The Mount Kailash Trek
Tibet's Sacred Mountain and Western Tibet
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.
Seasonsspring (late April, May and early June) or autumn (mid-September to late October)
CentresSimikot, Kathmandu, Lhasa; Darchen; Zanda
DifficultyA high-altitude trek in a very remote area. Acclimatisation essential. Long access journey to Kailash itself.
Must SeeGuge's lost cities of Toling and Tsaparang; amazing landscape around Kailash; the pilgrimage/trekking experience
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.
Flora and fauna
Brief history of the Tibet region
Early foreign visitors to Kailash
Religious aspects of Kailash
Principal Tibetan Buddhist sects
A few cultural considerations
Style of tre
Fully supported group treks
Independently organised trips with a local trek operato
Completely independent travel
Accommodation and food
Visas and permits
Banks and ATMs
Other nasty bugs
First aid kit
What is altitude sickness?
Altitude problems specific to Tibet
Options from the pharmacist
Hyperbaric bag and oxygen cylinders
Equipment and supplies
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
What to see
Using this guide
Notes on trekking and road routes
Altitudes, distances and timings
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
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
The Guge kingdom
Brief history and cultural aspects
The southern route to Guge
Lake Manasarovar to Toling
Toling to Tsaparang
A walk from Tsaparang
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
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
Appendix 3 Route summaries
Appendix 4 Language hints (Tibetan and Chinese 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 Chinese embassies
For those entering Tibet from Nepal, a varied selection of maps is available. Although they give a good picture of the routes and features, none of these maps is very accurate. In particular, there is considerable confusion over the name of the eastern peak guarding the Kangyam Glacier. Across a majority of books as well as other maps, the consensus is that it is Jampelyang (Manjushri).
In Kathmandu, try Pilgrims Book House (next to the Kathmandu Guest House), which has a vast array of maps and books on all aspects of Tibet.
Maps available are:
• Kailash Trekkingkarte 1:50,000. Karto Atelier, a Swiss/Nepali produced map; email:
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org;
• Kailash Manasarovar 1:200,000. Nepa Maps, Himalayan MapHouse; Paolo Gondoni.
• From Lhasa to Kailas 1:2,400,000. Nepa Maps, Himalayan MapHouse; Paolo Gondoni.
• Nepal-Tibet Namaste series, Pilgrims Book House; for the route to Lhasa and Far West Nepal.
Very few maps are available in Tibet. Lhasa is the only place where you might find anything.
In the UK one of the best places to search for maps of Tibet and the Himalayas is Stanfords on Long Acre in Central London; www.stanfords.co.uk. They stock a good selection of maps of the region.
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'Few mountains have the spiritual pull of Kailash and even those unmoved by its mysticism are drawn by its singular appearance. Now there's a guidebook for all those planning to trek to, and around it.
The Mount Kailash Trek by Cicerone is the latest in this respected series and has the usual pocket-sized format and yak-proof PVC covers. Locals prostrating their way around the mountain have no such resource: their faith is the only guide they need. You'll be happy though to have these 200-odd pages to handle issues such as altitude, route-finding and which Bon deity represents 'piercing ferocity.'
(Action Asia magazine / September 2007)
Siân Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons met in 1983, on a trek from Kashmir to Ladakh. Since then they have been leading and organising treks in the Alps, Nepal, Algeria and Niger, and exploring the world. However, they regularly return to their first love, Kathmandu and the Himalayas, and have published several books on the region.View Articles and Books by Siân Pritchard-Jones
Siân Pritchard-Jones and Bob Gibbons met in 1983, on a trek from Kashmir to Ladakh. Since they met they have been leading and organising treks in the Alps, Nepal, Algeria and Niger, and exploring the world. However, they regularly return to their first love, Kathmandu and the Himalayas, and have published several books on the region.View Articles and Books by Bob Gibbons