Kailas - Tibet's Sacred Peak - Saga Dawa Festival
Tibet, Trek & Walk, 20 days - from £3,595 (land only) - from €4,855 (land only) - from $5,630 (land only)
- A brilliant combination of cultural touring and mountain trekking
- Sightseeing in Lhasa including the Potala Palace
- Excellent 5-day Mount Kailas circuit trek
- The Saga Dawa Festival beneath Kailas
- Crossing the main Himalaya range by road from Tibet to Nepal
In the remote Ngari Province in far western Tibet, an area which is too high to support agriculture and which is home only to nomadic Drogpa herdsmen, lies the strikingly symmetrical Mount Kailas (6714m) which is revered by the devout of several religions - Tibetans call the mountain Kang Rinpoche (Precious Jewel of the Snows), whilst both Buddhists and Hindus see the mountain as the earthly manifestation of Mount Meru - the spiritual centre of the universe. Pilgrims make their way to this sacred peak from as far away as Bhutan and Ladakh, believing that the sins of a lifetime can be washed away simply by completing a circuit of the mountain.
KE offer two distinctly different trips leading to the circumambulation or ‘kora' of the sacred mountain. Our Spring departure (KTOS.1) is timed to coincide with the Saga Dawa flagpole raising ceremony at Darboche. This epic journey begins with a flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa, where we spend several days acclimatising and exploring the most important of the holy city's temples and palaces. We have time to visit all of the city's famous landmarks - such as the Potala Palace, traditional home of the Dalai Lamas and the Jokhang Temple, Tibet's holiest religious site, before setting off on the wild drive westwards across the Tibetan Plateau. This classic road journey runs parallel to the great chain of the Himalaya and affords breathtaking views of many of the world's greatest peaks. Equally as important as the landscape and the scenery is the wealth of cultural interest which Tibet has to offer. The itinerary includes time for sightseeing at many of Tibet's important monasteries outside of the capital, for example at Shigatse and our relaxed pace of travel will also enable us to stop off at some of the smaller settlements on our route, where we can meet the local people and witness the Tibetan way of life at first hand. We have a rest day beside sacred Lake Manasarovar and then proceed to Darchen, a village on the south side of Kailas which is occupied only during the summer months and the starting point for the ‘kora'.
The route around Kailas, known as the ‘kora' is 50 kilometres (31 miles) long and involves the crossing of a 5600 metre (18,370 foot) pass. However, our leisurely pace will give us plenty of time to enjoy the experience, to visit the three important monasteries on the route, take lots of photographs, and interact with the Tibetan pilgrims with whom we are sharing the trail. It is worth noting that many Tibetan pilgrims complete the circuit in a single long day, and go on to do several circuits before returning to their homelands. More than a touring trip, whichever approach to Kailas is used, this is a unique travel experience which will long be remembered.
Is this holiday for you?
The overland journey to Mount Kailas traverses some very remote country, on roads which are often only suitable for rugged vehicles. The type of vehicles that we use will depend to some extent on the number of people in the group. We will either use fully enclosed Land-Cruiser jeeps or a larger bus. Overland travel of this type can be a hot and dusty experience and you need to be prepared for this.
During the 5-day circuit of Mount Kailas, we will be following excellent trails used by the thousands of pilgrims who complete the route each year. We will be averaging around 10 kilometres (6 miles) per day. The high point of the walk is at the Drolma La (5600 metre) and our highest camp will be at Jarok Donkhang - at 5250 metres. The circuit of Kailas can be undertaken by any reasonably fit person and you will see all types of people on the trail from the very young to the very old. However, you should not under-estimate the effect of altitude and although short, this trek does present a reasonably tough and challenging proposition.