Classic Itineraries

Traveler Reviews
Trip Available:
All year around
If Tibet is the "roof of the world", then western Tibet is the roof's roof! Our coverage of Western Tibet focuses on the sights that most attract travelers to this remote and difficult land. The most important of these sights is Mount Kailash, Lake Manasarova, and the Tirthpuri Hot Springs. These are some of the holiest sights in Tibet and are imminently important in the religious lives of the Tibetan people. These can all be reached from Darchen, a village on the main road from Lhasa to Ali. The town of Ali is the seat of the regional government and an important spot to stage expeditions further north or west, out of our current coverage. This is the land of the Himalayas with great snowcapped mountains, lakes, grasslands and lots and lots of space! In fact, perhaps the sheer emptiness of the region will astound you. In an area of 300 square kilometers, there are only approximately 70,000 Tibetans, mainly engaged in animal husbandry and farming. Any other Tibetans you may meet are pilgrims coming to visit the holy sights of the region. Mt. Kailash (6714m), Asia’s most sacred mountain, is located in a high and isolated enclave of West Tibet. It is one of three pilgrimages sites in the area, known collectively as Kangri Tsosum. All are said to be at the heart of the ancient Shangshung kingdom, the supposed land of origin of the pre-Buddist Bonpos. Mt Kailash is their sould-mountain, which they also call Yungdrung Gu Tse, the Nine-story Swastika Mountain. It is a 53-km pilgrim path around Mt. Kailash. It begins and ends at Darchen, a small settlement at the mountain’s south base and in the process visits four monasteries ad crosses the high Drolma La Pass (5636m). Three days is perhaps the minimum time required to walk leisurely around the mountain: spend two nights in or near Drira Phuk and Zutrul Phuk Monasteries. If conditions permit, try to stay four or five days, which would allow time for short trips to the inner regions of the area.
>> See itinerary