Special trip to Mt Kailash in May 2020

Mt Kailash trip: May 10-26, 2020
~ 17 days which includes 6 days at Mt Kailash ~

To see the listing of this trip on the SnowJewel site, where you will find more details, go to http://snowjewel.com/departure.html#3 where you will see May New for 2020! Special Trip, Mt. Kailash, Tibet, May 10-26, 2020.

For your convenience I've put the full itinerary below,

If you decide that you want to go, the first thing you need to do is contact Roger. roger@snowjewel.com. He will then send you much more information. He will ask for payment only after the trip fills up with the minimum number of people to make it possible.

To contact me, email thomasriddle @ gmail.com.

I am very happy to be going back to Tibet and Mount Kailash with Roger early in 2020.

It's a funny thing, and apparently not uncommon, for people to say that their lives completely turned around for the better after visiting Mount Kailash.

That is certainly true for me and I can tell you all about it should we ever meet. To tell you a little bit more about the trip, you will find an FAQ below as well as the movies on this page. If you have other questions please email me at thomasriddle at gmail.com.


For you, what's the big advantage of going so early in the season?

In early summer the weather will be very pleasant and we will be there just before the big tour groups arrive. Of course, anytime is a good time to go but if you go later in the season there will be many more people doing the kora and human beings do what human beings do in places where there are no trees and no public restrooms. Do I have to say more?


What can you do for me?

in katmanduGood question. Roger is the guide and he makes all the decisions. I can answer general questions, so clearly, I'm the wrong person to ask if you want to know more than very general things. Please don't ask me about a hotel in a certain city, when we'll be at a certain place, etc. Before we leave, maybe I can help you in Kathmandu a bit and as we travel, I can certainly tell you travel stories, and otherwise give you whatever comfort and advice as I can. As we travel, keep in mind that I am 68 years old. If I can do it, you can too.


Why have you only ever traveled to Mt Kailash with Rodgers?

rogerI met him many years ago when we attended the same meditation retreat in Bodh Gaya, India. He seemed like someone I could trust and rely on. Earlier other people told me that they tried to go to Mt Kailash and ran out of food and turned back. Now that I've gone on three trips with Roger, I can truthfully say that Roger is a very good organizer, he is a genius at invisibly working with the group and balancing different personalities, and if anything goes wrong, he knows what to do. Also, it's worth noting that once you are on the road with him, even though you may not notice it, everyone he works with, respects him and he respects them.


What about the Chinese presence in Tibet?

You will see the Chinese military in many places and of course, you are a guest in both the People's Republic of China and the autonomous region of Tibet. So you must respect the rules and regulations. Additionally, of course, you shouldn't do anything to embarrass Roger. Roger respects the Chinese and you should too. Naturally, there are Tibetan people who have, shall we say, mixed feelings, about the Chinese presence in their country. But I'm sure that even they will say that since the Chinese have been there the infrastructure has improved dramatically as have the living standards of most of the Tibetan people.

karmapaI note that the man who is said to be just below the Dalai Lama, Ogyen Trinley Dorje, noted that all the Tibetan people can thank the Chinese for making vegetables widely available, for the first time in Tibet. Since I have been traveling to Tibet, I note that one of the temples that I have visited has changed their diet to vegetarian. For you, the tourist, the Chinese presence means, among other things, that you can buy any last-minute supplies like water bottles, flasks, and jackets, in Lhasa, Tibet, or even, to some degree, in Darchen just before you go on the trek around Mount Kailash.

What's the big problem with the climate and the thin air?

For me, and many other people, the big problem is sleeping at night. So what to do? You could bring music to listen to on your headphones, some kind of electronic reader (so you don't need a light to read), or you could do what I do, meditate.

It may be useful just to think about it.

Is meditation really easy in the high altitudes?

I never noticed any difference. You will notice that your thoughts will change because you are in a place that for hundreds, even thousands, of years people have used for spiritual purposes. You may notice strange dreams or strong emotions. As always, patient endurance and mindfulness will be your best friends.

Are you going to be organizing meditations or anything like that on this walk?

No. I will probably be doing my usual hour of meditation in the morning, every morning, but I won't organize any group sittings unless the group asks me to. I usually like to walk in silence, but I've found that many times -- especially at the beginnings and ends of long days, things are just too exciting to stay in silence.

In your movie, Mount Kailash and the Walk around the Sacred Mountain, you walked up to the North Face, touched the mountain and suddenly broke down in tears. What about that?

It is totally unnecessary for anyone to do that. In retrospect that was a very American thing to do. The Tibetan pilgrims don't do it because it's ridiculous. If you want to get the real benefit from visiting Mt Kailash, walk every step with a spirit of humility and respect for the mountain, it's traditions and the people who have walked before you. Many people cry buckets of tears on just seeing the mountain.

How difficult is the walk?

It's not difficult at all except for a few hours as you walk up the pass. And even the walk up the pass is not difficult if you can relax and not be in any hurry. Just take your time, step by step, and you'll be fine. Nevertheless, things will be more difficult for you if you are overweight, if you smoke, or if you are really in bad physical shape.

What happens if I get sick or I decide that I don't want to walk around the mountain?

On my second trip to the mountain, one man opted, because of health problems, just to stay in Darchen. He enjoyed the pleasures of the village and day walks to see the mountain.

How do I go?

Most people find that the easiest way to go is to fly to Lhasa from Kathmandu and let Roger, in four days, do all the visa work for Tibet for them. This visa, a “group-visa” costs (USA 198$/ Europe 114$).) But you can fly to Lhasa Tibet, from Chengdu, China if you don't want to go to Katmandu. To do this you need to obtain a Chinese visa before leaving your home country and then spend one night in Chengdu (Fastest way!).

Either way, if you want to go please contact the tour guide, who is also the manager of SnowJewel, Roger Pfister.

His email address is: roger@snowjewel.com. Skype: Kailashroger / / Phone +977 (0)1 - 448 23 51

He will then send you the complete application.

Anything else?

There may be other things, but remember I am just a fellow traveler. I am not the guide; I am not the decision-maker. I am just going along for the ride. So questions about the organization of the trip, money, hotels, visas, and all that stuff I don't have a clue about. Basically, I can answer general questions that you might be embarrassed to bother Roger with. Little things. I look forward to seeing you there. It is going to be a wonderful trip.

-- Tom

You can see more pictures of Mt Kailash and Tibet on my Flickr page here. Also you are welcome to read the diary of my first trip here:http://thomasriddle.net/tibet/riddle_diary_tibet.htm or see more pictures here.


Again, to see the official listing of this trip, go to http://snowjewel.com/departure.html#3 where you will see:

May New for 2020! Special Trip, Mt. Kailash, Tibet May 10-26, 2020

As I said, if you want to go, the first thing you need to do is contact Roger. roger@snowjewel.com. He will then send you much more information. To contact me, email thomasriddle @ gmail.com. Here, below is the "detailed itinerary."

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Itinerary – Detailed

Day 1: Early morning transfer to the airport, for the flight to Lhasa. In Lhasa, our Tibetan guide will pick us up from Gongar Airport and take us to the Yak Hotel, located in the middle of the Tibetan old part of the city, just five minutes’ walk from the Potala and the Jokhang Temple.

Days 2-3: Lhasa – Sightseeing. We will explore Lhasa on foot and visit the heart of Tibet – the Jokhang Temple and the Potala Palace, the former home of the Dalai Lamas which is now a museum. We will also visit other less famous, but no less important, places and temples.

Day 4: From Lhasa we will drive 2-3 hours towards Samye and visit Dorjee Drak Monastery on the way. Overnight in a simple pilgrim’s hotel with a shower.

Day 5: Samye to Chimpu Caves and the first kora walk. Samye Monastery, the first Buddhist monastery built in Tibet, was constructed in the 770s by King Trisong Deutsen with the help of Guru Rinpoche in a mandala style that represents the Indian Cosmology. Above Samye
Monastery, situated in a lush valley, are the Chimphu Caves. The caves have come to represent the enlightened speech of Guru Rinpoche for it was here that Guru Rinpoche gave the first Vajrayana teachings to his consort and closest students (altogether 25 disciples). The walk, up to the caves from the Samye Monastery, will be our first “kora” and will take about four leisurely hours. Overnight in hotel, double with shower.

Day 6: Samye to Gyantse. We will drive via Kambala Pass (4794m) along Yamdrok Tso (Scorpion Lake, 4488m) and Karo La pass (5045m) where we will see the Karola Glacier. Later in the day we will reach Gyantse. Overnight: hotel, double room with shower (280km, 7-8h).

Day 7: Gyantse to Sakya. At 9 AM we will visit the Gyantse Kumbum & monastery which holds very precious 14th-century clay statues posing with yoga mudras (postures). After we will drive through Shigatse to Sakya. Overnight: double room with shower. (241km, 6h).

Day 8: Sakya to Saga. In the morning we will visit the Sakya Monastery and then travel on to Saga passing through magnificent hilly landscape. (8h drive 460 Km). Overnight in simple pilgrims' guesthouse (public bath).

Day 9: Saga – Darchen (4'560m). 9-10h drive (540km). We will cross several high passes and enter the high desert of Western Tibet – with beautiful landscape from Paryang to Darchen. After crossing the Mayumla pass (5216m), we will drive along the shores of Gung Gyu Lake, before getting our first glimpse of holy Mount Kailash. We will stay in a guest house (public bath) at the foot of Mount Kailash.

Day 10: Day excursion to Lake Manasarovar where we can enjoy a simple spa that offers private hot baths with water from the local hot springs. Later we can explore the ancient Chiu Gompa and walk on the shore of the lake to collect some pebbles before we head back to Darchen and prepare for the kora.

Day 11: Day 1 of the Kailash kora. This is a medium trek (20km, 6-8h), slightly uphill. From the south, we reach Tarpoche, the so-called centre of the universe. Then, we pass Chuku monastery (those who have lots of energy can go for a short visit) and see the west face of Kailash. Our pilgrims' guest house, no shower, is just below the Dirapuk Monastery at 4900m with awesome views of Mt. Kailash’s north face.

Day 12: Day 2 of the kora. Rest day at Mt. Kailash’s north face for acclimatization. Those who would like to can visit the Dirapuk monastery (famous yogi Gyalwa Gotsangpa meditated there in a cave for a long time), make an excursion to the north face (2h), stroll into a side valley (1-2h) or simply enjoy Mt Kailash’s power while relaxing in the guest house.

Day 13: Day 3 of the kora. This is the core of the kora and not coincidentally coincides with June’s full moon. This is a somewhat difficult trek (15km, 8-10h), where we need the energy reserves built up from the day before. For the first 2-5h, we slowly, and patiently, ascend towards the Tara-Pass/Drölma-La (5630m), where Tibetans traditionally rest, share food, and offer prayer flags to the mountain. After a break, we steeply descend to the valley (1-2h) where there is a tea house. From there it is another two or three-hour walk to the simple guest house of the Zutulpuk Monastery (4790m).

Day 14: Day 4 of the kora. This day begins with a fairly easy (11km, 3-4h) half-days’ slightly downhill walk back to Darchen where we will have lunch in a restaurant. After lunch, we will drive 240 km in about five hours to Paryang village and overnight in a simple guest house with no bath.

Day 15: From Paryang we will be driven back to Saga, 232 km, and onwards to upper Kyirong, 100 Km, which will take between 6 and 7 hours. We will travel over a high mountain pass (Zhongma), descend the high desert, and enter the green and lush vegetation. We will sleep in a hotel with a shower.

Day 16: We will travel 80 km in about two hours from upper Kyirong to the newly opened Nepal/Tibet border crossing of Rasuwa. Along the way, we visit the enlightenment cave of Tibet’s great saint, Milarepa. In Lower Kyirong/Rasuwa we will leave the Tibetan staff, cross the border, and walk one kilometre to our hotel in Nepal where we will spend the night.

Day 17: From Rasuwa we will travel for seven or eight hours, 160km, to Kathmandu and onward to Boudhanath. End of service on 26 May, 2020!

May 27th Earliest date to book flights to return home from Kathmandu.


May all beings be happy!