Ngari Northern Route Tour 20-Day

Ngari Northern Route Tour 20-Day(KN03)

This is not the kind of tour with luxury and much social included. Ngari Northern Route Tour includes lots of rare sites where very few travellers set foot on, let alone foreign travellers. Most of the time you ll pass endless grassland without another vehicle or being in sight. But this is what this tour aiming for, for the right kind of people who are looking for a little bit solitude in the raw nature.

  Route Activities
D1 Arrival in Lhasa Transfer from Lhasa Airport/Railway
D2 Lhasa Norbulingka Park, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery
D3 Lhasa Potola Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street
D4 Lhasa > Gyantse > Shigatse (360km/7hrs) Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier, Pelkor Chöde Monastery with Gyantse Kumbum
D5 Shigatse > Tingri > Rongbuk > EBC (360km/7hrs) Rongbuk Monastery
D6 EBC > Kangga (70km/3hrs) Everest Base Camp
D7 Kangga > Peikutso > Saga (230km/7hrs) Peikutso Lake
D8 Saga > Manasarovar (580km/7hrs)  
D9 Manasarovar > Darchen (50km/1hr) Lake Manasarovar
D10 Darchen > Kailash > Darchen (20km/0.5hrs) Mt. Kailash(by shuttle bus)
D11 Darchen > Zanda (320km/5hrs) Thoiling Monastery
D12 Zanda > Tsaparang Ruins > Zanda (40km/1hr) Tsaparang Ruins, Zanda Clay Forest
D13 Zanda > Ali > Rutok (375km/8hrs) Ancient Petroglyphs, Rutog Monastery
D14 Rutok > Pangongtso > Ali > Gegye (290km/7hrs) Pangong-tso Lake
D15 Gegye > Gertse (375km/9hrs)  
D16 Gertse > Tsochen (250km/6hrs) Dungtso, Dawatso
D17 Tsochen > Raka (230km/6hrs) Tagyeltso, King Tiger Hot Springs
D18 Raka > Lhatse > Sakya > Shigatse (390km/7hrs) Sakya Monastery
D19 Shigatse > Lhasa (280km/5hrs) Tashilump Monastery, Summer Palace of Pachen Lamas
D20 Departure from Lhasa Transfer to Lhasa Airport/Railway


Ngari Northern Route Tour 20-Day map


Day 01: Arrival in Lhasa
Upon your arrival in Lhasa Airport/Railway, you will find our local Tibetan guide who will be waiting you there holding your name board. Transfer to hotel in downtown Lhasa. From Lhasa Airport usually takes abt 1.5hrs; Lhasa Railway 0.5hrs. Guide will help you check in hotel and make sure you re well-settled before leave. You re free for the rest of the day, but try to rest rather than going out to help your body acclimatize the high altitude better.
Overnight: Lhasa

Day 02: Lhasa
Activities: Norbulingka Park, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery

Norbulingka Park: also called Summer Palace, literarily means Treasure Park in Tibetan, Norbulingka Park is situated in the western suburb of Lhasa, at the bank of the Kyichu River, about 1km southwest of Potala Palace. Norbulingka Park covers an area of 360,000 sq meters, with 374 rooms inside. It is the biggest man-made garden in Tibet.
Drepung Monastery: situated at the foot of Mt Gambo Utse, 5km from the western suburb of Lhasa, Drepung Monastery is known as the most important monastery of Gelugpa in Tibetan Buddhism. Covering an area of 250,000 sq meters, Drepung Monastery is the largest-scale monastery among its kind. Seen from afar, its grand white construction gives the appearance of a heap of rice. Thus the name was given, Drepung literarily means collecting rice in Tibetan.
Sera Monastery: located at the foot of Tatipu Hill in the northern suburb of Lhasa, Sera Monastery is dedicated to the Gelugpa or Yellow Hat Sect, a branch of Tibetan Buddhism, and built it in 1419 during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Sera literarily means wild rose in the Tibetan. When the monastery was built, the hill behind it was covered with wild roses in bloom, the name was thus decided. Between 3pm~5pm from Monday to Friday, debating is held in the monastery’s debating courtyard, which is a sight so extraordinary and enchanting even you don’t understand a word they’re saying.
Overnight: Lhasa

Day 03: Lhasa
Activities: Potola Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Street

Potala Palace: it is the landmark of Lhasa, and one of the great wonders of world architecture. Potala Palace, winter palace of the Dalai Lama since the 7th century, symbolizes Tibetan Buddhism and its central role in the traditional administration of Tibet. The complex, comprising the White and Red Palaces with their ancillary buildings, is built on Red Mountain in the centre of Lhasa Valley, at an altitude of 3,700m.
Jokang Temple: included on UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2000 as part of the Potala Palace , the Jokhang Temple is located in central Lhasa. With an area of 25,100 square meters (about six acres), it is the ultimate pilgrimage destination for Tibetan Pilgrims. In front of the entrance to Jokhang is a forecourt that is perpetually crowded with pilgrims polishing the flagstones with their prostrations.
Barkhor Street: located in the old town of Lhasa, Barkhor Street is a very ancient round street surrounding Jokhang Temple. It’s said that in 647, the first Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo (617-650) built Jokhang Temple. Due to its magnificence, it quickly attracted thousands of Buddhist pilgrims. As a result, a trodden path appeared. It was paved by hand-polished stone boards. Though it is not broad, it accommodates thousands of pilgrims and tourists every day. Varied shops stand on its both sides and thousands of floating stands are on every corner.
Overnight: Lhasa

Day 04: Lhasa > Gyantse > Shigatse (360km/7hrs)
Activities: Yamdrok Lake, Karola Glacier, Pelkor Chöde Monastery with Gyantse Kumbum

Yamdrotso Lake: dazzling Yamdro-tso (elev 4441m) is normally first seen from the summit of the Kamba-la(4700m). The lake lies several hundred meters below the road, and in clear weather is fabulous shade of deep turquoise. Far in the distance is the huge massif of Mt. Nojin Kangtsang (7191m). Yamdrotso Lake is 130km long from east to west and 70km wide from north to south with a total perimeter of 250km and the surface area of 638 sq km, average depth of 20-40 meters. It is the largest lake at the north foot of the Himalayas.
Karola Glacier: Mt Nojin Kangsang stands tall with an elevation of 7,191 m (23,592 ft) between Gyantze County and Nagarzê County, with several snow-capped mountains over 6,000 m (19,685 ft) surrounding it. Mount Nojin Kangsang is the most accessible glacier site on the Tibetan Plateau. The famous Kharola Glacier (elevation 5,560 m or 18,241 ft) is below the south ridge of Nojin Kangsang.
Pelkor Chöde Monastery with Gyantse Kumbum: the sprawling compound in the far north of town houses Pelkor Chöde Monastery and the monumental Gyantse Kumbum, a chörten filled with fine paintings and statues. Both are deservedly top of the list on most travellers’ must-sees. Palkhor lies at the foot of Dzong Hill. It is well-known for its Kumbum, which has 108 chapels in its four floors. The multi-storied Kumbum Stupa was crowned with a golden dome and umbrella, surrounded with more chapels filled with unique religious statues and murals.
Overnight: Shigatse

Day 05: Shigatse > Tingri > Rongbuk > EBC (360km/7hrs)
Activities: Rongbuk Monastery

Rongphk Monastery: Rongphu(elev 4900m) is the main Buddhist centre in Everest region and once coordinated the activities of around a dozen smaller religious institutions, all of which are now ruined. It was established in 1902 by a Nyingmapa lama. While not of great antiquity, Rongbu can at least lay claim to being the highest monastery in Tibet and thus the world. Some of the interior murals of Rongphu are superb. Rongphu and its large chörten makes a great photograph with Everest thrusting its head skyward in the background.
Overnight: EBC

Day 06: EBC > Kangga (70km/3hrs)
Activities: Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp: Mt Everest, aka. Mt Qomolangma(elev 8844m), is the highest peak in the world. In Tibetan Qomolangma means the third Goddess of mountain. If you have no plan to actually climb Mt Everest, Everest Base Camp(elev 5150m) is as far as you can reach. Endowed with springs, Everest Base Camp has a couple of permanent structures and a small army base. It’s not possible to go all the way to Everest Base Camp by travel vehicle. All vehicles must stop at the nomad tent camp, abt 4km away from the sightseeing point. From here you can take the environment-friendly shuttle bus, or trek to the final sightseeing point. The way up is gentle and the altitude gain is less than 200m: most people can cover the distance in less than an hour by foot. Along the way you pass scree slopes, jagged ridges, and broad glacier valleys flowing with muddy water. Clamber up the small hill festooned with prayer flags of the final sightseeing point for great views of the star attraction, Mt. Everest.
Overnight: Kangga

Day 07: Kangga > Peikutso > Saga (230km/7hrs)
Activities: Peikutso Lake

Peikutso Lake: the beautiful turquoise Peiku-tso(4590m) is one of Tibet’s magical spots with stunning views of the snowcapped Shishapangma(8012m) and the Langtang range bordering Neppal to the south.
Overnight: Saga

Day 08: Saga > Manasarovar (580km/7hrs)
Enjoy the ride from Saga to Manasarovar. The newly built asphalt road would make this 580km ride much more present than before.
Overnight: Manasarovar

Day o9: Manasarovar > Darchen (50km/1hr)
Activities: Lake Manasarovar

Lake Manasarovar: it is the world’s highest freshwater lake, with the mirror like image of snow-capped mountains in its crystal clear waters. Lake Manasarovar is located at the southern foot of Mt Kailash, stretching up to 55miles in perimeter, going 330 feet deep and abt 120sq meters of total area. Lake Manasarovar has exceptional beauty that varies from crystal clear blue water near the shores and a deep emerald green colour at the center. There are a few monasteries on the shore of the lake and most striking of all is the ancient Chiu Gompa Monastery, which has been built right onto a steep hill.
Overnight: Darchen

Day 10: Darchen > Kailash > Darchen (20km/0.5hrs)
Activities: Mt Kailash(by shuttle bus)

Mt Kailash: Kailash dominates the region with the sheer awesomeness of its four-sided summit, just as it dominates the mythology of a billion people. The mountain has been a lodestone to pilgrims and adventurous travellers for centuries but until recently very few has set their eyes on it. Instead of the usual 3-day kora, you will take the local shuttle bus to sightseeing Mt Kailash.
Overnight: Darchen

Day 11: Darchen > Zanda (320km/5hrs)
Activities: Thoiling Monastery

It’s abt 8hr-drive from Darchen to Zanda, though the distance is only abt 243km. it’s 65km along a paved road from Darchen to Moincer, and then anther 50km from there to the army base at Ba’er, where the road branches south. The 122km from Ba’er to Zanda takes 4hrs of winding up and down fantastically eroded gorges and gullies. Zanda(3760m), Zhada or Tsamda, is the bland, one-street town that has been built up alongside Thöling Monastery.
Thöling Monastery: founded by Rinchen Zangpo in the 10th century, Thöling Monastery was once Ngari’s most important monastic complex. Three main buildings survive to this day within the monastery walls. If you have little interest in Buddhist statues and murals, stick to the chörtens, mani walls and open views across the Sutlej Valley just north of the monastery.
Overnight: Zanda

Day 12: Zanda > Tsaparang Ruins > Zanda (40km/1hr)
Activities: Tsaparang Ruins, Zanda Clay Forest

Tsaparang Ruins: the citadel of Tsaparang(Guge Kingdom), 18km west of Zanda, has been gracefully falling into ruin ever since its slide from prominence in the 17th century. The ruins seems to grow organically out of the hills in tiers and crowned by a red Summer Palace atop a yellow cocks-comb-like outcrop. It’s a photogenically surreal landscape that resembles a giant termites’ nest. The site’s early Tantric-inspired murals are of particular interest to experts on early Buddhist art. Even without the magnificent art, it’s worth the trip for the views over the Sutlej Valley and to explore the twisting paths and secret tunnels that worm their way through the fortress.
Zanda Clay Forest: lies along the riverside of Langqen Zangbo in Zanda, Zanda Clay Forest has been viewed as the most typical and largest tertiary strata earth forest in the world with the total area of 2,464 square kilometers. It was classified as National Geological Park in 2007. Throughout Zanda County, the various earth forests cover several hundred square kilometers and gorgeous background of the plateau. Zanda Clay Forest makes one feel like in a quite different world. In a way, Zanda Clay Forest rings a far echo with the Grand Canyon of Colorado in the United States. At dawn and dusk, the shining clouds on the horizon paint the many layers of Zanda Clay Forest into a brilliant golden picture. As the night draws the curtain, the ancient pagodas on the banks of the Shiquan River appear mysteriously solemn.
Overnight: Zanda

Day 13: Zanda > Ali > Rutok (375km/8hrs)
Activities: Ancient Petroglyphs, Rutog Monastery

Ancient Petroglyphs: in 1985 prehistoric rock carvings, or petroglyphs, were found at several sites in Rutok County. This was the first time such finds had been made in Tibet. The extensive collection of rock carving at Rumudong is right beside the road, abt 36km south of the old Rutok turn-off, or abt 96km north of Ali. There are kilometer markers every 5km along this road. Travelling north from Ali, start looking on the east side of the road at kilometer marker 970; the petroglyphs are at around 967. There are two distict groups on the rock face right beside the road, just before it crosses a bridge to travel along a causeway over the marshy valley floor of the Maga Zangbu-chu.
Rutog Monastery: the old Tibetan village of Rutok lies about 10km off the main road from a turn-off abt 5km south of Rutok Xian The drive passes the pretty chörtens of Bankor village en route. Lovely white-painted traditional Rutok huddles at the base of a splinter of rock, atop which is Rutok Monastery, flanked at both ends of the hill by the crumbling, but still impressive, ruins of Rutok Dzong. From here, you can see the reservoir below and Pangong-tso in the distance.
Overnight: Rutok

Day 14: Rutok > Pangongtso > Ali > Gegye (290km/7hrs)
Activities: Pangong-tso Lake

Pangong-tso Lake: abt 8km north of Rutok Xian, the road hits east end of lovely turquoise Pangong-tso(4241m). The long lake extends 110km into Ladakh in India.
Overnight: Gegye

Day 15: Gegye > Gertse (375km/9hrs)
It’s a 7hr drive from Gegye(4520m) to Gertse(4445m), the next town of any size. At the kilometer marker 1202, near Drungba, the gorge-like road ends which follows from the fledgling Indus River from Gegye;The road then leads to Zhungba, a dismal wool-trading centre for the nomads of the region; pass Tsaka, a small salt- and sheepskin-processing community; after more peaks the road lead to the nearby village of Wenbu Dangsang and the large and photogenic Peri-tso; pass the village of Sherma and some impressive peaks; Oma-chu, a small village huddled beneath a rocky splinter, is 50km west of Gertse; Gertse(4445m), is the biggest town along this route. The main street (Luren Rd) begins from the yak statue roundabout and runs from east to west abt 1.5km.
Overnight: Gertse

Day 16: Gertse > Tsochen (250km/6hrs)
Activities: Dung-tso, Dawa-tso

Dung-tso: started from Gertse, pass a wide valley dotted with sheep and prayer flags, abt 105km, to Dung-tso, with its purple mountain backdrop and salt marsh foreground that looks like whitecaps on the water from a distance. Don’t approach too close or you’ll get stuck in the boggy shoreline; the road runs alongside a dramatic range of 6000m-plus glaciated mountains;
Dawa-tso: the road crosses the scenic Nor Gwa-la(Wild Yak Head Cross), 5250m,94km north of Tsochen; pass the turquoise Dawa-tso(4680m), to the 5090m Nor Chung-la(Small Wild Yak Pass), 43km north of Tsochen, full of wild-haired nomads in town on a shopping trip. At the east end of the 2km-long town, walk through the Tibetan quarter to reach a mass of mani stones, prayer poles and yak skulls that local pilgrims gravitate to daily at dusk.
Overnight: Tsochen

Day 17: Tsochen > Raka (230km/6hrs)
Activities: Tagyel-tso, King Tiger Hot Springs

Tagyel-tso: elev abt 5150m, the waters of which are a miraculous shade of the deepest blue imaginable and ringed with snowy peaks. With luck you can spot gazelles, wild asses and even the occasional wolf, hungrily eyeing the valley’s many fat marmots.
King Tiger Hot Springs: 21km north of Raka are the Tagyel Chutse, or King Tiger Hot Springs, a collection of gushing geysers, bubbling hot springs, puffing steam outlets and smoking holes that seem to lead straight down into the bowels of the earth. A grazing brontosaurus would mot seem out of place in this smouldering, primeval landscape.
Overnight: Raka

Day 18: Raka > Lhatse > Sakya > Shigatse (390km/7hrs)
Activities: Sakya Monastery

Sakya Monastery: the immense, grey, thick-walled Sakya is one of Tibet’s most impressive constructed sights, and one of the largest monasteries. Sakya was established in 1268 and is designed defensively, with watchtowers on each of the corners of its high walls. Sakya Monastery is famed as the ‘Second Dunhuang’ due to its colossal collection of numerous Tibetan Buddhist scriptures, murals and Thangkas. There are about 40,000 volumes of scriptures are housed there. Sakya Monastery has many murals and Thangkas. Most of the murals are from the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368). Among them, the most outstanding and precious are the murals which depict portraits of the former Sakya ancestors, Phakpa’s meeting with Kublai Khan (the founder of the Yuan Dynasty) and mandalas. There are over 3,000 Thangkas, from Song, Yuan and Ming Dynasties.
Overnight: Shigatse

Day 19: Shigatse > Lhasa (280km/5hrs)
Activities: Tashilump Monastery, Summer Palace of Pachen Lamas

Tashilhunpo Monastery: it is a real pleasure to explore the busy cobble lanes twisting around the aged buildings. Covering 70,000 sq meters, Tashilunpo is essentially a walled town in its own right. from the entrance to the monastery, visitors get a grand view. Above the white monastic quarters is a crowed of ochre buildings topped with gold—the tombs of the past Panchen Lamas. To the right, and higher still, is the festival Thangka Wall that is hung with massive, colourful thangkas during festivals.
Summer Palace of Pachen Lamas: though it ranks far below Tashilunpo, but Summer Palace of Pachen Lamas still worth a drop-by. This walled palace complex built in 1844 by the 7th Pachen Lama on the south end of Shigatse is a strange blend of Buddhist temple and Victorian-era mansion with marvelous wall murals covering every surface of the rooms in vibrant colours and fantastic images.
Overnight: Lhasa

Day 20: Departure from Lhasa
Based on your flight/train schedule, guide and driver will come to your hotel to transfer you to Lhasa Airport/Railway. You journey in Tibet ends here. Have a safe journey home with all the good wishes from Tibet4Fun.
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