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CHINA /TIBET  – Roads on the Roof of the World

A self drive tour to Everest Base Camp by fully equipped 4 wheel drive cars.



temple in tibet




roads on top of the world




Departures: Please contact 2526 3391 for the dates   (Optional overnight extension to Nam-tso Lake).



Discover the mysterious land of Tibet on our Roads on the Roof of the World self-driving journey… Tread in the footsteps of Mallory and other great Himalayan explorers on a road trip like no other as you explore this stunningly beautiful region and drive from Lhasa to Mount Everest Base Camp.


Travel through the finest scenery on earth in the comfort and freedom of your own car, stopping at remote cliff-top monasteries and holy lakes as you wind your way towards the heart of the Great Himalayan Range...


On your journey back from Base Camp, it is possible to arrange a two day extension to one of Tibet’s holiest lakes, Lake Nam-tso.  Ringed by snow-capped mountains, the turquoise waters of the lake have been revered by Tibetans for centuries – the perfect end to a journey you will remember for a lifetime.


There will usually be a fleet of 4 cars on each departure, but as all are fitted with satellite navigation and a route map, it is not necessary to travel in convoy.








Day 1        Chengdu         


You will arrive in Chengdu under your own arrangements.  You will be met at the airport and taken to your hotel, the Sofitel, in the centre of the city.  Then we will take you to complete your temporary driving license application – everything will have been prepared in advance, and all you will need to do is take a simple eye test and sign the forms.  With your license complete, you will enjoy dinner in a lovely riverside restaurant.


Altitude: 500m/1,640ft         Distance: 0km/0 miles


Hotel: Sofitel Hotel, Chengdu (*****)




Day 2                Flying up to Lhasa – The Adventure Begins…


After enjoying a relaxed morning in Chengdu, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Lhasa (an economy-class flight from Chengdu to Lhasa is included in the journey).  On a clear day, the two-hour flight is an amazing introduction to the Tibetan Plateau as you soar over 7,000 metre (23,000 feet) peaks and beautiful valleys, before landing at Lhasa’s Gongkar Airport, which lies some distance outside the city itself.


We will collect you at the airport and drive you to your hotel in Lhasa.  After exploring the city in the afternoon, you will join the throngs of Tibetan pilgrims around the Jokhang, Tibet’s holiest shrine, as we walk to an atmospheric restaurant in the old town for dinner together.


Altitude: 3,650m/11,980ft             Distance: 0km/0 miles (70km/44 miles in chauffeured car)


Hotel: Thangka Hotel, Lhasa (****)/St Regis, Lhasa (*****)



Day 3                Discover the Holy City of Lhasa


Spend the day in Lhasa as you acclimatise to the city’s thin air.  Start the day with a gentle walking tour around the old city, where you will pass markets and workshops where Tibet’s traditional handicrafts are kept alive, as artisans paint thangkas and hammer out copper prayer wheels…  Enter the holy precincts of the Jokhang Temple, one of Tibet’s most atmospheric religious sites with its yak butter lamps, clouds of juniper incense and pilgrims murmuring prayers around you.

In the afternoon, visit the magnificent Potala Palace, which lies on the slopes of Marpo Ri in the centre of the city, and wander through the richly decorated halls and chapels that were home to generations of Dalai Lamas.


Altitude: 3,650m/11,980ft             Distance: 0km/0 miles


Hotel: Thangka Hotel, Lhasa (****)/St Regis, Lhasa (*****)



Day 4                        On the Road in Tibet – From Lhasa to Gyantse


Today will be your first day on the beautiful roads of Tibet, as you head west out of Lhasa to the stunning Yarlung Tsangpo Valley before climbing the winding road to your first high mountain pass of this trip, the Khamba-La (4,790m/15,700ft).  As you crest the pass, you will catch your first glimpse of the vivid blue waters of Lake Yamdrok-tso…


After driving around the lake, you will pass glaciers and remote villages on the road to Gyantse, where you will have time to explore the old town and Gyantse Monastery with its beautiful chörten, before enjoying dinner under the mountain skies in a lovely garden restaurant…



Altitude: 3,990m/13,100ft             Distance: 255km/159 miles           Duration: 7 hours


Road Conditions: Generally good – all sealed roads – but pot-holed in places

Hotel: Gyantse Hotel, Gyantse (***)



Day 5        To Shigatse & Beyond to the  West


This morning you will drive to Shigatse, home to the enormous Tashilumpo Monastery, one of the few monasteries that was saved from the ravages of the Cultural Revolution. 


Explore the monastery and enjoy a relaxed brunch before getting back on the road towards Tingri, which curves south-west from Shigatse towards the Great Himalayan Range.  Today’s roads are some of the best on the trip, winding and smooth, and a delight to drive on.


You will stay overnight in a simple hotel in the village of Pelbar and prepare for your trip to Base Camp the following day…


Altitude: 4,250m/13,950ft             Distance: 325km/200 miles           Duration: 6 hours


Road Conditions: Mostly paved but bumpy in places


Hotel: Everest Hotel, Pelbar (**)



Day 6        Summit Day – Pelbar to Mount Everest Base Camp


Setting out from Pelbar before dawn, you will watch the sun rise over what is, quite literally, the roof of the world – an incredible mountain vista that includes four peaks over 8,000m/26,240ft; Everest, Lhotse, Makalu and Cho Oyu. 


After sunrise you will drive further in, towards North Base Camp, which lies at the foot of the Rongbuk Glacier. 


Stand in the shadow of Mount Everest and imagine you are about to set off for the summit, almost four kilometers (2.5 miles) vertically above the North Base Camp itself…


From Mount Everest, you will return to the village of Tashi Dzom for lunch and the chance to meet with some local schoolchildren – help them to practice their English and learn about life in this harsh but beautiful environment.


In the afternoon, you will return to Pelbar and begin your journey eastwards, towards your overnight stop in Lhatse.


Altitude: 3,950m/12,950ft             Distance: 300km/186 miles           Duration: 7 hours


Road Conditions: 90km/55 miles of dirt road to Base Camp and back, sealed elsewhere


Hotel: Shanghai Hotel of Lazi, Lhatse (***)



Day 7        Return to Lhasa – or continue on towards lovely Lake Nam-tso…


For those who must end their journey soon, it is possible to return to Lhasa today in order to fly out tomorrow morning.  However, for those of you able to stay with us for an extra few days a treat is in store – a trip along beautiful back roads to Lake Nam-tso, one of Tibet’s four holy lakes.


Regardless of which option you choose, today will start with a short drive from Lhatse to Shigatse, stopping en route at Sakya Monastery to stretch your legs.  In Shigatse, the group will divide, with those who can continue to Damxung and Lake Nam-tso spending a relaxed afternoon in Shigatse, while those that must return to Lhasa continuing to drive for the afternoon.


Altitude: 3,860m/12,660ft (Shigatse); 3,650m/11,980ft (Lhasa)


Distance: 150km/93 miles to Shigatse; 415km/257miles to Lhasa       Duration: 2.5 hours; 8 hours


Road Condition: Generally excellent


Hotel: Shigatse Hotel, Shigatse (***), or Thangka Hotel, Lhasa (****)/St Regis, Lhasa (*****)



Day 8        Drive to the shores of Lake Nam-Tso…


For those who returned to Lhasa yesterday, we will arrange for you to transfer to the airport in time to catch your flight home.


While we can help you to arrange your flight home from Lhasa or make other onward travel plans, why not round off your journey by taking the train from Lhasa to Xining?  Please contact us for more details.


For those who will take the extension to Lake Nam-tso, you will enjoy a wonderful country road as we leave the Friendship Highway behind us and head north-east towards Damxung and across the highest mountain pass on this trip, the 5,300m/17,380ft Shogu-la Pass, enjoying a picnic lunch en route before reaching Damxung, where the vast and wild Changtang Plain – home to Tibet’s nomadic population – meets the more settled region around Lhasa…


Altitude: 4,280m/14,040ft             Distance: 325km/200 miles           Duration: 7 hours


Road Conditions: Mixed – unsealed and bumpy in places, but good elsewhere.

Hotel: Pema Hotel, Damxung (**)



Day 9        From Lake Nam-tso to Lhasa


Today you will make an early morning visit to Lake Nam-tso, visiting the island of Tashi Do – the best place to enjoy the dramatic lakeside scenery.  The saltwater lake lies at 4,750m/15,580ft, and is ringed to the south by the Nyechen Tanglha mountain range, whose snow-capped peaks soar to over 7,000m/22,960ft – a truly awe-inspiring setting.


After walking around the edge of the island on a kora circuit used by pilgrims, you will return to Damxung for lunch before setting off for Lhasa, where you will arrive in the late afternoon, in time to relax and enjoy a farewell dinner and – if you haven’t already – sample a Tibetan specialty, yak butter tea!


Altitude:  3,650m/11,980ft            Distance: 300km/186 miles           Duration: 5 hours


Road Condition: Generally good with short bumpy sections


Hotel: Thangka Hotel, Lhasa (****)/St Regis, Lhasa (*****)



Day 10      Farewell Tibet…


This morning will be your last in Lhasa – perhaps spend the morning shopping for mementos of your journey, or take a moment to enjoy a leisurely lunch in the sunshine, or simply wander through the city, absorbing the sights and sounds of the old town and reflecting upon your driving adventure over the past days.



Altitude: 3,650m/11,980ft             Distance: 0km/0 miles (70km/44 miles in chauffeured car)



This itinerary can be combined with other touring arrangements in Tibet or elsewhere in China.