Sky Lakes and Mountains Tour: Lhasa to Nepal

A private overland journey from Lhasa to the Nepal border via Namtso Lake and Mount Everest

If you only make one visit to Tibet in your life, you might want to pick this extraordinary one. Unusual and rewarding, it covers many of the cultural and natural highlights of Central Tibet, including Lhasa’s Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace, the turquoise waters of “Sky Lake” Namtso, the serene Reting Valley, and Everest Base Camp, just to name a few.

Nam-tso Lake
Nam-tso Lake

Since no independent travel is allowed to Tibet and you must work with a travel agency, you want to be sure to choose a Tibetan-owned agency, which hires Tibetan guides only. The simplest way to do this is ask us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned travel agent to plan a great trip for you that also supports the local Tibetan economy and culture.

On this trip you can bathe in the medicinal hot springs at Tidrum Nunnery, walk the stunning kora around Tashilumpo Monastery in Shigatse, view the ancient Yumbu Lakhang Palace from it’s hilltop perch, and travel along the mighty Yarlung Tsangpo River to Samye Monastery.

Samye Monastery
Samye Monastery

THE ITINERARY

Arrival and around Lhasa

In the first days of your journey, you can begin to adjust to Lhasa’s high altitude by first resting then visiting some of the spectacular temples, palaces and monasteries of Lhasa, including the Potala Palace, the Jokhang Temple, Drepung Monastery and Sera Monastery

Jokhang Temple
Roof of Jokhang Temple


Caves of Drak Yerpa and the Drigung Valley

After acclimatizing and soaking in the highlights of Lhasa,  move on to visit the famous retreat cliffs of Drak Yerpa and then on to the Drigung Valley, home of Drigung Monastery and Tidrum Nunnery, with its medicinal hot springs.

Optionally, you can also spend some time in the Tsedang area, to see the first monastery of Tibet, Samye, and the first building in Tibet, the Yumbu Lakang Palace. 

Reting Monastery and Lake Namtso

Hit the road to take in the Taklung and Reting Monasteries, historically significant seats of Tibetan Buddhism, both of which sit in beautiful, secluded valleys, as well as the lovely Tidrum Nunnery. After this, visit to Lake Namtso (“Sky Lake” in Tibetan) – which is one of the highest and loveliest lakes in the world, situated gorgeously along the Nyenchen Tangla Mountains.  (Note that this section of the trip is best from May to September. Namtso becomes difficult and then impossible,  to reach, and Tidrum and Reting (especially) have basic guesthouses which are very cold during the night and have public bathrooms that are less than fun to visit on a cold night. ) 

View of old Shigatse from the Tashilumpo Kora.
View of old Shigatse from the Tashilumpo Kora.

Shigatse and Tashilumpo Monastery

After Namtso move on to the city of Shigatse, which centers on the impressive Tashilumpo Monastery, a fascinating maze of ancient alleys and chapels full of Tibetan Buddhist treasures. Don’t miss the wonderful high kora around the monastery.

Mount Everest from Rongbuk Monastery.
Mount Everest from Rongbuk Monastery.

Mount Everest and Ronguk Monastery

The unforgettable last days of the journey bring you to a (literally) breathtaking tour of Rongbuk Monastery, at the foot of Mount Everest. Take the walk or transport up to base camp (your choice).


Descent to  the Nepali Border

Finally, you begin the cross over into Nepal, heading from Everest Base Camp to Old Tingri to the new border crossing at Gyirong (Kyirong). Tibet tours end at this point, so you’ll need to make arrangements for getting to the border to Kathmandu. (If you like, ask your Tibetan agent for an introduction to a Nepali agent.)


Trip Cost

For the most recent costs, please fill out the short Tibet Travel Service form. In the notes section ask for a custom private trip including Lhasa highlights, Drak Yerpa, Drigung, Tidrum Nunnery, Samye, Yumbu Lakang, Namtso,  Reting, Shigatse, Gyantse, EBC and to Gyirong. Since it is unusual, there are no group tours that cover all of these sites.


When to Go?

This trip is great to do between May and September, and even into October. Parts of the trip, like Lhasa, are cold but good even in winter. Winter can be a great time to visit some of these locations if you don’t mind fairly serious cold, since there are far fewer tourists in winter. Lake Namtso becomes difficult to access starting from around the end of October. 

Want to be ready to travel to Tibet when it reopens?

Tibet Travel Plan

Sign up to get instant access to our FREE Tibet Travel Planning Guide that shows you exactly how to:

  • Get your visa and Tibet permits
  • Avoid altitude sickness
  • Choose a reliable, Tibetan-owned agent
  • And much more…so you can feel peace of mind about your trip, and have a great, safe journey!
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Along with instant access to your free, comprehensive online guide for planning your Tibet travel, you will also get our weekly newsletter, with tips, tools and strategies for simple, safe and meaningful Tibet travel.

Our Privacy Policy

Updated on July 22, 2020. First published on September 2, 2013.

Your Tibet travel advisors, Lobsang and Yolanda

Most people who want to go to Tibet don't know how to get there or who to trust for help. We’re Lobsang Wangdu and Yolanda O’Bannon, and we help make Tibet travel more simple, safe and ethical so you can feel peace of mind about your trip. Learn more about us and YoWangdu here.

Reader Interactions

Comments

  1. Gabriela Fontél says

    Dear Yolanda and Wang du,
    thank you very much for all your informations on Buddhism and Tibet.
    Every time there is one of your wonderful newsletter coming, I am dreaming of visiting Tibet.
    My husband is 71 and I am 66 – are we too old to do the Sky Lakes and Mountains Tour?
    And what will be the price per person?
    Love,
    Gabriela from Denmark

  2. Corinne Gaminde says

    Tashi delek Tibet friends ,

    Hello Yolanda and Wangdu ,

    Your blog is amazing . Thank you so much for sharing all the info you have !
    I have been 6 times to Tibet between 1986 and 1994 and since then I never went back to keep my fantastic memories intact. However Tibet is calling me and I am planning a trip , even though frightened to find out what happened. I have many questions but just one for the time being : is the Lhasa / KTM overland still closed ?
    Thank you !

  3. Charles says

    I knew next to nothing (and still do!) About Tibet.
    One day I watched a movie. Seven Years in Tibet.
    Staring Brad Pit I think. Since then I have been fasinated
    By Tibet, the countryside, and the people. I accidentally
    Stumbled on this website looking for
    Butter tea recipe. I will enjoy coming here.
    Thankyou.

Leave A Reply