MOUNT KAILASH TIBET "KORA" TREK
Kailash is often spelled: Mt. Kailash, Kailas, Kalas, or Kalash.
A Pilgrimage round the Most Sacred Mountain in Tibet
21 days in Tibet, 4 April to 25 April, 1 October to 21 October, in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
Interested? Please contact us: email@example.com
This trip allows a sampling of two of the most exotic Buddhist cultures in the world, surrounded by the Himalaya, and crowned by Mt. Everest, our planet’s highest summit. Mt. Kailash is the most sacred, to both the Buddhist as well as Hindu peoples. Our journey visits the great cities of the region, Lhasa and Kathmandu, then sets off into the hinterlands of the high Himalaya, skirting under Mt. Everest, onto the barren heights of the Tibetan plateau, where we encounter revered Mt. Kailash, a holy summit set next to Manasarovar Lake. Our trek follows the pilgrim’s ancient footsteps around the mountain, where a three-day "Kora" trek is reputed to forgive a lifetime of sin, then we duck over the border into Nepal, with special permission that has allowed us to cross, but is denied to individual travelers. Our visit meanders on yak trails through exotic rugged outposts in Nepal’s highest, westernmost remote district of Humla, until we are able to find a village airstrip at Simikot and fly to the bustling west Nepal city of Nepalganj. Our final bus journey home takes us through the rural Terai plain, breadbasket of Nepal, to Buddha’s birthplace, Lumbini, then on to Pokhara, a pleasant town nestled in the foothills of the Himalaya. Finally, we climb once again through the Nepalese mountains into the Kathmandu valley, where it is time for celebration, feasting, reflection, exchanging addresses with new friends, and the flight home.
Monks in the Monastery in Purang. Otto collection. Some Pilgrims crawl the last few kilometres into Lhasa. Otto collection. The "Belly Button of the World" from the Dolma-La pass. Otto collection. On the road in Tibet. DL Mazur
This is a basic trek, and the costs include permits and jeep/bus transport only. Kailash trek members should bring a small tent and stove with fuel, and a few meals and snacks, as well as the trekking equipment shown on the EQUIPMENT page. All of the equipment, tent, stove, fuel, and food can be inexpensively and easily hired or purchased in Kathmandu upon your arrival. We plan to stay in "guesthouses" or roadhouses, whenever possible, but this is not always perfect, so you need to be ready to camp. On our last trip, out of the entire 21 days, we only put up our own tents four times. Even on the Kailash Kora, we were able to find "tea houses", where we could eat and sleep (in the most simple tarpaulin shelters imaginable). If on the three-day Kora, you need a porter, or driver person and donkey, its easy to "put out the word" when you arrive in the nearest town, Darchen, and hire one on the spot. On our previous Kailash treks, we hired two very strong Buddhist Nuns, who carried our equipment and mothered us like small children, preparing hot soup, finding sleeping places for us, etcetera.
Our trip begins in the ancient and colorful city of Kathmandu, and our staff will personally meet your flight at Tribhuvan airport. We stay in a comfortable, simple, clean hotel, and sample some of the tasty Nepalese, Tibetan and Western-Style cuisine. If you are concerned about the altitude and brought Diamox (acetylzolamide), this might be the time to begin taking it. During our day in Kathmandu (1,300 meters), we shall finalize our arrangements, and take some time out for trinket hunting, with planned visits to explore the 17th century splendors of the Monkey Temple, the Durbar Square and old Kings Palace, as well as the ancient city of Patan.
First sighting of Kailash from Lake Manasarovar. Otto collection.
Next, we take a 1 hour flight in a jet, exactly over Mt. Everest and the spine of the Himalaya, to the splendid city of Lhasa, on the Tibetan plateau. In the past, we have had some fabulous views out of the plane windows during this flight. This is our fifth visit to Lhasa since 1987, when the city was briefly opened to individual travelers for a few months, then quickly closed again. At 3,650 meters of elevation, Lhasa was established around 600 AD on the banks of the Brahmaputra River. The heart of the city is centered around the Jokhang Temple, the most sacred building in all of Tibet. Our comfortable, simple, clean hotel is located in a medieval neighborhood a few steps from the Jokhang, built in the 7th century. We will have a good wander through the streets of Tibet, and take a refreshing walk through the fabulously massive Potala Palace. Built on a hill in 1645, using the remains of older palaces and fortresses, the Potala has untold dark hallways, with steep narrow stairways, and rooms filled with more gold then you will probably ever see anywhere else.
After touring Lhasa, resting to adjust to the altitude, and enjoying some hearty meals of soup and home-made dumplings, we ride comfortable landcruisers across the Tibetan Plateau to the town of Shigatse, where we are able to visit the thriving bustle of the 15th century Tashilunpo Monastery, the largest active monastic institution in Tibet. Monks in their maroon robes seem busy everywhere, going about their daily chores, praying, and practicing ceremonial music.
Then, we drive for four days, nearly across Tibet to its western edge. Our road road follows the "southern route" a little traveled remote stretch of road in the rugged Tibetan plateau. The people who live here are nomadic, herding sheep and yaks, and live very close to the land with almost no possessions. There is impressive scenery and a bridgeless river crossing or two in this section.
We reach Mt Kailash, and begin our trek at Darchen, a sleepy little town at 4,450 meters. It is the jumping off point for the most sacred mountain in the Buddhist world. Mt Kailash, at 6,714 meters, is set off by itself in spectacular isolation. It has four sheer walls oriented to the four compass points, and juts up far above any surrounding features; it is an imposing monolith, naturally drawing one to wonder what it is doing out on the plain all by itself. This is the "belly button of the world" where four sacred rivers flow out into the plains. Scholars of the region’s four major religions, Buddhism, Bonism, Hinduism ,and Jainism, variously attribute the mountain and its flanks as the gods’ landing place, birthplace, or site of emancipation. Our three-day circumnavigation around the mountain is referred to as a "kora", and for the devoted pilgrim, completing the kora reputedly erases the accumulated sins of a lifetime.
We will be camping during our trek, and eating freshly prepared food from our own kitchen. On our first day of the trek, we walk 6 hours through beautiful valleys and along meandering streams to the 13th century Drira Phuk Monastery. We climb onto a high moraine, then into a grassy meadow, where we camp at about 4,500 metres near a river.
On the second day, we walk for 8 hours and cross boulder fields and ascend a windy trail to cross the stunning Dolma pass, at 5,630 meters. After savoring the view and the rarefied air, we descend into a beautiful gentle valley and camp beside a river at Zutrul Phuk monastery, which is located on the sight of a cave where the Buddhist sage Milarepa camped in 1100 AD. The quiet solitude of this place makes one feel that not much has changed since then.
The third day, we walk for 5 hours back to Darchen, through mountain valleys and onto the wide Tibetan plateau. We plan to camp at Darchen, then drive to Taklakot, a traditional salt trading and Yak caravaning town filled with pilgrims and nomads. Its an eye-popping mixture of traditional peoples. We plan to camp here, and the following day, to drive to Shera, to the end of the road, then to walk to the border of Nepal, and camp at Hilsa (3,700 meters), where a simple foot bridge and marker stone tells us we have now entered Nepal and the district of Humla.
We walk up to the 4,550 meter Nara pass, where a beautiful view looking back over the Tibetan plateau awaits us. Then, we make our way down to the pleasant meadow of Sip Sip at 4,300 meters. Next we descend through hills and wheatfields, through quaint stone villages, down to Muchu, where we camp amongst apricot fields and stone walled pastures, near a Buddhist temple at 2,900 meters.
Now, its time to continue our trek down the steeply walled Himla Karnali River, crossing streams and wending our way through farmland and wheatfields to Kermi, at 2,600 meters, where we camp in the village near a school.
Our final day on trek, we are up early, and cross a few ridges, hiking through more bucolic and pastoral scenery into the village of Simikot, where, low and behold, an airstrip has been created from what used to be wheatfields. Here, we have time to relax, read, and wait for our small plane to whisk us away. During our flight, we shall pass near to the 7,000 meter peak of Api, as well as flying over some superb jungle and rice paddies, to the busy city of Nepalganj, which feels very Indian.
After a delicious curry, we shall board our comfortable bus and head into the heartland of Nepal, the Terai Plains. We shall be treated to views of rural life and lush fields of green crops, as well as jungles with monkeys swinging in the trees. We will make a short side trip to visit the birthplace of Buddha: Lumbini, a place for reflection, with its gorgeous bodhi trees and quiet pastures. Buddha was born here in 563 BC, and a pillar, erected by Emperor Ashoka, 300 years later, still stands. The Myanmar government has erected a rather opulent temple recently, and we will take a stroll through.
We continue in our bus to the peaceful lakeside town of Pokhara, where we can get a tasty meal and an enjoyable boat ride across Dal Lake. Early morning sunrise from the roof of our hotel usually rewards us with the best views of the Annapurna region, for which Pokhara is the gateway. Finally, our bus climbs through the hills back into Kathmandu, and we have a day to relax, tour the valley, write postcards, and do a bit more shopping, before heading home.
Interested? Please contact us: info@SummitTrek.com
Below is a detailed list of equipment you need to bring for the Mount Kailash Trek (Click the links below to go directly to that section of the personal equipment list or just scroll down):
Where should I purchase my equipment?
Please "click here" to view our list of recommendations on where to purchase kit.
- 1 cotton t-shirt;
- 1 cotton long sleeved shirt;
- 1 polypropylene warm but light thermal long shirt;
- 1 fleece jacket;
- 1 wind/waterproof jacket with hood; back to top
- 1 pr. warm poly thermal gloves, with plastic wind shell (the latter is optional);
- 1 cotton sun hat;
- 1 cotton head scarf;
- 1 fleece balaclava or very warm hat;
- 1 head torch with extra battery; back to top
- 2 pr. cotton underwear briefs;
- 1 cotton walking shorts;
- 1 cotton long trousers;
- 1 polypropylene warm but light thermal leggings;
- 1 pr. fleece/pile/trousers;
- 1 pr. wind/waterproof trousers;
Your clothing should be kept dry using waterproof stuff sacks, bin-liners, or large plastic bags. back to top
- 2 pr. cotton socks;
- 1 pr. sandals for use in hotel;
- 2 pr. med. polypropylene thermal socks;
- 1 pr. sturdy, 100% leather, top-quality trekking boots with good ankle support ("broken-in" please);
- 1 pr. trainers, lightweight running shoes for trekking on flat, easy trails;
- 1 sleeping bag (good to -10 degrees C or 10 degrees F);
- At least 1 closed cell foam kari-mats. We do not recommend inflatable mats, as we have never seen one not puncture. You can buy these non inflatable mats very inexpensively in Kathmandu. Why carry foam mats around the world, when you can purchase them inexpensively in Kathmandu?
Your sleeping bags should be kept dry using waterproof stuff sacks, bin-liners, or large plastic bags. back to top
Rucksack and Travel Bags-
- 1 medium backpack (40-60 liters, can be used for airplane carry);
- 1 large kit-travel bag with lock (80-100 liters for checked bag); back to top
- 1 toothpaste/brush;
- 1 bar soap/1 small towel;
- female or male hygiene supplies;
- 1 set earplugs;
Medications are inexpensive and readily available in Kathmandu with no doctor's prescription.
- 1 bottle water-treatment tablets;
- 2 tubes lip sun cream, 1 tube skin sun cream (min.factor 15);
- anti-mosquito cream;
- 1 skin blister repair kit;
- 1 bottle anti-diarrhea pills;
- 1 bottle anti-headache pills;
- 1 bottle cough and/or cold medicine;
- 1 small bottle stomach antibiotic: Ciprofloxacin, etc.;
- 1 bottle anti-altitude sickness pills: Diamox, Acetylzolamide;
- Do not bring sleeping pills. They are a respiratory depressant. back to top
Practical- back to top
- 1 water filter;
- 1 bathing suit/swimming costume (you never know);
- 1 telescoping ski stick/pole (3 section);
- 1 pr. glacier sunglasses (with side shields). For eyeglass wearers, prescription glacier glasses are best and are available inexpensively in Kathmandu with your prescription for just $40. Please order in advance if you are interested;
- extra prescription glasses, contact lens supplies. Contact lens wearers, please bring glasses in case of emergency. A new pair could be quickly made in Kathmandu for just $20. Please order in advance if you are interested;
- 1 litre water bottle;
- 1 small roll of repair tape, 1 sewing repair kit;
- 1 cigarette lighter, 1 small box matches;
- 1 compass, 1 small multi-purpose knife;
- 1 battery powered alarm clock/watch;
- 1 camera and film or digital camera with spare cards;
- 4 large, waterproof, disposable rubbish sacks;
- passport, 2 extra passport photos, flight ticket, flight itinerary;
- separate photocopies of passport and relevant visa pages, proof of insurance;
- Dollars, Pounds or Euros cash for purchasing Nepalese visa at Kathmandu airport, for paying for restaurants and hotels, for gratuities, snacks, and to purchase your own drinks and gifts;
- Credit cards (bring a photocopy of your cards), traveler's checks, etc;
- Please be sure and bring your patience and try to keep an open, relaxed, positive and friendly attitude as travelling in this part of the world may be very different than what you are used to, but things always seem to fall into place at the last moment. Thank you.
This is not an exhaustive list. Please submit other equipment concerns and suggestions. Thank you. back to top
Team Member Experience: All members are required to be very fit and active walkers. No further experience is required. It is also required that all members will have an awareness of altitude sickness, frostbite, and the recognition of their symptoms, prevention, and treatment. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, members need to join with a spirit of friendship, teamwork and cooperation, and be ready to work with the group and be a good "team-player".
Fitness and Health: To participate in this expedition you must be a very fit and active walker in good health. Prior to joining our group, please see your doctor and obtain the necessary permission and advice, as well as medications for travel in extremes of altitude, and also for exotic locales. Note: You can purchase all necessary medicines inexpensively with no doctor's prescription in Kathmandu. Make sure you have physically trained yourself very thoroughly before joining this trek to the base of the highest mountain in the world. We look forward to trekking together with you!