the Rhododendrons and Magnolias in bloom. Upon arrival in Punakha check into hotel, refresh and then drive up the valley to visit the Dzong in all its splendor.
After an early breakfast visit Wangde Dzong en route to Chimi Lhakhang. A beautiful temple standing all alone on a small hill overlooking the Puna Tshangchu river belt, Chimi Lhakhang is the Holy place of Lama Drukpa Kuenley, also known as Divine Mad man. The temple is very sacred for the Bhutanese and thousands of people who visit Chimi Lhakhang do so to pray for children - either people with no children seeking fertility or those who have children, seek protection for them. Return to your hotel for lunch before driving back to Paro.
After an early breakfast we transfer to the airport for the morning flight to Kathmandu, arriving into the city around 08:30 am you can catch your onward connecting flight home.