Extraordinary Mt. Kailash Kora with Ian Baker and Rare Journeys
August 4-24, 2014
There are many tour companies offering trips to Mount Kailash. Many of the trips operating out of Kathmandu are quite inexpensive because they cater to the very large Indian pilgrim market and often operate with minimum group sizes of 25 or 30 people. In addition to large group sizes, the services they provide are often abysmal in terms of accommodations, food, and transport. Even in comparison with high-end Western tour companies, however, Rare Journeys offers far more than just smaller group sizes. Having worked in the past for Smithsonian Institution, Geographic Expeditions, and National Geographic Travel in Tibet, Ian Baker has had extensive experience with running tours in this part of the world.
First, Rare Journeys always use the best possible available accommodations at all locations. In Lhasa they don't use the most expensive hotels, but do use the ones with the best locations and which have consistently had the best client feedback. Many of the less expensive tours to Tibet compromise on accommodations and use very sub-standard facilities.
Second, food served on Rare Journeys tours is far above what is offered through other travel companies. Their chef has been extensively trained and uses local organic produce wherever possible. Unlike any other company, they also use products that are specially imported for the trip, including high quality teas and coffee, cooking oils, etc.
Less expensive trips use buses and minivans for transport which are far slower and less comfortable than the expensive Toyota jeeps used by Rare Journeys. Also, RJ ensures that the jeeps are never overcrowded as is often the case even with very high-end tours. They also use a separate vehicle throughout for luggage and camp staff so that they arrive ahead of participants.
The best possible local guides are hired for Rare Journeys trips. For this pilgrimage to Mount Kailash, travelers will be accompanied by "Khampa Karma" who was instrumental in the extensive research done for the Sierra Club book "Trekking in Tibet" by Gary McCue. Karma will also take those who want on the rarely travelled Naljor Lam, "Yogis' Path", and Khandro Sang Lam, "Secret Path of the Dakinis" on Mount Kailash. No Kailash tour, to my knowledge, has ever offered this. There will also be an exceptional female Tibetan guide whose father was a great Buddhist scholar and teacher in Lhasa. Ian Baker, of course, also be on the trip to share whatever insights he can from ten previous trips to the mountain, including his pilgrimage to Kailash's rarely visited inner sanctuary and the Cave of the Thirteen Chortens, also not a part of any commercial Kailash tour.
Lastly, also on this tour will be Karma Lhatrul Rinpoche from Bhutan, an accomplished master of tummo and the Six Yogas of Naropa who will instruct those who are interested in the foundations of Tsalung practice.
Besides the above services and add-ons that obviously add to the basic trip costs, this tour has a rich itinerary that includes sites such as Rongbuk Monastery near Everest Basecamp, Toling and Tsaparang, and the ancient Bon capital of Kyunglung that are not usually part of a Mount Kailash pilgrimage. The size of the group is limited to an optimal level.
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