Pilgrimage and Discovery

A 14 Day Exploration of Historic and Contemporary Tibet

khawakarpo
Hosted by Kesang Tashi
June 2015

This trip is a rare opportunity to explore the many faces of Tibet with an insider's view of the richness of its past and the potential of its future. Tashi has spent 25 years working as a social entrepreneur in Tibet and the US to revitalize Tibetan rug weaving and promote the art and crafts traditions of Tibet. Through his ever increasing collection of Tibetan rugs, Tibetan miniature paintings, books, lectures, exhibits, tours and education programs, Tashi has served as an unofficial "ambassador" for Tibetan culture and introduced countless numbers to Tibet and its fascinating culture. As we travel through two of Tibet's most important regions, Tashi will help us learn about and understand traditional Tibetan culture while offering his insight about opportunities for the future. We hope Tashi's unique perspective as both an insider from this part of the world and long time global citizen, will enable our guests to leave Tibet with a deeper understanding of Tibetan culture, its people, challenges and opportunities for the future
The trip begins in Tashi's homeland in Eastern Tibet, Shangri-la. Shangri-la is one of the most beautiful and culturally diverse regions of the Tibetan Plateau and Tashi will offer a highly personal and intimate introduction to the history and culture of this area and his family heritage. The trip will continue on the pilgrimage route to Khawakarpo, one of Tibet's sacred mountains. Along the way explore the lush forests and fascinating Tibetan villages high above the deep gorges and sub tropical rains forests of Asia's three great rivers- the Yangtze, Mekong and Salween- snaking far below. While travelling in this region, our guests will experience authentic Tibetan hospitality in a five star setting at Songtsam's elegant and well appointed Tibetan style lodges. Songtsam Lodges have been identified as one of the "10 Best Hotels in the World" by Tattler and are on Conde Nast Traveler's "Hot List 2012". They were featured in National Geographic Traveler magazine in early 2014.
The second part of the trip travels to Lhasa, center of Tibetan civilization, home of the Dalai Lamas and seat of Tibet's great monasteries. Over the course of a week, experienced Tibetan guides will introduce our guests to the great monasteries, the Potala and other historic sites that have played such an important role in Tibet's history. Tashi will also share his work in preserving and promoting Tibetan rug weaving with a special visit to Khawachen Lhasa, the rug weaving and arts and crafts center, he established more than 25 years ago.
While in Lhasa our guests will stay at The House of Shambala, a charming Tibetan hotel tucked in the Bakhor circumambulatory area, visited by Buddhist pilgrims for nearly 15 centuries.

DAY 1 ARRIVAL IN KUNMING :
All participants are expected to arrive at the Kunming airport in the early afternoon where you will be greeted by Crossroads representative Tashi Lamasang. The day in Kunming will be relaxing and leisurely to adjust to the climate and time change. You will be staying at a five star hotel across the street from Kunming's Green Lake, a very popular place for walks, tai-chi, dance and other forms of martial art practice. If you are up to it, Tashi Lamasang will take you to an art gallery nearby to see a sampling of Yunaan's famed art scene. There will be a welcome dinner to sample Yunnan cuisine. The rich mushroom season should be in full swing in June. Rest well for an early flight to Shangri-La. Tashi Lamasang will be there seeing to all the details of the flight.

DAY 2 ARRIVE IN SHANGRI-LA VIA KUNMING
Arrive in Shangri-la in late afternoon or evening. Check-in and rest in hotel to adjust to high altitude.


DAY 3 SHANGRI-LA - TACHENG
In the early morning, we will visit the Songzanlin Monastery, Yunnan's biggest monastery that houses over seven hundred monks. Our guide will introduce our guests to the basic concepts of Tibetan Buddhism and daily religious practice. We will then visit the Monastery and learn more about its history, structure, and the daily life of monks.

gedong festival at songzanlin monastery

 

Drive to Songtsam Tacheng for 3 hours. In this area are Nixi and Lisu villages with charming distinctive black-roofed farmhouses. This is a very fertile valley, with two crops of rice and fruit trees. The semi-wild boars, which feed on wild nuts before winter, make the best ham in the world. We resume our drive to Qibie Hada village, where Songtsam Tacheng is located. In the afternoon,

we will take a leisurely walk to the surrounding villages, and pay a visit to a local family.
DAY 4 TACHENG
We will spend the morning exploring the Baima Snow Mountains Nature Reserve and following wild Yunnan golden monkeys, one of the most endangered primates in China.
After a picnic lunch at a beautiful spot, we will visit a local Tibetan village. We will drive uphill along a rippling stream, visit the village planted with perfume rose, pear, peach trees, and papayas. After visiting the village, we will hike back to the hotel along beautiful country/forest trail.
DAY 5 TACHENG - BENZILAN
Leave Tacheng in the morning and drive to Benzilan along the beautiful Jinsha River valley.
After checking into the hotel, we will walk around the charming village where the lodge is located and visit some local families in their homes as well as the village center where people come to pray in the evenings just like hundreds of years ago. We can also take a short hike into some of the original forest in the area.
DAY 6 BENZILAN - MEILI
Guests can get up early in the morning and climb up a little hill to hang up our prayer flags and burn incense for a great journey ahead.
Drive to Dongzhulin Monastery after breakfast, which sits overlooking the beautiful Jinsha River Gorge (Yangtze). Dongzhulin, though not as famous as Songzanlin, is more popular with the local Tibetans. It has several "living" Buddhas and each year the Mask Dancing Ceremony attracts thousands of followers. It was built in 1667, before Songzanlin, and at one time housed treasures which rivaled the Potala Palace. Unfortunately it was badly damaged during the Cultural Revolution and the current structure was restored in 1987.
Meili Lodge is a traditional Tibetan mountain lodge built from quarried stone. It has fantastic views not only of the Meili Snow Mountain Range, but also of the village with a creek tumbling down the mountains.
After freshening up at Meili lodge, we will visit the small village nearby which has a stunning view of the Meili Snow Mountain Range.
DAY 7 MEILI
An early start in order to capture Khawakarpo at sunrise – this is an excellent photographic opportunity.
A day hike will be arranged, depending on guest's fitness levels. The Meili Snow Mountain Range has become a very popular destination for tourists; however our trip will enable you to explore some of the most untouched corners of the area.
In summer time, pastures at highland are covered by colorful wild flowers and dotted with yaks and horses. Hike to a Tibetan pasture, join a local family in their cabin for hot yak butter tea, followed by picnic at a scenic spot.

songtsam meili and meili snow mountains

 

DAY 8 MEILI - SHANGRI-LA

Drive to Shangri-la, stop at the handicraft villages of Nixi and Gonjo. At Nixi we will learn about their locally produced black pottery. Then, at Gonjo village, we will attend a handicraft workshop to learn how to draw a traditional lacquer wooden box. The rest of the day will be yours to wander around the village which surrounds the hotel. Kena village was historically very important, as the economic and cultural center of this area.

In the late afternoon, we will visit the old town. It is an important trade town on the ancient Tea and Horse Caravan Road - now booming once again, with shops and tea houses for travelers. We will walk through the old parts of town, and then stop at a tea house for a cup of tea and to learn more about the history of the Tea and Horse Caravan Road. We continue our exploration of the old town and stop by a small cheese shop where you can find yak cheese from nearby villages and a traditional Tibetan rug workshop. During our excursion to the old town we will also visit some local and international Non‐Governmental Organizations that work to protect and promote local culture.

DAY 9 SHANGRI-LA LHASA
Transfer to Shangri-la Airport for morning flight to Lhasa. Lunch and rest in hotel, The House of Shambala. Begin exploration of Lhasa.

House of Shambala, Lhasa

DAY 10 LHASA

Potala
Lhasa City Tour. The day will begin with a visit to the historic and awe inspiring residence of the Dalai Lamas, the Potala. Following lunch we will visit the Jo-khang and the surrounding circumambulatory corridor, Bakor, visited by all Tibetan pilgrims.
DAY 11 LHASA
Today we begin the day early by joining hundreds of Tibetans and visitors doing their morning circumambulation around Potala. It is one way to get a sense of what Tibetan Buddhist devotional practice means in Tibet. Later we will visit one of Tibet's most important and formerly largest monasteries, Drepung. Later in the day we will visit another of Tibet's most important monasteries, Sera. If we are lucky , we may be able to synchronize our timing to watch the monks in Sera monastery's debating in the courtyard where they have been engaged in dialectic debate for centuries. We will enjoy a traditional Tibetan dinner in a popular family operated restaurant this evening.

DAY 12 LHASA

Visit to Norbu Linka Summer Palace and Ani Sanikhang Buddhist nunnery.

DAY 13 LHASA AND TSURPU
In the morning we will board a mini bus to travel 80 Km outside Lhasa for a visit to famed Tsurbu Monastery of the Karma pa lineage. We will return in time for dinner.
DAY 14 LHASA
Visit to Khawachen, Tashi's rug weaving and arts and crafts center. Final dinner celebration.

drying yarn at khawachen lhasa

Khawachen Lhasa

DAY 14 TRANSFER TO AIRPORT, FLIGHT TO CHENGDU OR KATHMANDU. END OF TRIP.

Terms of Service:
Price:
Land cost: $6,800 per person based on double occupancy*
8 person minimum up to maximum of 12 Guests

Price includes:
• All accommodations as indicated in the itinerary, double occupancy.
• All meals
• All land transportation
• English speaking guides
• All entrance fees

Price Excludes:
• Personal expenses
• Airfare
• Tips
• Insurance and Visa

Payment:
• First deposit of 20% due January, 31st.
• Additional 30% deposit due March, 30th.
• Remaining balance due May, 15th.
• Payment is non-refundable after May, 15th.
• Participants are welcome to pay at any time prior to the suggested dates.