Tibet-Unplug

 
  • Route: Kathmandu to Kathmandu
  • Length: 15 days
  • Transport: Bus, Plane, Private Bus
  • Accommodation: Guesthouse (13 nts), Permanent tented camp (1 nt)

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, take in spectacular scenery and sample delicious food - this is most definitely Tibet unplugged.

trip-grade

 

 

Basic

Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.

Active

Explore the world on two feet - or two wheels! Our active trips range from classic treks & trips where walking forms an integral part of the itinerary to cycling tours offering a totally new perspective on a destination. All our active trips are fully supported.

countries-visited

 

China

Tiananmen Square Beijing China

 

As one of the world's largest countries and the most populous there is so much to discover in China.

Understanding the history of China is key to understanding modern China. The people are proud of it's past, and keen to share it's heritage with the world. In a country that defies superlatives the words 'vast', 'astonishing' and 'variation' don't really seem to cover it - China really does have it all. Jungle in the south, mountains in the west, desert in the north and 21st century cities.. well... almost everywhere.

Beijiing is the hub of political and international focus. With the 2008 Olympic games providing funds to modernise huge ares of the city, it is a truly modern city. However most visitors are most struck by it's old elements from celebrated site such as the Forbidden Palace to simple, traditional hutongs.

There's a lot of China to see and most of it is changing rapidly, so what are you waiting for? Get out there are discover it for yourself.

Nepal

View Of Everest

Wrapped around the Himalayan mountain range is the remarkable country of Nepal. It is the birthplace of the Buddha and is a land of legend and beauty. Within its narrow confines Nepal contains an utterly spectacular variety of culture and landscapes. Nepal has a stunning natural beauty and a simple charm.

Situated on the banks of the Bagmati River, Kathmandu is the hub of life in Nepal. A small medieval city, it is easy to get around on bicycles which can be hired very cheaply by the day or week. Worth visiting are Durbar Square, the Temple of the Living Goddess, the Royal Palace, Pashupatinath (Hindu Temple), Bodnath (Buddhist Stupa) and Swayambunath (Monkey Temple) - and all set against the magnificent Himalayan backdrop. 

While many urban restaurants in the country have tables and chairs for meals, there's a chance to eat the traditional Nepalese way. Sit or squat on the floor as food is served. Eating is always done with the right hand, which is washed before and after each meal, while the left hand can only be used for holding cups. Try a traditional millet beer with your meal. The Tongba drink is an icon for the local Limbus people, and from the storing of the millet to the drinking of the beer can take 6 months, but the wait is worth it. Nepal is full of culture and this continues into the music scene. With a country of over 50 ethnicity's there is a wide variety of choice. The amazing Dolhori style of music is a rhythmatic style of conversation and with quick thinking, the song can carry on.

With traditional culture and diverse landscapes, this country has something for everyone, and
added to the friendly atmosphere, it makes Nepal a memorable place to visit.

daily-itin

 

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 visa fee in cash at the group meeting today - see visa section for amounts.

After a brief orientation walk of the area surrounding the hotel, the 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 3,650 m above sea level. 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 was once a major wool-trading centre on the routes between India, Sikkim, Bhutan, Tibet and China. The town is dominated by its imposing hill fortress, Gyantse Dzongn, and is the site of the impressive Pelkor Chode Monastery. Founded in 1418, the monastery houses a room full of monumental golden Buddhas and other bodhisattvas. The town is also notable for the unique Gyantse Kumbum (meaning '100,000 images'), so be sure to see it during your stay. This monument was designed in layers as a three-dimensional mandala (a model of the Buddhist universe), with its five storeys 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, Shigatse - CNY80.00

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, Sakya - CNY50.00

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 at 5200 m. 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 village 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)

what-else

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.

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

 

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-extras

 

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 for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Imaginative Traveller nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Imaginative Traveller. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.

money

 

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

CHINA:

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 Imaginative Traveller destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.Tipping in China is not customary, but in the travel industry it is. Many guides and drivers would usually supplement their income by taking tourists to shops and restaurants from which they receive commission. Imaginative Traveller does not encourage this practice as we believe it can be detrimental to our travellers' experience. Instead we try to ensure we pay our drivers, guides and leaders fairly for their services. Tips are still very much appreciated for those situations in which you believe you have received excellent service.Please don't tip with coins, notes of or less that CNY1, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:Restaurants: Tipping is not common practice at restaurants in China or Tibet.Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest CNY10-15 per person per day for local guides with the amount adjusted accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day.Porters: In some hotels a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters.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 that you tip only those more involved with the group (for example those that help you with your bags etc). CNY5-10 per person per day is generally appropriate, with the amount adjusted accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day.Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$3-5 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 isn't compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

Departure Tax

All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

other-important-information

TIBET GROUP RESTRICTIONS: 

All clients will be entering Tibet on a Group Permit arranged by Imaginative Traveller 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:

Snap bandhs (strikes) can occur at any time in Nepal with very little notice, resulting in your itinerary having to be revised. Although we will endeavour to minimise any additional costs incurred there may be occasions where the traveller will need to cover trip changes, including flights, of which you will need to use your emergency funds and then claim the money on your travel insurance.

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-trav

 

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.

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 room (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 Imaginative Traveller 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

 

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 200.00

transport

Bus, Plane, Private Bus

group-leader

 

All Imaginative Traveller 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. Imaginative Traveller 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 Imaginative Traveller 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

 

Marshyangdi Hotel (Tibet Departures)

Paknajol

Thamel

Kathmandu

NEPAL

Phone: +9771 4700105

Join-point-desc

 

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.

Join-point-instruct

 

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 Imaginative Traveller 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.

Arriv-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.If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.

finishing-point

Hotel Marshyangdi  (Tibet Departures)

Paknajol

Thamel

Kathmandu

NEPAL

Phone: +9771 4700105

Finishing-P-Desc

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-instruc

 

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

 

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

We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

 

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.

visa-information

 

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.

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

Current visa regulations require that travellers wishing to enter Tibet from Kathmandu in Nepal need to apply for their Chinese visa (as a group) at the Chinese Embassy in Nepal. Please DO NOT obtain a Chinese visa before you travel. Your tour leader will arrange your visa once you arrive in Kathmandu after your group meeting on day 1. The cost is approx. US$115 for citizens of all countries except for US citizens for whom it is US$200.If travelling onto mainland China after your trips you will need to visit the Chinese Embassy and arrange for another visa to China Mainland after you return from Lhasa to Kathmandu. Chinese Embassy accepts visa application on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and can provide visa on the same day to successful applicants.

TIBET PERMIT: 

All nationalities require a permit to enter Tibet. Imaginative Traveller will arrange for a permit allowing your entry into Tibet however, Imaginative Traveller 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 Imaginative Traveller 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 Imaginative Traveller'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 Imaginative Traveller 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

 

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), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.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.

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 Imaginative Traveller 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

fitness

 

Health

All Imaginative Traveller 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, Imaginative Traveller 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 doctorWe 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 Imaginative Traveller itinerary, and Imaginative Traveller 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.

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 headacheIf 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 the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides 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.

 

responsible-travel

At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.

Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.

Our Aims

  • It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
  • We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
  • Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.

Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.

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.

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 Imaginative Traveller travellers. Imaginative Traveller'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.

 

Carbon

 

Carbon Offset C02-e 1415.00 kgs per pax.

give-us-your-feedback

 

Your feedback is important to us and to our tour guides and helps shape the quality of our trips. It tells us what we're doing right, what you believe could be done better and what improvements you feel could help future travellers choose and enjoy Imaginative Traveller. Just go to http://on.fb.me/16wYISa for our easy to fill out form. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

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