Circumambulate Mt. Kailash in Western Tibet
Discover the spiritual transcendence of Tibet’s sacred places and the rich cultural heritage of Tibetan Buddhism. Whether you are part of a dharma center or a meditation group or simply exploring your own path to spirituality, embark with us on a special Spiritual Pilgrimage to Tibet.
Located in a high and isolated enclave of western Tibet, Mt. Kailash (6,714 m) is considered Asia’s most sacred mountain. To Buddhist believers, it is the abode of Demchok, the wrathful manifestation of Buddha Sakyamuni. For Hindu believers, Kailash is at the center of the universe. Because of its religious significance, the mountain has never been climbed. Four major rivers in Tibet, India, and Nepal have their sources near Kailash. Zealous pilgrims walk kora around the mountain in one day, but most tours take three days to accommodate sightseeing at a challenging, yet not grueling, pace.
As an added bonus, highlights of the experience include visits to Mt. Everest Base Camp and Lake Manasarovar. The lake is only 32 kilometers (20 miles) from Mt. Kailash, and we will spend a day to walk around, visit local monasteries and caves, and mingle with Tibetan nomads.
Driving: When we were growing up as kids in the early 1990s, it took a week by a truck to reach Mt. Kailash from Lhasa, covering about 958 km. Now the road has been paved, and it takes about 3 days by car. Since this is a journey of a lifetime for most travelers, we take time to explore the most popular places along the way, such as Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse, and Lake Manasarovar, before making a 3-day trek around Mt. Kailash.
Flying:Ngari Gunsa Airport (NGQ) is a dual-use military and civilian airport serving the town of Shiquanhe (སེང་གེ་ཁ་འབབ) in Ngari Prefecture, in the southwest of China’s Tibet Autonomous Region near the Indian border. It started operations on 1 July 2010, becoming the fourth civilian airport in Tibet. Darchen, the base camp of Mount Kailash, is located about 220 km from the airport. As of July 2017, there are 2 flights per week (Tuesdays & Fridays) between Lhasa and Ngari Gunsa Airport. We do not recommend that you take this flight, because a sudden increase in elevation will cause altitude sickness and the flight schedule often changes. However, if you need to fly to Mt. Kailash, make sure you request a customized trip to Tibet with Conscious Journeys.
Trek Itself: You will start from the Sershong (15 min by car from Darchen), and it takes 53 km to complete this sacred pilgrimage trek of Tibet. Most locals complete the trek in one long day. Foreigners complete it in 3 days from the Sershong to Darchen, with the highest pass being Drolma-La (5,636 m or 18,471 ft). You will stay at a local guesthouse, and horses will carry your bags (and you, if needed). You need to be mentally and physically fit to go on this pilgrimage and enjoy the local accommodations as part of this Tibet travel experience.
There are a few road options to Kailash, depending on what you would like to see and how fast you want to get there. The following itinerary is what we recommend. We drive from Lhasa to Mt Kailash with stops at two major Tibet attractions: Lake Manasarovar & Mt. Everest Base Camp.