Ngari Loop with Mt Kailash Kora Tour

Duration:
21 Days
Destination:
Lhasa - Gyantse - Shigatse - EBC - Saga - Lake Manasarovar - Darchen - Mt Kailash Kora - Guge Kingdom - Ali - Gegye - Gertse - Shigatse - Lhasa
Season:
  • Spring
  • Summer
  • Autumn
  • Winter
Tour Type:
Private Tour
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This Ngari Loop tour goes through the remote west Tibet passing huge salt lakes and valleys of seminomadic herders, as well as marmots, blue sheep, wild asses and antelope. The age-old pilgrims’ path around Mt Kailash is one of the world’s greatest pilgrimages.

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 - Manasarovar
8 Manasarovar - Darchen
9 Mt Kailash Kora①: Darchen - Dirapuk
10 Mt Kailash Kora②: Dirapuk - Zutulpuk
11 Mt Kailash Kora③: Zutulpuk – Darchen; Drive Darchen - Tirthapuri - Moincer;
12 Moincer - Zanda
13 Zanda - Tsaparang - Zanda
14 Zanda - Ali - Rutok
15 Rutok - Pangongtso - Ali - Gegye
16 Gegye - Gertse
17 Gertse - Tsochen
18 Tsochen - Raka
19 Raka - Lhatse - Sakya - Shigatse
20 Shigatse - Lhasa
21 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

In the morning our guide will meet you at the hotel and first take you to visit the famous Potala Palace, the cardinal landmark of Tibet and the masterpiece of Tibetan architecture, it was first built by 33rd King Songtsen Gangpo in the 7th century and rebuilt it later in the 17th century by 5th Dalai Lama, now it is a museum and world heritage site. 

In the afternoon, we will go to visit Jokhang Temple in the center of the old Lhasa city. Jokhang Temple is one of the most sacred temples in all over Tibet and it is always bustling with earnest local pilgrims since from early days. After that you will take a walk around the Barkhor street which is the one of the most devotional circuit as well as a crowded central market of Lhasa, Barkhor Street is located in the old area of Lhasa City Tibet, it is a very ancient round street surrounding the Jokhang Temple and the locals are always proud of it. As a symbol of Lhasa, it is also a must-see place for visitors.

The original Potala Palace was built by the King Songtsan Gampo for his bride in 637 AD, and it was rebuilt by the fifth Dalai Lama.
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

In the morning, we will go to visit Norbulingka. Norbulingka park is considered the premier park of all such horticultural parks in similar ethnic settings in Tibet. During the summer and autumn months, the parks in Tibet including the Norbulingka, become hubs of entertainment with dancing, singing, music and festivities. The park is where the annual Sho Dun or 'Yoghurt Festival' is held.

In the afternoon, you are heading to Drepung monastery, which means Monastery of Collecting Rice in the Tibetan language. It’s a white magnificent construction that looks also like a pile of rice in the distance. Drepung monastery is the largest Tibetan Buddhist monastery, where lived more than 10 thousand monks before Tibet liberation.

Drepung Monastery is one of the three greatest Gelug university gompas in Tibet.
Sera Monastery has a rich collection of cultural relics
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 summer time (usually May~Oct), we will stay overnight at Everest Tent Camp; 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. 

Standing by the lake and looking at the blue water, you will feel as if you are in a fairyland.
Mother an son walk along Peikutso lake.
Day 7 Saga - Manasarovar

Saga to Zhongba, 145km, there are several ruined monasteries along this stretch.

Zhongba to Paryang, 101km, a photogenic section of sand dunes, lake and mountains kicks in 60km from Zhongba. Abt 23km before Paryang you crest a 4780m pass and drop past more spectacular dunes to Paryang. Photos taken along this route can often get stepped, streams, desert dunes and snow-capped mountains in the same shot.

Paryang to Hor Qu, 223km, this route is a pleasant 4hr-drive along the spine of the Himalaya, passing through yellow steppe, with craggy, snowcapped peaks looming to the south when the weather is clear. There is a tricky section of sandy road 12km west of Paryang but all the major river crossings now have bridges.

At the Mayum-la(5220m), the road crosses from the drainage basin of Yarlung Tsangpo to that of the Sutlej, as you cross from Shigatse to Ngari prefectures. Your first magic views of Mt Kailash come into view approximately 90km after Mayum-la, just before the town of Hor Qu(4620m).

From Hor Qu, it's 22km to the crossroads settlement and checkpoint of Barkha. Manasarovar comes right after.

Day 8 Manasarovar - Darchen

After sightseeing the sapphire-blue holy Lake Manasarovar, head to Darchen, nested in the foothills of Mt Kailash.

Pilgrims also do kora pilgrimage around Lake Manasarovar. It usually takes 4 or 5 days to complete one kora.
Travelers back from Manasarovar could never forget the beauty of the lake. In the sunshine, the lake water is crystal clean and glimmering blue.
Day 9 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 10 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.

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.
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.
Day 11 Mt Kailash Kora③: Zutulpuk – Darchen; Drive Darchen - Tirthapuri - Moincer;

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.

Your driver will be waiting for you at Darchen. Transfer to Tirthapuri for hot springs bathing, then transfer to Moincer for the night.

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.
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.
Day 12 Moincer - Zanda

It’s abt 8hr-drive from Moincer to Zanda, though the distance is only abt 243km. it’s 65km along a paved road from Darchen to Moincer, and then anther 50km from there to the army base at Ba’er, where the road branches south. The 122km from Ba’er to Zanda takes 4hrs of winding up and down fantastically eroded gorges and gullies. Zanda(3760m), Zhada or Tsamda, is the bland, one-street town that has been built up alongside Thöling Monastery.

Tholing Monastery plays an important role in Tibetan history.
Tholing Monastery is the oldest monastery (or gompa) in the Ngari.
Day 13 Zanda - Tsaparang - Zanda

Tsaparang is abt 18km west of Zanda, in the valley of Langchen Tsangpo, Sutlej River, the 'elephant river', which rises west of Manasarovar and continues over the border with India into Ladakh and finally Pakistan. 

It's said that Tsaparang was the historical origin of the legend of Shangri-La
Sunset is the most beautiful moment for seeing Zanda Clay Forest.
Day 14 Zanda - Ali - Rutok

Drive from Zanda to Rutok today, abt 132km, passing Lalung-la Pass (5330m) and Ali (Gar), the capital town of Ngari Prefecture. 

Petroglyph in Tibet usually recorded scripture or poetry.
Rutog Monastery is in far western of Tibet.
  • Ancient Petroglyphs
  • Rutog Monastery
Day 15 Rutok - Pangongtso - Ali - Gegye

About 8km north of Rutok Xian, the road hits the east end of lovely turquoise Pangongtso (4241m). After sightseeing here, head to Gegye (4520m).

Pangongtso Lake  shows blue uner the sky.
Pangongtso Lake reflects the sky.
Day 16 Gegye - Gertse

It's an 8hr-drive from Gegye to Gertse. The initial landscape is a dreamy blur of lake and sky, cut by salt rings and brooding mountains of rust, mustard, turmeric and green barley.

Day 17 Gertse - Tsochen

Drive from Gertse to Tsochen, which is abt 257km, 7hrs-ish, on the way you will see some small lakes, today pass beautiful valleys one after another and turquoise water lake Dung-tso and Dawa-tso are the highlights of the day.

Another name of Dung tso is moon lake.
It's where from Tsochen to the junction of the northern road.
  • Dungtso
  • Dawatso
Day 18 Tsochen - Raka

Drive from Tsochen to Raka, along the valley, pass Songma-la pass (5500m), then you will see Tagyel-tso, and other small lakes. Raka is situated on the junction of the road with Northern road to Ali or Mt Kailash.

Best time to visit King Tiger Hot springs is in September.
Tagyel-tso
Day 19 Raka - Lhatse - Sakya - Shigatse

In the morning trace the road back to Lhatse via Sangsang, then further south back to Shigatse. En route, we will detour to Sakya Monastery. 

Its Mongolian architecture is quite different.
The mural in this monastery is exquisite beyond compare.
Day 20 Shigatse - Lhasa

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

Tashilhunpo Monastery is located at the foot of Drolmari (Tara's Mountain), Shigatse
Tashilhunpo Monaster was founded by the First Dailai Lama in 1447
Day 21 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.

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Asked Questions from our Clients

Char***

2019-08-21

I am planning to do as much trekking as possible. I am getting the train from Shanghai hopefully on either the 20th or 21st. I am an individual traveller, but would like to go as part of a group if possible. My budget is from £1500-2000

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Catherine

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to do as much trekking as possible. Trekking tour is usually a private tour. Considering your interests and budget, I recommend 9 Days Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour and 12 Days Tingri to Everest Base Camp Trekking Tour for you. Please check if it meets your need. May I know which month you would like to come? Here is the itinerary of 9 days Ganden to Samye Tibet Trekking Tour,

Istv***

2019-07-29

Hello, this is just an initial inquiry to get an idea what one can expect in terms of overall costs and I would also like to get some recommendations concerning what clothing to plan with. I appreciate you soon response. Best regards, I.Keller

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Catherine

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to have 21 Days Ngari Loop with Mt Kailash Kora Tour. The tour is very long, so it is not easy to organize travelers in a group during a specific time schedule. We can arrange it a private tour for you. The advantage of a private tour is you have your own driver, guide and vehicle. You are more flexible to handle with your driver. You can say stop whenever you want to have a rest or take a stunning picture. Thedisadvantage is the cost is more expensive than a group tour.

May I know when you plan to have this tour? Different month, the cost will be different.

If you have any further questions or doubts please let me know without hesitation, it is my pleasure to work with you at any time.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

ludg***

2019-07-17

I want to do a 14-21 days Kailash pilgrimage tour in between Aug. 3rd and Sept 6 th. what Dates, Tours and Costs do you realize? how many people in the group? please indicate altitude, as I need GOOD acclimatisation.

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Catherine

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to have Ngari Loop with Mt. Kailash Kora tour. This tour is too long, it is difficult to organize travelers in a group during a specified time frame. So we can arrange it as a private tour for you.

We happen to have a 14 Days Mt.Everest & Mt.Kailash Kora Pilgrimage Group Tour with fixed departure date on Aug.3rd. Will you be interested in it?

Kindly note, it takes at least 15 days to apply for your Tibet permit and Military Permit. Now it is the time to start the process. What you need to do is to send us a scan of your passport photo page and China visa.

Sa***

2019-07-14

may be there a group that i can join who is going to the "21 days Ngari loop with ailash Kora tour"' end september or october?

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Catherine

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to have 21 days Ngari loop with Kailash Kora tour in end Sept. or Oct. Currently, we don't have a fixed group tour because this route is too long, it is difficult to collect travelers at a particular time. Here I recommend 15 Days Mt.Everest & Mt.Kailash Kora Pilgrimage Group Tour, we have fixed departure date on Oct.17th, what do you think?

Jing***

2019-05-24

Hello, I am interested in the 14 day and the 21 day Mt. Kailash tours. Could you let me know which dates are available in June 2019. Also what is the cost? Thank you.

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Catherine

In your inquiry, you mentioned you would like to have the 14 days or 21 days Kailash kora tour in June. We can arrange the Kailash tour for you. However, the available date with a fixed tour is on July 3rd. Please check if you are ok to join it?

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