The Hidden Corners of the Tibetan World11 - 30 October, 2017

Trip Dates:
11 - 30 October, 2017
Trip Price: £3560 excluding international flights
Single Room Supplement: £560
Trip Length: 17 days

This is a unique journey through the three states of the Tibetan World; Amdo, Kham and Ű Tsang – each with its own cultural and linguistic traditions. Some sites, which are just opening up to international visitors can only be reached on foot and therefore a number of moderate walks (up to 6 hours) have been arranged.

The journey begins in the heart of China’s Sichuan Province, a world where towering 6000 metre peaks cast dark shadows into hidden alpine valleys below. Discover the secrets of Kham a region inhabited by over 14 different ethnic groups occupying what was once a remote patchwork of over two dozen kingdoms constantly at war with one another. Follow the road as it meanders into the Danba valley, one of the most accessible spots to witness the unique Tibetan and Qiang villages which still contain some of China’s most enduring architectural mysteries.

The route continues up onto the Tibetan Plateau, past the first bend of the Yellow River. Follow the summer pastures to an unexplored part of Chinese Tibet where a series of short walks have been arranged to take in remote settlements, dramatic scenery and nomadic culture only a few intrepid westerners have laid eyes on. In the village of Langmusi, the colourful Geerdeng and Sezhi Monasteries reside, on the banks of the Bailong River. Join the Tibetan pilgrims flocking from the surrounding wilderness, as they uphold their vibrant traditions. Enjoy a walk out to the remote winter pastures where nomads bring their yaks in to graze. Continue on to the town of Xiahe for a visit to the famous Labrang Monastery, one of the six great monasteries of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and which for the early part of the 20th century was by far the most important monastery in Amdo. From here travel by boat up a tributary of the Yellow River to the famed Bing Ling grottoes which date back to the fifth century..

From Lanzhou the party travel by rail on one of the world’s most dramatic train journeys across the spectacular Tibetan plateau to Lhasa. The Qinghai – Tibet railway is a miraculous feat of engineering and one of the worlds great train journeys. 

Lhasa is the medieval capital city of Tibet and its spiritual home. The sumptuous Potala Palace dominates the town and every facet of Tibetan ritual is practised. From Lhasa make an awe inspiring journey across a dramatic landscape dotted with beautiful palaces and ancient monasteries to Gyantse and en route cross two giddying Himalayan Passes. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the shores of the beautiful deep blue green Yamdrok Lake. Gyantse is a town of walls within walls. Walk through the Pelkor Chode and the Kumbum, whose protective eyes look beneficently down on the pilgrims and townspeople. At Shigatse explore the huge Tashilhunpo Monastery, seat of the Panchen Lama, and once home to over 4000 monks. Here, tiers of white-washed buildings lift the eye to the red halls with their gold-sheathed roofs. Return to Lhasa before flying home..

This walks do not require any special technical abilities but will involve about 5 - 6 hours of walking per day over uneven and in places steep ground. Please note the highest the party will ascend in one day of walking is about 600 metres in altitude. However there are occasional steep portions of the trek where you may need to walk ‘up steps’ for about one hour. Walking poles can be very useful.  

Maximum Party Size: 20

Trip Leader: Dr Charles Ramble

Dr Ramble is a former lecturer in Himalayan Studies at the Oriental Institute of Oxford University. He lived in the region for fifteen years, working as an anthropologist and a naturalist, and has travelled and researched extensively in the Himalayas. He is the author of some fifty articles and several books on the culture and history of the Himalayan countries and has accompanied six very successful journeys for the alumni since 2008.

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The Hidden Corners of the Tibetan World Trip Comments:

‘This is just a quick note to tell you how much we enjoyed our trip to China and we simply want to thank you for what was a memorable three weeks. A perhaps unintended benefit was the opportunity to totally revise our previous perception of modern China and the China.'
‘Dr Ramble was outstanding. He was empathetic, responsive to our requests and willing to share his passionate knowledge of the area and culture.’
‘The local guides were all excellent – unfailingly helpful and almost always knowledgeable: Jackie and Penba, in particular. Our welcome in Beijing was also excellent: exceeded expectations!’
‘Dr Ramble was an absolute star. Apart from his erudition, encyclopaedic knowledge, he was warm, witty, friendly and very good company. We felt very privileged to have such an expert accompany us on our travels.’