Contact Us|1-888-831-7526

Kailas: Sacred Mountain of Tibet with Cathy Ann Taylor

From $7,995

  • Complete the sacred circuit of Mount Kailas—a once-in-a-lifetime journey!
  • A rewarding cultural and spiritual journey including encounters with Tibetan, Indian, and Nepali pilgrims as well as nomadic people
  • Travel with award-winning MTS guide Cathy Ann Taylor—a seasoned 20 year veteran of trekking in the Himalayas

Tucked in a remote corner of the Tibetan plateau, Mt. Kailas is revered by Hindus and Buddhists as the ultimate pilgrimage. Their belief is that by devoutly circling the sacred peak on foot, one can be cleansed of earthly sins. 2014 is the “Year of the Horse,” the most auspicious time to do Kailas.  In 2014 one kora is equivalent to 13 koras and there will be many pilgrims in the vicinity.  Your own pilgrimage starts in Lhasa and then Lake Mansarovar before heading to Kailas to make the 32-mile trip around its base. Hardy Tibetans make this circuit in a day, but we'll do it in a more relaxed four days. Rest assured, you'll be traveling under the care and guidance of the industry's top experts—MTS has been trekking in the Himalayas since 1969!

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

Your trip leader or a member of the Mountain Travel Sobek staff will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. This representative will answer questions, brief you on the immediate arrangements, and escort you to the hotel. Meet with the leader in the afternoon for a briefing on the trek.  Gather this evening for a welcome dinner.

  • Dinner
  • Accomodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 2: Kathmandu

Kathmandu (4,445') is one of three former medieval city-states in the Kathmandu Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Bhaktapur and Patan. We will take a morning tour of Bhaktapur, a preserved example of medieval Nepalese town life. One of the highlights on our tour is Durbar Square with its many temples, the remains of an ancient palace, and the intricate Sun Dhoka (“Golden Gate”), a gilded copper gate crafted in 1753. In the afternoon, Kathmandu is yours to explore. By western standards, the city is intimate. You can visit the many interesting sights, shrines, and markets, or stroll in Kathmandu's fascinating Asan Tole bazaar. Don't miss Durbar Square, Thamel, Swayambhunath (the “Monkey Temple,” overlooking the entire Valley--go at sunrise or sunset!) and the King's Palace. You could also hire a driver to take you to the nearby ancient city of Patan.

  • Breakfast
  • Accomodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 3: Fly to Nepalgunj

Transfer to the airport for our scenic flight to Nepalgunj, passing over the valleys, terraced fields and rivers of central Nepal. Off the right wing, we'll have wonderful views of the Ganesh, Manaslu, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri Himals.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Kitchen Hut

Day 4: Simikot (7,800') - Dharapani (8,825') - Begin Trek

You'll board an early morning flight to Simikot, due north of Nepalgunj and close to the Tibet border. Simikot is a mountain town that serves as the administrative headquarters of Nepal’s most remote district, Humla. We begin trekking from the air strip on a rocky trail past wheat and barley fields, climbing about 800 feet up to a pass above the air strip, then descending 2,500 feet to enter the valley carved out by the Karnali River, whose source is the waters of Mount Kailas. (5 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 5: Kermi (9,700')

Hike for about 10 minutes to the check post nearby, then continue another two hours to a beautiful waterfall. After another hour of hiking, we'll stop for lunch. We then follow a trail that snakes up and down before climbing gradually to the terraced fields at Kermi. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 6: Yalbang Gompa (10,250')

Climb over a ridge into a large valley and begin a gradual ascent through forests to a pass at 9,800'. Descend steeply to the Chumsa Khola and cross it via an impressive suspension bridge. The trail then climbs briefly through dense forest, contouring rock walls high above the Karnali. Cross a large flat meadow and climb an hour to camp at the newly rebuilt Yalbang Gompa. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 7: Tumkot Khola (10,200')

We'll follow a unique trail that tunnels beneath houses through Yangar to get to the end of a ridge, which eventually drops down to a river at 9,100'. Continue close to the river, then cross it by a suspension bridge and head for an apricot orchard where we’ll eat lunch. Continue to the village of Muchu, where we’ll have our passports stamped at the Muchu check post. Follow the trail down to the Bumachiya Khola and cross a wooden bridge to our campsite at Tumkot, located by the junction of the Bumachiya Khola and Yari Khola. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 8: Yari (12,040')

This morning we ascend steeply to a ridge at 10,725' and continue to Torea or Palbang at 11,000' through yellow mustard fields. After lunch, we walk mainly on the dirt road that has been built.  The last check post is at the small settlement of Yari (12,040') and we camp nearby. (6-7 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 9: Taklakot (12,900')

From here the route climbs to Sipsip (14,200'), near the foot of the Nara Lagna pass (15,022'). Despite the remoteness of our location, there will be a considerable amount of traffic in this area, and it's likely we'll be traveling in the company of traders, pilgrims, and pack animals. We make a steep, continuous ascent along the side of the ridge above Sipsip to the pass at 15,022'. The ascent is on loose pebbles that will make our hike a bit difficult. The trail then contours and descends to the Humla Karnali at 12,200'. After crossing the Karnali into the Tibet border, support vehicles will meet us and drive us into Taklakot. The border crossing on the Nepal side is known as "Hilsa," and on the Tibet side, "Sher." The guesthouses in this border town are extremely basic. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Guesthouse

Day 10: Lake Manasarovar (14,950')

Taklakot is known locally as “Purang,” a large trading center composed of many distinct settlements. There the ruins of a few gompas (monasteries) and several bazaars with restaurants, shops, and stalls selling livestock and wool. In the morning we visit the Taklakot bazaar and Tsegu Gompa. We'll then take an afternoon drive to camp, near Jiwu Gompa on the beautiful windswept shores of Lake Manasarovar, the highest body of fresh water on earth. We may have a chance to bathe in its sacred waters and visit the nearby zhong (fortress) on the hill. (2 hour drive)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 11: Lake Manasarovar (14,950')

Rest day.  There will be an optional 2-3 hour hike near the lakeside for acclimatization.  Also a visit to Chiu Gompa.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 12: Darchan (14,950')

Wind permitting, we continue to enjoy the unparalleled beauty of Manasarovar's deep blue waters and its Hindu and Buddhist temples, then we will move on to overnight at a guest house in the town of Darchan (14,950'). Camping is not permitted at Darchen by the authorities which is why we have to stay in the extremely basic guest house. Our sherpas will prepare the meals in a kitchen tent pitched outside the guest house.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Guesthouse

Day 13: Damding Donkhang (16,040')

We embark on our circuit of Mount Kailas, starting west from Darchen and making a clockwise circuit, just as the Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims do. The most pious of pilgrims prostrate themselves all the way around Kailas, lying flat on the ground, then rising and walking to the point where their hands had touched the ground, then repeating the process. We will take four days to make the circuit; hardy Tibetans do it in one day!

Shortly after leaving Darchen, the trail rounds a corner past many prayer flags and enters the valley of the Lha Chu River with excellent views of Kailas. Pass through Chorten-Kangni, the official starting point of the kora. Chorten-Kangni was featured in the movie Seven Years in Tibet. Filmmaker David Breashears, Pete Athans, and a few others went to Tibet for background footage that was used in the movie.

Several hundred yards from Chorten-Kangni is the impressive Tarboche prayer flagpole—site of many religious gatherings. Climb gently up to lunch at Chhuku Gompa, the first of the monasteries to be rebuilt after all were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Enjoy spectacular views of Kailas from here. Camp at Damding Donkhang (16,040'), which offers good views of the west face of Kailas. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 14: Jarok Donkhang (17,100')

As we cross a couple of streams on log bridges, the north face of Kailas comes into view. We'll take a leisurely lunch at Dirapuk Gompa, directly beneath the impressive north face of Kailas. After lunch, we climb up a moraine to the meadows of Jarok Donkhang at about 17,100 feet. The snow-covered pass above is Khado Sanglam and pilgrims may only cross this difficult pass on their auspicious 13th circuit of the mountain. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 15: Lham Chu Valley (16,892')

Continue higher past piles of clothing at Shiva-Tsal (17,482'). Tibetans leave an article of clothing or a drop of blood here as part of leaving their past life behind them. Continue up to the Dolma La (18,465'), where a big boulder on the pass festooned with prayer flags (perhaps the world’s largest collection!), represents the goddess Dolma. The pass is the physical and spiritual high point of the kora (circuit) and we’ll spend as much time as feasible in this auspicious place. A steep descent on countless switchbacks takes us past Lake Gourikund at 17,800' (devout Hindus are supposed to break the ice and bathe in its waters). Continue down the valley to camp in the beautiful meadows of the Lham Chu Valley. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 16: Lake Manasarovar (14,950')

Continue hiking to the gompa at Zutulpuk (15,711'). Zutulpuk means “miracle cave” and it is here that the Buddhist Saint Milarepa lived, meditated, and performed miracles such as raising the roof of the cave to make it more comfortable. We’ll leave the river valley and hike on the plain to the last prostration station at 15,120'. Continue another 1½ hours to the end of the trail. Meet with vehicles and drive to Lake Manasarovar. (4 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Days 17-19: Drive to Zhangmu (7,544')

We will spend the next three days driving to Zhangmu along the flanks of the Himalaya. We camp at Dobga and Pelgo Tso on our way to Zhangmu. At Zhangmu we stay at a hotel. (Daily driving time is about 7 hours.)

 

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Day 20: Drive to Kathmandu (7,544')

After clearing Chinese immigration at Zhangmu, we drive down about seven miles to the Friendship Bridge over the Bhote Kosi River and walk across the bridge into Nepal. We'll go through Nepal immigration formalities and drive to Kathmandu. (4-5 hours driving)

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accomodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 21: Extra day in Kathmandu

Extra day in Kathmandu for last minute shopping and sightseeing.  This evening we will have a festive farewell dinner in Kathmandu.

  • Breakfast
  • Accomodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 22: Fly home

Transfer to airport and depart Kathmandu on homeward-bound flights.

  • Breakfast

No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.

pricing

Pricing from $7,995

Got your own great photos of this or other MTS trips?
Share them with us on our Facebook page!

Camp

Guesthouse

Kitchen Hut — Nepalgunj


Shangri-La Hotel — Kathmandu

Shangri-La is a premier five-star deluxe hotel. It is centrally located and within a short walking distance to the former Royal Palace and the bustling Thamel market. The hotel has pool & gardens and three restaurants, several shops, and a bookstore.

  • Complete the sacred circuit of Mount Kailas—a once-in-a-lifetime journey!
  • A rewarding cultural and spiritual journey including encounters with Tibetan, Indian, and Nepali pilgrims as well as nomadic people
  • Travel with award-winning MTS guide Cathy Ann Taylor—a seasoned 20 year veteran of trekking in the Himalayas

Tucked in a remote corner of the Tibetan plateau, Mt. Kailas is revered by Hindus and Buddhists as the ultimate pilgrimage. Their belief is that by devoutly circling the sacred peak on foot, one can be cleansed of earthly sins. 2014 is the “Year of the Horse,” the most auspicious time to do Kailas.  In 2014 one kora is equivalent to 13 koras and there will be many pilgrims in the vicinity.  Your own pilgrimage starts in Lhasa and then Lake Mansarovar before heading to Kailas to make the 32-mile trip around its base. Hardy Tibetans make this circuit in a day, but we'll do it in a more relaxed four days. Rest assured, you'll be traveling under the care and guidance of the industry's top experts—MTS has been trekking in the Himalayas since 1969!

DAILY itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Kathmandu

Your trip leader or a member of the Mountain Travel Sobek staff will meet you outside the customs and immigration area at the airport. This representative will answer questions, brief you on the immediate arrangements, and escort you to the hotel. Meet with the leader in the afternoon for a briefing on the trek.  Gather this evening for a welcome dinner.

  • Dinner
  • Accomodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 2: Kathmandu

Kathmandu (4,445') is one of three former medieval city-states in the Kathmandu Valley, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Bhaktapur and Patan. We will take a morning tour of Bhaktapur, a preserved example of medieval Nepalese town life. One of the highlights on our tour is Durbar Square with its many temples, the remains of an ancient palace, and the intricate Sun Dhoka (“Golden Gate”), a gilded copper gate crafted in 1753. In the afternoon, Kathmandu is yours to explore. By western standards, the city is intimate. You can visit the many interesting sights, shrines, and markets, or stroll in Kathmandu's fascinating Asan Tole bazaar. Don't miss Durbar Square, Thamel, Swayambhunath (the “Monkey Temple,” overlooking the entire Valley--go at sunrise or sunset!) and the King's Palace. You could also hire a driver to take you to the nearby ancient city of Patan.

  • Breakfast
  • Accomodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 3: Fly to Nepalgunj

Transfer to the airport for our scenic flight to Nepalgunj, passing over the valleys, terraced fields and rivers of central Nepal. Off the right wing, we'll have wonderful views of the Ganesh, Manaslu, Annapurna, and Dhaulagiri Himals.

  • Breakfast/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Kitchen Hut

Day 4: Simikot (7,800') - Dharapani (8,825') - Begin Trek

You'll board an early morning flight to Simikot, due north of Nepalgunj and close to the Tibet border. Simikot is a mountain town that serves as the administrative headquarters of Nepal’s most remote district, Humla. We begin trekking from the air strip on a rocky trail past wheat and barley fields, climbing about 800 feet up to a pass above the air strip, then descending 2,500 feet to enter the valley carved out by the Karnali River, whose source is the waters of Mount Kailas. (5 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 5: Kermi (9,700')

Hike for about 10 minutes to the check post nearby, then continue another two hours to a beautiful waterfall. After another hour of hiking, we'll stop for lunch. We then follow a trail that snakes up and down before climbing gradually to the terraced fields at Kermi. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 6: Yalbang Gompa (10,250')

Climb over a ridge into a large valley and begin a gradual ascent through forests to a pass at 9,800'. Descend steeply to the Chumsa Khola and cross it via an impressive suspension bridge. The trail then climbs briefly through dense forest, contouring rock walls high above the Karnali. Cross a large flat meadow and climb an hour to camp at the newly rebuilt Yalbang Gompa. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 7: Tumkot Khola (10,200')

We'll follow a unique trail that tunnels beneath houses through Yangar to get to the end of a ridge, which eventually drops down to a river at 9,100'. Continue close to the river, then cross it by a suspension bridge and head for an apricot orchard where we’ll eat lunch. Continue to the village of Muchu, where we’ll have our passports stamped at the Muchu check post. Follow the trail down to the Bumachiya Khola and cross a wooden bridge to our campsite at Tumkot, located by the junction of the Bumachiya Khola and Yari Khola. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 8: Yari (12,040')

This morning we ascend steeply to a ridge at 10,725' and continue to Torea or Palbang at 11,000' through yellow mustard fields. After lunch, we walk mainly on the dirt road that has been built.  The last check post is at the small settlement of Yari (12,040') and we camp nearby. (6-7 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 9: Taklakot (12,900')

From here the route climbs to Sipsip (14,200'), near the foot of the Nara Lagna pass (15,022'). Despite the remoteness of our location, there will be a considerable amount of traffic in this area, and it's likely we'll be traveling in the company of traders, pilgrims, and pack animals. We make a steep, continuous ascent along the side of the ridge above Sipsip to the pass at 15,022'. The ascent is on loose pebbles that will make our hike a bit difficult. The trail then contours and descends to the Humla Karnali at 12,200'. After crossing the Karnali into the Tibet border, support vehicles will meet us and drive us into Taklakot. The border crossing on the Nepal side is known as "Hilsa," and on the Tibet side, "Sher." The guesthouses in this border town are extremely basic. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Guesthouse

Day 10: Lake Manasarovar (14,950')

Taklakot is known locally as “Purang,” a large trading center composed of many distinct settlements. There the ruins of a few gompas (monasteries) and several bazaars with restaurants, shops, and stalls selling livestock and wool. In the morning we visit the Taklakot bazaar and Tsegu Gompa. We'll then take an afternoon drive to camp, near Jiwu Gompa on the beautiful windswept shores of Lake Manasarovar, the highest body of fresh water on earth. We may have a chance to bathe in its sacred waters and visit the nearby zhong (fortress) on the hill. (2 hour drive)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 11: Lake Manasarovar (14,950')

Rest day.  There will be an optional 2-3 hour hike near the lakeside for acclimatization.  Also a visit to Chiu Gompa.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 12: Darchan (14,950')

Wind permitting, we continue to enjoy the unparalleled beauty of Manasarovar's deep blue waters and its Hindu and Buddhist temples, then we will move on to overnight at a guest house in the town of Darchan (14,950'). Camping is not permitted at Darchen by the authorities which is why we have to stay in the extremely basic guest house. Our sherpas will prepare the meals in a kitchen tent pitched outside the guest house.

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Guesthouse

Day 13: Damding Donkhang (16,040')

We embark on our circuit of Mount Kailas, starting west from Darchen and making a clockwise circuit, just as the Hindu and Buddhist pilgrims do. The most pious of pilgrims prostrate themselves all the way around Kailas, lying flat on the ground, then rising and walking to the point where their hands had touched the ground, then repeating the process. We will take four days to make the circuit; hardy Tibetans do it in one day!

Shortly after leaving Darchen, the trail rounds a corner past many prayer flags and enters the valley of the Lha Chu River with excellent views of Kailas. Pass through Chorten-Kangni, the official starting point of the kora. Chorten-Kangni was featured in the movie Seven Years in Tibet. Filmmaker David Breashears, Pete Athans, and a few others went to Tibet for background footage that was used in the movie.

Several hundred yards from Chorten-Kangni is the impressive Tarboche prayer flagpole—site of many religious gatherings. Climb gently up to lunch at Chhuku Gompa, the first of the monasteries to be rebuilt after all were destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Enjoy spectacular views of Kailas from here. Camp at Damding Donkhang (16,040'), which offers good views of the west face of Kailas. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 14: Jarok Donkhang (17,100')

As we cross a couple of streams on log bridges, the north face of Kailas comes into view. We'll take a leisurely lunch at Dirapuk Gompa, directly beneath the impressive north face of Kailas. After lunch, we climb up a moraine to the meadows of Jarok Donkhang at about 17,100 feet. The snow-covered pass above is Khado Sanglam and pilgrims may only cross this difficult pass on their auspicious 13th circuit of the mountain. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 15: Lham Chu Valley (16,892')

Continue higher past piles of clothing at Shiva-Tsal (17,482'). Tibetans leave an article of clothing or a drop of blood here as part of leaving their past life behind them. Continue up to the Dolma La (18,465'), where a big boulder on the pass festooned with prayer flags (perhaps the world’s largest collection!), represents the goddess Dolma. The pass is the physical and spiritual high point of the kora (circuit) and we’ll spend as much time as feasible in this auspicious place. A steep descent on countless switchbacks takes us past Lake Gourikund at 17,800' (devout Hindus are supposed to break the ice and bathe in its waters). Continue down the valley to camp in the beautiful meadows of the Lham Chu Valley. (6 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Day 16: Lake Manasarovar (14,950')

Continue hiking to the gompa at Zutulpuk (15,711'). Zutulpuk means “miracle cave” and it is here that the Buddhist Saint Milarepa lived, meditated, and performed miracles such as raising the roof of the cave to make it more comfortable. We’ll leave the river valley and hike on the plain to the last prostration station at 15,120'. Continue another 1½ hours to the end of the trail. Meet with vehicles and drive to Lake Manasarovar. (4 hours hiking.)

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner
  • Accomodation:Camp

Days 17-19: Drive to Zhangmu (7,544')

We will spend the next three days driving to Zhangmu along the flanks of the Himalaya. We camp at Dobga and Pelgo Tso on our way to Zhangmu. At Zhangmu we stay at a hotel. (Daily driving time is about 7 hours.)

 

  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner

Day 20: Drive to Kathmandu (7,544')

After clearing Chinese immigration at Zhangmu, we drive down about seven miles to the Friendship Bridge over the Bhote Kosi River and walk across the bridge into Nepal. We'll go through Nepal immigration formalities and drive to Kathmandu. (4-5 hours driving)

  • Breakfast/Lunch
  • Accomodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 21: Extra day in Kathmandu

Extra day in Kathmandu for last minute shopping and sightseeing.  This evening we will have a festive farewell dinner in Kathmandu.

  • Breakfast
  • Accomodation:Shangri-La Hotel

Day 22: Fly home

Transfer to airport and depart Kathmandu on homeward-bound flights.

  • Breakfast

Camp

Guesthouse

Kitchen Hut — Nepalgunj


Shangri-La Hotel — Kathmandu

Shangri-La is a premier five-star deluxe hotel. It is centrally located and within a short walking distance to the former Royal Palace and the bustling Thamel market. The hotel has pool & gardens and three restaurants, several shops, and a bookstore.

Dates and Pricing

No group departures scheduled. Private departures are available on the dates of your choice, pending availability. Call us for details.

pricing

Pricing from $7,995

Select Trip Type Before Requesting Reservation

Got questions?

Call us at 1-888-687-6235
or click here!

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure

Award-winning journeys recognized by Travel +Leisure