In the far west of Tibet is Mt Kailash, the most sacred mountain in Asia, which is venerated by Buddhists, Hindus, Jains and the ancient Bon religion of Tibet. From it flow four great rivers – the Karnali, the Indus, the Sutlej and the Brahmaputra – which drain the vast Tibetan Plateau. It is an important site for Tibetan and Indian pilgrims who make a 53km circuit, or kora, of the mountain. This circumambulation, clockwise for Buddhists and Hindus and anti-clockwise for Bon followers, is said to erase the sins of a lifetime. The mountain itself is 6714m high and with its four sheer walls and snow capped peak is an awe-inspiring sight.
Only 30km from Mt Kailash is another important pilgrimage site, the beautiful and serene Lake Manasarovar. According to mythology it was formed in the mind of Brahma, and Indian and Tibetan pilgrims can also be seen circumambulating this lake, a distance of 90km.
On this trip, we fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa, and spend 3 days visiting the wonderful sights of this fascinating city. We then drive across the wide open spaces of the Tibetan Plateau to Lake Manasarovar, before completing a kora around Mt Kailash. From there, we re-cross the vast arid plains before heading south to the Nepalese border and returning to Kathmandu. This is truly the trip of a lifetime with stunning scenery and cultural highlights.
Day 1 Arrive Kathmandu
Day 2 Fly to Nepalgunj
Day 3 Fly to Simikot (2960m)
Day 4 Heli Flight to Hilsa (3700m); Drive to Purang (3800m)
Day 5 Rest day at Purang
Day 6 Drive to Mansarovar (4560m)
Day 7 Morning - holy bath, puja & hawan; Afternoon - drive to Darchen (4560m)
Day 8 Drive to Yama Dwar; trek to Dirapuk (4900m)
Day 9 Trek across Droma La (5630m) to Zutul-Puk (4790m)
Day 10 Trek to Darchen (4560m) & drive to Saga
Day 11 Drive to Shigatse (3900m)
Day 12 Sightseeing & drive to Lhasa (3650m)
Day 13 Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 14 Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 15 Sightseeing in Lhasa
Day 16 Free day in Lhasa
Day 17 Fly to Kathmandu (1400m)
Arrival in Kathmandu and transfer to hotel
It’s a panoramic thrill flying into Kathmandu on a clear day. The views of snow-capped mountain peaks sprawling down below you are almost ecstatic, beginning a whole chain of memorable experiences that stay with you for a long, long time. And as your plane lands at Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu, our waiting support team will meet and greet you at the arrivals and escort you to your hotel. .
Fly to Nepalgunj
Today we take a ninety minute flight to Nepalgunj in the far south west of Nepal. It is a busy crowded city which lies close to the Indian border. .
Fly to Simikot (2960m)
This morning we fly north for about 50 minutes to Simikot, the headquarters of Nepal's most remote district, Humla. Today, we spend the rest of the day exploring the neighboring area..
Heli Flight to Hilsa (3700m); Drive to Purang (3800m)
We take a thirty minute flight to Hilsa. On reaching Hilsa, we continue further overland to Purang, which can be reached within an hour. The rest of the day is for acclimatization as we have gained a significant altitude. .
Drive to Mansarovar (4560m)
Traversing along the extraordinary landscape, this route penetrates the very essence of Manasarovar Lake. As we near this breathtaking sacred lake, historic Chiu Monastery becomes visible on the North West shore of the lake. From this vantage point, we can even glimpse at majestic Mount Kailash. This journey stimulates us spiritually. .
Amidst the serenity of this sacred lake, you will do your holy rituals. 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 drive along the jeep trail to the start of the kora at Darchen. .
Drive to Yama Dwar; trek to Dirapuk (4900m)
Early in the morning we will drive to Yama Dwar past verdant meadows and picturesque streams to Lha Chu Valley. The trail overlooks Turquoise River cascading over a narrow canyon with high steep cliffs. En route, north face of Kailash comes into vision. After reaching Yama Dwar, we will trek to Dira which has a 13th century monastery. Visiting this monastery can be one kind of an insightful experience gifted in this Mount Kailash tour. .
Trek across Droma La (5630m) to Zutul-Puk (4790m)
Lha Chu Valley blurs as you turn towards Drolma Chu Valley. Looking forward to this amazing trip, we will ascend to Drolma La (5630m), the highest point of the trip. But soon after sighting breathtaking view of Thukpe Dzingbu Lake, known as the Lake of Compassion at the summit, you realize that this tough and challenging ascent has indeed been very worthwhile and fruitful. Several prayer flags can be seen at the summit. Further on, the trail descends to the flat fields of Zutul-Puk which houses a monastery and several fascinating caves. The caves at this locale are most popular for meditation; Milarepa’s cave being one of them with Milarepa’s footprints and elbow prints believed to be imprinted all over this cave of mani stones. .
Trek to Darchen (4560m) & drive to Dongba or Saga
Away from Zutul-Puk, we follow the trail through Bharkha plain leading to Darchen. It is an easy walk along some impressive gorges and around many mani stones and mani walls back to the Bharka Plains and dusty Darchen. The kora is finished – you have erased your sins, endured cold nights and mornings, crossed one of the highest passes in the world, met countless fellow pilgrims, sent prayers of peace out to the world. Shortly after arriving at Darchen you board the waiting vehicle for a drive to Dongba or Saga..
Drive to Shigatse (3900m)
Today is the longest drive of our journey, 452km to Shigatse. Leaving Saga, we pass the turn-off for the northern route and skirt around a lake, passing through a series of valleys. Approaching Kaga, we'll come across the first trees and agricultural fields that we've seen for many days and the town itself is situated next to a picturesque lake. We continue on to Lhatse where we join the paved Friendship Highway and follow it for the final 150km to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet..
Sightseeing & drive to Gyantse (3950m)
This morning in Shigatse we have time to visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet, before driving 90km to Gyantse. Once in Gyantse, we can explore the Pelkor Chode Monastery and the Gyantse Kumbum. The Kumbum is a large gold-domed stupa and its many chapels house an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals. .
Sightseeing & drive to Lhasa (3650m)
A spectacular 261km drive today will take us over the Karo La (5045m), where we are treated to the awesome sight of a huge glacier tumbling down to within a few hundred metres of the road. Beyond the small, developing town of Nagartse, the road follows the bank of a beautiful turquoise lake, the Yamdrok-tso, for about 20km. We then cross the Khamba La (4794m) and continue on to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. .
Sightseeing in Lhasa
After breakfast, you will be briefed on the day’s program. An experienced guide will take us on a tour to Sera Monastery, Norbulingka and Barkhor Square. At the famous Sera Monastery, we will get an insight into the important aspects of Tibetan Buddhism. We also pay a visit to Norbulingka, the summer retreat of Dalai Lama. Completed in 1956, the handsome building is ornately decorated with Tibetan carvings and paintings. Jokhang temple provides yet another glimpse of the rich Tibetan cultural heritage. We will also get the chance to stroll around the busy Barkhor Square, the nerve centre of Lhasa. After the day’s tour, you will be escorted back to your hotel..
Sightseeing in Lhasa
After an early breakfast, you will be escorted by your guide to the majestic Potala Palace. The imposing structure of the palace dominates the landscape of Lhasa. As we are guided through the ancient chambers of the palace, we get to see Tibetan art at its best. The Potala Palace has a vast array of intricate Tibetan murals and beautiful statues. We will also get to view the tombs of the eight Dalai Lamas. Later in the day we will visit the beautifully landscaped Drepung Monastery where you can observe nuns and monks chanting and performing religious discourses. After the day’s tour is over, you are escorted back to your hotel for a well- earned rest.
Note: Since only a limited number of visitors are allowed inside the Potala palace every day, the order of sightseeing places will be decided upon by your guide.
This day is for you to spend as per your wish. Explore and soak in the sights and sounds of the old city, revisit your favorite monastery, go for souvenir hunting in the busy local market at Barkhor Square, or simply sit in a café and watch pilgrims as they circumambulate the Jokhang. There is also the option of an additional tour to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery and Tsurphu Monastery. But this additional tour will incur an extra cost..
Fly to Kathmandu (1400m)
About 1.5 hours’ panoramic flight will take us to Kathmandu Airport..