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Nam-tso, The Heavenly Lake Trekking


11 days 10 nights

Code TTT63

Category Tibet Trekking

  • Group Size 2-16
  • Difficulty Level 2
  • Rating Popular
  • Highest Altitude 17,187 ft at Kong La
  • Trip Starts From Lhasa
  • Trip Ends At Lhasa
  • Accommodation Hotels and camps
  • Type Trekking
  • Season April to October
  • Destination Lhasa Kyangra Gompa Namtso lake
Dates & Prices
No available seat

Overview

Nam-Tso or "The Heavenly Lake” in Tibetan is situated at an elevation of 4,718 (15, 475 ft.) and is at about 240km (150 miles) north of Lhasa. It is a famous pilgrimage destination for the devout Tibetans and a perfect trekking destination for adventure enthusiasts. This vast sapphire-blue inland sea on the Tibetan plateau is the second-largest saltwater lake in China. Surrounded by spectacular snow-covered mountains, it is a place of desolate beauty and the site of a holy hermitage that draws pilgrims from all over Tibet. It’s also a sanctuary for migrating birds that journey to Tibet from as far away as Siberia during the summer months.

On this exceptional trek, you’ll tread upon the ancient caravan route of the salt traders of the Changthang region and cross the glaciated valleys and mountains of the Nyenchen Thanglha range to the pebbled shores of the lake. You will also visit sacred areas, holy shrines, and passing nomadic herdsmen along the way. Once at the lake, you will get an opportunity to join the devout Tibetans on a short kora hike in the vicinity of the Tashi Do Hermitage while enjoying superb views of the mountains across the lake.

This is a five-day strenuous trek that involves hiking in very steep and rocky terrain and crossing of the Kong La, 5240m (17, 187 ft.). You will enjoy the serene beauty of the lake, spectacular views of the Nyechen Thangla range of mountains that surround the lake. And have the opportunity to peep into the lives of drops (Nomads), who dwell in the 4-sided yak-hair tents.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01 ~Arrive in Lhasa

There are direct flights to Lhasa from Kathmandu (Nepal), Chengdu, and Beijing. You can also fly into Lhasa from Bangkok, Hong Kong, and other major Chinese cities. Upon arrival at the Gonggar airport of Lhasa, you are met by Far & High's local Tibetan guide and transferred to the hotel in the city (75km/47 miles, 1 hr.). About 17km (11 miles) before you reach Lhasa, you will stop to see a small but significant monastery of Drolma Lakhang. This monastery is associated with Bengali scholar Atisha (known as Jowo Je by Tibetans). The temple is full of ancient relics and hidden treasures. About 6 km from Drolma Lakhang, you will stop briefly to see the rock engraving of Medicine Buddha at the base of a cliff.

Check into the hotel and take the rest for acclimatization.

Overnight: Dekhag hotel or similar 3*.
Day 02 ~Sightseeing of Lhasa

Today, you have a full day to explore the highlights of Lhasa. You begin the day from the Dalai Lama’s Potala Palace, which is the principal attraction of Lhasa. It was the residence and power center of Tibet until the Dalai Lama’s departure from Tibet in 1959. From here, you will head to the Norbulinkha Gardens to see the summer palaces of the Dalai Lama. Of all the palaces to visit the current Dalai, Lama's 14th palace is a major attraction. You will visit his private chambers and audience hall.

In the afternoon, you will head to Barkhor and have a lunch break there (pay on your own). After lunch, visit the ancient Jorkhang Temple, built in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo. This temple was built to house the image of Buddha brought to Tibet as part of a dowry for his Nepali wife, Bhrikuti. After that, you will take a stroll on the pilgrimage path of Barkhor that surrounds the Jorkhang Temple. Barkhor area is truly Tibetan, with Tibetan shops lining up on both sides of the street. The streets are packed with Tibetan devotees with prayer wheels spinning or bead counting with the utterance of sacred mantra and some in prostration.

Overnight: Dekhang hotel or similar 3*.
Meals : Breakfast
Day 03~Continue sightseeing of Lhasa

In the morning, you will drive about 5 miles to visit the Drepung Monastery. It is the largest, richest, and most potent of the three principal Yellow Sect monasteries of Tibet. Drepung commanded the administration of Tibet before the establishment of the Potala Palace. At Drepung, you will visit the Ganden Palace, the main assembly hall as well as the colleges for Buddhist studies. From Drepung, descend to the Nyechung Monastery, which is about a 10-minute walk downhill. It was the seat of state oracle until Dalai Lama’s departure in 1959. From Drepung, you will head to the Sera Monastery, another significant Gelugpa Monastery of Lhasa. If you are a hiking enthusiast, a 1 hour long Sera Kora pilgrimage path around Sera Monastery is worth your time. Along the trail, you will see the rock paintings and hermitages of Tsongkhapa (founder of Gelugpa sect). After Sera Kora, enter the monastery and visit its main assembly hall and some of the several Buddhist colleges. You may also be able to attend the monks debating session. You also have the option to hike to Pabonka Monastery, which takes about 1 hour from Sera Kora. Pabonka is one of the most ancient Buddhist sites in the Lhasa region and is infrequently traveled to by tourists.

Overnight: Dekhang Hotel or similar 3*.
Meals : Breakfast
Day 04~Begin the trekking

After breakfast, leave the hotel with the crews, gear, and supplies to drive towards the trekking starting point. Your drive is about 80km (50 miles) on the beautiful Tibet-Qinghai highway, and at your destination in Yangpachen, there are areas with lots of hot springs, steam, and a thermal pool. Next drive 64km (40 miles) from Yangpachen brings you to a splendid valley with a fascinating mountain view until you reach a small roadside town called Damxung (4,130 ft./13,550 ft.). From Damxung, you leave the main highway and turn west on a track that goes past the deserted airstrip of Tibet’s first airfield. Arrive at the trailhead (about six and ½ km /4 miles from Damxung). Crews assemble gears and arrange pack animals and then hit the trail for trekking to the holy lake. Today, you will trek about 1 ½ to 2 hrs before arriving at the camp by a river at an altitude of 4,270m (14,000 ft). You may also attempt a big hike to Kyangra Gompa, situated just above the camp.

Overnight: Camping.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 05~An acclimatization day.

Today, explore the nomad camps and a nearby monastery. Hike about 305 m (1,000 ft.) above the camp that rewards you with absolutely beautiful views of the marshy grasslands.

Overnight: Camping.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 06~To the Herder’s camp

Today’s trek is a bit tough. It requires 7-8 hours of walking and the crossing of several rivers on foot or horseback; the trail passes through the sparse vegetation, rocky terrain, hummock fields, meadows, and wildflowers.

The trek begins with a gentle start-up towards a glaciated valley until reaching a beautiful campsite next to a river. As you start walking across a large but a contracted canyon, the trail gradually gains altitude and will soon enter a rocky territory with scarce vegetation.

The trail then goes past small hillocks, which are slightly green, and there are vast heaps of boulders. You will cross a secluded lofty pasture that is filled with beautiful wild blue poppies, daisies, delphiniums, and clovers.

You reach the camp at about 4726m (15,500 ft.), it was primarily built and used by the herders who come here to graze their sheep or yaks.

Overnight: Camping.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 07~Cross Kong La (5,233 m, 17,167 ft.)

Today, you will move onto a trail that follows the river but will soon have to leave and wind up a little further to enter a broad valley. The landscape immediately changes to an expansive region of hills and jade green fields interconnected by huge moraines (glacial debris). You will then ascend to conquer Kong La (17,187 ft.), the highest pass on this trek offers spectacular views of Namtso Lake from the top. You then shall descend to the broad basin of red hills and green meadows intersected by the large, rolling moraines.

Today, we camp at an elevation of 4,940m (16,200 ft.).

Overnight: Camping.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 08~To Tashi Dhor and Namtso Lake

Today, you will walk further, leaving the beautiful and serene meadows and passing the flowing river. The trail descends and quickly moves across the little hillocks. It continues to fall right over the lush grounds passing a camp for herders. Soon you will arrive at a camp set up by the nomads. There is a beautiful view of the lake below here.

Soon after lunch, set back out on the trail following the shoreline of the lake towards Tashi Dhor right at the start of the cape that extends out into the Namtso Lake. Tashi Dhor means an "auspicious rock," and it has a hermitage with the great twin pillars of rock and the temples inside big caverns. You will camp right at the base of the crags or where there is an exciting wind barred Mani walls (boulders with engraved religious inscriptions) flanked by the Tashi Do hills.

Today, we camp at an elevation of about 15,100 ft.

Overnight: Camping.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 09~An additional day in Tashi Dhor and Namtso Lake

You will have an additional day to relax and explore the beautiful Tashi Dhor hermitage, which stands on the banks of the lake. You will get to explore its extraordinary monastery, caverns, and temples built inside them. Also, you will take a short Kora hike of the Tashi Dhor Chung, which is much admired and revered by the Tibetans who come here from all over the region. You will also have the excellent sight of the snow-white peaks of the Nyenchen Thanglha (23,249 ft.) right across the azure waters of the Namtso Lake.

Overnight: Camping.
Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10~Return to Lhasa by vehicle Monastery visit

In the morning, you have time to walk and appreciate the beauty of the lake and the mountains. Drive back to Lhasa (250km, 156 miles), and again enjoying the vast grasslands and mountain views. Cross a high pass Largen La (5150m/16892 ft.) that offers even more excellent views. About 40 km (25 miles) before Lhasa, you will take the Tsurpu to turn off at the right and drive further about 25 km (16 miles) up to a rough dirt road to the Tsurpu Monastery. The Tsurpu Monastery was founded in the 12th century and is where the principal seat of the Karmapa branch of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism resides. The monastery is somewhat desolated after the 17th Karma Pa Lama fled to India in 1999. After visiting the monastery, you will retrace the drive to the main road and continue to Lhasa. Upon arrival in Lhasa, check into the hotel, and you may take the rest of the day to explore the town.

Overnight: Dekhang Hotel or similar 3*.
Meals : Breakfast
Day 11~Depart Lhasa

Get transferred to the airport for your flight to your next destination.

Trip Map

Trip Info

Trip Includes

  • Mid-range hotel in Lhasa, guesthouse in Namtso Lake, and rest of the places tented camping.
  • Daily breakfast in Lhasa and full board during trekking.
  • All transfers and sightseeing by a van and support truck for gears and supplies for group size four persons and above.
  • All camping gears that include sleeping tents, dining tents, kitchen tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows, etc.
  • Service of English speaking tour guide and cook. There will be additional helpers provided for a group of 4 persons and above.
  • Pack-animals for gears and supplies.
  • Tibet travel permit and all admission permits.

Trip Does Not Include

  • Lunch and dinner during a hotel stay.
  • Drinks, tips, and other expenses of personal nature such as laundry, telephone, etc.
  • Airfares into and out of Lhasa.
  • Airport taxes.
  • Extra expenses due to nature and unforeseen events.
  • Travel insurance.

Chinese Visa and Tibet Permits 

Chinese visa and Tibet Permits are not that complicated as they sound to be. If your travel begins in Nepal, we will have to pre-process your visa application, but we will do the final visa work in Kathmandu upon your arrival. We will take care of all the visa works. If your travel begins in Bangkok or Hong Kong or any mainland Chinese cities, all you have to care about is obtain a Chinese visa on your own. You can do it from the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate in your come country. And provide us a copy of it about a month before your travel. Then, leave the rest of the things to us.

Accommodation in Tibet

Lhasa has some choices on accommodation, but we pick mid-range Tibetan managed properties located in the Barkhor area. We use Gyangyen, Denkang, Dhood Gu, Tibet Gorkha Hotel, and Yak Hotel, which are 3-star standard properties with a private bathroom. We will have en suite bathrooms with running hot and cold water. Hot water may be available for certain hours of the day only and sometimes also disrupted by a power outage. For trekking, we provide complete camping gears that include two persons sleeping tents, kitchen tent, dining tent, toilet tent, camping chairs, and tables. There will also be mattresses and kitchen utensils. On request, we can also provide sleeping bags, but usually, we recommend bringing your own.

Meals

Our tour features breakfast only when you are in the cities. Breakfast can be western or Chinese or Tibetan style. There are choices of restaurants in the cities serving western, Chinese, Indian, and Nepali dishes. You can expect to spend US$ 8 -10 per meal in regular restaurants. Meals in hotels can be expensive. During trekking, there will be a special cook and some helpers (depending on group size). They will prepare three tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals daily with a variety of local and Western dishes. At the start of the day, breakfast consists of a choice of porridge, muesli, and cereal, followed by omelet, fried, or scrambled eggs with chapattis or bread. Lunch is generally a selection of salad, cooked vegetable dishes, pasta, and traditional foods. After a long day on the trail, dinner is a hearty 3-course meal - soup, followed by a variety of vegetables, meat, rice, and pasta dishes and completed with a simple dessert.
There will also be tea, coffee, and hot chocolate provided at all meals. We use as much fresh produce as possible, and our cooks and kitchen crew maintain exceptional standards of cleanliness and food preparation hygiene. They can always cater to special dietary requirements, if any.
Besides, it's advisable to bring on your own some dry fruits, energy bars, chocolates, supplement vitamins, etc. to eat on the way.

Guide and Crews

Right upon arrival at Lhasa airport, you will meet by your guide, who will accompany you throughout the trip. We pick knowledgeable, friendly, and flexible guides who are also recommended by our former clients. The guide, besides working as an interpreter and giving a valuable insight into the Tibetan way of life, he helps you check in the hotel, co-ordinates with drivers and other crews. And the guide also deals with local bureaucracies as and when required. Your guide carries all necessary vouchers and documents needed in connection to your trip. On trekking trips, besides guides, there will be a special cook and additionally helps depending on group size and animal drivers. The crews are responsible for setting up and breaking down camps. We do use pack animals (Yaks or ponies) to transport the gears and supplies during trekking. The drivers and animal drivers do not speak English, but you will be impressed by their sense of hospitality and service.

Transportation in Tibet

Rehabilitation works are going on in Tibetan roads. So, at times, it can become quite rough and impassable for many vehicles, so, for this reason, we use Land cruiser 4WDs (Toyota 4500). These vehicles are incredibly reliable and will make the journey as comfortable as possible. As for the trekking trips, depending on the duration of the trip, we might require to hire additional vehicles, usually, a truck to transport gears and supplies to the trailhead and again bring them back from the finish point. As road condition is not so good, we might come across flat tires or other mechanical issues. But the driver will fix it while you are engaged in capturing the scenes. Usually, we drive 6 hours on average, stopping along the way for photography or places of particular interest and also stop for tea and snacks and lunch and arriving in the destination by 4 or 5 pm.

About our Trekking Trips in Tibet

Our qualified and experienced crew from Tibet fully cateres our all trekking trips. Depending on group size, we may also hire professional Nepalese Sherpa Crews, who are well renowned for organizing trekking trips. We hire English speaking Tibetan Guide for all our trips. But on large expeditions, there will also be a Nepali Leader who will be responsible for controlling the trekking arrangement part.

A typical trekking day begins with a hot cup of tea or coffee served at your tent early morning. You are provided a bowl of hot water for washing. You will pack up your stuff and appear in the breakfast table by 7 or 7.30 am. We leave the campsite usually from 8 to 8.30 am for days trekking. Porter carries your luggage or pack animal. And all you need to take is a small daypack containing a water bottle, camera, sun cream, hat, rain-jacket, and a warm jumper, just in case. The afternoon's walk is generally shorter, and we arrive at camp in time for a nice cup of tea. You can spend the remainder of the afternoon exploring the nearby villages, doing a bit of washing, or simply relaxing with a good book. Or give hands to the kitchen crews to add your taste. You will have dinner usually between 6 and 7 pm, and after dinner, the evening is often spent playing cards or talking with the crews. If it’s a large group, the crews might take the initiative in singing and dancing before turning into the tent for a well-earned sleep.

Health concerns

There are no mandatory vaccinations required to travel to Tibet. But you may consider vaccination against rabies, and Hep A. Travelers with cardiac-pulmonary issues or any other medical conditions are recommended to consult their physician before you sign up a trip to Tibet. The primary health consideration in Tibet is altitude-related illness or Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea, and sleeplessness, but these should lessen within a few days. We also carry a Portable Altitude Chamber (PAC) on all our Tibet treks. We also carry basic first aid kit, but it’s good to bring your own as well. Doctors will also be available on call.

Based on our experience, less than 1% percent of our clients got altitude sickness, but that was nothing serious. In case of a severe illness or a casualty, which generally does not happen, a land cruiser shall drive you to the nearest Nepal border or flown out of Lhasa. We recommend that you bear valid travel insurance covering emergency medical transportation.
You should start some physical exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking, and aerobics about several weeks before the trip. It helps you keep fit and lessen the chance of getting altitude sickness. You should have a good sleep the night before you fly to Lhasa and take complete rest on the first day. It's also advisable to drink 3-4 liters of water daily and consume liquid food.

Best Time to Trek in Tibet

You can undertake trekking trips from April through late October, May, June, September, and early October are the best periods. High Himalayas block the monsoon cloud, and Tibet is generally dry, but still, there is some chance of rain during July and August. Trekkers must be prepared for the extremes in climate, even in the middle of the summer. Weather can change very quickly and unexpectedly. Night temperatures at 4500m (14,760 ft.) and above can fall below freezing even in July and August, and it’s very much windy on high passes.

Clothing

During the day, a light shirt or jumper and lightweight pants will be suitable, but we recommend a warm fleece or down jacket for the evenings. Below are the general clothing and equipment list for trekking in Tibet.

  • Down jacket or warm fleece top.
  • Thermal underwear (top and bottom).
  • Cotton shirts (short and long-sleeved).
  • Warm and cotton trousers.
  • Sun polarized sunglasses.
  • Beanie or warm woolen hat and gloves.
  • Scarf (to keep out dust as well as cold).
  • Sandals (flip-flops).
  • Towel.
  • Sleeping bag (for camping/trekking).
  • Rain jacket.
  • Potent sun cream and lip protector.
  • Moisturizer.
  • Water bottle.
  • Camera (and plenty of films and spare batteries).

Tour Deposit US$ 300

Balance Payment

Balance payment is due 90 days before departure. A payment schedule may vary with customized and private trips on case to case basis. If your trip involves internal airfares or train tickets, we may have to purchase the tickets within the deadline given by the airlines. So we may request you the cost of the ticket along with the tour deposit.
We must receive a notice of cancellation and refund request in written form.

Cancellation Fee

  • Ninety-day prior departure, US$ 150 admin fee.
  • Sixty-Eighty-nine days before departure US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Forty-five-Fifty-nine days before departure US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Thirty-Forty-four days before departure US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Cancellation received less than Thirty days attracts a 100% cancellation fee.

Some suppliers, including airlines, may have their cancellation and refund policies, which will supersede Far & High’s Cancellation Policy to the extent of their difference.

Travel Protection Plan

We plan and do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless. But there still may be chances of unforeseen events and conditions such as illness, accident, inclement weather, and flight cancellation or missed connection or loss of baggage, etc. It may cause interruption or delay or total cancellation of your trip, putting your hard-earned travel investment in jeopardy. It’s also possible that you may need medical assistance, emergency evacuation, or medical transportation when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High’s Tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses. So we strongly recommend you that you should protect yourself and your travel investment against those unfavorable conditions.

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United States

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Minneapolis, MN 55423
Tel: 1 612 605 4428
Fax: 612 807 1137

Nepal

Kapoordhara, Samakhusi, Kathmandu
Tel (977 1) 4351780, 4381823
Fax +977-1-4381369

Bhutan

KMT Building, Nordzin Lam, Thimphu
Tel (975-2) -329098 / +975-77204087
Fax (+975) 2 337004

Tibet

B5-1-2, B3 dong, Renchen garden,
No 13 Jiangsu road Lhasa Tibet China.
Tel: +86-(891)-6836609,
Fax: +86-(891)-6836619


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