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The Mount Kailash trek

Tibet's sacred mountain and western tibet

This guidebook describes the Mount Kailash trek in Tibet, which follows the pilgrims' route around the sacred mountain. The trek has been a pilgrimage site for more than a thousand years, and leads around the peak in 3-4 days. Also included is a visit to the lost kingdom of Guge, still almost unknown in the west.

spring (late April, May and early June) or autumn (mid-September to late October)
Simikot, Kathmandu, Lhasa; Darchen; Zanda
A high-altitude trek in a very remote area. Acclimatisation essential. Long access journey to Kailash itself.
Must See
Guge's lost cities of Toling and Tsaparang; amazing landscape around Kailash; the pilgrimage/trekking experience


This guidebook describes the trek that leads around the sacred Mount Kailash, in western Tibet following the pilgrims’ route. Though short, this high-altitude trek is not to be undertaken lightly – Mount Kailash remains isolated and remote, and getting there is an epic journey in itself.

Isolated for centuries behind the Himalayas in Tibet is a mysterious and mythical mountain, Mount Kailash, standing 6714m (22,028ft) high. The mountain has for more than a thousand years been a central pilgrimage site for some of the world’s major religions. 

Also included in the guide is a visit to the lost kingdom of Guge, still almost unknown in the west. The ethereal ruined fortress of Tsaparang, Guge’s former capital, is Tibet’s greatest Buddhist treasure-house of art and paintings – a stunning location not to be missed.

The Kailash trek, and other treks in the region, described in detail
Extensive practical information for planning and preparation
The key approach routes (by foot and road) and return route to Kathmandu or Lhasa
Historical, cultural and religious background information

For adventure-seeking trekkers this comprehensive guide opens a door into the enchanting world of Kailash and western Tibet.


Tibetan landscapes
Flora and fauna

    Typical temperature

Tibetan culture   
Brief history of the Tibet region
Early foreign visitors to Kailash 
Religious aspects of Kailash
Tibetan religion    
Principal Tibetan Buddhist sects 
Official holidays
A few cultural considerations

Pre-departure preparation
Trekking seasons 
Style of tre
    Fully supported group treks
    Independently organised trips with a local trek operato
    Completely independent travel
Accommodation and food
Visas and permits
    Chinese visa
    Chinese embassies
    Nepalese visas
    Nepalese embassies
Money matters
    Banks and ATMs 
Health matters
    Water sterilisation
    Vaccination suggestions 
    Malaria prophylaxi
    Other nasty bugs
    Common ailments
    Dental care 
    First aid kit
Mountain sickness/altitude
    What is altitude sickness? 
    Altitude problems specific to Tibet  
    Options from the pharmacist 
    Hyperbaric bag and oxygen cylinders 
Mountain safety
Equipment and supplies 

Getting there
Routes into Tibet (via China and Nepal)
    Flights from China to Tibet 
    Overland from China  
    Flights to Nepal 
Kathmandu – Gateway to Tibet  
    What to see   
    Eating out 
    What to see  

Using this guide  
Notes on trekking and road routes   
    Altitudes, distances and timings  
    Alternative names  

Approach routes to Kailash  
1 From Simikot: the trekking route  
    Stage 1 Simikot to Tuling (Masigaon)  
    Stage 2 Tuling to Kermi  
    Stage 3 Kermi to Yangar  
    Stage 4 Yangar to Muchu  
    Stage 5 Muchu to Yari   
    Stage 6 Yari to Sher   
    Drive to Purang  
    Stage 7 Purang to Lake Manasarovar/Darchen   
    Alternative return trek route from Sher to Simikot  
2 From Kathmandu to Kailash (Darchen) (by road)   
    Kathmandu to Kodari   
    Kodari/Zhangmu to Nyalam   
    Xixapangma trekking routes   
    Xixapangma south approach   
    Nyalam to Tara Tso day hike   
    Nyalam to Saga  
    Saga to Paryang  
    Paryang to Lake Manasarovar/Chui Gompa   
    Lake Manasarovar to Darchen  
3 From Lhasa to Kailash (by road)   

The Kailash Kora trek 
    Stage 1 Darchen to Chuku monastery  
    Stage 2 Chuku monastery to Driraphuk monastery   
    Day hike to Kangyam Glacier   
    Stage 3 Driraphuk to Shabje Draktok, via Drolma La   
    Stage 4 Shabje Draktok to Zutrulphuk monastery 
    Stage 5 Zutrulphuk to Darchen  

Other treks in the Kailash region   
1 Darchen Day Walks  
    Darchen ridge walk   
    Gyangdrak monastery  
    Serlung monastery   
2 Inner Kora 
3 Lake Manasarovar   
    Lake Manasarovar Circuit Trek  
    Stage 1 Chui monastery to Hor   
    Stage 2 Hor to Seralung monastery    
    Stage 3 Seralung to Trugo monastery  
    Stage 4 Trugo monastery to Gossul monastery  
    Stage 5 Gossul monastery to Chui monastery   
Chui village ridge walk   
4 Lake Rakhas Tal   
5 Tirthapuri   

The Guge kingdom  
Brief history and cultural aspects   
The southern route to Guge  
    Lake Manasarovar to Toling  
    Toling monastery   
    Toling to Tsaparang   
    A walk from Tsaparang   
    Other hikes  
The northern route from Guge to Darchen   
    Toling to Darchen   

Return to Kathmandu or Lhasa  
    Darchen to Paryang 
    Paryang to Saga 
    Saga to Sangsang   
    Sangsang to Zhangmu   
    Xegar (Shagar)   
    Qomolungma National Park  

The last word 

Appendix 1 Bibliography 

Appendix 2 Glossary of Bon and Buddhist deities  
Significant Tibetan Bon deities  
Significant Tibetan Buddhist deities  
Other definitions  

Appendix 3 Route summaries 
Trekking routes  
Road routes  

Appendix 4 Language hints (Tibetan and Chinese phrases) 
General phrases  
Other useful words  

Appendix 5 Films and music  

Appendix 6 Useful addresses/websites 
    Tour operators in the UK   
    Tour operators in Nepal  
    Tour operators in Lhasa and Chengdu  
    Other websites   
    Other Chinese embassies 

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