Kailash Circuit by Jan Reurink

Mt. Kailash Tour

$3,500 per person


16 Days from $3,500.00


May – October

Trip Style

Camping, Cultural/Trekking

Trip Difficulties


Service Level

Camping, Standard

Avg Altitude

4,300 m (14,107 ft.)

Guaranteed Dep

Minimum 4 Travelers


“Contact us for specific 2015 group dates”


Highlights: Explore Tibet’s largest and ancient city, Lhasa once a forbidden land. Visit Potala palace, Jokhang temple and ancient monasteries. Take a epic  inland drive to Everest base camp and adventure into the remote wilderness of western Tibet where nomads, wild animals and turquoise lakes with stunning mountain view will greet you on every corner. Embark on spiritual camping trek (individual tent and personal cook) to Mt. Kailash, holy mountain revered by Buddhists, Hindus and Jains.

Trip Summary: Mt. Kailash is the most sacred mountain for Buddhist, Hindus and Jains. Pilgrim beliefs circling the Mt. Kailash on foot will washes your sin and brings good fortunes. The trip features visit to historical sites in Lhasa, Gyantse, Shigatse and western Tibet. High altitude inland drive entails visit to ancient monasteries, ruin temples, small villages and beautiful turquoise lakes will woo the travelers. Sunrise view of Mt. Everest from Everest base camp and challenging three days camping trek (individual tent and personal cook) around Mt. Kailash is simply majestic and spiritually rewarding. Pilgrims will inspire you and amazing close view of Mt. Kailash (6338m) (21778 ft.) is priceless. We will drive through many high passes and incredible gorges (2500 meters) eventually reaching the border of Nepal, lush green subtropical region where our journey comes to an end. Stunning mountain views, alpine desert landscape toppled with rich Buddhist cultures is truly a spiritual journey for some and inspiration for others.

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Product Description


Day Summary

Arrive in Lhasa

Transfer to hotel and hold evening meeting.


Lhasa Sightseeing

Visit Norbu Lingka, Sera monastery, Potala Palace and Jokhang temple in Bakhor square.


Gyantse to Shigatse

Visit Kumbum Stupa (100,000 holy idol statues) Pelkhe Chode Monastery in Gyantse and arrive at Shigatse.


Shigatse to Shegar

Tour of Tashi Lhunpo monastery and drive to Shegar.


Rombuk and Everest Base Camp (5,200 m; 17,060 ft.)

Off road drive to Rombuk monastery, and optional short hike to Everest Base Camp.


Drive to Saga

Enter Western Tibet route to Saga, cross high passes and route along the Yarlung river.


Saga to Manasarovar Lake

Long drive to Manasarovar lake but will be rewarded with amazing view of alpine dessert landscape, local nomads villages, and stunning turquoise lake.


Manasarovar Lake to Darchen

Beautiful lakeshore drive and optional short hike to Giwu monastery offers stunning view of  Manasarovar lake and Mt. Kailash and Mt. Gurla Mandata (locally known as Namo Nanyi).

10- 12

Mt. Kailash Kora

Challenging two and half days trek with individual tent and personal cook around Mt. Kailash circuit, (52 km; 32.5 miles) and short drive to Baryang village.


Baryang to Nyalam Tsongdu

Continue to retrace our route back to Thingri and on to Nyalam Tsongdu. Cross high passes, spectacular view of Himalaya ranges.


Nyalam Tsongdu to Zhangmu

Short drive to Zhangmu and enter Nepal.


Drive to Kathmandu

Short scenic drive to Kathmandu, transfer to hotel.



End of tour. Free to leave anytime. We offer 24/7 local customer service.

Day 1: Arrive in Lhasa (3,650 m; 11,972 ft.)

You will be received by an SA representative at the Gonkhar international airport and transferred to your hotel in Lhasa. Lhasa resides at an altitude of 3,600 meters, please be very cautious, as your body needs to adapt to the high altitude. Our experienced guide will be with you, should you need any assistance. Lhasa is an ancient capital city and the largest in Tibet. It is the epicenter of trade, culture and historical importance. Your SA representative will introduce you to your guide and will hold a meeting regarding your itinerary and to discuss important health/safety information. Altitude sickness is a major concern for most travelers. However, the following 2 days touring around Lhasa will give you enough time to acclimatize. (D)

Day 2-3: Sightseeing In Lhasa

These two days of sightseeing in Lhasa will give travelers time to acclimatize and also to visit many UNESCO world heritage sites. In the morning, we will visit Norbu Lingka, summer palace of Dalai Lama. Norbu Lingka (Treasure garden) built in 18th century is the largest man made garden in Tibet and said to be highest in the world. The park features five small palaces (private quarters with shrine, chapels and meditation room and Buddhist artifacts), vast garden, small lake and zoo. We will roam around the park admiring the beautiful palace and lush green garden. The park is local popular picnic spot and dance show venue during summer season. After lunch, we will drive up to Sera monastery, the 14th century Buddhist universities of the Gelugpa sect, located just on the outskirts of Lhasa. We will watch the monk’s heated debates over Buddhist philosophy. As you walk around the monastery, you will encounter various assembly halls, shrines and chapels. (B) The next day we will be visiting the Potala Place, founded in the 7th Century by King Songtsen Gampo and later completed by the fifth Dalai Lama during the 16th century. This breathtaking structure serves as the main residence of the Dalai Lamas. A giant fortress-like palace, the Potala sits atop the red hill, about 1000 feet above the valley floor, overlooking the capital city. The Potala Palace is a living museum, housing hundreds of Buddhist artifacts. A short scenic walk from the Potala Palace will take us to the Jokhang Temple. It is located in Barkhor Square in the old part of the city. The Jokhang is the heart of Tibet and its’ devoutly Buddhist people. It is the most sacred temple in Tibet, housing a statue of Jowo Shakyamuni Buddha, which was originally brought to the temple as a dowry by princess Wangchen of China. Barkhor square is also a Mecca for shoppers. There are endless small shops and stalls featuring everything from handicrafts, clothing and kitchen wares to fake antiques. It is the busiest and the most crowded square in Tibet, given the importance of the Jokhang Temple and its large open-air market area. (B)

Day 4: Gyantse and Shigatse (3,900 m; 12,792 ft.)

You will leave Lhasa in the morning. Three hours drive from Lhasa; you will reach Gampa-La (4,794 m; 15,728 ft.), the first of three mountain passes. You will make a rest stop at the top of the pass, which overlooks the Yamdro tso (Yamdro Lake). Yamdro Lake is one of the three largest sacred lakes in Tibet. You will cross another two passes, Karo- La (5,010 m; 16,437 ft.) and Simi- La (4,330 m; 14,206 ft.), before reaching Gyantse Dzhong, a small town on the outskirt of Shigatse. Gyantse Dzhong is a 13th century built fortress that stretches three kilometers in length and was once briefly invaded by the British in the early 20th century. In Gyantse, you will take a tour of the famous Kumbum Stupa (containing one hundred thousand holy idol statues) in the Pelkhe Chode Monastery. This 14th century stupa is 115 feet high with nine levels, containing thousands of images of Buddhas and other deities. You will spend the night at Shigaste, a short two hour drive from Gyantse. Sighatse (3,900 m; 12,792 ft.) is Tibet’s 2nd largest city and the main shopping hub for western Tibet. (B)                

                                                                        Estimated Travel time: 8 hours          Approximate Distance: 340km (212.5 mile)

Day 5: Shigatse to Shegar (4,500 m; 14,760 ft.)

Today you will visit the 15th Century Tashi Lhunpo monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama (the 2nd highest lama in the Gelugpa sect after the Dalai Lama). Much of the monastery was untouched during the Cultural Revolution due to the strong influence and importance of the Great Panchen Lama. The monastery features a gigantic 26 meters (85.3 ft) high statue of Maitreya (the future Buddha), which is gilded with 279 kg (615 lb) of gold. You will tour the numerous chapels and prayer halls of the monastery. You will also take a walking tour of the bustling city with its’ vibrant small markets. Shigatse is an important trade center for western Tibetans and the Zhamgu people of the Tibetan/Nepali border area. Our guide will facilitate the Everest Entrance Permit while you enjoy lunch. We will continue our journey on the Friendship Highway towards Shegar (also known as New Thingri), a small town 60km (37.5 mile) northwest of Everest Base Camp (EBC). We will make a rest stop at the 2nd highest pass of our entire journey, Gyatso-La (5,200 m; 17,060 ft.) and enjoy spectacular views of the Himalayas. We will spend the night at Shegar (4,500 m; 14,763 ft.) before continuing on to Everest Base Camp. (B)                    

                                                                        Estimated Travel Time: 6 hours          Approximate Distance: 240 km (150 mile)

Day6: Rombuk (4,980 m; 16,338 ft.) and Everest Base Camp (5,200 m; 17,060 ft.)

The drive to EBC is both majestic and thrilling. Part of the drive is on rough roads and it will take about 4 hours to reach Rombuk monastery (4,980 m; 16,338 ft.). We will come across small villages and make a stop at Gyalwa La (5,100 m; 16,732 ft.). Enjoy immersing yourself in this unmatchable panoramic view of the north face of Mt. Everest and its sister mountains. Rombuk monastery was built during the early 20th century and is the highest monastery in the world. From Rombuk camp station, we can either hike for 120 minutes or take the 15 minutes government bus ride to Everest Base Camp (5,200 m; 17,060 ft.). Here you will have a fantastic close-up view of the north face of Mt. Everest. We will return back to the guesthouse in the evening. [Please note, accommodation at Rombuk guesthouse is an ultra basic.] It has dormitory style rooms, an unattached toilet and no bathing facilities. We will do our best to make it comfortable.                    

                                                                           Estimated Travel Time: 4.5 hours          Approximate Distance: 110km (68.75 mile)

Day 7: Drive to Saga (4,640 m; 15,219 ft.)

A few hours’ drive from the EBC, we will enter the grasslands of western Tibet. En route we will come across amazing views of Mt. Shishapangma (8,100 m; 26,568 ft.), the highest mountain in Tibet, as well as its’ sister mountain, Mt. Pola Gun Chung. We will cross over four mountain passes and drive past 2 small salt lakes (Piegtso Lake and Yarlung Tsangpo). We may also come across some Nomads and their herds. The guesthouse at Saga provides basic accommodations.                    

                                                                            Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours          Approximate Distance: 360 km (225 mile)

Day 8: Saga to Manasarovar Lake (4,590 m; 15,060 ft.)

This will be another long drive, involving the crossing through more mountain passes, starting with Saga La (4,900 m; 16,076 ft.), on to Zhongba La (4,885 m; 16,026 ft.) and finally Mayum-La (5,210 m; 17,093 ft.). Excellent views of the Yarlung River and many sand dunes will be seen along the route. It will be possible to see Tibetan wild ass and antelope (Tibetan gazelle) along the route. Tonight will be spent camping on the shore of the beautiful Manasarovar Lake, ideally situated with an utterly breathtaking view that includes Mount Kailash as well as the lake itself.                    

                                                                            Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours          Approximate Distance: 480km (300 mile)

Day9: Manasarovar Lake to Darchen (4,575 m; 15, 010 ft.)

Today we will drive around Manasarovar Lake and visit Giwu Monastery, sits on top of small hill.  The  4o minutes optional short hike to Giwu Monastery offers stunning view of the Manasarovar lake,  Mt. Kailash  and  Mt. Gurla Mandata (locally known as Namo Nanyi (7,694 m; 25242 ft.).  The beautiful lakeshore drive with Mt. Gurla Mandata residing on the south shore and Mt. Kailash (6,655 m; 21,828 ft.) towering to the north will make the long drive worthwhile. We will reach Darchen in the early evening and spend a night at a local guesthouse.                    

                                                                            Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours           Approximate Distance: 100 km (62.5 mile)

Day 10-12: Mt. Kailash Kora (highest: 5,500 m; 18, 200 ft.) (Lowest: 4,600 m; 15, 000 ft.)

These next 3 days are the most physically challenging; yet spiritually rewarding part of the trip. You will walk and hike an average of 5-6 hours a day at an average altitude of 4,600 meters (15,091 ft.) with plenty of rest. The amazing view of Mt. Kailash and its’ sister mountain will leave you breathless. While circling the sacred mountain, devout Buddhist and Hindu pilgrims will inspire you as you walk. Mt. Kailash is an holy mountain for both Buddhist and Hindus and they believe that the pilgrimage circling of Mt. Kailash will grant you good karma. We began the Kora (circumambulation) of Mt. Kailash, clockwise. The first day of the trek involves walking and hiking for about 5 hours. As we trek through the deep valley, we will come upon many Mani walls and Chortens (stupas) and local  pilgrimers along the route. It is a gradual easy ascend and we will make many rest stops. We will camp near the Dirapuk valley, boasting an excellent view of north face of Mt. Kailash. Optional short hike to Chhu ku mnastery for well acclimatized guest. The second day of the trek is the toughest, as we have to cross the pass, Dolma-La (5500 m; 18,040 ft.).  We will make long ascend (5 hours) with plenty of rest and reach the summit of the pass (Dolma-La).  This high mountain pass, Dolma-La (God Tara), is covered with prayer flags raised by travelers as a prayer to the gods for safe crossing.  After lunch, we make a steep descend (1 hour) and continue to descend about another 3 hours before reaching the north part of Zultukpuk (Magical cave in Tibetan) in the evening. Along this arduous trek, we will be greeted by the beautiful small lake, the Lake of Compassion, (locally known as Thugje Zinbu). Hindu pilgrims will throw themselves in the water, believing it will purify their sins. We will camp near Zultukpuk for the night. Next morning, we will visit the Zultukpuk monastery. The Milarepa monastery features a cave where Milarepa once lived and meditated. The trail will gradually lower as we enter the Barkha Plain. The completed kora will come to an end near Darchen village. Our driver will receive us near the end of kora and take us to Darchen for lunch. We will take a short drive (3 hours) to Baryang village, where camp for third night.

Day13: Baryang to Nyalam Tsongdu (3,900 m; 12,792 ft.)

We will retrace the same route back to Thingri village and on to Nyalam Tsongdu. This long drive however will be compensated with stunnng mountain views along the route. You will be greeted by the third highest pass, Nyalam Thong-La (5,100 m; 16,728 ft.)  features panorama view of many mountains including Mt. Shishapangma (8,013 m; 26,282 ft.), the 14th highest mountain in the world.  There will be a few local Tibetans willing to brave this altitude for tourist sales and they will try to sell you prayer flags and mineral water.  We will take a short drive to Nyalam Tsongdu, small town with cluster of local guesthouse and restaurants and the seat of the Nyalam County. We will spend the night at local guesthouse.  Nyalam Tsongdu is a major stopover for Hindu pilgrimers enroute to Mt. Kailash.                    

                                                                              Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours          Approximate Distance: 320 km (200 mile)

Day 14: Nylam Tsongdu to Zhangmu (2,200 m; 7,216 ft.)

After breakfast, we will drive to Zhamgmu, the border of China and Nepal. Along the route, we will pass through many small villages via one of the most incredible gorges in the world thus descending up to 2,000 meters (6,561 ft.) in few hours. Upon arrival at Zhangmu, you will be channeled through the Chinese immigration process and will be greeted by your Nepali guide on the other side. Our guide will help you with Nepali Immigration formalities and take you to hotel at Kodari. (D)                                                                                      Estimated Travel Time: 1.5 hours         Approrximate Distance: 80 km (50 mile)

Day 15: Drive to Kathmandu (1,300 m; 4,264 ft.)

In the morning, you will drive on a narrow and bumpy road to Kathmandu, passing through small Nepali towns along the Bhote Koshi (Tibetan river in Nepali). Please note, occasionally this trip will be delayed due to landslides during monsoon season. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, you will be transferred to your hotel. Sonam Adventures will host farewell dinner. (B, D)                  

                                                                            Estimated Travel Time: 5 hours          Approximate Distance: 85 km (53 mile)

Day 16: Farewell

After breakfast, we will transfer you to Tribhuvan International Airport and bid farewell. You might also decide to stay on and explore Kathmandu for a few days. In this case, you will be provided a SIM card and mobile phone should you need any further assistance during your extended stay in Nepal. We offer 24/7 local and international customer service. (B)

Additional Information


16 Days from $3,500.00


May – October

Trip Style

Camping, Cultural/Trekking

Trip Difficulties


Service Level

Camping, Standard

Avg Altitude

4,300 m (14,107 ft.)

Guaranteed Dep

Minimum 4 Travelers


“Contact us for specific 2015 group dates”

When is the best time to travel to Tibet?

The best time to travel is in May and June. July and August fall in the rainy season. September and October are cooler (but not overly cold to people accustomed to fall and winter in places like New England) and offer great views of the Himalayas.

What problems arise on high altitude?

At an altitude of 3500m (11800ft) , most of the people suffer from Acute Mountain Sickness. At higher altitudes, there is less oxygen in the air; nearly 50% less oxygen than at sea level. Most of the people often complain of headache on their arrival at an altitude of 8,000 feet or more. Other symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, insomnia, unusual fatigue and lassitude are also felt.

Are there ATM facilities in Tibet?

Yes, in big cities such as Lhasa and Shigatse, there are ATM machine and International credit cards (Master Card, Visa Card etc) are accepted, but however expect to pay 3.5 to 5 % international transaction charge. It is best to bring extra cash with you.

Do I need travel medical insurance?

Travel Medical Insurance is included. Emergency medical coverage up to $50,000 and medical evacuation is up to $100,000


  • Travel medical ($50,000) and emergency evacuation ($100,000) insurance

  • Mobile phone (limited minutes, to be return upon trip completion)

  • Local English speaking guide

  • Entrances fee to all major sites and guided tour.

  • Meals: 5 Breakfasts and 3 Dinners

  • Accommodation: hotels (6nts), guesthouse (5nts), camping (3nts) 1 basic guesthouse

  • Transportation: private mini bus/van/jeep

  • Camping: Individual tent and personal cook

  • Airport pick up and drop off
  • Small group (10 maximum travelers)


  • Not included meals: (Please allow $150-$200 for meals for the whole trip)

  • International flight (departure and return home)

  • Chinese Visa

  • Trip cancellation and interruptions insurance

  • Mobile phone talk time minutes (limited)

  • Personal toiletries.

  • Recommended 10% courtesy tips

Please contact us should you need more information


Before You Go: Mt. Kailash Tour

Mount Kailash is regarded as the most sacred mountain in Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism and Bon alike. Kora (circling on foot) or circumambulating Mt. Kailash is considered a very holy activity. Pilgrims believe that making a kora of Mt. Kailash purifies sins and brings good fortune. According to Tibetan Buddhist beliefs, making a kora of Kailash in 2014, the year of the Horse (it occurs once every 12 years), will enrich our good Karma 12 times and wash away our Sins 12 times.

Mt. Kailash is 6,638 meters (21,778 feet) in elevation. It is 800 kilometers (500 miles) from the border of Nepal (Zhamgmu) and 1200 kilometers (750 miles) from Lhasa. It takes an average of three days of trekking to complete the kora of Mount Kailash and the approximate distance of the kora route is about 52 kilometers (about 32.5 miles).

Traditionally, Buddhists and Hindus circle Mt. Kailash in a clockwise direction, whereas followers of Bon and Jainism go counter clockwise. Most pilgrims will complete the kora on foot but a few Buddhist devotees will circumambulate by making repeated prostrations (one body length at a time), which is physically very demanding and takes about a month. Others choose to make the circuit on horseback. Putting up strings of prayer flags (known as Lungta), burning incense, and giving money to beggars are also common practices during the kora.

In addition to being of paramount religious significance, the Mt. Kailash region is home to the headwaters of many of the Asia’s largest river. The Indus, Sutlej (a major tributary of the Indus River), Brahmaputra and Karnali rivers (a tributary of the Ganges) are vital water sources for several countries, including India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.

“An awe inspiring part of the Mt. Kailash tour is when travelers experience the scenic route and alpine dessert landscape of western Tibet”, according to Tsering Namgyal, western Tibet guide. Seeing mountains (the Tibetan range) up close, turquoise lakes, local nomads with their herds, views of wild animals (including some endangered species) are among the major attractions of the Mt. Kailash tour, says Tsering.

Traveling on the roof of the world has its challenges. Altitude sickness is a serious concern in areas of Tibet and especially Mt. Kailash. The lowest elevation is in Lhasa, at 3650 meters (11,972 feet) and the highest is the Dolma La pass at 5,648 meters (18,525 ft.), with average elevation being about 4,000 meters (14,104 feet). We strongly recommend traveling to Lhasa first, acclimatizing for a few days there, and then setting out for Kailash. After that most people have little or no trouble with the altitude.

Many travelers have complained of the lack of good accommodations and food in the western Tibetan region. It is true that there are only a few very basic guesthouses with limited choices of food (mostly Tibetan and Chinese), but this is part of traveling in what is still a fairly remote part of the world. The large increase in the number of pilgrims and tourists expected in 2014 will probably put a strain on the existing resources. Therefore, we strongly recommend camping for at least three days of the Mount Kailash trek, with a cook as part of the trekking team. It will add a little bit to the overall cost but is well worth it.

Most Kailash tour start either from Lhasa or Kathmandu and the tour generally lasts for 10 to 17 days depending on one’s travel itinerary. Expect 6 to 7 hours of driving per day when traveling to Mount Kailash from either entry point. Most trip itineraries include spending a night at Everest Base Camp at 5,150 meters (16,900 ft.). The best time to travel is in May and June. July and August fall in the rainy season. September and October are cooler (but not overly cold to people accustomed to fall and winter in places like New England) and offer great views of the Himalayas.

2014 Mt. Kailash tour will be a “Mecca” for all Tibetan Buddhists given the auspicious nature of the year. Expect lots of local Buddhists and others to be making the kora as a way to attain enlightenment! For tourists and any other travelers witnessing the pure devotion of these pilgrims, the stunning alpine desert landscape, and the close-up mountain views will surely inspire you and make you feel like you are on top of the world.

When you embark on Mt. Kailash tour, it is in your interest and ours that the experience is a rich one for you. We can promise you that we will do all in our power to make your travel with us to Mt. Kailash an unforgettable, once-in-a-lifetime experience! Please ask lots of questions and contact us anytime. Our Himalayan Expert will be available to speak (+1 888 388-5308) to you 24/7. Chat anytime or email us at enquiry@sonamadventures.com for latest update news and information.


“In over 30 years of traveling for business and vacation my recent visit to Nepal and Tibet with Sonam was probably the best trip I ever experienced. Whether it was help with flights, suggestions about useful gear, or attention to the large and small daily details, Sonam was on top of everything. I would definitely travel with Sonam Adventures again and am already recommending him to my friends and to professional colleagues.”.
Donald J. La Rocca, New York, New York

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