Two Day Trekking Experience Around Mt. Kailash
This route is a standard Mount Kailash kora but is quite demanding physically. Due to high altitude, the accommodation and meals are very basic and tough.
It is very quiet in Darchen in the morning, as if everything has not woken up from sweet dream. The Baga Grassland glows in the golden sunlight. I follow the pilgrims along the path. They walk very fast, and will soon disappear behind the curve of the road.
The quite morning in Darchen
When arriving at the chaktsal gang, I can actually see the top of the holy mountain in the far distance. I continue walking ahead to the right, towards the Lha-chu Valley till I reach the pilgrim entrance. It takes roughly one hour and a half to walk from Darchen to the entrance.
At the entrance I see the Chorten Kang-nyi. When walking between the two pillars and everyone are supposed to ring the bell hanging from the top of the pagoda. The legend has it that you are greeting the holy mountain, "Hi there. Here I come." This place provides an ideal opportunity to shoot Mt. Kailash. As a photographer, I cann't afford to miss it.
Chorten Kang-nyi provides an ideal opportunity to shoot Mt. Kailash
Lha-chu Valley lies between the two mountains. The pilgrim path winds alongside the valley, until it reaches Dira-puk Monastery. Therefore, I don’t have to worry about getting lost. I keep walking for 20 minutes and then I see a temple, Chuku Monastery standing on the cliff.
From now on the pilgrim path becomes relatively smooth in the valley, with little ups-and-downs. Today’s trekking is not very difficult, but I still pay special attention because I’m trekking on the highest plateau in the world.
After about one hour’s walk, I see several yurts, where I take a break and have some buttered tea and food. After 20 minutes’ walk, I reach an iron bridge. Because I choose to stay overnight at the camping sites, I do not cross the bridge. The sites charge 200 RMB for a 4-bed room, but you can bargain. The instant noodle sells for 10 RMB per bowl. Because of the high elevation, the accommodation and meals are not as good as you imagine. The boiling water for instant noodle is not boiling at all. It’s simply warm.
The caravan and yak team on the way
If I visit Mt. Kailash ever again, I would certainly, for sure, take my stove, fuel bottle and cookware. They are not too heavy, after all, and I can at least have something hot, and can cook food. Moreover, be sure to take some food with you. Better take food for day 1 and breakfast for day 2. It is critical to have energy supplement while trekking on high altitude.
Today I trek about 26 kilometers in 12 hours.
I get up early and start at about 7 a.m. from the camping sites. It is still dark outside, so a headlamp is needed. Today I need to take it slowly, because I am experiencing the highest altitude since I start the trekking. After one hour’s walk, I find some prayer flags on the roadside. The day breaks gradually. The eastern snow-capped peak of Mt. Kailash now stands before my eyes. There is a road sign, at which people can take the best picture of the sun-bathed Mt. Kailash. The sun throws its first beam at the point of the Kailash peak at 8:25 am.
After enjoying the stunning view, I keep going. There is a large up-going slope in front of the Drölma-la Pass. The path is not rough and it’s very wide. When I see prayer flags all around, I know I have reached the Drölma-la Pass. It should be around 10 am.
Drölma-la Pass-the sea of prayer flags
Nevertheless the path ascends significantly and turns narrow after the pass. It is quite exhausting to complete that part of trekking. It is also quite windy there. There are some tents on the way down. This is a rest place where people can have food here. I keep waking down until I come across another camping site. I buy some instant food and beverages. The price is relatively higher.
From now on, all I need to do is just walking. The road becomes wide and smooth. Yarks by the riverside stare at me, an exhausted traveler. You may come across some local Tibetans. They are very friendly. They even encourage you to trudge along and cheer you up. What I need now is a strong will to keep going.
The way to Dzultripuk
It takes 5-6 hours from Drölma-la Pass to Zutul-puk Monastery, and takes another 1 hour to go to Darchen. Many trekkers will ask the driver to pick them up.
Now I finally finish the whole pilgrimage trip, which is a challenging and memorable experience.