The culture itinerary provides an authentic cultural experience. Drink yak-butter tea while watching traditional Kham dancers. Visit secluded monasteries and nunneries hidden in deep mountain valleys. Along the way meet the people and the culture of the Tibetan Plateau.
This trip beginsin Chengdu with your guide picking you up at the airport and providing transportation to your hotel.
The first daywe leave Chengdu and drive to Dardo (Kangding), a distance of approximately 325 km.
The second daywe leave Dardo for Rongtrak (Danba). On the way we will visit a Bon Monastery. The Bon religion was the primary religion in Tibet before Buddhism was introduced. Many of its elements of Bon still make up much of daily Tibetan life.
The third daywe travel from Rongtrak to Garze. We will visit the Tibetan villages of Zhonglu and Suopo. Zhonglu is a Jiaju village and is known for its fairyland like architecture. Suopo was built according to Dao principles. Its rampart like buildings and maze like alleyways have been credited by residents as the reason why the city has survived two thousand years of sieges and attacks.
The fourth daywe will visit the Garze Monastery. This beautifully restored hilltop monastery was constructed by Qosot Mongols, and was once home to 1,500 monks. Currently, about 700 monks reside at the monastery. The majority of the monks are studying at the monastic college located on the grounds.
The fifth daywe travel from Garze to the Aqiu convent. The most famous convent in Tibet, this massive complex is home to 10,000 nuns. The nuns lead an extremely simple life and their quarters have been cobbled together with whatever materials they can find. This convent receives the most prayer orders of any monastery in the region.
The sixth daywe depart the Aqiu Convent and head to Pelyul. There are currently 150 monks residing at this monastery. A hike up the ridge to the old two- storey monastery is definitely worth a trip to see the cultural-revolution graffiti.
The seventh daywe travel from Pelyul to Derge. The scenic drive will follow the course of the Yangtze River. Photographic opportunities abound. The river is the border between Chamdo and Derge.
The eigth daywe gain some serious altitude. On our way from Derge to Dzogchen we must climb to a pass at 5050m. We will be stopping at Yehlum Lake which legend says is the heart of King Gesar's wife, left here as the area is so beautiful.
The ninth daywe will explore the Dzogchen Monastery, one of the largest monasteries of the Nyingma School in Kham. It sits in hidden valley at 4,020 m, with sweeping views of snow-capped peaks to the south-west.
The tenth daywe leave Dzogchen for the Sershul Monastery. The Sershul Monastery is the largest (1200-1300 monks) in the county and very important to the Gelukpa (Yellow Hat) School. We will have the opportunity to walk the Kora and explore the monastery.
The eleventh daywe will travel to see the Bagemani. This is the world's longest Mani Stone wall.
The twelfth daywill expose you to a variety of cultural elements in the Jyekundo area to help familiarize you with the culture of the local area. You will be visiting:
- The Gyanak Mani stone pile is composed of at least 2 billion hand-carved prayer stones. Considered one of the holiest sites in Kham, you will be surrounded by pilgrims and locals alike. An optional activity is to carve your own Mani stone with the help of a local artisan.
- After the Gyanak Mani stone pile we will go to Leba Valley to swim in a hot spring that has been developed into a swimming pool. After a relaxing swim in the pool, you will go to Nampa Nangze (Princess Wenchang Temple). Nampa Nangze was constructed to honor the Chinese princess who married the Tibetan King Songsten Gampo. King Songsten Gampo is credited as the first person to bring Buddhism to Tibetans.