Our journey to the Mount Everest Geocache and one of the highest geocaches in the world, Roof of the World Geocache, started with just getting trying to get into Tibet. We have been eyeing this geocache for years because it is located at Everest Base Camp on the Tibetan side of the world’s highest mountain! It’s easily on our Top 10 Geocaching Bucket List Caches from around the world, but getting here was not an easy task. However, it was well worth the effort to experience this holy and sacred region of the world, and to discover this beautifully placed geocache.
Getting to Tibet
One of the first things you must know is that you cannot just show up in Tibet to search for this cache. Without going into political detail (or debate about the situation here), the area is controlled and deemed a part of China and NO foreigners are allowed to visit without being escorted by an official tour guide. So when planning our visit to Tibet, we had no choice but to book a tour.
But even if you have done everything properly — booked a tour and gotten all the special permits, you could still be denied entrance upon arrival. Even if you have everything planned out and paid for, the Chinese government could shut the borders down to all foreigners and you could be out of luck. In fact, this was the case just 2 weeks prior to our arrival…so we were lucky.
Saying this geocache is difficult to get to is an understatement.
Arriving in Lhasa – the Holy City at a High Altitude
Luckily for us, the stars aligned and they started letting foreigners back into Tibet a week before our scheduled arrival. We had spent the previous month traveling around the amazingly beautiful Yunnan and Sichuan regions of China. We were actually flying from Chengdu into Lhasa, the capital of Tibet – and I can’t imagine what it would be like to be denied entry at the last moment!
We had been preparing for our visit to Tibet, including the high altitude. Located on the high Tibetan plateau, Lhasa actually sits at 11,995 feet above sea level. It is considered a high altitude city, so people should prepare their bodies. We had spent some time in other high altitude places such as Shangri-La in the Yunnan region and doing a bit of hiking around the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge. We were also taking high altitude medication to prepare our bodies.
Upon our arrival and exiting the airport, we could already feel the intensity of the sun, and it was a surreal experience to take a deep breathe and realize that we made it to Tibet! And even more surreal to think that in just a few days we would be making our way to Everest Base Camp and the Roof of the World.
The Journey to Everest Base Camp in Tibet
After spending a few days in Lhasa to sight-see and let our bodies adjust to the altitude, we set out deeper into Tibet. The drive from Lhasa to Everest Base Camp took our group 2 days, and traveling anywhere beyond Lhasa requires additional travel permits – which our guide had organized and taken care of for us. We made several stops along the way to explore some beautiful & sacred monasteries, as well as simply to enjoy the scenery around us! Even with all the checkpoints, we didn’t care because the scenery was just so gorgeous.
I will never forget that beautiful drive into the heart of Tibet. And with each stop, we inched closer and higher to Everest Base Camp and our anticipation grew.
Scenery We Will Never Forget
The scenery as a whole was breathtaking, but there were moments that were just jaw-dropping. At one point, we even came across a pass that is technically higher than Everest Base Camp (EBC)! There are no words to describe the feeling of standing on top of this pass and looking out toward the famous Himalayas, the highest mountain range in the world, and knowing that is where we are heading!
As we approached EBC, we were so high that we were driving in the clouds, which were covering the mountain range surrounding us. At this altitude the weather changes quickly, and unfortunately we were technically here during rainy season.
The Mountain Shows Herself
While the scenery was amazing, we were a little worried about the cloud cover. Would we be able to see the famous Mount Everest? At all the lookout points along the journey the mountain was covered by clouds. And the closer we got, the more worried we became.
However, after taking the craziest switch-back road we have ever experienced we were finally within minutes of Everest Base Camp. We suddenly rounded a corner and the our tour guide exclaimed with excitement, “there it is!” And sure enough, the storm clouds parted just enough for us to glimpse the summit of the highest mountain in the world, Mount Everest.
There she was, showing herself off just for us — almost in an eerie way. Words cannot describe the excitement we felt in our bodies, and to know that we were standing so close to it! For about 8 minutes, we stood there admiring this magnificent mountain – and WOW what an 8 minutes it was.
Arriving at Everest Base Camp – Locating the Geocache
After several hours of amazing scenery (and a crazy winding road), our tour group arrived at our guest house across from the Rongbuk Monastery, which is actually just a few kilometers from EBC. This Monastery is actually the highest Monastery in the world, and overlooks Mount Everest.
We stayed here for the night to relax and adjust to this super high altitude, which can have an affect on every inch of your body. Luckily for Liz and I, we felt great the entire time and didn’t have any issues beyond mild discomfort and shortness of breath during hikes (how do they actually climb that thing?!?!).
However, I must say that sleeping at roughly 17,000 feet above sea level was not easy. But I think a bit of my anxiety was knowing that one of the highest geocaches in the world was less than a mile from where we were. And that was truly exciting!
Since we were traveling with a group of people, we knew that venturing off on our own would seem strange. So the night before arriving at EBC, we had a chat with everyone at dinner and introduced them to Geocaching.
Actually, we were fortunate to have one of the most awesome tour groups of all time (seriously). There were 8 other people, from nearly as many countries, and they were all so much fun and up for just about anything! We had a blast with them during the entire trip, and they were all on board with helping us find the cache.
Everest Base Camp – Tibet
The weather was not ideal for seeing Everest the next morning. It had poured rain all night long (even dripping on Liz’s bed) and the clouds were thick and not moving. While hanging out at dinner the night before (huddling in the only room with heat from a stove burning Yak dung), we had all decided to hike the remaining 4 kilometers to EBC and find the geocache along the way.
However, in the early morning the rain continued to pour. So instead, we decided to take the “Environment Bus” from the tourist accommodation area to EBC. Yes, unlike the Nepal side…you can actually drive all the way to Everest Base Camp in Tibet!
On this bumpy ride to EBC, I was scouting out the location of the geocache with our Garmin. We were determined that we were not leaving this mountain without finding this bucket list geocache. So we were already planning on hiking back, no questions asked.
We arrived at EBC, and were quite disappointed to not see Mt. Everest. However, it was satisfying to make it here – and there were still some beautiful pics to be taken all around us. Since we didn’t have to rush back, we all decided to wait around for several hours to see if the clouds would move on so we could see a little of Everest.
After 4 hours of wandering around and waiting, the weather was getting better. The rain had stopped and the sun was trying to come out, but Mount Everest was still hiding behind a giant thick cloud. Finally, it was time to start heading back…and to claim one of the highest geocaches in the world – Roof of the World Geocache here we come!
Hiking to one of the Highest Geocaches in the World
Our group understood how much finding this cache meant to Liz and I, so everyone decided to hike back with us to help us find the geocache. The hike back was absolutely beautiful! I mean we are hiking around Everest Base Camp, how can it not be great?!?
We climbed over boulders and hopped across stones on unmarked paths. We saw some wildlife, including a couple marmots hanging out on the rocks and hiding under them. We also saw the famous Tibetan Yak. Yaks are everywhere in Tibet – even up here at Everest! Locals say there would be no Tibet without Yaks!
It was a great 2+ mile hike back toward the geocache. It really wasn’t a very difficult hike, and we were coming downhill a bit, but overall it was mostly level. We even found a couple of really cool small rocks to bring home, in hopes of displaying them on our future mantle to remember walking among the highest peaks in the world!
During our hike back, we had our Garmin out pointing the way to the Roof of the World Geocache. We were on a hiking trail that our guide knew about, but no other tourists were taking it. As we were approaching 0.1 miles away from the cache, Liz and I broke away from the trail and the group to climb up some smaller hills – and headed over a mound of rocks and start our search for the geocache.
There are really no hints or many clues for this geocache, other than a picture of a big boulder and a couple of prayer rocks near it. Well the entire valley looked like this! So we knew we were going to have to kick up our geo-senses to max level if we wanted to make this find because seriously…all the rocks look the same!
After searching for several minutes, we started to worry that we wouldn’t find the cache. There were just so many rocks and places to check. We knew that we spent so much time up waiting to see the mountain that our group needed to get back on the road. We didn’t want to hold everyone up for a long time, even though Liz and I were determined not to leave without finding this cache.
So we felt rushed, and nervous!
But as we were running around in the area we thought the cache was located, we continued to worry. We knew that the cloud cover could affect our GPS. And we knew that it’s always tough to pin point a certain set of coordinates in China, so we knew that this was not going to be easy. I was almost sick to my stomach feeling that the universe was not with us on this hunt. Until…
Only An Expert Would Know Those Rocks Are Out of Place!
Suddenly after analyzing so many rock formations, we see the all signs of a hidden geocache, the special way rocks are piled. It’s funny, because it’s not easy to describe the way the rocks are placed…but an expert cacher knows it when they see it! I see in the distance of a pile of rocks with a red bag hidden under the rocks and a big boulder.
My heart filled with excitement as I ran closer, leaping down and up again on giant boulders. Even though I got excited, I had to calm myself down because in China trash is a common scene, sadly even at places like Everest Base Camp. I also didn’t want to stumble and hurt myself because it was a LONG way back to any kind of medical facility. So I carefully, yet hastily, made my way over to see if it was the Roof of the World Geocache.
I moved the rocks and there it was.
One of the highest geocaches in the world was in my hands, and I could do nothing but let out a big “Woooohhhhoooo!!!!”
Liz ran over to me and we shared high fives and hugged each other. We did it. We actually did it. Our group was still a distance away back on the trail, and they could hear me yelling “Wooooohooooo!” as it echoed off the mountain peaks – and they also let out big cheer for us. The only thing that felt right at the moment was to hop on the big boulder, raise that epic geocache high above my head, and start doing the “Geocache Dance” in celebration!
Sitting on top of the world, with the Roof of the World Geocache in my hand, felt amazing. For years this was high on our Geocaching Bucket List and here it was, in our hands. We signed the log and left some fun swag, replaced it, then headed back on the trail with our group.
Finding the Roof of the World Geocache at Everest Base Camp in Tibet was an experience that Liz and I will hold and cherish forever. We have found geocaches in New Zealand, a FTF in China, a geocache in a broken down temple in Cambodia, and gone geocaching around the ancient city of Sukhothai, Thailand on motorbike. But this cache at Everest Base Camp in Tibet will forever sit high on the list of geocaching adventures we have ever had around the world.
Roof of the World Geocache at Everest Base Camp in Tibet – CHECK!!
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