Tibetan Tapestry: Photography Workshop in Kham

• Spring 2025 – Dates to be announced
• Cost: $3500 USD
• 15 days
• Limit of 10 participants

Please add me to the KHAM  MAILING LIST to be notified when a date has been confirmed.

Overview

The Journey: This unique, one-of-a-kind, high quality professionally-guided journey in the Kham region of the eastern Tibetan Plateau will be led by 2 expert guides who have spent many years exploring the Greater Himalaya Region. The journey will start in the city of Chengdu, China on June 26, where we will spend the night in a 5 star hotel near the international airport. From Chengdu, we will travel west by road to the Kham region of eastern Tibet. Our first stop in Kham will be Dartsedo, known as Kangding in Chinese. Dartsedo has served as an important trading town along the route from Chengdu to Lhasa for many centuries. The town, one of the largest in eastern Tibet, has several key Buddhist monasteries as well as a glacier river running thru the center of town. We will spend 2 nights in Dartsedo exploring and doing some light hiking among the nearby snow-capped mountains.

From Dartsedo, we will travel north to the nomadic community of Lhagang, known as Tagong in Chinese. In addition to getting close to some towering peaks, we will learn about yaks and Tibetan nomadic culture. The grasslands surrounding Lhagang are home to nomad Tibetans, many of whom still living in traditional yak wool tents. After a night in Lhagang, our next destination is Garze (Ganzi), a larger town surrounded by stunning mountain scenery and green grasslands. Along the way we will photograph and explore picturesque Tibetan farming villages.

From there, we will go to the former Kingdom of Derge, which is the cultural heart of the Kham area of Tibet. Altogether, we will spend 5 nights in Derge County (3 nights Dzongsar, 2 nights in Derge Town and 1 night in Dzogchen) exploring remote villages, isolated monasteries, farming villages, holy lakes and more. Dzongsar is one of the most beautiful valleys in eastern Tibet and is inhabited my some of Tibet’s best metal and wood artisans. We will stay in a cozy guesthouse in the Dzongsar Valley while learning about these artisans and hiking thru the nearby valley. We will then spend two nights in Derge (Dege) Town while photographing the Parkhang, the largest printing house in Tibet. In Dzongsar we will experience nomadic culture, explore remote lakes and mountains and visit one of the largest Buddhist institutes in the greater Himalaya region. Oh yes, let’s not forget the sacred lake of Yilhun Lha Tso! We will day hike this stunning alpine lake that looks out to snow-capped peaks that top out above 6000 meters/20,000 feet!

The final part of our journey will take us to the farming regions of Drango (Luhuo) and  Barkham (Ma’erkang). Homes in this region are beautifully built from stone and are often 3 stories high. From Barkham, we will travel back to the city of Chengdu for a final night before our journey concludes on the morning of July 10.

This journey in the Kham Region is much different than other areas of Tibet, especially from the route connecting Lhasa with Mt Everest. The Kham region has less restrictions and allows travelers a much better opportunity to learn and experience traditional Tibetan culture. This route has it all: yak-filled grasslands, big mountain peaks, farming villages, isolated monasteries, alpine lakes, day hiking opportunities each day, nomadic culture, forests, rivers and more!

Guides: Gonkho is regarded as one of the best cultural and religious guides in Tibet. He has been guiding high quality journeys for the past 15 years. Ariel is a professional photography instructor from Toronto, Canada who has explored many areas of the Himalayas including Nepal, Tibet and Ladakh. He will be helping clients to become better photographers during this journey.

 

Full Itinerary

Day 1: Chengdu, China
All participants must arrive in Chengdu, China by 5pm on June, 26 2019. Himalaya Journey will give you detailed instructions on how to easily get to the 5 Star Chengdu Airport Hotel where we will be staying at. We will eat dinner together during a time of meet and greet at a restaurant near our hotel.

Day 2: Chengdu to Kangding
After breakfast, we will depart for the town of Dartsedo (Kangding), located 325 kilometers (202 miles) west of Chengdu. Most of this route will be by expressway. In Dartsedo, elevation 2600 meters (8500 feet) we will explore the center part of town on foot, including Buddhist monasteries, markets and along the the glacier-fed river that flows thru town. In Dartsedo, we will stay at a centrally located 4 star hotel.

Day 3: Kangding
The first part of the day, weather dependent, we will drive 35 kilometers (22 miles) outside of Dartsedo to a mountain pass where we will do some light hiking among snow-capped peaks that rise to 6000 meters. The second part of the day we will explore the town of Dartsedo on foot, including temples and the downtown area. Dartsedo is one of the largest towns in the Kham region and is a nice, comfortable place to stay while adjusting to the higher altitude of eastern Tibet.

Day 4: Kangding to Tagong
This day will take us to the nomad grassland town of Lhagang (Tagong), located 112 kilometers (70 miles) from Dartsedo. Along the way we will stop at one or two farming villages near Rangakha (Xindu Qiao), an area of Kham well-known for its beautiful farm houses. From there, we may also find some nomads in the region that we will stop and visit. In Lhagang, we will explore the small nomad trading town, go thru the historic Lhagang Monastery and go to the far side of town where the towering peak of Zhare Lhatse can be seen rising to over 5800 meters in elevation. Lhagang lies at an elevation of 3820 meters (12,530 feet). In Lhagang, we will stay at the best hotel in town, which is a 4 star hotel located mid town.

Day 5: Tagong to Garze
After breakfast, we will set out for Garze (Ganzi), which is 275 kilometers (170 miles) away. Along the way we will stop near Chonggu Lake as well as some farming villages. The town of Garze, elevation 3360m (11,025 feet) is one of the largest in Kham and in good weather, has a spectacular view of the nearby snow-covered mountains. Garze is a traditional trading post connecting Lhasa with Mainland China. We will spend the afternoon wandering thru the town and go to one of the hill-top monasteries. We will stay at a centrally located 3 star hotel in Garze.

Day 6: Garze
We will spend the day exploring the mid-sized Tibetan town of Ganzi (Garze). We will explore the downtown region, as well as the hilltop Garze Monastery, which looks out to the nearby mountains.

Day 7: Garze to Dzongsar Valley
Today we will depart from Garze and go to Dzongsar, one of eastern Tibet’s most stunning valleys. Along the way, we will see some amazing nature scenery including mountains, forests, glaciers and lakes. We will stop at a couple of small villages along the way. In Dzongsar, we will stay at a basic, but clean guesthouse. We will spend the rest of the afternoon doing light hiking at this fantastic monastery, which has a village nearby. The distance from Garze to Dzongsar is 285 kilometers (178 miles). The elevation of Dzongsar is 3550m.

Day 8: Dzongsar Valley
We will spend the day exploring the nearby Dzongsar Monastery, where we hope to see monks during their morning prayer time. We will hike around the perimeter of the monastery, which overlooks the scenic valley below. We will then visit the Tibetan Hospital to learn more about traditional Tibetan medicines that are used across the world. Next, we will visit some of the artisan workshops in the valley to learn about this areas unique Tibetan culture.

Day 9: Dzongsar Valley
Today we will do some light hiking up the Dzongsar Valley while following the crystal clear waters of the Menchu River. The valley is sparsely populated and has yaks and horses along the way, with stunning mountain views! We will return to our guesthouse in the late afternoon.

Day 10: Dzongsar to Dege
We will again be in the Kham Tibet cultural heartland of Derge (Dege). Today we depart Dzongsar and will go to the Parkhang Printing Press in the town of Dege, which houses over 70% of Tibet’s literary heritage. At the printing press, local Tibetans continue to make Buddhist scripture books the traditional hand-made way from hand-carved wood blocks. This is one of the most sacred places in the Kham region. Afterwards, we will continue to explore the town and do some light hiking in the “hills” above Dege. The distance from Dzongsar to Dege is 100 kilometers (65 miles). The elevation of Dege is 3250m.

Day 11: Dege to Yilhun Lha Tso Lake and Dzogchen
After breakfast, we will drive 140 kilometers (88 miles) to Dzogchen, another of eastern Tibet’s sacred Buddhist monasteries. Along the way, we will stop and explore the sacred lake of Yilhun Lha Tso, one of eastern Tibet’s most stunning bodies of water. The lake sits at an altitude of just over 4000m (13,100 feet) and is fed from glacier streams on the far side of the lake. The lake is surrounded by towering peaks, with the highest being Mt Trola at 6168m (20,236 feet). Dzogchen monastery sits below a towering mountain that rises to 5625 meters. We will spend the day exploring this beautiful area. We will stay in the basic Dzogchen Monastery guesthouse for the night. The elevation here is 3965m (13,000 feet).

Day 12: Dzogchen to Drango
After breakfast, we will set out for the town of Drango (Luhuo), located 235 kilometers (145 miles) away. During the summer months, it is common to find nomad Tibetans with their herds of yak and sheep along this route. We will stop at some of these nomadic areas to learn about and photograph yaks, sheep and the lifestyle of Tibetan nomads. In Drango, we will wander thru the large monastery that sits on the mountainside above town.  We will stay at a 3 star hotel in town.

Day 13: Drango to Barkham
From Drango, we will travel east thru farming villages to Barkham (Ma’erkang), elevation 2625m (8600 feet). This area is well-known for its huge stone homes that are 3 and 4 stories tall. This modern town lies alongside a river with a fun downtown area to explore. We will stay at a 4 star hotel in Barkham. The distance from Drango to Barkham is 260kms (163 miles).

Day 14: Barkham to Chengdu
Our last day of our journey will take us from Barkham back to the city of Chengdu. We will leave Barkham in the late morning to drive the final 320 kms (200 miles) back to the city. We will stay at a 5 star hotel near the Chengdu International Airport.

Day 15: Journey concludes in Chengdu
Our journey will conclude after breakfast at our hotel near the Chengdu International Airport.

FAQs

Participants are responsible for their own international airfare to/from Chengdu, China but we will take care of just about everything else after that!

WHAT’S INCLUDED
  • All accommodations (Based on double occupancy. Single room supplement available.)
  • All meals
  • All bottled drinking water (bottles will all be recycled)
  • Daily fresh fruit
  • All ground transportation in the Kham region
  • All meals and accommodations for Tibetan driver and guide
  • All entrance fees per itinerary
  • Expert Canadian photography instructor
  • Expert Tibetan guide who speaks fluent English
WHAT’S NOT INCLUDED
  • Passport costs and Chinese Visa
  • International airfare to/from Chengdu, China
  • Travel vaccinations
  • Airport transfers (hotel in Chengdu has a free airport shuttle)
  • Insurance (travel, medical, etc)
  • Souvenirs or personal items such as laundry, excess baggage fees, snacks, etc
  • Drinks besides bottled water. Bottled water is provided in the journey cost.
  • Photography fees inside temples and monasteries
  • Gratuities to the Tibetan drivers and guide

This photography tour is open to ANY level of photographer from beginner to expert and is limited to 10 participants. No specific type of camera is required. We will be traveling this entire route by vehicle, though we will be doing day hikes around temples, villages and at natural sites each day. No trekking or climbing is required for this journey.

Each participant will be sent a list of required and recommended clothing and gear for the tour that they will be responsible for as will information on how to obtain a Chinese Tourist Visa. Chinese Tourist Visa must be arranged at least 3 weeks before the journey begins.

Eligibility: This will be an active journey that will involve plenty of walking and light day hiking between 6 and 8 kilometers (4 to 5 miles) on most days in towns, villages, monasteries and at landscape settings. No camping or carrying backpacks is required, but all clients should be in good physical condition.

High quality, professionally guided journey: This journey is for clients who want to get the most out of their time in the Kham region of Tibet. This journey price includes many extras such as 4 or 5 star hotel in Chengdu, upgraded hotels, all meals at quality restaurants, all bottled drinking water, fresh fruit each day, expert English speaking Tibetan guide, expert Canadian photography instructor and much more! Each day, clients will learn more about different aspects of Tibetan religion, culture and history so they can fully understand the places and people they are seeing and experiencing.

Accommodations: In Chengdu, we will be staying in a highly rated 4 or 5 star international hotel. In the Kham region of Tibet, most hotels will be locally-rated 3 or 4 star hotels that have private bathrooms, hot showers and internet access.  The Kham region is remote and underdeveloped and is not a luxury travel destination. Hotels will be very good for the area, but cannot be compared with First-World hotels in Europe or North America.

Meals: For this tour, we will be eating a variety of  Chinese, Tibetan and Western food. If you have any food allergies or dietary restrictions, please let us know so we can plan accordingly. Vegetarians will not have a problem on this journey. Our clients are always happy with the meals during our journeys!

Responsible Tourism: Himalaya Journey is joint Tibetan-American owned adventure company. All of our guides and drivers are local Tibetans who have been working in tourism for many years. In Tibet, it is a top priority for us to support as many Tibetan-owned businesses as possible. The preservation of the culture of Tibet, as well as the protection of the environment of Tibet, are extremely important to us. In fact, when we are not out leading journeys across Tibet, we are working with local Tibetans in numerous eco-tourism and conservation projects.

Photos