The Mount Kailash Trek

Tibet's Sacred Mountain and Western Tibet

By Siân Pritchard-Jones, Bob Gibbons

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.



spring (late April, May and early June) or autumn (mid-September to late October)


Simikot, Kathmandu, Lhasa; Darchen; Zanda


A high-altitude trek in a very remote area. Acclimatisation essential. Long access journey to Kailash itself.
Must See

Must See

Guge's lost cities of Toling and Tsaparang; amazing landscape around Kailash; the pilgrimage/trekking experience
7 Aug 2007
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.5cm
  • Overview

    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.

  • Contents




    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  

  • Maps


    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: or;
    • 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; They stock a good selection of maps of the region.

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  • Reviews
    '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)

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Siân Pritchard-Jones

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

Bob Gibbons

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