Going to Mt Kailash and western Tibet? Why not visit the cultural city of Lhasa while you acclimatize and then enjoy the drive along Mt Everest and other high Himalayan peaks to the wild western Tibet? Avoid driving the treacherous monsoon road from Kathmandu to the border twice and instead fly to Lhasa and drive back to Kathmandu.
Tibet is wild empty land with rich medieval Buddhist culture and history. The route from Lhasa to Mt Kailash gives an opportunity of visiting both the cultural highlights, high Himalayan peaks and the pristine wild western Tibet.
Fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa and visit the most sought after Holy city while you are acclimatizing.
The journey from Lhasa to Kailash starts with a one and half hour flight from Kathmandu. The flight glides along the eastern Himalayas of Nepal and then traverses it to the Tibetan plateau dotted with turquoise lakes. Lhasa is at 3,600 m and it is normal for travelers to feel mild symptoms of altitude sickness. However comfortable accommodation and easy sightseeing days around Lhasa will help to acclimatize. Lhasa and Shigatse are the cultural and spiritual center of the vast arid land whose area is as big as South Africa but has 20 times less population. Sightseeing of central Tibet will give you deep insight into the Tibetan lifestyle, spirituality, architecture and history.
The second half of the journey cruises through the plateaus at the top of the world overlooking the snow capped mountains. The vast empty land is flecked with high mountains, pristine turquoise lakes and highest motorable passes in the world. Drive past the nomadic villages and wide open pastures grazed by wild yaks, Tibetan wild ass, blue sheep in the backdrop of the Himalayas.
The detour of Rongbuk monastery at 5,009 m offers the unclose view of Mt Everest. The northern Everest base camp (Tibetan side) is just 8 km away from the monastery.
After a tedious drive of about 1250 km, we will have easy days to just explore around and immerse ourselves into the enchanting surroundings with Mt Kailash and Lake Manasoravar. Revered by the world's four oldest religions, this holy land has been a pilgrimage since time immemorial. Hindus revere Mt Kailash as the earthly manifestation of Mt Sumeru which is the physical, metaphysical and spiritual center of all the universe. For Buddhist Mt Kailash is where their Tantric god Demchong resides. It is also the pilgrimage done by the 12th century poet and Buddhist philosopher Milarepa. The preBuddhist Bon religion revere the entire surroundings as the site where their founder Shenrab came down from heaven. Mt Kailash is the nine storied Swastika for them which is the center of all spiritual power. For Jain, it is Astapada Tirtha (pilgrimage) where the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhadeva, attained enlightenment.
Similarly Lake Manasarovar is considered as Shakti (Hindu) or female principle by Buddhists. Mt Kailash and Manasarovar represents Shiva and Shakti for Hindus and the wisdom and compassion principle for Buddhists.
The ruins of the Guge kingdom is the most bizarre abandoned settlement with residences and chapels on the mountain side and an underground palace at the top of a 300 m hill. Buddhist murals and a few statues are still standing in a dilapidated stage. The yellow earthen hills along the bank of windy Sutlej River consists of 445 rooms, 879 caves, 58 pillboxes, 4 secret tunnels and 28 Buddhist pagodas spread in the area of 7,20,000 sq meters. The Guge kingdom was established along the intersection of trade routes in around the 9th century and had Tholing and Tsaparang as their capital until the mid 17th century. With two extra days in your Kailash itinerary, you can visit this cultural relic of western Tibet known as hidden jem among travellers.
Enjoy the untouched culture and heritage of two Himalayan countries, this May. May is end of Spring touring season for the Himalayas. But the varying altitude makes May the best time to do this tour of Nepal and Bhutan.
May is best time for Everest trek as the trekking starts with flight to Lukla at 2,800 m. May temperature for Everest trek is comfortable and the sky remains clear. Everest trek could be organized from 5 days to 12 based on luxury lodges and decent lodges.
Everest cultural trek Starting USD 1,480