Day 1 → Xining to Xunhua
We meet at 9:00am in Xining. We will then take a 3 hour ride through a stunning rocky gorge as we wind along roads that overlook a churning whitewater river. After your breathtaking drive, you will arrive in a small town. After we cross the Yellow River, we will eat lunch there partaking of the unique noodle dish that they are famous for. We may then see a small Tibetan monastery and Buddhist historical relic site. In the afternoon we will venture into a remote Tibetan village (2,500 meters above sea level) comprised of less than 50 families living in mud-daubed compounds. Most of these villagers depend on farming and livestock for their daily income, so don’t be surprised if you see a few donkeys and sheep roaming about the dusty village streets. Depending on the size of the group, we will divide participants into separate homes where they can each appreciate the hand-hewn logs and woodwork in each home. Here you will enjoy the hospitality of your Tibetan hosts over a piping hot dinner as you engage and explore Tibetans in an up close and personal way in their own homes. You will sleep in a Tibetan style bed.
Day 2 → Begin backpacking (4 days/ 3 nights)
After a hearty Tibetan breakfast in our Tibetan host home, we will set out to hike in the mountains. On this day we will learn most of our wilderness skills including how to cook and camp in the wild. The first day of hiking will take us over inspiring 3,000 meter mountain ridges. We will traverse the mountains and grasslands through a few Tibetan villages and explore a colorful Tibetan monastery. Along the way we will encounter the vibrant colors of Tibetan prayer flags and will see Tibetans wearing traditional robes as they herd their sheep in the mountains. After walking over red rock cliffs and across rivers, we will camp in tents near another Tibetan village.
Day 3 → Continue backpacking (4 days/ 3 nights)
We will wake up and have a good, hearty breakfast and continue another day of hiking. This day will take us deeper into the mountains as we ascend up a mountain river into the heart of the evergreen forest. We will make our camp on the banks of the refreshing river as we watch marmots play in the nearby rocky slopes.
Day 4 → Continue backpacking (4 days/ 3 nights)
We will continue to follow the path up river exploring the evergreen forest until we pop out on a high altitude grassland plateau and then hike over a high pass At the pass we will take a good rest under the banners of brilliant Tibetan prayer flags flapping overhead. As the high point of our hike, this 3,500 meter pass and offers grandiose view of the surrounding mountains. We will descend from the pass and camp in the grasslands. If there is time in the afternoon we will take time to do a solo or day hike on these dramatic high mountains to allow for thought and reflection.
Day 5 → Finish backpacking trip and head to Rebkong town (4 days/ 3 nights)
We will make our final descent out through a craggy pass and switchback our way down to the pebbles and rocks of a wide, dry, washed out river bed. We will follow the river bed through high desert terrain until it takes us to a tiny, desolate 1 lane mountain road with no cars on it. If we have time we will explore a local monastery set in the cliffs on the mountain there and then meet our driver to take us to TongRen, a Tibetan town and cultural center. Arriving in town at a nice hotel, we will take showers and get clean from our adventures. If there is time we will walk the labyrinthine streets and halls of one of the largest monasteries on the Tibetan Plateau. We will fill our bellies with good, hot local food and debrief our week together and then we will sleep well nestled in clean cotton sheets in a local hotel.
Day 6 → Rebkong Longwu Monastery and back to Xining
If we have not seen the monastery on the afternoon of Day 5, we will see it on this morning and spend a few hours inside watching monks chant and perform their daily rituals. This monastery also offers some of the world’s most sought after Tibetan paintings called “Thangkas”. We will take in the artwork and possibly even get to watch the painters as they are in the process of creating their personal masterpieces - all hand painted and often taking 6 months to complete just one. After experiencing the fresh sights and smells of the Tibetan outdoor market, we will then make the 3 hour journey back to Xining. We will collect the backpacking gear and say our good byes as we finish the trip in the late afternoon.