Kham Tibet Nomadic Adventure

Day 1 Arrive Chengdu

We will meet you at the hotel in the early evening for a safety briefing about the trip. With your guides, you will run through the itinerary and learn about local road safety and cultural considerations, as well having the opportunity to ask us any questions you may have. After being fully briefed, in the evening, we will hold a welcome dinner to celebrate the beginning of your journey. We will feast on some of the best food Chengdu has to offer and eagerly anticipate the coming journey that lies ahead.

Holiday Inn Express Gulou

Day 2 Chengdu to Kangding

Due to the high altitude nature of this trip we will begin slowly to allow for acclimatization. On the first day we will drive from Chengdu to Kangding (2850m altitude), arriving in time for a late lunch. It is a gateway city for Tibet, historically being an important trade post and,with a fairly equal ethnic split between Han Chinese and Tibetans, you will get your first taste of Tibetan culture. After lunch, time permitting, you will have the opportunity to visit the Ngachu Monastery and take a cable car up Paoma Mountain, which provides stunning views over the town.

Khamba Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 Kangding to Xindu Qiao

A much shorter drive today takes us up onto the Tibetan plateau and to Xindu Qiao (3480 m). Dubbed a ‘photographer’s paradise’, the scenery and lighting here are fantastic. Firmly upon the ‘roof of the world’, you can expect beautiful rolling hills, mountains, streams, pastures and Tibetan architecture. You can visit Muya Stupa, opposite your hotel and a very short drive through a valley takes you to Juli Monastery. Another day taking it easy and acclimatizing, before starting your cycling.

Express 318 Motel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Xindu Qiao – Bamei

The beauty of today’s cycling is immediately apparent as we ride on a flat plain, with traditional Tibetan homes beneath the lush mountains around. At around 35 km you will reach Songlinkou and notice many mantras and colourful Buddhist murals painted onto the rocks in the mountains and river, as well as a small wooden bridge heavily decorated with prayer flags – the first religiously important site of the day. A short while further and you will reach Tagong, a small picturesque town based around a large Monastery, which was built during the Qing Dynasty to honour the journey of a Chinese Princess on her way to marry the Tibetan King. Here, we will break for lunch next to the locals completing their prayer circuits. Continuing through the Tagong Grasslands with its monasteries, rolling countryside and, on a clear day, the impressive snow-capped Ya’la Holy Mountain (5884 m) in the foreground, we will make our way to Ani Gompa. This is the largest Buddhist Nunnery in the area and where you can see many people circling one of the largest constructions of ‘Mani’ stones – these are pieces of slate, on which people write their regrets, wishes and prayers and then stack, to form an impressive structure. Leaving the Tagong Grasslands behind us, we have an incline before a generous descent taking you past Bamei Stone Forest – an impressive geological wonder with sharp rocks raising like spears from the mountainside. A few kilometres later take you to gorgeous Bamei, where today’s journey ends.

Yijia Bamei Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 72km

Day 5 Bamei – Daofu

We will begin the day by visiting Huiyan Temple, a stunning Buddhist complex with history reaching back to the Qing Dynasty. Founded in 1729 to bolster relations between Tibetans and mainland China after an invasion from Mongolian tribes, it once housed the 7th Dalai Lama and the 11th Dalai Lama was born nearby. From here, we will begin the cycling on the beautiful road that leaves the temple. Shortly after passing through the town of Bamei, the scenery changes, taking you through forested valleys. With a nice and easy ascent and plenty of descent, it is a very comfortable ride through the valleys, passing by the occasional hamlet or religious site. After 50 km we will reach Long Deng Grassland, which holds Ranggu Monastery and Zhumucuo Lake. Ranggu Monastery, set beneath a mountain of prayer flags, has over 180 tantric paintings, offering a glimpse of one of the more peculiar forms of Buddhist art. From here, there is just 100 m more of climbing before a stunning descent taking you down 600 m in altitude and to the village of Gake, where we have the option to complete the day’s ride. Gake showcases particularly beautiful Tibetan architecture, being extremely colourful with ornate structure, carvings and paintings, displaying a wealth of imagery, so be sure to have your camera's ready. It is 19 km more to Daofu and our overnight at a very comfortable hotel.

Wansen Lingka Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 70km

Day 6 Daofu – Luhuo

We will continue cycling through valleys with tree covered mountains and traditional homes. For most of the ride we will follow the Xianshui River, which, at 50 km, will take us to the Xialatuo Wetlands. Inside the wetlands, we can choose to stop riding or carry on by crossing a bridge to complete our journey to Luhuo. Today's cycle is undulating with an overall altitude gain of 620 m to 50 km and then an additional 300 m of climbing if cycling all the way to Luhou. Luhuo is another historically important town for Buddhism, famous for its large Shouling Monastery. Historically having 277 halls and chambers, it used to hold over 1,000 monks making it the largest in Kham, until an earthquake in 1973. The main temple sits centrally, set in the mountain, with the traditional red roofed chambers sprawling out from it. Today’s hotel sits right underneath the monastery.

Potala Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 72km

Day 7 Luhuo - Ganzi

Riding away from the monastery we will make our way towards Ganzi, one of the most important towns in Kham. The day starts off easy and relatively flat as we follow the Daqu Qu River. It is another one for beautiful scenery and cultural interest and we will pass several important sights. At 24 km, you will notice Bangda Monastery on your right and just a bit further down the road a view of some impressive snow-capped mountains will emerge. Shortly you will cycle past Muniang Monastery. At 55 km we will reach the main focal point of the day, Kasa Lake. Set within a stunning valley, this beautiful lake also marks the start of the most challenging portion of the day -- a 15 km ascent, taking you from 3450 m to 3930 m. Fortunately, the ride continues to provide views of both the lake and the raw rocky mountain peaks surrounding it, with several viewing points offering rest. Once you reach the top, you are rewarded with a spectacular snowy mountain range in the distance. From here, it is a 25 km drive to reach your destination, Ganzi.

Ganzi Qingke Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 70km

Day 8 Ganzi Rest Day

Today is a rest day and an opportunity to make the most out of this historically famous town. Set in a large valley, the town is overshadowed by both the impressive Chola Mountain range and its monastery. With over 300 years of history and 400 resident monks at any one time, Ganzi Monastery is almost as bustling as the town below. The monastery sits above the Tibetan old town with its winding alleyways, slowly snaking up the hillside. The monastery is worth a visit for the view alone, providing a commanding panorama of the town and countryside below. To the left and right you can see traditional Tibetan homes sprawling out until they break into plains and terraced fields, while, in the centre, a large white Stupa towers over the town. Back in the town, Jiefang St. offers a colourful and lively Tibetan shopping street. With small restaurants, colourful architecture and shops selling everything from yak cheese to beautiful keepsakes, it is perfect both for cultural interest and for getting a souvenir.

Ganzi Qingke Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 Ganzi - Manigange

We will begin with a 27 km transfer to Dajin Monastery. Large and beautiful, with an ornate, colourful structure and a few main temples to visit, it is one of the more interesting monasteries on our journey. From here our ride becomes more remote and you’ll start to see more nomads tending to their yaks grazing in the fields. We are also on the 317 road, which is one of two roads linking Chengdu with the famous Lhasa. After 50 km of riding, we will reach Tashi Triling Retreat Centre, an important training centre for monks. Here we will take a break before our final 14 kms to the nomad town of Manigange. Passing through grasslands and with another huge mountain range in the distance, we begin to approach Manigange, the historic stopping point on the Tea Horse Road. It is simple and small but set within stunning surroundings. We overnight at a basic guesthouse tonight.

Manigange Pani Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 64km

Day 10 Manigange – Dege

Our riding today begins straight from the town and we have 10 km to complete until you reach the gorgeous alpine Yilhun Lhatso Lake. A short walk off the road takes you to this gorgeous turquoise lake formed from the glaciers of the Chola Mountain range. Sacred, with many rocks inscribed with prayers, it is an exceptionally peaceful place, visited by locals and monks taking advantage of a prime spot for meditation. Continuing the ride, the mountains get more and more extreme, with sharp peaks rising into the sky as you ascend. Fifteen kilometres after the lake, we reach an impressive tunnel – at above 4000 m it is reportedly the highest tunnel in the world, taking 15 years to complete and under cutting the Chola Mountain range. We load the bikes up and from here we will drive for 22 km to Menza Monastery before continuing the ride. From Menza Monastery, it is 40 km of gentle riding until we come to the Sleeping Buddha Mountain – a range which resembles a Buddha lying on his back. This comes into view as you reach a monastery, dedicated to the religious significance of the mountains. From here you enter a steep ravine, and following a river, we cruise downhill to Dege. Dege is an incredibly important cultural hub, both for Kham and all Tibetan areas. Situated close to the border of Tibet it holds the Parkhang Printing House. First established in 1729, it accounts for over 70% of Tibet’s literary heritage, printing everything from religious works to historical and scientific texts. Around the printing house, which resembles a temple, you can still see people printing and inscribing stone to this day, as well as the many Tibetans circling to complete their prayers and pay homage to the site.

Dege Foyuan Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 68km

Day 11 Dege – Baiyu

Today’s cycling will take you along the border of Tibet and follows the Jinsha River, the tributary to the largest river in Asia, the Yangtze. Following the river through deep gorges, it is an easy ride today, with a total descent of over 700 m in altitude. Tibet is always on your right-hand side and this is the closest you can get without the special travel permit. At 25 km we will reach a bridge, marking the border point between Sichuan and the Tibetan Autonomous Region. The crossing is historically important and you are able to see old turrets positioned along the river. Continue to pass the large river below and after 59 km you will be able to see a large monastery on the Tibetan side of the river, marking the optional end point of today’s ride. An extra 16 km brings you to a rocky ravine and is the end of today’s riding, before driving on to Baiyu. Baiyu is set on the riverside, with a gorgeous monastery in the hillside above the town and residences sprawl out along the mountain with white-washed stone bases and deep red, wooden walls. Baiyu Monastery is very active and it is not uncommon to hear the oral traditions of Tibetan Buddhism pouring out from within the temples when you visit.

Kun Rui Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 75km

Day 12 Baiyu – Acha Village

We will begin the day by driving 49 km to Rendang Village with its interesting Tibetan architecture and, from there, begin our ride all the way to Acha Village. Today is one of the most challenging rides, but also one of the most rewarding. The beginning of the ride takes you through a gorgeous rocky ravine, lined by evergreen trees, alongside a small but fast-moving river. After 20 km, this view slowly gives way to an expanse of grassy hills, marking the beginning of the incline and providing a dramatic change in scenery. The ascent gradually takes you up the rolling grasslands until you reach one of the highest passes of the trip at 4600 m. From here it is all downhill, a superb reward, taking you all the way to your hotel, set in the grasslands outside of Acha Village. We overnight at a lofty 3,900 m.

Yaqing Temple Maila Jiang Cuo Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 64km

Day 13 Yarchan Gar Rest Day

A day off the bikes to visit one of the most important and impressive cultural sites of the trip. A short drive from Acha Village takes you to Yarchen Gar – the world’s second biggest Buddhist school with officially over 10,000 monks and nuns (though, unofficial reports place this figure much higher). The population is predominantly female, making it the largest Buddhist Nunnery in the world. Established in 1985, many monks and nuns began moving here in the early 2000s from Larung Gar, also in Kham, causing the population to boom. Because of this unplanned development, the living quarters sprawl out in the valley around the river, in a fantastic mish mash of red huts, resembling a colourful, intricate and fascinating slum. Associated with the Nyingma Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, three main temples interrupt the residences, providing the monks and nuns with areas for study and meditation. The first you encounter from the entrance is set within a large square, filled with make shift chairs and tables – hundreds of people gather here each day for the morning’s class. As well as coming for learning, monks and nuns come to Yarchen Gar for meditation. Set on the hillside beneath the huge Golden Buddha, there are dozens of tiny huts. These are purely for meditation and nuns or monks will sit in them for months at a time, only leaving for toilet breaks; other practitioners will supply them with their food and water. The local population is extremely friendly and welcoming and you are free to visit each temple – it is extremely active and, therefore, the best place on the trip to experience Tibetan Buddhism first hand.

Yaqing Temple Maila Jiang Cuo Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14 Acha Village – Xinlong

We will drive for 67 km through changing scenery and the Chola Mountain range beckoning you on in the distance until reaching a small mountain road, where we begin your cycling. The road takes you through a remote area of Kham and will give us an ‘off road’ biking experience. Developing into a small ravine and following a river, there are few examples of habitation, besides a couple of very authentic Tibetan hamlets – for most of this ride, the only thing accompanying you is the stunning alpine views and the occasional waterfall. After completing this stunning downhill route, we will have another transfer to Xinlong. Whilst a bit more concrete than the other towns we visit, it is still situated nicely on the riverside, with some traditional architecture and a monastery above.

Xinlong Danxia Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 43km

Day 15 Xinlong - Litang

Our last day of biking on the trip will be just as many ups as there are downs. You will start directly from the hotel and continue to make your way along a valley. The final day’s ride is very comfortable, through more gorgeous scenery and picturesque Tibetan homes with some slightly different architecture. You will notice more mud used as plaster on the exterior of the homes and wooden toilets sticking out from the side of the upper stories. A few more villages and religious sites to pass through until you reach Zhunba Village after 75 km. Here we'll pack up the bikes for the last time as you have completed cycling through Kham Tibet. From here we will drive the remainder of the journey to Litang, one of the highest towns in the world at 4,014 m (about 400 meters higher than Lhasa,) and where we will celebrate our achievements.

Litang Meiduo Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Ride 75km

Day 16 Litang Rest Day

As it took a lot of effort to reach this fascinating town we would be remiss if we didn't spend the day here exploring! Besides having the feeling of a true wild west town, Litang is also one of the most interesting cities on our itinerary for sightseeing. Litang Monastery is relatively large and has beautiful temples – the main one holding a huge hall where the monks assemble to learn in the morning. From the monastery it is not far to the birth place of the 7th Dalai Lama; well preserved you are able to go inside to get an example of a traditional Tibetan home. Besides these two religious sites, there is also one of the largest prayer wheels in the world and it is situated in a temple constantly playing sutras, adding to the atmosphere. Litang is also famous for being one of a few sites that has traditionally carried out Sky Burials – these funerals are peculiar to Tibet and involve corpses being returned to the sky through being eaten by vultures. A little further out of town offers opportunities to visit beautiful grasslands and there are even some shallow, but natural, hot springs where you can have a soak. Within the town there are nice restaurants and cafes, and typical Tibetan clothing and jewellery and accessories needed by the herdsmen frequenting the town are available in small shops downtown. Altogether making it a very pleasant place to do some light sightseeing and take some rest.

Litang Meiduo Hotel
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 17 Transfer to Tagong

Today will be the final day in Kham Tibet. Timed at your discretion, we will take a 4 hour drive back to Tagong where we will stay 11 km outside of the town, in the grasslands. Khampa Nomad Ecolodge is a fully self-sustained eco lodge set in the prairie lands of Tagong and will provide you with a final piece of Tibetan nature, without sacrificing comfort, before you return to the city. Feel free to take advantage of the eco lodge's prime location and go for a hike in the hills around the lodge with views of Zhakra and Gongka Peaks, or we can arrange a horse riding session for you. Perhaps a cleansing Finnish style sauna is in order. The lodge heats water on top of a wood stove and after your sauna you can take a dip in the river.

Khampa Nomad Ecolodge
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 18 Transfer to Chengdu

Transferring back to Chengdu, we can offer you two options. You can drive 8 hours with us directly to your hotel in Chengdu. Or we can drive for 1 hour to Kangding Airport where you can catch a flight. At an altitude of 4280m, Kangding Airport is the third highest airport in the world. Servicing only a few flights daily, taking a flight from here is an experience in itself. This flight and the transfer from Chengdu Airport to downtown is not included in the tour cost.

Breakfast, Lunch