The Ancient Kingdoms of Eastern Tibet24 April - 08 May, 2017

Trip Dates:
24 May - 08 June, 2017
Trip Price: £3460 including international flights
Single Room Supplement: £620
Trip Length: 16 days

Take a journey less travelled to the heart of a region which until recently was virtually cut off to most foreign visitors..

After a direct British Airways flight from London to Chengdu, the journey begins in Lanzhou with a boat trip up the Yellow River to the famed Bing Ling grottoes which date back to the 5th century. From here venture up onto the Tibetan plateau to the town of Xiahe. Visit 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, one of the three main regions (the others are Kham and Ü-Tsang) of Tibet found in the northeast corner of the Tibetan Plateau. Amdo is home to approximately 25% of the total Tibetan population and its land area is slightly larger than Ukraine.

Follow the summer pastures to a remote part of Tibet where a series of walks have been arranged to take in several villages, dramatic scenery and a nomadic culture only a relatively few number of foreigners have experienced. In the village of Langmusi, visit the colourful Geerdeng and Sezhi Monasteries which lie on the banks of the Bailong River. Join Tibetan pilgrims flocking from the surrounding wilderness, as they uphold their vibrant traditions. Walk out to remote winter pastures where the nomads bring their yaks in to graze. 

The adventure continues into the Himalayan foothills of northern Yunnan Province, (South of the Clouds), which is home to some of China’s most diverse variations in flora, fauna and ethnicity. Enjoy more hikes in the beautiful countryside that surrounds the ancient towns of Dali and Lijiang. Discover the colourful bustling markets left over from the Southern Silk Route, as the rolling terraced hills give way to jagged snow-capped peaks and where matriarchal clans of the Bai, Naxi, Yi and Mosuo reside amongst the shadows of the sacred Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. Walk the famous Tiger Leaping Gorge, where a tributary of the Yangtze flushes a narrow ravine through the rocks below, known to be the deepest of its kind in the world. It is here that you begin your ascent into the Tibetan world of Shangri-La, immortalised in James Hilton’s novel The Lost Horizon.

 The party will pass the first bend of the Yellow River and journey into the Kham region and experience a very different alpine landscape, where towering 6000 metre peaks cast dark shadows into secret valleys below. Travel deep into the heart of this region inhabited by over 14 different ethnic groups and what was once a remote patchwork of over two dozen kingdoms constantly at war with one another. From here, the party will return to Chengdu for the direct British Airways flight back to London.

The itinerary involves several walks which do not require any special technical abilities but will involve up to 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 400 metres in altitude. The highest altitude that the party will reach is around 4000 metres and most of the walking is done between 3000 and 4000 metres. The itinerary has been planned to allow careful acclimatisation to this altitude at the beginning of the itinerary.

For those who wish, the journey can be extended to visit Lhasa the spiritual capital of Tibet. There are several flights a day between Chengdu and Lhasa. Please contact Distant Horizons for more information.

Maximum Party Size: 20

Trip Leader: Dr Jamie Greenbaum

Dr Jamie Greenbaum is currently researching the history of early Chinese utopias and the history of the early State of Yan (the area around and to the north of present-day Beijing). He has travelled widely in China and lectured on both Ancient and Contemporary China

request itinerary

The Ancient Kingdoms of Eastern Tibet Trip Comments:

‘A lot of thought had clearly been put into the walks and destinations to ensure that, though the walks were at times challenging, they were all well within the capabilities of the participants and the sights and places visited were varied. This provided a fascinating insight into the ethnic communities and their way of life in a rapidly changing country.’
‘Excellent trip, extremely well organised. A special mention to Jamie [Greenbaum]. He was outstanding both in his knowledge of China and his ability to communicate it. The modest guesthouses were excellent too.’
‘We also deeply appreciated the behind scenes work of the local manager, Catherine, who gave us a very personal insight into growing up in modern China.’
‘The trip to China was a great success in every way. Jamie was superb, as were his local guides and of course the company of our fellow walkers.’