Journey to Mount Kailash

  • Detailed Itinerary
  • Dates & Prices
  • Trip Notes

The most sacred mountain in the world rises from the harsh landscape of far western Tibet. This is a journey to a remote region, yet it is always teeming with life; the focus of pilgrimage for billions of Hindus, Buddhists, Jain and Bonpo it is surrounded by prayer flags and mani stones. Nearby are sacred lakes and the sources of Asia’s great rivers – the Indus, Sutlej, Brahmaputra & the Karnali Ganges. Experience one of the greatest of the world’s wonders amid a journey of wonders, crossing from the heart of Tibet to its outer reaches and back.

Day 1: Arrive Lhasa  
Welcome to Lhasa! Upon your arrival at Lhasa airport or train station you will be greeted by your guide and warmly welcomed with a pure white katak scarf (prayer scarf).
The station is on the outskirts of the city whilst the airport is 100km away in the next valley. On the way enjoy the highland views along the Lhasa River and stop occasionally for pictures of local villages. As you have just made a sudden ascent to 3,670 meters you will be transferred straight to the hotel. There are no planned activities – rest, relax, drink plenty of water and adjust to the altitude.

Accommodation:
• Balangxue Hotel or similar(4 nights)
Meals Included:
• Dinner

Day 2: Lhasa – Potala Palace, Jokhang Temple, Barkhor
One of the most iconic structures ever built, the Potala Palace, was the seat of government and winter residence of the successive Dalai Lamas. A visit is an awe-inspiring experience. Perched 130meters above the city, it is divided into two parts, the White Palace (secular) and the Red Palace (religious - home to chapels, shrines, and tombs of Dalai Lamas). Although you must stick with your guide whilst exploring, this in no way lessens the impact of seeing what is a true architectural wonder.
Later, visit the Jokhang; the spiritual heart and most sacred temple of Tibet which always attracts steady waves of pilgrims. Spend some time exploring this large World-Heritage listed site and learn of its rich history. According to legend, the temple was built over a lake after many failed attempts to build monasteries in other nearby locations. Feast your eyes on the golden Buddha which stands in the center. After the visit join the pilgrims walking around the Barkhor Street (in a clockwise direction) considered a sacred kora by Tibetans.

Accommodation:
• Balangxue Hotel or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 3: Lhasa  - Ganden Monastery visit & hike
This morning drive to Ganden, the most important monastery in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. Built in 1409 on Wanggo Mountain, the views are amazing. The highlight will be the 1.5 hour hike from the back side of the mountain to view the whole Ganden valley, this is also the pilgrim kora route for the local Tibetans. After our picnic lunch, we will spend the afternoon hiking the upper kora, we hike from 4000m up to 4800m, it will take 2-3 hours to finish the afternoon hike. Then drive back to Lhasa for the night.

Accommodation:
• Balangxue Hotel or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 4: Lhasa - Half day hike Pawangka Monastery to Sera monastery, Sera Monastery
Built in the seventh century by Tibetan King Songtsen Gampo, Pawang Monastery is of historical importance; it is the place where Tibetan calligraphy was first designed by Tonmi Sambhota. After visiting the monastery, we will start our hike. We will pass the active sky burial site en-route to Tashi Choling monastery and then continue along the hillside path to Sera. Visiting Sera, one of the great university monasteries of Lhasa, you will witness lively philosophical debating (except Sundays).

Accommodation:
• Balangxue Hotel or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 5: Lhasa/Gyantse/Shigatse – Khamba-la Pass, Yamdrok Lake, Karo-la pass, Pelkor Choede, Shigatse
Today it is a full days’ drive from Lhasa to Shigatse. A total distance of 360km taking 7-8 hours.
From Lhasa we drive down the Kyichu Valley to the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) before ascending to the Khamba La (Pass) at 4750m. The views are outstanding – in the foreground is the vast freshwater Yamdrok Tso or Turquoise Lake, while to the south the snow-capped ranges merge with the main Himalayan range. We drive along the western shores the lake before crossing the Karo La (5045m) to reach Gyantse.
Here we visit Pelkhor Choede monastery famous for its Kumbum Pagoda; an 8-storey, 3-dimentional mandala containing 100,000 images. This is the only monastery in Tibet which is not home to a single sect of Tibetan Buddhism. After visiting we continue our journey to Shigatse (3836m). On the way, we shall visit a local family for a glimpse of their everyday Tibetan life.

Accommodation:
•Mansarovar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 6:   Saga – drive Shigatse to Saga across the Tibetan Plateau        
Today is another long days’ drive of 480km. It will take 9-10 hours to get to Saga where we spend the night. After only 20km you cross the Brahmaputra River and head west across vast highland grasslands interspersed with lakes and small rivers. The region supports a wealth of bird life as well as rarer Tibetan antelope, wild Yak
Roads in Tibet are under continual development and are quite different from what you might expect. Virtually all roads you will travel are paved, but there can be delays due to roadworks (the climate makes maintenance ongoing). This is all part of the adventure, Arrival late in the afternoon to the typical Chinese and Tibetan town of Saga (4640m).

Accommodation:
• Western Post or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Note:  this note only applies to 1 trip per year
We plan to reach Mount Kailash at the time of the Saga Dawa festival which is held on the 15th day of the 4th month of the Tibetan calendar.

The Saga Dawa Festival celebrates the day Lord Buddha Sakyamuni was born, achieved enlightenment, and passed away. For over 1,000 years, pilgrims have flocked to Mt Kailash at Saga Dawa to replace the Tarboche flagpole, a huge pole that stands on the Kailash Kora, south of the mountain. The ceremony is led by a Lama from the nearby monastery and Tibetans and Buddhists gather here that day to attach their prayer flags, pray, and help erect the flagpole.
 
Day 7:  Saga- Darchen   - driving west, first views of Mt Kailash & Lake Manasarovar                                       
Another travel day across the vast highland plain toward Darchen, our base for the Kora Trek. All day the views are of the great Himalayan range to the south and, to the north, the vast dry Changtang Plateau (which turns briefly and stunningly green with the summer monsoon) and which is home to nomads whose lifestyle remains almost unchanged by the centuries. In the afternoon you will be rewarded with the first spectacular views of Mt Kailash and Lake Manasarovar.
We arrive at Manasarovar Lake, one of the holiest lakes in Tibet, in the late afternoon. Sacred to Buddhist, Hindu and Jain; every year it receives thousands of pilgrims from all corners of the Tibetan plateau and India. The lake is surround by several prominent peaks like Gurla Mandata (7694m). We will continue to drive to Darchen (4675m), a small village the starting point of the Mt Kailash kora.

Accommodation:
• Himalaya Kailash or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 8: Kailash Kora  - Trek to Dirapuk Monastery
In the morning, we will take the bus from Darchen to Sarshung Valley where we will we start our trek. We Walk the path with pilgrims who have saved money their whole lives to have this moment. After 4 hours we reach Tamdin (4780m) where nomadic tents serve a simple lunch and boiled water. From here it is only 4km to Dirakpuk monastery, but this stretch has the some of the best scenery of the entire kora. Dirakpuk (5210m), located on the north side of the Lha-chu River facing the north face of Mt. Kailash was rebuilt in 1985. The name of Dirakpuk originates from the word Dira which means female yak horn and Puk a cave. Legend says a female yak opened the cave. We will visit Drirapuk and stay overnight in a basic local guesthouse.

Accommodation:
• guest house
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 9:   Kailash Kora - Trek from Dira Phuk to Zutrul Puk Monastery
Today is the most challenging part of the kora as we cross the Drolma-la (5630m). Although not too long or steep an ascent, it feels very tough due to the altitude. Climbing to the Drolma-la the many pilgrims on the kora will undergo a symbolic death until they reach the pass and are symbolically reborn. One of the toughest parts of the Drolma-la is the very steep descent – take care! Finally reaching the long valley we rest and have lunch at Shabjay Dakpo nomad tent. It is then a long hike down the valley to Zutrul Phuk monastery where we overnight in the local guest house.

Accommodation:
• guest house
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 10:  Kailish Kora - Trek from Zutrul Phuk to Darchen, Drive to Lake Manasarovar
Today is an easy trek back to Darchen to complete the Kailash kora. From Zutrul Puk follow the ever- widening valley alongside lines of mani walls and prayer flags. After reaching Darchen it is just a short drive back to Lake Manasarovar where you will overnight at a guest house near the lake.

Accommodation:
• guest house
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 11: Lake Manasarovar–Saga – return journey across the Tibetan Plateau
Retrace the outward drive back to Saga for the night. Overnight stay at Saga Hotel or similar class.

Accommodation:
• Western Post or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 12: Saga to Rombuk – south across the grasslands toward the Himalaya, Everest Views, Rombuk Monastery
From Saga turn south across the grasslands surrounding lake Paiku-tso. Crossing the Friendship Highway it is a steep climb to Rombuk; a day of stunning scenery. The world’s highest monastery, at 5000m, was first built in 1902 by a Nyingma Lama and originally housed more than 500 monks. Today, only about 50 monks and nuns remain, sharing a prayer hall, but maintaining separate residences. The nuns here are great fun and will be delighted to have you join their evening prayers. From here the view is directly up the valley to Base Camp and Qomolangma/Mount Everest (8849m) beyond.

Accommodation:
• Rombuk monastery
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 13: Rombuk to Shigatse – Last view of Everest, Tashilumpo Monastery
Follow the Friendship Highway back to Shigatse for the night. On arrival there is time to visit the vast monastery complex of Tashilumpo, seat of the Pachen Lama.

Accommodation:
• Manasarovar or similar
Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Day 14: Lhasa Departure – follow the Brahmaputra River to Lhasa Airport
After breakfast follow the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) back to Lhasa airport for departure flights after 15:00
Please note that the departure flight from Lhasa is not included. We can help to book flight tickets to Beijing, Chengdu or other Chinese cities or to arrange additional nights’ accommodation in Lhasa if you would like to stay longer.

Meals Included:
• Breakfast & lunch

Visas - A visa is required for entry into China for all nationalities except Japan, Singapore and Brunei who are allowed visa free stays under 14 days. Travellers holding APEC cards are allowed entrance visa free if their card has already been approved for China.

Under the current guidelines to get a visa you will need to provide the following:

- Letter of Invitation from a Chinese agency

- Copy of Flight tickets

- Hotel booking confirmation

- Travel Insurance (some embassies ask for this document) 

In some cases, you may be required to provide further information or documentation and if this is the case we will notify you as soon as possible.

Booking a Single Room - On this particular tour we are pleased to be able to offer travellers the option of pre-booking a guaranteed single room. Due to the variety of accommodation used on this tour, single rooms are available for a majority of the nightstops, however it would still mean sharing on any overnight trains. All of our tours are planned and operated on a twin-share basis, meaning that the standard cost is based either on individual travellers sharing accommodation with another group member of the same sex, or people who book together sharing accommodation.

Vaccinations and Your Health - We recommend that you contact your primary care physician or a travel doctor for advice on vaccinations and travel health and we advise that you check to see if your tetanus-diphtheria booster is still valid every 10 years. 

Insurance - Travel insurance is compulsory for all our customers. At the start of the trip you must provide us with: the name of your insurance company, your policy number, a 24 hour medical emergency contact number, and the expiry date of the policy. You should ensure that your policy covers you for medical expenses and repatriation. If you are unable to provide all this information at the start of the trip you will not be allowed to join the trip. You can purchase insurance easily online by checking our Travel Insurance page.

Luggage - One main piece of lockable baggage and a shoulder bag. Total allowance: 44lbs/20kgs. Remember, you are expected to carry your own baggage – so don’t overload yourself. It is essential that your baggage is lockable; the airline/train authorities insist on this. Please be aware, before boarding a flight in China that the Chinese authorities will only allow bottles onto aircraft if they have been checked in as main luggage. Any bottles in the hand luggage may be confiscated.

Itinerary Disclaimer – The information in this trip details has been compiled with care and is provided in good faith. However it is subject to change, and does not form part of the contract between the client and the operator. The itinerary featured is correct at time of printing. Occasionally our itineraries change as we make improvements that stem from past travellers, comments and our own research. Sometimes it can be a small change like adding an extra meal along the itinerary. Sometimes the change may result in us altering the tour for the coming year. Ultimately, our goal is to provide you with the most rewarding experience. 

Accommodation -Your accommodation is selected for convenient.




14 Days