On the trails of Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims at Mount Kailash

Kailash or Mount Meru, whatever be the name given to it, is the most sacred mountain of the world. This trek on the borders of Nepal and Tibet is more than a journey: an adventure, a pilgrimage filled with mysticism and religion, an opportunity to meet nomads perpetuating their ancient culture on both sides of the border. Starting from the lands of the ancient Thakuri kingdoms in Western Nepal, we cross valleys inhabited by Tibetan-Nepali mixed race population to reach the shores of sacred Lake Manasarovar and Mount Kailash. The journey culminates in altitude and spiritually with the Kora at 5630 m at the Dolma La pass.

HIGHLIGHTS

- On the trails of Indian pilgrims going up to Mount Meru from the plains to the shores of the sacred lake.
- Kora around Mount Kailash and Manasarovar Lake.
- Old-style trekking in bivouac with a very caring team.
- Mountain flight between Nepalgunj and Simikot.

Itinerary

  • Level of Trek: Difficult
  • Best Period: May - June & September
  • Duration: 21 Days
  • Flights: Kathmandu - Nepalgunj - Simikot
  • Accomodation: Hotel/Lodge/Guest House

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Day
Airport pick- up, transfer to hotel and check-in.
- Accommodation: Hotel
- Accommodation : REVIOUS DAY
Nepalgunj is a city at the Indian border in the South West of Nepal.

- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY
After 30 minutes of flight over the Karnali river, landing at the airfield of Simikot, the sleeping capital of Humla region. We find our team and the trekkers. We start the trek by a gradual ascent of 300 m. Then we follow the High Karnali valley. After 3 hours on a donkey, we cross the Karnali river and arrive at the Thakuri village of Dharapuri (2400 m).

- Ascent : + 300 m
- Descent: - 600 m
- Hours of walking: 3.5
- Accommodation: Bivouac under tent
We follow the left bank of Humla Karnali crossing marijuana fields and a wild peach forest. Sometime, we meet salt caravans that come down for the trade. We camp in Kermi. Nearby (30 mn walk), we found hot springs, where we can relax our bodies.

- Ascent: + 600 m
- Descent: - 150 m
- Hours of walking: 5.5
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY

The trail ascends and descends through Himalayan pine forests. Nice view of the Saipal Himal range (7031 m). On the way, we cross a suspension bridge on the Chhungsa Khola. Yalbang is a Tibetan village. We visit a big monastery of the Sakyapa school.

- Ascent : + 450 m
- Descent: - 200 m
- Hours of walking: 6
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY

Easy walk in the forest with a gradual ascent to the village of Muchu. After reaching Muchu, we cross a bridge over the Muchu Khola, a tributary of Karnali. Then we descend to Tumkot. Visit to the monastery of Tumkot which shelters only a few monks.

- Ascent: + 350 m
- Descent: - 400 m
- Hours of walking: 4.5
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY
After walking about an hour, we cross a suspension bridge and we leave the Karnali valley. Then we follow the Kumchiya khola river. We pass through Yari, a Tibetan village of fifty houses. We follow a route that climbs continuously in zigzag. We reach a meadow at Thado Dhunga where we camp.

- Ascent: + 950 m
- Hours of walking: 5.5
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY

Day of rest and acclimatization at Thado Dhunga

- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY

We reach the altitude of the Tibetan plateau where the vegetations become rare. Easy climb then steep ascent just before reaching the Nara La pass (4,620 m) and descent to Hilsa, a border village in the Karnali valley that we find again. View of the snowy peaks of the Gurla Mandhata (7728 m) on the Tibetan side. We see caravans of yaks & goats carrying salt, wood and alcohols. The descent passes through some steep sections.

- Ascent: + 600 m
- Descent: - 900 m
- Hours of walking: 4.5
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY
We cross the Tibetan border after formalities. In Tibetan territory, another team wait for us with a jeep. We take the jeep towards Purang, an important Western Tibetan fortress described by Tucci in the 1950s. It is also an important town for the Tibetan salt trade to Nepal.
Road to Lake Manasarovar passing at the foot of the Gurla Mandhata. We are now on the Tibetan plateau, herd of yaks and horses, caravans of goats carrying salt, tents of nomads scattered here and there on the steppe. We arrive at the monastery of Gossul, on the way to the pilgrimage which circumambulates the Lake Manasarovar.

- Duration: 6 hours drive
- Accommodation: Guest house
A few hours of walking along the Lake Manasarovar. We walk with groups of Tibetan or Indian pilgrims who perform the ritual tour of the lake and many ablutions in the icy water! Finally, the vehicles pick us up to join Chiu Gompa, a small monastery on a rocky peak, dominating the sacred lake from where we see Mount Kailash off in the distance. In the afternoon, drive to Tharboché.
Preparation of the Khora.

- Road: 3h30
- Hours of walking: 3
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY
Following the pilgrims, walk to perform the ritual circumambulation of the mountain and to take time to immerse ourselves in this exceptional place. The Kailash tour is done in one day by some pilgrims; some others do it by prostrating with every step, when some others plant their tent to meditate at the foot of the sacred mountain.

- Hours of walking: 5
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY
This is the most difficult day of our journey because we have to cross the Tara pass (Drolma La, 5700 m) before we descend to camp over the Milarepa cave that we will reach the next day. The pass is the highest point of the pilgrimage and the pilgrims stop here a few moments for thanksgiving.

- Hours of walking: 7 to 8
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY
End of the pilgrimage (3 hours walk) then short route to Darchen and Lake Mansarovar. Afternoon: strolling along the sacred lake.

- Hours of walking: 3
- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY
Drive to Baryang: 270 km, about 4 hours.

- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY
Drive to Kyerong. It takes about 7-8 hours to cross the 490 km.

- Accommodation : Hotel
From Kyerong, a 24 km descent to the bottom of the Bhote Khosi/Trishuli valley at the Sino-Nepalese border. We cross the Langtang Park via Syabru Besi and Dhunche, a region of Tibetan-Tamang inhabitants. Then we return to Nuwakot, Nepal's lush nature and terraced crops. 8 km ascent by a winding road through sal and pine forests to Nuwakot Durbar, an ancient fortress and palace of the kings of Gorkha, under restoration since the earthquake of April 25, 2015. Visit to the bazaar, the temple and the palace . Overnight in a typical farmhouse converted into a charming resort.

- Accommodation: AS PREVIOUS DAY

3 hours drive. We reach Kathmandu around 12 pm. Late afternoon free in Kathmandu.

- Accommodation : AS PREVIOUS DAY

- Accommodation : AS PREVIOUS DAY
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