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  • Circulambulation Mt.Meli 16 Days Tour

  • Tpye: Trekking Tour
  • Departure: Shangrila
  • Destinations: Meli Snow Mountain
  • Travel Days: 16
  • Best Time: 4.5.6.9.10
  • The center of this trip is a Kora (holy circuit) around Mt. Khawakarpo, a snow-capped peak associated with the Indian saint-magician Padmasambhava. Revered throughout the Tibetan realm as the mind emanation of the Buddha, the mountain stands sandwiched between the Mekong and Salween rivers in the southern tip of the Tibetan plateau. The foothills are among the world’s hotspots of biodiversity

Day01Kunming,Zhongdian,Gyelthang, Deqin

Dining: Lunch ar Benzilan Town, Dinner in the hotel
Accommodation: Songtsam Meili Hotel
Vehicle: Air+Bus
Altitude: 3500 meters
Mileage: 170km
Traffic: Asphalt Road

Trip:

Morning fly to kunmng , We head to Dechen (10,800') on a six hour drive that brings us out of the Gyelthang Valley to a low pass (11,800'), from which we descend steeply down to the Yangtze River before ascending past villages and monasteries into forested hills. Dechen is a small, bustling prefectures capital where we meet the trekking staffs who accompany us on our trek. That guide has been a tour hike guide for 12 years in north-west Yunnan and eastern part of Tibet. If the weather is kind, we have our first opportunity to see the main summit of Khawa Karpo, as well as Khawa Karpo's wife's peak, Montesano, and its retinue of other peaks. Overnight at hotel

Day02Drive to Yangtsa, trek to Langjor/ Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Caping
Vehicle: Trek
Altitude: 3200 meters
Mileage: 10km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

We start our outer pilgrimage circuit today with a drive of about 2.5 hours to Yangtsa (6,404'), a small settlement beside a suspension bridge over the Mekong River. This is the trailhead for the outer circuit. The pilgrim route initially follows the dry, desert-like banks of the Mekong to Drezhing Thang gompa, where the blessing from this temple is regarded as the “Key to the Outer Circuit” of Khawa Karpo. From here, the long, multiple-day climb to Do-ke La, the first major pass of our trek, begins. We ascend past the scattered houses of Drezhing Thang village, then continue steadily up a hot and dusty trail to a camp in the terraces near Langjor village (8,100'). All meals included each day on trek
Hiking Time: approximately 2.5 hours

Day03Trek to Lungnak Camp,Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Breakfast cooked by tibetan cooker
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 3650
Mileage: 6km
Traffic: Trail

Trip:

The trail climbs steeply, offering stunning views down into the Mekong River valley, then eventually enters a pine forest, cresting at Dong La (10,700'), a ridgetop draped in prayer flags. We then sidle along the ridge through stands of scrub oak, staying high above a deep tributary valley until we enter the thickly forested Lung Chu valley, where we camp at Lungnak (9,600') beside the crashing waters of the Lung Chu.
Hiking Time: approximately 5.5 hours

Day04Trek to Do-ke Latsa Base,Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 4500 meters
Mileage: 9km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

We continue climbing beside the Lung Chu, initially hiking through damp, thick temperate rainforest. We then pass through a series of large clearings as the valley opens out. Do-ke Latsa is a large meadow area where we camp at 11,900 feet for the nights. This helps with our acclimatization before the final push to Do-ke La pass. The plant hunters F. Kingdon Ward and Joseph Rock passed through this area during their explorations, and it is very likely that both of them spent time camped in these meadows while seed collecting for their sponsors. On our layover day, we have a short day hike up the valley to a herder's hut (12,500'), and there may be a way to continue higher up the valley.
Hiking Time: approximately 5 hours

Day05Trek to Tsasok Thang,Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 4200 meters
Mileage: 10km
Traffic: Mountian Trail

Trip:

Our route from camp zigzags up through fir and rhododendron forest then flattens out briefly as the trees give way to alpine tundra before the final climb to Do-ke La (14,750'). Thousands of little stone "spirit houses" beside the trail are constructed by pilgrims as a place for their spirit to reside during the Bardo, the 49-day period Tibetan Buddhists experience after death and before they are reborn. The summit of Do-ke La is an impressive sight, decorated with a jungle of bamboo walking sticks and prayer flags that pilgrims leave here as offerings during their circumambulation of Khawa Karpo. The trail down from the pass begins with a dizzying series of 108 switchbacks, then descends less ferociously into forest to a large meadow camp at Tsasok Thang (12,150').
Hiking Time: approximately 7+ hours

Day06Trek to Chunak Tsangpo/ Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 3100 meters
Mileage: 20km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

We leave the craggy peaks of the Khawa Karpo range behind us as we descend steadily beside a tumbling creek into lush rain forest draped in long wispy strands of unseal lichen, a close relative of Spanish moss. If the weather has been rainy, this section of trail can be particularly muddy so pack your gaiters ! After several hours of descent, we cross a creek (9,100') and begin the first of two big climbs over intermediate ridges before reaching the Salween River. We now head up through misty, moss-laden rhododendron forest to a ridge crest, then reach a second crest at which is located one of several chaktsalgang, or "prostration sites" (9,900') on this pilgrimage circuit.
Tibetans pray here, one of the few opportunities to glimpse the Khawa Karpo summit, by first standing with their hands together, chanting mantras, then touching their hands to their forehead, mouth, and chest as an offering of their mind, speech, and body, followed by reclining fully prostrate on the ground. They then stand up to repeat the process a minimum of three times.
Nearby is a unique site where pilgrims leave their poba, a wooden tea bowl, and an offering of tsampa flour as well as lighting incense fires of rhododendron leaves as an homage to Khawa Karpo. Our route now plunges down into the forest to the Chunak Tsangpo River. We cross it on a wooden cantilever bridge (8,150') and soon come to our forest camp under grand oak trees near the river.
Hiking Time: approximately 6.5 hours

Day07Trek to Abin,Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 2900 meters
Mileage: 15km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

After a short, flat stroll, we cross a bridge over a large creek then start climbing again, back to rhododendron and pine forest and hanging lichen, passing an unusual series of rock-offering cairns in the middle of a long, steep set of switchbacks. After a couple of hours, the trail reaches a ridge crest prostration site (9,400') draped with prayer flags where Khawa Karpo can be seen, in good weather. Pilgrims also leave offerings of a piece of their clothing, or they hang small stones with a blessing string from around their neck, or build the small stone Bardo houses that are commonly seen along this pilgrim circuit. The trail descends briefly then starts climbing again to enter what Trip Leader Gary McCue calls the Incredible Enchanted Usnea Forest. Gary has trekked through many impressive forests on different continents, but this magical stretch of woodland, with its thick masses of streaming lichen, he calls unparalleled in his travels. Fast, high-ASA film is a must here! The trees occasionally yield views into the deep river canyon of the Chunak Tsangpo as we continue ascending to Karmapa Chu, a small spring and the first water since morning, named after one of the Karmapa lamas who walked the Khawa Karpo circuit.
Eventually we climb to an amazing community of small wooden huts (11,900') built into the steep ridge. Though these open-sided shacks will be empty, during the summer season they are filled with shitake mushroom collectors who sell their harvest to the Japanese. We take up temporary quarters here for the night, as there are few sites large enough for tents. With luck we have views of Mentsunmo peak. Khawa Karpo and most of the main range of peaks can be seen after a short walk above camp.
A short hike brings us to the prayer flags at Namtong La pass (12,100') and tantalizing views into the valleys leading toward the Salween, but the big river remains elusive until we reach it tomorrow. The descent before us is the biggest one-day drop of the kora; our camp is nearly 6,200 feet below us! The trees thin quickly and the climate on this side of the pass is remarkably drier than the damp forests of the past few days. After lunch we pass through Aben (7,400'), the largest village of the trek with attractive houses bunched together similar to Newari villages in Nepal. Window shopping here is a favorite past time for pilgrims, for these are the first real shops encountered on the circuit. There are even a few pool tables!
Hiking Time: approximately 10 hours

Day08Trek to Chudrol,Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 2300 meters
Mileage: 22km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

The climate is very balmy here compared to the moist mountain rain forests. Sun hats and sun cream are the order of the day, for we reach the lowest point of the circuit today and it can get hot in the desert environs along the Salween, if the weather is clear. From camp we descend through a rocky gorge of the Chunak Tsangpo to meet the mighty Salween, which is bigger here than where we crossed both the Mekong and the Yangtze Rivers. Chudrol Lhakhang, a small temple dedicated to the lowest point of the circuit (5,800').
Hiking Time: approximately 5.5hours

Day09Trek to Longpo Via Tshawarong, Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 3400
Mileage: 15km
Traffic: Mountian Trail

Trip:

A road is being built along the Salween to connect Tshawarong with southern Yunnan province, even though this small administrative center is actually in the Tibet Autonomous Region. We follow the road along the sand banks and rocky cliffs of the river, passing stretches of cactus "forests" that make it hard to believe we could be in Tibet. Lunch will be at a warm springs, then we camp outside the village (6,350') and have a layover day here. There's a side valley nearby where we can go for a day hike and look for the cave hermitage of the renowned 8th century Buddhist scholar Berutsana.
Tshawarong is an odd combination of government offices and a wild west town, with horses tied to hitching posts outside shops with outdoor pool tables. At the far end of town on a hill is Drakna, the original settlement of this area. Our route climbs away from the Salween up a terraced side valley past handsome whitewashed stone houses to reach Yuma, an abandoned monastic site at the head of the valley and the last place possible to camp (8,700') before crossing out next pass.
Hiking Time: approximately 7 hours...BLD

Day10Trek to Karpo,Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 3000 meters
Mileage: 16km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

We zigzag steeply through a land of thorny bushes to enter a dense scrub oak and pine forest that offers few views back toward the Salween before we reach the prayer flags at Thangdu La pass (11,050'). The trail briefly enters a wet rainforest before descending through a dry alpine region, past the huts of a summer wheatfield settlement into what's known as Big Gorge Country, where some of the most convoluted geography in Asia has forced the Wo Chu River to bend like a paperclip around this wild landscape in order to meet the Salween. Over the next three days we cross the Wo Chu twice and gain and lose thousands of vertical feet in order to approach Shok La, the final pass crossing on our kora. We pass one small stream (8,950') en route, the only water until the village of Lata (7,700'). The snowy peak making a brief appearance off to the southeast as we descend is Jowo Gyazin, the western protector of Khawa Karpo. As we approach the Wo Chu, the landscape becomes more like a valley in Pakistan, with dry desert mountains and snow-capped peaks towering above oasis-like villages relying on snow melt to irrigate terraces cut into the barren slopes. We cross the Wo Chu on a long, wooden cantilever bridge (7,550') then climb to our camp near Karpo (7,700').
Hiking Time: approximately 6 hours ...BLD

Day11 Mushroom Collectors’ Camp.Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 3700 meters
Mileage: 10km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

We pass through an attractive village of 33 houses then start a big day of climbing (just over 5,000 feet!) with an ascent to a high ridge above the town. Just beyond the crest the trail forks; our route turns up to the right, but for most pilgrims, the journey is on the wider path that continues north to the Zogong, Drayab, and Dege regions of Kham. If we're with any pilgrims from Dechen or Gyelthang, we all spend the rest of the day climbing through oak and rhododendron forest to reach the second of the Mushroom Collectors' Camps (12,700') on our route, though this site is far less developed and lacks the wooden huts at the previous collectors' site. This camp is like an eagle's nest perched high above the WoChu with great views of snowy peaks on the Salween-Irrawaddy river divide to the west.
Hiking Time: approximately 6.5 hours

Day12Trek to Lading/ Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 3900 meters
Mileage: 10km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

We zigzag up the nose of the ridge from camp through larch and oak trees to reach Dakor La (13,600'). Much like our last pass crossing, the far eastern side is considerably more lush with thick stands of fir and rhododendron draped in Usnea lichen. It's a big descent today of about 5,300 feet as we continue working our way through the Big Gorge Country. Eventually we get glimpses of the Wo Chu-Mekong dividing range, but Shok La remains out of sight until we're nearly at the pass. The large snowy peak to the southeast that comes into view is Peak 6509 (21,355'), first recorded by the plant hunter F. Kingdon Ward and known to the Tibetans as Jhang Tshokar, the Northern Protector of Khawa Karpo. Our trail drops steadily to the cantilever bridge (8,300') over the Wo Chu, then immediately begins climbing toward Shok La. The temple near the bridge is a mani khang, with a large prayer drum, or mani, inside. The small but picturesque village of Lading (10,200') is a stiff two-hour climb from the bridge, and our camp (10,250') is above it in a clearing near a creek, where we spend two nights and have a well-deserved layover day.
Hiking Time: approximately 8+ hours

Day13Trek to Muqiubugong,Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 4200 meters
Mileage: 8km
Traffic: mountain Trail

Trip:

It's another big day of climbing as we head toward our final pass crossing. Our route ascends steadily all morning through an oak forest then suddenly the trees give way to alpine shrubs, providing superb views of Peak 6509 and the colorful hills surrounding the pass. Our camp is at a spectacular site called Muqiubugong (4150m) in a small side valley below the final ascent to pass; this is the highest camp of the Khawa Karpo kora.
Hiking Time: approximately 6 hours

Day14Trek to Duotong (4200m) Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Self cooked Breakfast and Dinner
Accommodation: Camping
Vehicle: Trekking
Altitude: 3800 meters
Mileage: 18km
Traffic: Mountain Trail

Trip:

We have a slow, steep ascent to the thick tangle of prayer flags and bamboo walking sticks that adorn the Ridgecrest at Shok La (15,900'). The pass is surrounded by a colorful moonscape of jagged ridges with dramatic views out east toward the arid Beima Shan range, which forms the Yangtze-Mekong watershed. It's another day with a big descent as we head down toward the Mekong River and on to our final camp. The hill below the pass are covered in rhododendron bushes, and after passing a large meadow with unusual wooden herder huts, the valley narrows, Our camp is at Duotong Base (13,850’)
Hiking Time: approximately 6.5 hours ...BLD

Day15Trek to Menru-sho, Return to Dechen Outer Pilgrimage Kora

Dining: Packed Lunch, Dinner in the hotel
Accommodation: Deqin Hotel
Vehicle: Trek + Bus
Altitude: 3400 meters
Mileage: 10km trek + 50km bus
Traffic: Trail + Asphalt Road

Trip:

Explore near Duotong Base in the morning and the thick forest returns and our route follows a tumbling creek for the remainder of the trek. Via Chu-ngu (11,250'), at the confluence of two creeks. We continue walking down through this lovely forest of dazzling autumn colors to the village of Menru-sho (7,250') and end our Khawa Karpo pilgrimage kora. Om mani padme hum! We meet our vehicles here for a 1.5-hour drive to Dechen. Overnight at hotel...BLD

Day16Deqen,Shangrila, Kunming

Dining: Lunch in Shangrila
Accommodation: Kunming
Vehicle: Bus + air
Altitude: 2000 meters
Mileage: 180km
Traffic: Asphalt Road

Trip:

 In the morning driving to Zhongdian , in the afternoon one short flight to Kunming.

Remark

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