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Mount Kailash Trek - Trekking around Tibet's Sacred Mountain - a Cicerone guidebook

Cover of The Mount Kailash Trek
7 Aug 2007
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
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The Mount Kailash Trek

Tibet's Sacred Mountain and Western Tibet

by Siân Pritchard-Jones, Bob Gibbons
Book published by Cicerone Press

This guidebook describes the Mount Kailash trek in Tibet, which follows the pilgrims' route around the sacred mountain. The trek has been a pilgrimage site for more than a thousand years, and leads around the peak in 3-4 days. Also included is a visit to the lost kingdom of Guge, still almost unknown in the west.

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This guidebook describes the trek that leads around the sacred Mount Kailash, in western Tibet following the pilgrims’ route. Though short, this high-altitude trek is not to be undertaken lightly – Mount Kailash remains isolated and remote, and getting there is an epic journey in itself.

Isolated for centuries behind the Himalayas in Tibet is a mysterious and mythical mountain, Mount Kailash, standing 6714m (22,028ft) high. The mountain has for more than a thousand years been a central pilgrimage site for some of the world’s major religions.

Also included in the guide is a visit to the lost kingdom of Guge, still almost unknown in the west. The ethereal ruined fortress of Tsaparang, Guge’s former capital, is Tibet’s greatest Buddhist treasure-house of art and paintings – a stunning location not to be missed.

  • The Kailash trek, and other treks in the region, described in detail
  • Extensive practical information for planning and preparation
  • The key approach routes (by foot and road) and return route to Kathmandu or Lhasa
  • Historical, cultural and religious background information

For adventure-seeking trekkers this comprehensive guide opens a door into the enchanting world of Kailash and western Tibet. 

  • Seasons
    spring (late April, May and early June) or autumn (mid-September to late October)
  • Centres
    Simikot, Kathmandu, Lhasa; Darchen; Zanda
  • Difficulty
    A high-altitude trek in a very remote area. Acclimatisation essential. Long access journey to Kailash itself.
  • Must See
    Guge's lost cities of Toling and Tsaparang; amazing landscape around Kailash; the pilgrimage/trekking experience
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We are always grateful to readers for information about any discrepancies between a guidebook and the facts on the ground. If you would like to send some information to us then please use our Feedback form. They will be published here following review by the author(s).





Tibetan landscapes
Flora and fauna
    Typical temperature

Tibetan culture  
Brief history of the Tibet region
Early foreign visitors to Kailash
Religious aspects of Kailash
Tibetan religion   
Principal Tibetan Buddhist sects
Official holidays
A few cultural considerations

Pre-departure preparation

Trekking seasons
Style of tre
    Fully supported group treks
    Independently organised trips with a local trek operato
    Completely independent travel
Accommodation and food
Visas and permits
    Chinese visa
    Chinese embassies
    Nepalese visas
    Nepalese embassies
Money matters
    Banks and ATMs
Health matters
    Water sterilisation
    Vaccination suggestions
    Malaria prophylaxi
    Other nasty bugs
    Common ailments
    Dental care
    First aid kit
Mountain sickness/altitude
    What is altitude sickness?
    Altitude problems specific to Tibet 
    Options from the pharmacist
    Hyperbaric bag and oxygen cylinders
Mountain safety
Equipment and supplies

Getting there

Routes into Tibet (via China and Nepal)
    Flights from China to Tibet
    Overland from China 
    Flights to Nepal
Kathmandu – Gateway to Tibet 
    What to see  
    Eating out
    What to see 

Using this guide 

Notes on trekking and road routes  
    Altitudes, distances and timings 
    Alternative names 

Approach routes to Kailash 
1 From Simikot: the trekking route 
    Stage 1 Simikot to Tuling (Masigaon) 
    Stage 2 Tuling to Kermi 
    Stage 3 Kermi to Yangar 
    Stage 4 Yangar to Muchu 
    Stage 5 Muchu to Yari  
    Stage 6 Yari to Sher  
    Drive to Purang 
    Stage 7 Purang to Lake Manasarovar/Darchen  
    Alternative return trek route from Sher to Simikot 
2 From Kathmandu to Kailash (Darchen) (by road)  
    Kathmandu to Kodari  
    Kodari/Zhangmu to Nyalam  
    Xixapangma trekking routes  
    Xixapangma south approach  
    Nyalam to Tara Tso day hike  
    Nyalam to Saga 
    Saga to Paryang 
    Paryang to Lake Manasarovar/Chui Gompa  
    Lake Manasarovar to Darchen 
3 From Lhasa to Kailash (by road)  

The Kailash Kora trek
    Stage 1 Darchen to Chuku monastery 
    Stage 2 Chuku monastery to Driraphuk monastery  
    Day hike to Kangyam Glacier  
    Stage 3 Driraphuk to Shabje Draktok, via Drolma La  
    Stage 4 Shabje Draktok to Zutrulphuk monastery
    Stage 5 Zutrulphuk to Darchen 

Other treks in the Kailash region  
1 Darchen Day Walks 
    Darchen ridge walk  
    Gyangdrak monastery 
    Serlung monastery  
2 Inner Kora
3 Lake Manasarovar  
    Lake Manasarovar Circuit Trek 
    Stage 1 Chui monastery to Hor  
    Stage 2 Hor to Seralung monastery   
    Stage 3 Seralung to Trugo monastery 
    Stage 4 Trugo monastery to Gossul monastery 
    Stage 5 Gossul monastery to Chui monastery  
Chui village ridge walk  
4 Lake Rakhas Tal  
5 Tirthapuri  

The Guge kingdom 
Brief history and cultural aspects  
The southern route to Guge 
    Lake Manasarovar to Toling 
    Toling monastery  
    Toling to Tsaparang  
    A walk from Tsaparang  
    Other hikes 
The northern route from Guge to Darchen  
    Toling to Darchen  

Return to Kathmandu or Lhasa 

    Darchen to Paryang
    Paryang to Saga
    Saga to Sangsang  
    Sangsang to Zhangmu  
    Xegar (Shagar)  
    Qomolungma National Park 

The last word

Appendix 1 Bibliography

Appendix 2 Glossary of Bon and Buddhist deities 

Significant Tibetan Bon deities 
Significant Tibetan Buddhist deities 
Other definitions 

Appendix 3 Route summaries

Trekking routes 
Road routes 

Appendix 4 Language hints (Tibetan and Chinese phrases)

General phrases 
Other useful words 

Appendix 5 Films and music

Appendix 6 Useful addresses/websites

    Tour operators in the UK  
    Tour operators in Nepal 
    Tour operators in Lhasa and Chengdu 
    Other websites  
    Other Chinese embassies  

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