Mt Kailash Kora during Saga Dawa Festival

Duration:
14 Days
Destination:
Lhasa – Gyantse – Shigatse - EBC – Saga – Darchen - Mt Kailash Kora – Lake Manasarovar - Saga – Shigatse – Lhasa
Season:
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn
  • Winter
Tour Type:
Private Tour
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Saga Dawa Festival falls on 17th, June, 2019 in solar calendar. Mt Kailash rises from the Barkha plain like a giant four-sided 6714m chorten. During Saga Dawa Festival, hundreds of pilgrims clamour to watch the annual raising of the Tarboche flagpole.

DayRoute
1 Arrival in Lhasa (3680m)
2 Lhasa City
3 Lhasa Suburb
4 Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse
5 Shigatse - Tingri - Rongphu - EBC
6 EBC - Saga
7 Saga - Darchen
8 Mt Kailash Kora①: Darchen - Dirapuk
9 Mt Kailash Kora②: Dirapuk - Zutulpuk
10 Mt Kailash Kora③: Zutulpuk – Darchen; Drive Darchen - Chiu;
11 Chiu - Manasarovar - Payang - Saga
12 Saga - Lhatse - Shigatse
13 Shigatse - Lhasa
14 Departure from Lhasa by Flight
Day 1 Arrival in Lhasa (3680m)

This is the first day that you enter Tibet. Your guide will greet you at the airport or railway station and transfer you to the lovely hotel. It usually takes around 1.5 hours to drive from Lhasa Airport to downtown Lhasa and takes about 20mins from Lhasa Railway Station. Tourists could have a look at Yarlung Tsangpo River, the largest and longest river in Tibet on their way to the hotel. After check-in, you can have a good rest first. And if you feel like to go out, you can wander around the city. But just remember that don't take too much stuff, try to go with a light pack. Meanwhile, drink some more water. It’s really useful to get acclimatized to the high altitude.

Stay overnight in Lhasa

Day 2 Lhasa City

As the capital city, Lhasa is the political, economic, cultural, communication and tourism center of Tibet with a history over 1300 years.

The Potala Palace stands in the ancient Lhasa for centuries and plays an important role in Tibetan people’s beliefs.
Reconstructed in Yuan, Ming, and Qing dynasties for several times, Jokhang Temple has four stories and covers an area of about 25,000 square meters now.
Day 3 Lhasa Suburb

Today you will visit attractions in Lhasa suburb. You will stay long hour on sightseeing under the fierce sun of Tibet, do arm yourself with sunglasses/ hat/ sunscreen, etc.

Drepung Monastery was the largest monastery in Tibet, with over 10,000 monks. Now, this monastery houses about 700 monks.
Sers Monastery, a best place to see the colorful debates on Buddhist doctrines
Day 4 Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse

From Lhasa to Gyantse is abt 264km, en route you will pass by Khamba-la Pass (4794m), and with the huge massif of Mt Nojin Kangtsang (7191m) at far distance in view. Then head to Shigatse via the fertile Nyangchu Valley, a wide agricultural plain where colorfully decorated yaks and horses are used by Tibetan farmers to till the land.

Bathing in sunshine, Yamdrok lake is dispalying its dazzling beauty to visitors both home and abroad
The white glacier looks spectacular for visitors passing by.
Day 5 Shigatse - Tingri - Rongphu - EBC

Tibet has a serious rule about speed-limit. Though from Shigatse to Everest region is only abt 350km or so, the no-more-than-40km/hr regulation, and the many road checks dotted on the way, really slow us down. So be prepared to spend around 10~12hrs on the road including meal time. The upside is the view along the way is superb. Get your camera ready. Also, prepare some snacks with you to bring along.

If it’s summertime (usually May~Oct), we will carry on the last few kilometers to Everest Tent Camp to stay the night; if winter time (usually Nov~Apr), we will stay at Rongbuk Monastery’s guesthouse. Both places have but dorm bed lodging available. Both places you can see the glorious Everest sunset if the weather is good.

At the site of Rongbuk Monastery, you can view the highest mountain of the world brightly shining and clearly sparkling. The snowy peak seems happily to touch the blue sky.
It is nice to watch the sunrise and the sunset at EBC. And if you couldn’t fall asleep at night, it is worthy to enjoy a spectacular starry sky on a clear night.
Day 6 EBC - Saga

From EBC to Saga is abt 460km, a hard-drive of abt 10~12hrs. The sprawling truck-up town of Saga is the last of any size on your tour to Mt Kailash, cherish it – have a lavish meal and take a long hot shower, of which you have to do without for the following days. 

Mother an son walk along Peikutso lake.
The lake surrounded by mountains on three sides.
Day 7 Saga - Darchen

Drive from Saga to Zhongba to Paryang to Hor Qu then finally today’s destination of Darchen. A photogenic section of dunes, lake and mountains kicks in 60km from Zhongba. About 23km before Paryang you create a pass and drop past more dunes to Paryang. Photos taken along this route can often get steppe, streams, desert dunes and snowcapped mountains in the same shot.

Day 8 Mt Kailash Kora①: Darchen - Dirapuk

The kora path begins on the western edge of Darchen. Quickly leaving all traces of the village behind, you head westward across the Batkha plain, a sandy expanse speckled with greenery like a massive camouflage jacket. To the north, the east-west ridge blocks your view of Mt Kailash, but to the southeast are clear views of huge Gurla Mandata(7728m). Api and other peaks in Nepal are visible to the south, while look to the southwest for the twin, sharp humps of Kamet(7756m) in India.

Only 4km from Darchen the trail climbs up over the southwest end of the ridge to reach a cairn at 4790m. the cairn is bedecked with prayer flags and marks the first views of Mt Kailash’s southern face, the first of the kora’s four prostration points.

Very quickly the trail bends around to the north and enters the barren Lha-chu Valley. The valley is so open at this point you can see ahead to the tall Tarboche flagpole(4750) in the distance, one of the most significant sites for Saga Dawa Festival.

Just west of Tarboche is the ‘two-legged’ Chorten Kangnyi. It’s an auspicious act for pilgrims to walk through the small chorten’s archway. A short climb above Tarchorten to the east is the sky-burial site of the 84 mahasiddhas(Tantric practitioners who reached a high level of awareness). The first of the kora’s three Buddha footprints is here, but hard to find. The views of the valley are superb from here.

Beyond Tarboche the valley narrows dramatically at an area called Sershong. You can begin to get clear shots of Mt Kailash now, standing to attention above the eastern ridge.

Chuku Monastery(4820m), founded in the 13th century by Gotsangpa Gompo Pel, a Kagyupa-order master, is perched high above the valley floor on the hillside to the west. It bends so secretively into its rocky background you may not able notice it’s there.

From the Chuku it’s abt 3hrs to Dir-puk Monastery. Take your time between this stretch for it has some of the best scenery of the entire kora. High sedimentary faces, wonderfully puckered and dented, and chiseled into shapes that seem alive, hem you in on both sides. When the weather is warmer there’s even the occasional ribbon of water tumbling down the slopes from hundreds of meters high. Along the route, you will find the second prostration point, with its prayer flags and clear view of the east side of Mt Kailash. 30mins later, just past a tea tent selling the usual drinks and snakes, look for the second Buddha footprint, and a carving of the god Tamdrin, a wrathful horse-headed deity, on a black stone smeared with eons of yak butter. From the rock, the trail starts to clim and heads northeast toward Dira-puk Monastery.

Dira-puk(Lhalung Dira) Monastery(5080m) sits in a superb location on the hillside north of the Lha-chu. It directly faces the astonishing north face of Mt Kailash, which from this angle appears as a massive, jet-black slab of granite ornamented with alabaster-white strips of snow. Three lesser mountains are arrayed in front of Mt Kailash: Chana Dorie to the west, Jampelyang to the east and Chenresig in the center.

There are many legends about Mt. Kailash. One love story tells that Mt. Kailash was a handsome man who married Mt. Naimona'nyi and later met his Valentine—Lake Manasarovar.
Qugu Monastery is a little monastery at the foot of Mt.Kailash.
Day 9 Mt Kailash Kora②: Dirapuk - Zutulpuk

No doubt when you wake in the morning and step outside you’ll want to revel in the glory of your surroundings. Mt Kailash’s dramatic black face dominates the skyline, while the middle slopes echo with the moans of yaks.

The main kora path heads off to the east, crossing the Lha-chu by bridge and then climbs on to a moraine to meet the trail on the east bank. The long ascent up the Drolma-chu Valley that will eventually lead to the Drolma-la has begun.

Less than an hour along is the meadow at Jarok Donkhang(5210m). Near Jarok Donkhang a trail branches off to the southeast, leading over the snow-covered Khando Sanglam-la. Also nearby, Polung Glacier descends from the east ridge off the north face of Mt Kailash, down through the Polung Valley between Chenresig and Jampelyang.

Only a short distance above Jarok Donkhang, is the rocky expanse of Shiva-tsal(5330m). Pilgrims are supposed to undergo a symbolic death at this point, entering in the realm of the Lord of the Deas, until the reach the top of the Drolma-la and are reborn again. It is customary to leave sth behind at Shiva-tsal, an item of clothing, a drop of blood or a lock of hair, to represent the act of leaving this life behind.

After Shiva-tsal the trail mercifully flattens for a time and proceeds along a glacial ridge. There are a number of interesting sights ahead, such as the sin-testing stone of Bardo Trang(a flat boulder that pilgrims are supposed to squeeze under to measure their sinfulness).

Abt 30mins from Shiva-tsal the trail turns eastward for the final ascent. Allow around an hour for the 200m climb to the top of the Drolma-la(5640m). After a few false summits, the rocky pass is reached. The great cubic Drolma Do(Drolma’s Rock) that marks the top is barely visible behind an enormous number of prayer flags.

Weather permitting, most pilgrims and trekkers pause at the pass for a rest and refreshment before starting the steep descent. Almost immediately, Gauri Kund(5608m), the Lake of Compassion.

It takes approximately an hour to make the long and steep 400m descent to the grassy banks of the Lham-chu Khir. En route there is a much-revered footprint of Milarepa. When the trail reaches the valley, you may find nomad tents and a teahouse selling drinks and noodles. A huge rock topped by the kora’s third Buddha footprint stands nearby.

About 30 mins south, a valley comes down from the Khando Sanglam-la to join the western trail. This valley provides the only glimpse of Mt Kailash’s eastern or crystal face. The kora’s third prostration point is at the valley mouth.

Grassy fields start to appear alongside the river. A couple of hours from the third Buddha footprint a side valley enters from the left. From here on the river changes name to the Dzong-chu, translated as ‘Fortress River’.

Soon you will see Zutul-puk Monastery(4820m). The miracle cave that gives the monastery its name is at the back of the main hall. Milarepa’s footprint and handprint can still be seen today.

It is said that one kora around Mt Kailash can wipe away sins of this lifetime; 108 koras can help people break the cycle of rebirth and assure one of nirvana at death.
With an altitude of 6656m, Mt. Kailash is not the highest mountain in the world. But it is mysterious that it is never to be conquered.
Day 10 Mt Kailash Kora③: Zutulpuk – Darchen; Drive Darchen - Chiu;

From Zutul-puk Monastery the trail follows the river closely for an hour or so then climbs above the river and enters the lovely Gold & Red Cliffs, a narrow canyon whose walls are stained purple, cobalt and rust.

When the canyon narrows look for holes gouged into the cliff walls. These are not natural but made by pilgrims looking for holy stones. Also look for prayer flags festooned across the river, and in the far distance the blue waters of lake Raksas Tal.

Where the trail emerges onto the Barkha plain, close to the fourth prostration point, Gurla Mandata is again visible in the distance. It’s now an easy 1hr walk back to Darchen along a dirt road.

Then drive to Chiu for the night.

There are many legends about Mt. Kailash. One love story tells that Mt. Kailash was a handsome man who married Mt. Naimona'nyi and later met his Valentine—Lake Manasarovar.
Mt. Kailash is known as the holiest mountain in the world. Hinduism, Tibetan Buddhism, Bon and Jainism recognize it as the center of the world.
Day 11 Chiu - Manasarovar - Payang - Saga

Enjoy the ride back with leisure. Our vehicle will stop along the ride for you to take photos.

Travelers back from Manasarovar could never forget the beauty of the lake. In the sunshine, the lake water is crystal clean and glimmering blue.
On the shore of the Lake Manasarovar, there are some monasteries. An ancient one called Chiu Gompa Monastery has been built right onto a steep hill.
Day 12 Saga - Lhatse - Shigatse

Enjoy the ride back with leisure. Our vehicle will stop along the ride for you to take photos.

Day 13 Shigatse - Lhasa

We will depart today from your hotel in Shigatse around 08:00ish. The rode condition is pretty good but because of the speed-limit, we will spend about 6hrs on the road. 

“Tashilhunpo” means “Auspicious Sumeru” in Tibetan language
Tashilhunpo Monaster was founded by the First Dailai Lama in 1447
Day 14 Departure from Lhasa by Flight

Your tour ends today. Our guide and driver will collect you from your hotel to transfer to Lhasa Airport/Railway Station for your next destination.

Our private customized Tibet tours are ideal for families, small groups and individual travellers who desire a more thorough and intimate introduction to Tibet. Price varies with size, season, hotel rate. etc. Please fill out this form so our travel designers can start helping you plan a trip.

Your Contact Information

Asked Questions from our Clients

Vinc***

2019-01-12

I plan to visit Tibet starting Dec 25 to Jan 15 and like to inquire and potentially sign up for the 14 day tour (Mt Kailash Kora during Saga Dawa Festival) any information you can provide will be helpful and cost. Thank you.

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Cherry

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to have a Mt.kailash tour in December. It is very cold in December at Mt.kailash. There is no Mt.Kailash tour from November to the whole of March. The date of the Saga Festival is Jun.17th in 2019. So, how about having this tour in June?

DEVE***

2019-01-11

KAILASH YATRA

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Cherry

In your inquiry, you mentioned three of you would like to have the Mt Kailash Kora during Saga Dawa Festival. I am sorry we can't arrange Indian travelers to visit Mt.Kailash. Only two organizations can allow Indian pilgrimage tour in Tibet. The first one is Foreign Affairs Office of TAR(governmental); the second one is Pilgrim Center (non-governmental).

Shaw***

2018-12-07

I plan to visit Tibet starting Dec 25 to Jan 15 and like to inquire and potentially sign up for the 14 day tour (Mt Kailash Kora during Saga Dawa Festival) any information you can provide will be helpful and cost. Thank you

Image

Cherry

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to have 14 Days Mt Kailash Kora during Saga Dawa Festival Tour which is a private tour. As travelers less than 5, we often suggest them to join our small group tour to keep the cost down. We have 15 Days Mt.Everest & Mt Kailash Kora Pilgrimage Group Tour. 

There is no Mt.Kailash tour from November to next April. It is very cold at Ngari prefecture from November to next April. How about having this group tour in April. We have 15 Days Mt.Everest & Mt Kailash Kora Pilgrimage Group Tour with the departure date on Apr.15th. 

Mich***

2018-11-20

Last Two weeks of May. My friends nationality is Cambodia. When is the Saga Dawa festival in 2019?

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Cherry

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to have the 14 Days Mt Kailash Kora during Saga Dawa Festival which is a private tour. As travelers less than five, we often suggest them join our small group tour to keep the cost down. We have 15 Days Mt.Everest & Mt Kailash Kora Pilgrimage Group Tour with the departure date on May.16th. Is it available to you?

The date of the Saga Dawa festival for 2019 has not yet been released.

Vale***

2018-04-11

I like the sound of the itinerary for the 14 day Saga Dawa Festival and would prefer to travel in the autumn. Can you give me some more information about dates etc.

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Cherry

In your inquiry, you mentioned that you like the 14-day Kailash Kora During Saga Dawa Festival, which is a private tour. Saga Dawa Festival  2018 starts on May 29th.  For a solo traveler, the best option is to join our small group tours to keep the cost down. We have a 15-day Mt.Everest & Mt Kailash Kora Pilgrimage Group Tour on May 23rd. which I think perfectly match your needs. 

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