China with JMG Tibet Tours

Our trip was arranged by JMG Tibet Tours (6001 Falls Circle Dr., Ste. 301, Lauderhill, FL 33319; phone 866/548-4238, e-mail

My wife, daughter and I were escorted on our 18-day tour of Tibet and Xi’an, China, by Jeff Garrett, JMG’s owner. Our tour cost $2,495 for the Tibet portion and $630 for the three of us to take the side trip to Xi’an. The April ’04 tour started and ended in Beijing, and our international air from Detroit to Bejing was $893 per person from

Mr. Garrett accompanies all tours and has extensive knowledge of Tibet, as he has been doing this tour for 17 years. The emphasis on China or Tibet can be adjusted to your liking. In our case, we had already toured China except for Xi’an and the Terra Cotta Warriors, so we spent most of our time in Tibet.

From Beijing we flew to Lhasa, situated at about 12,000 feet. We remained there for two days to become acclimated to the altitude. We toured the city, marketplaces, several monasteries and the Potala Palace.

There were eight people on our tour plus Mr. Garrett and our English-speaking Tibetan guide. We departed Lhasa in 4-wheel-drive vehicles on the scheduled tour which led us to the base camp of Mt. Everest. En route we visited Gyantse, Shigatse, Lhatse, Shergar and Tashi Dzom, sightseeing and visiting monasteries and temples. Everywhere we went we were highly welcomed by the Tibetan people. In fact, Tibet’s most notable feature was the friendliness of its people.

As we got closer to Mt. Everest base camp, which is at 17,500 feet, the number of accommodations decreased somewhat, but they were still adequate, and the food was plentiful and good. For camera buffs, the trip was a field day — exceptional picture-taking opportunities. At one of our stops, yaks, which are used as farm animals and to carry supplies, were saddled and available for rides.

Here are some precautions to keep in mind if you take this tour:

• Altitude can be a problem for some people. Mr. Garrett recommended Diamox™ or its generic version, acetazolamide. These tablets can help prevent altitude sickness and aid in sleeping at high altitudes. Consult your doctor prior to making the trip.

• There were many steps to climb at the monasteries, temples and other points of interest. One must take it easy because of the altitude. Mr. Garrett carefully monitored all the participants to ensure their health was okay.

• Don’t drink any water except bottled, even in 5-star hotels in Beijing.

• Roads outside of the cities are generally dirt or gravel. The dust can be irritating, and I would suggest you take a paper breathing mask to cover your nose and mouth.

Final note — my wife and I are in our late 70s, and another couple on the tour was in their mid-70s. None of us had any problems on this tour.

Tijeras, NM