Day 1 → Arrive in Chengdu
Pick up at airport and see Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province with over 14 million people. Chengdu is the hub of western China as the largest railway hub in the world and is famous for some of the best food in China, characterized by hot peppers and numbing seeds (but don’t worry- there are foods for all palettes, even those not particular to spicy cuisine!).
Day 2 → Chengdu to Kangding
Today we will drive 325km out of the heart of the Sichuan basin’s "Land of Abundance" from Chengdu to Kangding and see bamboo forests and tea plantations along the way. We will follow the steps of the ancient Chinese porters as they carried loads of tea weighing 200 pounds per person for trade into the Tibetan Plateau. After experiencing a mind-boggling variety of landscapes from 500 m (1,600 ft) in Chengdu we will arrive in Kangding at 2,560 m (8,400 f).
At night we will visit Kangding’s Ngachu Monastery, followed by a Tibetan community circle dance in the local square (feel free to join in!)
Day 3 → Day hike in Kangding
We wake up in the cozy hostel to a nice homemade breakfast of homemade bread, eggs, and locally made yoghurt with granola.. From there we take off for a day hike from 2,600 meters to 3,100 meters. This hike includes about 4 hours of total round trip hiking and departs immediately behind the hostel we are staying in up to a beautiful pasture where we will get our first views of the extraordinary Minya Konka range. This will be a great way to acclimatize for the upcoming trek as well as get a taste for the mountains. We will arrive back in town in time for a traditional Tibetan dinner in Kangding.
Day 4 → Tagong Monastery and Nunnery
After another delicious breakfast, we depart Kangding on a 3 hour drive up to 3,700 meters to a very unique Tibetan town called Tagong. Tagong is famous for it’s grassland cowboys and its elegant stone architecture. Along the way we will stop at snowy pass at 4,200 meters with an extraordinary mountain view from a Buddhist pagoda full of colorful prayer flags. In Tagong we will explore the town monastery and then drive another 20km to see the Ane Gompa Nunnery with one of Sichuan’s largest mani stone piles. Hundreds of Tibetan pilgrims visit this site everyday to walk around the nunnery and seek healing near the sacred stones.
After a great day of acclimatization and exploration we are back to Kangding for dinner and an early last night in town before we depart on our 6 day trekking expedition.
Day 5 → Trek - Day 1
After a good night's rest, we embark for an early start to the staging point for our six day trek around the western side of Minya Konka. After a short 30 minute drive we will arrive at Laoyulin at 3,100 meters(10,200 ft.), our trailhead where our big adventure begins. Today’s hike will give us some time to gradually get used to our packs and boots as we follow a gently sloping 2-3 hr trail through a forested valley, and upward alongside the Riwuqie river to a high elevation grassland (12,000 ft.). This is a beautiful setting to spend your first night away from civilization, surrounded by the grandeur of Minya Konka's foothills.
Day 6 → Trek - Day 2
Similar to the trek on Day 1, today's hike meanders at a gentle but steady elevation gain, with a few steep grades along the way. The relaxed pace will allow for plenty of stops and further acclimatization for the days ahead, not to mention an abundance of photography opportunities as we walk alongside the banks of rushing snowmelt. We will spend the night in another grassland campsite at the intersection of the the Riwuqie pass valley and Panpan Mountain valley. This campsite will afford us the opportunity to get up close and personal with local nomads who use these trails as paths for herding their lively yaks.
Day 7 → Trek- Day 3
As we slowly gain elevation, the pace slows a bit as we ascend to our high elevation Camp 3 at 14,279 ft in the upper Riwuche Valley. But the last push to camp will be well worth it. As you come over that last sandy ridgeline, you will be at the heart of an alpine meadow surrounded by magnificent 20,000 foot snowy peaks. This will be our final camp that will lead us up to the high pass of the trek at 16,200 feet. Once camp is set up, there is an optional pre-dinner trek to a high elevation glacial lake that looks directly across at the crystal blue glow of the Minya Konka glacier.
Day 8 → Trek - Day 4
After an early breakfast, it is roughly a three hour hike to the top of Riwuqie pass (16,200 ft.) to discover some of most breathtaking views of the whole trek. If the weather is nice, we can picnic on the high pass and take in the views of rugged peaks and glaciers that stretch as far as the eye can see.
We then cross the pass to descend into the Moxi Valley. The Moxi valley provides a well earned downhill reprieve from the previous 3days of high elevation ascent. A 3 hour walk through a beautiful forested valley with interspersed meadows and views of surrounding peaks will take you to another yak herder's camp for the night’s rest (approx. 12,000 ft.).
Day 9 → Trek - Day 5
Today's walk continues through the Moxi valley across an undulating landscape of meadows, pastures, rivers, and surrounding rock and snow. There is rhododendron in abundance throughout this area as you navigate several river and large stream crossings. After 4-5 hours walking you'll camp at another lower elevation meadow before beginning a gentle upward trek to Konka monastery in the morning (11,000 ft.).
Day 10 → Trek - Day 6
Today we visit an iconic 700 year-old monastery that is one of the most isolated religious centers on the planet. Tonight there is the option of sleeping in the monastery itself or in an adjacent stone dormitory (12,300 ft.).
Day 11 → Zemei to Kangding
We will depart from the monastery through evergreen forests as we wind down to the river to continue south to the village of Zemei. After this two hour downhill trek you'll celebrate the completion of your trek and enjoy a short rest at a beautiful local guesthouse (11,500 ft.). The last leg of your Minya Konka adventure is by vehicle over two 4500m passes with stunning views of the main peak to the east. Your 4X4 will meet you at the guesthouse for this 4 hour drive back to Kangding via some beautiful nomadic settlements and trading towns enroute. Hot showers and western food are waiting at Zhilam guesthouse - the center of civilization in Kangding (8500 ft.).
Day 12 → Kangding to Chengdu
After your best night's sleep in over a week and a belly full of a hot breakfast, it is back to Chengdu in time for your flight the next day