Journey through the Himalayas: Bhutan, Nepal, and Tibet
May 9-22, 2017
- Tour led by Council President, Terry McCarthy
- Private audience with a Trulku or Head Lama in Thimphu
- Visit Tiger's Nest (pictured above) in Bhutan
- Attend Asta Chisranjeevi Puja ritual with a Hindu Priest in Nepal
- Watch sunrise at Nagarkot, with a panoramic view of the Himalayas
- Walk through the Potala Palace in Lhasa, Tibet, home of the past Dalai Lamas
Bhutan is a remote country ringed by Himalayan peaks where snow leopards and Tibetan wolves roam and the government keeps 60% of the land covered in forest. The king - known as the “Thunder Dragon King” rules benevolently over his Buddhist people, and progress is measured on a “Gross National Happiness” index.
In the capital, Thimphu, we will visit the Royal Throne, National Assembly, and Chief Abbot (of the central monastic body) and have a private briefing with officials. We will visit academies and museums to learn more about traditional arts, trades, and architecture.
To better understand Buddhism, we will visit Tango Goemba Monastery, Bhutan's highest learning center for Buddhist studies, and meet privately with the Head Lama or Trulku and exchange khada scarves in a special ceremony. Then, we will visit Chimi Kakhang Temple (also known as the Fertility Temple) and ancient Kyichu Temple, built in a single night in the 7th century. We will also witness the gigantic Buddha Dordenma statues that house hundreds of tiny Buddha statues inside.
From the capital, we make our way to Dochula Pass, through pine forests filled with Buddhist shrines and colorful prayer flags, and enter the majestic Punakha valley. We will end our journey in Bhutan with a trip to Takstang Monastary, also known as the Tiger's Nest, the spectacular monastery clinging to a cliff that overlooks the southern Himalayas.
We will take a scenic flight over the Himalayas to Nepal, which has eight of the ten highest mountains in the world. Predominantly Hindu, Nepal is home to the hardy Sherpa mountain guides and the renowned Gurkha soldiers. We will start our journey in the vibrant capital, Kathmandu.
Explore the Durbar Square, which includes the Golden Temple and the colorful Kumbheshwar temple. Wander through the heart of the old city and the many stores selling artworks, textiles and jewelry. We will meet some government officials and visit a school.
Outside Kathmandu we will visit Bungamati Village, untouched by modern influences, and eat traditional Nepali food for dinner.
We will participate in an Asta Chisranjeevi Puja (longevity and prosperity) ritual with a Hindu Priest at Pashupatinath, the most revered Hindu Temple in Nepal. From there, we will visit the living goddess Kumari for a brief audience.
You will have the opportunity to hike or take a ride through traditional neighborhoods and meet locals on our way to Nagarkot, the stunning mountaintop village above the clouds.
On our last day in Nepal, we will travel back to the capital to the Royal Palace and take part in cultural celebrations in Bhaktapu.
Our flight from Nepal to Tibet will allow us to see Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth at 29,029 feet. This is the ancestral home of the Dalai Lama - now living in exile in India - and Buddhism permeates all aspects of life.
On our way to the capital Lhasa, we will stop by Drolma Kakhang, a small monastery full of hidden Buddhist treasures, and see blue rock carvings of Shakyamuni Buddha at the base of a cliff. In Lhasa - which means “Place of the Gods” - view traditional Tibetan architecture and the colorful tapestries that are hung on walls.
We will visit Drepung Monastery, the original house of the Dalai Lamas, and once the largest monastery in the world, with several chapels and colleges and the Ganden Palace overlooking the valley. From there, we will travel to Nechung Monastary and visit the State Oracle, and then Jorkhang Temple, the most revered religious shrine in Tibet. In the old town of Barkhor, you will get a chance to wander through alleys and squares, almost unchanged for centuries.
On our last day of our tour, join a Tibetan pilgrimage to the beautiful Potala Palace, the home of the Dalai Lama before his departure. Witness a debating ceremony of the monks at the Sera Monastery. And explore rural Lhasa, including Drak Yerpa Hermitage, one of the most revered cave retreats in central Tibet, offering peaceful and stunning views of the surrounding plateau.
- 14 Days, 13 Nights
- Activity Level: Moderate
- Highest Altitude: 11,480 ft
- $7,500 (Per person, based on double occupancy)
- Single Supplements available for $2,000
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Past LAWAC Tours
United Arab Emirates and Oman:
October 25 - November 4, 2016
Travel to the Arabian Peninsula where traditional villages and vast deserts coexist with modern, luxurious cities and beautiful beaches. This tour is a mix of old and new, with spectacular sights, visits to ancient souks and modern skyscrapers, and private briefings with dignitaries of Oman and the United Arab Emirates (a group of seven emirates including Dubai and Abu Dhabi.)
We begin our journey in Oman, with an exclusive meeting with the Foreign Ministry in the capital city of Muscat. We’ll make our way to Sur, with its exquisite beaches and a natural oasis filled with inviting emerald water. Witness the rare and tranquil turtle habitat at beaches of Ras Al Jinz. Visit the incredible Wahiba Sand Dunes and take a camel ride through the desert, spending an once-in-a-lifetime night under the stairs in Bedouin accommodations. Get a glimpse of ancient times in Nizwa and see forts, ruins, and museums laden with rich history. We will end our stay in Oman in the spectacular mountaintop Jabal Akhdar hotel with breathtaking views of the surrounding peaks.
From Oman, we will continue on to the second part of our journey, the famous city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Gain a better understanding of Islamic thought with a visit to the Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Cultural Understanding, and then travel through the city’s vibrant markets. We will ascend the world’s tallest building Burj Khalifa 2,722 ft high. We will visit the world’s largest manmade island the Palm Jumeirah, and a breathtaking underwater chamber at Atlantis, The Palm. We will spend a day in Abu Dhabi, visiting the grand Emirates Palace hotel and the Falconry Hospital, a majestic part of Bedouin Culture. We will conclude our journey in the UAE with a private meeting with the Foreign Ministry.
Iran: November 4 - 13, 2016
Our trip to Iran in October 2015 was so popular, we decided to go back immediately after the UAE/Oman trip.
This trip begins in Tehran, a modern city that is also home to significant historical sites, including the legendary Crown Jewels, the ornate Niyavaran Palace, and Ayatollah Khomeini's residence. We will visit the lively bazaars of Shiraz and the nearby ancient ruins of Persepolis. We’ll make our way to Esfahan, filled with colorful art and mesmerizing architecture and the famous Naqsh-e Jahan Square in its center. We will pass through Kashan, home of the Bagh-e Fin, a prime example of Persian-style gardens with water springs and pavilions. We will finish our tour back in Tehran, immersing ourselves in Persian art and culture at the National Museum and relaxing strolls through the streets and cafes.
Cuba - Havana, Vinales, Matanzas, Jibacoa
April 2 - 9, 2016
It is time to go to Cuba! The Los Angeles World Affairs Council will once again offer a trip to Cuba that will be guided by Cuban expert Dr. Joseph Scarpaci, who has made 70 trips to Havana over the past 20 years.
We have created an itinerary, using the new non-stop Los Angeles to Havana charter, that will offer our travelers insight into the cultural heritage of Cuba, as well as opportunities to meet Cuban artists, academics, officials and residents while exploring Cuba's cities, farms, jungles and beaches. The 8-day trip from April 2nd to April 9th, 2016 will include several days in the capital city of Havana, a visit to the city of Vinales to see the incredible jungle landscape and Cuban tobacco farms, the city of Matanzas known as the "Athens of Cuba," and ends with two nights in the beach city of Jibacoa, which has limestone terraces and coral reefs for us to explore. To satisfy US government regulations, these trips are designed to be educational and involve regular interaction with Cuban people - as Dr Scarpaci points out, Americans cannot go to Cuba and lounge on the beach for a week. Dr Scarpaci is the Executive Director of the Center for the Study of Cuban Culture and Economy and Chair of the Department of Marketing and Management at West Liberty University in West Virginia. He is the author of Havana: Two Faces of the Antillean Metropolis. His trips to Cuba focus on small businesses, heritage tourism and historic preservation.
Iran - Tehran, Yazd, Isfahan
October 15 - 28, 2015
In October we will be going to Iran – today’s incarnation of Persia, a country of golden deserts, glittering canals, crumbling clay-baked caravanserais and a horizon pierced by mosques and turquoise minarets. We will start in the capital, Tehran, learn about the Zoroastrian religion and ancient desert architecture in Yazd, visit the vast archaeological site of Persepolis in Shiraz and see the magnificent city of Isfahan, whose monuments are regarded as one of the peaks of Islamic architecture. We will meet Iranians from all walks of life whose hospitality and interest in America will surprise you
Read a report of the Iran tour here.
North Korea - Pyongyang, DMZ and Mount Kumgang
April 29 – May 7, 2015
In late April/early May, we will travel to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. We will spend time in the capital of Pyongyang, taking in museums and touring the city, visiting historic monuments including the Juche Tower, and riding on the Soviet-era metro with its ornately decorated stations honoring the revolutionary history of North Korea. This trip will take place during International Workers' Day on May 1st, offering travelers the chance to interact with locals as they celebrate with mass dances and picnics in the park. We'll travel to the De-Militarized Zone that divides North and South Korea, going into the famous negotiation room that straddles the border between the two nations. Our tour will also take in the scenic countryside and the most picturesque peak in North Korea, Mount Kumgang.
Read a report of the DPRK tour here.
Cuban Cultural Program in Cienfuegos, Havana and Trinidad
March 29 – April 5, 2014
Join us for an 8-day trip to Havana, the south-coast city of Cienfuegos, the beach of the Bay of Pigs invasion attempt, and the historic town of Trinidad with the finest colonial architecture in Cuba. Per United States regulations, this trip will be designed to be educational and involve regular interaction with Cuban people, while giving travelers access to some of the beautiful sights, sounds and flavors that make this country one of the top destinations for those interested in international affairs, history and travel.
Read a report of the 2014 Cuba tour here.