Plan your active adventure.View relaxed booking conditions.
  • 3 day trek
  • 5 nights hotel
  • 12 nights basic lodge
  • 11 Dinners
  • 12 Lunches
  • 17 Breakfasts

18 Days$4690USD

Hit the trails with confidence

Flexible Cancellations
Stress free booking, learn more about our flexible terms

COVID-19 safety measures
Read our Covid-19 travel policy and what we're doing to keep you safe

Remote adventures
means social distancing comes naturally

Small groups only
Guided group sizes are strictly limited to maximum 16 people, average of 8-10

Trip Code: JTK

Saga Dawa Tibetan Festival Trip highlights

  • Join devout pilgrims in a supported trek around Mount Kailash, considered to be the mythical Mount Meru
  • Experience the wonder of the Saga Dawa festival
  • Journey across the Tibetan Plateau with sweeping Himalaya views
  • Explore Lhasa, including the Potala, former home of the Dalai Lama
  • Traverse the Himalaya overland from the Tibetan Plateau to Kathmandu

Mount Kailash is said to be the mythical Mount Meru, the centre of the universe. It is revered in both Hindu and Buddhist legends, while its location, close to the sources of the four main rivers that flow across the Indian sub-continent, contributes to its mystique. Our adventure includes a week long journey from Lhasa (via Gyantse and Shigatse) across the vast Tibetan plateau. We plan to reach Mount Kailash at the time of the Saga Dawa festival when many thousands of pilgrims from throughout Tibet gather to pay homage to the mountain. After the celebrations we will undertake a three day trek, or kora, around Mount Kailash, with inspiring views of one of the world's most iconic mountains, before the drive back to Lhasa and onto Kathmandu.

Meals included
in the price
Valued at USD$545

You will be met by a representative of World Expeditions and transferred to the hotel. Remainder of the afternoon/evening at leisure. Overnight: Chengdu Jaho Forstar Wenshuyuan or similar

Meals:  Nil

This morning we are transferred to the airport for the flight to Lhasa. You will be advised which flight to book as the group are required to arrive into Tibet together due to the group permit. On arrival at Lhasa Airport you will be transferred to the city – a drive that takes around two hours. Due to the high altitude, you need to take it easy when you arrive in Lhasa. (Chengdu to Lhasa flights not included in trip cost.) A briefing will be given around 5pm by your guide, where arrangements will be made for the distribution of your kit bag, sleeping bag and down/fibrefill jacket. Drive: 65km, ~2hrs Altitude: 3,670m Overnight: Gangjian Hotel or similar

Meals:  B

The following two days are scheduled to appreciate the long and rich cultural history of Lhasa. We include visits to the Jokhang, the Norbulingka (the Summer Palace of the Dalai Lama), and the famous Potala Palace. We also include visits to the nearby monasteries of Drepung and Sera. The Jokhang The Old City of Lhasa was built around the Jokhang, the most sacred temple in Tibet. Drive: N/A Altitude: 3,670m Overnight: Gangjian Hotel or similar

Meals:  B

Today we commence our drive across the Tibetan plateau, which is perhaps much more mountainous than you might expect, towards Kailash. It is approximately 1300kms from Lhasa to Darchen, at the base of the Kailash. There is a newly imposed lower speed limit of 60km/hr on the highways outside of Lhasa, which means plenty of time to take in the extraordinary Himalayan views! From Lhasa we drive down the Kyichu Valley to the Yarlung Tsangpo (Brahmaputra) before ascending to the Khamba La (Khamba Pass) at 4900m. The views are outstanding – in the foreground is the vast freshwater Yamdrok Tso or Turquoise Lake, while to the south the snow-capped ranges merge with the main Himalayan range. We drive around the lake before crossing the Karo La (5200m) to reach Gyantse. We visit the remarkable octagonal chorten, the Kumbum (or Pango Chorten) – built in 1444 on a series of four levels, each of which contains separate chapels. Note: while we endevour to stick to the projected itinerary, travel in Tibet is by nature unpredictable and a flexible approach is always needed. Drive: 290km, ~8-9hrs Altitude: 3,900m Overnight: Gyantse Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

In Shigatse we visit the famous Tashilhunpo Monastery, founded in 1447 by the very first Dalai Lama. Since the time of the fifth Dalai Lama in 1642, the abbot of Tashilhunpo has been known as the Panchen Lama (literally the 'Great Scholar'). Over the generations, the Panchen Lama became established as the chief spiritual and temporal adviser of the huge western portion of Tibet known as Tsang, and at times was even considered a rival to the Dalai Lama. Drive: 90km, ~3hrs Altitude: 3,800m Overnight: Manasarova Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

The drive to Kailash is a spectacular but demanding adventure across the roof of the world. From Shigatse, we head west across the Tibetan plataeu to the trading town of Saga. Roads in Tibet are under continuous development and are very different from what you might be used to at home. At times they can be very slow moving but this is all part of the adventure in this remote part of the Himalayas. Drive: 450km, ~9-10hrs Altitude: 4,500m Overnight: Saga Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

Today will be a demanding drive. We will pass through the settlement of Pharang then traverse a number of sandy sections en route to the to Chui Gompa on the shores of Lake Mansarovar, our overnight stop. Drive: 240km, ~5hrs Altitude: 4,600m Overnight: basic guesthouse/ lodge (no single supplement availability)

Meals:  B,L,D

Today's drive is a short one so this morning we can take our time to enjoy the truly spectacular views of Lake Manasarovar, also called Mapam Yumtso. This high altitude freshwater lake is fed by melt water from the Kailash Glaciers near Mount Kailash. The lake is revered a sacred place in four religions, Bön, Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. After soaking up the magnificent views of the Himalaya, we continue on the final section of this epic and memorable drive across the expansive Tibetan plateau to Darchen, a small village in Purang County. Darchen is situated right in front of the sacred mountain, Mount Kailash, and is the starting point for pilgrimages in the region Drive: 40km, ~1hr Altitude: 4,575m Overnight: Chongqing Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

We witness the arrival of many Tibetan pilgrims for the Saga Dawa Festival who may have spent up to a month travelling across Tibet to attend the festival. An ideal day to explore the trails in the vicinity of Mt Kailash that afford fine views of the South Face of this sacred mountain. Drive: N/A Altitude: 4,575m Overnight: Chongqing Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

After the full moon the monks offer their prayers and blessings to the huge gathering before the ceremonial pole is slowly lifted by means of support poles. The event takes several hours creating a feeling of awe and expectation before the pole is finally put into place. It is then time for the more devout pilgrims to commence the 'kora' or pilgrimage around Mt Kailash, a 49km trek that we will undertake together with many of the pilgrims. In the afternoon we commence our trek – the 'kora', around the base of Mt Kailash. We follow in the footsteps of the pilgrims, guiding us past a dome outcrop known as “Padasambhavas Tomb" before the valley widens out below the Dri Puk Monastery. Please note that the accommodation during the trek is very basic but following the ban on camping by the authorities, there are no alternatives. Drive: ~30mins Trek: ~6hrs Altitude: 5,000m Overnight: basic local lodge (no single supplement availability)

Meals:  B,L,D

Today, we trek the the second stage and climb to the Dolma La (5,600m). En route the trail passes an area referred to as Shive Tso which is marked by a large collection of discarded clothing – where pilgrims are said to undertake a symbolic death, leaving an item of clothing behind before proceeding to the pass. The final 200m climb to the pass is not unduly strenuous while on the pass the pilgrims pay homage to the gods of the pass. It is a very special occasion particularly at this time of the year. From the top of the pass we head down the valley to the small monastery of Zutrul Puk. The site known as the miracle cave marks the place where the celebrated Buddhist teacher Milarepa performed miracles in a contest with the high priest of the Bon Po's, the original animistic religion of Tibet before Buddhism. Milarepa won the contest but consented for the followers of Bon Po to continue their own pilgrimage around Mt Kailash in an anti clockwise fashion, a tradition that still holds today. Drive: N/A Trek: ~10hrs walking Altitude: 4,900m Overnight: basic local lodge (no single supplement availability)

Meals:  B,L,D

From Zutrul Puk it is a further 4 hours trek across the open plains and past lines of mani walls and prayer flags which brings up back to the small town of Darchen. We have the afternoon to savour our final views towards Kailash we are reminded of the sacredness of this region for the many pilgrims that venture here each year. Drive: N/A Trek: 4hrs Altitude: 4,575m Overnight: Chongqing Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

In total, it is a four day drive to Kathmandu from Hor Chu. Following the 2015 earthquake the former friendship highway was badly damaged resulting in its continued closure. This new route was opened initially to ensure that trade between Nepal and China could continue. In 2017 the border post was opened to tourists allowing for travel along this legendary overland route to recommence. This road is sure to add to the sense of adventure as it traverses parts of both Tibet and Nepal new to tourism. Road conditions along this route are changeable as improvements to the road continue to ensure that it can accommodate the traffic using it. Tonight's overnight stop will be in Saga. Drive: ~9hrs Altitude: 4,640m Overnight: Saga Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

Continue our drive to Kathmandu. Today we are heading for the border town of Kyirong. Following the 2015 earthquake the former friendship highway was badly damaged resulting in its continued closure. This new route was opened initially to ensure that trade between Nepal and China could continue. In 2017 the border post was opened to tourists allowing for travel along this legendary overland route to recommence. This road is sure to add to the sense of adventure as it traverses parts of both Tibet and Nepal new to tourism. Road conditions along this route are changeable as improvements to the road continue to ensure that it can accommodate the traffic using it. Drive: ~9-10hrs Altitude: 4,130m Overnight: Pingcuo Raoxi Hotel or similar

Meals:  B,L,D

Today we cross the border into Nepal and complete the final stage of our journey from Lhasa via the earthquake ravaged Langtang region. It is a fitting conclusion to an epic overland journey and the comfort of the Radisson Hotel in Kathmandu will no doubt be welcomed with open arms. Drive: 160km, ~6hrs Altitude: 1,400m Overnight: Radisson Hotel

Meals:  B,L

Today you have a full day to explore Kathmandu’s bustling streets and significant landmarks. You may wish to start by exploring the city’s two most important World Heritage Listed spiritual sites: Pashupatinath, Nepal’s most sacred Hindu temple and an important cremation site; and Boudhanath, the largest Buddhist stupa in Nepal and the most sacred Tibetan Buddhist shrine outside of Tibet. Alternatively you could wander through the markets and shops of the busy Thamel precinct or explore some more of the city’s significant sites such as Swayambhunath (Monkey Temple) or the World Heritage Listed plazas of Patan, Bhaktapur or Durbar Square. Drive: N/A Altitude: 1,400m Overnight: Radisson Hotel

Meals:  B

After breakfast, your trip concludes.

Meals:  B


  • 17 breakfasts, 12 lunches and 11 dinners
  • airport transfers if arriving on day 1, 2 and 18
  • good quality accommodation in Chengdu/Lhasa/Shigatse/Gyantse
  • expert bilingual guide
  • the use of a World Expeditions trek pack which includes a quality sleeping bag, down or fibre fill jacket and insulated mat (valued at over US$500)
  • souvenir World Expeditions kit bag
  • yaks to carry all group equipment
  • private transportation
  • group medical kit
  • portable altitude chamber for group use
  • all park entrance fees and trekking permits
  • sightseeing and site entry fees as listed
  • bottled Oxygen for emergency use

  • International flights
  • Chengdu-Lhasa flight. Please contact your local World Expeditions office to arrange your flights.
  • Meals not included in the daily itinerary
  • Alcoholic and bottled drinks
  • Items of a personal nature such as phone calls, laundry etc
  • Tips
  • Airport and departure taxes
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance

Departure dates


A Lunar Calendar is used in Tibet which determines the date of the Saga Dawa Festival. The dates are confirmed in February each year which may require a change in departure date by a few days.
Kathmandu - Lhasa - Kathmandu flights required due to closure of land border

Dates or itinerary don't fit?

Create a custom made itinerary for the perfect adventure. Choose when you travel, what you see and where you go.

Total Priceper person from


Your trip price includes:

  • Meals valued at USD$545
Options & Supplements*
  • Chengdu Airport Transfer - Per Car 1-2paxUSD$70
  • Single Supplement - Nepal, Lhasa, Gysntse & Shigatse OnlyUSD$470
*Prices listed are per person

Essential Information

Ready to book? Make sure you download and read the detailed Journey to Mount Kailash trip notes which contains all the essential information you need to know before booking. Once you’ve booked, we will supply you with a Pre-Departure document which contains a detailed gear list and other important information to help you prepare for your adventure ahead.

Saga Dawa Tibetan Festival Trip reviews

Why travel with us

Award Winning Adventures

Enhancing your journey with authentic experiences, genuine cultural exchange and real exploration are the focal points on all of our adventures. In 2019, we were crowned by our peers as the best in adventure travel at The Travel Awards in Sydney.

Thoughtful Travel

Responsible travel is at the heart of every program we offer as a fundamental and long held philosophy. When you book one of our 100% carbon offset adventures you’re supporting true sustainability in the protection of local communities, natural environments and wildlife.

Ultimate Value

 When you book one of our adventures, you will receive quality services at the best prices with plenty of inclusions. There are no hidden costs, single travellers don’t pay more and you’ll enjoy many ‘extra touches’ that ensure your holiday is excellent value for money.

Positive Impact Travel

By joining this trip you are directly supporting positive impact projects in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

We’ve offset the carbon emitted by this trip by purchasing credits that support important projects that address the UN’s seventeen SDGs, like reducing poverty, affordable and clean energy, reducing hunger, clean water and climate action.

Proceeds from this adventure purchase carbon credits through the world’s largest and most awarded carbon project developer, South Pole, which are invested into projects accelerating the transition to renewable energy sources in developing countries.

Supported projects are based on internationally recognised standards and are third-party audited. They entail a series of positive impacts on the ground, which benefit local communities and ecosystems, that are aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

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