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Namtso Lake Trek

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  • Jyatha, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal

Overview

Nam-Tso at an elevation of 4,718 (15, 475ft.) 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.

The Namtso lake Trek is a trek that offers the ecological diversity of northern Tibet. Located 160km away from Lhasa, Damxung County which is featured by rugged terrain and constantly changing climate has an average altitude of 4200m and becomes the starting place. The trek begins on Damxung’s main road and makes a round about to cross the mighty Nyenchen Tonglha Mountains to Namtso Lake.


Trip highlights

  • Wonderful scenic flight through the beautiful Himalayan range en route and cross-border, with a stunning view of the great Mt. Everest
  • Hike through the beautiful Tibetan meadow
  • Namtso lake known as the "Heavenly Lake" is the largest salt water lake in Tibet
  • The stunning view of Nyenchen Tanglha ranges
  • Trekking trail is filled with nomad herders and their herds of yaks and tents
  • The trip begins at Damxung which is 4130 m above the sea level

Detailed Itinerary

Day 01: Arrival in Lhasa (3660m.)

Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa from Kathmandu, Chengdu, Beijing, Shanghai, Xian or any nearby hub. Airplane will land at Lhasa Gonggar Airport (96km from the main city). If the weather is clear there are wonderful views of Everest, Nuptse, Lhotse, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and other peaks en route. Upon arrival, you will be received by our Tibetan guide at the airport. Then transfer to Lhasa. After checking in at your hotel, you are advised to take rest. Drink plenty of fluids and let your body get used to Lhasa’s high altitude.

Day 02: Sightseeing in Lhasa (3660m.)

This day you visit Potala Palace, Sera Monastery and Norbulinka. One of the highlights is the visit to the symbol of Tibet; the Potala Palace set high on Red Hill, the winter home of the Dalai Lama until 1959. The most sacred temple in Lhasa is the Lokhang, where people come from all over Tibet to visit and pray in this spiritual heart of the country. It was used as a military kitchen during the Cultural Revolution but has now been beautifully restored, with many priceless thangkas and statues adorning the chapels, and magnificent gilded roofs.

In the afternoon visit Sera monastery, which was created in 1419, has always been an important Buddhist seminary. As rose are planted everywhere in the monastery, it is also called “the court of wild rose”. Today still 200 lamas live in there. Another great treasure is the Norbulingka – the old summer palace of the Dalai Lama.

Day 03: Sightseeing in Lhasa (3660m.)

This day you are programmed to visit Drepung Monastery, Jorkhang Temple and Barkhor Street. This day you are programmed to visit Drepung monastery, one of the great monasteries of the Gelukpa (yellow hat) sect, just outside Lhasa. There is time to explore Lhasa on your own, perhaps visiting the Tibetan Medical College or the Ramoche temple (one of the oldest religious buildings in Tibet).

In the evening you visit Jorkhang temple, the center of the Tibetan Buddhism and the sacred land of Buddhist followers where innumerable pilgrims come for worship everyday. The temple, built in 647, is the earliest wood-and-masonry structure still existing in Tibet. Surrounding the Jorkhang Temple is the bustling Barkhor Market place which is the religious and social focus of Lhasa. Around the Barkhor there are numerous stalls selling all sorts of handicrafts: brightly colored boots and fur-lined hats, silver and turquoise jewelry, rosaries, prayer flags and charms, as well as beautiful Tibetan carpets and all manner of ordinary household ware.

Day 04: Morning drive to Damxung and start trekking.

We drive on rugged road via Qinghai-Tibet highway. We cross 5,150m Lhachen La pass and reach Duojia which was built in 1716. It is the biggest temple nearby the Namtso Lake. Spreading over 1,920 sq km, it is the second largest lake in China after Quinghai Lake and the highest altitude salt lake. The sacred mountain Nyenchentangla and Namtso Lake is said to have protected the vast pasture and cattle.

Day 05: Trek around Namtso Lake

After taking in a scenic morning sunrise, we will continue on a 7 or 8 hour walk through a glacial valley famous for its local flora and fauna. After visiting a local yak herding village we will set up camp for the night under the star light sky.

Day 06: Trek around Namtso Lake

We will continue our trek moving through the basin area before reaching a vast meadow. We will then continue up a scenic path on the way to the Kong La Pass offering timeless views of the valley surrounded by the mountain scenery of the Thangla range.

Day 07: Trek around Namtso Lake

We will continue through the land of traditional nomads with traditional terraced fields. After a relaxing morning hike, we will arrive at Namtso lake for lunch before continuing along a jeep trail to the Tashi Do hermitage to make camp for the night.

Day 08: Acclimatization day

We will take an easy day to explore the beautiful surrounding area. You will have the choice to hike to several scenic vantage points or stay at the local hermitage to learn more about the traditional religious practices and enjoy the beauty of Namtso Lake.

Day 09: Drive from Namtso Lake to Lhasa

We will take a scenic drive back to Lhasa passing through a wide range of natural beauty. We will take a break to explore the traditional town of Yangbachen to speak with locals and admire the local crafts before having dinner and relaxing in the ancient capital city of Lhasa.

Day 10: Drive from Lhasa - Gyantse (3950 m.)

In the morning, drive from Lhasa to Gyantse .On the way, drive over the Gampala pass (4790 m), and you will have a glimpse of Yamdrok-tso (4400m) .The Lake is surrounded by many snow-capped mountains and in the distance you can have spectacular views of Holy Mount Nyenchen Khangsar, (7191m) the highest mountain near Lhasa .

Later, we will pass and enjoy the Korola Glacier on the roadside; At Manak Dam Lake, you can hang pray flag at Simila Mountain Pass; then, we will arrive in Gyantse, historically Tibet's third largest city (after Lhasa and Shigatse). In Gyantse, we will visit the famous Pelkor Monastery and Gyantse Kumbum and enjoy the Far view of Gyangtse Fortress.

Day 11: Drive from Gyantse - Shigatse (3900m.)

Drive to Shigase, visit Tashilampo Monastery in Shigatse. Tashilumpo Monastery is the seat of successive Panchen Lamas, also one of the six Gelug monasteries. Founded by the First Dalai Lama in 1447, its name means "all fortune and happiness gathered here" or "heap of glory" in Tibetan. Covering an area of nearly 150,000 square meters, the monastery has more than 57 halls and 3600 rooms. Among them, the Coqen Hall can hold 2000 people chanting at the same time. Featuring an interesting sprawling amalgam of traditional Tibetan monastic style, those halls, chapels and other structures are connected by precipitous steps and narrow cobblestone alleys. The interplay between the golden roofs and the white, red and black exterior walls creates a striking composition.

Day 12: Drive from Shigatse to Lhatse

Leaving Shigatse you climb steadily to the top of a 4050m pass, and then follow valleys containing a few small villages before climbing to the Tsuo La (4500m). From here the road drops steeply down towards Lhatse where the main road from western Tibet comes in.

Day 13: Drive from Lhatse to Tingri

Another climb through virtually unpopulated high altitude moorland brings you to the summit of the Gyatso La (5220m.), the watershed between Tibet and the Indian sub-continent. After a long descent you arrive at Shegar or New Tingi. Scenically this is one of the most spectacular days of the trip.

Day 14: Drive from Tingri to Nyalam

Amidst the stunning views of Everest, Cho Oyu and other mountain peaks, you accelerate past Lalung La pass at 5124m and Shung La pass at 5200m. The trail further commands far-reaching views of enchanting Shishapangma, Menlungtse and Gauri Shankar enchant as you leave behind arid Tibetan Plateau. The route then progresses towards pristine and fortified town of Nyalam.

Day 15: Drive from Nyalam to Kathmandu

Heading away from Nyalam, drive for one hour to the lush and verdant vegetation of Zhangmu at 2300 meter. Few kilometers drive follows Friendship Bridge along Bhote Koshi River to Immigration Control in Kodari where you bade goodbye to your Tibetan guide and handle re-entry formalities to return to Kathmandu. After 5 hours of driving for 123km, you finally arrive in Kathmandu.

  • Trip facts

  • Trip duration : 15 days
  • Grade : Moderate
  • Activity : Sightseeing Tour & Trekking in Tibet
  • Starts in : Lhasa
  • End in : Nyalam
  • Max Altitude : 52050 m
  • Location Covered: Lhasa, Damxung, Namtso Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse, Lhatse, Tingri, Nyalam
  • Best Season: Spring / Autumn

Cost Includes

  • Airport pick-up and drop off services by private A/C vehicle
  • Flight tickets from Kathmandu to Lhasa
  • Transfer back to Kathmandu by private vehicle
  • Sightseeing tour in Tibet
  • Monasteries entry fees
  • Accommodation in 3 star hotels with breakfast on twin sharing basis
  • Guesthouse/Tented camp accommodations during the trek
  • All meals during the trek
  • English speaking Tibetan Guide
  • All ground transportation throughout the Tibet trek/tour by private vehicle
  • Travel Permits
  • China/Tibet visa
  • All trekking equipments
  • Yak & Yak Men required during trek

Cost Excludes

  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips, drinks and expense due to unforeseen circumstance
  • Service other than mentioned above
  • Meals and hotel accommodation in Kathmandu


Extension Tours

Paragliding
Jungle Safari
Pokhara Tour
Rafting

Necessary Information

1. Arrival in Lhasa

Tibet is connected by railway line from Chengdu, Beijing, Xian, Xining and Shanghai. Air China and Sichuan Airlines operate regular flights between Kathmandu and Lhasa. This flight offers spectacular views of Mt. Everest, Makalu and many other Himalayan giants. We will organize your pick up once you reach Lhasa and drive you to your hotel.

2. Visa & Entry Procedure

Via Kathmandu

For Tibet, we organize a group visa, and in order to do this we will need a copy of your passport at least 30 days prior to the commencement of your trip. Tourism regulations in Tibet are subject to change without prior notice. As per current regulation Chinese Embassy issues visa from Monday to Friday (9am – 11am) in Kathmandu, and it takes 4 days for visa processing. We will need your original passport 1 day before the visa processing day.

Via Mainland China

Those entering Tibet from mainland China (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xian, Guilin etc) have to get Chinese visa from their country (please ask us for the best way of doing it).

3. Group Size

We bring together a small group of like-minded people. During the trip, not only do they gain a memorable and insightful travel experience but also get an invaluable opportunity to interact with each other. On our fixed scheduled departures, group comprises of maximum 12 & minimum 2 persons. You are likely to join a group from different countries. Average age ranges from early 20s to mid 50s. For private trips, no minimum and maximum number apply.

If you would like to travel independently or with your friends, families and colleagues you are invited to choose any of our trips at your convenient time frame for any number of people (min 1 to max 100 at a time).

4. Accommodation

In Lhasa, accommodation will be at 3 star hotel. Elsewhere along the route, accommodation will be at the available hotels. If you would like to book a single room, please do inform us. A supplement charge will incur in that case.

We shall try our best to provide the best accommodation available but please do keep in mind that you are taking an adventure tour, and sometimes the arrangement may be basic. Traveling in Tibet is a fantastic experience but sometimes you have to put up with a bit of discomfort. To enjoy this trip you need to have an adventurous spirit and the ability to adapt to minor discomforts.

Tented camps supported and catered by Nepali Sherpa crews shall be provided during the trek.

5. Guide & Trekking Crew

For your sightseeing tour in the cities, a knowledgeable English speaking guide will accompany you.

On your trek, you will be accompanied by either Nepalese or Tibetan trekking crew. Their aim is to make the trek as hassle-free and enjoyable as possible. They all speak some English and, although it may not be perfect, communication won't be a problem. Under the leadership of the sirdar, the crew consists of several assistants depending on group size who will ensure you don't take the wrong path. There will also be a cook and kitchen crew to keep you well fed with delicious and nutritious meals. To transport all the gear from camp to camp, we use yaks in Tibet.

A typical trekking crew consists of one guide and one cook and the kitchen crew, porters and yaks. The ratio of trekking crew to group members is generally 1:4. At the end of the trek, it is customary to tip the crew as a sign of your appreciation for the work they've done.

6. Food

All breakfasts are included in our package. Your guide will help you find good restaurants with reasonable price. You can try ethnic Tibetan cuisine. Have some momos or gyantok, and wash it down with a cup of salted Tibetan butter tea. Meals will either be in the hotel or at a restaurant of your choice (where available). While on the road, lunch will be at one of the many Chinese tea shops along the way which generally serve a variety of noodle and vegetable dishes and meat where available.  Expect to spend around 25-30 US$ per day for meals.

Apart from when you are staying in hotels, during the trek ,your cook will provide 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 omelette, 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 vegetables, 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 products 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.

7. Transportation

The roads in Tibet can at times become quite rough and impassable for many vehicles. It can at times become quite rough and impassable for many vehicles, so for this reason we use best Land cruiser 4WDs. These vehicles are extremely reliable and will make the journey as comfortable as possible. As for the trekking and climbing there will be a truck for carrying luggage and trek equipments. We’ll drive for several hours, stopping along the way for photographs or places of special interest, before stopping for lunch at around midday. After lunch we continue our journey, generally arriving at our destination by 3 or 4pm.

8. Communication

Communication facilities in Tibet have been improved over the past few years. All the hotels we use in Lhasa, Gyantse and Shigatse have international IDD phone and fax services. Phone calls can also be made from public booth in bigger towns. Internet cafes are also available at bigger towns, check with your guide for the best cyber cafes in each town.

These days, mobile phones work fine up to the Everest Base Camp. You can also have a roaming facility added to your mobile phone. If you buy a Chinese SIM card at the border, you could stay in touch with your family and friends most of the time. Please ask us for the latest facilities and schemes on Chinese mobile phones.

9. Best time to do this Trek

Despite the high altitude of the Tibetan Plateau, the daytime temperatures are actually quite mild. Between April and November the average temperature ranges form 15-25 degrees Celsius and the skies are generally clear and blue. From July to August though there can be the odd shower during the day. The nights, however, can be very cold and temperatures can drop below 0 degrees Celsius. 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.

The best time of year for overland tours in Tibet is from April to November and for treks and Mt. Kailash tour from April to the beginning of October.

10. Clothing & Equipment

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. For trekking you will need walking boots, sleeping bags (3 seasons), waterproof jackets and trousers, fleece jackets, warm hat and gloves, sunglasses, water bottle, suns cream and day pack. Comprehensive list of equipments will be provided once you book your trip.

11. Personal Expenses

Besides Chinese Yuan, only US dollars can be accepted in Tibet. Also shops that accept American currency are very limited and you might not be able to get a good deal for an exchange rate. Credit cards can only be used at some hotels. The Bank of China also accepts credit cards. ATM is not widely available. Exchanging your money to Chinese currency will be the best option for you, which can be done at the Bank of China. While changing money at the local money exchange centers, please make sure that you are accompanied by your guide and do consult him as you may easily be duped with counterfeit notes.

Tibet is becoming more expensive every year. There are many shops in Lhasa, Shigatse and Gyantse that sell traditional Tibetan handicrafts. We recommend you to bring extra money to spend on souvenirs.

Tips are appreciated by your support team, after completion of the trip. The amount you give depends on your budget and appreciation of their work. For this you can allocate around 5% of your total tour cost.

12. Health

Vaccination requirements change frequently, so we suggest you consult your doctor at least 2 months prior to your trip. The main health consideration in high altitude is Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). You may experience some mild symptoms initially, such as headache, lethargy, nausea and difficulty sleeping, but these should lessen within a few days. To avoid Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS), people take pills called ‘Diamox’. You can also use these pills after consulting with your doctor. A supply of bottled oxygen is carried in the vehicle at all times. Chinese doctors will also be available at places like Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse, and Shegar. Our itinerary will allow your body to acclimatize properly and to handle the low oxygen rate. We have been organizing trips in Tibet since 1998, and only negligible numbers have suffered from severe AMS.

13. Rescue and Evacuation

In case of a serious sickness or a casualty, which we hope will not happen; you shall be transferred to the nearest hospital. Since you are entirely liable for all the expenses incurred in evacuation please make sure that it is covered by your insurance before assigning for it or be prepared to pay on your own after getting back to Kathmandu.

14. Itinerary Changes

One should keep in mind that this is an adventure trip that takes you into one of the remotest corners of the Tibetan plateau, where many unforeseen events may contribute to the need for a change in the itinerary. Depending on the prevailing situation, the itinerary can be modified to some extent after consulting with your guide. However, the date of tour completion should always coincide with the original itinerary.

15. People and Culture

The Tibetans are classified as belonging to the Mongoloid family of people. They are probably descendents of a variety of nomadic tribes who migrated from the north and settled along sedentary cultivation of Tibet’s river valleys.

The Tibetans living within the borders of present day Tibet are easily identified by their distinctive dialects, social customs and dress. The Topas live in the highland regions (Lato and Ngari), the Tsangpas in the West Tibet (Tsang), the Upas live in central Tibet, the Horpas comes from the north (Nagchu/Jangtang), the Kongpowas from the south, the Khampas live in the east, the Amdowa in the northeast, and the Gyarongwa in the extreme east.

Travelers to Tibet inevitably find Tibetans to be friendly and possessing a great sense of humor. It is appreciated when you try and use Tibetan language when communicating with Tibetans. The further from Lhasa you travel, the more often is Tibetan used.

Religion is extremely important to the majority of Tibetans, and travelers should endeavor to respect their customs and beliefs. Always circumambulate Buddhist religious sites or monastery in a clockwise direction, and when in a monastery do not wear a hat, smoke or touch frescoes. In addition, refrain from climbing onto statues, mani stones or other sacred objects. Tibetans are warm and friendly people. Some speak a bit of English and are happy to have a chat with you. Don't photograph people without permission, and be aware that some locations prohibit photography.

Travel With Rajbala

Since we began in the early 90s we have always strived to keep our environmental footprint as small as possible and to give back to the many villages we pass through on our trekking itineraries. Today we still embrace this responsible travel approach when devising and operating our small group travel holiday experiences in Nepal. We invite you to trek in Nepal with the Himalayan trekking specialists Raj Bala Treks and Expeditions.