• Tibet
  • Nepal

Overview

Explore the history of these nations & how it has effected the preservation of religious beliefs & practices. Also, consider the impact tourism’s commodification of ethnicity has had on the social, religious & economic landscape of these countries.

Highlights

  • Kathmandu - Visit Boudhanath, one of the oldest & largest Buddhist stupas in Nepal. In Bhaktapur’s Durbar Square, see the 15th-century Palace of 55 Windows & Golden Gate as well as the Lion Gate & the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla.
  • The "Three Great Temples" - Visit the Sera Monastery (c. 762), the first official Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Then, see the Ganden Monastery which stands atop the six famous temples of Gelugpa - a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Complete the trio with a visit to Drepung Monastery, the largest of all Tibetan monasteries, located on the Gambo Utse mountain.
  • Yarlung Valley - Visit the Sera Monastery (c. 762), the first official Buddhist monastery in Tibet. Then, see the Ganden Monastery which stands atop the six famous temples of Gelugpa - a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Complete the trio with a visit to Drepung Monastery, the largest of all Tibetan monasteries, located on the Gambo Utse mountain.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1: Kathmandu

Upon arrival to the airport in Kathmandu, you’ll be met by your guide and transferred for a welcome dinner.

Day 2: Changunarayan

This morning, drive to Changunarayan where you’ll hike to Telkot (approx. 2 hours).
Drive to Bhaktapur, home to the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. This “City of Devotees” is the smallest city in the Kathmandu Valley. Many of the temples in the square were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake, and several structures were damaged. Its main square, or “Layaku,” is famous for its 15th-century Palace of 55 Windows and Golden Gate. In front of the palace stand important landmarks such as the Lion Gate and the statue of King Bhupatindra Malla. 

Day 3: Pharping

Start your day with a drive to Pharping, a Newai town and pilgrimage site for Mahayana Buddhists on their way to see Guru Padmasambhava’s meditation cave. Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, was an 8th-century Indian Buddhist master who helped build the first Buddhist monastery in Tibet. He is regarded as the second Buddha across Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and the Himalayan states of India.
Hike to Champadevi, one of the great places to see the impressive Himalayas. From its lofty point on the Kathmandu Valley rim, you have an excellent view of the mountains as well as looking down on the beautiful Bagmati River Valley. The trip includes not only incredible scenery from one of the rarely visited vantage points of the Kathmandu Valley.
Return to Pharping and enjoy a packed lunch. Drive back to Kathmandu later today.

Day 4: Kathmandu

Today, explore key sites in Kathmandu. Afterward, visit to Boudhanath, one of the oldest and largest Buddhist stupas (mound-like structure containing relics) in Nepal. This spherical structure has four pairs of painted eyes, said to keep watch for righteous behavior and human prosperity. Tibetan merchants have rested and offered prayers here for many centuries. When Tibetan refugees entered Nepal in the 1950’s, many chose to live in this area.   
Later on, make your way to the Pashupatinath temple. Dating back to 400 A.D., this is one of the oldest temples dedicated to Lord Shiva. Situated amidst a lush green natural setting on the bank of the sacred Bagmati River, the temple is built in a two-story pagoda design with gilded roof and richly-carved silver doors. It houses a stone lingam, a sacred symbol of Lord Shiva.
Enjoy a farewell Nepali dinner in a local restaurant with a cultural dance included.
Farewell Nepali dinner in a local restaurant with cultural dance

Day 5: Lhasa

Transfer from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Lhasa. 

Day 6: Lhasa

Start your day with a visit to the Potala Palace. This winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet.
Afterward, visit the Jokhang Temple (part of the Potala Palace), the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims. Situated at the heart of the old town of Lhasa and surrounded by Barkhor Street, this 4 storied building, built in the 7th century by Songtsan Gambo, with roofs covered with gilded bronze tiles, demonstrates a combination of the architectural style of Han, Tibetan, India and Nepal, as well as a Mandala world outlook of Buddhism.
Later on, explore the local market.

Day 7: Lhasa

Today, visit the Norbulingkha Institute, dedicated to preserving Tibetan culture in its literary in artistic forms. Next, see the Drepung Monastery, the largest of all Tibetan monasteries located one the Gambo Utse mountain. Freddie Spencer Chapman reported, after his 1936-37 trip to Tibet, that Drepung was at that time the largest monastery in the world, and housed 7,700 monks, "but sometimes as many as 10,000 monks.”
Finish the day with a stop at the Sera monastery, dedicated to the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, founded by Tsong Khapa. Jamchen Chojey, one of Tsong Khapa's disciples built it in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The monastery was named Sera which means wild rose in the Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom when it was built.

Day 8: Lhasa

This morning, drive to the Ganden Monastery. Standing atop of the six famous temples of Gelugpa - a branch of Tibetan Buddhism. Its significance as a religious, artistic, political and cultural relic led to it being preserved by the National Key Cultural Relic Preservation scheme in 1961, and is now known as being one of the 'Three Great Temples', together with the Sera Monastery and the Drepung Monastery.

Day 9: Ganden

Enjoy a day at Ganden for acclimation. 

Day 10: Yama Do

Enjoy a trek to Yama Do where you’ll set up camp for the evening. 

Day 11: Tsotup Chu Valley

Today, trek to Tsotup Chu Valley using the Shug La pass.

Day 12: Herder’s Camp

Enjoy a day of trekking to Herder’s Camp.

Day 13: Wango

Continue your journey with a trek to Wango.

Day 14: Samye

Finish the last leg of your trek in Samye. The Samye Monastery was built in 762 when the great Tibetan emperor Trisong Detsen ruled Tibet. With the basic terms of Buddhism – Buddha, scriptures and monks, it is the first official Buddhist monastery in Tibet. For over 1,200 years of history, it is one of most influential monasteries in Tibet.

Day 15: Yarlung Valley

Today, explore the Yarlung Valley, considered the cradle of Tibetan civilization. Tibetan creation myths tell of how the first Tibetan people evolved here from the union of a monkey and an ogre, and early histories state that the first kings descended from heaven on a sky cord at Mount Yarlha Shanpo on the western edge of the valley. The early Tibetan kings unified Tibet from their base here in the 7th century and their massive burial mounds still dominate the area around Chongye to the west. 
Drive to Tsedang where you’ll gather for a farewell dinner.

Day 16: Kathmandu

Fly to Kathmandu today and enjoy the remainder of the day at leisure.

Day 17: Flight to U.S.A.

Transfer to the airport for your return flight home.