kham overland festival & arts tour
19 days: Offering views of a wide range of Tibetan lifestyles, landscapes, and art traditions, this tour takes you to remote villages as well as to Kham's biggest festival. We'll start in "Shangrila," in the mountains of northern Yunnan, and then continue to a small village in nearby mountains, where the Cooperative works with a group of women weavers. From there, we'll head north to Litang just in time for the great horse festival there (see NPR story). After that, we'll head for Ganzi, a Tibetan market town with spectacular peaks bordering it, great for shopping and photography. Then, after a homestay with a farming family in Ghatar, birthplace of the 7th Dalai Lama, we'll head for the nomad lands of Lhagang, and spend several days visiting their sacred lakes, mountains, and hotsprings, as well as their home encampment, where we'll stay in tents and see nomad weaving, felting, and leatherworking styles, and learn about yak milking, butter making, cheese making, and other basic parts of their self-sufficient lifestyle. Finally, we'll head out via Kangding, enjoying hotsprings there and living it up the last night in Chengdu!
Day 1: Zhongdian Airport Pickup and welcome evening.
Day 2: Drive to Xiangcheng
Day 3: Drive to Jiga across high mountain peaks. Upon arrival in this little township, we will set out on foot for Gala village, in the hills above the town. Gala Homestay.
Day 4: Spend the day in Gala, visiting spinners and weavers there, and learning about their materials -- yak hair and hemp. We'll see hemp fields, try some spinning ourselves, and enjoy locally made beer and barley qiang. Gala Homestay.
Day 5: Today, drive to Daocheng, stopping on the way to visit the Yading National Park, which local people claim is ACTUALLY the real Shangrila. Stay in a Tibetan style guest house in Daocheng town. Daocheng Guesthouse.
Day 6: Drive four hours to Litang town, and set up camp at the festival grounds. We'll stay here in a decorated white canvas festival tent, along with many Tibetans.
Day 7: Enjoy the races!
Day 8: On to Ganzi by way of Nyarong, dinner at farmhouse, and shopping in Ganzi. Hotel Himalaya.
Day 9: To Ghatar, farmhouse homestay, visit 7th Dalai Lama's birthplace and enjoy a dip in the river.
Day 10: Drive to top of pass, where we'll leave our vehicles for horses, and ride several hours to Zhakra Yimtsuo, The Turquoise Lake. Camp in a smaller festival tent, here.
Day 11: Hike to Glaciers. Today, either hike above the lake and waterfall to the glaciers on the sacred mountain, where we will do a sang ceremony of burning juniper and hanging prayer flags, or stay back at camp and rest.
Day 12: Horseback to Zhakra Hotsprings. These are a lovely natural springs, and we will spend all afternoon and evening soaking in them. They are best by starlight!
Day 13: Ride out of the mountains and onto the rolling grasslands where the nomads make their home. Tonight, stay in the Guesthouse at Gyergo Nunnery, where the huge and evergrowing stack of slate mani stones honor the hermit who once lived in a cave at the site. Watch the stones being carved, and try your hand at the art!
Day 14: Ride horseback across the grasslands much of the day and arrive at a nomad encampment. Here separate into tentstays, and start learning about nomad life.
Day 15: Spend the day watching and trying your hand at nomad-style spinning, weaving, leatherworking, and felting, and then milking, buttermaking, cheesemaking, and yak herding!
Day 16: Ride to Lhagang town. Visit Lhagang temple, and stay in a lovely guesthouse here.
Day 17: To Kangding, swim... Love Song Hotel
Day 18: Chengdu Shangrila Hotel and a wonderful dinner!
Day 19: Fly home!