Our journey begins with a scenic one hour flight from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, a border between Nepal and India in the southern part of Nepal. It is a busy crowded city which lies close to the Indian border. You can also drive from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj by bus which takes about sixteen hours. You could do shopping in around the city where you can find goods in a cheaper price. Overnight at hotel in Nepalgunj.
On the following day, we fly from Nepalgunj to Simikot. We have to fly north for about 50 minutes to Simikot, the headquarters of Nepal’s most remote district, Humla. The landing at the tiny mountain airstrip at Simikot is an unforgettable experience. Upon arrival, we commence our trek, climbing up from the airstrip on a rocky trail passing fields of barley and wheat. We then ascend a forested ridge above the town of Simikot, before making a long steep descent past Danda phoya. We can find walnut and apricot trees throughout our trail, until we come to the scattered village of Dhara pokhari which is divided by the Yakba Khola. After lunch, we’ll visit the Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, as well as the Jokhang Temple. This temple is possibly the most sacred shrine in Tibet and there is always a procession of devout Tibetans through the complex. Surrounding the Jokhang is the Barkor – a maze of narrow cobbled streets which is the central market of Lhasa.
From Dhara Pokhari, our trail is a bit steep until we cross a long slope and follow the river to a waterfall near the shepherds’ camp at Chachera. We then climb over a ridge and bypass the village of Kermi before entering a big valley with walled fields of potato and buckwheat. After walking through a sparse pine forest we descend from the ridge to the Salli Khola and camp by the river. Overnight at Salli Khola.
Leaving Salli Khola, we continue our trail to Muchu. Crossing the river, we then climb over a rocky ridge before descending to the grey waters of Humla, Karnali. Then we can see a goat herders camping by the river in a sandy meadow after crossing another ridge. The valley gradually narrows and we cross several more ridges, passing the villages of Yalbang and Yangar. The trail then winds its way precariously above the river before we cross a suspension bridge to the village of Muchu. Overnight at Muchu.
Our first rest day will be at Muchu. You can simple relax on this day of walk around Muchu. This day is best for acclimatization too. We can explore the valley around Muchu and explore the village with its stone houses and Gompa.
After a day rest at Muchu, we move forward and follow the trail over a ridge to the Tumkot Khola. Continuing our trial , we walk along the rocky stream bed for a short distance before beginning a steep climb through a rock-filled gully. We then pass through Palbang and its bright yellow mustard fields to the small settlement of Yari and beyond here the route climbs up the valley towards a pass, the Nara Lagna. We spend overnight below the pass in a meadow known as Sipsip.
Today, we have a very steep ascend to the top of Nara Lagna (4580 m). Then our trail descends. On the route, we can have the view of the Tibetan Plateau before arriving at the village of Ranipauwa. Walk carefully, since you may slip and slide on a surface of loose pebbles down to the Humla Karnali. Overnight stay in Hilsa.
Leaving Hilsa, we commence our trek to Taklakot. We have to cross the Nepal -Tibet border which is marked only by a stone pillar. This might be the most informal border crossing you might see throughout your life time. Taklakot is the large trading center from where you will be driven to Mansarovar, the most venerated of Tibet’s many lakes. It is a rough fantastic drive that gives a taste of what lies ahead. It is an incredible drive past the snow capped peak of Gurla Mandata (7728m) as the road climbs higher onto the Tibetan Plateau. In places the road is no more than the tracks of vehicles that have passed this way before. Today you will be sent to the highest lake of fresh water with turquoise complexion in the world. It is full of fishes and swans. Holy Kailash Parbat, Mt. Gurula-Mandala, Lake Rashekshi are lying on its surrounding. The region is considered rich for gold and other mines, hot springs and hundreds of wild living creatures. You pass through Tibetan villages where prayer flags flutter from the roofs of the whitewashed houses. Overnight at Mansarovar.
You will be spending a day in Mansarovar allowing your bodies to acclimatize to the altitude and exploring this fascinating place. We will visit the picturesque Chiu Monastery on the North West shore of the lake with the imposing sight of Mt Kailash in the background. The scenery is stunningly beautiful with panoramic views of the Himalayas.
After a day rest at Mansarovar, we leave the lake and continue our journey to Tarboche. Tarboche is marked by a tall pole adorned with prayer flags. This is the starting point for our Kora, the 53km trek around the mountain and is the site for Tibet’s most important annual Saga Dawa festival. We drive for about 35 kilometers towards Mt Kailash. Overnight at Tarboche.
Leaving Tarboche, we walk up to the Lha Chu Valley through beautiful green meadows and streams with Mt Kailash towering above us. It is one of the exciting days walking along the beautiful rocky cliffs; waterfalls with some clouds in the clear blue sky making you feeling that Great God Shiva is everywhere with tons of blessing to you. Continuing up the valley, the north face of Kailash comes into view before we reach the 13th century monastery at Dira-puk.
Commencing trek from Dir-puk, we now leave the Lha Chu Valley and enter the Drolma Chu Valley, heading up towards a high pass, the Drolma La [5630m]. It’s a tough climb to the summit which is festooned with prayer flags but from there it is all downhill or flat to Zutul-puk, with views of one of the highest lakes in the world, Thukpe Dzingbu Lake, known as the Lake of Compassion. As well as the monastery at Zutul-puk, there are several meditation caves and another cave containing an image of Milarepa.
Throughout the trail today, we are treated to magnificent views of Kailash. We cross several streams, and follow an impressive gorge. We then enter the Bharka plain and it’s about an hour’s walk through this desert-like landscape to Darchen.
The drive today is very long. We have to drive around 300 kilometers to reach Paryang. Along the way, we cross the Mayun-la and make several river crossings. The scenery along this section is some of the most panoramic views of the entire journey. Overnight at Paryang.
Today’s drive is also very long but not so long as compared to the previous day. We continue driving today along a 255 kilometers stretch of road to Saga, passing through the small, dusty town of Zhongba en route. Overnight at Saga.
Today is the longest drive of our journey, 452km to Shigatse. Leaving Saga, we pass the turn-off for the northern route and skirt around a lake, passing through a series of valleys. Approaching Kaga, we’ll come across the first trees and agricultural fields that we’ve seen for many days and the town itself is situated next to a picturesque lake. We continue on to Lhatse where we join the paved Friendship Highway and follow it for the final 150km to Shigatse, the second largest city in Tibet. Overnight at Shigatse.
Wake up early this morning for a sightseeing tour in Shigatse. Today, we visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery, one of the largest functioning monasteries in Tibet, before driving 90km to Gyantse. Once we reach Gyantse, we can explore the Pelkor Chode Monastery and the Gyantse Kumbum. The Kumbum is a large gold-domed stupa and its many chapels house an impressive array of Tibetan Buddhist murals. Overnight at Gyantse.
Leaving Gyantse, we drive 261 kilometers towards Karo la (5045 m). You will be treated with an awesome sight of a huge glacier tumbling down to within a few hundred metres of the road. Beyond the small, developing town of Nagartse, the road follows the bank of a beautiful turquoise lake, the Yamdrok-tso, for about 20km. We then cross the Khamba La (4794 m) and continue on to Lhasa, the capital of Tibet. Overnight at Lhasa.
We will spend our following day by visiting several Lhasa’s monasteries in the company of a guide and interpreter. One of these is the Sera Monastery, which is one of the best preserved monasteries in Tibet. Within its white-washed walls and golden roofs, several hundred monks live and study. After lunch we’ll visit the Norbulingka, the summer palace of the Dalai Lama, as well as the Jokhang Temple. This temple is possibly the most sacred shrine in Tibet and there is always a procession of devout Tibetans through the complex. Surrounding the Jokhang is the Barkor – a maze of narrow cobbled streets which is the central market of Lhasa. Overnight in Lhasa.
This morning we will visit the Potala Palace which dominates the city of Lhasa. A spectacular building, it contains the private quarters of the Dalai Lama as well as numerous grand state rooms and many important chapels. There has been a palace on this site since 5th or 6th century, but the present palace was constructed in the 17th century. A visit to the Drepung Monastery this afternoon will complete a truly awe-inspiring day. Founded in the 14th century, this monastery was once the largest in the world with a population of around 10,000 monks. These days that figure is down to several hundred, but there is still much here of interest as it was left relatively unscathed during the Cultural Revolution. Overnight in Lhasa.
Our final day in Lhasa is a day at leisure in which we are free to explore further, revisit a favorite monastery or simply sit in a café overlooking the Barkor and watch the pilgrims as they circumambulate the Jokhang, stopping regularly to peruse the merchandise at the stalls lining the route. There is also the option of an additional tour to places such as the Tibetan Medical Centre, Ganden Monastery and Tsurphu Monastery, but this will incur extra costs. Overnight at Lhasa.
On the last day of our journey, we leave Lhasa early in the morning. We drive two hours to reach Gonggar Airport and take a flight from Lhasa – Kathmandu. You will fly right across the main Himalayan range and the mountain which will have the spectacular views. Upon arrival, transfer to your respective hotel.
Our trekking trip to Nepal was organized at the last minute. Yet, Nature trail met all our expectations to the minor detail with respect to the organization of our private trek. Additionally, our guide, Gelbu, was extremely friendly and very professional. The bottom line is that if you have high expectations for a trekking trip to Nepal and are looking for great organization and great customer service – as we did, don’t look any further. Nature Trail is the one. Its staff is truly committed to elevate your trip from great to memorable. We will not hesitate to plan our next trip with Nature Trail when the time comes. Thank you! Dalila & Mike Hoover From USA
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