Category: Tibet


Whether you’re on the fringes of the Tibetan world in Yunnan or Sichuan,
travelling amongst Qinghai’s yak herders or heading for Tibet’s “big city”, Lhasa, make sure that you leave time for the following, our
top ten Tibetan experiences

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Faces from the Land of  Snows

Many of us are nervous when it comes to taking a stranger’s photograph, but portraits often provide the best memories – and the most striking images – from a trip. Professional photographer and our photography coach, Ron Yue presents some of his favourite portraits from Tibet…

 

When travelling on the Tibetan Plateau, one of the most striking things is how devout most people are. Their Buddhist faith decides and drives many aspects of everyday life.

The lady with the beautiful coral earrings (below) was pausing mid-kora (prayer circuit) on the Barkhor in Lhasa. To the uninitiated, the Barkhor’s foot traffic seems unceasing, but to Tibetans it is punctuated with holy places and tiny shrines, spaces to stop, reflect and pray.

The Barkhor is Lhasa’s religious heart, but the city is also ringed by great monasteries, each with its own tradition of learning. Here, at Sera, young monks gather each afternoon to debate scripture. Each point is illustrated with a dramatic flourish – the clapping of hands, the stamping of feet and the striking down of their opponent’s point.

These scenes are repeated – with local variations – acoss the Tibetan Plateau, from Yunnan to Ladakh. Below, a lady prays with a mala (a string of 108 prayer beads) wrapped around her fingers, in the dawn light outside the Ganden Sumtseling Monastery, a thousand kilometres east of Lhasa.

It is not just the elderly that follow Buddhist traditions. In fact, many pilgrimages are so strenuous that only the young can attempt them. Below, a  teenagerl prostrates herself on the Barkhor kora. After I shot this photograph she stood up, moved two paces forward and lay down again, measuring the length of the circuit with her body. She will complete the kora 108 times like this before her pilgrimage is complete.

Not all religious practices are so arduous though – for the onlookers at least! Below, a man picked from the crowd at Gyantse’s Saga Dawa celebrations is covered with flour by a clown. These clowns are tasked with keeping the audience amused, against a backdrop of solemn religious dances.

Far from Tibet’s towns and monasteries, a nomadic lady (below) welcomed us into her black yak-hair tent. Once common, nomads’ camps are becoming harder to find, as the government encourages the drokpa to move into permanent housing.

As a photographer, these final two images are among my favourites. A young boy in Shigatse shows me how it’s done…

…and a lady decked out in beautiful turquoise and coral jewelry takes a quick snap in Yunnan:

Each time I travel in Tibet I find new inspiration from its incredible landscape and wide open skies, but it’s the memories of connecting with people here that I always remember most fondly. What a special part of the world!

Our journeys in the Land of Snows…


From Lhasa to Mt. Everest Base Camp…

Where do we go?

Day 1: Arrive in Kunming
Day 2: Flying up to Lhasa
Day 3: In & around Lhasa
Day 4: Lhasa to Gyantse
Day 5: Gyantse to Shigatse
Day 6: Pelbar to Mt. Everest
Day 7: Back to Lhasa
Day 8: Lake Nam-tso
Day 9: Lake Nam-tso to Lhasa
Day 10: Farewell Tibet

What you will discover

⦁ Lhasa, the capital of Tibet with the Potala Palace and the holiest Tibetan temple, the
Jokhang

⦁ Visit the old towns of Gyantse and Shigatse

⦁ Drive along Lake Yamdrok and Lake Namtso, the two holiest lakes in Tibet

⦁ Enjoy an unforgettable view
over the Himalayas and drive
right to the Mt. Everest Base
Camp

Journey Dossier

View here

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Our ALL NEW, UNIQUE journey from subtropical Lao to the Himalayas…

Where do we go?

Day 1: Arrive in Laos
Day 2: Luang Prabang to Luang Namtha
Day 3: Luang Namtha to Menglun
Day 4: Menglun to Lake Dianchi
Day 5: Lake Dianchi to Xizhou
Day 6: Xizhou to Lijiang
Day 7: Lijiang to Shangri-La
Day 8: Shangri-La to Deqin
Day 9: In & around Deqin
Day 10: Deqin to Markham
Day 11: Markham to Zogang
Day 12: Zogang to Rawok
Day 13: Rawok to Pomi
Day 14: Pomi to Bayi
Day 15: Bayi to Lhasa
Day 16: Farewell Lhasa

What you will discover

⦁ Drive from charming Luang
Prabang to Lhasa in Tibet…

⦁ Highlights include: Luang Prabang, Xishuangbanna, Meili Snow Mountain, Ranwu Lake, Lhasa and much more in between

Journey Dossier

View here

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Our most magnificent photography trip in Tibet

Where do we go?

Day 1: Arrive in Kunming
Day 2: Flying up to Lhasa
Day 3: In & around Lhasa
Day 4: Lhasa to Gyantse
Day 5: Gyantse to Tingri
Day 6: Tingri to Mt. Everest Base Camp
Day 7: Tingri to Shigatse
Day 8: In Shigatse
Day 9: Shigatse to Damxung
Day 10: Damxung to Lhasa
Day 11: In Lhasa
Day 12: Farewell Lhasa

What you will discover

⦁ Lhasa, Mt. Everest, holy lakes, adventure, blue skies, snow-capped mountains, red-robed monks, the Jokhang, the Potala, open roads…a journey for *your* life time!

⦁ Learn how to see beauty and capture moments with Master Photographer Ron Yue and
share with you friends!

Journey Dossier

View here

Stories


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The Yarlung Tsangpo is Tibet’s most important river. We take a whirlwind trip down its course…

A raindrop (or, more likely, a snowflake) falling near Mount Kailash in could have one of three fates. If it lands to the north or west of Tibet’s holiest mountain, it will trickle into the Indus, flow across Ladakh, down the length of Pakistan and into the Arabian Sea. Fall to the south of the mountain and it will promptly cascade out of Tibet into Nepal, and – joining the Ganges – run across northern India, draining through Bangladesh into the Bay of Bengal. Finally, if it lands east of Kailash, our raindrop will join the Yarlung Tsangpo.

 

Tibet’s most important river, the Yarlung Tsangpo flows east across Tibet for two thousand kilometres before it finds a way through the Himalayas and pours into India, where it is known as the Brahmaputra, “Son of Brahma”. A journey along the Yarlung Tsangpo is a journey through Tibet’s most dramatic landscapes as well as through Tibetan history.

The young river meanders out of Tibet’s far west through sand dunes in a beautiful and rugged land. Although few live here now, this was once part of the Zhang Zhung kingdom, a pre-Buddhist civilisation that has left a handful of enigmatic ruins and soot-blackened caves near Mount Kailash.

For hundreds of kilometres, the Yarlung Tsangpo flows through a thinly populated region, its braided stream fed by melt-water from Himalayan glaciers. Eventually, the river flows past Tibet’s second city, Shigatse, to its confluence with the Kyi Chu outside Lhasa.

In flowing through more populated regions, our river performs a new purpose. The rocky riverbanks are marked with white ladder-like symbols, showing that a water burial has been held recently. Although Tibetan sky burials are well-known, poorer people more often wrap their dead in cloth and slide the bodies into the river – one important reason why Tibetans do not eat fish.

Downstream, the river enters the Yarlung Valley, home of Lhasa’s Gongkar Airport, and – less prosaically – Tibet’s historic heartland. Here, the valley is lined with important religious sites: Tibet’s first monastery, the remarkable, circular Samye; a meditation cave used by 8th century sage, Guru Rinpoche; and the oracle lake, Lhamo La-tso are all nearby. It was from the Yarlung Valley that early rulers unified Tibet in the 7th century, and here that the Debate of Samye was held, the latter a crucial juncture in the history of Tibetan Buddhism.

It is also in the Yarlung Valley that our river’s first hydroelectric dam went online in 2014. Slated to generate 540MW of electicity, the Zangmu Dam is the first of five planned for this area. Further east again, where the river begins its precipitous drop into India, its hydroelectric potential has China’s engineers really excited – a long-mooted plan would see a vast dam with double the output of the Three Gorges Dam built in the Yarlung Tsangpo Gorges.

For now, however, the river churns through its spectacular and isolated gorge unimpeded. Here, the river describes a vast U-turn, pivoting to flow south and west before spilling into India. Over the course of the gorge’s length, the river water drops a staggering 2,400 metres and runs between two 7,000-metre peaks, making it one of the world’s deepest gorges. This region is known as Pemako to Tibetans, one of 108 Himalayan valleys hidden by Guru Rinpoche to give sanctuary in times of trouble. Certainly, the gorge resists exploration by even the best-prepared modern expeditions – those preparing to travel here must rely on satellite images, rather than actual maps.*

It seems fitting for our raindrop Yarlung Tsangpo to leave Tibet this way. Flowing from the flanks of Buddhism’s holiest mountain to a secret valley best known from outer space, the story of the Yarlung Tsangpo is – like much of Tibet – riddled with mystery, flecked with faith, and utterly alluring to the adventurous spirit.

 

Explore Tibet with our journeys… 

Lands of Silk & Snow: From Luang Prabang to Lhasa

ALL NEW, UNIQUE journey from subtropical Laos to the Himalayas

Where do we go?

Day 1: Arrive in Laos
Day 2: Luang Prabang to Luang Namtha
Day 3: Luang Namtha to Menglun
Day 4: Menglun to Lake Dianchi
Day 5: Lake Dianchi to Xizhou
Day 6: Xizhou to Lijiang
Day 7: Lijiang to Shangri-La
Day 8: Shangri-La to Deqin
Day 9: In & around Deqin
Day 10: Deqin to Markham
Day 11: Markham to Zogang
Day 12: Zogang to Rawok
Day 13: Rawok to Pomi
Day 14: Pomi to Bayi
Day 15: Bayi to Lhasa
Day 16: Farewell Lhasa

We also offer shorter version of this journey – 10 & 13 Days

What you will discover

⦁ Drive from the charming
  Luang Prabang to Lhasa in
Tibet…
 
⦁ Highlights include: Luang
  Prabang, Xishuangbanna, Meili Snow Mountain, Ranwu Lake (然烏湖), Lhasa and much more in between

Journey Dossier

View here

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Roads on the Roof of the World

From Lhasa to Mt. Everest Base Camp

Where do we go?

Day 1: Arrive in Kunming
Day 2: Flying up to Lhasa
Day 3: In & around Lhasa
Day 4: Lhasa to Gyantse
Day 5: Gyantse to Shigatse
Day 6: Pelbar to Mount Everest
Day 7: Back to Lhasa
Day 8: Lake Nam-tso
Day 9: Lake Nam-tso to Lhasa
Day 10: Farewell Tibet

What you will discover

⦁ Lhasa, the capital of Tibet
  with the Potala Place and the
holiest Tibetan temple, the
Jokhang temple
 
⦁ Visit the old towns of Gyante and Shigatse
⦁ Drive along lake Yamdrok and Lake Namtso, the two holiest in Tibet
 
⦁ Enjoy an unforgettable view
  over the Himalayas and drive
  right to the Mt. Everest
  Basecamp

Journey Dossier

View here

Stories on Tibet

A Glimpse of Everest
From Silk to Snow

 

*Botanist Frank Kingdon Ward had this to say about a trip here in the 1920s:

Not only is Pemako extraordinarily difficult to reach from any direction, it is still more difficult to penetrate and explore when reached. Surrounded on three sides by the gorges of the Tsangpo, the fourth is blocked by mighty ranges of snow mountains, whose passes are only open for a few months in the year. Beyond these immediate barriers to east, west and south are trackless forests inhabited by wild unfriendly tribes… Add to this… a climate which varies from the subtropical to the arctic, the only thing common to the whole region being perpetual rain, snakes and wild animals, giant stinging nettles and myriads of biting and blood sucking ticks, hornets, flies and leeches…

The Riddle of the Tsangpo Gorges, Kingdon Ward, 1926
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