Trek to Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar

FRIDAY, SEPT. 3, 1999

Our grand adventure began with an afternoon flight from Kathmandu west to the tropical town of Nepalgunj in southwest Nepal, near the border with India. From the plane we could glimpse a few of the Himalayan giants...peaks including Manaslu and the Annapurnas.... to the north, giving us a thrilling sense of the vast Himalayan wall we would cross on our eventual journey into Tibet.

But first we had to turn north from warm and humid Nepalgunj, an outpost which serves as one of the only commercial airports in the west, an overnight stop for us. After a good night's sleep at hotel Batika we boarded a Yeti Air flight north for an exhilarating plunge into (and even between) the high Himalayan foot-hills and finally down onto a small mountain airstrip at the regional center of Simikot, at nearly 10,000 feet.

This village surrounded by high tree-clad ridges would be our trekking departure point. We camped under partly sunny skis with a vast canopy of broken clouds lying on the ridge tops. Our group was now fully assembled and consisted of :

Tourists: Mr. James A. Pearre and Mrs. Diane G. Derocher (American)

Guide: Mr. Krishna Humagain

Liaison Officer: Mr. Mahesh Gautam

Cook: Mr. Rudra Bhujel

Asst. Cook: Mr. Mal Bahadur Lama

Wranglers: Mr. Chyampha - Horse & Donkeys, Mr. Anga - Dzopas

 

This was to be a rest and acclimatization day, and we spent it reading, walking in the village, and dining on tasty and hearty fare prepared by the cooking crew.

Our very spacious tent - the largest Diane and I have enjoyed on the many treks we have taken over the years - provided a comfortable place to rest and read during a brief afternoon rain. After dinner we slept well despite a fortunately distant chorus of barking dogs.

Simikot Elevation - 2960M

SUNDAY, SEPT. 5

We awoke early to a lovely view of rocky and snow - streaked ridges bathed in early morning light and were on the trail by 10 A.M. after a hearty breakfast of eggs, pancakes, coffee, tea, and porridge - plenty of fuel for the 12 KM we must cover.

Our support included two donkeys , a horse and two Dzopa, a cattle-yak cross, to carry the gear. We also used two porters. The Nepal portion of our trek stretches for six days of walking, camping each night, and terminating at the Tibet border, where we will cross and use a Toyota land cruiser and a truck for the drive to Lake Manasarovar and Mt. Kailash, and on to Lhasa.

But back to the present-- our first day of walking took us nearly 1,000 feet up above Simikot, and the airstrip where we topped a ridge and began a long descent down into the valley of the Karnali River----one of the great torrents that carries Himalayan snowmelt and rock and soil down to the Indian plains.

We lunched near the village of Dandaphoya and continued lower even than our starting point at Simikot down to 7,500 feet, past Tuling village and finally up to our 2nd night camp at a tea house at the bridge over the Yakba Khola, a small tributary of the mighty Karnali.

The scenery along today's route was quintessential high mountain Nepal--- abrupt, green, terraced hill sides rising several thousand feet on both sides of a gorge containing a roaring gray - white torrent at its bottom. Tiny villages of flat roofed dwellings seem to cling in defiance of gravity to the vertical valley walls.

After a welcome dinner of spaghetti, we fell easily to sleep anticipating a new day in the Karnali gorge. Our camp elevation is 2320 M.

MONDAY, SEPT. 6

Up at 6:30 A.M. for tea. Breakfast at 7:30 and walking by 8:45. The Karnali Gorge continues to be steep-walled and green and today's trail will take us about 1,400 feet higher, to a tea house near the small village of Kermi, at 2755 Meters.

But portions of this trail contain some steep ups and downs, though much of it is wide and smooth enough to accommodate a double mountain bike track. At one point two waterfalls cascade down a high rock face, sending refreshing cool spray across the trail.

We sight a lovely Hoopoe, which flies repeatedly ahead of us and alights on the trail, allowing us to view and photograph it at relatively close range. We lunch at 12:45 in Dhara Kermi, after walking about 3 and a half hours, then push on another hour and a half to our campsite right next to the trail near Kermi. Just as the tents are up it begins to rain. But the rain soon ceases and Krishna, Mahesh and Jim climb 600 feet up a side valley above Kermi to a natural hot spring area to bathe and do laundry. On the way down we visit a small water-powered mill where a local woman is grinding grain into flour---- very interesting.

We have tea on our return and retire to rest before a dinner of Macaroni & vegetables, deep-fried cauliflower and apple-lemon custard dessert. For the past two days we have been at relatively low elevations, below the starting point of 2960 meters at Simikot airstrip.

Small black flies plague us from morning to night and we are looking forward to gaining altitude tomorrow to escape these pests. Our campsite is at 2750 Meters.

TUESDAY, SEPT. 7

Up at 6:30 A.M. to partly cloudy day - tea - breakfast featuring fried eggs on chappatis. Our cook, Rudra has been excellent, showing imagination and skill by serving variety ---- no repeat meals yet --- with good seasoning and portions.

We began walking at 8:10 A.M. the earliest yet ---- by climbing a ridge up 700 feet elevation to a pine forested pass marked by a 5-foot rock cairn. Plunging down the steep trail on the other side took us to the banks of the Salle Khola river, a tributary of the nearby Karnali. We crossed the Salle Khola on a new steel suspension bridge, followed immediately by a herd of about 100 sheep and goats, which we photographed, and then photographed our Dzopas and crew crossing ---- great fun. The goats were a salt trading party returning north to the Taklakot area near the Tibetan border where salt is collected and packed in leather and fabric water-proof saddlebags designed to be carried on the backs of the goats and sheep, we were told. This salt trade has continued unchanged for centuries and seems to be flourishing because we have seen at least six salt caravans in the past two days.

Lunch was served at the river, near the bridge, and we were on the trail again by 1:30 PM. We climbed up and away from the Salle Khola and soon turned back into the Karnali gorge, where we had lovely views of the Karnali from above. The trail rounded a cliff where it had been blasted out of the rock with explosives recently, saving us a climb of hundreds of feet on the old route. The trail then descended to a lovely open meadow nearly

Mt. Kailash and Mansarovar Tour Programmes

Best Season Trip Days Starting Ending Point Name of the Trip

Jun - Sep 31 Days Simikot - Lhasa Simikot-Mt. Kailash-Tsaparang-Lhasa Trekking

May - Sep 15 Days Zhangmu - Zhangmu Zhangmu / Mt. Kailash / Zhangmu

May - Sep 20/13/21 Days Simikot - Zhangmu Saga Dawa Festival Tour