GETTING OFF THE BEATEN PATH IN TIBET

A trip to Tibet can be a life altering experience. That’s because Tibet is unlike any other place on the face of our planet.  Getting to Tibet can be an equally exhausting experience primarily because of the politics that has engulfed the land ever since Mao invaded Tibet and overthrew the Dalai Lama – the spiritual guru of the Tibetans.
Nevertheless, for all hardships one has to go through to visit Tibet, this ‘autonomous region’ – that is controlled by China and whose capital city sits Lhasa sits atop 12000 feet above sea level – is a place of stark beauty and is a photographer’s delight. And while Lhasa with its Potala Palace are placed any travel guide or company will refer you to, here’s a list of some really adventurous and blindingly beautiful places in Tibet that many will not tell you about:

1) Shishapangma Base Camp

Located at a distance of just five kilometres from the Nepalese border, Shishapangma is the 14th highest peak in the world and the only peak over 8000 meters that falls completely within the annexed Chinese borders. Yet, very few have heard about this peak because it has always remained ‘off the limits of the foreigners’. But the five-day trip to the base camp is picturesque and relatively easy compared to the peak’s slightly taller brothers. The base camp is about 120 kms from the town of Old Tingri and about 45 kms from the lake of Peiku Tso.

2) Abujee

Abujee is truly a wanderer’s find. Devoid of any touristy traps, ‘Abujee’ is the name give to the mountainous region of Tibet’s northwestern Yunnan. Translated, the name stands for ‘delight’ and ‘wonder’. Trekking across the hills of Abujee, you’ll come across the Yunnanese tea cultivators selling Pu’er tea (fermented tea specific to the region) and will also witness beautiful clear lakes, snow-capped mountains and abundant forests. The region is also home to the nomadic Yi and Naxi ethnic minorities who are known to be very hospitable towards visitors.

3) The Nine Holy Lakes of Tibet

Namtso, Basum Co, Serling Tso, Yardrok Yutso, Lhamoi Lhatso, Mapam Yumco, La-nga Tso, Tangra Yumco and Pangong Tso are all lakes that are sacred to the Buddhist, Hindu and Bon cultures. With a unique story behind every lake, most of these natural beauties are sights to behold especially the Serling Sp, Yardrok Yutso, La-nga Tso and the Pangong Tso whose western part falls within Kashmir.  

4) Khyunglung and Gurugyam Monastery

If you’re a history buff then these ancient caves that researchers believe to be a part of the ancient Kingdom of Zhangzhung is the treasure trove you’re looking for while in Tibet. Located about a hundred kilometers from Darchen – the starting point of the Mount Kailash treks, these ruins can be either clubbed within the Mount Kailash itinerary or can be combined with the nearby Guge Kingdom, ruins of another ancient and mysterious kingdom in Western Tibet that are well frequented by tourists.

5) Midui Glacier

Midui Glacier makes it to this primarily because it falls under the disputed territory between Indian and China and therefore the Chinese Government seldom allows foreigners to visit this low altitude and yet stunning piece of geography that is about 800 kms from Lhasa. The road journey across the Kongpo Region resembles a grand landscape in oil and unfortunately, only Chinese tourists are given free access to this place.

Honorable mentions:

The lakes of Zhari Nam Tso Lake, Rawok and Ngan, a drive through the Northern Route that connects Ngari prefecture (western Tibet) with Nagchu (north-central Tibet), The Cho Oyu Base Camp (6th highest peak in the world) and the Shelkar Monastery and Fortress are also some really worthy and offbeat travel destinations (https://www.untravel.com/) in Tibet.

Come to think of it, the entire region is an offbeat one! Also, remember that the Government of China does not allow foreigners to enter Tibet on their own. You need to compulsorily hire the services of a travel guide without which you will not be granted a tourist visa. Bon Voyage! 

About Manish

Manish Manish handles content and marketing at Untravel (https://www.untravel.com). An initiative by a group of passionate travellers, Untravel is devoted to trips planned your way, and not fixed, restrictive itineraries made by someone else for you. It is about customizing every moment of each trip. Picking out experiences that excite you. Staying at places that are truly unique. And charting out every day, at your pace, on your terms. Stop travelling. Start un[travelling].
 
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