Why It Is Impossible to Visit EBC from Lhasa in 3 Days
“Is it possible to visit EBC from Lhasa in 3 days?” As the award-winning EBC tour operator in Tibet, receiving around 8000+ global tourists each year, such a question is never new. Well, to most of the travelers, the answer is no. However, don’t be disappointed, join the discussion with our seasoned Tibet travel experts and find out who can do in 3 days and who can’t do so and how many days you should spend for an EBC tour from Lhasa.
Can You Shorten the EBC from Lhasa to 3 Days?
If you are considering a three-day tour of Tibet to reach EBC and back to Lhasa, then you should really reconsider your itinerary for the trip. The altitude changes, vast travel distances, and poor overall experience make one wonder why anyone would want to rush across this stunning landscape in three days just to say “I was there!
Here is a breakdown of the controversial 3-day itinerary to EBC. Let's find out how hard this would be on the person attempting it, and the health risks that you would be facing.
Day 1: Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse
While the first day does not seem too hard, with the trip to Shigatse from Lhasa being the normal itinerary for any tour of the plateau, there are hazards to health already involved at this early stage. Travel to Lhasa can only be done from mainland China or Kathmandu in Nepal. If you are in a hurry, you will most likely fly to Lhasa. And from mainland China, this would already be an increase in altitude of between 1,400 and 3,600 meters.
The first day trip will bring you to visit the magnificent Potala Palace in Lhasa.
Any ascent of that magnitude requires travelers to acclimatize to the increase, or face severe symptoms of altitude sickness. Arriving in Lhasa and then traveling immediately to Shigatse, at 3,845 meters, means you will not have time to acclimatize before heading even higher.
Day 2: Shigatse - EBC - Tingri
With only one night to rest and adjust, you will travel to EBC, at an altitude of 5,150 meters. This is an ascent in less than 36 hours of up to more than 5,000 meters (16,404 ft.), which is highly dangerous, even for someone that has already been to Tibet before. Altitude sickness does not care if it is your first trip or your 100th. You will still risk feeling the symptoms, and no two trips to Tibet are the same.
Traveler can admire the breathtaking view of Mt. Everest form Gawula Pass.
Even if you had no altitude sickness previously, you may get it this time. And with the altitude at EBC being more extreme than in Lhasa, there is a very high likelihood that the symptoms will be even more severe, and could result in a fatal case of Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). And then you should consider the fact that you came to Tibet and never saw or rushed around some of the most beautiful landscapes and monasteries in the world. Does that not seem a little bit of a waste of the trip?
Day 3: Tingri - Shigatse - Lhasa
The trip back to Lhasa from Tingri, after visiting the base camp would probably be the easiest part of this already difficult trip. However, just because you are descending, does not mean you will be free from risk. You are already at extreme altitudes, and you risk altitude sickness every day that you are not acclimatizing properly to the higher elevation. Even during normal acclimatization, the symptoms of altitude sickness often show themselves in tourists to the plateau, until the body has had time to adjust.
There is only one way that you could make this controversial itinerary work, and that is if you are already acclimatized to the higher altitudes of the plateau before you leave Lhasa. This would normally be people who are already in Tibet, or have been here for a longer period, and who are already adjusted to higher altitudes. And even then, there is still a chance that mild altitude sickness can occur at EBC.
What Are the Most Classic and widely-accepted Tour Days to EBC from Lhasa?
Just look no further than the most popular 8-day tour from Lhasa to EBC, which takes you through Gyantse, Shigatse, and Tingri, over a longer period of time, to allow for better acclimatization. It also allows you to get a better experience of the Tibetan plateau landscape, culture, and people, to make your trip more worthwhile.
The classic 8-day tour from Lhasa to EBC rewards you the breathtaking view of the imposing Mount Everest.
The detailed itinerary is shown as follows:
Days 1-3: Arrival and sightseeing and acclimatization in Lhasa, which is vital for acclimatization to the higher altitudes of the plateau before heading to the extreme altitude of EBC.
Day 4: Lhasa to Shigatse - A one-day trip that covers more than 300 kilometers, you will stop on the way in Gyantse, before arriving in Shigatse, around 200 meters higher than Lhasa. Overnight acclimatization is ok here.
Day 5: Shigatse to EBC - Having spent the night at Shigatse, you are ready to head higher, by another 1,300 meters. While this is high for a single ascent, you will not be doing any climbing or trekking once you arrive, and while you may feel some symptoms, they are not normally too bad to dull your enjoyment.
Day 6: EBC to Shigatse - Heading back to Shigatse after the night at EBC is a “downhill” run, so any symptoms of altitude sickness you may have felt will dissipate, as you have already acclimatized to these altitudes.
Day 7: Shigatse to Lhasa - The same goes for the trip back to Lhasa, which is also “downhill”.
Day 8: Departure from Lhasa - Departing has no ill effects at all, except for the sadness of leaving this beautiful land at the Roof of the World.
If You Add One or Two More Days, Can You Make it?
While a three-day tour of Tibet to EBC is not really possible, adding a couple of days to the beginning of the tour can make it more feasible. Taking an EBC tour from Lhasa on a five-day tour of Tibet can be done, as long as you can acclimatize to the higher altitude in the two days you have in Lhasa at the start of the tour.
Only if you are well acclimatized before you depart from Lhasa is this five-day trip possible and no longer quite as dangerous. However, you would need to ensure your only goal is to reach EBC, and not stop for longer periods at other sites, as the trip does not really allow time for side-trips.
Key Points to Keep in Mind When Planning Your Days for EBC Visit
For anyone planning a trip to EBC, and deciding how many days you need to make the trip worthwhile and comfortable, there are some things to take into consideration. These items will not only make your trip better but will also help to prevent any serious health risks.
Proper Acclimatization to Altitude Ascent
Acclimatization is key, we cannot stress that enough. So you need to allow at least two full days in Lhasa to allow your body to adjust to the higher altitude of the Tibetan capital. Three days is better, and with most travelers arriving in Lhasa in the afternoon or evening, and spending the next two days acclimatizing and sightseeing, this is normally adequate. Not only will you have time to adjust to the higher altitude and thinner atmosphere, but it will allow you to enjoy the trip more, without feeling the debilitating headaches and nausea associated with altitude sickness. >> Check the expert’s tips to avoid acute altitude sickness in Tibet.
The bottled oxygen can help you a lot during your Tibet EBC tour.
Strike a Balance between Scenery and Travel Speed
How long you take to get from Lhasa to EBC is really up to you. But if you travel too fast, in a rush to get to the mountain, you will miss out on some of the most fantastic scenery in the world. The Tibetan plateau is home to mountains, lakes, rolling hills, grassy plains and prairies, ancient monasteries and cities, and people that are well worth spending time to learn more about. And in most of the cases, you can only visit them by tour vehicle.
You can enjoy the fantastic scenery along Yamdrok Lake in Gyantse.
The trick is to balance your travel speed with your desire to see more of the plateau than just one big pile of rock, no matter how famous it may be. Some attractions can be skipped if you are adamant on traveling quicker. Or you can travel by train from Lhasa to Shigatse, which is a little faster, yet just as scenic.
Take Your Special Interest into consideration
Everyone has a reason for visiting Tibet, and it usually coincides with their own personal interests. If you have special interests that you want to combine on your tour of Tibet, then you need to be a little more flexible. For those that want to experience cycling or trekking on the tour to EBC, then you need to include more days in the tour itinerary, as cyclists cannot go as fast as cars and trekking takes time as well.
If you have a special interest that you would like to combine with your trip to Tibet, then our professional travel consultants can help you. We can make your dreams come true, and help you make that trip even more special. Our expert consultants can advise you on the best ways to travel, where you can visit and what to see, and can even recommend customizing your tour to meet your exact needs and requirements. And by having us do it all for you, which is actually a requirement for travel in Tibet, you can just relax and enjoy your lifetime trip to EBC without any hassles.
So, while there are no rigid rules on how long you can or should take for a trip to EBC from Lhasa, it is better to take your time in Tibet than to rush off as fast as possible to the base camp of Mount Everest. A short 3-day tour can be dangerous to you and your guides, while taking a little longer can ensure you remain healthy, and makes the tour even more worthwhile. And if you really want to experience the Tibetan plateau more, we can help with longer tours, more places to visit, and custom tours for the most discerning travelers.
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