Best Time for Trekking in Tibet
- by Eric
- Last Updated: 2021-02-22
Tibet is located at high altitudes on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, with an average elevation of more than 4,000 meters. There're many landscapes that are not commonly seen in the China mainland, such as vast barren, huge alpine lakes, great canyons, endless snow-capped mountains, etc. in Tibet. These sceneries are different from the places you have ever trekked.
Generally speaking, April to October is the best season to trek in Tibet, but it depends on the route you go for trekking. As a devout Buddhist region, there're numerous monasteries and colorful prayer flags. The special geographical location and surrounding environment make all trekkers have an unforgettable trekking experience.
Spring and Autumn are the Finest Seasons for Trekking in Tibet
The best time to trek in Tibet is in Spring and Autumn, from April to May and September to October. Throughout these times there is no rainfall that quits your walking scenic tour in Tibet and also it's not too hot to stroll in the wildness of Tibet.
From April to May, it is clear and there is almost no rain to hinder your daily hiking tour. The early spring flowers begin to bloom in mid-April, and the new growth on the plateau is pleasant. With the reflection of the early spring flowers, the Potala Palace also shows the most beautiful moment. The temperature in April is still relatively low, only 8℃ during the day, and it will increase to 11℃-12℃ in May. However, the night is still very cold, mostly below 0℃, so you need to take on some thick clothes. The main advantage of spring travel is that the weather is clear and dry, and the bright sunshine will make you feel warm.
From September to October is another good time to trek in Tibet, as the summer heat has disappeared and autumn is usually warmer than spring. The plateau is still lush, and the air is dry and comfortable. The temperature during the daytime may still be as high as 12℃-13℃, while the night temperature is very low in most areas except Nyingchi and Lhoka. The temperature drops in October, reaching a maximum of 8℃-9℃ in the daytime, and begins to fall below freezing at night again. The weather in autumn is pleasant and there's little rainfall, which makes hiking in Tibet a joy.
Summer is Also a Good Time for Trekking in Tibet
In summer, Tibet is a resort compared to various other cities in China due to its high altitude. Summer is from late June to August, which is a period of getting warmer. But there's most of the rainfall in the year, and it is also monsoon season on the plateau. Although the Himalayas block most of the rainfall brought by the Indian monsoon climate, you may still encounter rainfall as well as snow in the highland. Therefore, there's a possibility to happen landslides especially in Eastern Tibet such as trekking in Motuo.
Meanwhile, the rainfall moistens the air and the lush plants increase oxygen content. The temperature can reach up to 22℃. Most of the rainfall in Tibet occurs at night, and it's still sunny during the daytime so you can trek freely. In addition, July and August are recommended as the average temperature in this period is suitable for trekking, and the oxygen is relatively sufficient. So the probability of altitude sickness is much smaller than in other periods.
Winter Trekking is Available in Some Areas of Tibet
Even in winter, from December to March, you can trek in some areas of Tibet. The winter in Tibet can be mild or extremely cold, depending on where you are. In the eastern Tibetan areas, such as Nyingchi and Lhoka, the weather is moderate and the temperature is not very low, but it is still below freezing at night. In the remote western Tibetan regions, the temperature is extremely chilly and rarely higher than the freezing point even during the day. The weather is very changeable throughout the day and snow can be seen everywhere so you can't trek as you desired. In the winter, you can trek in some lower altitude areas, such as areas around Lhasa. And these routes will not make you feel that the trekking process is very cold, so winter Tibet trekking is applicable in some areas.
Most Popular Trek Routes
Tibetan trekking can be divided into cultural trekking, sightseeing trekking and pilgrimage trek. For trekkers, walking above 4000 meters above sea level is a huge challenge. So trekking in Tibet requires good physical fitness, full preparation and unremitting persistence. Below are three different types of trails recommended in Tibet:
Route One: Ganden Monastery - Samye Monastery
One is from Ganden monastery (First Gelugpa sect monastery) to Samye monastery (First monastery in Tibet which was built in the 8th century with the help of Guru Padmasambhava). Both two monasteries are the center of Tibetan religious culture. Hiking from Ganden to Samye is one of the most popular routes in Tibet. This trek route covers lakes, beautiful alpine forests and meadows, and you might see nomads and some animals and beautiful birds in an alpine area. This hiking may begin less than 50km from Lhasa but it is a demanding 4-5 days, over a distance of 80km and crossing 2 high passes over 5000m. If you can't complete it in the number of days, you can eventually extend it one more day in order to get your trek line completed.
Route Two: Tingri - Everest Base Camp
Tingri to Everest Base Camp route is the other one, which also covering about 70 km and taking 4 days while you have to go through two passes and about two canals. On the way, you will be able to see the magnificent sights of Mount Everest and other high mountains such as Mount Cho Oyu which is likewise over 8000 meters.
The route runs almost directly from old Tingri to the south, along the valley towards the Everest National Park, passing through several local villages and settlements, finally getting to the Everest Base Camp. Although this is not the most difficult trek in Tibet, it is one of the most interesting routes to view the scenery of Mount Everest. When getting closer and closer to the highest mountain in the world, you'll find that your excitement is beyond words.
Route Three: Mount Kailash Kora
The Mt.Kailash Kora in the Ngari region of western Tibet is the most difficult trekking route in this region. It may only take three days, but they are challenging. Trekking along the ancient pilgrimage path around Mount Kailash is considered sacred in the four major religions(Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Bon) because Mt. Kailash is known as the world's holiest mountain peak.
The Kailash Kora is about 52 km long and usually it takes three days to complete it. In the first section, from Darchen - Dirapuk, you will stay overnight at the first monastery Dirapukon. In the second section, you will head to the second monastery, Zutulpuk. On the way, you need to climb cross the Dromala Pass, which is more than 5,000 meters high. The final section is starting from the Zutulpuk, and following the valley back to the plains south of Mount Kailash. For adventurers, the Kailash Kora is not just a trek, but a spiritual experience.
Tibet has some of the world's most famous trekking trails, such as Tingri - Everest Base Camp and the Kailash Kora, which are both amazing. During the trekking, you can not only enjoy the beautiful scenery visually but also have the sacred feeling brought by Tibetan areas in spirit. Due to the special geographical location and weather conditions in Tibet, spring and autumn are the best time for trekking, when the weather is mild and the sky is clear. Compared with winter, summer is also a good time for trekking in high-altitude Tibetan areas. In winter, special weather conditions may burden hikers.
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