Saga Dawa Festival is one of the most significant festivals of Tibetan Buddhism. Tibetan Buddhists celebrate this festival every year on the full moon day of the fourth lunar month of the Tibetan calendar, to mark Sakyamuni s enlightenment. Each year, people from all over Tibet gather here on this day to attach the prayer flags that they brought from home. They attribute the prayer flags to pray, and to help erect the massive flagpole on the Kailash Kora. Tibetan Lama from the nearby monasteries holds this whole ceremony. A few hours before the actual rising of the flagpole from the ground, people circumambulate the flagpole and pray by throwing wind horses (little pieces of colored paper with Buddhist scriptures on them) into the air. Then they aid in removing last year's flags and attach new ones. Even the guests are required to follow them as they go around and around, time and again. Along the sides, on the slope of the nearby cliffs, several people sit to observe the festival. There will also be musicians playing all the time on their horns and symbols. The festival makes us feel the sudden happiness surrounding us.
Tibet's Buddhists celebrate the Saga Dawa festival for a month at around the Tarboche valley of the Kailash region. The first day of the Saga Dawa festival in 2020 is on June 5th. The Kailash Tour with Saga Dawa Festival covers Lhasa and other historical cities of Tibet. The tour begins from a scenic flight from Kathmandu to Lhasa The exploration of Lhasa city includes visiting Potala Palace and many other major tourist attraction of the town.
Enjoy the festival starting from April 15th of the Tibetan calendar
Engage in Kora around the Jokhang Gumba and the Potala Palace
See the Tarboche Flagpole
Explore extensive Tibetan arts, crafts, history, culture, and lifestyle
- All necessary permits
- Meals as specified in the itinerary
- All Entrance fees
- Knowledgeable English-speaking tour guide
- Ground Transfer
- Service Charge & Government Taxes
- Tibet Handy Map
- Airport Transfer
- Drinking water Provided during the trip
- One shared big Oxygen tank in the car
- Travel insurance
- Tips for touring guide and driver
- Personal expenses, like laundry, phone call, snacks, soft drinks (please do the best to avoid alcoholic beverages during your Tibet trip), optional tour activities, etc.
Arrival at Lhasa (3650 meters)
Upon your arrival at Lhasa, our airport representative will receive and escort you to your respective hotel. We will drive for about one hour to reach the hotel. On the way, the representative will provide information on your further trip. After you enter the hotel, check into the hotel and freshen up. We have no plan for this day, so you can just relax and acclimatize to the higher altitude of Lhasa. Today, we will stay in a hotel in Lhasa on shared accommodation.
Sightseeing in Lhasa
After having breakfast, we head out to enjoy sightseeing at the heart of Tibet, the holy and Forbidden City of Lhasa, as you should be adequately rested by now. We will explore the Norbulinka Palace, lovely gardens, and the summer palace home for the 7th to the 14th Dalai Lama and pay a visit to serene Sera Monastery. Here, we can enjoy watching the beautiful collection of ancient paintings and statues as well as scriptures written in gold powder. We will also see gorgeous scroll paintings, tapestries, and Thangkas. Likewise, here we will visit the Jokhang Temple, where we can join the crowds of pilgrims, worshippers, performers, and traders all around the temple. Jokhang Temple is the most revered religious structure in Tibet. We will also visit the vast halls and shrines of the magnificent Potala Palace. Potala Palace is the former home of the Dalai Lamas. The palace is an impressive landmark that soars over the vista of Lhasa.
Similarly, we visit the holy Drepung Monastery. Drepung monastery was formerly the largest monastery in the world. Even though it does not have the title of the largest monastery in the world at present, it still is the largest and richest monastery in Tibet. Built around the year 1416, the monastery has been the place of study for many lamas and still serves as a school to present and future lamas. After enjoying the exploration of Tibet, we return to the hotel for an overnight stay.
Lhasa to Shigatse (3900m)
Departing from Lhasa, we begin our road trip towards Shigatse. Shigatse is the second largest city of Tibet and the seat of the Panchen Lama (ranking close to the Dalai Lama). On the way, we will visit the Tashilumpo Monastery, the seat of the Panchen Lama, and one of the most significant monasteries in Tibet. The Tashilumpo monastery lies at the base of Drolmari or Tara's Mountain on the western side of Shigatse. Gendun Drupa, the first Dalai Lama, founded this monastery in 1477 and is one of the most influential monasteries in Tibet. Inside the monastery, we see many buildings. The Maitreya Chapel is the highest building and houses the world's most giant brass statue of Buddha at 26.2 meters high, seated on a 3.8-meter-high lotus throne made of gold, brass, and precious gems.
Drive from Shigatse to Sang-Sang (4250m)
Today, we will be driving for about three hours. The drive from Shigatse to Lhatse is on a smooth path. In Lhatse, the routes divers from the main Lhasa-Kathmandu highway; we continue to drive on the dirt road with breathtaking views of the rural life hood along the way. We will cross through several high passes until we make a final stop of the day at Sang-Sang, a developing town. Today, we stay at a tented camp for the night.
Sang-Sang to Saga (4440m)
Our drive today moves on the wild, windswept terrain. We pass through several villages and farm fields. Then, we cross several high passes with a short stop for lunch and toilet breaks. After driving for about six hours, we reach the check post near Saga. Here, officials will check our passports. Visa and other documents. After the check post, it is about half an hour's drive to Saga. Previously a small village, in only a few years, Saga has developed rapidly and has many modern amenities in the present.
Drive from Saga to Paryang (4550m)
After breakfast, we head out for another day of the long drive to Paryang. After about an hour of drive from Saga campsite, the road leads to the high passes of the region. Then, the trail drops down to the enormous valley. From here, we can get stunning views of the snowcapped peaks in the distance on the Nepal border site. Our trip carries on through some sandy parts while nearing Prayang. Paryang is a steep village in this windblown region and the town where we spend the night.
Drive from Prayang to Mansarovar (4550m)
Today we will cover the distance of about 270 kilometers to reach Manasarovar from Paryang. The route takes us through the very core of the Mansarovar Lake in the middle of an astounding landscape. As you get near this enchanting sacred Lake, the historic Chiu Monastery becomes visible on the Northwest shore of the Lake. This spot is one of the most beautiful locations to enjoy a glimpse of majestic Mount Kailash. Today's trip offers spiritual stimulation to the soul. After arriving at Mansarovar, we move towards the campsite to freshen up. After freshening up, we take a short trip towards the east coast of the Lake to visit the Chui Gompa and return to the camp. Generally, we camp on the north-east side of the Lake on the grassy field with great views of the Lake and the peak of Gurla Mandata. After returning, we can enjoy the picturesque beauty of the surroundings as much as we want.
Day Eight :
Drive from Mansarovar to Darchen and trek to Mt. Kailash Circuit to DOnkhan (4860m)
After driving for about a couple of hours from Mansarovar, we will reach Darchen. Darchen is a small town with only a few guesthouses. During the auspicious time of Kora, this place gets crowded with pilgrims all around. The holy walk from the guest house leads west to the compound high above the Barkha plain to a cairn and prayer flags, an outstanding view of Mt. Kailash. The trail from here continues across the plain to Shershong. Then walking for an hour, we reach towards the Chhuku Gompa lying on the high hill above. The west bank path takes us across the screed slopes to the place where we will set the camp for the night near Damding Donkhang. From here, you can get a good view of the west face of Mt. Kailash.
Trek from Damding Donkhan to Jarok Donkhang
The second day of the pilgrimage trip begins by crossing a wooden bridge towards the north face of Mount Kailash. As you get near the Gompa and guest house at Dirakphuk, you will get a beautiful view of the north face of the holy Mt. Kailash. The Kora then rises onto a moraine, to meeting the track from the east bank. The trail then ascends gradually to the meadow for the overnight camp.
Trek from Jarok Donkhang to Zutul-Puk (4760m)
The trail today takes us past the piles of clothing (he local Tibetan pilgrims leave a piece of clothing or any kind of possessions letting their past life behind them). The Kora then continues past thousands of small rock cairns beyond to a stone hut and across a boulder field, then up to the high pass of Dolma La. A big boulder represents the goddess Dolma (Tara) and is full of prayer flags. This site is the physical and spiritual high point of the pilgrimage Kora. The trail from here drops down towards the plain valley below. After a few hours of walk, we reach the overnight camp at Zutul-Puk Gompa. The spot is named after a cave in which the poet, saint Milarepa stayed, meditating. There are still his footprints preserved on the roof.
Trek from Zutul-Puk to Darchen (4520m) and drive from Darchen to Mansarovar
This day is the final day of the Kora. The path leads to a stream of Kailash, then curve upwards as the river drops towards the plain. The last route of the trek makes a dramatic exit from the river valley on to the plain. Then, it passes to a Mani wall adorned with carved yak skulls.
Drive Mansarovar to Paryang (4,550m)
Today, after breakfast, we'll leave Lake Mansarovar. We drive for about 300 km, crossing Mayum-la and several rivers to Paryang, a beautiful small Tibetan village, where we'll camp overnight. The scenery along this section is some of the most beautiful of the entire journey, and a distant storm drifting in back of Tibetans, horses & sheep is a surreal sight.
Drive Paryang to Saga (4,550m)
After having breakfast, we'll leave Paryang. Then, continue our journey remaining beautiful landscape and people activities which take us back to Saga, where we'll camp for an overnight stay.
Tour Saga to Paigutsho Lake (4,850m)
We take a ferry at Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra River). On reaching the river bank, we board on the barge with the vehicle to get across the other side of the river bank. From here, the drive takes on the valley through the passes till we reach near the Lake Paigutsho, where we stay overnight at a camp near a lake.
Drive Paigutsho Lake to Nyalam (3,750m), then to Zhangmu
Today, you can enjoy the scenic drive through the beautiful countryside of Tibet. If the weather permits, you can get excellent panoramic views of Mt Cho-Yu (8,201m) and Mt Shishapagma (8,012m) from the Lalung La pass, at 5,050m. Then, we will drive down the Tibetan Plateau first to the Chinese border town of Zhangmu.
Drive Zhangmu to Kodari and Kathmandu
This day is our last day of the trip to Tibet. We move from Zhangmu towards the Nepalese border town of Tatopani. Here we need to complete necessary border formalities before entering back into Nepal across the border at Kodari. After completing the re-entry formalities, you continue the drive to Kathmandu, which, depending on road and weather conditions, should take about 5-6 hours.