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July 2018: Kham Tibet Horse Festival Tour

Dates: 12 July—28 July 2018

From:$2495 (Join-in Tour)

Brief introduction of this journey:
This mysterious 17 day journey goes overland through the Kham region of the Tibetan Plateau to the Yushu Tibet Horse Festival. Starting in Chengdu, this unique, significant cultural and photography journey will lead clients through some of the best kept secrets that Tibet has to offer! You will start by exploring the Rongdrak (Danba) region, one of the most unique areas of the Tibetan Plateau. The Rongdrak region is filled with huge castle-like homes that are hundreds of years old. In addition, tall stone watch towers dot the land with some rising up to 60 meters high. From Rongdrak, clients will travel through farming villages to Drakgo, a highly fertile region in Kham.

From Drakgo, clients will then travel overland to Yarchen Gar, one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in all of Tibet. Very few foreign travelers have been to Yarchen Gar, which is home to over 10,000 monks and nuns. Next, you will visit the town of Pelyul (Baiyu), lying near the Yangtze River. The next destination is Derge, which has long been the cultural and spiritual center of the Kham region. Participants will spend 2 nights in Derge exploring the region, including the Parkhang Printing House, which makes the vast majority of Tibetan Buddhist scriptures books. The artisans here still make these books the traditional way, which clients will get to experience!

The next destination is the sacred lake of Yilhun Lha Tso, regarded as one of the most beautiful places in all of Tibet. This small glacier-fed lake is surrounded by towering snow-covered mountains that rise well above 6000 meters (20,000 feet). From the lake, clients will go to the large monastery of Dzokchen, which sits beneath a stunning glacier-covered peak.

After spending a night in Dzokchen, you will travel through the high grasslands of the Sershul region to Jyekundo (Yushu), one of the largest towns in the Kham region. Along the way, you can visit some nomad Tibetans herding their yaks. The next day, you will begin the day by wandering around the sacred site of Gyanak Mani, home to the largest collection of hand-carved prayer stones on the planet. More than 2 billion prayer stones cover an area larger than a square kilometer. Each day, thousands of devout Buddhists walk the ancient pilgrimage route around this prayer stones. In the afternoon, you drive south to Nangchen, one of the most remote corners of Tibet……but also one of the most beautiful. In Nangchen, you will visit the isolated monasteries of Gar and Gaden, both amazingly beautiful and little known outside from local people. You will have plenty opportunities to do some day hiking at both of these splendid monasteries.

The last portion of your journey will take you back to Jyekundo where you will spend two days watching and photographing the annual Yushu Horse Festival. This is the largest and most exciting of all the Tibet horse festival.  Many tens of thousands of local Tibetan will be in attendance watching not only horse racing, but also watching singing, dancing, strongman competitions, yak races and more!

After spending 2 full days watching the Yushu Horse Festival, clients will fly back to Chengdu where they will spend one final night before the journey concludes on 28 July.


Itinerary: Tibet Horse Festival Tour

July 12 Day 1: Arrive to Chengdu, China

Staff will receive guests at the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport and transfer them to a hotel near the Tibetan Market Street in Chengdu. There will be a brief logistic orientation given to the clients regarding the upcoming Tibet Horse Festival Tour.

July 13 Day 2: Chengdu—Rongdrak (Danba)  Altitude: 1800m  Traveling time: 6hrs

This journey begins early in the morning from Chengdu. The first glimpse of the Tibetan Plateau begins from Dujiangyan Irrigation System, which was built in the year 256 BC. It is located along the the banks of the Minjiang River, which is a tributary of the Yangtze River. Dujiangyan is also known as the ‘Treasure of Sichuan’ due to its crucial role in the draining of floodwater, irrigating farms and providing water resources for more than 50 cities within Sichuan province. In the early evening, we will arrive at beautiful Rongdrak Village (Danba in Chinese).

July 14  Day 3: Explore Rongdrak

Rongdrak is considered as one of the most beautiful Tibetan villages based on its unique architecture, costumes and dialect. Some of the family’s houses are many centuries old and still stands strong. Rongdrak is also known as the “ancient country of thousands of watchtowers” due to huge amount of clay and stone watchtowers throughout the area that have four, six, or even thirteen margins on the cross section. Some of the existing watchtowers date back to over a thousand years old with heights ranging from 100 to 200 feet (30 to 60 meters).

July 15 Day 4: Danba—Drakgo (Luhuo)   Altitude: 3250m   Traveling time: 5 1/2 hours

Drakgo is a typical Tibetan village located in a beautiful valley. Along the way there we will drive through forested mountains, vast grasslands and rolling mountains. We will see small townships, villages and nomadic families dwelling in black tents while herding their yaks.

July 16  Day 5: Drakgo—Pelyul (Baiyu)  Altitude: 3400m  Traveling time: 7hrs

Our journey begins early in the morning. Our first destination is Karze/Ganze County, the old capital of Karze Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. After exploring town, we will go to Yarchen  Gar Monastery, also known as the Yarchen Orgyen Samten Choeling, which was found by Akhyuk Rinpoche in the year 1980. This monastery is located in an isolated valley 4000m above sea level. The Dzin Chu River flows through the monastery giving it a beautiful curving shape. With more than 10,000 monks and nuns, this monastery ranks as the second largest Buddhist Institute in Tibet at the present time. Before the sunsets, we will arrive in  Pelyul (Baiyu in Chinese).


July 17  Day 6: Pelyul—Derge  Altitude: 3188m  Traveling time: 3 hours

After breakfast, we begin our journey to Derge, the ancient cultural and spiritual center of Kham. We will drive through beautiful valleys thickly covered with forests with strong rivers dashing through narrow gorges. We will pass by small villages, stupas, monasteries, hand-carved Buddhist prayer stones and could even see Buddhist pilgrims going to the capital of Lhasa. The road between Pelyul and Derge is amazingly beautiful and will be a highlight of this journey.

July 18  Day 7: Explore Derge

Derge is located at a narrow forested valley with the  Sequ River running through the town. The main attraction of Derge is the Derge Parching Printing House, which was found by Derge Kind Tenpa Tsering in the year 1729 and restored in 1991 due to heavy damage suffered. For over 300 years Derge was been well known for its prestigious riches in economic, politics and above all, for its contribution in Tibetan culture, language and religion.  Derge Parkhang still holds over 140,000 printing blocks, a large collection of national cultural relics and a library comprising 830 books consisting of 10,000 volumes in a 3 story building. Even to this day, the traditional printing process is kept alive due to its quality and unique method of printing.

July 19 Day 8: Derge—Dzokchen (Zhuqing) Altitude: 3800m Traveling time: 4hrs

Today our destination is the village of Dzokchen. We will cross the famous Trola pass, which stands 5050 meters high and offer breathtaking views of the snow-caped mountains and glaciers. After crossing the Trola pass we will visit the holy lake of Yilhun Lhatso. This lake ranks among the most beautiful lakes in Tibet. The shore of the lake is lined with huge hand-carved Buddhist prayer stones, many of which are more than 600 years old. In the evening we will arrive to Dzokchen Monastery, which was established in the year 1685 and is one of the 6 most influential monasteries in the Kham region of Tibet. Many famous Tibetan Buddhist teachers have studied here over the past 300 years.

July 20 Day 9: Dzokchen—Jyekundo (Yushu) Altitude: 3700m Traveling time: 6 1/2 hours

Again our journey begins early in the morning by going to Jyekundo, the capital of Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. The road from Dzogchen to Jyekundo offers us beautiful view of grasslands and nomadic life. We will drive mostly through wide open grasslands with many domestics animal and nomadic families.

July 21 Day 10: Yushu—Nangchen  Altitude: 3660m Traveling Time: 3hrs

Our first stop today is the Gyanak Mani Temple, which is located 5 kilometers outside of town. Gyanak Many Stone is listed in the Guinness Book of World Record’s for the ‘Largest Pile of Mani Prayer Stones’ on the planet. There are over 2 billion hand-carved Buddhist prayer stones here covering a 1 square kilometer area. Each day, thousands of local Tibetans come here to pray and meditate while walking around the temple. Next, we will visit the Jyeku Monastery. This monastery overlooks the town of Jyekundo and was established in the 14th century. Later in the afternoon, we will drive to Nangchen, one of the most remote regions of Tibet…..and one of the most beautiful.

July 22  Day 11: Visit Nangchen Gar Monastery  Altitude: 3900m  Traveling time: 2hrs

Our destination today will be Gar Monastery. It is located in an isolated valley at nearly 3900 meters in elevation.  For many travelers Gar Monastery is a hidden gem.  An evergreen forest surrounds the monastery while craggy mountain peaks can be seen all around. The monastery has two sections, upper and lower.  The  area  is  surrounded  by wildlife  including  blue  sheep,  marmots,  picas, Himalayan  griffon  and  more.  The monastery provides excellent day hiking opportunities and fantastic vistas!   After spending the day at Gar Monastery, we will return to Nangchen for the night.

July 23  Day 12: Nangchen—Gaden Monastery Altitude: 3500m Traveling time: 2hrs

In morning we will explore Sharda Township in Nangchen and then drive to Gaden which was founded in the year 1535. Both the 5th and 7th Dalai Lama visited this monastery. Gaden Monastery is located on a beautiful bend of the Upper Mekong River, is a hidden gem in the  Kham region and a must visit place especially for photographers and pilgrims.

July 24 Day 13: Gaden Monastery—Jyekundo  Traveling time: 6hrs

Today we will return to Jyekundo to prepare to watch the annual Yushu Horse Festival. This is the largest horse festival in all of Tibet. Tens of thousands of local Tibetan will be there and many will participate in singing, dancing, yak racing, strong-man contests, horse racing and horse riding competitions.

July 25  Day 14: Yushu Horse Racing Festival

The Qinghai Yushu Horse Racing Festival is a traditional festival that is held during the week of July 25th every year in the Yushu Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province. This festival takes advantage of the warm weather, so the valley floor has lush green grasses suitable for long-distance horse racing and tent camping. Tibetans from all over the Kham region gather here for traditional sport, song, dance and fashion show competitions.

July 26  Day 15: Yushu Horse Racing Festival

Kham has a unique and diverse culture. On the famous Bathang grassland, people from different Kham Tibet areas gather for the celebration during this annual cultural festival. Locals enjoy this festival by dressing in their best traditional clothes with jewelries and set up colorful tents on the pastures for family picnics. We will spend a second full day experiencing the Yushu Horse Racing Festival.

July 27 Day 16: Fly from Yushu to Chengdu Traveling time 1 1/2 hours

This day we will take the short flight from Yushu back to Chengdu. Guests can relax or go shopping at Tibetan Market Street near our hotel in Chengdu. In the evening, a nice farewell dinner will be arranged for the guests. Guests are most welcome to share their trip feedback.

July 28  Day 17: Depart Chengdu

Our staff will transfer guests to the Chengdu Shuangliu International Airport.

Kham Tibet Tour Costs and Eligibility
For more info or to join this journey, send an email

This journey is open to anyone in good health and is interested in the uniqueness of Tibetan culture and the beauty of its landscape. No long distance trekking is required, but clients will be doing adequate walking each day through villages, monasteries and temples.

The size of this journey will be between 6 and 14 clients.

The cost of this 17 day journey is $2495 USD per person

Cost includes

All ground transportation while in the Kham region of Tibet
One-way flight ticket from Yushu to Chengdu
Airport pick up and drop off
All accommodation during the journey (Based on double occupancy. Single room supplement available)
Expert English speaking Tibetan guide
Breakfast, lunch and dinner during the journey
All entrance fees per the itinerary
Cost excludes

International flights to and from Chengdu, China
Passport and China visa fees
Snacks between meals
Travel Insurance
Personal expenses including laundry, phone, snacks, etc
Gratuities to driver and guide

  • Yushu Hores race
  • Yushu Horse race

Why travel with us?

So often you hear of adventure travel in Tibet and the trekking is rigorous and at high altitude, for experienced hikers only, and only for people in excellent health and physical condition. Here at Trans Tibet Tours we specialize in having a large variety of tours which can be attempted by anyone of any age or ability so as not to discriminate against the average person who would still like to have their chance to experience the magic that lives on the Tibetan Plateau. We also do our best to offer our trips at affordable prices so as to be available to a wider audience who might otherwise not have the opportunity to come to experience this inexhaustible source of culture, spiritual resonance, breathtaking scenery, and historical significance. We have both easier trekking tours and more difficult; both shorter and longer journeys. We cover primarily the areas of East and Far East Tibet (Amdo and Kham), but occasionally stray into different regions as well. We have both driving and trekking tours available and can also arrange for home stays with nomads in their tents or with monks in a monastery to give you a real slice of traditional life. If your interests lie with the intriguing and unique culture of this region then you can enjoy a festival tour. If you prefer to enjoy more of the exquisite landscape, you can take one of our easier trekking tours and have the best of both worlds. Whatever your needs, we are sure we can accommodate you, so please contact us and we will warmly welcome you into the arms of the Tibetan Plateau.

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