13 Days, Yunnan: Trekking around Mt. Kawagebo
Daocheng is located in southwest corner of Sichuan province, it is well-known for the 3 holy peaks named by the 5th Dalai Lama, Shiannairi Peak(6032 m high), Xianuoduoji Peak(5898 m high), Yangmaiyong Peak(5898 m high). Every year, there are many people trek around the 3 holy peaks for increasing their merits and virtues. Lugu Lake is located in northwest part of Yunnan province, it covers 58 square kms, the water is very clear. The unique matriarchal Mosuo people live by the lake, which earned this area another name: the Mysterious Queendom. Trekking from Daocheng to Lugu Lake is surely one of the best trekking route in China.
We will meet you at the airport and begin our journey to Kangding directly. Kangding, a former outpost on the trade route to Tibet, is a fairly large city tucked within a river valley. The sidewalks of Kangding are crowded with Hui, Chinese Muslims, and Tibetans who have come down from the highlands to sell wild mushrooms, vegetables, yak skins and various paraphernalia. Today's drive will take approximately 6 hours (360km).
We'll have an early start today so we can have more time to explore this picturesque remote Tibetan town. At an altitude of just over 4000m, this is one of the highest towns in the world (Lhasa is 3700m). Situated high on a grassy plateau, Litang has the feel of a rough and tumble 'Wild West' town. Khampas - dressed in yak skin coats, bedecked in colorful necklaces and hair ornaments, long daggers hanging from their belts - from the surrounding areas amble into town to stock up on food and supplies, play pool on the streets and hang out in the local teahouses. This small town is great for people watching and just strolling around. We will also visit the famous Chang-Qing-Chun-Ke'er-Si monastery and pay homage to the living Buddha with a personal interview. The monastery here is now home to 1400 Yellow Hat sect monks. Once a hotbed of Tibetan dissent, this monastery was destroyed in the 1950s but has since been completely rebuilt. Today's journey from Kangding to Litang will take us approximately 5 hours (306km).
Today we will reach the highlight of this journey - Yading nature reserve, home of three sacred Tibetan mountains - Chenresig (Avalokitesvara, 6032m), Jambeyang (Manjusri, 5958m), and Chanadorje (Vajrapani, 5958m). Tibetan Buddhists believe that making a kora (pilgrimage) around these mountains brings great merit, and that the three mountains represent compassion, wisdom and energy - attributes one must cultivate on the path to enlightenment. The scenery here easily rivals that of national parks of the west such as Yellowstone and Yosemite in terms of spectacular, pristine mountain scenery. The drive from Litang to Daocheng will take approximately 4 hours (180km), and the trip from Daocheng to Yading (60km) will take approximately 3 hours as much of the road to the park is dirt track. We will spend the night in tent hotel.
Yading/Kars Yak Ranch
Start your trekking tour with horses, first, trek 1 hour to Chongguo Monastery(3800m) which is in fact a ruin, then trek up to visit the Pearl Lake, then continue trek to the Luorong Yak Ranch(4200m), then trek along the Milk Lake shore up to a mountain pass(4681m), then trek down to the Kars Yak Ranch. Camping.
Trek from Kars Yak Ranch down to the Kars Hell Valley, then trek through the valley, on the way, you will see several waterfalls, (the valley is named Hell, but in fact it is as beautiful as Paradise), at the end of the valley, you will cross a narrow wood bridge, walk in the Kars Village. Stay in a local villager house or camping.
Kars Village to Seku Village
Take a tractor for 39 km from Kars Village to Dongyi Village via Geka Village, then change to a minibus, drive another 18 km from Dongyi Village to Eryatong Village via Wangzi Village. Here is the end of the dust road, you have to start your trekking tour again. You will trek 6 km from Eryatong Village to Emei Village, on the way, you will see the U-shape Bend of the Dongyi River, you will also see some ruined castles on the way. (these castles are related with the war between the Naxi people in Lijiang and the Tibetan people living in this area in Ming Dynasty). Then continue trek from Emei Village to Seku Village(3500m, most villagers are Mongolian people). Stay in a local villager house or camping.
Seku Village/Kawa Village
Trek from Seku Village to Eryada Village, then continue trek to Keku Village (most villagers are Pumi people), then continue trek to Kawa Village(3500m, most villagers are Naxi people and Mongolian people), on the way, you will see many cactus as big as trees, you will also see a 100m-high waterfall. Stay in a local villager house or camping.
D8 Kawa Village/Hadi Village
Trek along the Dongyi River and the Tongtian River from Kawa Village to Yiji Village, on the way, you will pass the Hadi Village (most villagers are Naxi people). Stay in a local villager house or camping.
D9 Yongning Hot Spring Village
Trek up a mountain pass (the Yiejiliangzi, about 4000m), then trek down to Yongning Hot Spring Village. Enjoy a hot spring bath. Stay in a local guesthouse.
D10 Yongning Town/Lugu Lake
Trek to Yongning town, here is the end of your trekking tour. Then drive 1 hour to Lugu Lake, take a small wood boat cruise on the lake, visit the Mosuo villages. Stay in the 2 star Daba Hotel by the lake.
Drive 6 hours from Lugu Lake to Lijiang, check in a 4 star hotel and rest.
Visit Lijiang Old Town which is a World Cultural Heritage site, including the Square Market, the Mu Family Palace which is like a little Forbidden City, and the Black Dragon Pond where is the ideal place to view the snow mountain. Stay in the 4 star hotel.
Take a morning flight from Lijiang back to Kunming, then connect your departure flight back home.