A journey to the west of Tibet.
Group tour to Mt. Kailash and ancient Guge Kingdom
Departure dates: July 19th, 2018
Mt. Kailash, which is known as the Precious Jewel of Snows in Tibetan, is considered by Buddhists to be the abode of the deity Chakrasamvara. It is said that if one does 108 circumambulations, one will reach enlightenment. The great Tibetan poet-saint Milarepa once declared, “There is no place more powerful for practice, more blessed, or more marvelous than this. May all pilgrims and practitioners be welcome!”
We offer three options of entry:
1. By plane from Chengdu, China;
2. By train from any city in China;
3. By plane from Kathmandu, Nepal.
- Lhasa monasteries and city life
- Mt. Kailash trek
- Lake Manasarovar, Peiku Tso, and Yamdrok Lake
- Ruins of Guge Kingdom
- Cultural and spiritual experience
- Changtang Plateau and wildlife
- 17-day trip begins and ends in Lhasa, China
- 15 – day trip begins in Lhasa and ends in Nepal border (Kyirong Border)
- 14 nights in hotels and guesthouses for participants end tour and exit at Kyirong border
- 16 nights in hotels and guesthouses for participants begin and end in Lhasa
- Options to exit both from Nepal border and Lhasa
- Altitude from 3000-5650 m
- July 19th, 2018 – August 4th, 2018
Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa (3658 m)
Welcome to Lhasa! Transfer to your hotel and get settled.
Day 2: Lhasa sightseeing
In the morning, visit the Potala Palace, the greatest monumental structure in all of Tibet. Also visit the Jokhang Temple, which is located in Barkhor square in Lhasa. The Barkhor is a famous shopping street filled with goods and souvenirs from Tibet, Nepal, and India. Pilgrims from all over Tibet visit the Barkhor to pray in front of the Jokhang. Afterwards, visit Ramoche, a small monastery located in the city center.
Day 3: Lhasa sightseeing
Visit Drepung, one of the three most famous monasteries in Lhasa. Drepung is located just outside Lhasa on Gambo Utse Mountain. Once home to as many as 10,000 monks, the enormous monastic complex is the site of many prayer halls, dormitories, and temples. Just below the monastery is the Nechung temple, the former home of the state oracle. Afterwards, visit Sera monastery, where you can watch monks debate in the courtyard. If you enjoy hiking, walk the hour-long circumambulation path around the monastery complex.
Day 4: Lhasa – Yamdrok Lake (4442 m) – Karo La Glaicer – Gyantse (3900m)
Beginning your adventure in the Himalayas, drive to Gyantse. Along the way cross over the Kamba la (4794m) and the Karo la passes (5010m), which boast spectacular views. After Kamba la, arrive at Yamdrok Lake, a holy turquoise-colored lake with stunning scenery. Continue drive west, you will reach Semi-la pass and Norjin Kangsang glacier. We will stop to enjoy these landscapes. Then finally we reach to Gyantse town. Gyantse is a midsize town in the southwest of Lhasa. When you entry town of Gyantse, the first landmark will be Gyantse Dzong or Gyantse Castle which once used as the residence of Gyantse Kings. The famous Pelkor Chode and Kumbum Stupa are at the north end of the town. The Pelkor Choede once was the largest non-sectoring Buddhism learning center, but today only two main temples are left. Next to the main temple is the Kumbum Stupa, this Mandala (Buddhism cosmos) shaped stupa is largest in it’s kind in Tibet. There are many chapels which you can visit each of this chapels walk clock-wise from one storey to another. Once you made up to the top storey, Gyantse Old town and Dzong castle can be seen not far distance.Stay the night in Gyantse.
Day 5: Gyantse –Shalu Monastery – Shigatse (3836 m)
In the morning, there is option to visit a handmade carpet factory to see how Tibetan carpet are made. Followed by a two hour drive to Shigatse. Along the way, we will make a detour to visit Shalu Monastery. Shalu monastery is small monastery about 22 km south of Shigatse City and 78km west of Gyantse. Founded in 1003 by Jetsun Sherab Jungnay, an eleventh-century Tibtan abbot and scholar. Shalu became the first among the major monasteries and learning centers during Tibet’s great revival of Buddhism and an important center of the Sakya tradition. Then we drive to Shigatse, here, see the giant Buddha in the famous Tashilunpo monastery. Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of six great monasteries in Tibet, it is also home to Penchen Lamas. You will spend about 1.5- 2 hours to visit all the temples.
Note: your guide may take sometime to do a paper work for the group in Shigatse.
Day 6: Shigatse – Langtso Lake – Saga (4640 m)
Drive up to high mountain passes with a great view of the Himalayas. You’ll be driving through the countryside and grasslands, where you can see small lakes and nomads camping with their yaks and sheep. About 180km you will reach a beautiful alpine lake called the Langtso at an elevation of 4300m / . There are yaks and sheep scattering at the lakeside. This is a great place to have a short break and stretch your legs for this long driving journey. In the late afternoon, cross over the Brahmaputra River on the way to typical Chinese and Tibetan town. Spend the night in Saga.
Day 7: Saga – Paryang (4700 m) – Darchen (4575m)
Drive through a wide valley along a scenic river and look out on the grazing lands of yaks and sheep. Towards the south, you can see sand dunes, rocky mountains, and snow-capped peaks. Depending on the season, nomads and other mobile shopkeepers will be attired in beautiful traditional costume. Join them for a cup of hot tea in their home. Continue drive West. In late afternoon you will catch your first sight of Holy Lake Manasarovar and Mt. Kailash. Spend the night at Darchen where you can enjoy close-up view of Kailash at any point in this one street town.
Day 8: Darchen – Zhada – Guge Kingdom – Tsaparang (3630m)
Drive 250km further west to Guge Kingdom, on the way we will drive through colorful mountains and last into the world of white clay land formation which date back to 1100 years ago. Once we arrive Guge Kingdom, we have rest of the day to explore the ruins of this ancient kingdom which dated back to 10th century. To visit Guge Kingdom palace takes 3-4 hours or more. In the lower reaches of the city are four main temples, wall paintings, and statues display some of the earliest examples of Tantric Buddhist art. Above these temples are the citadel of the kings. Afterward,drive 25km to Tsaparang which was once the capital city of Guge Kingdom and now morel like a village. where we visit the summer palace of Guge Kings as well as ancient Tantric murals and cave paintings which draw great interested to the people who are interested in ancient Tibetan arts. The ruins of this lost kingdom still be seen along the ridges of cliff mountains in this region. Stay in Tsaparang courtyard family guesthouse.
Day 9: Tsaparang – Toling Monstery – Tirthapuri – Darchen (4575m)
We drive about 25km to Toling in the morning, visit Toling Monastery which consists of two main temples and several other ruins of ancient stupas. Tholing Monastery which is built by Great Tibetan translator Rinchen Zangpo around beginning of 10th century. This Buddhist temples are became the the religious center for Guge Kingdom. Once you are there, do not miss a small back door which lead you to the river side where you can see ancient Toling Monastery and stupa of Padmasambhava. Afterwards, we drive back towards Darchen with a detour to Tirthapuri. Tirthapuri is said to be the gate of Mt. Kailash and many pilgrims visit Tirthapuri first and then make Kailash Kora. Tirthapuri, located on the Sutlej River just above the Tirthaburi hotspring. is famous for being the meditation site of Padmasambhava and his consort/student Yeshi Tsogyel. It was pure meditation caves 10 years ago, but they are two temples appeared on the meditation site. If you make a circumambulation around the monastery, you will see some other mediation caves and stupas scattering on the mountain slope. Then we drive back to Darchen and prepare for the trek. Stay in Darchen.
Day 10: 1st Day of the Mt. Kailash kora, trekking distance 19km and 6 -7 hours.
Walk along beautiful rocky cliffs, take deep breaths of fresh air. From time to time, the face of Mt. Kailash will appear. The trail passes the stone piled pass with colorful prayer flags, famous Tarpoche Flagpole, sky burial site and then enters Lha Chu valley. at the gate of this rocky canyon, a small monastery called Chugu Monastery with meditation cave of Tibetan Great Yogi Melaripa is on the left side of this canyon across the river. If you are a good trekker and interested in meditation, you can follow the small trail leading to this monastery at the left side of the river while others may continually go on main trail. Pay a visit to this monastery takes extra one hour. Afterwards, you can join the main trail cross the bridge below the monastery. Both sides of this canyon are high steep rocky mountains which are representing Bodhisattvas. Fox example, the three high rocky mountains at the left before reach Dirapuk Monastery represent “Rigsum Gonpo” in Tibetan or Three Bodhisattvas ( Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara and Vajrapani). After half hour of walking, you will reach sacred Dira Puk monastery which is located at an elevation of 5,000 meters by mid-afternoon. Here you can see the North face of the Mt. Kailash. This sight is also considered as a birthplace of Shiva – one of the primary forms of God in Hinduism. Spend the night in the monastery guest house.
Day 11: 2nd day of the Mt. Kailash kora – Dolma la pass (5650 m) – Zuthal Puk (4815m), Trekking distance 12km and 7 hours.
This place is the the closest place to view Mt. Kailash in entire kora. It’s right behind the guesthouses, so enjoy this last time close-up view of this holy mountain, then we start the day. Hike across a valley up to the Dolma-La Pass. The trail is much more dramatic today as you are ascending from 5050m to 5650m above sea level. Though this numbers are not big difference but given the altitude in this area, it is the most difficult part of the trek. When you reach at the top, make an offering, take a break (or meditate), and leave behind all your problems and worries. Let the prayer flags at the mountain pass bring the positive energy to you and your families. Afterwards, begin descending. A mirror – like turquoise lake will appear in front of you in the middle of black rocky mountains, which said to be water offering for the holy mountain. By the late afternoon arrive at Zuthal Puk , the cave of miracles where Milerepa once stayed.
Day 12: 3rd day of the Mt. Kailash kora, view of Mt. Nemo Nani and drive to lake Manasarovar
Start the day by following one of the most clear river you have ever seen. The trail is flat and much more greener. At the end of the valley before turning right, a stunning view of snow mountain Nemo Nani (altitude 7728m) will appear in your eyes. After finishing your circuit of Mt. Kailash, your car will pick you up and take you to the Lake Manasarovar – one of the highest freshwater lake in the world. This turquoise-colored lake is full of fish and swans. Holy Mt. Kailash, Mt. Gurula-Mandala, and Lake Rashekshi surround Manasarovar. The region is considered rich in gold and other minerals, hot springs and hundreds of wild living creatures. Then visit Rakshas Tal lake and Chiu Monastery, a small monastery located upper on a hillside. You can dip into a hotspring there. If your group stay until sunrise, a walk to the mountain slope to see full view of the lake is recommended.
Optional: Manasarovar lake bus kora /depend on time and bus availability
Day 13: Holy Lake Manasarovar – Paryang – Saga
Begin the journey back to Lhasa. Enjoy a beautiful view of Himalaya ranges. Most travelers usually take this long driving road back as rest time after 3 days of incredible trek. But this zig-zag scenic drive always bring some surprises such as suddenly appear rain bowls in front of your vehicle, flock of yaks or sheep may stop your bus which gives you a chance to close-up look at this animals , a wild animal running cross the road, a beautiful lake or snowy, sunrise or sunset.etc. make your journey alive.
Day 14: Saga – Kyirong (Nepal border), ( 2800m)
Continually drive in the Himalayans. The attitude is getting lower as you descending in the valley. If weather permits you will have view of Mt. Shishapangma and Lantang National Park in distance. Overnight in a guesthouse in Kyirong.
Day 15: Kyirong – Rasuwa Gadi (Cross border) – Shigatse
Drive short distance to China and Nepal border Rasuwa Gadi. Our guide will help you go through custom and formalities on both side of the frontier Nepal / Tibet. On the way to Kathmandu, you will see Langtang National Park, snow peaks, farm terrains and Rasuwa ethic group of Nepal. Arrive Kathmandu in the late afternoon. Note: there are parts of the road are unpaved.
Those who are return back to Lhasa, continue to drive to Shigatse via Old Tingri. This is another long driving journey, due to the traffic speed limit, your vehicle will stop several minutes from time to time when you have a chance to stretch your legs. Along the way, you will cross Yurlung Tsangpo River before Lhatse. If weather permits, you will see Mt. Everest and other world’s highest peaks again in distance Arrive in Shigatse in the late afternoon.
Day 16: Shigatse – Yundrongling Monastery – Lhasa
Today, we continue drive on the friendship highway. After 80km we will make a detour to visit Yundrunling Monastery, this monastery is the biggest Bonpo monastery in Tibet and it was once the second most influential monastery in Tibet. This is the only monastery you need to walk counter clock-wise in this trip. The main Chapels are Assembly Hall, Protector Hall. Note, female travelers are not allowed to go inside the Protector Hall. Finally, we will make our way back to Lhasa.
Day 17: Depart from Lhasa
Say goodbye to Tibet!
Itineraries are subject to change without prior notice.