Mt Kailash Trekking
A comprehensive Kailash Mansarovar tour, specially designed for adventurous travellers to gain deeper spiritual insight of life on the Tibetan plateau and experience firsthand Tibet’s best natural wonders. Mount Kailash is one of the holiest mountains in Tibet.
After acclimatizing in Lhasa, you will drive west across the vast plains with a spectacular view of the Himalayan Mountain Range to the south and the Trans-Himalayans to the north. Stopping along some of Tibet’s most spiritual sites like Tashi Lhunpo, Yamdrok Lake and the Kumbum Stupa, you’ll gain an understanding of Buddhism’s impact on Tibet before the magnificence of Mt. Kailash is unveiled.
For thousands of years, Mount Kailash has been the pilgrimage destination of Buddhism, Bon, Hindu and Jainism worshippers alike. At an altitude of 6714 meters, Gangkar Ti-se, as it is known in Tibetan, has perennial snow cover and is the focal point of all travel to western Tibet.
Pilgrims travel to this sacred mountain to complete a spiritual circuit, as it is believed that it will wash away their sins.
In addition to the varied landscapes, wildlife abounds in Western Tibet. Along the route, you will be able to see herds of wild ass, gazelle, Hodgson’s antelope, marmots and different species of geese from the window of your vehicle.
After spending three days trekking from monastery to monastery around Kailash route, you’ll be absolved of all your sins. From there we’ll drive to Manasarovar Lake and then journey to the world’s highest peak, Mt. Everest, and stay overnight to enjoy a sunrise you will never forget.
Arrive in Lhasa
Arrive in Lhasa. You will be met by our guide and transferred to your hotel.
Today we will acclimatize as well as visit some of the important Lhasa sites. Some of the group may also choose to rest and acclimatise, (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
The Jokhang Temple is the spiritual heart of Tibet and is Tibet’s most sacred temple. Pilgrims circle the temple day and night, some of them having traversed the extremes of the Tibetan landscape on foot to get here. The temple
was built here in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo when he moved his capital to Lhasa. The Jokhang was originally designed by Nepalese craftsmen to house a Buddha image brought by a Nepalese queen (the King had three Tibetan wives, a Nepalese queen and a Chinese queen). In 2000 the Jokhang was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List as an addition to the Potala Palace. Outside the Jokhang are flagstones where pilgrims gather to prostrate (unfortunately, this area is getting smaller each year). The rooftop of the Jokhang provides excellent views of Lhasa rooftops and the Potala.
The Barkhor is a devotional circuit, surrounding the Jokhang Temple, where you will see pilgrims who have often come on foot from remote areas of Tibet to visit the Temple. It provides an excellent introduction to the old town of Lhasa.
The Barkhor also houses a market bazaar where people bargain for Buddha images, woodcarvings, carpets, prayer wheels, clothing etc.
The Potala Palace is one of the highlights of a visit to Lhasa. Perched on Red Hill overlooking the town, this massive structure gracefully dominates the landscape and is a true architectural wonder. The palace was founded in 1645 during the reign of the great 5th Dalai Lama. The Palace is divided into two main complexes: the outer white building that housed the administration, and the Red Fort, where chapels, tombs and the living quarters of the Dalai Lama were located. The Potala was inscribed on the UNESCO Heritage List in 1994.
Sera Monastery, 4km north of Lhasa, is famous for its monastic debating. We may be able to watch the debating in the afternoon of our visit (sometimes the debating is cancelled or not open to the public). The monastery was once one of Lhasa’s two great Gelupa monasteries, second to Drepung, housing over 5,000 monks.
(Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Drepung monastery literally means“heap of rice” it is named after its formation of huge numbers of white monastic buildings congested on the hillside that resemble a heap of rice. Drepung is located north of Lhasa on the Mt. Gephel Utse ridge. It was founded by Tsongkapa’s disciple Jamyang Choje Tashi Palden in 1416 and was once one of the world largest monasteries which housed more than 10,000 monks from all over the Tibet.
It is known that the Tsongkapa (the founder of the Gelugpa sect) himself taught at the sites and blessed the new monastery. Later it gradually became one the largest Gelugpa school in central Tibet and it receives monks from every corner of Tibet looking to further study of Tsongkapa teachings.
LHASA(3600m) - GYANTSE (3900m) - SHIGATSE(3900m), 350 km
After touring the city for two days, it is time to head out on the winding road across the plateau. Our journey begins by heading along the to the Gampa La Pass, at 4,794 meters. From here, you will get the first glimpse of the stunning Lake Yamdrok, one of the Sacred Lakes of Tibet, with the snow-capped peak of the sacred Mount Nyenchen Khangsar in the distance behind. After a brief stop at the lakeshore, we will continue on to Nagartse for lunch.
After lunch, we will make a short stop at Karo La (5,150m) to see the amazing Nyenchen Khangsar glacier, before carrying on to Gyantse. Once the largest town in Tibet, Gyantse is home to the Pelkor Chode Monastery, which houses the famous Kumbum Stupa. Standing 32 meters tall and containing 108 small chapels, this amazing structure is the only one of its kind in Tibet. In the late afternoon, we will continue on to Shigatse for the night.
SHIGATSE (3900m) – LHATSE (4200m), 150km
In the morning we will visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, and your guide will take time to obtain the required Travel Permits.
Tashilhunpo Monastery is one of the largest functioning monasteries in western Tibet and boasts over 600 years of history. Founded in 1447 by the first Dalai Lama, the monastery is now the traditional seat of the Panchen Lama and contains the tombs of seven of the former Panchen Lamas.
En route to our overnight destination in Lhatse, we will drive off the main road to Sakya Monastery to explore the twisting alleys of the monastery alongside the Buddhist pilgrims. In the 13th century, Sakya Monastery was an important scholastic study centre for Buddhists in Tibet. Divided into two parts, the monastery is only active on the southern side of the river, with the northern part of the monastery now lying in ruins.
Stay overnight in Lhatse.
LHATSE (4200m) – SAGA (4500m), 340km
We will spend the day driving straight to Saga, through the scenic valleys of Brahmaputra tributaries. Having recently been reconstructed with a paved road, the journey to Saga should be very smooth.
Stay overnight at Saga
DAY 07. SAGA – DARCHEN (5000m), 520km
From our car, we will have stunning views of the great Himalayans to the south and the Trans Himalaya to the north, as we drive across the vast plains. This region is home to nomads whose lifestyle remains close to what it has been for centuries, as well as a wide spectrum of plateau wildlife.
During this journey, we will pass by sand dunes, mountains, and sandstone valleys before we reach the holy Lake Manasarovar in the late afternoon. The lake is one of holy lakes in Tibet and receives thousands of pilgrims from Tibet, India and Russia every year.
From there we will drive to Darchen, a small nomadic village and important launch point for pilgrimages around Mt. Kailash. Upon your arrival, our guide will prepare for yaks and porters for tomorrow’s trek, if required. The hills around Darchen are great places to prepare for the main trek.
In the afternoon, you can explore the village, and look for dinner options or ask our guide for recommendations.
Stay overnight at Darchen.
1st DAY TREKKING TO DIRAPUK. 20km
From Darchen, our trek will follow the small trail in a clockwise circuit around Mt. Kailash at an average altitude of 4,700 meters. We will walk side-by-side with local Buddhist pilgrims following the same route and pass by Bon pilgrims walking a counter-clockwise circuit.
After a 4-hour trek, we will reach Tamdin (4,780m), where we will have a simple lunch inside a nomadic tent. From there it is only 4km hike to Drirapuk Monastery where we will stay at a nearby guesthouse for the night. This 4km stretch contains some of the best scenery of the entire kora.
Drirapuk Monastery was rebuilt in 1985 and is located on the north side of the Lhachu River, facing the north face of Mt. Kailash. The name, Drirapuk, originally comes from a word Dri-ra, meaning “female yak horn” and Puk, meaning, “cave.” Legend has it that a female yak used her horn to create the cave. The Drirapuk Monastery guesthouse rooms are very basic.
Stay overnight at the local guesthouse at Drirapuk.
Total distance 18.6km or 11.56 miles. Time: 6:58 hours with lunch breaks based on an average speed of 3.4km/hour, approximately 30,699 steps.
Darchen altitude: 4,673m or 15,331 feet.
Drirapuk altitude: 5,050 m or 16,568 feet.
Ascent for the day: 377m or 1,236 feet
2nd DAY OF THE TREKKING TO ZULTUL PUK(4790m) 18km
This will be our most challenging day of trekking. The Dikpa La (5000m) and Dolma La (5,630m) passes are not that steep, but trekking at such high altitudes will be very tiring and slow. But at the top, you will get a front row seat of the holy Mt. Kailash.
After a short rest at the top, we will climb down into the long valley and stop for lunch at the Shabjay Dakpo nomadic tent.
Then will continues on to Dzultripuk Monastery for the night, Dzultripuk Monastery (4,803m) was built by two important religious figures, Milarepa and Naro Bon-Chung. You can see the footprint and handprint of Milarepa inside the cave.
We will spend the night at the local family guesthouse at Dzultripuk Monastery, where the rooms are very basic.
Stay overnight at Dzultripuk Monastery
Total distance 19.2km or 11.93 miles. Time: 8:19 hours with lunch breaks based on average speed of 3.6km/hour, approximately 42,206 steps.
Drirapuk altitude: 5,050 m or 16,568 feet.
Dzultripuk altitude: 4,803 m or 15,757 feet.
Ascent for the day: 580 m or 1,902 feet.
Descent for the day: 827 m or 2,713 feet.
Dolma La pass altitude: 5,630 m or 18,471 feet.
Distance from Drirapuk to Dolma La pass: 6.1 km or 3.79 miles, Time: 3:24 hours with rest
LAST DAY TREKKING AND DRIVE TO LAKE MANASAROVAR. (12km trekking and 80km drive)
Today is an easy day of trekking, to complete the circuit, and your driver will pick you up from Tashi Do (which is also known as Dzongsar). Then you will continue on the drive to Lake Manasarovar, to the guesthouses near the lake. You may have a short visit to the Chiu Monastery by walking upon the small hill.
Stay overnight at Lake Manasarovar.
Total distance 12km or 7.46 miles and 5:33 hours trekking with rest.
Ascent for the day: 200 m or 656 feet.
RETRACE THE ROAD BACK TO SAGA
Today we will retrace the road back to Saga for the night.
SAGA – EVEREST BASE CAMP (5150m)
In the morning, we will head for Everest Base Camp, located in the Rongbuk Valley. The nearby Rongbuk Monastery is the “official” highest monastery in the world and houses both monks and nuns.
Driving alongside the Peiku Tso Lake, you will have a picturesque view of Mount Shishapangma and other peaks of the mighty Himalayas. Mount Shishapangma is the only Peak above 8000m that is fully located in Tibet. After passing Old Tingri, keep an eye out for the tallest peaks of the Himalayas. From left to right, the guide will point out: Mt. Makalu (8,463m), Mt. Lhotse (8,516m), Mt. Everest (8,844m) and Mt. Cho Oyu (8,201m).
In the afternoon we will arrive at the tent guesthouse community at the tourist-dedicated Everest Base Camp. The base camp for tourists was moved back from the climbers’ base camp to a position close to Rongbuk early in 2019. The closest one can now get to the mountain is the Dza Rongbuk Caves, just a short distance past the monastery.
We suggest you bring your own sleeping bags as accommodation at the tent guesthouses are very simple. We will stay overnight in these tent guesthouses unless you're there between November and March, when the tent guesthouses close and only the Rongbuk Monastery guesthouse is available.
Rongbuk (5000m) - Shegar- Shigatse, 350km, 7hrs.
Attractions; Rongbuk monastery-world highest monastery, Himalayan ranges.
As we awake the next morning, a striking view of luminous peaks is highlighted by the sun and definitely, it is the best time to get some nice shots of the Everest sunrise, and it is bittersweet to say goodbye to this landscape that we have gotten to know so well. Then we drive all the way back to Shigatse and relax in Shigatse hotel, take a hot shower in the hotel and have a good rest. Overnight in Shigatse (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Shigatse - Lhasa, 280km, 4/5 hrs.
Attractions; Tashi Lhunpo monastery, Nimo home-made incense factory, Brahmaputra river.
In the morning we will visit the Tashi Lhunpo monastery on our way back to Lhasa. The monastery was built by the 1st Dalai Lama, Gedun Drup, in 1447 and later became the seat of the Panchen Lama lineage. There you will be able to see the tombs of 7 Panchen Lamas, explore the twisting cobbled streets and get a peek into monastic life.
Our route back to Lhasa will take us through a number of local villages. In Nyimo, we’ll stop to visit a local homemade incense village. They use primitive water operated tools to process incense materials and each incense stick is made by hand, sometimes this may be closed during the farming season or when the villagers are busy with their own works.
Arriving in Lhasa in the late afternoon, you will have time to explore Barkhor Street and pick up souvenirs for your friends and family if you wish. Overnight in Lhasa (Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner)
Morning at leisure before checking out and being transferred to the airport for your departure.
2020 Available Dates
Travelling in Tibet
Thousands of people travel to Tibet every year to experience the unique culture and visit some of the highest and most remote areas of the world. One thing you need to consider is the hugely increased altitude on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. This is something that may affect your health and is something to be aware of both in planning and while travelling. There are precautionary measures we take on all tours, and if you have ay specific concerns please speak with us directly.
This itinerary is correct at the time of publishing, however, there are some situations that may change and we cannot guarantee that the itinerary as set out below will be exactly as planned. . What we do promise, is an adventure that you will not forget.
You will be meeting some lovely people, you will be made welcome in people’s homes and you will be travelling to remote places where few westerners have seen before.
Permits are required to travel in most areas of Tibet and the Tibetian Autonomous Region - our tours include all required permits for the itinerary. At times some permits may not be possible and we will discuss other possible arrangements with clients they the need arises.
Minimum Number of travellers - 6
Maximum Number of Travellers - 12
Hotels in Lhasa and Shigatse - all other accommodation will be small local guest houses
All necessary travel permits to Tibet
Entrance fees for all the sight spots listed in the itinerary
Private transportation in Tibet with experienced local Tibetan driver: comfortable van or 4wd depending on numbers (car gasoline is included);
Private guide: English speaking local Tibetan guide
Pick-up and send-off services at the beginning/end of the tour
Oxygen cylinder fif required
Lhasa Handy Guide booklet (Easy map of hotels, restaurants, ATM, Supper market and hospital around the Lhasa old town).
Lodging and meals for guide and drivers;
Travel insurance - a requirement of joining the tour
Expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, phone call, etc.)
International and domestic flight/train tickets. Please request a quote
Yaks and porters for Kailash trekking to carry luggage if required, your guide can help you hire locally expect it to cost around CNY300 per day/per yak
Meals - lunches and dinners, breakfasts at the guesthouses (Averagely a meal in Tibet cost USD5 per person)
Tips for the guide and driver