15 days Mount Kailash tour for Saga Dawa Festival
Saga Dawa festival is called 'the festival to free captive animals' in local custom. Through the whole fourth month, monks don't eat meat and don't commit slaughter. They only concentrate themselves on turning prayer wheels and reciting Buddha's scriptures. It is said that on the 1st of the fourth month is the day that Shakyamuni was born, became enlightened and achieved nirvana. And you will see large numbers of pilgrims at Lhasa's Jokhang, on the Barkor circuit and also Mt.Kailash.
Upon arrival at Lhasa airport or train station, to be met and transferred to your hotel in Lhasa. Then have a good rest to acclimatize the high altitude. Overnight at Lhasa.
Today you will visit Jokhang temple and Potala Palace. Jokhang temple is the most sacred shrine in Tibet which was built in the 7th century and located at the heart of old town in Lhasa, the circuit around it called Barkhor street, which is a good place to purchase souvenirs. Potala Palace is the worldwide known cardinal landmark of Tibet. The massive structure itself contains a small world within it. Mostly it is renowned as residence of the Dalai Lama lineages (Avalokiteshvara). Both of them are the focal points of pilgrims from the entire Tibetan world, multitudinous pilgrims are circumambulating and prostrating in their strong faith. Overnight at Lhasa.
Today you will visit Drepung, Sera monasteries and Summer Palace - Norbulingka palace. Both Drepung and Sera monasteries are Gelugpa (yellow hat) sect monastic colleges. Drepung monastery was the seat of the Government prior to Potala, it was once the world largest monastery in the history with 10,000 monks hailed from different monasteries all over Tibet. Sera monastery is famous for its Buddhism philosophical debate practice, the clapping sound and aggressive expression of the monks are well worth to see. Norbulingka is the summer palace of Dalai Lama, you can visit the residences of different lineages of the Dalai Lama. Overnight at Lhasa.
Morning drive up to Kampala pass (4,794m), you will have a glimpse of Yamdrok-Tso and spectacular views of Holy Mount Nyenchen Khangsar in the distance, the turquoise-colored Lake Yamdrok-Tso is one of the three holy lakes in Tibet, the unforgettable vista of pincer-shaped turquoise water of the lake and amazing spectacle of Mt. Nyenchen Khangsar glacier from Karo la pass are the wonders of the day. Then along the Friendship southern Highway drive to Gyantse, visit the famous stupa - Gyantse Kumbum, the most stunning architectural wonder in Tibet. Overnight at Gyantse.
Morning head to Shigatse, there you will be arranged to visit Tashilunpo Monastery and the spectacular tombs of Panchen Lamas, monks of this monastery are nice looking with their home-made traditional shoes. If you like hiking, don't miss the Kora of Tashilhunpo monastery where you can have the nice views of Shigatse and surroundings. Then continues today's driving to Shegar, you will go through several high passes and get to see the first sight of Mount Everest before you reach Shegar. Overnight at Shegar.
Morning start driving to Rongbuk, cross over Gawu la pass[5250m], from the top of the Gawu la you will see the spectacular Himalayan Ranges and its glorious peaks viz Mt.Makalu[8463m], Mt.Lotse [8516m], Mt.Everest [8844m], Mt.Cho Oyu [8201m] and Mt.Shishapama [8020m] from left to right, climbing down through numbers of switchback bends lead to the dry valley of Tashi Zom and then to today's destination - Rongbuk monastery, it is the highest monastery in Tibet and consist both monks and nuns, and a good point to see Mt.Everest. Then explore Rongbuk and see the best view of Mount Everest. Enjoy the sunset over Everest on a clear day. Overnight at local tent guesthouse or Rongbuk monastery guesthouse(dorm bed).
After breakfast at Rongbuk, then head to Saga, on the way you will stop to see the stunning lake of Pelku Tso and Mt. Shishapama, the rest day's driving will be on the grasslands, nomads herders with their yaks and sheep also can be often seen along the road. Stay overnight at Saga.
Morning drive from Saga to Paryang, you weave your way through small dusty town of Zhongba amidst enchanting panoramic views, dotted nomads tents are mingled with their herds of animals on the open plateau. Pass numbers of villages and camps of Yak herders with the distance view of snow-capped mountains, cross the Mayun-la pass (5,220m), if lucky might see many wild animals at the plateau grasslands. Check-in at Darchen and prepare for the following days trekking.
Morning head west to Tarboche to experience the Saga Dawa Festival, the most important religious festival in Tibet to celebrate the birth, death and enlightenment of Buddha Sakyamuni, the main purpose of the festival is to pray for the long life of all the gurus, for the spreading of teachings of Buddha, and for the happiness of all the sentient beings. Many Tibetans come to join this festival. Many rituals like Buddhism, Bon, and Hinduism will be taking place around Tarboche. The most important part of the festival at Mount Kailash is to replace the 'Tarboche Flagpole, every year the flagpole is brought down and a new pole will be replaced. The festival offers a great opportunity for photo shootings.
Afterward, we will start the first day's trekking of this 3 day Mount Kailash Kora, the walk will start from the Sershong and a gradual walk with multitudes of other local pilgrims chanting and praying. From the valley, you can see the Choku Monastery up on the hillside. The trail leads to a few ups and downs until we reach our camp at Dirapuk (4,750 m). You will meet many more Bon pilgrims going in the opposite direction (Anti clock-wise) because Mt. Kailash is being worshipped by four different religions: Buddhisms, Bons, Hindus, and Jains. Overnight at Dirapuk guesthouse.
Today our trekking leads to much higher side of the holy path just beneath the Mount Kailash. The walk will bring us to one of the highest points at Drolma La (5,200m), and the pass is quickly descending to the gradual field towards Zutul-Puk for the overnight camp, Dzutul Puk in Tibetan and which means magical cave, this small monastery is connected to an interesting story of talent competition between Great Yogi Milarepa(Buddhist) and Naropa(Bon). Overnight at Zutul-Puk guesthouse.
The winding gradually comes out of the valley and the river allows to follow into the Barka plain, the trekking stops at Trangser Trangmar and your car takes you back to Darchen. After a short rest at Darchen, you will be arranged to drive about 50km to Lake Manasarovar, one of the three holy lakes in Tibet. In Buddhism and Hinduism, Manasarovar is the lake of compassion, tranquility, and bliss. Climb up to Chiu monastery and have a good view of the lake or wander along the lakeshore to have a relaxing afternoon. Overnight at the local guesthouse near Chiu monastery (dorm bed).
Morning enjoys a brilliant sunrise at Lake Manasarovar, then start driving back to Saga retracing the same route, you will have a last view of the Mt.Kailash on the way. Overnight at Saga.
Today start driving back to Shigatse, enjoy the landscapes on the way. Overnight at Shigatse.
After breakfast, start driving back to Lhasa from Shigatse via northern friendship highway, driving along Yarlutsangpo river and enjoys its beautiful sceneries. Overnight at Lhasa.
Morning Lhasa airport or train station dropping off, the time comes to say your farewells to your guide and driver, end the trip.