Duration: 24 days, 21 days in Tibet
Accomodations: Camping and 8 nights hotels
Grade: 8 days strenuous trekking
Mount Kailash, the holiest mountain to Tibetan Buddhists & Hindus, is the main source of four great rivers—the Indus, Brahmaputra, Sutlej, and Karnali. It is the ultimate pilgrimage site for Hindus and Buddhists. They believe that by devoutly circling the mountain on foot, they will be cleansed of all earthly sins and reach ultimate spiritual freedom. Our own pilgrimage to Kailash will begin with a few days in Lhasa to take in its wondrous sights. These include the legendary gold-roofed, thousand-room Potala Palace, among others. Then we head to Lake Manasarovar in Western Tibet. Lake Manasarovar is the sacred lake below Kailas. While Hindus take a ritual bath in its glacial water, a plunge for us is optional. Here we’ll trek a circuit of the lake, in preparation for the trek we’ll be doing around Mount Kailas. Next, it’s on to the holy mountain itself. Joining other nomads and pilgrims from as far away as India, we set off for the 32-mile circuit of the peak along the kora, the sacred circuit around Kailash. Just one circuit is said to erase the sins of a lifetime, 108 assures Nirvana. The most devout pilgrims circle the mountain in one day, but we’ll take our time and do it in four. Upon completion of the kora, we return to Lake Manasarovar, before beginning the long drive back to Lhasa.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN KATHMANDU. On your arrival, our representative will meet you and transfer you to you hotel. You will meet with the guide in the afternoon for a briefing on the trek and trip. Hotel Vajra
DAY 2: KATHMANDU. Today we will visit Pashupatinath, the famous Hindu temple and cremation place by the Bakmati river and Durbar Square. Hotel Vajra
DAY 3: FLY TO LHASA. Transfer to the airport and fly to the Gongkar airport, located about 75 miles from Lhasa. Transfer to hotel for overnight. (B,L,D)…Kyichu Hotel
DAYS 4-5: LHASA SIGHTSEEING. We will have two wonderful days in Lhasa to make excursions to the following places:
Bakor and The Jokhang—The Jokhang is the principal and holiest Buddhist temple in Lhasa, as well as all of Tibet. It is the focus of devotion of hundreds of Tibetans from near and far who circle it to gain spiritual merit. The Jokhang was first constructed in the 7th century and has a large gold image of Sakyamuni Buddha (Joho Rinpochey)
Sera and Drepung—the principal Monasteries. Sera, founded in 1419, is a monastery of the Gelugpa order. Drepung used to have 8,000 monks who were taught in the traditions of Vajrayana, Mahayana, and Sutrayana, the three vehicles of Tibetan Buddhism.
Potala Palace — The 13-story Potala Palace is reputed to contain 1,000 rooms and hundreds upon hundreds of brilliant thangkas, frescoes. These images were built in an era when religious art was created anonymously as a means of gaining merit for future lives. It’s one of the world's most extraordinary buildings. It completely covers the mountain it stands upon. We will also visit the Barkor bazaar in Lhasa, a colorful congregating place for Tibetan merchants. (B,L,D) Kyichu Hotel
DAY 6: SHIGATSE. We drive to Shigatse (12,792'), the second largest city in Tibet. Shigatse is known for its famous Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded by the first Dalai Lama and situated at the base of a hill on the edge of town. Tashilhunpo is the seat of the Panchen Lama, who is regarded as the reincarnation of the Buddha of endless enlightenment, and dates back to the 15th century. One of the most important religious centers of Central Tibet, Tashilhunpo contains a 26-meter-tall image of Buddha, Asia’s largest bronze Buddha. It also contains other important art works that include thangkas, frescoes, and statues. Pilgrims from the far corners of Tibet come to pay their homage. (B,L,D)…Manasarovar Hotel
DAYS 7-10: DRIVE OVERLAND. (6-8 hours drive each day) We’ll spend the morning doing some sightseeing in Shigatse. Then we spend the next three days driving to the Lake Manasarovar, the sacred lake below Kailash. Its crystal clear waters are the highest body of fresh water on earth. (B,L,D) … camp
DAY: 11-14 : MANASAROVAR LAKE. (7 hours) (4560m/15048ft) We will use these days to complete the circuit around the sacred lake of Manasarovar, visiting several temples along the way. The trail is flat, the water is crystal clear. We’ll see the icy flanks of Gurla Mandata (25,242'), the highest peak in Western Tibet. There will also be views of Mount Kailash. (B,L,D)…Camp
DAY 15: DAMDING DONKHANG. (6 hours) We drive to Darchen and start on Mount Kailash Kora, starting right from Darchen. We will take four days to make the circuit; hardy Tibetans do it in one day! Climb gently up to lunch at Chhuku Gompa, the first of the monasteries to be rebuilt after all were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Camp at Damding Donkhang (16,040'), offering good views of the west face of Kailash. (B,L,D)…Camp
DAY 16: JAROK DONKHANG. (6 hours) As we cross a couple of streams on log bridges, the north face of Kailash comes into view. After lunch, we climb up a moraine. We then reach the meadows of Jarok Donkhang at about 17,100 feet.. (B,L,D)…Camp
DAY 17: LHAM CHU VALLEY. (6 hours) We continue hike up to Shiva-Tsal (5297m/17,482ft), then up to the Dolma La (5595m/18,465ft), where a big boulder on the pass is covered with prayer flags, which represent the goddess Dolma. The pass is the physical and spiritual high point of the kora (circuit). We then hike down the valley to camp in the beautiful meadows of the Lham Chu Valley. (B,L,D)…Camp
DAY 18: LAKE MANASAROVAR. (4 hours) We hike to the gompa at Zutulpuk (15,711'). Here the Buddhist saint Milarepa lived, meditated, and performed miracles such as raising the roof of the cave to make it more comfortable. We’ll leave the river valley and hike on the plain to the last prostration station at 15,120'. We then continue another 2 hours to the end of the trail. We meet the vehicles and drive to Lake Manasarovar. (B,L,D)…Camp
DAYS 19-22: DRIVE TO LHASA. (8-10 hours) We will spend the next four days driving to Lhasa along the flanks of the Himalaya. (B,L,D) day…Camps, lodge, and hotel
DAY 23: FLY TO KATHMANDU. Transfer to the Gongkar airport, about two hours from Lhasa, fly to Kathmandu, Vajara Hotel
DAY 24: FLY HOME.
LAND COST: on request
Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations.
- All accommodations in comfortable hotels.
- All trek arrangement, including camp and cook staffs, group camping and (comfortable and roomy two-person tents, kitchen and dining tents, etc.)
- All meals as noted in the itinerary. (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- Mule drivers and mules during the trekking.
- All monastery entrance fees, wild life fees and camping fees.
- English-speaking guide.
- Service of cook and attendants during the trekking.
- All camping equipment including North Face or equivalent sleeping tent, foam mattresses, dining tent and toilet tents
- Surface transportation with assistance
- All sightseeing
- Porters and yaks where necessary
- Air ticket Kathmandu-Lhasa-Kathmandu (410 USD)
- Visa to Tibet
What’s not included:
- Medical and evacuation insurance
- Meals not noted on the itinerary
- Miscellaneous expenses and tipping to the staff
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic (i.e. sodas) drinks.
- International Air ticket.
- Trip cancellation insurance (we strongly recommend that you purchase it)
- Nepal visas, excess baggage charges, airport taxes.
- A single supplement*.
- Laundry, items of a personal nature, and other services not mentioned in the package. If you need any arrangement, please let us know.
* Single Supplement—$380 for “requested” singles; $225 for “forced” singles. If you prefer single accommodations, you must pay the Single Supplement Fee. If you’re traveling alone and wish to share accommodations, we’ll try our best to find you a roommate. If that’s not possible, we will only charge you half of the single supplement.
IMPORTANT TREK NOTES:
Whilst every effort is made to keep to the above itinerary, clients will hopefully appreciate that this is Adventure Travel in a remote mountain region. There will quite likely be changes to the itinerary in terms of anything from on-the-spot choice of campsite to when a rest day is taken. Weather conditions, road conditions, vehicle breakdowns off the beaten track, local availability of horses or yaks, can contribute to the need for changes. The Trek guide will do everything in his power to see that you are inconvenienced as little as possible in such circumstances. Timings are approximate.
Another option: Humla to Kailash - song and slideshow 4:24
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