Looking again at the itinerary, I became more and more aware of the very diverse opportunities on offer for the camera buffs, and for those who just want to absorb everything we travel through! From landscapes tranquil to dramatic – karst seascape to high plateau; through colourful ethnic groups and their traditional cultures; architecture of exotic buildings in bustling street scenes, to the majestic Potala… and of course, the opportunity to experience food typical of each region!
The timing and order of the itinerary is to start at sea level and head upwards, to allow plenty of time to acclimatise to altitude; and to travel from early spring in the lowland south heading into later spring by the time we get to higher lands in the north. We can also expect to skip the onset of the annual monsoon in North Vietnam and southern Yunnan (although with the impact of climate change nothing can be guaranteed).
Starting in the north of Vietnam, this tour takes us from Hanoi, the exotic and bustling second city of Vietnam, to the unique karst structures in Halong Bay and up to the hill town of Sapa, and the Hmong people, related to the Miao of southwestern China.
Crossing the nearby border into China’s Yunnan Province, we pass through the Yuanyang rice terraces and old town of Jianshui to Kunming. Then begins the epic journey on to Lhasa. By bullet train to Lijiang, the UNESCO Heritage town that is always an exciting place to visit with its diverse attractions, and on by coach to Shangrila (Zhongdian).
From here, with road conditions unstable, and uncertain whether they will be passable, we will opt for the certainty of flying from Shangrila to Lhasa, and take a road trip back to the southeast of Tibet before circling back to Lhasa. This will take in the beauty of southeastern Tibet in some comfort.
After experiencing the unique attractions and delights of the magical Lhasa, there is an optional extra to carry on for four days return journey to the Rongbuk Monastery, within view of the North Face of Everest. Passing through Gyantse with its ancient fortress protecting the city, and Shigatse, the second city of Tibet, this journey will truly present the vastness of the high Tibetan plateau, with the road crossing passes over 5000masl, small villages, and grazing yaks.
With the end of the pandemic, we are now confident that we can undertake this adventure! The estimated cost of $8500 can still be impacted by the NZD value, and also which international airlines can most efficiently get us there and back. As we promote this, there is a slow return to the options that were available pre 2020. There is an estimated extra cost for the Mt Everest addition.
For all enquiry and expressions of interest, please email [email protected]. No commitment is required at this stage. Please indicate if you are interested in the extension to Mt Everest (Chomolungma).
Dave Bromwich, 13 September 2023