Discover Western Tibet (ZZ-KAM-19/21)
Make an overland journey into remote western Tibet to make a pilgrim's circumambulation (kora) of two of the most sacred sites in the Hindu and Buddhist world - Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.
Where are you going?
Days 1-2: Flying into Kathmandu is an unforgettable experience with the Himalaya spread out before you. You will be met at the airport on arrival and transferred to your hotel. In the morning of day 2 a half-day city tour will introduce you to some of the highlights of Kathmandu.
Days 3-4: A long day as we dive, complete border formalities at Kodari and Zhangmu. It is then a steep and spectacular drive up the gorge and on to the Tibetan Plateau. Expect to feel the effects of altitude as we ascend.
We spend a day at Nyalam to help with acclimatization; they are many short walks possible in the area for those feeling up to it.
Days 5-7 : Long, yet spectacular days as we head west. Even along the road settlements are few as we cross vast, open valleys and prayer flag topped passes. Depending on the season there may be families of nomadic dropka moving their herds of sheep, yaks, goats and horses across the plateau.
Days 8-10 : The 53-kilometer kora of Mount Kailash is one of the most sacred of pilgrimage circuits in the world. Kailash (Kang Rinpoche in Tibetan) is the earthly manifestation of Mount Meru and is sacred to Buddhists, Hindus, Bonpo and Jains – the entire route is lined with prostration points, places to check you sin-level, drink or immerse yourself in sacred waters, make offerings and hang prayer flags. The high point, both physically and spiritually is the Drolma Pass (5636m) on the second day.
On day 10 it is a short walk to Darchen before heading to Chiu Gompa on the shores of Lake Manasarovar to soak in the hot springs.
Days 11-14 : According to both Hindu and Buddhist cosmology the four great rivers (Brahmaputra, Sutlej, Indus and Ganges) have their source in Lake Manasarovar. Actually only the Sutlej does, but the sources of the other three are close by.
It is an incredibly beautiful lake, usually cobalt blue, though can turn into an angry, churning black during storms. For most of the way the kora route follows the lake shore. Most of the monasteries around Manasarovar belong to the Kagyu tradition, the exception being Trugo, which is Gelukpa and an important place for ritual bathing.
Days 15-16 : The drive retraces the outward route as far as Saga.
Day 17 : Another long day's drive, but again scenically magical as we take a barge-ferry across the Yarlung Tsangpo and head south via Pelkhu Lake. Rejoining the Friendship Highway cross the Lalung Pass and head to Nyalum.
Day 18 : Dropping suddenly and steeply off the Tibetan Plateau descend through the Himalaya to cross the China/Nepal border at Zhangmu – Kodari before continuing the descent to Kathmandu.
Day 19 : Depart
Everest Base Camp Extension
Day 17 : Another long day's drive, but again scenically magical as we take a barge-ferry across the Yarlung Tsangpo and head south via Pelkhu Lake. Rejoining the Friendship Highway turn east to the small town of Lao Tingri.
Day 18 : Make a day trip to the tiny monastery of Rhongphu. The drive is magnificent and the views of Qomolangma (Mt Everest) are stunning, as the mountain stands alone at the head of the valley. Either drive or walk the last 7kms up to Base Camp. Return to Lao Tingri.
Day 19 : Another high pass gives a last, spectacular view of the Himalaya before we leave the Tibetan Plateau, descending to Zhangmu – on the China-Nepal border.
Day 20 : Completing border formalities the drive back to Kathmandu continues down the Bote Khosi valley.
Day 21 : Depart.