Asia 2018: High Road to Tibet Tour Review

Tour Title: High Road to Tibet
Tour Company: G Adventures
Tour Leader:  Gelu Sherpa
Cities Visited: Kathmandu, Panauti, Lhasa, Gyantse, Shegar, Rombuk, Shigatse
Countries Visited: Nepal and Tibet
Dates: 14 October 2018 to 27 October 2018 (Duration 14 days)
Tour Type: Classic
Tour Itinerary (PDF)

Tour Type – Classic
G Adventures Description: All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a great price.

Physical Rating: 4 – Demanding: Some high-altitude hikes or more strenuous activities, but accessible to most healthy travellers.

The Chief Experience Officer (Tour Leader Gelu Sherpa) assists you with almost everything going beyond standard tour leader. We had an additional local Tibetan guide and bus driver in Tibet.

The demanding physical rating was due to the high altitude of this trip which gets as high as 5,300 metres above sea level and the five hour hike in Panauti (Nepal). As long as you take it slow and follow instructions most reasonably healthy people shouldn’t have a problem but expected some altitude sickness and almost have the group got a cold at some point (including myself).

Tour Members
This tour had 14 tour members; Tully, Kalyan, Donna, Nadia, Ellen, Helen, Per Sverre, Harmeet, Sam, Hannah, Kyle, James, Kalman and myself. We covered Germany, Norway, USA, Canada, England, Scotland and Australia.

Tour members ranged from early 20s to retired so there was a wide age range but the group really come together well with fascinating discussions especially in the second week as people opened up a little on their opinions of the world.

Included Activities

  • G Adventures for Good: Sisterhood of Survivors Project, Kathmandu
  • Local Living: Panauti Homestay;
  • Kathmandu orientation walk;
  • Lhasa orientation walk;
  • Potala Palace entrance;
  • Sera Monastery visit;
  • Jokhang Temple entrance;
  • Pelkor Chode;
  • Gyantse Kunbum;
  • Tashilhunpo Monastery visits;
  • Everest Base Camp entrance and hike;
  • Border crossing support;
  • Internal flights (using Sichuan Airlines – review here);
  • All transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
  • Optional Activities
    Upgraded from a bus to a train for the Shigatse to Lhasa journey which cost 80 Yen cutting a 8-9 hour drive to a 2-3 hours by train.
  • Accommodation
    Kathmandu, Nepal – Hotel Fuji
    Our starting and finishing hotel. Free Wifi available in room. TV and shower with hot water. Breakfast while not included is available at the hotel with enough options it not overwhelming. Extending your stay by 4 hours costs 50% of rate, anymore and full rate for extra day.

    Panauti, Nepal – Homestay
    Very basic but secure homestay. Dinner and breakfast with family included. Hard bed, shower was cold and difficult to use (which I decided not to use). Squat toilet.

    Lhasa, Tibet – Yak Hotel
    The starting and finishing hotel in Tibet we stayed here four nights. Free Wifi available in room. TV and shower with hot water. Restaurant attached to hotel with good offering of food. Very central to number of attractions including Barkhor Square, and amazing Polata Palace. Lots of nearby shops and restaurants.

    Gyantse, Tibet – Hotel Jianjang
    Just above basic hotel. Free Wifi available in room. TV and shower with semi warm water (after a while). Extra blankets for warmth (no air conditioning / heating). No attached restaurant.

    Shegar, Tibet – Hotel Roof of the World
    Basic hotel. Free Wifi available in room. TV and shower with cold water only. Extra blankets for warmth (no air conditioning / heating). No attached restaurant.

    Rombuk, Tibet – Rombuk Monastery Guesthouse
    Very basic dormitory style room (5 to a room). Wifi in common area / restaurant area. Restauranthas basic food options (which can run out) but reasonable prices. Electric blankets in dorm rooms (but some didn’t work). Shared squat toilets (terrible smell).

    Shigatse, Tibet – Tibet Zang Ba Hotel
    Good quality hotel relatively central (everything within walking distance). Free Wifi available in room. TV and shower with hot water (very appreciated). Air conditioning and heating in room. Restaurant attached to hotel with very good offering of food.

    Tour Leader
    Gelu Sherpa is an experienced Chief Experiemce Officer (CEO)with G Adventures who obviously loves Nepal and is knowledgeable of Tibet and major religions in this area.

    Gelu liked playing jokes on members of the team in the second week once we knew you would appreciate them. Gelu went out of his way at local restaurants, most of the time taking the orders on behalf of the restaurant due to communication issues. Gelu also handled Chinese authorities very well and bought an enthusiasm to the group especially on difficult days due to altitude or length of travel.

    Our local guide and driver in Tibet performed their jobs well but they have restrictions on topics they can discuss especially in regards to Dali Lama and the Cultural Revolution as Tibet is very much a police state.

    Highlights
    You can’t go past Mount Everest and the visit to base camp on Tibetan side however all of the Tibetan landscape was spectacular and the visits to the Hindu Temples (Nepal) and Buddhist monasteries (Nepal & Tibet) gave you a good idea of the major local religions.

    Tips
    Lip balm is essential for this trip, the dry air at high altitude will cause you multiple problems don’t let dry lips be one of them. Drink a lot of water in Tibet, it’s hard to drink to much at altitude. It also gets cold at altitude so multiple layers are needed.

    For the Rombuk Monastery Guesthouse try not to need to toilet if at all possible, the smell is extremely bad.

    While wifi was widely available internet sites are very restricted. You’ll want to setup a Virtual Private Network (VPN) when visiting Tibet to get around the Great Chinese Firewall otherwise forget about accessing Facebook, YouTube, Google and a lot of news sites. I used Express VPN that worked well.

    Summary
    If you want to see nature at it’s best and push you lungs as the top of the earth (altitude) and get to witness how an dictatorship imposes it’s will on a different culture than this trip is for you. Don’t expect an easy time physically due to the altitude and temples, stupas and monasteries being build for smaller mobile people. Definitely worth doing.

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    About Nathan

    An Australian World traveler who has been fortunate enough to experience 56 countries so far. https://nathanburgessinsights.com/travel/
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