The Great Kham
Kham region covers a vast expanse of diverse terrains, geographically stretches from the center to the eastern and the south of the Tibet plateau. It includes the Nakchu and Chamdo of TAR, Yushul prefecture of Qinghai province, Karze prefecture of Sichuan province, and Dechin prefecture of Yunnan province. This overland itinerary takes you to explore the high ranches surrounded by the snow-capped mountains, the log houses, fields and forestry of deep gorges, the important monasteries of different traditions, and the traditional printing house at the kingdom of Dege, one of the political and religious centers in Kham's history with over 1300 years of linage, as well as the center of handicrafts and commerce.
Meet your local guide in Xining( Tip: ཟི་ལིང་། Chin: Xi Ning). Welcome dinner at a local Tibetan restaurant.
Xining - Qinghai Lake (Tib: མཚོ་སྔོན་པོ། Chin: Qing Hai Hu)-Shala Pass-Chabcha (Tib: ཆབ་ཆ་དང་ཡང་ན་གསེར་ཆེན་རྫོང་། Chin: Gong He). We drive from your hotel to the biggest saline lake on the Tibetan plateau. It is 2 hour trip and we will drive on the old road instead of the expressway for better scenic views. We will drive to the Shala Pass instead going to the crowded tourist spot. You will get a great panoramic view of the lake, grassland and mountains from the pass. You will have plenty of time doing short hiking, picnics and visit the nomads. Then drive to Chabcha town for hotel. Additionally you can ask your agent to arrange a dinner in a Tibetan village. Overnight in Chabcha or alternatively you can do home stay.
You will leave Chabcha early morning, start to drive into the mountains and grasslands, you will start to see the Tibetan nomads on their summer pasture hearting their animals. We will stop to visit some of the nomad's tents and taste fresh-home- made Yogurt (Sho). Continue drive to Mato (Tib: རྨ་སྟོད་རྫོང་། Chin:Ma Duo). Mato is one of the highest towns of the world with the altitude of 4500m above sea level. You will see Amnye Machen range from a distance if the weather is sunny and sky clear. We will stop in Mato for lunch. After lunch again we continue our long driving to Yushu, via Trala Pass.(Tib: ཁྲ་ལ། Mon: Bhayan Kela/ Chin: 巴颜喀拉山/ Ba་Yan Ge La Shan). This is the traditional boarder line between Amdo and Kham. Over the other side of the mountian, you will decent into the the region of Danma and Lab. Wild open grassland with nomads' tents, animals, and stunning monasteries. Local Khampa traders on the horses meandering and motorbikes roaring along with us. Sooner, you will start to see the beautiful Sakyapa traditional monasteries. you will drive through mountaineering roads. Finally you will cross the first bridge of Drichu (Tip: འབྲི་ཆུ། Yangtse River) and arrive your hotel.
Take a tour to see Kyigu monastery( སྐྱེ་དགུ་དགོན), which is located 8km west of the town. We will drive to the monastery and a guided tour to see the monastery and you will also get a great panoramic view of the whole which has been rebuilt after the
earthquake (7.1) in 2010. You will have half an hour free time to discover the monastery. Drive another 10 mints to Gyanak Mani(Tib: རྒྱ་ནག་མ་ནི) (Buddhist script carved stones). One of the largest Mani wall in Tibet, it says there are over 25 billions of the different size of Mani stones today. After visiting this great site, we will return to the town for lunch. After lunch, we will drive along the Drichu to Chu-Nyal valley or the valley of Mani stone. It is located 23km away from the town. Recently there are many old carvings have been discovered in the park and some of them goes back to 1500 years. There are many caves where the local Buddhist practitioners go for the retreats. We will spend whole after noon at the park and follow buy visiting Nambar Nangdzal Temple. (temple of Varocana, one of the eight Budhisattvas). Return to your hotel.
leave Yushu and drive to Sershu or Dzachukha (Tib: རྫ་ཆུ་ཁ། Chin: She Qu). One of the largest nomadic lands. you will be in Dzachukha within in hour. There are a couple of scenic spots we will stop. Arrive in Sershu Monastery. The largest Gelukpa monastery and home of 2000 monks today. The whole monastery has been rebuilt, we will visit the major temples and also see the debating session of in the evening. Stay in Sershu town for the night.
Leave Sershu in the early morning. There are many Tibetan nomads and they summer camps. After 2 hours scenic driving, we will arrive in Dzogchen Monastery (Tib: རྫོགས་ཆེན་དགོན). One of the major monasteries of Nyingmapa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism. Continue our journey toward to Derge(Tib: སྡེ་དགེ) by stopping at Yulong Lhatso Lhake(Tib: གཡུ་ལུང་ལྷ་མཚོ) (the holly lake in the turquoise valley). Then to Derge through the new tunnel that is recently completely built. Derge is one of the 18 Tibetan kingdoms and located in the on the border line between Sichuan and TAR. we will check in our hotel.
Tour to Derge Parkhang Chenmu (the great printing house of Derge). It is the only one and the last traditional printing house of Tibet. There is whole collection of Buddhist scriptures and as well as Bon scriptures. You will see the printing session and all the wooden bocks on the second floor. After visiting second floor, we will go on the roof and visit Tara temple where the monks doing Tara prayers for protecting the printing house.
Derge - Dzongsar (Tib: རྫོང་གསར། Chin: Zong Sha)
Tour around Dzongsar(visit Dzongsar monastery, remote hermitage, and nunnery)
We leave Dzongsar after breakfast to Palyu (Tib: དཔལ་ཡུལ། Chin: Bai Yu). We will visit Palyu monastery. One of the three major Nyingmapa lineages. Lunch in the town, drive another 2 hours to Karze (Tib: དཀར་མཛེས། Chin: Gan Zi)
Driving away from Karze county in the morning, sooner you will start to see the opened high mountains with beautifully colored log houses. You will stop visit Kharsar Monastery((Tib: མཁར་གསར་དགོན། Chin: Ka Sa Er Si)) by the Kharsar Lake. Lunch in Drago (Tib: བྲག་མགོ། Chin: Luo Hu)
There are a numbers of some amazing monasteries and nunneries of both Bon and Buddhism in the hidden valleys the you will visit with our TC experienced guides. One last picnic day before you reach to Parmey (བར་སྨད། Chin: Ba Mei). Home stay
Stop at Balkhagang (Tib: འབའ་ལྷ་སྒང་།)Dartsedo (Tib: དར་རྩེ་མདོ། Chin: Kang Ding) - Chengdu