Day 11: To Paryang (7hrs approx)
Another long drive to Paryang (4,750m) in the heart of western Tibet, where the four great rivers of South Asia diverge from their glacial sources around Mount Kailash. En route pass through the village of Zhongba. The road from Saga to Zhongba is good and the trip can be completed in 4-5 hrs. Dargyeling Monastery at the western end of town on a hill is worth a visit. On the southern road to Paryang (110 kms) road conditions deteriorate however there are panoramic views of mountains on either side to compensate. Overnight Camping (B, L, D)
Day 12: To Darchen (6hrs approx)
The journey is through vast, open territory with views of distant mountains. Driving on through rugged terrain to the small town of Hor Qu (4,560 m), across several rivers, then over Mayun la pass (5,216 m) to the little town of Darchen (4,560 m), the main gateway to Kailash and the start and end point of the Kailash Circuit. Mount Kailash comes into view about 90 km after the pass crossing. The landscape is outstanding, with views of Manasarovar Lake and the Himalayas en route. Overnight Camping (B, L, D)
Day 13: To Astapath (Drive 45mins approx) then Trek to Dirapuk (approx 5 hr trek)
Your ‘holy walk’ of a lifetime starts today. The Kailash Circuit, which will takes the next three days, covers 52kms. Leaving Darchen, drive westward to Astapath – the furthest vehicle access point. From here we proceed on foot. The trail climbs gradually up to a cairn at 4,730 m. From here the southern face of Mt. Kailash is visible. Overnight Camping (B, L, D)
Day 14: To Zutulpuk (approx 8 hr trek)
The day begins with a kora that sees us climb to the much higher point of the ‘holy path’, lying in the shadow of Mount Kailash. Leaving the Lha-chu Valley, the way enters the Dolma Chu Valley and heads upwards again towards the high pass of Drolma la (5,630 m). We’re now above Gaurikund Lake (the bathing ‘Pool of Compassion’), which is one of the highest lakes in the world. Hindu pilgrims are supposed to take a ritual bath here. We pause for a rest and refreshments at the top before starting a steep descent towards Zutulpuk (4,790 m). Overnight Camping (B, L, D)
Day 15: To Darchen (approx 5 hr trek) - and Lake Manasarovar (2hr drive)
The final morning of our ‘pilgrimage’ is an easy 3 hrs walk down to where the river emerges onto the Barga plain. On completing the 3 day circuit of Mount Kailash in Darchen, our transport will be waiting to take us to Lake Manasarovar.
Lake Manasarovar is believed to be the seat of Brahma, the Creator of the Universe. It is an expanse of sapphire water covering some 320sq kms and reaching to depths of up to 90 m. The waters of this lake are said to contain the essence of all the Vedas. The lake is a place for holy ceremonial baths and oblations to the ancestors are also offered here. The Holy Scriptures decree that those who take the holy plunge at Manasarovar and carry out the Parikrama (circuit) around Kailash are absolved of their sins and welcomed into the ‘Supreme Finality’. On still, moonlit nights the lake is quite simply beautiful. Overnight Camping (B, L, D)
Day 16: To Paryang (5.5hrs approx)
Return road journey to Paryang. Overnight Camping (B, L, D)
Day 17: To Saga (6hrs approx.)
Continue the road journey across the high Tibetan plateau, with Saga as our overnight destination. Overnight Camping (B, L, D)
Day 18: To Rongphu (8hrs approx)
Leaving Saga, we take the auxiliary road that ultimately reconnects with the Friendship highway at Tingri.
Soon afterwards, our journey again leads us away from the main highway again and along a smaller road which passes through photogenic villages. The scenery is magnificent. And Rongphu is about 3 hrs away.
Surely one absolute highlight of a journey to Tibet is the sight of the world's highest mountain. Known locally as Qomolangma, Everest soars above the Rongphu Monastery (4,980m), the highest monastery in the world. Remainder of day at leisure. Overnight Basic Guesthouse (B)
Day 19: To Everest Base Camp (3hrs) and Old Tingri
In the morning, a two hour hike up to Everest Base Camp provides, cloud conditions permitting, an unobstructed view of the peak; and from Camp the enormity of the mountain is utterly overwhelming.
Although Base Camp itself is nothing more than a small, rocky, glacial basin, the view of Everest is stunning. During peak climbing months, Base Camp is a village of tents and climbers, but out of season there is only ghostly emptiness; for it is from here that the epic story of Everest begins – with the fateful Mallory/Irvine expedition as long ago as June 1924.
After hiking back down from Base Camp (1 hr) to the road, travel back to Old Tingri (4,390m). Overnight Guesthouse (B)
Day 20: To Zhangmu Border and Kathmandu
Next day, through the dust that coats Tingri, the breathtaking sight to the South is of vast, white peaks: the north faces of Everest, Cho-Oyu, Lhotse and Makalu. Here too are numerous ruined reminders of an18th century Nepalese invasion, including the fort of Tingri Dzong, which also played reluctant host to the British Younghusband military incursion of 1906.
The journey has saved one of the very best bits until last, for now comes one of Nature’s most dramatic transformations. On account of the rapid descent from frozen plateau to sub-tropical climes, everything changes; from scrub to forest canopies, from predominant browns to lush greens. From parched plain to cascading waters - this is especially so in the monsoon and post-monsoon period (July-November).
After Chinese Immigration and Customs in Zhangmu (2,300 m) it is a short walk downhill to the ‘Friendship Bridge’, the border between China and Nepal.
After Nepalese Immigration and Customs the road winds through gloriously colourful pastoral scenes before climbing to Dhulikhel. Here we can look back north to see the serrated skyline of The Himalaya from the southern side. Arrival into Kathmandu is just a two-hour drive away. (B)
Day 21: Departure
End of Expedition.
MEAL CODES: (B=breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)