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Worldwide Small Group and Tailor Made Adventure Travel

What’s included

  • A Mountain Kingdoms appointed Western leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • All hotel/airport transfers
  • Good standard hotel accommodation (4 star) in Kathmandu, bed and breakfast basis
  • Hotel/lodge accommodation in Tibet
  • All camping facilities and all meals on trek
  • The use of a good quality down jacket and sleeping bag (when travelling to Bhutan via Kathmandu).
  • Camp staff to carry out all campwork
  • Costs of all porterage and their insurance
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • Opportunity to attend a pre-trip meet in the Cotswolds
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms kit bag

Mount Kailash & the Saga Dawa Festival Festivals

Walking & Trekking

Tibet | Walking & Trekking

Improved
Mount Kailash & the Saga Dawa Festival
Strenuous

Suitable for fit individuals who have regular experience of mountain walking.

Find out more...

Grade: Strenuous ? Strenuous
Duration:  23 days from the UK  
On trek: 5 days
Walks on: 2 days

Book now or call 01453 844400

Journey across the roof of the world, trek with pilgrims on the Kailash Kora, join the Saga Dawa celebrations and visit the northern base camp of Mount Everest.

Highlights

  • Trek around Mount Kailash - the holiest mountain in the Himalaya
  • Attend the highly atmospheric Saga Dawa festival at the foot of Mount Kailash
  • Take the best route to Kailash across the Tibetan plateau stopping to explore many cultural sights en route
  • Return to Lhasa via the north Base Camp of Mount Everest on the Rongbuk glacier

Reviews          

I have given the trip an "excellent" tick since it is hard to criticise an organisation that succeeded in delivering what was, for me, a hugely valuable experience - where the location genuinely transcended my expectation.
Mr L, London

The trekking and camping experience brought us very close to local people which I very much enjoyed. Going to such a remote area - magnificent!
Ms S, London

Remote location, small group size, excellent trek crew and leader.
Ms T, London

It was a very enjoyable adventure trip, well planned and full of interest. The way the places we stayed in gradually built up in altitude was very helpful. It was a tough trip in physical terms but a great experience
Miss K, Hants

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Tibetans believe that many of their mountain tops are places where their early kings alighted after descending from heaven and many pilgrims travel vast distances to set eyes upon this holy mountain and perform a kora. Some prostrate themselves head to toe, all the way round. We trek for five days to cover the same ground and will undoubtedly be moved by the simple spirituality of the pilgrims as well as the splendours of the awe-inspiring scenery we encounter at every step.

In the shadow of Kailash, we celebrate the end of our trek at the Saga Dawa festivities. We then have an exciting trip to Old Tingri, Rongbuk and the northern side of Everest Base Camp. We will acclimatise before Kailash by driving across the Tibetan Plateau from Lhasa and trekking the northern shores of Lake Manasarovar.


At a glance

Grade: Strenuous
Strenuous

Duration:  23 days from the UK  
On trek: 5 days
Walks on: 2 days

Max. Altitude: 5,630m/18,525ft (the Dolma La Pass - day 14)

Guaranteed to run for a minimum of 5 clients

Maximum group size: 12

Land only joining city: Kathmandu

Accommodation types: Hotels, Camping, Lodges

Festival:

This departure attends the Saga Dawa Festival close to Mount Kailash.

Meal arrangements: Bed and Breakfast in Kathmandu, all meals included elsewhere and on trek. (23 breakfasts, 19 lunches and 19 dinners).

Itinerary overview
DayActivity
1-3
Fly to Kathmandu. Day at leisure.
4-6
Fly to Gonggar, Tibet. Drive to Lhasa. Sightseeing in Lhasa including the Potala Palace, Sera Monastery and the Norbulingkha.
7-8
Drive to Shigatse via Yam Drok Tso Lake. Continue to Gyantse and to Saga.
9-10
Drive to Lake Manasarovar. Trek along the northern shore of the lake.
11-12
Drive to trailhead at Darchen. Trek to Chhuku Gompa and Damding Donkhang.
13
Trek to Kikpa Karnak via Jarok Donkhang and visit the North face of Kailash. Trek to below the Dolma La.
14
Cross the Dolma La Pass, 5,630m/18,525ft, trek to Zutul-Puk Monastery.
15
Trek to Darchen. Short drive to Tarboche.
16
Attend the Saga Dawa Festival. Drive to Gung Gyotsho Lake.
17-19
Drive to Saga, Old Tingri and on to Everest Base Camp – north side.
20-22
Drive to Shigatse via Shegar. Drive to Lhasa via the northern route. Day at leisure in Lhasa.
23-25
Fly to Kathmandu. Day at leisure. Fly to London.
Leader: Tony Welsh
Tony Welsh

Tony was our Operations Manager for a few years in the 1990s, and thus has an in-depth knowledge of the business. Since leaving he has continued to lead treks for us regularly, and maintains close contact with us despite now living in Asia, where he continues to find new routes in countries as diversified as New Zealand, Australia, Taiwan and the Philippines. Tony is a very active runner and tri-athlete and an excellent organiser and thus a popular leader. As well as travelling independently through Asia, Tony has led numerous treks for us in Bhutan, Tibet, Sikkim, Ladakh, Zanskar and Nepal.


  1. Day 1 - Depart London.

    Fly overnight from London to Kathmandu.

    Overnight iconOvernight: In flight
  2. Day 2 - Arrive Kathmandu.

    On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel, the Shangri-La Hotel, a pleasant hotel located near the British Embassy. Here you can relax in their lovely garden or have a dip in the hotel pool.

    Kathmandu is a wonderful mixture of the ancient alongside the modern: crowded bazaars still throng with people today as they have for hundreds of years; roads are crowded with cars, motorbikes and buses; ancient temples and crumbling shrines sit alongside modern offices, picturesque palaces slowly sag into dereliction while Buddhist stupas gaze over the bustling scene with their all seeing eyes. Meanwhile, in the tourist hub of Thamel, you will find restaurants and bars, shops and internet cafés. Although this is a crowded, noisy and polluted city it is also friendly, fascinating and vibrant. Tonight you can either eat in at your hotel or venture out to one of the many restaurants in Thamel.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shangri La Hotel, Kathmandu Or Similar
  3. Day 3 - At leisure in Kathmandu.
    mount kailash and saga dawa festival kathmandu sightseeing boudhanath js.

    While our local agent completes the process of obtaining your Tibetan visas you have a day to explore some of the historic sights of the city, relax by the pool and read a book, or perhaps venture down into Thamel to sample the atmosphere of the one-time Hippy capital of Asia.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shangri La Hotel, Kathmandu
  4. Day 4 - Fly to Gonggar, Tibet - 1 hour flight. Drive to Lhasa, 3,600m/11,800ft – 1.5 hours.

    You will transfer to the airport for the flight to Gonggar in Tibet. This is an exciting flight which goes east along the Himalaya, passes Everest (on the left hand side of the plane) and then cuts through the chain to continue north east towards Lhasa with views of Kangchenjunga and Chomolhari on the right hand side. In Gonggar (the airport for Lhasa) you will be met and driven to Lhasa. Nowadays the road passes through a road tunnel through the mountains so the drive takes just one and a half hours. Lhasa is today a very modern looking city but your first sight of the Potala Palalce as you drive into town will still take your breath away. On arrival in Lhasa you will check in to your hotel which is situated in the centre of town. On arrival remember that you are now at altitude so it is best to take it fairly easy for the afternoon. If you do have the energy there should be time for some exploration in the afternoon. Both the Barkhor market and Jokhang Temple are within a few minutes' walk of your hotel and you may venture out to mingle with the crowds of pilgrims, shoppers and tourists.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Kyichu Hotel or Shambala Hotel or Similar, Lhasa
  5. Day 5 - Sightseeing in Lhasa – Potala Palace and Sera Monastery.

    Today you have a full day sightseeing in Lhasa. This will include the Potala Palace in the morning, and in the afternoon you will visit the Monastery of Sera.

    In the morning you will visit the Potala Palace. Luckily the Potala remained largely undamaged throughout the years of the Cultural Revolution. Songtsen Gampo was the first Tibetan ruler to establish a palace on this outcrop, the 'Red Hill', but construction of the grand palace that we see today began in 1645 during the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama. The palace is named after Mount Potala, a sacred mountain in South India, and served as the home of successive Dalai Lamas and their monastic staff. You will start your tour at the top of the building where the view from the roof is stunning. You then work your way down through successive storeys and through a maze of rooms - through the living quarters of the Dalai Lama and down through numerous highly decorated chapels and colourful assembly halls. Walls are decorated with intricate murals and hung with painted thangkas. One of the most awesome rooms in the Potala is the Chapel of the Dalai Lamas' Tombs, which contains the massive golden stupa of the Fifth Dalai Lama and smaller stupas containing the relics of other Dalai Lamas. When you have completed your tour you may like to make a kora (circuit) right around the building, along with many Tibetan pilgrims who will be making the same circuit.

    In the afternoon you will drive 40 minutes to Sera Monastery, one of the three great Gelukpa monasteries near Lhasa. This monastery dates back to the 15th century and was formerly a monastic township housing over 5,000 monks. Although many of the outlying buildings have been destroyed the principal buildings were left relatively intact and nowadays the monastic population is again over 300 monks. Sera is particularly famous for its great monastic debates and monks can still be seen debating in the debating courtyard. More prosaic but equally fascinating are the large monastic kitchens where monks prepare industrial quantities of food in huge copper cauldrons. It is quite a sight to see Tibetan tea being blended with a mixer the size of a road drill.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Kyichu Hotel or Shambala Hotel or Similar, Lhasa
  6. Day 6 - Sightseeing in Lhasa - Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Market and the Norbulingkha.

    The Jokhang is the most sacred temple in Tibet and the centre of the Tibetan part of Lhasa. Pilgrims from all over Tibet flock to visit it. You will see them circling the Barkhor turning their prayer wheels or making full-length prostrations around the temple. To visit the Jokhang you will join these pilgrims as they shuffle round inside, making their offerings and feeding the thousands of flickering butter lamps. The temple was initially established in the 7th century by King Songtsen Gampo. It takes its name from the sacred image of the Buddha, the Jowo Shakyamuni, the most highly revered image in Tibet, a statue which was brought to Tibet by Songtsen Gampo's Chinese wife and which is now housed in one of the chapels of the Jokhang. The Jokhang itself was however originally designed by Nepalese craftsmen brought to Tibet by Songtsen Gampo's second wife who was from Nepal. Since that time the temple was further enlarged during the reign of the Fifth Dalai Lama. It is worth visiting the roof of the Jokhang for wonderful views of the city and surrounding hills.

    The Barkhor market near the Jokhang is full of vendors selling all manner of wares, stirrups for dashing nomad horseman, tacky souvenirs for Chinese tourists and all sorts of other ephemera. Shops in the nearby streets display huge slabs of butter which pilgrims purchase to feed the butter lamps in the Jokhang temple. The characteristic rather cheesy smell of such temples is from these butter lamps. Part of the Barkhor market is now housed undercover nearby.

    The name Norbulinka means 'Jewel Park' although nowadays it is known as 'People's Park'. The Norbulingkha was formerly the summer palace and recreation gardens of the Dalai Lama and it was from here that the present Dalai Lama escaped in 1959. The nearby Tibet Museum is also well worth a visit. Pass rapidly through the galleries justifying the Chinese occupation and you will find that the galleries on Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan arts and crafts along with objects of everyday life are well worth the visit. There are many outstanding pieces on display.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Kyichu Hotel or Shambala Hotel or Similar, Lhasa
  7. Day 7 - Drive to Shigatse via Yam Drok Tso Lake and Gyantse, 355km - 7 hours.
    mount kailash and saga dawa festival kumbum chorten gyantse r shorrock.

    Today after breakfast at the hotel you will drive west out of Lhasa and onward to Gyantse. You will begin the drive westwards across Tibet, heading back to Nepal along the 'Friendship Highway'. This first section to the Kamba Pass, 4,794m/15,728ft, is on tarmac. From the pass you look down onto the Yamdrok Tso Lake, a huge area of water surrounded by mountains. After a long drive around the edge of the lake the road climbs to cross the Karo La, 5,045m/16,552ft, next to Mount Nazin Kang Sa, 7,252m/23,792ft. The road then descends before arriving in Gyantse, one of the most attractive towns in Tibet with the largest Tibetan Buddhist Chorten in the world; the Kumbum. You will take a guided tour of the Kumbum and its associated monastery.

    You will then have the rest of the day to explore Gyantse. Although Gyantse has been affected by development it is still, even today, quite small and is one of the most traditionally Tibetan of towns, probably the most Tibetan of all the towns you visit on this trip. It has somewhat of a 'wild west' air. Gyantse is situated at the junction of trade routes from Lhasa and the east, Shigatse to the west and India to the south and came to importance as the centre for Tibet's wool trade. A great castle on the hilltop overlooks the entire area. In 1904 this castle, which guarded the route to Lhasa, was the scene of a military siege during the British Younghusband Expedition. In the castle a museum tells the story from the Tibetan/Chinese point of view and at the summit you will find a small monument to the Tibetans who died during the siege. You will have some time in Gyantse before the drive to Shigatse (90km, 2 hours) following the broad Tsangpo River. Shigatse is Tibet's second largest city, the capital of Tsang province and has long been an important trading centre and is a busy modern city. Formerly Shigatse was dominated by a massive castle built on a hill above the old town. This castle was the seat of the kings of Tsang in the 16th and 17th centuries. Nowadays only the bases of these ramparts can be seen along the ridge.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shigatse Manasarovar Hotel, Shigatse
  8. Day 8 - Visit Tashilumpo Monastery. Drive to Saga.

    In the morning you will have time for a little exploration of Shigatse. Nowadays this more closely resembles a Chinese city but there are still things worth visiting. The most important remaining Tibetan institution in Shigatse is the Tashilumpo Monastery. While you are walking around the monastery watch out for packs of dogs which are fed by the monks because dogs are said to be the souls of reincarnated monks. During your stay in Shigatse you may also have time to visit the recently restored Shigatse Dzong, said to resemble a mini Potala. Finally, before you leave for Saga the Tibetan market is also worth a visit - look out here especially for the rather gruesome whole dried sheep.

    This is a long and tiring driving day, but the scenery has to be seen to be believed. The sheer scale of the Tibetan plateau is staggering. There will be views of the Greater Himalaya and Shishapangma, 8,046m/26,397ft, the world's thirteenth highest peak. Shishapangma is the only 8,000m peak to lie wholly within Tibet. You eventually turn right to take the ‘shortcut’ to Saga past the beautiful Pelkhu Tso Lake. Your journey ends near the small town of Saga where you spend the night.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Western Inn or Similar
  9. Day 9 - Drive to Lake Manasarovar.

    Another long, but sensational day's drive today to reach the holy lake of Manasarovar and obtain your first views of Mount Kailash. The road follows the Tang Po River for much of the way and you pass through a number of villages and the small town of Zhonba. Finally you cross the huge pass, the Mayum La, 5,280m/17,323ft, from where you can see Kailash. No doubt some of you will be emotionally moved to make your prostrations to the mountain! Continue down from the pass and skirting Bo Po Mountain you will eventually come to the shores of the holiest lake in Asia.

    Sacred Lake Manasarovar, 4,558m /14,954ft, is located in West Tibet between Mt. Kailash, 6,714m/22,028ft, and the Gurla Mandhata Range (Memo Nani, 7,694m/25,242ft). For Hindus, Manasarovar floats beneath the shadow of holy Kailash as the lake formed in the mind of God. It was created to show the omnipotence of Brahma's mind, manas. Tibetans know it as Mapham Tso, 'the Unconquerable Lake'. In any language, this is the holiest, most famous lake in Asia.

    You will spend the night camping in a picturesque spot on the lakeshore close to Chiu Gompa.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  10. Day 10 - Trek along the northern shore of Lake Manasarovar.
    mount kailash and saga dawa festival trekking near lake manasarovar skb.

    Today offers you the chance to stretch your legs after the long days of travelling and to test your acclimatisation with a walk from Chiu Gompa. It would be hard to imagine anything more peaceful, beautiful and interesting. From camp you walk along the shore northwards, past Chiu Gompa, towards the line of low hills and cliffs bordering the northern shore. The lake has a multitude of different ducks, geese and seagulls. You may pass Tibetan shepherds with flocks of hardy sheep and goats. After an hour, or so you reach the narrow strip of shore between lake and cliff and before long come across old hermit caves, some high up on the cliff. Two hours brings you to a break in the cliffs and the ruined monastery of Cherkip. Here there are a few chortens and mani walls and a few tame hares. From Cherkip, you continue to follow the shoreline, past a

    couple of small headlands, to reach, eventually, a rising path leading inland. After a few false rises you arrive at Langpona Gompa. This is a truly beautiful place, high above the plain below, where you may well see dust devils passing across. Below the monastery, there is a scattering of mud brick houses and the river winding its way towards Manasarovar Lake. The vehicles should meet you here to drive you back to your lakeside camp, which would otherwise be 1½-2hrs walk north from Langpona Gompa. The monastery, incidentally, is well worth a look inside.

    The eight monasteries of Manasarovar were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution but recently most have been rebuilt. With snowy mountains and turquoise lakes as a backdrop, the setting of these shrines is other-worldly. The monastery of Gossul was visited by Hedin in 1907-8 and he wrote. "Did fate compel me to pass my life in a monastery in Tibet I would without hesitation choose Gossul Gompa". The monasteries once again provide spiritual and physical refuges for pilgrims who perform the 90-km circumambulation of the lake. Most Tibetans, however, simply opt for an offering by the lake's north-western shore and forego the full circuit.

    If time and inclination allow, you could consider a visit to the hot springs located above Chiu Gompa. Be warned, they are very hot!

    Tonight you will camp on the shore of the lake below Chiu Gompa.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  11. Day 11 - Drive to Darchen. Begin Kailash trek. Trek to Chhuku Gompa. - 2.5 hours.

    Today you make the return drive or 4-5 hours to Darchen, 4,575m/15,010ft, a rather rundown township, where your permits will be scrutinised and your trek leader, Tibetan guide and Sherpa sirdar will meet with the man employed by the local state prefecture to round up teams of yaks for paying pilgrims.

    Once everything is in order, packed ready to go, you will trek west from the guest house high above the Barkha plain to a cairn and prayer flags at 4,730m/15,518ft. This is the first of four chaktsal-gang 'prostration stations' on the kora and offers an excellent view of the peak. Turning north up the valley of the Lha Chu, you descend to Tarboche, a tall pole adorned with prayer flags. Nearby is chorten-kangri. It is considered an auspicious act to pass through the small archway formed by the two legs of this chorten.

    The trail continues across the plain to Shershong, an hour after which you will cross a bridge leading to Chhuku Gompa high on the hillside above. All the monasteries on the Kailash circuit were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Chhuku Gompa was the first to be rebuilt and contains a few treasures that were rescued from the original gompas. You will camp below the gompa tonight.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  12. Day 12 - Trek to Damding Donkhang, 4,890m/16,043ft - 2.5 hours.

    Now you just follow the pilgrims on the kora. Shortly you pass Chuku gompa, one of four small monasteries that have been rebuilt after the Chinese Cultural Revolution. There are some very interesting and little known connections between these monasteries and Bhutan. Again, if time allows and you are feeling strong, the gompa is well worth a visit. The path continues now through a most fantastic gorge. The cliffs are incredibly impressive, unique and awesome. There are a variety of campsites towards the end of the valley, near a holy rock that has Milarepa's footprint, near the Second Prostration Point.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  13. Day 13 - Trek to Kikpa Karnak via Jarok Donkhang and visit the North face of Kailash, 5,209m/17,090ft, trek to below the Dolma La - 5-6 hours.
    mount kailash and saga dawa festival kailash north face prayer_flags skb.

    Only a short walk from the camp you go past some stone huts and obtain a fine view of the west face of Mount Kailash. Carrying on now towards Diraphuk Monastery, you will eventually be rewarded with the most fantastic views of the north face of Kailash, framed between the two 'disciple-mountains, Chana Dorje and Chenresi. There is an easy path to follow, up towards the north face. You will undoubtedly feel the altitude as you climb, at times steeply, up the valley that leads eventually to the small glacier that comes down from Kailash. There are fine views from here but if you are fit and keen to go closer, time permitting it is possible to walk easily up the glacier for some way. Alternatively, for those who prefer a visit to Diraphuk Monastery this is possible.

    Cross a bridge across the Lha Chu. If you trek up the valley of the Lha Chu you would eventually reach the true source of the Indus. The kora route now makes a serious climb onto a moraine, eventually meeting the trail from the east bank. The trail climbs more gently to a meadow full of fat marmots (phiya). This is a good camp that will make tomorrow's pass crossing easier than it would be if you camped at Diraphuk. There is another possible camp site, higher again and if the group is well acclimatised your leader may arrange an overnight here instead.

    MOUNT KAILASH
    Mount Kailash, 6,714m/22,028ft, Asia's most sacred mountain, is said to be at the heart of the ancient Shangshung Kingdom, the supposed land of origin of the pre-Buddhist Bonpos. Mount Kailash is their soul-mountain (lari), which they also call Yungdrung Gu Tse, the Nine-story Swastika Mountain. This is the very place where the sect's legendary founder, Tonpa Shenrab, descended from heaven to earth. In the 11th century, with the revival and ascendancy of Buddhism in Tibet, Milarepa, the poet-saint and patriarch of the Kagyupa sect, was the dominant influence in the area. This came to pass when he defeated his Bonpo arch rival, Naro Bonchung, in a series of magical contests. Relic traces of this epic battle can be seen from time to time along the ritual circuit (kora) around Mount Kailash. The circumambulation of Mount Kailash is an important pilgrimage for Hindus, Buddhists and Jains. Hindus perform a prikama, Buddhists call it a kora. Buddhists believe that a single kora washes away the sins of one life and 108 circuits secures Nirvana in this life. Devout Tibetans often make the 52km circuit in a single day. Indian pilgrims make the circuit in three days, but this also is rushed, particularly since the circuit, though mostly level, involves the crossing of a 5,630m/18,525ft pass. A five-day trek is far more enjoyable and rewarding. Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims make a clockwise circuit of the peak. Bon-po tradition is to circumambulate in the opposite direction. As you circle Kailash via the traditional route, you will meet followers of Bon-po making a kora in the opposite direction. The most pious of the pilgrims are those who prostrate themselves around Kailash, lying flat on the ground, then rising, walking to the point that their hands touched and repeating the process. It is an awesome spectacle to meet a group of pilgrims performing this feat. There is also an 'inner kora' that passes two lakes to the south of Kailash. Tradition dictates that only those who have made 13 circumambulations of Kailash (or one circuit in a Wind Horse year) may follow this inner route.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  14. Day 14 - Cross the Dolma La Pass, 5,630m/18,525ft, trek to Zutul-Puk Monastery, 4,790m/15,715ft - 7-8 hours.

    As you climb from your overnight camp, you will pass piles of clothing at Shiva-tsal, 5,331m/17,490ft. Tibetans leave an article of clothing, or a drop of blood here as part of leaving their past life behind them. Continuing past thousands of small rock cairns the trail leads across a boulder field and up to the Dolma La at 5,630m/18,525ft. Here a large boulder on the pass representing the goddess, Dolma, better known by her Sanskrit name, Tara, is festooned with prayer flags and streamers. It is traditional to leave something as part of the collection of coins, prayer flags, teeth and other offerings attached to the rock. This is the physical and spiritual high point of the kora. Money is pasted to the rock with butter and pilgrims make the requisite three circumambulations of the rock. This must be the world's largest collection of prayer flags. If you meet Tibetan pilgrims here you will probably be invited to join them for a picnic in celebration of completing the hardest part of the kora; remember to take a little food to share with them.

    Descending, the trail is rocky at first then begins a series of switchbacks as it passes the lake, Gouri-kund, at 5,450m/17,880ft. Devout Hindu pilgrims are supposed to break the ice and bathe in its waters. More switchbacks lead down to the valley and a stone guest house alongside the Lham-chhukhir at 5,148m/16,890ft. There is a footprint of Buddha, called a shapje nearby. The trek now makes a long, gentle, descent of the Lham Chu valley. When crossing the stream of the Khado Sanglam, you reach the Third Prostration Station; look upstream for the holy view of the east face of Kailash. The Zutul-puk Gompa, a guest house and camp are further down the valley. Zuthul means cave. This gompa is named after a cave in which the saint, Milarepa, stayed, meditating and eating only nettles. Among the miracles he performed were adjusting the height of this cave to make it more comfortable. His footprint still remains on the roof. The river is known as the Zhong Chu.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  15. Day 15 - Trek to Darchen - 4-5 hours. Short drive to Tarboche.

    Cross a bridge over a side stream from Kailash, then contour up as the river descends towards the plain. You make a dramatic exit from the river valley on to the plain at the Last Prostration Station, elevation 4,609m/15,120ft. Rakas Tal glistens in the distance as you pass mani walls decorated with carved yak skulls. Trek a further 1½ hours' to Darchen along the edge of the plain and then drive to Tarboche. You will camp tonight below Chuku Gompa.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  16. Day 16 - Attend the Saga Dawa Festival. Drive to Gung Gyotsho Lake - 3-4 hours.
    mount kailash and saga dawa festival  j turner.

    You will spend all morning at the Saga Dawa festival. The festival climax is the raising of a very tall flag pole which takes days to slowly jack up. All the time pilgrims carry out koras around the flag pole, revolving clockwise and chanting as they go. The valley fills up with pilgrims' tents and lorries and people come in their hundreds and thousands to be there on the final day. The local re-incarnate lama from one of the monasteries on the inner circuit attends with his monks, and they carry out various ceremonies and make the kora themselves blowing long Tibetan horns and crashing cymbals. Horsemen occasionally race around the Tarboche pole dressed in traditional costume. Mounds of incense are burnt, handfuls of printed prayers are thrown to the wind and people prostrate before the flagpole. The smell of burning juniper fills the air. There are stalls selling Tibetan handicrafts and 'sit in' meditation/prayer tents, magicians, and all manner of exotic Tibetan people with quite weird hats and colourful costumes. Finally the pole is pulled upright and the crowd roars its approval.

    You then drive to Gung Gyotsho Lake via Seralung Gompa and camp beside the lake.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  17. Day 17 - Drive to Saga - 8 hours.

    You will leave early today as it is a long drive. It is an hour's drive first to the Mayum La, 16,896ft/5150m, from where you can savour your last views of Kailash. Then you drive down for half an hour to a police check post and head east on one vast plain which lies between the Greater Himalaya and the Trans Himalaya. Drive now to Paryang, 15,092ft/4600m, where you will probably have lunch. Driving on you cross a pass, the Soge La, 15,420ft/4700m, on past a lake and on and on beside the Tsang Po river. The road now continues to the ferry near Saga, 14,698ft/4480m, passing through the small township of Drongba. It is from here that a road now extends into the Kingdom of Mustang. You pass through the much larger town of Saga, very Chinese in character, before reaching the ferry. Patience is a virtue!

    Overnight iconOvernight: Camp
  18. Day 18 - Drive via Pekutso lake to Old Tingri.

    Today you have a relatively short day's drive to Old Tingri. There is only five hours or so of driving today with many Tibetan peaks, range after range, rising above the Tibetan plain. Having crossed the river yesterday, you climb over a pass and carry on to a large lake, the Pekutso. There are fantastic views of a Tibetan snow peak called Gorbachen. You eventually climb up to meet the main road to Lhasa, passing through a police check point on the way. Turn left and head towards Shegar and before that Old Tingri.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Snow Leopard Guest House
  19. Day 19 - Drive to Everest Base Camp on the Rongbuk (north) side – up to 7 hours.

    You will need an early start for today's drive. In recent years a new road has been opened which is a short cut to base camp and if it is open (it might not always be passable) it cuts the drive to Base Camp to about 3-4 hours. For this route you drive a short way from Tingri and then leave the tarmac road and turn off onto a dirt road. You soon arrive at a check post where you have to sign in. You then travel on through stark, but stunning scenery. Along the way you may see Himalayan marmots, blue sheep, golden eagles and lammergeier. Once you have joined the main tarmac road to Base Camp which comes in from Shegar the scenery will appear even more moonlike and rocky.

    If the short cut is not open then the drive takes 7 hours and you will cross the Pang La Pass at 16,400ft/4,999m. You continue up to the Rongbuk monastery.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Rongbuk Monastery Guest House
  20. Day 20 - Drive to Shigatse via Shegar.

    You will set off on the drive to Shegar and Shigatse. You can stop at various points along the way for more photographs and for final views of Mount Everest from the Pang La Pass at 4,999m/16,400ft. After reaching the main east-west highway you pahtlss through a military check post before arriving at Shegar (or New Tingri). Hopefully you should have time for a look around the old town and the monastery/fortress above, overlooking the surrounding country. The journey today continues to reach the second city in Tibet involving a 4-5 hour drive through spectacular and barren countryside, where villages eke out a meagre living from their small fields, sheep, goats and yaks.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shigatse Manasarovar Hotel, Shigatse
  21. Day 21 - Drive to Lhasa via the northern route - 6 hours.

    Almost the end of your amazing journey across Tibet!!

    Overnight iconOvernight: Kyichu Hotel or Shambala Hotel or Similar, Lhasa
  22. Day 22 - Rest day in Lhasa.

    You have a day to rest, do a little souvenir shopping or explore some of the sights a little further.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Kyichu Hotel or Shambala Hotel or Similar, Lhasa
  23. Day 23 - Fly to Kathmandu.

    You will have a fairly early start for the drive to Gonggar International Airport and the hour long flight to Kathmandu. The best views of Mount Everest are from the right hand side of the aircraft, although seating is allocated. However if you are on the left-hand side you will enjoy wonderful views of Mount Kangchenjunga. The flight to Kathmandu usually arrives by mid-morning so all being well you will be back in the Shangri-La Hotel before lunch with time in the afternoon for sightseeing or shopping.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shangri La Hotel, Kathmandu
  24. Day 24 - Day at leisure in Kathmandu.

    Today you will have the opportunity to relax and reflect on your adventures, or to complete any sightseeing and last-minute shopping.

    Overnight iconOvernight: Shangri La Hotel, Kathmandu
  25. Day 25 - Fly to London.

    You will be transferred to the airport for your flight back to London.

Map

Map Key

  • AirportAirport
  • General point of interestPoint of interest
  • Mountain RangeMountain Peak
  • TrekDay walk in this area
  • FlightsFlights
  • Internal TransfersInternal Transfers
  • Trek routeTrek

2018

DatesAvailabilityLand OnlyFlight Inclusive from
Mon 14 May - Tue 5 Jun 2018AvailableContact usContact us

Hold your place

Not quite ready to book? Why not call us on 0044 (0)1453 844400 to hold a no obligation place while you make up your mind?

 
No Surcharge Guarantee

No surcharges will be applied to your holiday after you book. Prices on this website are updated regularly. The Flight Inclusive holiday price, or Land Only holiday price, will be confirmed to you at the time you make your booking. There will be no surcharges after your booking has been confirmed.

Flight inclusive holidays

The 'flight inclusive' holiday prices shown on this website are based upon our preferred airlines and the best priced economy class fares we are able to secure at the time of publication.

We will be able to advise on fares with alternative airlines, upgrades to Business Class, and the options for flights from regional UK airports, please contact us for more details.

What’s included

  • A Mountain Kingdoms appointed Western leader
  • Economy class return air fares from the UK & UK Departure Tax (flight inclusive only)
  • All hotel/airport transfers
  • Good standard hotel accommodation (4 star) in Kathmandu, bed and breakfast basis
  • Hotel/lodge accommodation in Tibet
  • All camping facilities and all meals on trek
  • The use of a good quality down jacket and sleeping bag (when travelling to Bhutan via Kathmandu).
  • Camp staff to carry out all campwork
  • Costs of all porterage and their insurance
  • All road transport by private vehicles
  • Sightseeing where specified
  • Carbon offset for clients taking our flight-inclusive option
  • Opportunity to attend a pre-trip meet in the Cotswolds
  • A free high-quality Mountain Kingdoms kit bag

What’s not included

  • Travel insurance
  • Visa fees – Nepal and Tibet
  • Lunch and evening meals in Kathmandu
  • Tips
  • Airport departure taxes, except UK


Review your holiday

Reviews

Read holiday reviews by Mountain Kingdoms travellers.

Overall score:           (Based on 4 reviews)

Excellent trek crew          

Remote location, small group size, excellent trek crew and leader.

Enjoyable adventure trip          

It was a very enjoyable adventure trip, well planned and full of interest. The way the places we stayed in gradually built up in altitude was very helpful. It was a tough trip in physical terms but a great experience.

Magnificent!          

The trekking and camping experience brought us very close to local people which I very much enjoyed. Going to such a remote area - magnificent!

Hugely valuable experience          

I have given the trip an "excellent" tick since it is hard to criticise an organisation that succeeded in delivering what was, for me, a hugely valuable experience - where the location genuinely transcended my expectation.


Extend your holiday

Everest Flight - extension
  • Fly within five nautical miles of Everest
  • As well as Everest, see views of other 8,000m giants; Makalu, Kanchenjunga, Cho Oyu and Lhotse
  • Flights operate in the early morning, when weather conditions are at their best.

More Details

While in Kathmandu, why not experience the spectacular sight of Mount Everest? Instead of trekking into the region to gain a good view of this must-see landmark you could see it in under an hour! We fly with either Buddha Air or Mountain Air who both operate modern Raytheon Beechcraft 1900 aircraft. These hold between 16 and 18 people and as the seating is only two abreast everyone is guaranteed a window seat.


Chitwan National Park - extension

Chitwan National Park - extension
  • Activities include; bird watching, elephant washing, canoe ride, elephant experience, landrover safari and jungle walks
  • Choice of accommodation from budget to luxury
  • Suitable to add to any holiday flying in/out of Kathmandu

More Details

Why not extend your adventure in Nepal by visiting Nepal’s jungle region for a complete contrast to the high mountains and the Kathmandu Valley. Chitwan is home to a rich and varied wildlife. Here are found wild elephant, rhinos, leopard, sambar, chital (spotted) deer, wild boar and
arguably the most magnificent of cats, the Royal Bengal Tiger. You may even see sloth bear, gaur (wild cattle) and crocodiles. Chitwan is also wonderful for birdlife especially in the spring, when the jungle rings day and night to the calls of several kinds of Asian cuckoo.


Agra, Taj Mahal & Jaipur - extension (Nepal)

Agra, Taj Mahal & Jaipur - extension (Nepal)
  • 3-day and 6-day extension options available
  • Add to the beginning or end of your holiday in the Himalaya
  • Sights include the Red Fort, Taj Mahal, City Palace and Amber Fort

More Details

After your adventurous trek to the Himalaya why not add an exciting trip to Agra to see the sights of the one time capital of the great Mughal empire? Or, if you have more time available, perhaps a longer trip visiting both Agra and another gem of the ‘Golden Triangle’, Jaipur. For those travelling to or from Kathmandu for their holiday it is very straightforward to stop off in Delhi en-route to make a side-trip in India. Whichever option you take, once in Agra you will be looked after by one of our fully trained, English-speaking guides who will show you around the Red Fort, the Taj Mahal and the ancient city and mosque of Fatehpur Sikri. For those travelling on to Jaipur, you will take guided visits to the Amber Fort, Palace of the Winds and City Palace, and have time to explore the colourful bazaars of the ‘Pink City’.


Bardia National Park - extension

Bardia National Park - extension
  • Jungle activities including an elephant experience, bird watching, rafting and nature walks
  • See wild elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, deer, wild boar and if you are lucky, the famous Royal Bengal Tiger
  • Stay at the delightful Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge situated on the edge of the park

More Details

After your adventurous time in the Himalaya why not add a relaxing Jungle Safari to your trip?
The Royal Bardia National Park is situated in the west of Nepal. We use Tiger Tops Karnali Lodge, which is acknowledged to be the best lodge in the area. Bardia’s remote geographic location and the fact that the lodge has only 12 rooms, lends a degree of exclusivity to the experience, in comparison to other more popular parks. From the lodge you will be able to participate in safaris and have the chance of seeing some of the country’s wonderful wildlife, for instance, wild elephant, rhinoceros, leopard, deer, wild boar and if you are lucky, the famous Royal Bengal Tiger. There is also the possibility of visiting the villages of the Tharu tribal people that surround the lodge. With its abundant wildlife, relaxing lodge and first class service, our Bardia extension is an experience you will savour!


Shivapuri Heights Cottage extension
  • Escape the crowds and hustle and bustle of Kathmandu
  • Walks available from the cottage - explore the nearby countryside
  • Single and double rooms available, or exclusive hire of the entire cottage
  • Breakfast and dinner included, plus unlimited tea and coffee

More Details

While in Kathmandu, why not experience an exclusive, private, home away from home? Shivapuri Heights Cottage is a “home-stay-style” property that offers a great escape from the hustle and bustle of the City. It is located in 2 acres of land at an altitude of 6,000ft /1,830m on the edge of the protected Shivapuri Reserve, with beautiful views looking down into the Kathmandu Valley.


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