All, Cultural Trails, Wild Trails

Small group:Overland from Yunnan to Tibet – Retracing the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Trail

All, Cultural Trails, Wild Trails

Small group:Overland from Yunnan to Tibet – Retracing the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Trail

All, Cultural Trails, Wild Trails

Small group:Overland from Yunnan to Tibet – Retracing the Ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Trail

  • Retracing the ancient tea & horse caravan trail: The Tea Horse Road, an ancient trade route linking tea-producing areas with Tibet, connects the mountains and deep gorges as well as different ethnic groups. For hundreds of years, horse caravans travelled along this route carrying tea to Tibet and India, and bringing other commodities back home. This route has formed a corridor rich in culture, as different groups interact with each other in their daily lives. Today, one can travel around this area journeying along different parts of this ancient trail.
  • “Lost Horizon”: Starting the expedition from Shangri-la, which is the mysterious Shambhala in the book “Lost Horizon”;
  • Off the beaten trail: without crowded scenic spots, you will walk into untouched villages, experience the local folkways and customs, and feel the simplicity and enthusiasm of people;
  • Tibetan family visit: visit a local family, indulge in their cuisine and learn about authentic Tibetan lifestyle;
  • Interesting Hands-on experience: you will learn to make Tibetan prayer flags, and do physical farm labor along the way, to fully immerse in local life;
  • English speaking local expert accompany you throughout the trip
  • Well selected boutique hotel

Tibet, China

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Day 1

ARRIVAL SHANGRI-LA

We start this 12-day adventure acclimatizing in majestic Shangri-La, a truly heavenly destination. Upon arrival at the airport, we will be met by our guide and transferred to the hotel for check-in. We then have the rest of the day at leisure to adapt to Shangri-La’s dizzying height of 3,200 meters, ahead of dinner at the hotel.

Food

-/-/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 2

SHANGRI-LA / MEILI

Soak up stunning scenery during our road trip to our lodge style accommodation.

After breakfast, we check-out and head to Napa Lake in Napa Lake Natural Reserve, a picturesque wetland area that spans 31 sq-km and features a picturesque body of water, grasslands and a stunning mountain backdrop. We then set off on a scenic two-hour drive to enjoy lunch at Songtsam Benzilan and visit the 17th century Dongzhulin Monastery.

We then continue to Meilialong roads that boast spectacular views of towering snow-capped peaks along the incredible Baima Snow Mountain Pass. Upon arrival at Songtsam Meili, we check-in and have free time to walk around the lodge, which sits at 3,600 meters above sea level, with a sublime view of majestic mountain scenes. We then visit a nearby small village to get a glimpse into local life and learn how to print Tibetan prayer flags in a traditional Tibetan family’s home.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 3

MEILI/ RUMEI

Today sees us drive through more spectacular snowy scenery as we hit the road for Tibet.

After breakfast, we check-out and set off on an approximate eight-hour drive to Songtsam Rumei. Our epic journey takes in exceptional breath-taking landscapes. We will pass through snow-capped mountains and the Mekong River Valley to officially enter Tibet. Here, we visit vast salt fields that date back thousands of years and we then savor a bowl of Jiajia noodles. This tasty local specialty is made from fried pork simmered in a salty sauce served with freshly-cooked noodles and vegetables.

Keep your camera ready because we then pass through Hongla and Lawu mountains during our afternoon three-and-a-half-hour drive to Songtsam Rumei where we can hang our prayer flags made on the previous day. We have some time to relax and freshen up before dinner at the hotel.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 4

RUMEI

We spend the day exploring stunning Maiba Pasture.

After breakfast, we set off on a one-hour drive to the rich pasture land where we have the day to explore the vast grassland dotted with grazing yaks and plateau pika, a small diurnal and non-hibernating animal that resides on the pastures. We explore the rolling hills and valleys covered with a dusting of snow before visiting a local Tibetan family’s farmhouse.

We will join them for a tasty traditional lunch and experience ranch life in this rural region.

We then return to the hotel, with time to refresh and relax in the room or explore the stunning surrounding area before dinner at the resort.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 5

RUMEI / LAIGU

Enjoy another incredible road trip as we head to Rawu.

After breakfast, we check-out and hit the road for an approximate 10-hour drive that takes in breath-taking scenery as we continue to climb higher. We travel along the Dongda Mountain Pass and take in an incredible view at the journey’s highest point of 5,130 meters.

We then stop to enjoy a picnic at Bangda Grassland. During winter months, when it is too cold, we will eat at a local restaurant. We then continue on our travels along the long and winding ‘Nu Jiang 72 Turns’ for about two hours and then continue to head up the 4,400 meters Anjiula Mountain Pass which boasts rolling landscapes that sprawl to the horizon.

We will arrive at Songtsam Lodge Laigu in time to enjoy a serene sunset from the terrace. We enjoy dinner at the resort.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 6

LAIGU

It is recommended to get up early, to view the spectacular pre-dawn sunrise from the lodge’s terrace. After breakfast, we drive through more stunning scenery on our way to picturesque Duosong Tso. This holy lake sits well off the tourist track and it is flanked by pristine forests and snow-capped mountains. We then return to the lodge for lunch before heading off to explore the ancient blue ice of striking Laigu Glacier which dominates the landscape and is comprised of six glaciers. Laigu is Tibet’s largest and widest ‘frozen river’ and the third largest glacier in the world. This chain of glaciers stretches for about 12 km and descends from a main peak that teeters 6,626 meters above sea level. After dinner at our accommodation, we can relax under a canopy of stars before retiring for the night.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 7

LAIGU/ BOME

After breakfast, we check-out and drive to Ranwu Lake, Tibet’s largest body of water and the main source of the Yarlung Zangbo River, more commonly known as the Brahmaputra. Here, we can admire the sparkling blue waters that stretch for 26 km. To the south lie snow-capped mountains that are 6,000 meters above sea level.

We then continue on our journey and drive along a scenic road that flanks the Parlungzangbu River. In Bome, we check-in to Songtsam for lunch, with some time to refresh before the afternoon’s adventure. We then take a leisurely stroll around picturesque Guxiang Lake, a mirror-like green body of water that covers about 2 sq-km and this is home to a variety of flowers, grass, birds and fish. We then return to Songtsam in time for dinner.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 8

BOME

Experience life in remote Bome County on this truly authentic tour. We will explore magnificent glaciers, visit ancient temples and stroll through thick spruce forests.

After breakfast we hit the road to take a breath-taking exploration of incredible Zhuxi Glacier which dominates the landscape. At the foot of the glacier there are over 180 lakes. On the north side of the mountain stands ancient Pulong Temple. Standing as the largest temple in the county, this 400-year-old religious shrine is nestled in an idyllic location among dense forests and elegant gardens.

After exploring the temple, we return to the resort for lunch and refuel for the afternoon’s adventure. We will then take a leisurely hike through a thick spruce forest and enjoy the refreshing pinch of air beneath the canopy of green. Dinner is at the resort.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 9

BOME / NYINGCHI

Be enchanted by more of Tibet’s bounty of natural beauty as we head to Niyingchi.

After breakfast, we check-out and hit the road for a scenic five-hour drive. Our first stop is Lulang for lunch, via Tongmai natural barrier. Lulang is famed for its breath-taking alpine forests and vast lush meadows.

After lunch, we take a leisurely approximate two-hour stroll through Zhaxigang village to get a glimpse into local life before continuing on our drive overSejila Mountain Pass, arriving in Nyingchi in the evening. Also known as Linzhi, Nyingchi is known as the ‘Swiss Alps of Tibet’ and it is the lowest area of the plateau, with altitudes dropping from 4,000 to about 1,400 meters. We check-in to the hotel with time to refresh before enjoying a feast of local food.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 10

NYINGCHI / LHASA

Sink into the tranquil surroundings served at Basongtso Lake before exploring an ancient temple and driving to Lhasa.

After breakfast, we check-out and hit the road for picturesque Basongtso Lake. The still waters teeter 3,700 meters above sea level and are flanked by striking snow mountains and green patches of forest. We then spend some time exploring 15th century Tsozong Gongba Monastery. This is perched on an islet nestled in the clear waters. We then enjoy a delicious lunch at a local restaurant and hit the road for a scenic four-hour drive that takes us to the sacred city of Lhasa. Lhasa has stood at the heart of Tibetan Buddhism for over 1,000 years.

Food

B/L/-

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 11

LHASA

Get on a high marveling at Potala Palace’s majestic views before getting a culture fix at a thangka painting workshop. After breakfast, we embark on today’s adventure, starting at Potala Palace. At 3,700 meters above sea level, Potala is the world’s highest palace and boasts incredible vistas. The dzong fortress served as the Dalai Lama’s winter palace from 1649 to 1959 and it was then transferred into a museum. We then return to the hotel for a well-deserved lunch and time to refresh. In the afternoon, we delve into Tibet’s rich culture and take part in a thangka painting workshop. This intricate traditional Tibetan art involves painting Buddhist scenes on silk.

We will meet some of the talented artists and watch them at work, before trying our hand at this fine art form. We then return to the hotel. Dinner is at your own account.

Food

B/L/-

Accommodation

5 star boutique hotel

Day 12

LHASA

Explore the ‘Place of the Gods’ as we visit Lhasa, the capital of Tibet and one of the highest cities in the world. We start with our cultural quest to Norbulingka, which translates as ‘treasure park.’ Located on the banks of the Kyichu River, this idyllic green space contains the summer palace of the Dalai Lamas and it features the best-kept gardens on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. After lunch at a local restaurant, we continue for the magnificent Sera Monastery where we could see the debate of sutras, a serene sanctuary situated at the foot of Tatipu Hill. This is one of three famous monasteries in the capital and it is dedicated to the Yellow Hat Sect branch of Tibetan Buddhism and the building dates back to 1419.

The monastery is named sera, wild rose, in the Tibetan language, because the hill behind it was covered with a swathe of colorful wild roses when it was constructed.

Food

B/L/-

Accommodation

boutique hotel

Day 13

LHASA

All things must come to an end and today sees us bid a fond farewell to Tibet as we head to the airport for our onward flight. We may have some time to squeeze in some last-minute solo sight-seeing in Lhasa. Join the crowds of pilgrims flocking to the revered 1,300-year-old Jokhang Temple. Standing as the spiritual heart of Tibet, this is home to a sacred central golden Buddha image. Take a stroll through the city center, head to Barkhor Square and browse the stalls selling everything from fresh produce to incense. Or take a step back in time at the Tibet Museum which is home to exhibits detailing the history of Tibet, with displays of weapons, traditional instruments and sacred art. When it is time, we check-out and drive to the airport, bringing to an end this incredible adventure.

Food

B/L/-

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