Only 21km north of the Raka junction are the Tagyel Chutse, or King Tiger Hot Springs. It's a collection of geysers, bubbling hot springs, puffing steam outlets and smoking holes that seem to lead straight down into the bowels of the earth. The best time to visit is during the Tibetan Bathing Festival, or Gama Rije (early July of the lunar calendar; usually September in the Gregorian), when hundreds of nomad families, with their herds of yak, set up a colourful, lively camp around the springs. The atmosphere is convivial, making it a great time to mingle with Tibetans. The festival is associated with the re-appearance of Venus in the evening sky.
From the hot springs, the road skirts the western side of a beautiful lake, then through a wide valley, one of numerous stretches of open plateau in Ngari where you can see for many kilometres ahead of you. From a 5235m pass, the route descends to a much larger lake, Tagyel-tso, the waters of which are a miraculous shade of the deepest blue imaginable and ringed with snowy peaks. With luck you can spot gazelles, wild asses and even the occasional wolf, hungrily eyeing the valley’s many fat marmots. This is a great place to camp but only if you’re prepared for the cold and especially the altitude (around 5150m). If you’ve come from a night or two at Everest Base Camp you should be OK; from Lhatse this is too big a jump in altitude to be considered safe.
After Tagyel-tso the road climbs past herding camps to the 5570m Sangmo-la. About 45km after the pass the road crests a smaller pass and leads down to two conjoined lakes, past a small salt mine. Eventually you pop out into the wide sandy valley of the Yutra Tsangpo.
Not far from Tsochen a small monastery and large collection of prayer flags and mani stones sit on a ledge above the road; 3km later is a major checkpoint where your passport and permit will be checked. The town of Tsochen is just ahead, 5km across the plains.
Recommended Tours Including King Tiger Hot Springs
Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - EBC - Saga - Lake Manasarovar - Darchen - Mt. Kailash - Guge Kingdom - Ali - Gegye – Gertse - Shigatse - Lhasa
Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - EBC - Saga - Lake Manasarovar - Darchen - Mt.Kailash Kora - Zada - Gegye - Gertse - Shigatse - Lhasa
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