Day 1: Flight to Lhasa. You will be escorted from your hotel to the airport for your flight to Lhasa. On arrival you will be met by your Tibet guide and transferred to your hotel. Since Lhasa is situated at about 3700 meters above sea level it is important to remain well-hydrated and to take it easy. We will find somewhere comfortable to sit and drink throughout the afternoon.
In the late afternoon we will head into the Jokhang Temple at the heart of Lhasa. This is a busy time with many pilgrims making their evening rounds. This journey begins in Chengdu. If you need advice or assistance getting to Chengdu then please contact us. Meals: lunch, dinner.
Day 2: Potala Palace Views. Today we visit the iconic Potala Palace. Traditionally the seat of the Dalai Lama this monastery cum fortress is one of the most widely-recognized structures in the world and needs little introduction. Afterwards we head off on an excursion to the Lalu Wetland Reserve, located behind the Potala Palace. This area of bogs and marshes plays an important ecological role in a landscape that is generally noted for its extreme dryness. The wetlands are home to a wide range of species including Black-necked Cranes. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 3: The "Joyful" Monastery. Today we drive out to Ganden Monastery which rivals Lhasa's Sera and Drepung as a university monastery. Ganden is the Tibetan name for the paradise of the "Buddha of the Future" upon whose arrival all worldly suffering would end. This is therefore often translated as "Joyful". We will visit the golden tomb of Tsongkhapa, the monastery's founder, the chapel where he taught and the grand Assembly Hall. Those who wish may walk the hour long Lingkhor, Ganden's pilgrimage route. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 4: Home visit and Debating Monks. Today we stay around Lhasa. In the morning we will visit a local family and stay for lunch. Although this is a paid arrangement it would still be nice if you brought gifts from home. In the afternoon we head up the hillside to Sera Monastery to watch a strange spectacle. The monks here spend their early afternoon debating theology in the open air. Nothing strange about that: other than the way that they slap their hands together when challenging a colleague with a scriptural question. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5: Heap of Glory. We drive out to Shigatse further up the Yarlung Zangbo River, the second largest "city" in Tibet. Shigatse (aka Xigatse or Rikaze) means "fertile lands" and, indeed, the land around this glorified market town is some of the best for agriculture. Shigatse is the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama, second only to the Dalai Lama in the Tibetan religious hierarchy.
Those visiting Beijing may be interested in visiting the Yonghe Gong Lama Monastery there, the Panchen Lama's base whilst performing duties in the capital. We visit the magnificent Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the "Big Six" for the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) Sect of Tibetan Buddhists. Locals have given this sprawl of buildings at the foot of Drolmari (Tara's Mountain) the delightful nickname, "Heap of Glory"; there's reverence for you. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6: Local Customs. We continue to Gyantse via Xialu Temple once considered a great center for study, especially of the esoteric aspects related to paranormal abilities. Located in the Nyang River valley at just short of 4000 meters above sea level, Gyantse is a fortress town, strategically positioned to dominate the trade routes from the south.
It was here that the Younghusband Expedition found the Tibetan defensive forces blocking their path: and killed 500 or so in the ensuing unbalanced and brief battle. We visit Gyantse Fort and the Pelkhor Temple where, unusually, three sects coexist in harmony. This temple has a fabulous stupa said to contain one hundred thousand icons. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 7: Yamdrok Tso. We return to Lhasa by another route. This takes us past the charming Yamdrok Tso lake. We will stop here and perhaps try fresh local fish for lunch. These are now farmed here in vast quantities, with many being sun-dried throughout the summer. Beyond the lake we rise to a pass before descending to the main Lhasa: Shigatse road again. The views are awesome. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8: Fly out of Lhasa. We transfer to Lhasa airport for your flight. You will be transferred back to your hotel in Chengdu on arrival. The rest of the day is free. Please note: The standard Extension ends in Chengdu tomorrow. If you want to continue to Nepal then you can choose to fly on to Kathmandu instead. There are only two flights each week: on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Meals: breakfast.
Day 9: Journey's end. This Journey ends after breakfast. Check-out is usually 12:00 (noon).
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