Minya Konka - Trek the 'Chinese Tibetan Alps'
Tibet & China, Trek & Walk, 15 days - from £1,795 (land only) - from €2,515 (land only) - from $2,990 (land only)
Day 1: Arriving in Chengdu we are met at the airport and KE Land Only package services begin with a transfer to the group hotel. The group will rendezvous in the evening when we meet our guide and go out for a typical Sechuan meal at a local restaurant. Overnight in Chengdu.
Day 2: Today we have a fascinating 360 km drive (7 - 8 hours), travelling deep into the Tibetan Cultural area of Kham. Our route takes us through the Mt. Erlang tunnel, the world's deepest road tunnel and then via the Dada River gorge to Kangding - the 'gateway to Tibet' - at an elevation of 2600 metres. Arriving here we check into our hotel and have time to freshen up before dinner in the hotel.
Day 3: We have a short drive up to the highest part of Kangding where we begin an acclimatisation walk up into the Pao-Ma hills. We hike up to a monastery perched on wooded slopes at around 2900 metres for views over the valley. Afterwards we visit the museum of Tibetan culture before driving to our horsemen's home where we can experience the real thing staying overnight in the village.
Day 4: We have a relatively gentle introduction to the journey, governed by our need to carefully acclimatise, walking up into the Riwoche valley along a rough jeep track to our first camp at approximately 3500 metres. 3 - 4 hours walking.
Day 5: We continue our ascent of the Riwoche Valley through a stunning landscape of high cliffs and wooded hillside with some small climbs and descents. Our second night's camp is at 3900 metres. 8 km. Approximately 4 - 5 hours walking.
Day 6: Approaching the head of the valley, the trail becomes steeper and we climb above the tree line into open meadows affording spectacular views of snowy peaks. Our camp tonight will be shared by the semi-nomadic yak herders who graze their animals on this high plateau. Altitude at camp: 4300 metres. 9km. 6 - 7 hours trekking.
Day 7: Today will be our toughest day as we climb steadily from camp up to the Bhuchu La also known as the Riwoche La (4900m) where we enjoy sensational views of the Daxue mountain and range. It will take 3 - 4 hours to reach the pass and we then descend to the Moxi Valley where we make camp at another Yak herders camp at approximately 4000 metres. 12km. 7 - 8 hours.
Day 8: After yesterday's climb we travel mostly downhill today descending the Moxi Valley with glimpses of snow-covered mountains and glaciers as we pass side valleys. We pass many small settlements and colouful chortens and ahead we can now see the lush forest of the lower reaches of the valley. We camp at 3700 metres. 11km. Approximately 6 - 7 hours walking.
Day 9: Continuing down valley we encounter shrub juniper and rhododendron before plunging into thick forests of oak, beech and poplar. There are several small valleys and streams to cross and connecting ridges offering far-reaching mountain views. At the end of today's walk we leave the river on a high contour and make a final climb to reach Konka Monastery (3740m). 11km. 7 - 8 hours walking.
Day 10: This morning we have the option to hike up to the ridge above the monastery at over 4000 metres for views of Minya Konka and its glaciers (3 - 4 hours round trip). Returning to the Gompa we take lunch before making our descent to Tsemi Village (3450m) in the Moxi valley, where we overnight in a lodge. 8km. 3 - 4 hours.
Day 11: From our lodge we drive a new switch-backing road which climbs to the Tsemi La (4600m), our exit from the Moxi Valley offering a superb retrospective of the shapely pyramid of Minya Konka. Beyond the pass the road drops steeply into the Yulongxi Valley. After a drive of 4 - 5 hours we reach the Tagong grasslands, an area visibly shaped by the Tibetan culture of its inhabitants. Overnight hotel.
Day 12: After a visit to the the Temple of Princess Wenchen and the great Mani Pile on the Tagong plateau we enjoy a sensational drive over the Dzetuo La (4300m) with distant views of the Daxue mountains including Minya Konka. A descent to Garze brings us to the Dadu river and a final thrilling section of gorge takes us to Luding where we stay overnight in a hotel. Approximately 4 - 5 hours driving.
Day 13: We visit the famous Luding chain bridge built by the Quing dynasty at the tuirn of the 18th century. The bridge played a vital role during the Long March. We then make the return drive to Chengdu. 5 - 7 hours depending on routing and traffic with stops for refreshment and photos. We check into the group hotel and this evening we will have a traditional Sichuan dinner in a local restaurant.
Day 14: This morning we will visit the world famous Panda research centre where we can view these incredible animals in their natural habitat. The park also has a pleasant lakeside area where we can see the chengdu black swans and in the visitor centre we can watch a film showing the work and successes of the centre in saving the Pandas. The afternoon is free for independent sightseeing. Overnight hotel.
Day 15: KE Land Only package services end after breakfast. A complimentary airport transfer is included.