Mountains of Tibet
In Sacred Mountains of the World, noted scholar and mountaineer Edwin Bernbaum, expresses the belief that humanity has “traditionally revered mountains as places of sacred power and spiritual attainment,” which has enabled these mountains to acquire “a special stature as natural objects of religious devotion.”
To the people of Asia, the Himalayan mountain peaks are seen both as the home of the gods and as gods themselves. From these massive mountains, the great rivers of Asia are born, providing the waters of life to the residents of the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, China, and Tibet. For many, to be able to make the journey to one of these sacred peaks is the accomplishment of a lifetime. On this amazing journey to the “Mountains of Tibet,” we will pay homage to not just one, but to three of the most sacred Himalayan peaks.
Our journey starts in the cultural heart of Tibet, taking in the historic offerings on tap in the great cities of Lhasa, Gyantse, and Shigatse (see Essential Tibet for more on these cities.) The tour then begins in earnest with an excursion to the Everest North Base Camp, where the famous pyramidal summit of the mountain’s north face is lord of all it surveys. Shishapangma beckons next, its massive snow-covered ridges dominating its surroundings. Shishapangma is the only 8,000-meter peak to be located squarely inside of Tibet (Everest, of course, straddles the border between Tibet and Nepal). With the blessings of two of these incredibly beautiful and sacred mountains, we drive across the hauntingly beautiful and rugged Tibetan Plateau. In the western province of Ngari, we enter the abode of arguably the world’s holiest mountain, Kailash. To visit Kailash is an indescribable experience, and one that will stay with you for the rest of your life.
Suffice to say, we will have the opportunity to hike as we explore the base camps at Everest and Shishapangma, as well as the area around Kailash and the sacred lake Manasarovar. If mountains are your thing, this is a unique opportunity to visit three of the world's most legendary and important peaks.
Day 1: Depart USA.
Day 2: Arrive in Chengdu. You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Shangri La Hotel.
Day 3: Early morning we fly to Tibet. We are met arrival by our Tibetan Guide and transferred to our hotel in Lhasa. Welcome Dinner.
Days 4 & 5: The next two days will be spent in and around Lhasa, leisurely visiting sites as we acclimate to the high altitude. For more on what we do in Lhasa please see our Essential Tibet itinerary.
Days 6 & 7: Departing Lhasa, we follow the old trade route over high passes, skirting the turquoise waters of Yamdrok Lake to Gyantse. After exploring the Kumbum, we continue to Shigatse, Tibet’s second largest city, and home to Tashilhunpo Monastery, residence of the Panchen Lamas.
Day 8: Another day devoted to acclimatization as we go on a day hike to Ngor Monastery, in the hills outside Shigatse.
Day 9: This is a travel day, as we leave the hustle and bustle of Shigatse and head out across the starkly beautiful Tibetan Plateau towards our destination, the town of Shegar.
Days 10 & 11: Driving over Pang La (see banner photo above) we descend to a truly one-of-a-kind destination: base camp at the north face of the mighty Everest, at 29,017 feet the world’s tallest mountain peak. As we adjust to the elevation of base camp, we will have the opportunity to acclimatize, take a hike, and explore the photogenic Rongbuk Monastery.
Days 12 & 13: Leaving Everest behind to live forever in our memories, we are off to pay our respects to our second sacred Himalayan giant, Shishapangma. Like Everest, both the Tibetans and the Nepalis, who refer to it as “the holy place”, consider Shishapangma sacred.
Days 14 & 15: As we drive northwest, we will be rewarded with stupendous views of the Himalayas, as well as the ever-changing scenery of Western Tibet. Along the way, we will find the most propitious sites in which to set camp.
Day 16: As a reward for our long journey across Western Tibet, we will at last be treated to a vision of the sacred Kailash and the holy waters of Manasarovar, our camp for two nights.
Day 17: Manasarovar, which translates as “Lake of the Mind,” is said to have been the created by the “mind” of Lord Brahma. While at Manasarovar, you can bathe in its waters or hike along a portion of the kora route, visiting the nearby Chiu Monastery.
Days 18 &19: After a short drive to Darchen, we have at last made it to the precincts of Kailash. While we will not be completing the full 32-mile kora on this trip, we will be able to take day hikes and experience Kailash’s mystical and powerful aura. (If you are interested in taking the full 32-mile kora, please see the itinerary for our trip “Manasarovar to Mt. Kailash”).
Days 20 & 21: We depart from the hallowed sanctuary of Kailash and Manasarovar - blessed by having been in their presence - and head back across the rugged and scenic Tibetan Plateau, camping overnight en route.
Day 22: After our final long day of driving, we will check into our hotel in Shigatse, where we have time to refresh ourselves and relax before convening for our "Farewell" dinner.
Day 23: Driving from Shigatse to Gongkar, on the much-anticipated “new road,” we will catch our flight to Chengdu.
Day 24: Depart Chengdu, arriving in the USA the same day.
Other itineraries featuring Western Tibet:
QuickEscapes – Kerala
After this hard high altitude tour, take in some R&R in the calm and leisurely paced life on the backwaters of the Arabian Sea, enjoy the pristine beaches of Kerala and an ayurvedic spa. We fly you to Cochin via Kathmandu.
Call us toll free at 1-800 MY INDIA (1-800-694-6342) or email us to request a detailed day-to-day itinerary.
Everest North Base camp
Shishapangma Base Camp
Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar
Lhasa, Shigatse & Gyantse
Sagadawa Festival at Kailash
Medical & evacuation insurance
All hotels, meals, ground transportation,
local guides and entrance fees
Fully escorted trip
May 11 to June 3, 2012
From: $5445 per person
Kumbum detail, Gyantse
Photo: Ian Wade
Hiking beyond Everest BC
Photo: Ian Wade
Photo: Ian Wade