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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

Overview

Nam-tso or "The Heavenly Lake” in Tibetan is situated at an elevation of 4,718 (15, 475 ft) and is located 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 salt water 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, visiting sacred areas, holy shrines, and passing nomadic herdsmen along the way. Once at the lake, you will get 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 5 day strenuous trek that involves hiking in a 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 drokpas (Nomads), who dwell in the 4-sided yak-hair tents.

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01 ~Arrive in Lhasa

There are direct flights to Chengdu 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, 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 at 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 Lhas. 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 the 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 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 at 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 the most powerful of the three major Yellow Sect monasteries of Tibet. Drepung commanded the administration of Tibet before 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 major Gelugpa Monastary 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 at Kyichu Hotel or similar 3*.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 04 Begin trek.

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 (4,130ft/13,550ft). 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 trail head (about 6 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 altitude of 4,270ft (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 Acclimatization.

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 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 sparse vegetation, rocky terrain, hummock fields, meadows, and wild flowers.

The trek begins with a gentle start up towards a glaciated valley until reaching a striking 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 rocky territory with scarce vegetation.

The trail then goes past small hillocks which are slightly green and there are huge 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 large 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.

Overnight Camp at an elevation of about 4, 940m (16,200 ft.)

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 and moves across the little hillocks. It continues to descend 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 wonderful 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 unusual 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 interesting wind barred Mani walls (boulders with engraved religious inscriptions) flanked by the Tashi Do hills.

Overnightcamp at an elevation of about 15,100 ft.

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 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 greatly 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.

Overnightcamping

Meals : Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day 10 Drive to Lhasa via Tshurpu Monastery visit.

In the morning, you will have time to walk around and appreciate the beauty of the lake and the mountains. Drive back to Lhasa (250km, 156 miles), and again enjoying the vast grasslands and mountainous views. Cross a high pass Largen La (5150m/16892ft) that offers even more excellent views. About 40 km (25 miles) before Lhasa, you will take the Tsurpu turn off at the right and drive further about 25 km (16 miles) up a rough dirt road to the Tsurpu Monastery. The Tsurpu Monastery was founded in the 12th century and is where the principal seat of Karmapa branch of 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 on to Lhasa. Upon arrival in Lhasa, check into the hotel and you may take the rest of the day to explore the town.

Overnightat Kyichu Hotel or similar 3*.

Meals : Breakfast
Day 11 Departure.

You are 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 4 persons and above.
  • All camping gears that include sleeping tents, dinning tents, kitchen tents, mattresses, sleeping bags, pillows etc.
  • Service of English speaking tour guide and cook. Additional helpers will be provided for 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 hotel stays
  • Drinks, tip 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 final visa work will be done in Kathmandu upon your arrival only. We will take care of all the visa works. If your travel begins in Bangkok or Honkong or any mainland Chinese cities, all you have to care is obtain Chinese visa on your own from the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate in your come country and provide us a copy of it about a month ahead of your travel. Then, leave rest of 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 private bathroom. We will have en suite bath rooms with running hot and cold water. Hot water may be available only certain hours of the day only and sometime also disrupted by power outage. For trekking, we provide complete camping gears that include 2 persons sleeping tents, kitchen tent, dinning tent, toilet tent, camping chairs and tables, 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 the hotels can be priced higher. During trekking, there will be a special cook and some helps (depending on group size) to prepare 3 tasty, plentiful and nutritious meals daily with a variety of local and Western dishes. To start 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 breads. After a long day on the trail, dinner is a hearty 3-course meal - soup, followed by a variety of vegetable, meat, rice and pasta dishes and completed with a simple dessert.
Tea, coffee and hot chocolate are also 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. Special dietary requirements can always be catered for.
Besides, its 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 be met 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, beside working as an interpreter and giving a valuable insight into the Tibetan way of life, he helps you check in hotel, co-ordinates with drivers and other crews and deals with local bureaucracies as and when required. Your guide carries all necessary vouchers and documents required in connection of your trip. On trekking trips, besides guides there will be a special cook and additional 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

There is rehabilitation works 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 extremely 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 vehicle, usually a truck to transport gears and supplies to the trail head 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 in average, stopping along the way for photography or places of special interest and also stop for tea and snacks and lunch and arriving in the destination usually by 4 or 5 pm.

About our Trekking Trips in Tibet

Our all trekking trips in Tibet are fully catered by our qualified and experienced crew from Tibet. Depending on group size, we may also hire professional Nepali 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 to control 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 7.30am. We leave the campsite usually from 8 to 8.30 am for days trekking. Your luggage is carried by porter or pack animal and all you need to carry 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. The remainder of the afternoon can be spent 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. Dinner is usually served between 6 and 7pm 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 initiative in singing and dancing before turning into the tent for a well-earned sleep.

Health concerns

There are no mandatory vaccination 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 main 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. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times should it be required. 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. Hotels in Lhasa are equipped with oxygen. 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 serious sickness or a casualty, which generally does not happen; you shall be driven by a land cruiser to nearest Nepal border or flown out of Lhasa. It’s recommended that you should bear a valid travel insurance covering emergency medical transportation.
You should start some physical exercises like jogging, swimming, cycling, hiking and aerobics about several weeks ahead of the trip that keeps you fit and lessens 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. Its also advisable to drink 3-4 litres of water daily and consume liquid food.

Best Time to Trek in Tibet

While trekking trips can be undertaken from April through late October, May, June, September and early October are the best period. High Himalayas blocks 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 (14,760ft) 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 a warm fleece or down jacket is recommended for the evenings. Below is 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 woollen hat and gloves
  • Scarf (to keep out dust as well as cold)
  • Sandals (flip-flops)
  • Towel
  • Sleeping bag (for camping/trekking)
  • Rain jacket
  • Strong sun cream and lip protector
  • Moisturizer
  • Water bottle
  • Camera (and plenty of film and spare batteries)

Tour Deposit US$ 300

Balance Payment

Balance payment is due 90 days prior departure. 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 and we may request you the cost of the ticket along with tour deposit.
Notice of cancellation and refund request must be received in written form.

Cancellation Fee

  • 90 day prior departure, US$ 150 admin fee,
  • 60-89 days prior departure US$ 250 or 25% of the land cost whichever his higher,
  • 45-59 days prior departure US$ 450 or 50% of the land cost which ever is higher,
  • 30-44 days prior departure US$ 600 or 75% of the land cost whichever is higher.
  • Cancellation received less than 30 days attracts 100% cancellation fee.

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

Travel Protection Plan

While we plan and do our best to make your trip smooth and seamless, there 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. that 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 get ill or involve in an accident when you are traveling in remote areas. Far & High’s Tour cost does not cover any of these expenses or losses and 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 55425
Tel: 1 612 605 4428
Fax: 612 807 1137

Nepal

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

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Tel (975-2) -329098 / +975-77204087
Fax (+975) 2 337004

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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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