"The four weeks I spent in Tibet in the spring of 2006 was one of the most memorable times of my life. Is it the altitude, the timelessness, the incredible landscape, the faces of the people? Or is it something internal, a spiritual connection with a place on the planet that has spent hundreds of years on one single pursuit... the search for oneself?
I don't think I can answer these questions really. Probably it is a mixture of them all.
But Tibet has been a dream for me for about 30 years, an unreachable land, a jewel hidden away in the highest mountains of the world. So to actually get a chance to go there, and walk the paths, visit the shrines and caves, meet the people, is more than a dream come true, it is a gift from the beyond."
Vimal - U.K.
This is a new 21 day journey that I have organised for 2011 and it has again been designed for anyone who has long had an interest in Tibet, its people and its culture. This adventure is essentially for all those who enjoy trekking and camping in remote places and especially for anyone who has felt the desire to make the circumambulation or kora of Mount Kailash and to attend the annual Saga Dawa festival that takes place there.
Our journey will start in the capital of Nepal, Kathmandu, where we will spend a couple of days to allow for final preparations before flying out west to the plains city of Nepalganj and on to the remote north-west Nepali town of Simikot.
From Simikot we will start our five day trek through this very remote part of Nepal that Peter Matthiessen so beautifully described in his 1978 book, “The Snow Leopard”. We will slowly gain height as we wind our way through these isolated valleys and mountain ranges before crossing the 4320 metre Nara La and entering Tibet itself.
After spending one night at the Tibetan border town of Taklakot that has for centuries welcomed pilgrims from India to Mount Kailash, we will camp on the shores of our planet’s most sacred lake, Manasarovar. The following day we will start our kora of Kailash with an easy four hour walk to our camping site below Chuku gompa in the shadow of the mountain.
The next day we will walk to the north face of Mount Kailash where the uniqueness of this mountain comes into its own. Instead of continuing on the following morning, we will be able to spend an extra day at this beautiful place and get closer to the mountain and its mysteries by trekking up to the glacier that emanates from its base.
Our hardest trekking day comes next as we climb 600 metres through the “burial ground” and up to Drolma La at 5650 metres. The Tibetans believe that the “sins of a lifetime” are washed away by crossing this stunning pass. We will all share the physical exertion with other pilgrims as we make our way to the highest point of the kora before descending the other side and camping in Topchen valley.
The following day we will finish our kora around lunchtime and return to the banks of Lake Manasarovar to camp near another of the lake’s gompas.
The Saga Dawa festival celebrates the Buddha’s Enlightenment Full Moon each year and early the following morning we will join the other Tibetan pilgrims at Tarboche to watch the lamas remove the old prayer flag pole and install a new one, the straightness of which is said to dictate the destiny of Tibet for that year. It will be a day of prayer, celebration and trading as the Tibetans renew their ancient ritual once again.
Tirthapuri lies some 70 kilometres to the west of Mount Kailash and is the second most important pilgrimage place in western Tibet, being closely associated with Guru Padmasambhava and his first visits to Tibet back in the 8th century. We will drive there to spend the day exploring its mani walls, gompas and hot springs.
The following day will see us begin our journey back towards Nepal via the “southern route” that runs parallel to the Great Himalayan Range to the south. The road will take us out into the wilderness of the Tibetan plateau past nomads with their yak herds and onto the shores of Pekhu Tso, one of the most beautiful of Tibet’s turquoise, mountain lakes.
On our last day in Tibet we will drive up to 5000 metres once again and cross over the Great Himalayan Range and down through the treeline to the Tibetan border town of Zhangmu for our last night in the country. The following morning we will cross the Nepali border at Kodari and drive back to Kathmandu.
Tibet is a very special place and many of you reading this have already expressed a desire to make this journey in previous years but were unable to come before. I very much hope you can join us this time.