In early September, we embarked on a 14-day journey with a special client, a friendly guy from National Geographic. The trip started from Lhasa, and the mission was to reach Mt. Kailash and its offspring area: the source of the great rivers and the holy lakes.
There are two ways to reach Mt. Kailash and Lake Manosarova, as well as the other places in the Tibet’s far west region of Ngari (Ali as spelled in Chinese Pinyin and used on the road signs). The first one is the old good way of driving… 2-3 days depending on the level of your endurance. The other way is to take a flight from Lhasa to Ali Kunsa airport. A 2-hour flight, once per day, will save you over 1500 km of driving. But do make sure to book the tickets in advance as they are sold out quickly, especially in the season.
The best season is in autumn, September and October.
I took the ground road, with the driver, Dradul la from Markham, who has spent most of his life in Lhasa, and the PRO in Mt. Kailash trekking, Dundrup from Shikatse. This is going to be Dundrup’s 77 times leading the Mt. Kailash Kora!
Took us 2 full days to drive from Lhasa, Shigatse, Lhatse, Sarga, Darchen, to finally reach Sangge Kabab town, Gar County of Ngari. We came upon at least 15 checkpoints. As a non-TAR resident, I need to obtain a boarder permit and a temporary I.D. while in Lhasa. With all the papers prepared and followed a day-to-day schedule, there had been no problem for entry.
Leaving the holy city of Lhasa in dawn at 6am, the road along the Yalong Tsangpo river (bramaputra) to Shigatse was filled by heavy-loaded lorries. Shigatse the 2nd biggest city of the region was again expanded since my last visit in 2014. We had our breakfast at Namgyeling, the favorite teahouse of the locals, noodles, butter tea and shapalab, the comport food of Utsang people.
Latse at the height of 4200 m was dry and the air got thinner. We passed by the fields of harvest. For its height and dryness, Latse is surprisingly a major provider of corps and vegetables in central Tibet.
At the roadside town of Ngamram Dzong (County), we stopped for tea and lunch. The only dish this small restaurant had was dumpling.
By 7pm, after 13 hours of driving, we reached Saga Dzong, the boarder county in Ngari region. We found a small Tibetan run hostel. It looked to be some pilgrimages of Mt. Kailash. There were several lorries packed with the stuff belonged to the pilgrimages. It had 2 types of lodging, you can either take a room of 2-3 bed on your own, or pay-per-bed and share with 10 people in a larger room.