Tibet Unplugged Trip Notes

Enjoy an adventure travel experience on a round trip from Kathmandu. Tour across the world's highest mountain range, see Everest, visit Tibet and more.

    • 15
    • CFRE
    • Total price tool tip
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    • Explorer
    • Basix
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There is a later version of this trip also available for travel from Jan 1, 2015 to Dec 31, 2015. View later Tibet Unplugged.
Print Version
Last Modified: 01 Oct 2014
Tibet Unplugged
Trip code: CFRE
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2014
Join an adventure across the top of the world. From the serene former home of the Dalai Lama in Lhasa to the ancient narrow laneways of Kathmandu, traverse the world's highest mountain range and delve into the heart of Tibetan Buddhism. Mingle with locals, rub shoulders with pilgrims and take in spectacular scenery - this is most definitely Tibet unplugged.
Table of Contents
StyleGroup sizeEmergency contact
ThemesYour fellow travellersEmergency funds
MapSingle travellersVisas
ItineraryAccommodationIssues on your trip
We also recommendMeals introductionWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerMealsHealth
Culture shock rating TransportSafety
Physical ratingGroup leaderTravel insurance
Included activitiesJoining point Responsible Travel
Optional activitiesJoining point descriptionA couple of rules
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
Spending moneyArrival complicationsResponsible Travel projects
TippingFinish point Carbon offset
Departure taxFinish point descriptionFeedback
Important notesFinish point instructions
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Explorer
Map
Tibet Unplugged
Itinerary
Days 1-2 Kathmandu
Namaste! Welcome to Nepal.
You can arrive at any time on day 1 as there are no activities planned until the important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Your leader will leave a note at reception telling you where the meeting will take place. Please ask at reception for this information. It is very important that you arrive in time for this meeting, as there are formalities to be completed for our Tibet entry permit.
Please note that your leader will collect your China Group Visa fee in cash at the group meeting today - see the visa section for more information.
After a brief orientation walk of the area surrounding the hotel, the next day is free to explore fascinating Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is a mixture of ancient architecture and modern development and, with its rich artistic and cultural heritage, it remains the legendary destination it has been for decades. Crowded markets and bazaars are the centre of Nepali life and the narrow streets are home to holy men, monks, bicycles, incense, goats and sacred cows.
Some great ways to spend your time here include:
Check out Durbar Square, the vast plaza opposite the old Royal Palaces chock full of Newari architecture.
See the ancient Swayambhunath Stupa (known to tourists as the Monkey Temple) - Kathmandu's most important Buddhist shrine. The sleepy, all-seeing Buddha eyes that stare out from the top have become the quintessential symbol of Nepal.
Join the pilgrims at Bodhnath Stupa - the largest stupa in Nepal and the holiest Tibetan Buddhist temple outside Tibet. It's the centre of Tibetan culture in Kathmandu and rich in Buddhist symbolism.
Head to Pashupatinath - a Hindu temple on the banks of the Bagmati River in Deopatan, a village 3 km north-west of Kathmandu. It's dedicated to a manifestation of Shiva called Pashupati (Lord of Animals).
ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
Optional Activities
  • Kathmandu - Durbar Square - NPR750
  • Kathmandu - Swayambhunath Temple - NPR200
  • Kathmandu - Bodhnath Stupa - NPR200
  • Kathmandu - Pashupatinath Temple - NPR1000
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Days 3-7 Lhasa
On day 3 we fly to Tibet's capital, Lhasa (approx. 2 hours).
Colourful and historic, the holy city of Lhasa is situated in a small valley. For many years it was a mysterious place, virtually unknown to the outside world with even the most adventurous and hardy of explorers rarely reaching the city without being turned away, either by the treacherous terrain or the fierce warrior monks that protected Tibetan territory from intruders. While now welcoming tourists and much modernized, Lhasa remains an intriguing city with deeply fascinating culture, sights and stories.
Altitude sickness and oxygen deprivation may be felt while travelling in Tibet, particularly when arriving in Lhasa. We've allowed a number of days here to allow for appropriate acclimatisation. For more information about altitude and altitude sickness prevention please see the 'Health' section of these notes.
In Lhasa we stay at a basic hotel, centrally located, with twin-share accommodation decorated in the traditional Tibetan style.
Tour the incredible Potala Palace, former home of the Dalai Lama. Although we're not free to explore the Potala Palace on our own and must stick to a strict schedule of viewing the exhibits and buildings with our guide, this in no way lessens the impact of seeing what is truly a wonder of the architectural world. Please note this is the most popular attraction in Lhasa, especially among Chinese tour groups, so it can be very crowded and tickets are for a limited time period only.
As this is a Basix Trip, entrance fees to the Potala Palace are not included and will need to be paid to your tour leader on the ground.As all groups must be accompanied, your local Tibetan guide can organise your Potala Palace visit for you.
Other optional activities you may like to take part in are:
Shuffle along with the throngs of pilgrims around the Barkhor pilgrim circuit, stopping to shop for souvenirs at some of the many market stalls.
Explore Lhasa's quaint backstreet craft workshops, bakeries, tea shops and tiny alley ways as you wander the Old Town.
Explore Jokhang Temple, which is often regarded as the spiritual heart of Tibet and one of the region's most active religious sites.
Visit the Sera Monastery where the monks hold dramatic daily debating sessions.
As the majority of the cultural and historical sites in Tibet are temples and monasteries we advise choosing carefully which activities you do in your free time and pacing yourself in order to enjoy the sites we visit as a group as much as possible. Tibetan Buddhism is certainly a fascinating part of the region's culture, however some travellers find that they get 'templed out' quickly as there's just so much information to take in. Take your time, ask our local guide about what interests you most and if you would rather have time on your own instead of joining the group to explore a monastery or temple please let your leader know.
Optional Activities
  • Lhasa - Jokhang Temple - CNY85
  • Lhasa - Potala Palace - CNY200
  • Lhasa - Sera Monastery - CNY50
Accommodation
Guesthouse (5 nts)
Day 8 Gyantse
On day 8 we continue on to Gyantse (approx. 8 hours, elevation 3980m), a small town southwest of Lhasa that retains a feel of 'old' Tibet. The drive is long but rewarding, with spectacular views and plenty of photo opportunities. If we do stop at Karo La (4960m) there will be a tourism charge per person of CNY 40.
Gyantse is a small agricultural town set at 3950m above sea level, famed for its wool carpets. It has a very traditional feel to it and everyday Tibetan rural life continues here much as it has done for centuries. There are a number of interesting buildings in the town, including the Pelkhor Chode Temple complex, a unique structure built in 1414, with five stories representing the five steps to enlightenment.
As well as many religious sites, Gyantse is a great place to see contemporary Tibetan life in the backstreets where pilgrims, pop music, cows, "cowboys" on motorbikes, kids and monks all mingle in a lively mix of cultures.
Optional Activities
  • Gyantse - Pelkor Chode Monastery - CNY60
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 9 Shigatse
After exploring Gyantse, we drive to Shigatse (approx. 2 hours, elevation 3840m), Tibet's second-largest city.
Visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the few in Tibet to have come out virtually unscathed from the Cultural Revolution. With its expansive territory inside thick stone walls it's almost like a town in itself. We visit with our local guide, but if you're feeling a little overwhelmed by the myriad monastic buildings each with their own intricate decorations, legends and religious imagery, ask for directions to the tranquil Chapel of Jampa and meditate on the world's largest gilded statue. The courtyard outside of the Kelsang Chapel is one of the best places to observe the pilgrims and monks prepare for ceremonies.
In the evening we can join the pilgrims on their kora (prayer circuit), spinning prayer wheels as we walk around the perimeter of the monastery and taking in the great views and atmosphere. The walk takes around 1 hour to complete.
Back in the city, if our stay coincides with Market Day a great activity is to head to the Shigatse bazaar and browse the stalls that sell everything from slabs of yak butter and yak wool to prayer wheels and rosaries. Be tempted by antiques, jewellery and fur hats with elaborate gold brocade, or simply watch as Tibetans vie with each other to win a sale. Alternatively, you may be able to visit the carpet factory where hand-woven carpets are made to traditional designs. Don't forget to bargain hard if you decide to make a purchase.
Optional Activities
  • Shigatse - Tashilhunpo Monastery - CNY80
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 10 Sakya
On the morning of day 10 we depart for Sakya (approx. 4 hours, elevation 4280m), the base of the once-powerful Sakya sect of Buddhism.
Sakya's monastery and town buildings are quite unique. The monastery is built in medieval 'Mongolian' style and rather than whitewashed, the secular buildings are painted in red and while stripes. With its high imposing walls, the monastery is sometimes nicknamed the "Great Wall of Tibet".
At first the halls may seem similar to other monasteries we've visited, but spend some time here and soak in the atmosphere and you'll soon realise that Sakya has a subtle ancient beauty that is unlike any other.
After the monastery you can choose to climb the hill through the Tibetan Village to see what's left of the original monastery complex. Make sure you pick your way through the ruins and remaining buildings in a clockwise direction as this is a kora route. You can also hike a little further to visit the friendly nuns at the Nunnery high on the hill overlooking the town.
Tonight for dinner, why not try some spicy food at one of the little restaurants run by Sichuanese immigrants. Stay the night in a basic guesthouse. Please note that there's usually not hot running water available here.
Optional Activities
  • Sakya - Sakya Monastery - CNY50
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 11 Everest National Park
An exhilarating drive (approx. 8-9 hours) along what is little more than a yak track brings us to Rongphu - 5,000 m above sea level and a mere eight km from Everest Base Camp (5150m). The view from here is utterly spectacular!
Rongphu Monastery is the highest in the world. On a clear day you may even get a photo of the monastery's chorten against the backdrop of mighty Everest, or Qomolangma as it is called in Tibetan.
A relatively modern monastery by Tibetan standards, Rongphu was built in the early 1900s and originally housed more than 500 monks. Today around 50 monks and nuns remain. Unusually, they share the same prayer hall although they have separate residences. We are received very warmly by the monks and nuns here and it's often possible to join them for their evening prayers.
Stretch our legs and our lungs on the gentle two hour return hike up to Everest Base Camp. Follow the prayer flags up the slope, hope for a clear sunny sky for amazing photos and even text a friend back home when you reach the camp. Yes, there's mobile reception even here!
The monastery guesthouse offers very basic, multi-share accommodation with no showers and outside toilets.
Included Activities
  • Everest NP - Base Camp visit
Optional Activities
  • Everest NP - Rongphu Monastery - CNY25
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 12 Nyalam
Today, we drive to the Tibetan settlement of Nyalam. The drive from Rombuk to Nyalam (3700m) takes around 8 hours. The journey is long but truly memorable as we traverse high mountain passes, featuring spectacular views of the Himalayas.
We stay in basic guest house with twin-share accommodation. Toilet and showers are on a shared basis
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
Day 13 Bhote Kosi River
Between Nyalam and Zhangmu, the Tibetan Plateau abruptly ends. The colours change, there are a lot more trees and the humidity relatively skyrockets as the harsh mountain landscape transforms into green jungle valleys. Have your camera handy because this drive is full of photo opportunities!
Also known as Khasa, the border town of Zhangmu (elevation 2250m) clings precariously to the cliff face, 10 km inland from the Friendship Bridge that soars across the Bhote Kosi River (Sun Kosi River). This small town has become a major trading post between Tibet and Nepal and the subtropical oceanic climate endows it with warm, humid weather as well as beautiful scenery throughout the year.
Crossing the border at Zhangmu, we wind our way further down the valley into Nepal and our accommodation above the raging white waters of the Bhote Kosi River.
Accommodation
Permanent tented camp (1 nt)
Days 14-15 Kathmandu
Winding through the high mountain passes, our journey comes to an end where it all began, arriving back in Kathmandu (approx. 5 hr drive) in the early evening of day 14. We'll check back into our hotel and head out for an optional final group dinner. Beckoning with a delicious array of international and local cuisine, Kathmandu is the perfect setting in which to chill out and reminisce about our adventure across the roof of the world.
There are no activities planned for day 15 and you may depart the hotel at any time. Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (1 nt)
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    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
    This is a demanding, overland travel trip, which is suitable for the experienced traveller. The affects of altitude, long days of travel in cramped conditions over extremely rough roads, accommodation in shared dormitories that vary in quality from the basic to the very basic and the possibility of severe and sudden climate changes means that this is definitely not a trip for the armchair traveller. Be prepared for no showers for several days, and in the event of a landslide or heavy snow blocking the road you may be required to walk carrying your own luggage for unspecified distances or the itinerary may change.
    Physical rating

    Be prepared for some serious physical activity. The majority of activities included on this trip will be challenging. The fitter you are, the more you'll enjoy your holiday.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Money Exchange
    The official currency of Nepal is the Nepali Rupee (NPR).
    ATMs can only be found in Kathmandu, Pokhara and Bhaktapur. Money exchange facilities are available in Kathmandu, Pokhara, Chitwan (only outside the park) and Bhaktapur.
    The Government of Nepal has banned the import, export and use of 500 and 1000 Indian rupee notes in Nepal. You should ensure you are not carrying these notes on arrival in Nepal as they will be confiscated and you may be fined.
    While travellers' cheques have security advantages exchanging them can be a lengthy process, commissions can be high (up to 10%) and they can be difficult to change in rural areas, on weekends and public holidays. If you choose to bring travellers' cheques, make sure they are a major brand and major currency.
    Please note that most establishments in Asia will not accept foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded and they can be very difficult to exchange or extra fees added when exchanging at banks. Please ensure that you have new, clean notes.
    The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao).
    We strongly advise against bringing travellers cheques as in China they can be extremely difficult or impossible to change.
    ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart. Some banks will allow a cash advance against a major credit card which will incur a service charge of 5% or more.
    Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. In any case, some money should be taken as cash in case of emergencies - we recommend around US$400 per person. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt.
    Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
    In China specifically, tipping is not compulsory, but is expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service.
    The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:
    Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals.
    Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group.
    Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers.
    Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
    At your group meeting on Day 1, your tour leader will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    Due to a Landslide blocking the Sun Kosi River and the Kathmandu-Tibet highway near Lamosanghu, this itinerary will run on an altered itinerary until further notice. For more information please get in touch with your booking agent.
    TIBET GROUP RESTRICTIONS:
    All clients will be entering Tibet on a Group Permit arranged by Intrepid Travel and as such it's not possible for anyone to leave the group and remain in Tibet individually. Everybody must enter and leave Tibet with the group. Make sure you read the 'Visas' section for important details on the information you must provide for your group's Tibet permit.
    DALAI LAMA:
    It's a criminal offence for anyone to carry images of the Dalai Lama or the Tibetan flag - doing so may lead to confiscation of the items, detention, arrest or imprisonment by Chinese authorities. We strongly advise travellers against carrying these items at any time while within China.
    CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
    Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
    NEPAL STRIKES:
    Kathmandu Valley-wide transport bandhs (strikes) can be called at very short notice. When these bandhs are in place the Nepal Tourism Board and the Nepal Tourist Police in conjunction with the Himalayan Rescue Association run Shuttle Bus Services between various hotels in Kathmandu and the domestic and international airports; this service costs 300 rupees person.
    PASSPORT COPIES:
    In order for us to apply for your Tibet entry permit and purchase your flight to Lhasa you must provide a scanned, colour copy of the personal details page of your passport to your booking agent no later than 30 days prior to the start date of your trip. If we do not receive this copy by this time there is a risk you will be unable to travel into Tibet.
    Group size
    Maximum of 16 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Accommodation
    Guesthouse (13 nts), Permanent tented camp (1 nt)
    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION
    The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.
    TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS
    Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on different Intrepid trips than your own.
    CHECK-IN TIME
    Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.
    PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION
    If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    No meals included
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    USD 260.00
    Transport
    Bus, Plane, Private Bus
    Group leader
    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.
    Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.
    Joining point
    Hotel Marshyangdi (Tibet Departures)
    Paknajol
    Thamel
    Kathmandu
    NEPAL
    Phone: +9771 4700105
    Joining point description
    Hotel Marshyangdi is situated in the heart of Thamel, Kathmandu’s tourist mecca. Its variety of restaurants and shops, pulsing nightlife and easy access to major tourist sites and the airport make it a convenient place to stay.
    www.hotelmarshyangdi.com
    Joining point instructions
    There are two pre-paid taxi booths inside the terminal, one on each side as you exit the baggage claim area. They have fixed rates of NPR400 to anywhere in the Thamel area from 6am-8pm and NPR500 from 8pm-6am. Otherwise you will need to bargain hard from the taxi rank outside of the airport - aim for NPR300. The drive into Thamel takes 30 to 40mins dependant on the traffic.
    Alternatively Intrepid offer a pre-arranged transfer service option. Enquire with your agent and advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your trip departure. If you have purchased an arrival transfer you will be met after exiting customs outside. Look for our representative holding a sign with your name on it.
    The hotel is approximately 200 metres north from the Kathmandu Guest House and about 40 metres north-west from the Rum Doodle restaurant
    Normal check in time at the hotel is after 12:00.
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    Hotel Marshyangdi (Tibet Departures)
    Paknajol
    Thamel
    Kathmandu
    NEPAL
    Phone: +9771 4700105
    Finish point description
    Hotel Marshyangdi is situated in the heart of Thamel, Kathmandu’s tourist mecca. Its variety of restaurants and shops, pulsing nightlife and easy access to major tourist sites and the airport make it a convenient place to stay.
    www.hotelmarshyangdi.com
    Finish point instructions
    A taxi to the airport will cost about NPR400 from 06.00-20.00 and NRP500 from 20.00-06.00. Hotel reception or your leader can help you organise a taxi.
    Normal check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later in the day or evening, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
    Emergency contact
    If you have any urgent problems prior to or during your trip please contact: Royal Mountain Travel: 00 977 1 4444376/ 4444378/ 4444379 Ext. No: 101 OR 104 After Hours: 00 977 980 201 2222- Mr Shiva Dhakal OR: 977 980 201 4444 - Mr. Rajju
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    NEPAL:
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Yes - on arrival
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: Yes - on arrival
    Ireland: Yes - on arrival
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - on arrival
    Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
    United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    Visas are obtainable from embassies abroad or on arrival at Kathmandu's Tribhuvan Airport. If getting the visa at the airport be prepared for long queues. There have been instances when passengers were asked to show return flight tickets. You will also need to provide two passport photos and the following fees in US dollars cash only: multi entry visa valid for 15 days - US$25, multi entry visa valid for 30 days - US$40, multi entry visa valid for 90 days - US$100.
    ***Please note if you are staying in Nepal for less than 24 hours while in transit a transit visa can be issued on presentation of your international flight ticket, there is a nominal charge of US$5 and two photos are required.
    CHINA - NEPAL to TIBET
    Australia: Yes - on arrival
    Belgium: Yes - on arrival
    Canada: Yes - on arrival
    Germany: Yes - on arrival
    Ireland: Yes - on arrival
    Netherlands: Yes - on arrival
    New Zealand: Yes - on arrival
    South Africa: Yes - on arrival
    Switzerland: Yes - on arrival
    United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival
    USA: Yes - on arrival
    GROUP VISA:
    Tibet is a province of China and all travellers require a Chinese visa. Current regulations require that all foreign visitors entering Tibet from Nepal do so on a Group Visa. Your tour leader will arrange for a Single Entry Group Visa in Kathmandu on Day 1 of your tour. Please do NOT obtain a Chinese visa before you travel. Any existing Chinese visa in your passport will be cancelled upon application for the Group Visa. The cost of the Group Visa is approx US$115 per person (US citizens US$200) to be paid in cash to your group leader.
    RETURNING TO CHINA:
    If you are planning to continue your travels in China after your tour (ie. flying from Kathmandu to Beijing) you will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa at the Chinese embassy in Kathmandu. Please check with the embassy for any specific application requirements. At time of writing the embassy is open for visa applications on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and may be able to provide same day service.
    DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR TIBET PERMIT & FLIGHT BOOKINGS:
    Tibet permits are arranged with the help of our local partners. If you are travelling on an itinerary that visits Tibet you will need to email the following document to us as soon as possible after booking and no later than 30 days before departure:
    * Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport
    Please make sure that this copy is of the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip as well. This may also cause significant delays in obtaining your Tibet permit so please plan ahead. If we do not receive these documents from you in time, your name and passport details will not be listed on the group permit and you will not be able to board the flight to travel to Lhasa with the group.
    WARNING – TRAVEL TO TIBET
    Please be aware that this is a politically sensitive area of China which has in the past been closed to foreign travellers without warning. A change in the political situation can also lead to unforeseen delays in issuing visas and permits. We aim to keep our travellers as up to date as possible with any changes, however these are often made without any official announcement by authorities and as such are out of our control.
    TIBET PERMIT:
    All nationalities require a permit to enter Tibet. Intrepid will arrange for a permit allowing your entry into Tibet however, Intrepid requires you to provide a clear scanned colour copy of the front page of your passport (photo page) at the time of booking in order to do this. This should be in JPEG format and Intrepid must receive this at least 60 days prior to travel. Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on.. If you have to renew your passport please bring your old passport with you as well.
    Due to the political sensitivity of this region it is important to understand that there are sometimes unexpected difficulties in obtaining Tibetan permits which are out of Intrepid's control. Three times during 2011 and 2012, and without official announcement by the government authorities controlling permit issue, the region of Tibet has been closed to visitors, or permits denied. It is impossible to predict when or if these sudden changes will occur again in the future. Of course Intrepid and our local ground teams will do everything we can to obtain permits or warn our travellers if they will be affected by last minute closures.
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes).
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    TRAVELLING ON LOCAL TRANSPORT:
    It's important that your bags can be locked, as on local transport it may be necessary to store your luggage separately (and unattended) from the group. The smaller your bag the better for you and other passengers, for when it comes to travelling on local buses and trains it's often only the smaller bags that will fit into the storage areas. If your bag does not fit in these areas then often the only place to put it is on your bed or seat. To ensure maximum comfort, try to pack small and light.
    Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage for included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense.
    CLIMATE & CLOTHING:
    The mountainous areas we visit on this trip can be very cold. Bring a warm jumper/jacket, thermals, warm hat and gloves - no matter what time of the year, as we travel at altitudes above 5,000 m.
    SLEEPING BAG- Tibet
    Although all of the places we stay provide bedding and blankets, for departures outside of summer or for travellers that feel the cold it may be worth bringing your own sleeping bag. Sleeping bags can be purchased in Lhasa.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.
    Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
    Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
    Before your trip:
    Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
    During your trip.
    While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
    Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
    http://d3oxn90f3yphmd.cloudfront.net/sites/default/files/file_attach/52735_product_altitude-sickness.pdf
    BIRD FLU:
    There have recently been a number of isolated cases of Bird Flu in Asia. While the risk to travellers is very low, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of local authorities and the World Health Organisation. WHO recommends basic hygiene practices to limit the risk of infection:
    • Avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
    • Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
    • Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
    • Do not attempt to bring any poultry products back
    • Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
    • Exercise good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing
    For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en/index.html
    Safety
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    ACCLIMATISATION AND ALTITUDE SICKNESS:
    Altitude sickness has the potential to affect all trekkers from 2500m and higher. We ascend slowly and give our bodies plenty of time to adjust to the smaller quantities of oxygen in the air. However it is important to be aware of the normal altitude symptoms that you may encounter BUT NOT worry about:
    - Periods of sleeplessness
    - Occasional loss of appetite
    - Vivid, wild dreams at around 2500-3800m in altitude
    - Unexpected momentary shortness of breath, day and night
    - Periodic breathing that wakes you occasionally
    - Your nose becomes bunged up
    - Dry cough develops
    - Mild headache
    If you are feeling nauseous and dizzy be sure to let your group leader know so that we can monitor your condition.
    Your leader will conduct a brief safety discussion before our trekking activity.
    FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
    BALCONIES:
    Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.
    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
    Pay attention on all roads, even small streets and alleyways. Vehicles find their ways into impossibly small passages leaving no room for both you and the traffic. Traffic can be very noisy and horns are used to signal turning, overtaking and to announce going through intersections.
    SEAT BELTS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in your home country and not all the transport which we use is able to provide seat belts.
    PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
    While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    LOCAL DRESS:
    When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for men and women.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Responsible Travel projects
    Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Nepal include:
    * Kathmandu Environmental Education Program (KEEP)
    KEEP advocates and promotes ‘minimum impact’ trekking by working with visitors, the tourism industry and the local community. KEEP offers training on nature conservation to the local Nepalese, as well as basic and intermediate English for trekking guides and lodge owners, first aid training, eco-trekking workshops and courses on ecological thinking and Positive Impact Tourism. Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will support the purchase of clothing and equipment for the Porters Clothing Bank, and the conduct of porters’ awareness workshops. www.keepnepal.org
    *just-one
    just-one targets disadvantaged children living in dangerous and vulnerable situations on the streets and provides them with training and educational opportunities that bring greater economic security to themselves and their families. Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will assist them in developing their current facilities to include an activity centre and library at their rehab home, and help them build capacity to reach an even greater number of disadvantaged children.
    www.just-one.org
    *Prisoner's Assistance (PA) Nepal
    Prisoner’s Assistance (PA) Nepal helps to equip children of prisoners with self-sustaining life skills and education, moving them out of prisons and into the community. Your support through The Intrepid Foundation will help increase the capacity PA Nepal to support more prisoners’ children.
    www.panepal.org
    For more information on our projects in Nepal, or to make a donation, visit: www.theintrepidfoundation.org/projects/?projectcountry=nepal
    Organisations and projects currently supported by The Intrepid Foundation in Tibet include:
    * Braille without Borders was Tibet's first blind rehabilitation and training centre. With four major project areas, it aims to implement a blind preparatory school, produce educational materials, facilitate social reintegration programs and conduct vocational training to enable the integration and acceptance of the blind in Tibetan society.
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 1415.00 kgs per pax.
    Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.