Eastern Tibet, or Kham to many of the locals, may not be a destination that pops up on most people’s travel wish list. Tibet in general can prove tricky to visit, with the Chinese government placing strict controls over tourism and most visitors needing to apply for a permit before they can plan a trip.
However, there are many wonderful experiences that can make the hassle of an Eastern Tibet trip worth it. Michael Kern has travelled extensively in the Himalayan regions, including two trips to Tibet. The scenery, culture and spiritual heritage of this unique region have plenty to offer those who make the effort to get there.
Landscape and Scenery
The lush natural landscape of sub-tropical Eastern Tibet is one reason to visit – towering mountains and gorges, vast open spaces, white-water rivers and jungle-like forest areas provide stunning scenery that inspires the soul.
The mythical Lulang Forest resembling something straight from a fairy tale; the stunning Basum Tso lake; the huge King of Cypress tree; and the spectacular Yarlung Zangbo Grand Canyon – each place is more awe-inspiring than the last.
Yarlung Zangbo is the world’s largest canyon, making the Grand Canyon in the United States appear small by comparison.
Live Like a Villager
Tashigang village, which is just a short trek away from Lunang, offers travellers the unique experience of living like a traditional Tibetan villager for the duration. Within this tiny farming community, several of the resident families have turned their beautiful stone residences into guest houses full of rustic charm, yet offering creature comforts including hot showers along with home-cooked, traditional fare.
The Bonri Holy Hike
The Bonri holy hike winds around the sacred mountain of the Bon people, attracting pilgrims and regular travellers. A new road means that the hike, which used to take several days, can now be completed in seven hours, following the prayer flags over scenic and sacred ground. Drivers can be arranged to drop off and pick up at the start and end points of the pilgrim trail.
Camping at Qiuzi Dong
Qiuzi Dong is a popular camping area located on the banks of the glorious and picturesque Draksum-tso lake. The Tsodzong Monastery island is another place worth visiting. Hiking around the circumference of the entire lake should take an average of seven hours, so overnight camping in between hikes can be ideal.