Lake Manasarovar, Tibet
Pre-trekking Suggestion: It is recommended that you take a shuttle bus from Gonggar Airport to Shigatse, but please note that there is only one bus to Shigatse each day with a 9:00 a.m. departure. Upon arrival in Shigatse, you can rent a jeep to Agari Prefecture. There is also a shuttle bus departure at 1:00 p.m. every day. (It is suggested that you call the bus station in advance to confirm the departure time. Telephone: 0892-8822903). You can disembark at Bagar. Backpackers usually choose Chiu Gonpa as their base, 30km southeast of Darchen. If you don't charter a vehicle , the alternative is hitchhiking from Bagar Check Point or Darchen, ￥30.00 to ￥70.00, to Chiu Gonpa. There are two guesthouses in the village near the monastery, ￥20.00 per bed. The southern one provides vegetables and plain rice.
On the first day, you will trek 30 kilometers, 6 to 8 hours, from Chiu Monastery to Hor; the admission fee is ￥30.00. The admission fee for Holy Lake Mansarovar is ￥80.00 per person. According to Buddhist tradition, you should head in a clockwise direction from Chiu, traveling eastwards along the north shore; this circular route is regarded as a consecrate pilgrimage. There are many Mani stones nearly 2 meters high. The trail soon leaves the waterline and ascends over the top of a red escarpment for a 2-hour walk.
The cliffs below are sprinkled with caves that have been used by religious practitioners for centuries. Some of these caves have been converted into permanent homes. From the grass-capped, rolling top of the escarpment, the route descends into a small vale where you can see the ruins of Cherkip Monastery; at this point you will be a little over two hours from Chiu Monastery.
From Cherkip, it is faster to follow the trail east over the headlands to Langbona Monastery, a 90-minute walk. There is also a lakeshore route past more caves and cliffs. When the escarpment ends, look for the trail going north along the Gyuma valley to Langbona on the west bank of the Gyuma-chu.
East of Langbona, the route traverses a marshy plain to the settlement of Hor, 4 hours away. Look for a series of tracks heading towards the distant margin of the plain. With regard to accommodation, you can stay in the Holy Lake Hostel, which costs ￥25.00 per night. Hor is an important transport convergence. You can easily purchase a tent in the shop. Hor also is the best place from which to take photos of Mt. Naimonanyi. Important tip: You are forbidden to walk close to the edge of the lake from Langbona, as the swamps along this part of the lakeshore give way to several lakes that flow into Manasarovar, effectively blocking the route to all but birds and fish.
On the second day, the trekking objective is Seralung Monastery (the admission fee is ￥15.00). It will take approximately 3 to 5 hours for the 13 kilometers. The trail from Hor leaves the settlement in a southwesterly direction, avoiding the extensive swamps abutting the lake. A little south of Hor, you cross a bridge over the Samui-chu. The main road east initially follows this valley. South of the swampy tracts, the trail rejoins the lakeshore along a stone beach. Look out for white-and-black polished stones, sacred to both Buddhists and Hindus. The route squeezes between the water and a cliff, before a side valley where Seralung Monastery appears. The temple is still under reconstruction. Although you can find some local people's houses scattered there, due to the language differences it is suggested that you camp in your own tent.
Important Tip: Don't walk directly to the bank of the lake, as the lake you see is accumulated water swag instead of the water in Holy Lake Manasarovar. But you will have a chance to see the unique black-neck cranes, which only exist in Tibet, jumping on this damp spot.
Buddha painting unfolding festival in Tibet
On the third day, it is recommended that you trek from Seralung Monastery to Trugo Monastery for 27 kilometers, about 6 to 8 hours. Retreating from the Seralung Monastery, you can see a section of rough road on the slope of the mountain. You will be much more comfortable walking on this road than on the former soft sand route. However, you will need to turn back to the trail along the lake again soon. The trail moves inland about 1 kilometer, and you can cross the bridge over the Trak Tsangpo, thus avoiding the torture of paddling in the water. Up the valley, there are extensive hot springs and geysers as well as Bon and Buddhist sites. About 3 hours from the Trak Tsangpo Bridge, you will round the south side of Manasarovar and reach the Yerngo Monastery ruins situated in a broad plain. In the south area of the plain, the massive flanks of the Gurla Mandata (7728m) massif rise up to a heavily glaciated summit.
You will reach Trugo Monastery after another hour. Trugo Monastery is a perfect location from which to view the Holy Lake and Holy Mountain (Kailash). The two rows of simple buildings in front of the monastery provide lodging for Y10/bed. Water will have to be fetched from the lake. Rotten weeds float on the water surface around the monastery.
The fourth day will be tedious, as you will trek 40 kilometers to reach the last stop, as well as the initial point - Chiu Monastery. Generally, it will take 10 hours of walking. It will also be a day to test your boots for waterproof capability, as numerous water pits are scattered like a net on the band of the lake. As you will have to walk over a soft sand path for the whole day, it will not be easy, but the limpid water is in sight along the whole path, which might comfort you a bit.
From Trugo a motorable track shoots over the range of hills southwest of the lake to join the Purang-Darchen road. Eventually, swampy ground gives way to sandy expanses near the southwest corner of Manasarovar. The trail passes between the lake and the much smaller Shushup-tso along a narrow sand and gravel bridge. You'll walk along the west side of the lake two hours from Trugo; continue walking along the beach for two more hours to Gotsmk Monastery.
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