Kangding to Yushu East Tibet area 14 days tour
chengdu- Kangding- Serthar-Ganzi-Manigange-Baiyu-Xinduqiao-Chengdu
Day 1: Arrive in Kangding (Dartsedo) Elevation: 2500 meters
Kangding is a great place to spend 2 or 3 days. I lived here for a year and had an amazing time! This small city is the capital of Garze Tibet Autonomous Region and is fairly modern and clean. I recommend staying at Zhilam Hostel. The hostel is located in a small village just above Kangding. It offers clean dorm rooms, great food and the hostel can give you all kinds of excellent travel advice.
Day 2: Kangding
Kangding has 3 Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in town to explore. There is also a couple of good day hikes in town to take. The first is to simply hike up to the grasslands that lie high above Zhilam Hostel. Ask Kris at the hostel to show you where the path starts. Another good day hike is to go to the top of Gouda Peak, the main mountain that sits right in town. One of my favorite places to go near Kangding is the Yajiageng Pass, which is about 30 kilometers south of town. On a clear day, you get an amazing view of several glaciated 6000 meter peaks. You can hire a taxi to take you out here. Once you get here, there are also great day hikes available. You can also spend a couple of hours exploring downtown Kangding. A monastery on the grasslands near Tagong (Lhagang) with Mt. Zhara Lhatse rising over 5800 meters in the background.
Day 3: Kangding to Tagong (Lhagang) Distance: 92 kilometers Elevation: 3730 meters
Tagong, known in Tibetan as Lhagang, is a really fun place to spend a couple of nights in. Tagong is a small nomad Tibetan trading post sitting at 3730 meters on the grasslands just north of the Kangding Airport. You can get to Tagong from Kangding by taking a shared mini-van taxi. Ask the front desk at Zhilam Hostel where you can catch the mini-van at. Kham Tibetan nomads can be found in town, often on horseback. The ancient Lhagang Monastery is located right in town and is an excellent place to spend a few hours exploring. Across the grasslands from Tagong is the beautiful snow-capped peak of Zhara Lhatse (Mt. Yala in Chinese), which rises to over 5800 meters. This mountain offers excellent trekking and horse trekking. Contact my friend Angela at Chyoger Treks for more information about trekking in this amazing area.
Day 4: Tagong (Lhagang)
This day, you can stroll the main street in town watching all of the wild-haired Tibetan nomads and do a bit of shopping. Just outside of town, there is a fascinating Tibetan Buddhist nunnery that is well worth spending a few hours at. In Tagong, I often stay at Gayla and Jya Drolma’s Guesthouse, which is located just across the square from the Lhagang Monastery. It is clean and basic, but very pleasant. For homestays in the region, contact Angela at Chyoger Treks.
Day 5: Tagong to Ganzi (Garze) Distance: 275 kilometers Elevation: 3380 meters
The drive from Tagong to Ganzi (Garze) is quite nice. This stretch of road used to be really terrible, however, most of the road now is quite good. Ganzi is one of my favorite mid-sized Tibetan towns. It lies on the grasslands with amazing snow-capped peaks nearby. The town is full of traditional Tibetan culture. It has several good hotel options, including the Hotel Himalaya, located near the center of town. Garze Monastery is over 500 years old and offers a great view of the town below and the mountains in the distance. There is no bus originating from Tagong going to Ganzi. The bus from Kangding to Ganzi passes through Tagong. You will need to wait out on the road for the bus to come. Pay the bus fare directly to the driver. There also occasionally are shared mini-van taxi’s that go from Tagong to Ganzi. These taxi’s will leave when full.
Day 6: Ganzi
go to Darjay Monastery. This monastery is very traditional and overlooks grasslands and some amazing mountains. The monastery has a small and clean guesthouse where you can stay. Another option is to camp on the grasslands outside of the monastery. There are several small villages and monasteries in the distance that you can hike out to. You can hire a taxi from Ganzi to go out to Darjay Monastery.
Day 7: Ganzi to Sertar Distance: 150 kilometers Elevation: 3890 meters
The 150 kilometer detour to Sertar off of the main road connecting Kangding to Yushu is well worth it. The dirt road is very rough and takes around 6 or 7 hours to travel. There is normally a public bus that travels the route between Ganzi and Sertar. In addition, there should also be shared mini-van taxi’s that also cover this route. The town of Sertar is rather uninteresting, but the Larung Gar Buddhist Institute definitely is. Sertar town has a couple of decent hotel options in the center of town. In previous years, particularly in 2009 and 2010, Sertar was closed to foreign travelers from time to time. However, the past few years most foreigner travelers have had no problems being in the area. Because of the long drive from Ganzi to Sertar, I recommend spending 2 nights in order to have enough time to explore Larung Gar.
Day 8: Sertar and Larung Gar Buddhist Institute
Larung Gar is located about 25 kilometers south of Sertar town. There is one hotel located in Larung Gar, however it is usually reserved. There are several decent hotel options in Sertar to choose from. From Sertar, you can take a taxi or shared mini-van taxi to Larung Gar very easily.Larung Gar is one of those places in eastern Tibet that is really hard to explain….you just need to see it for yourself! It is the largest Tibetan Buddhist Institute on the Tibetan Plateau and is home to over 40,000 monks and nuns.The region is quite extraordinary. I highly recommend making the detour off of the main road to Yushu to explore this area.
Day 9: Sertar to Ganzi Distance: 150 kilometers Elevation: 3380 meters
From Sertar, it is best to return to Ganzi and continue on from there along the route to Yushu. There should be a daily bus from Sertar to Ganzi as well as a shared mini-van taxi or two.
Day 10: Ganzi to Manigango Distance: 95 kilometers Elevation: 3875 meters
The 95 kilometers from Ganzi to Manigango is along a newly paved road that goes through several small, scenic villages. From Ganzi, you leave the farming valleys behind and begin going through nomadic grasslands that are full of yaks. Manigango is a small town that is full of nomad culture. It is common to see nomad Tibetans riding into town on their horses. Whenever I am in Manigango, I stay and eat at the Manigango Pani Hotel, which is located right in the center of town.
Day 11: Manigango to Dege (Derge) Distance: 112 kilometers Elevation: 3265 meters
The road from Manigango to Dege is absolutely terrible. A tunnel is being built that will drastically reduce the time it takes to get to Dege, however, the tunnel probably won’t be completed until sometime in 2015. Despite the poor road condition, Dege is well worth going to. Along the way to Dege, you will cross over the massive 5050 meter Chola Pass. If the skies are clear, you will get an amazing view of the snow-capped mountain range. Dege is considered to be the cultural heart of the Kham region of Tibet.
Day 12: Dege to Manigango Distance: 112 kilometers Elevation: 3875 meters
Getting back on the main road to Yushu from Dege is a bit tricky. One option is to take a shared mini-van taxi from Dege to Sershul (Shiqu). In Dege, there are mini-van taxi’s that go all over the region, including all the way to Jyekundo (Yushu). However, the signs on the taxi’s are usually only written in Tibetan so be sure to ask the drivers where they are going. Another option is to take the bus back to Manigango and then take the bus the next morning on to Sershul. Of course, those with a private driver can go directly from Dege to Sershul without any problems.
Day 13: Manigango to Sershul (Shiqu) Distance: 220 kilometers Elevation: 4190 meters
From Manigango north to Sershul (Shiqu) the road is very bad and slow going. This section of road is scheduled to be repaired in 2014. To get to Sershul from Manigango, go to the far east end of town at the intersection that leads north. Wait here for the bus coming from Ganzi that is going to Sershul.Around 50 kilometers north of Manigango is the large monastery of Dzogchen, elevation 3875 meters. If you have a private vehicle, it is well worth staying a few hours here or even staying the night. The monastery has a clean guesthouse to stay at. Dzogchen sits beneath a huge glacier covered mountain that rises to nearly 6000 meters. There is excellent hiking in the region and the monks here are very friendly.
Day 14: Sershul To Yushu (Jyekundo) Distance: 145 kilometers Elevation: 3700 meters
go to Yushu prefecture destroying the prefecture capital of Jyekundo as well as many surrounding villages. In November 2013, the government officially announced that the region was finished being rebuilt. Jyekundo, which was upgraded to city status, is rebuilt in a kind of modern Tibetan design. It is drastically different than the way Jyekundo looked before, however, the new town is pleasant and worth spending a couple of days exploring. Of course, the areas outside of Jyekundo that are within Yushu prefecture are quite stunning. For more information on Yushu prefecture, go to the following link: Yushu Tibet Autonomous Prefecture.From Jyekundo, fly to Xining,end the tour.