Most Helpful Mount KailashTrekking Guide for 2020/2021
Mount Kailash Trek is a world famous trekking route in the remote western Ngari Prefecture which is the wildest and most uncultivated region as well as the most mysterious region in Tibet. It completely encircle the holiest mountain in Asia - Mount Kailash, and needs about 3 days to finish a circle if trek at a moderate pace. Not very far west and south from Mount Kailash trek is the lands of India and Nepal. Hikers usually has to drive about 1250km from Lhasa, or take a flight from Lhasa or Xinjiang directly to take this magnificent Mount Kailash trek.
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Mount Kailash Trek at a Glance
Route: Darchen-Dirapuk Monastery-Zutulpuk Monastery-Darchen
Starting: Darchen (塔尔钦)
Finishing: Darchen (塔尔钦)
Difficulty: Moderate to difficult
Distance: 52km (32.3miles)
Duration: 3 days
Highest elevation: Drolma-la Pass (5630m)
Accommodation: Camping or Lodge
Dining: Cook or dine at local restaurants
Best time to trek: Middle May to Middle October
Nearest city: Ali City
Detailed Mount Kailash Trek Route and Stages
Day 1 Darchen - Dirapuk Monastery
(6h / 20km / 200m Ascent)
Have a great and full breakfast, then set out to start today’s trek from Darchen to Dirapuk Monastery. Firstly, walk about 4km westward though the Barkha plain. In this section, you won’t be able to see the face of Mount Kailash, but can see the same beautiful Gurla Mandata (纳木那尼峰 – 7728m) on the southeast, Api and other peaks in Nepal and Kamet (7756m) in India. Walk over the southwestern edge of the ridge, you will reach a high location (4730m) where has fraying stones and flags. From this location, you can see the southern face of Mount Kailash, and emerald Lake Rakshastal. This location is also the first location of four prostration points.
Then you will enter the barren Lhach Valley, and walk 1hour to Tarboche (4750m), the place as one of the important sites for Tibet’s important festival – Saga Dawa. The Hindus start their pilgrimage from here. Keep trekking up from Tarboche, you will firstly get to the “two-legged” Chorten Kangnyi, an archway for pilgrims to walk through. At the opposite direction of the archway, there is a sky-burial site. Walk carefully from the sky-burial site down to the bottom of the valley with red cliffs on the both sides. Now you can see the majestic Mount Kailash clearly.
After a short rest, keep walking along some ruined walls and stupas, you will get to Chuku Monastery (4820m). Now you have probably trekked about 3 hours from Darchen. Chuku Monastery was built in the 13th century by a Kagyupa Buddhist master in the high and hidden cliffs. The monastery keeps several halidoms – one marble Buddha statue brought from India, copper pot and elephant tusks from Bhutan. It is said the meditation cave of Master Padmasambhava is located below the monastery.
From Chuku Monastery, there are two alternative ways which both lead you to todays’ accommodation location - Dirapuk Monastery. The east route is the pilgrimage trail, and can avoid moistening your shoes because there is a bridge you can pass over the Lha-Chu River. If you take the west route, you have to take off shoes to walk over two branch rivers of Lha-Chu before getting to Dirapuk Monastery. Both two routes rise up gradually . There are some great landscapes along the trekking from Chuku Monastery to Dirapuk Monastery – sedimentary earth, incredible puckered and dented cliffs, vivid-shape stones, hundred-meter high waterfalls, etc.
After 3 hours trekking from Chuku Monastery, you will get to Dirapuk Monastery which is one of the best locations to enjoy the views of northern face of Mount Kailash – sunrise and sunset, golden pyramid, night sky, stars… This monastery offers basic accommodation. Two-beds or three-beds rooms are available.
Day 2 Dirapuk Monastery to Zutulpuk Monastery
(7~8h / 18km / 500m Ascent / 600m Descent)
Today’s trekking will be the most challenging part of Mount Kailash Trek. Before starting todays’ trek, reward yourself a visual feast of morning views of magnificent surrounding – bright and dominating Mount Kailash, a bubbling river, peaceful air…
Leave Zutulpuk Monastery, and cross a bridge and take the east long trail ascending along Drolma-Chu Valley. It needs several hours to complete this climbing. Bring a lot of water for the trek. The first one-hour trek will take you to Jarok Donkhang (5210m) where there is grassland. Keeping walking one more hour from the grassland, you will get to another sky-burial site Shiva-tsal (5330m). Pilgrims usually leave a clothing, a drop of blood or a bunch of hairs here to wish for the end of miserable life. It is also a hypothetical symbolic death. When they reach the top of Drolma-la, they will reborn again. Leaving Shiva-tsal, the trails become even. The mysterious Sin-Testing Stone and the Footprint of Master Milarepa are located near the sky-burial site.
After walking about 30 minutes from Jarok Donkhang, go to finish the most difficult part to reach the top of Drolma-la which needs 1 hour to ascend 200m of altitude. Drolma-la is located at 5630m with a huge rock as the mark of the pass which is almost covered by a great numbers of prayer flags. The pilgrims usually walk a circle around the pass, and paste money, cloth, teeth other stuffs onto the rock to seek for good wishes.
Get some rest at Drolma-la, you will start to trek down the steep trail, which is the most dangerous part, and may sprain the ankle if you are not careful. It is hard to imagine how the Tibetan Buddhist pilgrims prostrate on such steep road. Not for long while, the green and pure Gauri Kund (Lake of Compassion) will appear in your view. After about 1 hour’s descent of 400m, you will get to the grassy bank of the Lham-chu Khir. Then you will walk another rough trail consisting of snowfield, stream, rocks, etc. Walking sticks are recommended for this part. When you reach the bottom of the valley, you will find some tents and teahouses. There are two separate routes again, divided by the river. The east trail has more scenic and wide views, but requires you to cross river. While the west trail is a bit muddy. Walking about 30mins southward along the eat trail, and pass by a group of prayer stones, you will have chance to witness the crystal eastern face of Mount Kailash. Trekking more 2 hours, a camping site appears from which you need trek 1 hour to the final stop of today - Zutulpuk Monastery (4790m). This monastery is said to be built the Master Milarepa. It offers a basic guesthouse in the monastery.
Day 3 Zutulpuk Monastery to Darchen
(3~4h / 14km / 150m Descent)
Today’s trek is leisure and short. So you don’t have to get up and leave very early. Spend some time exploring the monastery and walking around before returning back to Darchen. The Master Milarepa is also said to meditate once in the Zutulpuk Monastery. You can find his meditation cave in a room in the monastery.
The trail back to Darchen is very easy without ups and downs. Walk a hour following the river in the valley. Then you will see some golden and red cliffs in the end of the valley before entering Barkha plain. Trekking through the Barkha plain, you will see the beautiful Gurla Mandata again. After about 1.5 hours walking on the dirt road, you will be at Darchen. The trekking finishes.
Starting Trek from Darchen
Hikers and Pilgrims
Tibetan Pilgrim on the Kora
Police Station and Supply Stores
Looking at Golden Summit of Mount Kailash
Prayer Flags on Drolma-la
Descent from Drolma-la
Walking Back to Darchen
The Best Time to Trek Mount Kailash
Ngari Prefecture is one of the coldest area in Tibet. So keeping warm is the first priority during your trip. But don't too warry, the trek route is below altutide of 6000m in the valley and middle of mountain ranges. The temperatures are acceptable. You should avoid to trek Mount Kailash during January, February, March, November and December when the trains are usually covered by snows, and not available for walking.
April to October is the trekking seasons as well as the pilgrimage seasons at Mount Kailash area. After October, the Drolma-la Pass will be overwhelmed by strong snow. The best month would be May, June, September and October. July and August are yearly rainy seasons. The temperature gap between day and night is huge. There might be strong wind, especially on the passes. So you’d better wear and pack accordingly.
April to October is the Trekking Seasons
How to Get to Mount Kailash
Currently Ngari Prefecture can only be reached by driving and flight. There is no railway constructed yet. Travelers can take flights to Ngari from Lhasa or Urumqi and Kashgar in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, then drive to Darchen to start the trek. The most chosen way is to travel from Lhasa, via Gyantse, Shigatse, to get to Mount Kailash by driving.
Take Flights to Mount Kailash
Ngari Prefecture has only an airport, Ngari Gunsa Airport, located in Gunsa Village, 45km from southwest Shiquanhe Town. Currently Lhasa Gongar Internaitonal Airport operates a daily flight TV9807 to Ngari Gunsa Airport which usually departs at 7am, and lands at 9am. The full price of the economy class ticket is around 2640 RMB. During the tourist off seasons (Nov to Apr), the flight schedules between Lhasa and Ngari will be cut down or canceled. Travelers can also take flight to Ngari but only on Tuesday and Friday. It takes about 4 hours to get to Ngari with a middle stop at Kashgar.
Drive to Mount Kailash
After arriving at Ngari Gunsa Airport, you can firstly drive about 45km to Shiquanhe Town for accommodation and acclimatization, then transfer to Darchen on the next day to start the trek.
For those who want to have an in-depth Tibet discovery tour, they are suggested to drive (travel) from Lhasa to Mount Kailash. On the driving road, they will have chance to visit other highlighting destinations in Tibet before getting to Mount Kailash. The whole driving distance is about 1500km, and needs about two weeks to finish the tour which includes Lhasa, Yamdrok Lake, Gyantse, Shigatse, Mount Everest, Mount Kailash and Manararovar Lake.
Accommodation for Mount Kailash Trek
During your Mount Kailash Trekking, you can accommodate at guest houses in monasteries or nomads’ tent along the kora, or camping overnight. But please be aware that everything is very basic. And sometimes it is very difficult to find a bed in the guest houses during the kora peak seasons.
Guest Houses in Monasteries and Nomads’ Tents
There are three Tibetan monasteries along the trek – Chuku Monastery, Dirapuk Monastery to Zutulpuk Monastery. The houses are in or near the monasteries, constructed by stones and earth. Singleroom is not available. There are multiple beds rooms with 3 beds, 5 beds, 8 beds. Dirapuk Monastery has a newly built guest house offering better rooms and amenities. Don’t expect the private bathroom as well as a shower. The quilts are thin and not very clean. So you’d better bring a sleeping bag or warm nightclothes.
Camping is always the favorite option for trekkers. There are several camping sites along the trek. The nights are very cold near Mount Kailash. And there might be snow and rain. So you have to bring firm, thick and nightclothes tent, also a warm sleeping bag. You can bring the camping gears from your home or rent at Lhasa.
Guest Houses of Dirapuk Monastery
Camping During Mount Kailash Trek
Dinning for Mount Kailash Trek
Please realize that you are trekking in the remotest and poorest region in Tibet. The food you can get or be arranged is very basic. Your trekking start from Darchen Town where there are several Chinese restaurants and Tibetan tea houses as well as several local stores selling some snacks. You are suggested to pack some favorite snacks from Lhasa or Shigatse. Chocolate and raisin are very recommended. You can share some with your Tibetan porter and pilgrims you meet during the trek.
While during the trekking, there are also some local nomad camping site where you can buy instant noodles and Tibetan butter tea. The monasteries on the trek also usually offer some basic food. It is suggested to have a hot meal in a day to keep energy and protect your stomach. If you prefer, you can also hire a chief to cook for you. Tibet Discovery can arrange the chief and food purchase for you in Lhasa before your trek.
Yak Carring Food and Cooking Gears
Permits for Mount Kailash Trek
To take a trek tour at Mount Kailash area, travelers need to obtain several necessary permits.
Firstly you will need a Tibet Travel Permit (Tibet Entry Permit) which is issued by Tibet Tourism Bureau. This permit is the most important permit because you will need to take flight/train to Tibet. And it will also be checked in Tibet. Secondly you have to obtain an Alien Travel Permit which allows you to visit Ngari prefectures, including Mount Kailash, Manasarovar Lake, Guge, etc. Thirdly you will have to apply for a Border Pass because Mount Kailash area is located near the border between China, India and Nepal. Fourthly, you will need the Military Permit which Issued by the Military office in Lhasa. Tibet Travel Permit must be obtained before your trip while the Alien Travel Permit, Border Pass and Military Permit will only be checked when you are already in Tibet.
The first page of TTB Permit (Tibet Entry Permit)
What to Pack for Mount Kailash Trek
Basic warm, comfortable and firm clothing are required. A pair of strong, well-fitting boots is necessary. We will offer tent, stove, cooking utensil and other necessary equipment for trekking and camping. The private gears and equipment, such as sleeping bag is suggested to bring on your own. Check following packing list:
1. A large backpack and a smaller one. The smaller one can be used for daily activities and be put into the large backpack when necessary;
2. A waist bag to put important documents and property.
1. It's advisable to dress in layers that can be easily added or removed as temperatures vary greatly within a day in Tibet;
2. A windbreaker is advisable at any time of year;
3. A pair firmed, water-proof, warm-keeping and well-fitting trekking shoes;
4. Waterproof clothing and raingear;
5. A down jacket (better with hat) together with other warm-keeping clothing is necessary.
1. High SPF sunscreen cream, sun block, skin cream and lip balm to against intense sunlight and dry weather;
2. Sunglasses and sunhat can protect you effectively from being exposed to the scorching sunlight;
3. A pair firmed, water-proof, warm-keeping and well-fitting trekking shoes.
1. Medicine to prevent and lessen High Altitude Sickness, such as Diamox;
2. Medicine for cold, headache, stomachache, diarrhea, nausea, insect bite, etc. such as Aspirin, Diphenoxylate, and Prochlorperazine;
3. Band-aids or other wound dressings;
4. Nasal ointment and throat lozenges if you are sensitive to chilly or freezing weather conditions;
1. A water bottle;
2. A solar flashlight;
3. Sleeping bag;
Packing Well for the Trekking
Always Keep Yourself Warm
Trekking Shoe is Necessary
Bring a Warm Sleeping Bag
Ngari Travel Guide
Recommended Mount Kailash & Lake Manasarovar Tour Packages
Following are our well-designed popular tour package to Mount Kailash and Manasarovr Lake, including a fixed-departure group tour and two customizable private trips. You can also contact us to design a trip of your own based on your personal needs.
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