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Tibet Explorer Xi'an - Kathmandu

Trip Overview

This is a journey across the roof of the world, the Tibetan Plateau and down its southern slopes and into Nepal and Kathmandu. It is a journey through some of the remotest and most spectacular scenery on earth and through an ancient culture that is still as powerful today as it was a thousand years ago. We start in the heart of China, Xi’an and the home of the Terracotta Army and spend the first week doing all things Chinese, before climbing slowly into the wilderness of the Tibetan Plateau. We pass over immense passes, past beautiful lakes and arrive at the holy city of Lhasa.

South of Lhasa we climb high up the Friendship Highway to the wonderful towns of Gyantse and Shigatse to soak up yet more Tibetan culture. Then it’s on to the highlight of the expedition, a visit and a hike to the Ronkbuk monasteries, which nestle under the towering face of Mt. Everest. We are now travelling through the most sensational landscapes, climbing over passes over 5000 metres high, before descending through gorges and passes to the foothills of the Himalayas and the lands of Nepal.

31 DAYS THROUGH China, Nepal
PRICE FROM:
$2,830 (USD) + 1,180 KITTY (USD)
DURATION:
31 days
TRANSPORT:
Overland expedition vehicle
CREW:
2 Dragoman crew, Local crew (both Tibetan & Chinese) in Tibet, Local guides where necessary
ACCOM:
15%
85%
PHYSICAL CHALLENGE:
LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE:
TRIP CODE:
HTC
DEPOSIT:
$350 USD

Highlights

  Exploring the Sagke or Ganjia Grasslands of the lower Tibetan Plateau

  Staying in the Forbidden City of Lhasa

  Everest Base Camp from the Tibetan Side

  Wild Camping on the Tibetan Plateau

  Driving over high mountain passes through the Himalayas

  Rural Traditional manor house stay in the stunning village of Nuwakot

  Explore Kathmandu and its stunning temples and sites

  SHOW MORE HIGHLIGHTS  

This is a tough trip in more ways than one. We will be travelling to high altitude and potentially camping in extreme conditions. Hotels can be basic and you should be prepared to be outside your comfort zone. On the other hand, we will stay in some comfortable places to recover and the pace of the journey is fairly easy.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Xi'an ( 20th Jul 2019 )

Border Information: if joining the trip in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

Please note that our trips between Kathmandu and Xi'an travel through extreme environments and these itineraries WILL NOT NECESSARILY RUN AS PUBLISHED. We will adjust trip itineraries depending on weather, altitude effects, group make up and road conditions. This day by day itinerary is provided as a rough guide only.

There will be a group meeting at 10:00am in our hotel in Xi'an - please look for a note from your tour leader when you arrive at the hotel giving more details about this important meeting.

In the afternoon there will be an included visit to the awe-inspiring world-famous Terracotta Warriors.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife

Included in Kitty
Day 2-3 - Pingliang ( 21st Jul 2019 to 22nd Jul 2019 )

Today we will start our journey with a drive from Xi'an to Pingliang.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have an included day visit to the holy mountain of Kongtong, where we can freely trek and explore the incredible area and visit all the temples built on impossibly steep mountain sides.

In Pingliang we will stay in a local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples

Included in Kitty
Day 4 - Lanzhou ( 23rd Jul 2019 )

Today we will arrive into the chaotic city of Lanzhou, with time to explore in the afternoon.

In Lanzhou we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Guided visit to the vast Buddha and cave at Bingling Si near Lanzhou

Free
Day 5-7 - Xiahe ( 24th Jul 2019 to 26th Jul 2019 )

From Lanzhou we will drive on to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe, where we will be staying for 3 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

The following 2 days will be free to explore the incredible Labrang Monastery or the surrounding grasslands.

Whilst in Xiahe we will stay in a basic guesthouse.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Climb up onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan Plateau

Free

2 night detour to the Tibetan town of Xiahe, one of the main pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists

CNY 40
Take a day trip up into the Sangke or Ganjia grasslands of the lower Tibetan Plateau surrounding Xiahe
CNY 400
Day 8 - Bingling Si, Liujiaxia ( 27th Jul 2019 )

Leaving Xiahe, we drive on to the small town of Liujiaxia. En route we will have an included visit to the phenomenal Bingling Si Buddha Caves.

In Liujiaxia we will staying in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge

Included in Kitty
Day 9-10 - Qinghai Hu ( 28th Jul 2019 to 29th Jul 2019 )

For the next 2 days we will be overlanding through Qinghai province through an area that is a giant basin surrounded by high mountains, and en route we will pass the vast and starkly beautiful Qinghai Hu Lake. The population of this part of the Tibetan Plateau is thinly spread and mainly comprises of Kazakhs, Moguls and Hui. 

We will be stopping off and wildcamping along the way.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Journey west through the lower realms of the Tibetan Plateau to the remote Qinghai Lake

Included in Kitty
Day 11 - Golmud ( 30th Jul 2019 )

We continue our overland journey today across the high plateau, arriving at the small town of Golmud.

In Golmud we will stay overnight in small local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

Day 12-14 - Amdo ( 31st Jul 2019 to 2nd Aug 2019 )

Leaving Golmud we head out across the plateau once again. We will spend the next 3 days slowly driving uphill to acclimatise to the altitude, finally crossing the famous Tanggula Pass (5231m) which marks the start of Tibet.

If time allows we will make a side trip to Namtso Lake en route. Spare days have been included in this part of the itinerary as contingency due to poor roads and extreme conditions - they will be used as required.

We will be wild camping en route.

Estimate Drive Times - 5-8 hours each day.

Day 15 - Lhasa ( 3rd Aug 2019 )

Today we complete our journey to the famous and evocative city of Lhasa, the religious, cultural and economic centre of Tibet, where we will be staying for the next 3 days.

In Lhasa we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

Day 16-18 - Lhasa ( 4th Aug 2019 to 6th Aug 2019 )

We will have 2 full days to explore the Tibetan city of Lhasa. There will be organised visits to the Sera Monastery, and the Jokhang Temple, as well as the options to visit the Drepung and Ganden Monasteries and the Summer Palace. There will be lots of opportunity for free exploration of the city as well.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Take a guided tour of the incredble Potala Palace, the former winter residence of the Dalai Lama and the most famous symbol of Tibet

Included in Kitty

Explore the Jokhang Temple, the centrepiece of Lhasa and the most sacred and important temple in Tibet

Included in Kitty

Visit the stunning Sera Monastery, and witness one of the fascinating debating sessions between the monks

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the Norbulingka Palace, the former summer residence of the Dalai Lama, and visit its peaceful gardens and parks

CNY 60

Take a trip to the incredible Ganden Monastery in Dagze near Lhasa - a stunning monastery founded in 1409 by the founder of Gelug Buddhism

CNY 145

Visit the beautiful Drepung Monastery, the residence of the early Dalai Lamas before the construction of the Potala Palace

CNY 50
Explore the evocative and atmospheric Tibetan quarter of the Barkhor, and walk its sacred route around the Jokhang Monastery
Free
Stop for a drink at the teahouse in Ani Sangkhung, the only nunnery in Lhasa
CNY 8
Explore the Chinese-style Ramoche Temple, the sister temple of the Jokhang and one of the holiest sites in Tibet
Free
Day 19 - Gyantse ( 7th Aug 2019 )

Today we will continue over the Kampa La Pass (4794m) to the town of Gyantse. In the afternoon we will have an included visit to the Palcho Monastery and time for an optional visit to the Gyantse Fort.

In Gyantse we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit to the stunning town of Gyantse and Baiju Monastery

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Gyantse Dzong Fortress that dominates over the town, site of a famous resistance effort again the British invasion of 1904
CNY 30
Day 20 - Shigatse ( 8th Aug 2019 )

Depending on what time we arrived in Gyantse yesterday, we may decide to have some more time here this morning before driving on to Shigatse, Tibet's second biggest city.

On arrival in Shigatse we will have an included visit to the Tashilhunpo Monastery.

In Shigatse we will stay in a friendly local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Stopover in Shigatse and visit to Tashilhunpo Monastery

Included in Kitty
Day 21 - New Tingri ( 9th Aug 2019 )

Today we continue our journey with a drive over some more high mountain passes to reach New Tingri (also known as Shegar), where we will meet the junction for the road to Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side. This is usually a fairly long day's drive, but the stunning views and scenery make this one of the world's most visually fantastic journeys!

In New Tingri we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours.

Day 22 - Rongbuk ( 10th Aug 2019 )

From New Tingri we make the journey to the Rongbuk Monastery.

The drive is not an easy one, passing over another 5200m pass, but the views are sensational and (weather permitting) we should have excellent views of Mount Everest.

Once we have reached the Rongbuk, we will have free time to explore the area and visit the Monastery and take in the stunning views of Everest! 

Tonight we will stay in the Monastery Guesthouse

Please note: It is no longer possible to visit the actual Tibetan Everest Base Camp as it is closed to tourists as of February 2019. 

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Visit the Rongbuk Monastery, one of the most remote monasteries in the world
Included in Kitty
Day 23 - New Tingri ( 11th Aug 2019 )

This morning we have some more time at Rongbuk - hopefully when you open up in the morning, there will be a spectacular view of Mount Everest! We will drive back down to New Tingri this afternoon.

In New Tingri we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Day 24 - Friendship Highway ( 12th Aug 2019 )

We will spend the next 2 days climbing high into the mountains over the Lalungla Pass (5050m) up into the Himalayas and then down to the Nepalese border. This is part of the famous "Friendship Highway", cutting through gorges, across plateaus and over high passes. On all the passes that we cross you will see the ever present pilgrim prayer flags, cairns and scattered "wind horse" papers.

We will be wild camping en route tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

Day 25-26 - Nuwakot ( 13th Aug 2019 to 14th Aug 2019 )

Border information: Exit China at Kyirong, Enter Nepal at Rasuwa Gadhi.

Crossing the border from the Tibetan Autonomous Region into Nepal, we will travel along small winding roads to the historic village of Nuwakot.  Nuwakot is one of Nepal’s hidden gems nestled in the central hills of the country. Full of ancient temples and palaces, it has a beautifully serene atmosphere and rustic ambience - perfect for getting a taste of the calm pace of rural Nepalese life.

Estimated Drive Time - 8 - 9 hours.

In Nuwakot we will stay in a hotel based inside an old manor house where we will have 2 nights to relax and unwind.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

2 nights at a stunning mountain resort, nestling in the foothills of the Himalaya

EUR 72

Time for optional adventure activities, canyoning, cycling & rope-walking

EUR 65

Time in Nepal either at the beautiful mountain retreat the 'Last Resort' or en route acclimatising

EUR 72

Overnight stay at spectacularly situated mountain resort in the foothills of the Himalaya

EUR 60

Head out on a white-water rafting expedition on the Bhote Kosi river, tackling Grade 4 rapids in a stunning setting!

EUR 45

Take a mountain biking trip around the beautiful landscapes and charming villages in the area

EUR 35

Trek around the incredible hills, terraced fields and traditional villages in the area, taking in some of the awe-inspiring scenery

EUR 35

Freely explore the historic Nepalese village of Nuwakot and visit its 18th-century palace, once an important stop on the bustling Tibetan-Kathmandu Valley trade route.

Free
Day 27-28 - Pokhara ( 15th Aug 2019 to 16th Aug 2019 )

Today we will spend a little more time enjoying the serenity of Nuwakot, before taking a short drive to Nepal's second city - the adventure town of Pokhara! We will spend 2 nights here. 

In Pokhara we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

On the 2nd day we will have a free day in the fantastic city of Pokhara. The area is famous for its myriad of spectacular waterfalls surrounded by fertile forests and towering mountains, for its fantastic choice of yoga and meditation retreats, and for its overwhelming choice of adventure activities from trekking to rafting to zip-lining to mountain biking!

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Trek around the stunning Himalayan foothills, the local villages and monasteries in the peaceful area of Dhulikhel

Free

Take a boat out on Phewa Lake near Pokhara, basking in the spectactular mountain-and-forest scenery of one of Nepal's most beautiful spots

NPR 500

Head out to the stunning Phewa Tal Lake on an unforgettable pony trek through the lush forests near Pokhara

NPR 4000

Take an early trip to the summit of Sarangkot to witness the incredible sunrise while surrounded by some of the world's highest mountains, with the possibility of trekking downhill back to Pokhara

NPR 4000

Visit one of Pokhara's beautiful ashrams to take a yoga or meditation course

USD 20

Head out on an adrenaline-fuelled white water rafting expedition near the adventure town of Pokhara

USD 50

Head out for an exhilarating mountain biking expedition in the mountains surrounding Pokhara

USD 45
Day 29 - Khatauti Khola ( 17th Aug 2019 )

This morning we will journey to Khatauti Khola, home to the Royal Beach Camp eco-adventure camp in the Nepalese mountains. 

There are several optional activities on offer here such as kayaking, rafting, hiking and mountain bikings or simply relax in the quiet surroundings. 

In Khatauti Khola we will camp at the Royal Beach Camp. 

Estimated Drive Time - 3 -4 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Discover Kathmandu on a guided city tour

NPR 1000

Visit the former royal palace of Narayanhiti and see the crown jewels of Nepal

NPR 500

2 night stay at the 5 star Dwarika Hotel

NPR 250

Feast on a 9 course traditional Nepali meal

NPR 750

2 nights to enjoy the sights of Kathmandu

NPR 250

Visit the sacred Hindu Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Nepal's unofficial national deity

NPR 1500

Get out of the city and explore the nearby national park of Sundarijal, and see its idyllic waterfalls and rock formations

NPR 500

Visit the beautiful and tranquil Durbar Square in the nearby medieval town of Bhaktapur, and visit its nearby museums

NPR 1500

Whitewater rafting, kayaking and other mountain adventures in the Himalayas

USD 35
Head out for half a day of canyoning in the gorges of the Trishuli River near Khatauti Khola
USD 35
Day 30 - Kathmandu ( 18th Aug 2019 )

This morning we will spend some free time at the Royal Beach Camp to give us more time to take part in the optional adventure activities there, then after lunch we will drive the last stretch up to Kathmandu, the evocative capital of Nepal. 

In Kathmandu we stay in a comfortable local hotel. 

Estimate drive time - 3.- 4 hours

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the beautiful and tranquil Durbar Square in the nearby medieval town of Bhaktapur, and visit its nearby museums

NPR 1500

Visit the former royal palace of Narayanhiti and see the crown jewels of Nepal

NPR 500

Get out of the city and explore the nearby national park of Sundarijal, and see its idyllic waterfalls and rock formations

NPR 500

Visit the sacred Hindu Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Nepal's unofficial national deity

NPR 1500
Day 31 - Kathmandu ( 19th Aug 2019 )

Border information: if leaving in Kathmandu, you will most likely exit Nepal at Kathmandu Tribhuvan International Airport.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Kathmandu. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

DATES & PRICES

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Trip Notes
Departing: 20 Jul 2019
Returning: 19 Aug 2019
Duration: 31 days
Route: Xi'an - Kathmandu
$2,830 USD + $1,180 Kitty (USD)
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: Full Payment
limited
Departing: 25 Jul 2020
Returning: 24 Aug 2020
Duration: 31 days
Route: Xi'an - Kathmandu
$2,850 USD + $1,180 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available
Departing: 24 Jul 2021
Returning: 23 Aug 2021
Duration: 31 days
Route: Xi'an - Kathmandu
$2,920 USD + $1,180 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $350 USD
available

REVIEWS FROM OUR PASSENGERS

Truck and all equipment was well maintained.
Katrina M
Comfortable and spacious, tents were easy to erect and dismantle.
Peter M
Both Gino and Jim were enthusiastic and friendly and willing to help with whatever was needed.
Joseph C
Both crew very professional and helpful.
Katrina M
I have nothing but praise for both the leader and the driver.
Peter M
Yen was extremely helpful and repeatedly offered to spend her free time to show us good local restaurants and a different side to many places.
Joseph C