kham & amdo remote regions tour
Day 1: We meet you upon arrival in Xining (Zilang), Qinghai Province. Depending on your time of arrival, we can wander the colorful streets and peruse the market stalls of downtown Xining. Xining, a trading center since the 16th century, is situated on the edge of the Tibetan plateau and at the start of the northern road to Lhasa. Xining Hotel.
Day 2: Drive to Kokonor Lake (Qinghai Lake), and eat at the Kokonor Hotel, with views of the water. Cross a pass and stay the night in the town of Chapsha (Gonghe). This is a half- Muslim, half Tibetan town, and the old buildings are desert adobe. Xinlun Hotel, basic but warm.
Day 3: Visit the Chapsha Tibetan Temple this morning. Then travel across high grasslands to Marduk (Maduo), near the source of the Yellow River. Along the way we are very likely to see Tibetan antelope. Marduk is a Golok town, and people there are unusually traditional in their dress and customs. The Goloks are known across Eastern Tibet as wild, often frightening, people! Maduo Guesthouse, basic with no attached bath.
Day 4: Drive to Jyekundo (Yushu). Enroute, view distant peaks, wide rivers, vast open plains and the lonely nomadic settlements of the Golok people. At the peak of each mountain pass Tibetans throw ‘longta’, special prayers on coloured paper. The altitude climbs to a peak of approximately 4500m, and then drops to a lower altitude of approximately 2500-3000m. Along the way, lunch in one of the view roadside towns and enjoy more contact with these fascinating people. Yushu Hotel, big and impressive, and quite comfortable.
Day 5: Explore Jyekundo. Visit its large Tibetan clothing and ornament market, and the newly rebuilt Mani Wall, where pilgrims gather to circonabulate the wall, day after day. Visit also the Jyekum main temple, high above the streets of town.
Day 8: This morning, visit the nearby village of Akon, the birthplace of King Gesar, hero of Eastern and far Western Tibet. The extraordiarily life-life figures were generals of his round table. Then spend much of the day at and around Dzogchen Monastery. This monastery was the primary university of the Nyigmapa sect in old Tibet, and is known for its mediation huts in the mountains, were demons overwhelm all but the most capable monks. Sogyal Rimpoche, who wrote The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying hails from this monastery, and the Dzogchen tradition is what his book is primarily about. Stay the night at Manigango, an hour's drive away.
Day 9: This morning, visit the specacular sacred lake of Yihun Lhasto near Manigango. Then proceed to Garze. Spend the afternoon and evening with a farming family outside of town. We'll have dinner with them as their guests. This is a gorgeous farming area with a nearby stupa, and with beautiful views of the peaks and the sunset.
Day 10: Leave Garze for Ghatar. Spend the evening in the scenic valley surrounding Ghatar Gompa, a temple built by the 7th Dalai Lama, who lived there for 7 years starting in 1729, while in exile from Lhasa, during a time of conflict between the Chinese and the Mongolians for control of Tibet. Also nearby is the house in which the 7th Dalai Lama was born, and which has since been converted into a temple. Stay in homestay with a local farming family.
Day 11: After a leisurely morning, drive one hour south to the Gyergo Nunnery, near Lhagang. This nunnery started 20 years ago, when the hermit of the Gyergo Valley died. He was a much respected man who dressed in rags and ate only handouts, living in a cave on the grasslands. His task was to carve mani stones. About to die, he asked that a reincarnate lama be placed at the site, and this wish was granted. The site has since become a lively nunnery, and now a monk's school is being built nearby. His work of mani stones has also been continued, and the stones have been stacked into a pile resembling a fair-sized temple.
Gyergo is the main temple for the nomad families near Lhagang, and they gather there in winter. It is also a sky burial site, and with luck, we may see one. It is also possible at Gyergo to commission a mani stone yourself, and to buy antique jewelry, which the nunnery sells after they are donated by the families of the deceased.
Gyergo Nunnery Guesthouse, basic but clean. No running water and outhouse toilets only.
Day 12: Horseback to the Genong Clan lands, about 4-5 hours riding across the grasslands into a back valley, and ending in nomad stone winter houses, where we will stay the night with a family, and see the conditions of life of the nomads. We'll be involved the the life of the nomads here.
Conditions are very basic here, with no running water and no latrines of any kind, and no private rooms.
Day 13: Horseback to Lhagang town, three hours, over hilly grasslands, and stopping to visit the Raleh Monastery on the way. This is a typical small grassland temple.
Spend the afternoon exploring Lhagang, a supply town for the surrounding nomad grasslands in which you have just spent the night. The Lhagang Monastery is of special importance as this
Day 14: Drive to Kangding, a Chinese border town. Time permitting, visit Kangding's Communist School Hotsprings for a very very good wash. This is a good place to buy Tibetan rugs, knives, and jackets.
Day 15: Drive to hotel, stopping along the way to buy dried yak meat for gifts, and to see tree root artistry. Feast tonight in Chengdu at the Shangrila Hotel, and shop for Chinese treasures!
Day 16: Goodbye -- last minute shopping and off we go!