Crossing Tibet by the Friendship Highway across the Himalayas and several mountain passes over 5000 m altitude.
We deviate from this road to visit the Everest National Park and its famous Base Camp (North Face of the mythical mountain), where besides his own camp, we visited the Buddhist Monastery and the Post Office highest in the world.
We ended the trip in Nepal (4 nights) visiting the most representative sites of Kathmandu Valley.
Here our complete route:
01-Barcelona-Moscow-Beijing (Thursday 05-08-2010)
* Flights day
02-Beijing (Leo Hostel) (Friday 06-08-2010)
* Airport - Hotel
* Tiananmen Square
03-Beijing (Leo Hostel) (Saturday 07-08-2010)
* Forbidden City
* Temple of Heaven
* Silk Market
04-Beijing (Leo Hostel) (Sunday 08-08-2010)
* Great Wall (Jiankou)
05-Beijing-Lhasa (T27 Tibet Train, Hard Sleeper Train Tickets) (Monday 09-08-2010)
* Hutongs by Rickshaw
* Hotel - Station Transfer
06-Train (Tuesday 10-08-2010)
* Train day
07-Arrival in Lhasa (Kyichu Hotel) (Wednesday 11-08-2010)
* Station - Hotel Transfer
08-Lhasa (Kyichu Hotel) (Thursday 12-08-2010)
* Potala Palace
* Sera Monastery
09-Lhasa (Kyichu Hotel) (Friday 13-08-2010)
* Drepung Monastery
* Norbulinka Summer Palace
* Jokhang Temple
* Barkhor streets
10-Lhasa-Gyantse (Jianzang Hotel) (Saturday 14-08-2010)
* Drolma Lhakang Temple
* Yamdrok Lake
* Kumbum Stupa
* Pelku Chode Temple
11-Gyantse-Shigatse (Manasarovar Hotel) (Sunday 15-08-2010)
* Tashilumpo Monastery
12-Shigatse-Sakya-Shegar (Qomolongma Hotel) (Monday 16-08-2010)
* Sakya Monastery
13-Shegar-Rongbuk (Everest View Hotel) (Tuesday 17-08-2010)
* Romgbuk Monastery
14-Rongbuk-Everest North Face Base Camp-Zhangmu (Caiyuan Hotel) (Wednesday 18-08-2010)
* Everest North Face Base Camp (Tibetan Side)
15-Zhangmu-Dhulikhel (Dhulikhel Lodge Resort Hotel) (Thursday 19-08-2010)
* Friendship Bridge (Tibet-Nepal Border)
* Nammo Buddha Monastery
16-Dhulikhel-Bhaktapur-Kathmandu (Tibet Guest House Hotel) (Friday 20-08-2010)
* Chandesori Temple
* Bhaktapur Durbar Square
* Golden Bridge
* 50 Windows Palace
17-Kathmandu-Patan-Swayambhunath-Kathmandu (Tibet Guest House Hotel) (Saturday 21-08-2010)
* Kathmandu’s Durbar Square
* Kumari Chowk
18-Kathmandu-Pashupatinath-Bouddhanath-Kathmandu (Tibet Guest House Hotel) (Sunday 22-08-2010)
* Bouddhanath Stupa
19-Departure to Spain via Delhi & Moscow (Monday 23-08-2010)
* Hotel - Airport Transfer
20-Arrival in Barcelona (Tuesday 24-08-2010)
A brief summary of the trip and useful information about the route:
The days in Beijing were, without guide or travel agent, only we had already booked from Spain the Leo Hostel accommodation place, that we chose using Internet informations. The truth is we were right to full, as is well situated (10 minutes walk from Tiananmen Square, with underground station on the same Square) and its value for money is spectacular (240 CNY = 15 Euros each night for room with own bathroom inside the room).
The Forbidden City and the Temple of Heaven Tickets, we get ourselves in these places, just note that in August, the Forbidden City is bursting with hordes of Chinese tourists, and we had to do a lot line to get tickets.
About the trip to the Great Wall, we got to Beijing with the intention of making the Jinshanling - Simatai section, but once there we were informed that this segment was in the process of restoration.
At the exit of the Forbidden City we met a very nice person who offered us their services, leading to a section of wall where there is little influx of tourists (we were alone) and that was quite blank about 90 km from Beijing, Jiankou area.
We paid 250 CNY = 32 Euros for the trip with the mineral water for the day included, and he came to look us directly at our hotel.
Really the trip is worth it, but to do it is to be minimally fit, as there are sections that almost have to climb.
The website of the fellow is: http://www.jinstours.com/indexs.htm
Tibet & Altitude Sickness:
Although we took the train to enjoy the landscape, and the experience of riding the train also named the Sky Train.
One of the main reasons was also to be two days acclimatizing to the altitude on the train, and after 3 days in Lhasa (3600 m).
Well, even so, the 8 members of the group at some point suffer the famous mountain sickness. Some of us are affected more than others.
The symptoms were mainly headache and insomnia. To fight them all the time we were eating Nuts, Chocolate, Energy Bars, Paracetamol and Ibuprofen.
Finally we all returned safe, once we left the Everest National Park and started down towards Nyalam, Zhangmu and the Nepali Border, all symptoms disappeared without trace.
Hotels around the trip:
The Hotels, chose us during the trip planning phase, based on information from the Internet (Forums and Tripadvisor).
As for money & quality, the truth is that we cool thing came out, except in the Rongbuk hotel, where the agency has made us the 2nd trick of the trip, I will explain later.
The Beijing Hotel reserve ourselves by email directly with the Hostel.
The hotels of Tibet and Nepal as I said earlier, we chose us and ask for offers with many travel agencies in Nepal and Tibet (You can not enter, or travel through Tibet, if you don't have an tour travel agency) for the route that we design and the hotels that we wanted, which were:
Beijing : Leo Hostel : (http://www.leohostel.com/LEO_HOSTEL_HOME.html) y (tripadvisor.es/Hotel_Review-g294212-d626095-…)
Lhasa : Kyichu Hotel : (http://www.hotelkyichu.com/index.htm) y (tripadvisor.es/Hotel_Review-g294223-d459786-…)
Gyantse : Jianzang Hotel : (tripadvisor.es/Hotel_Review-g303775-d1516745…)
Shigatse : Manasarovar Hotel : (tripadvisor.es/Hotel_Review-g303776-d506535-…)
Shegar : Qomolongma Hotel : (travbuddy.com/Qomolangma-Hotel-Xegar-TIbet-C…)
Rongbuk : Everest View Hotel (We did not find any website with information about the hotel, but the agencies with whom we negotiated were recommended to us. We have Hotel photos available for anyone who cares)
Zhangmu : Caiyuan Hotel: (travbuddy.com/Zhangmu-Caiyuan-Hotel-Zham-TIb…) y (tibettravel.org/tibettravel/html/20077312053…)
Dhulikhel : Dhulikhel Lodge Resort Hotel : (http://www.dhulikhellodgeresort.com/) y (tripadvisor.es/Hotel_Review-g317113-d338284-…)
Kathmandu : Tíbet Guest House Hotel : (http://www.tibetguesthouse.com/index.html) y (tripadvisor.es/Hotel_Review-g293890-d338266-…)
Trip Total costs:
-Barcelona-Moscow-Beijing, flights (Aeroflot) : 355 Euros
-Kathmandu-Delhi, flight (Jet Airways) : 88 Euros
-Delhi-Moscow-Barcelona, flights (Aeroflot) : 359 Euros
-Chinese Visa (Barcelona Chinese Consulate) : 30 Euros
-Nepal Visa (Kodari, Tibet-Nepal Border) : 25 Euros (Really costs 25 USD but as we had no dollars the very savvy Nepal people of the Border, charged us the same amount in Euros)
-Tibet + Nepal Tour: 594 Euros (At first they were 790 Euros, but with the train tickets included in the price)
-Beijing - Lhasa (Hard Sleeper Option, Train Tickets): 188 Euros (www.chinatraintickets.net)
-3 Nights Hotel in Beijing: 45 Euros
-3 Lonely Planet Guides (Tibet, Beijing y Nepal) / 8 people: 9 Euros
-Excursion to the Great Wall, with transport to and from the hotel door + water during the trip: 32 Euros
Our Requirements for the Nepalese and Tibetan Travel Agencies:
-Route designed by us as well as temples, monasteries, palaces and other tourist attractions chosen by the group.
-Double room with bathroom inside the room and continental breakfast included in the hotels that we chose.
-All Permits to enter & travel around Tibet & the Everest National Park [Tibet Travel Permit (TTP) + PSB Permit (Certificate) + Base Camp Permit].
-Tour Guides and Transport Private (Only for our group).
-English speaking guides (Friendship Highway + Lhasa + Kathmandu Valley Area) + Conductors + Transfers (Railway Station-Hotel in Lhasa and Hotel-Airport in Kathmandu)
-Van with AC for 8 people (Lhasa & Kathmandu Valley Area).
-2 4x4 Jeeps without AC for 4 people (Friendship Highway).
-The price of all tickets to monuments and tourist attractions chosen by us, including in the final price of the tour, both in Tibet and in Nepal.
-8 Tickets for the train T27: Beijing-Lhasa (Soft Sleeper Option).
-We will choose the sites where lunch and dinner during the tour (We use the recommendations of the three Lonely Planet guides).
Finally we chose this Travel Agency:
When planning the trip, we get a list of travel agencies recognized and recommended by the Nepal ministry of tourism via Internet, and this list is that tight budgets used to ask for our travel requirements.
After hundreds of emails with offers and counter-offers, we decided on the following agency that made us two tricks after having paid in advance 30% of the final tour by bank transfer before the trip four months (April 2010):
Access Nepal Travels & Tours Pvt. Ltd.: 790 Euros / 594 Euros
Mr. Tilak B. Thapa Magar (Managing Director)
Nepal Trailblazer Trekking Company
P. O. Box: 8667, Nayabazar, Kathmandu, Nepal
Mobile : +977-9851068290
Join Community: http://www.nepalhiking.com/community.html
Join Blog: http://www.nepalhiking.com/blog.html
This agency in turn, subcontracted part of the tour that ran in Tibet to following Tibetan Agency:
Tíbet Kyunglung Travel Service
Mr.Donglei (Managing Director)
Address: No85, Sera Road, Lhasa, Tíbet
The two tricks that these two agencies did us were:
1st - After having paid 30% of the tour by bank transfer in the month of April, a week before the trip, the agency said us that it was impossible to get train tickets, & discounted us 196 Euros of the total price the tour, and also said us that we must bought flight tickets (300 Euro) to reach Lhasa on the day of the tour begin.
Finally, and within a week ourselves from Barcelona via the web: www.chinatraintickets.net, we get what our agency did not achieve in three months.
We pay 40% of the tickets in advance via PayPal, and the remaining 60% in cash when the bills brought us to our hotel in Beijing.
A recommendation regarding this website, is that the earlier you book and pay 40% of the tickets, will purchase cheaper, because as you approach the day of departure of the train, the ticket prices becomes more expensive every day.
2nd - Once in Tibet, and three days before coming to Rongbuk (next to the Everest Base Camp), our guide tells us that after four months of our reservation, we have no rooms at the hotel that we had chosen and give us sleep in two tents for 4 people in the old Everest Base Camp.
After flatly refuse, hours later, our guide announced that we have finally managed 2 bedrooms for 4 persons each, in the hotel that we had chosen from the beginning, and finally accept the change.
When we reached the hotel we discovered that two rooms were really two grimy wooden cabins placed on the terrace of the hotel, with the windows cracked, where at 5,200 m altitude in the evening we had a terrible cold, and no group was able to sleep.
In Kathmandu, at the end of the trip, we met in person the Nepalese Agency Director (Tilak), with which hired the tour, we demand that your Agency return us the difference in price to sleep in what we had booked 4 double rooms bathroom inside the room (which also detail tricked us, cause this hotel has no rooms with bathrooms, all are with shared bathrooms and no showers for guests throughout the hotel) and the two filthy rooms where we stayed the whole group.
His response was that would have to claim to the Tibetan Agency because this Operator was that covered this part of the tour.
Arriving in Barcelona we returned to communicate by mail, with the two Agencies to demand what we consider fair for the services received, and after a few emails crossings, the only thing we have is that both Agencies literally and openly insult us by claiming something like our rights.
Agencies that offered us a slightly higher budget (10 Euros +), but perhaps we have handled better:
Mountain Hawk Trek: 800 Euros
Prem Pandit (Director)
Mountain Hawk Trek Pvt. Ltd
354/38 Sova Bhagwati Marg KTM, Nepal
Himalayas Guide: 800 Euros
Sherpa, Lakpa Dorje (Trip Planner)
G.P.O. Box No. 21619, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: + 977-01-2073076
Mobile: +977-01-9841229765, +977-01-9721442666
Trekking Team Group: 800 Euros
Post box: 11731, Chaksibari Marg, JP School Road, Thamel, Kathmandu, Nepal
Tel: 977 1 4 22 75 06 Fax: 977 1 4 26 98 36
Tel Res. 00977 1 4 35 46 70 Handy: 98510 75681
SKYPE ID: trekkingteam
Austravel & Tours Nepal P. Ltd.: 800 Euros
Ram Mani Khatiwada
P. O. Box: 21423
Tel: +977 1 4261273
For more information, Details and Photo Galleries:
Before leaving we created a travel blog about the tour, where we hold practical information that maybe someone can take advantage of, the website is: http://conectandoconelmundo.blogspot.com/
We are happy to try to resolve any questions about our path in this mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The photo galleries of our trip are located in the following links:
The photo galleries of our previous trips are located in the following websites:
FIRENZE & PISA 2002