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This 20 day adventure combines a stunning trek from Western Nepal into Tibet with a circumambulation of Holy Mt Kailash and a fascinating overland journey through Central Tibet back to Kathmandu.

Departure: Kathmandu
Duration: 20 Days
Best season: April - September
Grade: Moderate - Demanding

Mt. Kailash is said to be the centre of a geographic mandala, with points in the surrounding landscape, stretching for hundreds of kilometres, corresponding to spiritual concepts.

Simikot, in Far Western Nepal’s Humla District, is one of the world’s most remote regions and is the starting point of our trek into the ‘Kailash Mandala’. We travel along ancient pilgrimage routes and trading links, trekking across the border into Tibet to Mt Kailash, the sacred Lake Manasarovar, representing purity and Lake Rakshas Tal, representing power.

We complete this incredible trek by taking 4 days to circumambulate the holy Mt. Kailash, washing away the sins of a lifetime and enjoying one of the most stunning walks on the planet.

We complete this amazing trip by then heading overland and exploring Central Tibet on our way back to Kathmandu.

BRIEF ITINERARY

Day 01: Fly Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (150m)
Day 02: Fly to Simikot (2910m), trek to Majhgaon (2270m)
Day 03: Trek from Majhgaon to Kermi (2690m)
Day 04: Trek from Khermi to Yanger (2850m)
Day 05: Trek from Yanger to Palbang (3380m)
Day 06: Trek from Palbang to Nara La (4330m)
Day 07: Trek from Nara La to Sher (3860m)
Day 08: Rest day for acclimatisation in Purang (4000m)
Day 09: Drive from Purang to Chiu Monastery at Lake Mansarovar (4550m)
Day 10: Drive from Mansarovar to Tarboche (4750m)
Day 11: Trek from Tarboche to Dirphuk (4890m)
Day 12: Trek from Dirphuk to Zutul Puk (4790m)
Day 13: Trek from Zutul Puk to Darchen (4560m)
Day 14: Drive from Darchen to Tsaparang (3700m)
Day 15: Explore Toling - Guge Kingdom
Day 16: Drive from Tsaprang to Horfe (4520m)
Day 17: Drive from Horfe to Paryang (4750m)
Day 18: Drive from Paryang to Saga (4450m)
Day 19: Drive from Saga to Nyalam (3750m)
Day 20: Drive from Nyalam to Kathmandu (1300m)

DETAILED ITINERARY

Day 01: Fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj (150m)
This morning we take a flight to Nepalganj, on the southern border of Nepal. Nepalganj is hot, flat and completely different from the usual perception of Nepal as a mountainous country! It is home to a diverse population who have migrated here for farming, business or study. We will spend the night here before flying up to Simikot to commence our trek tomorrow morning.

Day 02-08: Nepalganj to Purang!
These two towns could not be more different! Nepalganj on the Nepali southern plains is lush and hot, while Purang in far western Tibetan is 4000m above sea level and surrounded by snow capped mountains!

To commence our trek we fly into the remote hill town of Simikot (2910m) in Nepal’s Far Western Humla district. Getting all our gear together we trek through traditional villages and over a 3000m pass to Majhgaon (2270m) where we make camp for the night. During the next 6 days we trek past hot springs at Kermi, visit Yalbang Monastery, alternating between following the Karnali River valley and crossing several passes on our way to the Tibetan border at Zher.

This is a stunning trek, with traditional cultures and architecture like you’ve never experienced in Nepal or Tibet. The landscape is simply magnificent as we make our way into Tibet. From the border we take jeeps to Purang, also known as Taklakot (4000m).

Day 09: Drive to Chiu Monastery and Manasarovar Lake (4550m)
Today we drive for about 3 hours to the Toyo villages and, with views to the stunning Mt Kailash, we pass between the fearsome Rakshas Tal and sacred Lake Manasarovar. The two lakes are linked by a channel called Ganga-chu. On rare occasions, water flows through this channel from Lake Manasarovar to Rakshas Tal; this is said to augur well for the Tibetan people. The two bodies of water are associated with the conjoined sun and moon, a powerful symbol of Tantric Buddhism.

Lake Manasarvoar is the highest freshwater lake in the world, covers an area of 412 square kilometres and has a maximum depth of 70 metres. This stunning sacred lake sits in a basin between Mt Kailash and Gurla Mandata, it is a truly awesome location for our camp tonight.

We base ourselves at the picturesque Chiu Monastery, on the northwestern shore of the lake, enjoying this fabulous location atop a craggy hill overlooking the turquoise Lake Manasarovar. There are hot-springs behind the monastery and this is respected as a holy and pure bathing place.

Day 10: Drive from Mansarovar to Tarboche (4750m)
After some peaceful hours at the shores of the sacred Lake Manasarovar with the snowy massif of Gurla Mandata (Memo Nani) towering at 7694m just across the lake, we will drive about 35km along the jeep trail to the start of the kora at Tarboche. Tarboche is marked by a tall flagpole adorned with thousands of multi-colored prayer flags and kata scarves strung out in radiating lines from the pole.

Day 11: Start trek around Kailash to Dirphuk (4890m)
This morning we meet our team of yaks and Tibetan yak drivers who will escort us around the kora. From Tarboche, we walk up the Lha Chu Valley through beautiful green meadows and streams with Mt Kailash towering above us. We follow the beautiful turquoise river which enters a narrow canyon with high, steep cliffs and spectacular waterfalls. Continuing up the valley, the north face of Kailash comes into view before we reach the 13th century monastery at Dira-puk

Day 12: Trek from Dirphuk to Zutul Puk (4790m)
We now leave the Lha Chu Valley and enter the Drolma Chu Valley, heading up towards a high pass, the Drolma La (5630m) which is the highest point in our trek. It's a tough climb to the summit which is festooned with prayer flags but from there it is all downhill or flat to Zutul-puk, with views of one of the highest lakes in the world, the breathtaking Thukpe Dzingbu Lake, known as the Lake of Compassion.

Our trail descends to the flat fields of Zutul-Puk which houses a monastery and several fascinating caves. These caves are popular for meditation, with Milarepa’s cave being one of them with Milarepa’s footprints and elbow prints believed to be imprinted in its walls. We camp tonight at Zutul-Puk.

Day 13: Trek from Zutul Puk to Darchen (4560m)
This morning we have an easy walk along some impressive gorges and around many mani stones and mani walls, with magnificent views of Mt Kailash along the way. We then enter the Bharka plain and it's about an hour's walk through this desert-like landscape to Darchen.

Our kora is finished – we have erased our sins, endured cold nights and mornings, crossed one of the highest passes in the world and met countless fellow pilgrims along the way.

Day 14: Drive from Darchen to Tsaparang (3700m)
While Western Tibet is so famous as a pilgrimage place and attention tends to focus on Mt Kailash and Lakae Manasarover, the area also has some of Tibet's most significant art and architecture. Our drive will take us most of the day and we climb over a high pass.

To explore some of this rich heritage, we head out to Tsaparang, capital of the ancient Guge kingdom which lies in a canyon of the upper valley of the Sutlej River. In Tsaparang we find the only examples of the Guge style of art, a synthesis of Kashmiri and Nepali art styles, and learn about how this fascinating area influenced the establishment of Buddhism in Tibet.

Tsaparang is a huge fortress perched on a pyramid-shaped rock rising about 500 to 600 feet (152 to 183m) at the end of a long narrow spur. It contains numerous tunnels and caves that have been carved out of the rock. At its base was a village where the common people lived. Above them were two public temples - the Lhakhang Marpo (Red Chapel) and the Lhakhang Karpo (White Chapel), and quarters for the monks. Further up, ascending a twisting stone staircase in a tunnel, were the royal quarters, and at the very top, the summer palace.

Day 15: Explore the Guge Kingdom
Today we explore this ancient kingdom! Within the royal chapels of Tsaparang are sumptuous Kashmiri and Nepali influenced paintings and statues, even though a lot was destroyed in the cultural revolution. The ruins themselves are stunning and the castles and surrounds provide an archeological chronicle of the region since 10th century. Tholing, built as the royal monastery, is the oldest and largest in Western Tibet and its influence once spread from Kasmir in the west to Assam in the east. It was built between 1014 and 1025 with sponsorship of the King of Guge and has the same architectural style as Samye Chapel, hailed as the oldest monastery in Tibet.

Day 16: Drive from Tsaparang to Horfe (4520m)
Today we start making our way back across Western and Central Tibet and back into the lush landscape of bustling Nepal. As we leave the Guge Kingdom behind we travel through the high altitude desert, marvelling at how people sustain themselves in this harsh environment. Tonight we stay at Horfe, also known as Horque, where we get to camp by Lake Manasarovar one last time.

Day 17: Drive from Horfe to Paryang (4750m)
Today we bid the sacred lakes and holy mountain farewell as we head back east to Paryang. The scenery along this section is some of the most beautiful of the entire journey, with Tibetans, horses, yaks and sheep against the background of the Himalayas.

Day 18: Drive from Paryang to Saga (4450m)
Today we drive through the vast Thang Kiang Naga, or ‘Plain of wild donkeys and grass’ on our way to Saga. We have 330km to cover and pass through several small towns, including Zhongba, crossing the Torkyo La at 4880m before coming down into Saga.

Day 19: Drive from Saga to Nyalam (3750m)
Crossing Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River) by a ferry, we continue driving 250 km to Nyalam. Soon after leaving Saga the road opens into a wide flat plain and passes the huge turquoise lake, the Paiko-Tso with spectacular views of Shishapangma (8027m) as the backdrop.

We continue driving across Lalung La (5200m) through a perfect blend of breathtaking views, alpine meadows, picturesque hamlets and an abundance of wildflowers finally coming to Nyalam.

Day 20: Drive from Nyalam to Kathmandu (1300m)
Today we bid farewell to Tibet as we load up into the jeeps again for the trip down to the border crossing and re-entry into Nepal. After border formalities we head to the Last Resort for lunch in this lovely canyon setting. If you like we can arrange a stop over here for you to check out Nepal’s only bungy jumping, the world’s biggest swing and the high ropes course (optional and extra). Otherwise we head back to Kathmandu for a final dinner to celebrate our Tibetan adventure!

 

 

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