Kailash and Ancient Guge Kingdom

Tibet (U-Tsang) | 20 Days including 3-Day trek



After Lhasa, the second most sacred place in Tibet where Tibetans pilgrims wish to go, at least one time in their life, is Mount Kailash. This mountain is sacred not only for Bouddhists but also for Böns (Tibetan ancient religion) and Hindus. We invite you, together with local pilgrims to do the kora of Kailash (pilgrimage trek around the mountain) and discover the two holy places associated to Mount Kailash: Lake Manasarovar and Tirtapuri Hot Springs. From Kailash, traveling a bit more west, you will discover the ancient Guge Kingdom. Situated in a pastel-colored landscape of canyons, gorges and Mountains, this 9th century kingdom once ruled parts of Tibet.


  • Your Tibetan guide who introduces you to his culture.
  • Visit of Lhasa most famous historical and holy places and of the two big monasteries on the way to Mount Kailash: Tashilhünpo and Sakya monasteries
  • A traditional Tibetan Buddhist pilgrimage which includes the three holy places of Ngari: Mount Kailash, Manasarovar Lake and  Tirtapuri hot springs with of course the kora of Kailash (3-Day pilgrimage trek)
  • Magnificent landscapes of western Tibet
  • Lunch in a family, in a small Tibetan village located culturally between the two worlds of the Tibetan farmer and the Tibetan nomad.


Day 1: Arrival in Chengdu and flight to Lhasa (3,650 meters above sea level)

  • CHENGDU: Meet Global Nomad team member at Chengdu airport where he will give you your permit to Tibet before you take your flight to Lhasa.
  • LHASA: You will be met at the Lhasa airport by your guide and driver. After checking into your hotel and relaxing for a while, you’ll take a short walk to central Lhasa. You’ll spend time in the lively central area where pilgrims from the entire Tibetan plateau gather. You’ll stroll along the Barkor, (a lovely central street that winds around the Jokhang Temple), the shopping streets of the Tibetan district, and the Muslim street close to Lhasa’s main
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 2: Lhasa

  • In the morning you’ll explore what many consider to be the heart of the Tibetan Buddhist world: the famous Jokhang Temple. The “Jo”, as it is commonly referred to, was founded in the 7th century by the first great Buddhist king, Songtsen Gampo. Deep in the interior of the Jokhang you’ll see what many consider the most sacred image of Tibet, the statue of Jowo Shakyamuni, a representation of the Buddha at the age of twelve.
  • Visit the beautiful, flower-filled nun’s convent of Ané Tsang Gung. The nunnery has a teahouse where pilgrims often stop to rest and enjoy a cup of Lhasa’s sweet milk tea. You’ll have the opportunity to meet and make some connections with the residents of this magical place.
  • Visit Séra Monastery, one of three great monasteries connected with the Géluk School of Tibetan Buddhism. In a shaded courtyard you’ll see lively philosophical debates that never fail to amaze visitors.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 3: Lhasa

  • Visit the towering, iconic Potala Palace. This thirteen-story building has two main sections: the White Palace, once the headquarters of the Tibetan administration and the winter residence of the Dalaï-Lamas; and the Red Palace, which holds the chapels and tombs of the Dalaï-Lamas.
  • You’ll join a procession of pilgrims to see hundreds of beautiful bas-relief rock carvings on Chakpori Hill, a hill facing the Potala Palace. This group of carvings is one of the largest of its kind in Tibet, some of them dating back over a thousand years.

Visit the famous Norbulingka (“Jewel Park”), the summer residence of the Dalaï-Lamas. This is one of the loveliest areas of Lhasa and you’ll find it relaxing and invigorating to walk among the trees, ponds, palaces and pavilions.

  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 4: Lhasa – Ganden Monastery – Lhasa

  • Distance : 90 km. Approximate travel time: 3hrs (roundtrip)
  • You’ll travel to the monastery of Ganden, 45 km from Lhasa. Ganden monastery was founded in 1409 by Tsongkhapa, the great reformer of Tibetan Buddhism. Ganden is the main seat of the Géluk school of Tibetan Buddhism. Unlike the protocol followed by many other monasteries, the title “Abbot of Ganden” (Ganden Tripa) cannot be conferred by heredity or reincarnation but depends entirely on the candidate’s scholasticism and merit.
  • Lunch in a family, in a small Tibetan village located culturally between the two worlds of the Tibetan farmer and the Tibetan nomad. Thanks to your guide who will translate, you can discuss with your host and learn about their daily life, see dri (female yak) milking… You will have time to walk leisurely through the village and to the local temple before returning to Lhasa.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 5: Lhasa – Zhikatsé (3,900m)

  • Distance: 280 km. Approximate travel time: 5 hrs.
  • Drive to Zhikatsé, second city most important of Tibet, it was once the capital of the king of Tsang and trade junction on the road to Nepal.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 6: Zhikatsé – Saga (4,100m)

  • Distance: 409 km. Approximate travel time: 8 hrs.
  • Today you leave the fertile regions of Central Tibet and Tsang to enter the Ngari region characterized by vast and wild landscapes populated by nomads.
  • Overnight: Camp.


Day 7: Saga – Lake Manasarovar (4,600m)

  • Distance: 494 km. Approximate travel time: 8-9 hrs.
  • Today you’ll drive through landscapes of sand dunes as you approach the high, arid desert areas of Ngari. To the south, you’ll see the beautiful peaks of Mustang that border Nepal’s northern border.  You will pass through the Mayum-la pass (5,370 m) and arrive at Lake Manasarovar, dominated on one side by the Gurla Mandata massif (7,728 m) and on the other by iconic Mount Kailash (6,714 m).
  • Overnight:


Day 8: Lake Manasarovar – Darchen. (4,560m)

  • Distance: 50 km. Approximate travel time: 1 h.
  • You’ll walk along the shores of beautiful Lake Manasarovar. The waters of this Lake are sacred to Hindus, who believe that whoever bathes in it or drinks it is freed from his or her karma and ascends to Brahma’s heaven.
  • Near your guesthouse, you’ll visit picturesque Chiu monastery and its hot spring.
  • Drive to Darchen, a small village at the foot of Mount Kailash.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 9: Darchen – Drirapuk (4,900m)                                              KORA OF KAILASH

  • 20 minutes of bus followed by 6 hrs of walking.
  • You’ll begin your circumambulation of Kailash by driving to an important pilgrimage area called Serzhong. Serzhong is where you’ll see the enormous flagpole of Darboché.  Above Darboché is the sky burial site of the 84 Mahasiddhas.  From Darboché you’ll begin your kora of Mount Kailash.
    Overnight: Camp.


Day 10: Drirapuk – Dzutrulpuk (4,700m)                                     KORA OF KAILASH

  • 9 hrs of walking.
  • You’ll rise early to continue your kora, starting with a hike to the Silwatsel charnel ground. This is a place where pilgrims undergo a ritual death before being “reborn” at the completion of their ascent of the Drolma-la pass (5,500m).  The arrival at the pass is the emotional climax for both Tibetan and Hindu pilgrims, marking a transition to the possibilities of a new life.  After the pass you’ll descend a steep rocky trail before reaching the Lham valley and its vast grasslands.
  • Overnight: Camp.


Day 11: Dzutrulpuk – Tirthapuri (4,400m)                                  KORA OF KAILASH

  • 5 hrs walking, 2 hrs drive (100 km).
  • After a pleasant walk along Kailash’s eastern valley you’ll arrive at Dzutrulpuk monastery. The monastery is most famous for a cave that Milarepa, one of Tibet’s most famous yogis, used for a meditation retreat.  Leaving Dzultrupuk, you’ll walk through a gorge that opens upon a vast plain, finally arriving at the village of Darchen.  Your kora of Kalilash is complete, and you’ll now begin your journey to the ancient kingdom of Guge in the west.
  • Overnight: Camp.


Day 12: Tirthapuri – Zamda (3,700m)

  • Distance: 270 km. Approximate travel time: 5 hrs.
  • You will visit Tirthapuri site and hot springs. The great master Guru Rinpoche and his consort Yeshi Tsogyal meditated in one of the caves here. It is said that this area has a strong connection to the powerful dakini Vajravarahi.
  • You’ll drive to the agricultural region of Zamda.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 13: Zamda – Tsaparang – Zamda

  • Distance: ……. km. Approximate travel time: …….. hrs.
  • Today you’ll drive to Tsaparang and the ancient Guge Kingdom. Situated in a pastel-colored landscape of canyons, gorges and Mountains, this 9th century kingdom once ruled parts of Tibet.   You’ll see the remains of many monasteries, which, unlike others in Tibet, have not been rebuilt.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 14: Zamda – Purang (3,900m)

  • Distance: 330 km. Approximate travel time: 6 hrs.
  • Drive to Purang, located between Lake Manasarovar and Lake Rakshastal. Both lakes represent two opposite but complementary aspects: Manasarovar Lake is round and symbolizes the sun and light, while Lake Rakshastal is shaped like a crescent moon and symbolizes darkness.
  • Overnight:


Day 15: Purang – Hor (4,300m)

  • Distance: 170 km. Approximate travel time: 3 hrs.
  • Visit the ruins of Shepeling (4,160 m), which dominate the city. This large complex of buildings once included two monasteries, one each of the Gelug and Sakya schools of Tibetan Buddhism.  Below are the cave complexes of Purang and Tsegu temple (literally the “Temple of the nine floors”).
  • Go to the village of Khorzhak in the beautiful Karnali River valley. “Khorzhak” means “where valuables are placed” with a specific reference to the statue of Jowo Manjuvajra, which has unfortunately disappeared and been replaced with a copy.
  • Overnight:


Day 16: Hor – Saga (4,100m)

  • Distance: 350 km. Approximate travel time: 6-7 hrs.
  • The first day travelling back to Lhasa.
  • Overnight:


Day 17: Saga – Sakya

  • Distance: 300 km. Approximate travel time: 6 hrs.
  • The second day travelling back to Lhasa.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 18: Sakya – Zhikatsé (3,900m)

  • Distance: 170 km. Approximate travel time: 3 hrs.
  • Visit Sakya Monastery, birthplace of the Sakya tradition, one of the four main schools of Tibetan Buddhism. Before the Cultural Revolution, Sakya was one of the largest monasteries in the country. It is from there that Tibet was governed during the period of the Sakya hegemony (1268-1365).
  • Drive to Zhikatsé
  • Visit Tashilhünpo Monastery and stroll around this big monastic complex with local pilgrims. Built in the 15th century by the first Dalaï-Lama Gendündrup, it became later the seat of the Panchen-Lamas (the most important lineage of reincarnated lamas in the Géluk lineage after the Dalaï-Lamas).
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 19: Zhikatsé – Lhasa

  • Distance: 280 km. Approximate travel time: 5-6 hrs.
  • Journey back to Lhasa. You will arrive in the afternoon and have time to rest quietly at a terrace café or enjoy walking or shopping in the streets of the old Tibetan part of town.
  • Overnight: Hotel.


Day 20: Departure from Lhasa

  • Transfer to the airport for your return flight.


Please note that the transportation time is an estimation and doesn’t include stops to go to toilets, take pictures… The travel time might also be longer related to weather, road constructions or local traffic police policies.

Departure from From To Price
Chengdu 1 September 2019 20 September 2019 US$ 4965

Price for a group of 6 persons:

US$ 4,965 per person in dual occupancy – hotel or tent

US$ 5,330 per person in single occupancy* – hotel or tent


This price includes

  • The transfers mentioned in the program, by private vehicle with driver
  • Accommodation, breakfasts included
  • Lunches and dinners (drink included: tea or mineral water)
  • Entrance tickets for sites included in the program (except for hot springs)
  • Services of an English-speaking Tibetan guide
  • Trekking Logistics (yaks or horses to carry luggage, cook, tents, camping mattresses, dining tent, camping table and stools). Sleeping bags are not provided.
  • “Tibet Autonomous Region” entrance permit fee
  • Airfare from Chengdu to Lhasa (Day 1) and from Lhasa to Chengdu (Day 20).


This price excludes

  • Your Chinese visa fee
  • Health and accident insurance
  • Medical or repatriation costs
  • Domestic and international airfares and/or trains tickets (except Chengdu – Lhasa and Lhasa – Chengdu flight)
  • Extra expenses due to circumstances beyond our control
  • Drinks and personal expenses
  • Sleeping bags for camps (it is possible to rent sleeping bags in Lhasa if you inform us when you register to your trip. Renting price: US$125).
  • Tips for guide, driver and trekking team
  • Tips for guide and driver


* In guesthouses, it is not possible to have an individual room.




Following hotels or similar:

Lhasa :                 Dekhang (3*) – Tibetan style hotel

Zhikatsé :           Gesar Hotel (3*) – Tibetan style hotel

Lake Manasarovar : Guesthouse near the lake, down Chiu Monastery (no toilets and no bathrooms in the room or elsewhere). Dorm beds (4 beds per room) only. Near the guesthouse, hot springs where it is possible to take a shower.

Darchen :       Sacred Mountain Holy Lake Hotel (2*)

Zamda:           Zamda Hotel (1*)

Purang :         Guesthouse (1*)

Sakya :                        Manasarovar Hotel (2*)

Nights in camps the other days (tents and sleeping mats are provided but not sleeping bags)

In Ngari, accommodation is very basic. There is often no bathroom and it is not possible to take a shower, there is just basins in the rooms and you can have a thermos of hot water. It is nevertheless possible to wash in hot springs near Lake Manasarovar. It is recommended to bring towels, moistened wipes and a flashlight.

Please note accommodations listed are rated and assessed by Global Nomad

1* = Basic accommodation

2* = Simple and clean

3* = Nice, very comfortable


Due to the high altitude of the places visited (with a trek between 4.560 and 5,630 meters altitude), it is essential to be in good physical condition to register to this trip. If your health is not so good, you should check with a doctor before taking the decision of coming to Tibet. During the trip and especially above 4,000 m, it is important to drink a lot of water (at least 3 liters per day).

We reserve the right to modify the itinerary should circumstances beyond our control, namely those related to the specific situation of Tibetan areas, require us to do so.

It is strictly forbidden to talk about political matters with guides and Tibetans in general. This could have extremely serious consequences for them, the driver, the local agency and all agencies’ employees. Likewise, it’s forbidden to bring anything that could make local authorities unhappy.

During the trip, clients must follow the instructions of the guide and of the local agency.

Kawa Karpo
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Kailash and Ancient Guge Kingdom

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