Special Saga Dawa Festival Tour 2023
This special tour takes you to the sacred Mount Kailash during the biggest festival of the year. Saga Dawa Festival celebrated the day of Buddha’s birth, enlightenment,and death. It attracts thousands of pilgrims from all around Tibet, India, and the world. You will see the greatest diversity of Tibetan national dress as people wear their best clothes for the festival.
The tour includes 3-day trek around Mount Kailash. This is a pilgrimage route that every Buddhist wants to complete at least once in a lifetime. On the first day of trek, we will reach the main celebration area where you will see the change of the poles. During the second day of the trek around Mount Kailash, we will go over the highest point of the trek – Dolma la Pass (5,640 meters/ 18,600 ft). On the third day of the trek will go along mountain streams through a gorgeous valley.
Special Saga Dawa Group Tour 2023 to Mount Kailash:
May 28 – June 11, 2023. Saga Dawa will be celebrated on June 4th, 2023 (April 15th of the Tibetan Lunar Calendar)
Group Tour: max 10 people
Prices start from $2085 (based on standard accommodation, double occupancy in the hotel rooms)
Level of difficulty: medium to difficult. You will have enough time to acclimatize before the trek.
May 28 – Arrival in Lhasa
You arrive at the Lhasa Gonggar Airport or the train station. The airport is 62 km/ 39 miles away from the city, and it takes approximately one hour to get to the hotel from there. On the way to Lhasa, you will enjoy beautiful views of the mountains. The train station is located in Lhasa, and you will only need a short transfer to the hotel.
Depending on the time of your arrival, you might have some free time to spend in Lhasa. Our guides will be happy to advise you on what you can do with your time in Lhasa. Remember, that Lhasa is located at 3,650 meters/ 12,000 ft above sea level and you will need some time to acclimatize.
After you check in the hotel, you are welcome to explore the city, visit nearby temples, do some shopping, try delicious Tibetan food in one of the local restaurants, or just take a rest.
Walking around Bakhor Street can be an excellent choice for your first day in Lhasa. You will join crowds of pilgrims, local Tibetans, and monks circumambulating the Jokhang Temple.
Most importantly, on your first day in Tibet, be sure to relax, enjoy your day and allow some time for acclimatizing. We will spend 2 more days in Lhasa before heading towards Mount Kailash to help you acclimatize before the trek.
May 29 – Lhasa City Tour: Potala Palace and Jokhang Temple
This tour visits the two most important religious sites in Tibet.
The Potala Palace was the seat of the Dalai Lamas since the 17th century. First, the guide will take you to the Chak Pori Hill to take photos of the majestic Palace. We will then go inside and spend approximately 1.5 – 2 hours there. While there, you will see many of its most famous artifacts.
There will be free time for lunch after visiting the Potala Palace.
Time permitting, you can walk around the Potala Palace and join many of the local Tibetans.
Next, we will walk towards the Jokhang Temple. It was built in the 7th century to display the Jowo Shakyamuni Statue – the statue of the 12-year-old Buddha before his enlightenment. The statue was created at the time when the historical Buddha lived. It is elaborately decorated with gold, jewels, and precious stones.
After visiting the temple, we recommend taking a walk around Bakhor Street.
May 30 – Lhasa City Tour: Drepung and Sera Monasteries
We are visiting the two most important monasteries in the capital.
We will first visit Drepung Monastery, which once was the largest monastery in the world with over 10,000 monks living there. It was the residence of Dalai Lamas before the Potala Palace was built.
There will be free time for lunch after the Drepung Monastery.
In the afternoon we are visiting Sera Monastery. It was founded by Tsongkhapa’s disciple in the 15th century. Nowadays it is famous for monks debate that you can witness. Debates are a very important part of learning and understanding Buddhism. Monks gather in the courtyard in the shade of the trees to refine their knowledge.
May 31 – Driving to Shigatse: Yamdrok Lake and Glaciers
Today we will travel on some of the most beautiful roads in Tibet on our drive to Shigatse.
Be prepared to take photos of the breathtaking views as we go up to the highest point of the day – Kamba La Pass (almost 4,800 meters / 15,750 ft).
Our next stop will be at the Yamdrok Lake. It is one of the holy lakes in Tibet, and it is famous for its turquoise colored water.
After that, we will head towards Gyantse. On the way there, we will make a stop to see the spectacular glaciers.
In Gyantse, we will visit the Pelkor Chode monastery and the Kumbum stupa, the biggest stupa in Tibet.
Finally, we will reach Shigatse late in the evening and stay there overnight.
June 1 – Driving to the Everest: Night by the Everest
Today we will be driving through towering mountain ranges, and going through several high passes and Everest viewpoints. We will reach the tent camp near the Everest Base Camp in the evening.
Depending on the traffic and weather conditions, we might have time to visit the Rongbuk Monastery – the highest monastery in the world. There is a meditation cave there, dating back to the 8th century, where Padma Sambhava meditated. We will stay there for a few quiet moments to relax after a long day.
We will stay in the tent for the night. You can order dinner and breakfast there as there is an English menu available.
June 2 – Driving to Saga
On the way to Saga, we will see the Phelku Tso lake surrounded by snow peaked mountains. You can also see Shishapangma mountain, one of the mountains above 8,000 meters (8027 m).
After that, we are driving up to the high pass to get the view of the grasslands.
We arrive at Saga in the evening to have dinner and check into the hotel.
June 3 – Saga to Darchen with a stop by Manasarovar Lake
On the way to the Manasarovar lake, you will see stunning views of the Saga Valley between Gangdise Range and Himayalan Range. We will also stop at the desert area filled with sand dunes (an unexpected change of landscape!). As we cross the Mayumla Pass (5112M), you can enjoy the spectacular view of Mt. Naimonanyi (7694M).
In the evening we will pass the Manasarovar lake.
After we pass the lake, we will drive to Darchen to stay there overnight. Darchen is located by the Southern foot of Mount Kailash and it is the starting point of our trek around the holy mountain.
We are staying at the guesthouse overnight.In Darchen you can hire a horse to help you on the trek (for an additional fee).
June 4 – Trek, 1st day (20km/ 12.4 miles)
We will start our trek very early in the morning. We will be walking around the Kailash in a clockwise direction. From Darchen we will head west towards the area with the main prayer poll and the sky burial place. It is the area where Tibetans celebrate the Saga Dawa Festival, commemorating the day of Buddha’s birth, his enlightenment, and death.
Later we will reach the first tea shop on the trek where we will stop for lunch.
In the afternoon we will continue to the Dira Puk Monastery and stop there for the night (at a guesthouse). From the guesthouse, you will get a spectacular view of the north face of the Kailash Mountain.
June 5 – Trek, 2nd day (22 km/ 13.6 miles)
On the second day, we will start the trek very early to go through the highest pass. First, we will walk to the tea house to have breakfast and prepare for crossing the pass. After we are done eating, we will start ascending the pass. The Dolma La Pass is 5,630 meters/ 18,600 ft. high. Once you reach it, you can see the stunning views of the mountains and the lakes below. There are many colorful prayer flags that people hang there to spread their prayers with every gust of wind.
On the way down, we will cross the river and continue to the next tea shop for lunch and a short break.
After that, we will walk to the Zutiulpuk Monastery where we will be staying overnight (in a guesthouse).
June 6 – Trek 3rd Day (14 km/ 8.7 miles)
Today will be our shortest and easiest day. We will be walking through a gorgeous valley following the mountain river. Throughout the day we will see the east side of Mt. Kailash.
We will be staying overnight in the hotel in Darchen. (A hot shower available for an additional fee).
June 7 – Darchen to Lake Manasarovar
In the morning, we will drive to the holy Lake Manasarovar (4558 m), where we will rest after our strenuous trek. You can relax on the lake shore surrounded by snow-capped mountains and enjoy the beauty of the lake. In summer, you can see swans. There are always a lot of Tibetans and Hindus praying and walking around the lake.
We will stay by the Chiu Monastery (Guesthouse, dormitory rooms).
June 8 – Driving from Manasarovar to Saga
Today we will be driving from our guesthouse to Saga. We will make some stops along the way to take photos. We will be staying the night at the hotel in Saga.
June 9 – Saga to Shigatse
We will be driving back from Saga to Shigatse, making a stop at Langtso Lake.
We will be staying in a hotel in Shigatse.
June 10 – Shigatse to Lhasa
In the morning we will visit Tashilumpo Monastery, the seat of Panchen Lamas. This monastery was founded by the first Dalai Lama, and it is one of the most important monasteries in Tibet. You can take photos in some of the chapels for an additional fee.
We will take the Friendship Highway on the way back to Lhasa. It is the most direct route and usually takes around six hours to reach the capital. We will make several stops on the way in order to enjoy the views of the Brahmaputra River. In the afternoon, you might have some free time to prepare for your departure the next day.
June 11 – Departure From Lhasa
Please prepare in advance for your departure. It takes approximately one hour to drive to the airport and about thirty minutes to reach the train station. We will arrive at the airport three hours before your departure flight if you are traveling to Nepal and two hours before any domestic flight.
TOUR DATE AND PRICE
This tour will run during Saga Dawa Festival time in Tibet. The Saga Dawa main celebration falls on June 4th, 2023. Tour starts in Lhasa on May 28th and ends on June 11th.
Price for this tour is USD 2085 per person based on double occupancy in hotels. The single stay supplement for not sharing hotel rooms is USD 250.
INCLUDED WITH SAGA DAWA TOUR
PREPARE FOR YOUR SAGA DAWA TOUR
We start this Saga Dawa tour to Kailash in Lhasa at an elevation of 3,650 meters. At this altitude, some travelers can experience mild symptoms of altitude sickness. We spend three first days in Lhasa. It is enough time for most visitors to acclimatize and continue the journey to higher areas. Along the way, we will be traveling through various high passes. We will also spend a night by the Everest at an elevation of 5,050 meters.
By the time we reach Mount Kailash, most travelers will successfully acclimatize to trek around it. The highest point of the trek is 5,640 meters. We reach this high pass on the second day of trekking. If you want additional help while trekking, you can hire porters, horses or yaks in Darchen before the departure.
Please, consult your your doctor about traveling to high altitude areas. Your physician might prescribe some medication if it is needed.
Always tell your guide if you experience symptoms of altitude sickness. All our guides are trained to respond and we always have oxygen supply if you need it.
More information on how to deal with altitude sickness: 7 Tips for Altitude Sickness Prevention
ABOUT TOURS IN TIBET
Packing and What to Wear
Saga Dawa Festival is celebrated in June. Although, it is a summer, weather in Everest and Kailash regions can get cold. We suggest packing warm clothes for your tour.
The sun is always very strong in Tibet. A pair of sunglasses and a sunscreen are a must!
More suggestion on packing and clothes: Packing list
Cars in Tibet
For our group tours, we use a variety of cars depending on group size and weather conditions. On some of the days, we will be driving long hours and we are trying to arrange the most comfortable car for your journey.
Here you will find photos and descriptions of cars: Transportation in Tibet
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