Overland Route 9: Kyrgyzstan – China – Tibet – Mongolia
|Highlights:||Tibet, 3 day Mt. Kailash hike|
|Best travel time:||May, June, September, October|
Enter China from Irkeshtam (Kyrgyzstan) and to Kashgar. Meet the guide at Irkeshtam border. Customs paperwork. Onward to Kashgar.
Kashgar: Customs paperwork at the Office of Traffic Administration outside of Kashgar. Exhibition temp. Driver’s license, temp. license plate, vehicle inspection, etc.
Kashgar: Free day (weekend). Visit to the historic old town of Kashgar. Day of rest
Kashgar: Visit to the Sunday market in Kashgar.
Kashgar – Yengisar – Yarkant – Kargilik: Stopovers in Yengisar and Yarkant on the way to Kargilik. Yengisar is famous for its traditional knife production. Yarkant is known for its historic old town, the Ammanisaham Mausoleum, and the Altun Mosque. All three places are important oasis stops on the Silk Road.
Google Maps for the first 5 days:
Kargilik – Mazha: On this day, we ride from the “deep” of the Tarim Basin and the desert-like areas on the Silk Road up into the Tibetan mountain world with the first mountain pass on our journey that is higher than 4000 meters.
Mazha – Duomaxiang: A long day driving across the Tibetan plateau.
Duomaxiang – Ali: Ali is the administrative capital of western Tibet. Between Ali and Lake Manasarovar, we visit the areas around Tholing with their spectacular views of the Himalayas.
Ali – Manasarovar Lake: Today´s destination is lake Manasarovar – a holy lake on the foot of the holiest mountain for Buddhists and Hinuists alike – Mt. Kailash.
Manasarovar – Darchen – Mt. Kailash: First hiking day around Mt. Kailash. The first days brings you to Chöku manstery and into the valley of Indus river on the north-east face of the mountain. The day´s destination is Dirapuk monastery (5000m) which offers excellent views on the east face of Mt. Kailash.
Mt. Kailash: On the second day you will cross 5650 meter high Drölma La pass. Hiking to the pass takes around 3 – 5 hours, depending on you physical strength. Often, the pass is snow covered. Tibetans believe that they symbolically experience birth, death and reincarnation by surrounding the mountain clockwise.
Mt. Kailash: The last part of circumbulation leads you back to Darchen. This is only a half day walk and rather relaxing than challenging.
Mt. Kailash (Darchen) – Saga:
Saga – Everest base camp: We drive along Lake Pelkhu Tso, which is located directly on the Himalayan backbone. During the day’s journey, we drive on the Friendship Highway to Tingri. From there, the journey follows a spectacular byway leading to Rongbuk (5000 m), the famous monastery at the foot of Mount Everest.
Everest base camp – Lhatse: We visit the base camp in the morning at sunrise. The traveling time to the camp is about 1.5 hours. After that, we drive to Lhatse.
Lhatse – Shigatse – Gyangze: We visit the Tashilhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, one of the largest monasteries in Tibet. It was formerly the seat of His Holiness the Panchen Lama. During the two-hour walking tour through the monastery, we will be able to see the huge, gilded grave monuments of the Panchen Lamas and visit the impressive central meeting hall.
The journey continues to Gyangze.
Gyangze – Lhasa: We drive to Lhasa along the Yamdrok Lake. Attention: This day marks the begiining of the October holidays in China. You should pre-arrange hotel bookings through your guide.
Lhasa: A day visiting Lhasa. In Lhasa, we experience one of the high points of our Tibetan journey: the Potala Palace.
We take a walk through the old city and visit the temple that is most important to the Tibetans, the Jokhang temple.
Google Maps for days 14-18:
Lhasa – Ganden – Nyingchi: From Lhasa, the route leads to the Ganden Monastery, another spectacular monastery. It is built at an elevation of over 4,000 metres, overlooking a wide gorge. After a short visit to the monastery, we continue to Nyingchi.
Nyingchi – Ranwuzhen: The next two days we travel down from the Tibetan plateau along mountains and woods that are often covered with snow. The landscape is changing, and the regions are increasingly forested.
Ranwuzhen – Zogang: The route takes us via Markham along the Yangtze, and the beautiful views are, once more, impressive.
Zogang – Deqen (overnight stay at a Tibetan farmer’s home): We have arranged something special for this day, one of the last days in the Tibetan area: spending the night with a Tibetan family in a traditional Tibetan farm on the banks of the Mekong near Deqen. Here you can experience life in a small Tibetan village. Our Tibetan family likes to cook the local, traditional dishes for our guests.
This trip is optional. You also have the possibility to stay overnight in Deqen.
Deqen – Shangri-la: The journey to Shangri-la. In the historic old town of Shangri-la, we visit the largest prayer wheel in the world. There are two routes to Shangri-la: The longer route along the Mekong and another across the main road G214.
Google Maps for days 19-23:
Shangri-La – Tiger Leaping Gorge – Lijiang: We drive to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Lijiang. Along the way, we drive through the Tiger Leaping Gorge, one of the deepest gorges in the world. It is possible to do a hiking tour in the gorge (2.5 hrs. hiking time), hiking to the Tiger Leaping Stone.
In the town of Lijiang, there is the possibility of taking a walk through the historic old town and visiting the Black Dragon Pools.
This is the day when we finally leave the world of the Tibetans. The Naxi and other minorities live in Lijiang.
The day in Lijiang: Lijiang and the surrounding areas have a lot to offer the traveller. Baisha and Shuhe are old towns at the foot of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountains, and it is worthwhile to take a break and relax here.
The day in Lijiang can also serve as a flex day if it turns out that the trip schedule cannot be kept.
Lijiang – Xiangcheng: From Lijiang you need to drive the road back to Shangri-la for about 2.5 hrs. From Shangri-la you take a mountainious road to Litang. Parts of the road are not paved (around 50km).
Xiangcheng – Litang: Today you will drive across the “Plateau of Lakes” to the highest town on earth: Litang, which is located 4.100 meters above sea level.
Litang – Kangding:
Kangding – Chengdu:
Google Maps for days 25-30:
Chengdu – Leshan Giant Buddha – Emei Shan: Today´s sights are being put onto the permit, in case you want to drive there yourself.
Chengdu – Hanzhong: From today roads will remain mainly highways with toll gate fees almost all the way up to the border at Erenhot.
Hanzhong – Terracotta Army – Xian: On the way to Xian you can visit one of China´s most spectacular sights: The Terracotta Warrior Army.
Xian – Pingyao: Pingyao is the best preserved ancient walled old town of China. A stroll through this town is a highlight
Pingyao – Yungang Grottoes – Ulanqab: From historic Pingyao you take the highway
Ulanqab – Erenhot – Mongolia:
Google Maps for days 31-39: