The Holy Mountains of Tibet An expedition to explore three of the world's most incredible mountains

Tibet, the fabled Land of Snows, is the highest region of western China. It is home to the world’s tallest and most spiritual mountains including the incredible Chomolungma or Mount Everest.

In May 2018 I am leading an expedition in Tibet that will traverse a triangular route to visit two of its most famous peaks, Mount Kailash and Mount Everest. En-route we shall be skirting the northern plateau that abuts the isolated and beautiful mountain of Shisha Pangma, near Paiko Tso.

Starting and ending in Kathmandu, the trip will offer a stunning exploration of Lhasa, the central Tibetan Plateau and the remote northern side of the Himalayas.

The nomadic trading outpost of Lao Tingri in the Everest region

KATHMANDU, NEPAL

The bustling and colourful capital city of Nepal, Kathmandu is perhaps the centre of Himalayan cultural diversity and the the most famous start and end point for trekking and mountaineering expeditions in the mighty Himalaya.

Kathmandu

Arriving in Kathmandu you will be met by an experienced guide who will accompany you on your transfer to a comfortable hotel in the city. He will be available should you have any queries at all during your Kathmandu stay, he will be able to guide you through some of Kathmandu’s famous sights including Pashupatinath, Swayambhunath, Patan, Bodhnath and Durbar Square.

Swayambhunath

Most importantly, he will meet with the group to assist with the entrance formalities to Tibet before you fly from Kathmandu to Lhasa.

Saddhu at Pashupatinath in Kathmandu

LHASA, TIBET

After an incredible flight over the Himalayas from Kathmandu, you will be met in Lhasa by Inger where you will spend the rest of the day acclimatising to the altitude and resting. Over the course of the following four days we will explore some of Lhasa’s major sites including the Potala, Jokhang, Norbulingka, Sera, Drepung and Ganden.

The incredible Potala at night.
Lhasa is home to most of Tibet's holiest sites.

MOUNT KAILASH AND THE ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF SAGA DAWA

The iconic peak of Mount Kailash is perhaps the holiest mountain in Asia. It’s incredible snow capped dome is revered by Tibetan buddhists whose aim is to do the holy prayer circuit or kora around the base of the mountain at least once in their life.

Mount Kailash is the birthplace of some of Asia’s longest rivers including the Indus, Brahmaputra and the Karnali on the upper reaches of the Ganges. It is also considered holy by Buddhists, Jains, Hindus and the followers of Bon.

The expedition has been timed to visit Mount Kailash during the famous annual festival of Saga Dawa or the birthday of Buddha in Tibetan Buddhism. Drawing thousands of pilgrims each year to Tibet and to Mount Kailash in particular, the highlight of the Saga Dawa festival at Darchen is the raising of the Tarboche pole (below). Each year on the full moon of the fourth month in the Tibetan lunar year, they replace the Tarboche flagpole, a huge pole that stands on the Kailash kora, south of the mountain. People from all over Tibet gather here that day to attach their prayer flags they brought from home, to pray, and to help erect the flagpole. The flagpole should stand perfectly upright, or else things are not good for Tibet. The whole ceremony is led by a Lama from the nearby monastery. It’s his job to make it work ‘right first time’.

The Tarboche Flagpole on the southern edge of Mount Kailash.

LAKE MANASAROVAR

Nearby Mount Kailash is the beautiful high altitude lake of Lake Manasarovar, also a place of pilgrims. The most recent time I visited Lake Manasarovar with a group, we were lucky enough to meet with some nomadic Tibetan herders who were on their way to far western Tibet with their sheep.

Pilgrims and offerings in the area around Lake Manasarovar
Chiu Gompa at Lake Manasarovar

SHISHA PANGMA AND PAIKO TSO

Departing from the Mount Kailash and Lake Manasarovar area, we will slowly make our way eastward across the Tibetan Plateau towards the beautiful high altitude lake of Paiko Tso. From Paiko Tso, the stunning mountain range that is home to another of Tibet’s holy mountains, Shisha Pangma, can be seen on a clear day.

The drive near Paiko Tso with Shisha Pangma in the background.

CHOMOLUNGMA (MOUNT EVEREST)

The crown in Tibet’s mountainous glory is the world’s most famous, Mount Everest. The Tibetan side of the world’s highest peak is, without a doubt, its most spectacular. The main viewing point is just a short trek from where we will be staying at Rongbuk Monastery in a guest house. We will be arriving in the Mount Everest area to visit the view point and its memorial to George Mallory. Even from our guest house we will be able to see the sunset and sunrise if the conditions are clear.

Scenes from around the Chomolungma region.

SHIGATSE

Our final leg of the expedition will see us returning from Mount Everest to Lhasa via an overnight stop in Shigatse, where we will visit the immense monastery of Tashi Lunpho.

Tashilunpho, Shigatse

KATHMANDU

After flying in from Lhasa to Kathmandu, we will enjoy a few days of relaxing and sightseeing around the city. I have held a long established relationship with Kathmandu, one that spans over two decades. To wind down after the high altitude expedition in Tibet, I would be delighted to show you around the Kathmandu I know and love.

Prayer time at Pashupatinath

Over two and a half days before the trip ends in Kathmandu, I will be happy to show you around the Hindu ghat of Pashupatinath, the rural villages of Bungamati and Khokana, Dakshinkali Temple, Neydo Monastery, Patan, Bhaktapur, Changu Narayan and Panauti town.

Kathmandu Scenes

Departure will be after breakfast on our last day in Kathmandu.

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