Staying at Tibetan Home Beneath the Holy Mountain
Date: October 2017
Tour: Bespoke Tour - A Family Adventure
The forests were turning red and yellow along the clean road after a light snow. In October 2017, Mr Loic Rav with his family, including two young kids aged under 10, were on the way of their family’s first visit to the Tibetan region. Accompanying them were Kalsang and Sam, English guides from Labrang Snow Mountain Travel & Adventure.
Their destination was a small village hidden deep inside the remote mountainous area, beneath Mount. Amnye Nangchen, one of the most important holy mountains in Amdo Tibetan region. To get there they had driven over three hours from the nearest city, Hezuo, the capital of Gannan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Gansu Province.
Mr Loic Rav is currently working in Shanghai, after spending many years in France and Japan. Having been to Lhasa, he found it was much easier to get to Gannan than any other Tibetan region for foreigners, without need of special permission. So he decided to take his family here for a two days vacation during the National Holiday.
Once arrived, visitors immediately found themselves surrounded by wild nature and unsophisticated villagers, far from the madding crowd in big cities like Shanghai. From the snow-covered top of the mountain over 4000 metre high, down to rocks and forests, until the bottom of river and valley, Mount. Amnye Nangchen is the home to 1789 species, including snow leopard and 130 birds. As for local villagers, those Tibetan agro-pastoralists have never seen tourists before, so they treated the guests with their best food and accommodation available.
Loic's family loved the trip so much that they felt it was beyond their expectation.Everything was so fresh to them, from trekking on the snowy mountain, listening to Kalsang’s stories about dragons and spirits, to having meals at local Tibetan home .... “I’ve never seen my kids eating like this,” explained Loic. They liked the fresh mutton and yak meat, and kept eating and eating without stopping! They also enjoyed the quiet village life so much that they promised they would come again.
“A great team helping us to discover a rich culture and amazing people and landscapes! We enjoyed the moments with you and the stories!!We are leaving your country richer than we were one week ago!!!”
Summer Tour to Savour the Beauty of Kham
Date: August 2016
Eight tourists from all around the world, namely Australia, Netherlands, Switzerland, US and Austria, were on the way to a twenty-day journey in Kham Tibetan area during the summer of 2016. This tour was organized by a couple from Canadian Embassy in China, and led by Kalsang from Labrang Snow Mountain Travel& Adventure.
One of their major destinations was Katok Monastery, where a three-day dharma assembly is held every summer, for expelling evils to await a refreshing year. With tier upon tier red and white religions buildings nestling upon the valley, local Tibetans were gathering to see the most exciting Religious (Fete) dance performance during a year, and pray for good luck. Red
Besides Katok, a string of beautiful Tibetan Buddhism Monasteries was on their list to explore: Lhagang Monastery near Meri Snow Mountain, the major temple of Nyingma--Dzogchem Monastery surrounded by snow mountains and grasslands……but the most impressive place to visit was Derge Parkhang Printing Press.
This magnificent four-storey building with an quiet inner courtyard is the home to Tibetan knowledge and wisdom. In every month and year volumes of Tibetan classical works are printed here, sending to towns, villages and monasteries around Tibet. Visitors can watch the whole printing process here, and a bookshop is available nearby.
When entering Rongtrak, they experienced a different yet pleasant facet of Tibetan life. Ranked as one of the most beautiful villages in China, Rongtrak has various stone houses with colorfully decorated roofs and windows scattering in the green valley, and if you’re lucky, you may encounter one of beauties among the villagers. Staying overnight in one of those local houses, having a taste of local food such as Smoked pork and fresh fruits, one would forgot his hometown wherever he comes from.
From Kandze to Pelyul, via Rongtrac and Dzogchen, they enjoyed picnics in the sunshine on the grasslands or under the shadow of trees along the road. One of the highlights was picnicking near Yulong Lake and the 6168 metre Torla Mountain, which was the highest altitude they passed on the road. The weather was nice, with a temperature like spring in most places around the world, everyone seems to be enchanted by the beauty of Kham, and losing their Tibetan experience.
Rediscovering a Historic Trekking Route with a French Group
Date: August 2017
In August 2017, a line of 18 French tourists, mostly over 60 years old, were marching on the Tibetan Plateau with an overall altitude of over 3000 meters. They were guided by two English trekking guides, Sam and Dorjee from Labrang Snow Mountain Travel & Adventure, and the trip was organized by Kalsang.
This journey was a joint cooperation between Labrang Snow Mountain Travel & Adventure and a French professional trekking company, in an effort to rediscover a trekking route explored by a team of French tourists decades ago. It starts from Xiahe, the home to Labrang Monastery, one of the most comprehensive Tibetan Buddhism university monastery in the world, stretching about 100 kilometres to Repgong, the art capital of Amdo Tibetan region in Qinghai Province.
The leader of French tourists during the five-day trip was Mathew. Previously an IT engineer, now a professional trekking tour organizer, he put this group together with his partner Nicole, a young student of Chinese Medicine. But it was Labrang Snow Mountain Travel & Adventure who made this dream journey come true: Kalsang and Dorjee served as pathfinders, repeated the route twice before their coming; two guides and two chefs accompanied them the whole process; Kalsang and Tashi planned the itinerary and oversaw the journey to ensure its success throughout.
Along the way they passed the longest pilgrim path in the world at Labrang monastery, and the holy mountain with an altitude of 3800 meter, where a worship ceremony of mountain God was held annually in summer. From there they entered into picturesque grasslands with wild flowers blossoming here and there, until reach the ancient town of Repgong, which is well-known for various art forms such as Tangka painting and sculpture.
In summer time most of this route was delightful, with easy path and sunny weather. Occasionally tourists would jump into a river for a bath after a day’s trekking, or simply relax their bare feet on the soft grasslands. In the morning, after getting up in the tents at their camping sites, several Frenches would sing along even before breakfast. Every day besides three picnic meals including Tibetan bread, sandwiches, coffee, milk tea, eggs and fruits, there were tea breaks which allow them to pause a while, to enjoy the beautiful scenery around.
The five-day trip went smoothly and swiftly, with a steady pace of 8-9 hours walk per day. All the tourists challenged themselves by fulfilling a nearly 100 kilometer trekking journey on the highest plateau in the world, before heading to next destination: Mt. Amnye Machen with an altitude of 6282 meter, one of the four most prestigious holy mountains in Tibet. Left behind them, was an unforgettable memory of hiking with Tibetans and dipping into their culture.
Date: June 2016
Tour: Overland Adventure
After twice trial driving, Kalsang and his fellow drivers finally embarked on “the Great Challenge” on 3 June 2016, driving 1500 km deep into the the no-man’s land of Hohxil on unpaved road for 10 days without stopping, a remarkable adventure that nobody has done before.
Hohxil or Kekexili, "Lord of Ten Thousand Mountains", is an isolated blank space in the northwestern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau in China. Covering 83,000 square kilometres, at an average elevation of 4,800 metres above sea level, it was just listed as "the largest and highest plateau in the world" among the World Heritage Sites by UNESCO on July 7, 2017. Despite the extreme climate harsher than other Tibetan regions, it is still home to more than 230 species of wild animals, 20 of which are under Chinese state protection, including the wild yak and the endangered Tibetan antelope. Thus, almost half part of it was designated as a national nature reserve in 1995.
They set off from Golok in Amdo Tibetan region to Yushu in Kham, from there entering the non-protected area of Hohxil. Over 30 off-road vehicles including three devoted to carry supplies, with a crew of about 80 people including 30 drivers, winding along the wildness, to embrace unexpected dangers, hardships and thrills of conquering a land that few has set foot on.
No mobile signals, no electricity, no tap-water……that just a few things awaiting them. Sleeping in tents wrapped with sleeping bags to withstand the cold weather (about 0℃), eating on the road with simple food like noodle,bread and fruits, occasionally a feast of mutton and white spirit, all these didn’t trouble them. With a carefree mind escaping from daily lives, challengers were fascinated by the vast space and the endless horizon.
But there were indeed unexpected dangers ahead. As the pioneer of the motorcade, Kalsang reminds of an encounter with a wild yak, which is fierce and powerful more than an elephant, able to gore anything that gets in it way. Mixed with of fear and excitement, Kalsang stopped his Landcruise and gave way to it. Surprisingly, the wild yak shied away from him, until they drove through.
Another danger lied in driving in snowy weather without seeing the road. Such weather condition lasted for about 4 to 5 days, resulting in many vehicles got trapped or tyre break. Luckily, most of them survived without breakdown. With the aid of satellite phone and other equipment, they finally fulfilled the journey.
“The most dangerous place might be the safest,” Kalsang reflected afterwards. “Now I am much more confident and comfortable to meet even harder challenges, such as driving through Lop Nor. ” Born to rise to challenges, with a great sense of direction and over ten years experience as a tour guide on the highland, Kalsang always enjoy exploring new territories and sharing exciting moments with others.