How to Plan a Mount Kailash Trek Tour 2021/2022? A Step by Step Guide
Mount Kailash trekking tour is one of the most demanding and challenging treks in the world. This trek route in Tibet is widely known as the kora around the Mt.Kailash (6638m) which is sacred to four religions and a deeply numinous place.
The average altitude of this trekking is nearly 5,000m, so it is a very great challenge and requires strong perseverance. It is a true test of the mind and spirit.
However, with a full preparation and tourist-friendly support from a professional team like us, you can enjoy the spiritual walk to your heart’s content. Before you hit the road, let’s find out what to expect and how to plan for the Mt.Kailash tour:
Itineraries? The Most Classic Mt. Kailash Trek Tour is 15 Days, with 3-day Trekking.
The most classic and popular tour itinerary is: 15 days Mount Kailash and Manasarovar small group tour, with more than 90% clients taking this trip every year.
Why Choose 15-day Lhasa to Mount Kailash Tour?
Based on our years of Mt. Kailash tour running experience, more than 90% of the travelers will choose to reach Lhasa first either by taking flight or Tibet train from mainland Chinese cities (like Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xining, Guangzhou, Xi’an, etc.) or flight from Kathmandu.
And then after 3 days’ acclimation in Lhasa and keep travelling to Gyantse, Shigatse, Tingri, and visit EBC. Afterwards, travel westward to Saga, Manasarovar Lake and Darchen, the small town and beginning of Mt. Kailash kora.
This route covers literally all the highlighted Buddhist attractions and natural scenery from Lhasa to Ngari. It also has gradual ascent to avoid acute altitude sickness. Along the way, tourists can visit Yamdrok Lake and Manasarovar Lake, closely observe Mt. Everest at EBC, and enjoy top 4 highest peaks of Himalayas at Gawu La Pass (5198m).
Travel route (15 days):
Lhasa (3650m) - Gyantse (4040m) - Shigatse (3836m) - Tingri (4300m) - E.B.C (5200m) - Saga (4487m) - Lake Manasarovar (4588m) - Darchen (4600m) - Mt. Kailash (6638m)
How to Take the Mount Kailash Trek?
You are expected to trek on the rugged mountain trials over 52km averaging 5000m above the sea level. Many Tibetans do the kora in a single day; but most international tourists take three days to finish the 52km's walk. The important thing is to find your pace and walk steadily.
Day 1: Darchen - Dirapuk Monastery (6rs, 20km, 200m ascent)
The Kailash kora usually begins on the western edge of Darchen. It is a mild and moderate trek for the first day. The altitude rises slowly and there are some mild ups and downs, which is easy to handle.
Tourist is taking a rest during the kora around Mt. Kailash.
You'd better begin your trek in the early morning. The tour vehicle will transfer you to the two prayer square, which is the beginning of Mt. Kailash trek. You may hire a porter and yaks to carry your day packs.
Day 2: Dirapuk Monastery to Dzultripuk Monastery (7-8h, 18km, 550m ascent, 600 descent)
This is the most challenging part of the 3-day trek as you will challenge the Drolma La Pass (5630m) and you need to take it extremely careful with the drastic ascent and descent during the trek. As a suggestion, do not stay at Dolma La Pass for too long, the thin air and strong wind might be harmful.
Day 3: Dzultripuk Monastery to Darchen (3-4 hours, 14km, 150m descent)
For the last day, it is a mild slope and easy trek. And there are some narrow paths to pass. Finally you will return to Darchen to finish the trek.
What to Expect for Mount Kailash Trek?
Traditionally, Mt. Kailash tour is done with the 3-day trek around holy Mt. Kailash together with a visit to sacred Manasarovar Lake in Ngari, western Tibet. The trek involves some of the great highlights for you to expect.
First, you can trek with prostrating Tibetan pilgrims around holy Mt. Kailash. You will be closely observing the imposing pyramid-shaped summit of Mt. Kailash, believed to be the “Abode of Lord Shiva” and walking with devoted Tibetan pilgrims for an unbeatable spiritual odyssey around the holy mountain.
The stunning Mt.Kailash made a splendid backdrop to the Manasarovar Lake.
Secondly, you can enjoy the surreal beauty of Manasarovar Lake. You can take a relaxing stroll along the enchanting shore of Manasarovar Lake or enjoy the meditation here. With incredible reflection of the summit of Mt.Kailash own on the lake surface, the holiness of the lake is heightened.
Also, you can explore the five temples around Mt. Kailash. The Mount Kailash is surrounded by five monasteries, namely Nyari Monastery, Drirapuk Monastery, Dzultripuk Monastery, Selung Monastery and Gyangzha Monastery. Each monastery is endowed with different legendary stories and decorated by distinctive sculptures, statues, murals, thangkas and other Tibetan cultural objects.
When to Go? You Can Only Trek Mt. Kailash from May to Oct.
To decide when the best time is for Mt.Kailash trek, it’s the weather at Mt.Kailash and auspicious date of Mt.Kailash kora that you should be looking at.
Best Time to Trek Mt. Kailash for Good Weather
After mid-Oct, the freezing cold weather prompts locals to temporarily close their guesthouses or tented camps till next April, which marks the end of Mt. Kailash trek in a year. So, actually, you can only trek Mt. Kailash from May to October of a year.
Chart shows the annual temperature and precipitation at Mt.Kailash.
And the best time for Mt. Kailash trekking is in May, June, Sept. and first half of Oct. You will enjoy the incredible clear blue sky, crisp air and high visibility, with temperature staying at around 8 or 9 Celsius on average.
July and August (monsoon season) see half of the rainfall in the whole year. However, the constant downpour is rarely seen here. You’d better double check a week’s weather before coming.
Most Auspicious Time to Trek Mt. Kailash
The most auspicious time to visit Mt. Kailash is in the Year of Horse (Chinese zodiac) and during Saga Dawa Festival (around the 15th day of April in the Tibetan calendar).
Local Tibetans are deeply convinced that going one circle around Mt.Kailash in the year of Horse, the blessings you get would be 13 times more than usual and the wish you made will be more likely to come true.
While Saga Dawa falls on that day which is also the birthday of Buddha Sakyamuni. During this festival, Tibetans from all over Tibet pour into this area of Mt. Kailash. The giant flagpole at Tarpoche is ritually taken down and the prayer flags along its length replaced. It is also a great time to do a Tibet tour, though it could be a bit crowded.
Accommodation Conditions? It's not Bad like You Imagined.
As the accommodation facilities have been greatly improved nowadays, there is no need to camp during the 3-day kora. You can stay in the basic guesthouse at Dirapuk Monastery (the 1st night) and Dzultripuk Monastery (the 2nd night).
Dirapuk Monastery, one of the two major monasteries along the koar route.
And a few Tibetan-run tented camps down Dolma La Pass can be found, offering basic food, such as instant noodle, soup and sweet tea, hot water and some stirred fried rice, etc.
Due to the inhospitable environment, there won't be hot tap water or showering facilities. But the electric blanket and multiple sheets can be used to keep you warm during the night. A sleep bag is better if you can't deal with the filthy bed sheets.
During your trek, most of the time, you can find a private toilet, for ladies it can be an inconvenient small challenge. so do bring your toilet paper, wet tissue paper and toiletry, etc.
Except for the Classic Route, Two Ways are Available.
If the 15-day route from Lhasa to Mount Kailash does not suit you well, there are also two options for you to choose.
Travel to Mount Kailash from Kathmandu
You can choose to travel to Mt. Kailash from Kathmandu by road. The proximity to Nepal makes Kathmandu the closest gateway to Mt. Kailash. Firstly you fly to Kathmandu and stay there for 3 days to get China Group Visa and sightseeing. Then you can enjoy our transfer service from Kathmandu to Syabrubesi (7-8hrs, 130km), 20km to Gyirong border.
After spending one night there, you cross Gyirong Border, Sino-Nepal border, and arrive in Gyirong Town for acclimation. Then the next day drive upwards to Saga and keep driving to Darchen via Manasarovar Lake.
This route take the shortest time to reach Mt. Kailash from Kathmandu (around 900km or 7days). You can visit both Hindu and Buddhist attractions in Nepal and Tibet, while enjoy stunning overland tour via Himalayas.
However, the treacherous winding roads from Kathmandu to Gyirong border are often crippled by landslide and mudslide in monsoon season (mid-June to early Sept). And you will miss classic Lhasa to EBC tour if travelling directly back to Kathmandu.
One can take a helicopter to Mt.Kailash from Nepal.
Besides, you can also take a helicopter to Mount Kailash from Kathmandu. This travel route is especially popular to well-to-do Indian tourists, given the expensive helicopter ride. And you also need to spend 3 days to process China Group Visa in Kathmandu before entering Sino-Nepal Border. After you spending one night in Purang, you can travel northward to Darchen via majesticManasarovar Lake and Jiwu Temple.
Travel to Mount Kailash from Xinjiang (Kashgar)
Besides the major travel routes, you may also choose to travel overland from Kashgar to Mt. Kailash. In this case, you need to take connecting flight from cities like Chengdu, Chongqing, Guangzhou, Shanghai to Kashgar, then drive southward to Mt. Kailash via Karghalik, 30 Li Yingfang, Rutog and Shiquanhe and Darchen.
However, in reality, not only does it cost much more money but also very inconvenient, unless you have special purposes such as motorcycling, etc.
What to Pack for Trekking?
Given the arduous trek at high altitude, traveling light is preferred. Your day pack should not exceed 30 kg.
Though you do not have to camp during this trek, at least take a warm sleeping bag (which can be borrowed from us) and warm clothes with you, better in multiple layers not a heavy and thin clothes. The weather conditions and terrain vary significantly from one region, or even from one trail to another.
Moreover, the wind is very strong at some passes. Thus, wind-proof clothes, such as windproof fleece, Beanie, etc.are also recommended.
Down jackets and thermal trousers are necessary for Mt. Kailash trekking even in summer. Since the temperature in mountain areas of Tibet may be very low even in day time. At night, the temperature will drop to below zero. Besides, the weather may change greatly in a day.
A sample of stuff to pack for Mt.Kailash trek
Meanwhile, the sun protection like sunglasses, sunscreen, lip balms are also a must. Since no one can precisely predict the upcoming of rain and hail, a waterproof jacket or rain coat shall be taken with you. After all, getting soaked at a place of above 5000m might put you in serious trouble.
And don't forget to bring some high-calorie snacks and refreshing coffee and tea, in case you need the energy for another round of adrenaline rush. Of course, for responsible travel, some plastic bags to collect your garbage will be so considerate.
Besides, to help you travel lighter, we can offer you trekking poles, which can ease the pressure of your knee and give you better balance while walking on the rugged terrain. Our local guide can also help to hire the porter or yak, if you need, to carry your packs.
Despite the spiritually-uplifting experience and awe-inspiring mountain view, the notoriously challenging Mt. Kailash trek is defined by extreme altitude, changeable mountain weather and huge physical demand. No worries! Please follow our insider tips and gear up for a safe and unparalleled spiritual journey.
1) Pre-book your Mt. Kailash tour with a reliable travel agency
All Tibet travels, including Mt. Kailash tour, can only be done via a pre-booked tour (at least 30 days) with a licensed Tibet travel agency.
As a well-established Tibet travel agency since 1984, our offices are located in Lhasa, Kathmandu and Chengdu, making it extremely easy to book the Mt. Kailash tour directly from us, without depending on the third party contractors.
Meanwhile, we promise to offer an easy handling of your travel documents from all Tibet-entry cities, and can help you book hotel, flight, Tibet train tickets to Lhasa, etc.
Travelling with us ensures you a smooth journey to Mt. Kailash.
For Indian citizens who intend to visit Mt. Kailash and Manasarovar in Ngari, you can only book your tour run by Pilgrim Center (non-governmental), also known as Tibet-India pilgrim Reception Center in Tibet. Other international tourists are not affected, you can book your Mt.Kailash trek directly with us.
2) Join group tour to save Mt. Kailash cost
Traveling to Mt.Kailash is not cheap. Take the most popular 15-day Lhasa to Mt. Kailash via EBC tour for example, on average in Tibet alone you need to prepare at least 2500 USD/person. The travel cost is expected to cover the meals, hotel, tour transfer service, travel insurance, guide service, oxygen supply, entrance ticket, travel documents, porter and yaks for trekking (in some cases), etc.
Another big expenditure is the international flight to inland China plus the cost for either taking Chinese flight or Tibet train to Lhasa. For a solo traveler visiting Mt. Kailash, the total cost can be staggeringly high.
Therefore, a great choice to cut the cost is by joining group tour. In this way, in a small tour group of around 8 to 12 travelers, you can share the cost for tour vehicle, hotel and dining. It can save you roughly 400-600 USD/person in Tibet. Besides, you can meet many interesting souls. So, Why not?!
Photo of our clients of small group tour with their local tibetan guide.
Another workable way is to visit Mt.Kailash any time between April to June, instead of July, August, Sept. and Oct, the high season of Mt. Kailash tour. If you join the small group tour before July, the cost normally can be around 210 USD/ person cheaper that the high season.
3) Prepare travel documents needed for Mt. Kailash trek
The travel documents needed largely depend on where you plan to visit Mt.Kailash. If you prefer to visit Mt. Kailash from Lhasa, Tibet Permit is needed to enter Tibet, and our Tibetan guide will help you get Alien’s Travel Permit and Military Permit and Foreign Affairs Permit to visit Mt.Kailash in Burang, County, Ngari (Ali).
If you decide to visit Mt. Kailash from Kathmandu, in addition to the above documents, you need to have China Group Visa to enter Tibet. You need to set aside at least 3 days in Kathmandu to process Group Visa with your original passport. We can also help to handle the permits in this case.
4) Only outer kora is available to international tourists
First and foremost, the inner kora of Mt.Kailash is not available for international tourists, for safety concerns, according to the travel policy.
The inner kora covers 30km and can be done in a single day. However, you have to pass treacherous cliff and extremely high passes. Locals believe only after you have circled outer kora of Mt. Kailash 13 times, you can be granted the chance to do inner kora of Mt.Kailash.
So, the outer kora is the right way and only choice to go.
5) Prepare a good level of fitness is vital for Mt. Kailash trekking
You’ve got to prepare a good level of fitness. Swimming, hiking in mountains or hills, jogging, cycling, etc. all these aerobic exercises will help you build up a better level of fitness and stamina for the arduous trek.
So far the oldest of our client who successful finished the challenging Mt.Kailash kora without the help of oxygen was the Gerhard, the 82-year-old man from Germany (Sept, 2018). He trained himself for the ultimate trek with over 10km’s walk, three times a week. What a remarkable accomplishment!
Our 82-year-old client took photo with other clients when they did Mt.Kailash kora.
Though Gerhard might be an exception, it proves that an appropriate training over a period before Tibet travel does help you restore the energy needed for an adrenaline rush. Meanwhile, keeping a lighthearted and optimistic mood is also helpful when faced with unexpected difficulties.
6) Pay attention to high altitude sickness during the trek
The 52km kora around the holy mountain has an average elevation about 5,000m. Altitude sickness can be the biggest concern you should take into consideration. The initial symptoms of altitude sickness are as follows: losing appetite, nausea, vomiting, insomnia/sleeplessness, dizziness, confusion, persistent headache, weakness, fatigue, heavy legs, breathlessness and breathing irregularity, etc.
Try not exerting yourself if you suffer from altitude sickness, please consider stopping ascending. Otherwise more serious problems may occur. The only remedy for the altitude sickness is to walk to a lower altitude.
To make sure you have a safe journey, our Tibetan guides will walk by your side and be above attentive to your needs. They will check the oxygen level and pulse of you with Pulse Oximeters. And the life-saving Hyperbaric Oxygen Chamber is also prepared at Mt.Kailash for emergency. 24/ 7 call is at your service, etc.
No matter whether you are a believer or not, it is inspiring to share the path with these pilgrims, often the most devout nomads who have saved for years to make the trip.
You will enjoy the most divine experience at Mt. Kailash when gazing at the holy mountain and meeting a huge range of people here, including prostrators who will take three weeks to complete the circuit by prostrating.
If you have different ideas or have any more questions concerning Mt.Kailash trek, please feel free to leave your comment below or email your inquiry to us. We are expecting to hear your insight.
Follow our Mount Kailash Yatra vlog to see the real kora of holy Kailash.
Far view of Mt. Kailash
Porter and yaks can always used to carry packs during the trek.