Long Rides 2018

Each year, in partnership with tour agencies abroad, we offer 2-4 long horse rides which are combined with full service airport-to-airport logistical and interpretation service.  For these treks, a trained and experienced English-speaking Tibetan guide joins you for the whole trip, teaches you about the things you see, and helps you communicate with the people you meet.  Trekking time is all on horse back, and equipment is packed in by yaks.  We focus, as always, on truly getting to know our hosts and their world of the high Tibetan grasslands.  We tell stories and legends, play games, and share local nomad delicacies.  We want you to be a part of this world.  Marsh


TAGONG RACE RIDE 2018

16 days total, 8 days riding, June 25 – July 10, 2018

Day 1, June 25: Arrive in Chengdu, meet at Chengdu Airport. Visit the Wenshu Yuan Buddhist Temple near the hotel if there is time in the afternoon. Amazing vegetarian food for dinner and massages if wanted. Chengdu is the traditional capital of the region of Shu in China, and a city full of history. It also contains the largest Tibetan population outside of the Tibetan regions in all of China.

Day 2, June 26: Drive to Kangding. This small mountain city is at an altitude of 2600m and is mainly ethnic Han Chinese with a notable Tibetan presence and flair, particularly in its shops, restaurants and temples. For centuries it has been the meeting place of Tibetan and Chinese culture, and has served as a tea and yak hide trading center. It serves as last outpost before the wild Tibetan mountains and passes of the Chengdu-Lhasa highway and the Tibetan region of Kham.(2600 m, 4-6 hour drive, depending on road conditions)

Gyergo FlagsDay 3, June 27: Drive to Puksum, an idyllic Tibetan farming village set next to a big river. Spend the afternoon hiking the lovely hills and have a homecooked meal with the Swiss-Tibetan family that owns the guesthouse. (1.5 hour drive, Pasu Riverview Guesthouse, 3300 m)

Day 4, June 28: Drive to Lhakang, a small Tibetan town built around the Lhakang Monastery, surrounded by high grasslands. Mt. Zhakra majestically overlooks the mountains and green plains.  Attend the horse festival above the town, with morning horse blessings, and then spectacular races of the town, with long races, short sprints, and stunt races. (Tibetan family hotel, 3700 meters). (20 minute drive, 3700 m)

Day 5, June 29:  Start trekking.  Take a short car ride to the trailhead at Gyergo Nunnery.  Then ride over high Griffon Pass (4900 m) with stunning views of sacred Mt. Zhakra, 5900 m). Then walk down into the back valley to camp at the Zhakra Hotsprings. (4 hour ride, 3 hour hike, bivouac at 4100 m)

Day 6, June 30: Ride and hike to Zhakra Turquoise Lake. Situated below stunning glaciers, this sacred lake is fed by a waterfall. We will do a traditonal kora of the lake (a walk-around), and see the shrines and hermitages nearby. We will camp in the low valley below the lake. (5 hour ride, 1 hour walk. Bivouac at 3800 m).

yimtso.jpgDay 7, July 1: Ride back to Gyergo Nunnery via “Empty Valley”, where we should pass some nomad camps.  Arrive tired to Gyergo in time for afternoon chanting with nuns.  (6 hour ride, nunnery hut, 3900 m)

Day 8, July 2: After spending the morning at Gyergo visiting the sky burial site and hermit cave, take a short ride to Khampa Nomad Ecolodge, where we’ll rest up from the road with a hot tub soak. (4 hour ride, 3800 meters, Khampa Nomad Arts Center and Ecolodge.)

Day 9, July 3: Back in the saddle, ride up into the high nomad areas. Another lovely day on the horse to end at the home camp of our guides.  We’ll try yak milking, cheese and butter processing, yak fiber spinning for string and rope, and yak herding.  (4 hour ride, camp near nomads, 4300 m)

Day 10, July 4 – Ride to Yibei Lake, a high sinkhole (cenote) lake. This is a short 3 hour ride across the high plateau where we will see many nomad camps dotted across the area. Yibei is a Great Lake for swimming, but cold! (3 hour ride, camping, 4450 m)

Day 11, July 5: Ride to high lookout to the west, across wolf and gazelle country and the Lhagang plateau’s highest area. Lunch at the lookout, at 4600 m, with views of isolated hermitages nestled in mountains, after mountain, after mountain. Then drop down to see sacred Ragni Lake, home of lammergyer birds in cliffs and the site of many legends. Camp nearby. (6 hour ride, camping, 4200 m) horseraceriders

Day 12, July 6: Ride across the Lhagang Plateau’s most populated nomadic area. Some years we happen upon a religious festival in this area. Arrive at afternoon to high Genup Gompa, an old nomad temple, and camp nearby. (5 hour ride, camping, 3800 m)

Day 13, July 7: Visit the Genup Gompa and the old man who lives here this morning, then say goodbye to the guides, yaks, and horses.  Drive down to Bamei town for lunch at a Chinese restaurant popular with locals, and then drive down to Danba town. We’ll do some shopping in town, and then head to Zhonglu village, with ancient mysterious towers, for the night. (2 hour ride, 3 hour drive.)

Day 14, July 8: Drive to Chengdu over Jia Jin Shan Pass, where the first Giant Panda was discovered. This is a lovely road that passes through pine forest, high mountains, and then down into “Edge Tibetan” villages. This drive gives one a sense of the cultural continuum from Tibet into China proper, as well as rural China. (10-12 hour drive.)

Day 15, July 9:  A free day in Chengdu. Possible optional activities include visiting the Giant Panda Breeding Center (which usually has babies in the summertime), the QingYangGong Daoist Temple, and the Tibetan quarter. Last dinner with Sichuan Opera dinner theater.

Day 16, July 10:  Sendoff to the airport.

$3110 per person, includes all meals, guides, horses, yaks, equipment, lodging, and in-country transportation.  Group minimum 4 people.  Groups of 2 or 3 possible for extra fee.


SHAMALONG HORSE FESTIVAL RIDE 2018

19 days total, 11 days riding, July 17- August 4, 2018

Day 1, July 17: Arrive in Chengdu, meet at Chengdu Airport. Visit the Wenshu Yuan Buddhist Temple near the hotel if there is time in the afternoon. Amazing vegetarian food for dinner and massages if wanted. BuddhaZen Hotel. Chengdu is the traditional capital of the region of Shu in China, and a city full of history. It also contains the largest Tibetan population outside of the Tibetan regions in all of China.

Day 2, July 18: Drive to Kangding. This small mountain city is at an altitude of 2600m and is mainly ethnic Han Chinese with a notable Tibetan presence and flair, particularly in its shops, restaurants and temples. For centuries it has been the meeting place of Tibetan and Chinese culture, and has served as a tea and yak hide trading center. It serves as last outpost before the wild Tibetan mountains and passes of the Chengdu-Lhasa highway and the Tibetan region of Kham.(2600 m, 6-10 hour drive, depending on road conditions)

Hotsprings
credit: Yuval Levy

Day 3, July 19: Drive to Puksum, an idyllic Tibetan farming village set next to a big river. Spend the afternoon hiking the lovely hills and have a homecooked meal with the Swiss-Tibetan family that owns the guesthouse. (1.5 hour drive, Pasu Riverview Guesthouse, 3300 m)

Day 4, July 20: Drive up to Lhagang for your next step in altitude adjustment. Visit the Lhagang Monastery and nearby hermitage. (20 minute drive, Tianzhu Hotel, 3700 m)

Day 5, July 21: Set out riding today. Today we ride four hours to the Shamalong Nomad Clan race site, across high hills and forest. Camp near the race site. (4 hours, camp at 4100 m)

Day 6, July 22: Shamalong Horse Festival. Attend the morning horse blessings, and then spectacular races of the local clan, with long races, short sprints, and stunt races. (Camp at 4100 meters).

campfire
credit: Yuval Levy

Day 7, July 23: Ride to Gyergo Nunnery, across hilly, forested land. Visit the Gyergo Monk’s College, and the nunnery itself, including the famous mani wall here, made of thousands and thousands of carved stones. (5 hour ride, 3900 m, Gyergo huts)

Day 8, July 24: Ride today over high Griffon Pass (4900 m) with stunning views of sacred Mt. Zhakra, 5900 m). Then walk down into the back valley to camp at the Zhakra Hotsprings. (4 hour ride, 3 hour hike, bivouac at 4100 m)

Day 9, July 25: Ride and hike to Zhakra Turquoise Lake. Situated below stunning glaciers, this sacred lake is fed by a waterfall. We will do a traditonal kora of the lake (a walk-around), and see the shrines and hermitages nearby. We will camp in the low valley below the lake. (5 hour ride, 1 hour walk. Bivouac at 3800 m).

Day 10, July 26: Ride back to Gyergo Nunnery via “Empty Valley”, where we should pass some nomad camps, and then on to Khampa Nomad Arts Center and Ecolodge. This is a long but lovely day ride with glacier views and a nice picnic lunch. Rest up at the isolated lodge.  (10 hour ride, Khampa Nomad Ecolodge. 3900 m)

Day 11, July 27:  Ride up into the high nomad areas. Another lovely day on the horse to end at the home camp of our guides. We will settle in to spend two nights at this camp, to be wined and dined by nomads, and experience their traditional life. (4 hour ride, camp near nomads, 4200 m)

Rain in the mountains
credit: Yuval Levy

Day 12, July 28: Spend the day at Dashika Nomad Camp, enjoying the traditional life. We can try yak milking, cheese and butter processing, yak fiber spinning for string and rope, and yak herding. A great place to see birds and a nice rest from from the road. (Camp near nomads, 4200 m).

Day 13, July 29: Ride to Yibei Lake, a high sinkhole (cenote) lake. This is a short 3 hour ride across the high plateau where we will see many nomad camps dotted across the area. Yibei is a Great Lake for swimming, but cold! (3 hour ride, camping, 4450 m)

Day 14, July 30: Ride to high lookout to the west, across wolf and gazelle country and the Lhagang plateau’s highest area. Lunch at the lookout, at 4600 m, with views of isolated hermitages nestled in mountains, after mountain, after mountain. Then drop down to see sacred Ragni Lake, home of lammergyer birds in cliffs and the site of many legends. Camp nearby. (6 hour ride, camping, 4200 m)

Day 15, July 31: Ride across the Lhagang Plateau’s most populated nomadic area. Some years we happen upon a religious festival in this area. Arrive at afternoon to high Genup Gompa, an old nomad temple, and camp nearby. (5 hour ride, camping, 3800 m)

Day 16, August 1: Meet vehicles at the temple and say goodbye to our guides, horses, and yaks. After lunch in Bamei town at a Chinese restaurant popular with locals, We’ll do some shopping in town, and then head to Gatar Gompa, where we will stay in a small monastery hotel.

Day 17, August 2: Drive to the airport and fly to Chengdu.  Settle in and rest up.

Day 18, August 3: A free day in Chengdu. Possible optional activities include visiting the Giant Panda Breeding Center (which usually has babies in the summertime), the QingYangGong Daoist Temple, and the Tibetan quarter. Last dinner with Sichuan Opera dinner theater.

Day 19, August 4:  Sendoff to the airport.

$3720 per person, includes all meals, guides, horses, yaks, equipment, lodging, and in-country transportation.  Group minimum 4 people.  Groups of 2 or 3 possible for extra fee.Edelweiss