Circumambulate Amdo’s Holiest Mountain
Amnye Machen has long been considered a sacred mountain and a place of pilgrimage. In the past, up to 10,000 Tibetans would make the 120-mile circumambulation of the mountain each year. The first European explorers described it as one of the great geographical discoveries of the twentieth century.
- Charming monasteries
- Nomad tents and grasslands
- Trekking Mt. Amnye Machen
- 13-day trip begins and ends in Xining, China
- 4 nights in hotels, 7 nights camping
- Altitude from 3200-4700m
Day 1: Arrive in Xining
Welcome to Xining! Transfer to your hotel and get settled.
Day 2: Xining to Tsigortang (Xinghai) – Drakar Tsedzong monastery (3300 m)
Drive to Tsigortang county (Xinghai in Chinese), which lays the tableland west of the bend of the Yellow River, formed by the Mt. Amnye Machen range. Tsigortang town is situated near the scenic power-place of Drakar Tredzong – ‘white monkey fortress’, which is considered as one of the most important sacred sites in Amdo. There are about 500 monks and 20 Buddhist mentors staying here. Hermits and Tibetan yogis are doing their retreats in the caves located in the mountain cliffs in this area. In the afternoon drive back to Tsigortang. Stay in a hotel for the night.
Day 3: Tsigortang – Tawo Sholma (3950 m)
In the morning drive to Tawo Sholma – the start point of a classic Mt. Amnye Machen kora. Here you will meet up with the yaks, horses and yak handlers that will join you on the trek. Camp along the river side. Acclimatization before the trek.
Day 4: Tawo Sholma – Nagchog Do (4020 m)
Today we start circumambulating holy Mt. Amnye Machen. Kora begins at the new monastery with white stupas and Mani stones located in front of it. You can see the snowy peak of Mt. Amnye Machen for the first time here. Continue trekking down the valley. Camp overnight along the river of glacier water.
Day 5: Nagchog Do – Dragde la pass – Drag Gyago (4600 m)
Trekking through the valleys where nomadic families staying during the summer months. Take a break for a cup of Tibetan tea made from fresh yak milk with bowl of traditional tsampa dough in one of the tents of local nomads. Afterwards, continue ascending the Drag De la pass, from where you can see Rikhar Tongshang Glacier and the three ice-covered peaks of Amnye Machen. Burn incense and send your prayers from the Golden Stupa located atop. In the afternoon descending down the valley. Camp overnight.
Day 6: Drag Gyago – Chuwarna (3650 m)
Day 7: Chuwarna – Tsanak Kamdu – Dolma Bumdzong (3960 m)
Today the trail passes through a deep and narrow gorge to Tsanak Kamdu – the place of Golden and White Stupas. In the afternoon we will reach Dolma Bumdzong – the sacred sight of Arya Tara – a female boddhisattva in Mahayana Buddhism. She is well known as the “mother of liberation”, and represents the virtues of success in work and achievements. Camp overnight at Tara’s place.
Day 8: Dolma Bumdzong – Tamchok (4650 m)
Enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. Today we will cross several mountain rivers, pass through several nomad families, and camp in front of the “face” of the Mt. Amnye Machen on the bank of the river Yungri-chu with holy water coming from the glacier. Here nomads as well as Tibetan pilgrims make offerings to the protector Machen Pompa, praying for the good luck and happiness of all sentient beings.
Day 9: Tamchok – Tamchok la pass (4700 m) – Tagkhen Latsetsa (4400 m)
While having breakfast, our crew will busy themselves packing up our gear and getting ready to set off for the day. Our local Tibetan guide will lead us up and across the Tamchok Gongkha La Pass (4,700 m). This is the highest pass of this trek. At this summit the incredible view of the surrounding mountain range includes a full view of the holy Mt. Amnye Machen. Then the trail from the highest pass descends through the meadows along the river banks, allowing frequent views of the sacred mountain range. There are several lakes near the trail. Locals regard them as ‘chopa’ – offerings to the protector Machen Pomra as well as to other mountain gods.
Day 10: Tagkhen Latsetsa – mountain pass – Shari Phagyab (4210 m)
Today trail leads through huge rocky mountain and cliff formations. Near the cliffs of Goku Chenmo there are 2 towering rocks Mopa and Towa, which are considered to be sites of ‘torma’ offerings to the gods. Two towers are considered as the entrance to the “Heavenly Palace” of the protector Machen Pomra.
Day 11: Shari Phagyab – Dradi Latse (3980 m) – Chabcha (Gonghe)
Trekking along the Qushan river, crossing its streams. At the end of the trek you will visit an old Gelug monastery with ancient prayer wheels and torma offerings. Then you will finally get back to our start point near Tawo Sholma, accomplishing a complete circumambulation of holy Mt. Amnye Machen! Your car will pick you up and drive to Chabcha, where you can rest at the hotel.
Day 12: Chabcha – Kukunor Lake / Qinghai Lake – Xining
Drive to Kukunor lake in the morning, which is the largest salt lake in Asia. Then slowly drive back to Xining via Sun and Moon Pass.
Day 13: Depart Xining
Say goodbye to Tibet!
Itineraries are subject to change without prior notice.