2003 Trips to Mt
Kailas with Malla Treks
The pilgrimage to Mt Kailas is an exceptional
experience and is well worth the effort and complications
involved. Malla Treks pioneered the trekking route from Humla to
Tibet and we have run many successful trips from Nepal to Kailas.
The route offers a good opportunity for acclimatisation and
conditioning and it affords the opportunity to take a larger
trekking crew into Tibet. The Chinese limit the size of the crew
we take, but because people from Humla can cross the border at
Sher without formality, we have trained a group of local Humli
guides and they travel with us as part of the trekking crew.
Due to the political problems in Nepal we
have decided that in 2002 we cannot operate this route with the
same degree of reliability as in the past and have therefore
arranged to operate Kailas trips through the road border post at
Kodari. This means that there will be less opportunity for
acclimatisation and conditioning and the trip will involve a
long, uncomfortable drive over rough, dusty roads both to and
from Kailas. It also means that we cannot bring the extra
trekking staff that would normally accompany us.
Because this will be a very different kind of
trip from the way we would prefer to run the trip, we want you
to know about some of the issues you may have to deal with
during your journey. These reflect some of the many issues and
problems we have had in the past 17 years of running trips to
Tibet. It is important that you understand the situation in
Tibet before you travel so that you can decide if you are
willing to accept the conditions and, if so, prepare to handle
situations during the trip in an appropriate manner.
We’re not trying to frighten you, but you are
embarking on a long, difficult trip to an extremely remote area
and once you begin there are few, if any, opportunities to
return quickly to a major city or airport.
Arrangements in Tibet
Because of Chinese government
regulations Malla Treks subcontracts the travel and
transportation arrangements to Tibet Ngari Kailas International
Travel Service, which is based in Senge Kebab (Ali) in Ngari
prefecture of western Tibet. Because the services provided by
all Tibetan tour companies are substandard, most operators of
trips in Tibet send their own leaders, guides and other staff to
make the trip conform to the standards that their clientele
expects. Malla Treks, therefore, provides sherpas, food and
equipment for trips in Tibet and this usually ensures a
comfortable, safe journey.
Transportation & Meals
We are at the mercy of the
Chinese company when it comes to vehicles, hotels and campsites,
schedules and other transport arrangements. In the past we have
been transported in vehicles or with drivers that the passengers
deemed unsafe. Replacement vehicles and/or drivers are virtually
impossible to obtain and we have only the option of using the
services and transport that are available or not travelling at
Similarly, many hotels, campsites and toilet
facilities are noisy and dirty (and sometimes non-existent).
This is a normal problem for travel throughout China and you
must be prepared to accept it as it’s almost always for only one
night. Be sure to bring a set of earplugs to block out the noise
from the nearby karaoke parlour. The upside is that our sherpa
staff can usually set up their own kitchen on the hotel grounds
and produce good food instead of us having to rely on the
standard Chinese fare (which may include such delicacies as
chicken feet and jellied yak hoofs).
We travel in caravan with land cruisers for
the passengers and a truck for the staff and equipment.
Breakdowns can and will happen and it is not impossible that the
vehicles may become separated from each other during the drive.
You must ensure that you carry all your important items with you
in the vehicle in which you travel in the event it becomes
separated from the rest of the convoy.
Roads are subject to flooding and landslides
and may be washed out at any time. This can happen in both Nepal
and Tibet. It may be possible to walk across landslides, but in
the event of flooding, it may be necessary to d rive via a
different route that may take much longer than the original one.
We will be travelling hundreds of miles on
bumpy, dusty roads. Be sure to bring a face mask or bandana to
help protect your face from the inevitable clouds of dust.
Always carry drinking water with you in the vehicle and bring
iodine or other water purification tablets so you can refill
your water bottle during the drive.
Yaks carry the loads on the Kailas and Manasarovar koras. The
government enforces a system in which yaks are hired from
various nomad groups on a rotating basis. Therefore there is no
ability to anticipate or control the quality of the yak drivers
and/or the behaviour of the yaks they provide. In the past we
have had experiences with almost-wild yaks trampling duffel
bags, throwing off food loads or dragging bags through the
river. The yaks also may arrive late and the drivers may not
agree to certain aspects of the schedule. Everyone involved will
make an effort to make the nomads and animals perform as
originally agreed, but you must understand that sometimes this
will not be possible. Never pack anything fragile in your duffel
bag during the trek.
It will often be necessary to discuss the arrangements with the
Chinese guides, drivers and other representatives. Tourism in
Tibet is state or semi-state-owned and the companies often
invoke bureaucratic procedures in order to avoid providing the
services that we have contracted for. Travel in China often
involves lengthy negotiations with hotels and transport
operators and these take time as well as causing delays and
If you are travelling without a leader, you
should understand that the Malla treks sirdar is not the
trip leader. The group must appoint one of the members as
de-facto trip leader. The leader must then consult with the
sirdar and the Ngari guide and be prepared to participate in
negotiations and decision making during the trip. The position
of “leader” carries great weight in China and it is important
that only one person act as spokesperson for the entire
group. Please ensure that important negotiations do not take
place in the presence of the entire party.
If you do not have someone in your party who
is comfortable shouldering this responsibility, we urge you to
contact us and discuss hiring a qualified leader to accompany
the group. We remind you again that the sirdar accompanying you
is there to provide support services and is not qualified to
assume the position of leader.
We require that you purchase a
travel insurance policy that specifically includes rescue
insurance. Malla Treks will not be able to organise any rescue
service in Tibet. You will have to rely on whatever the guide
from Tibet Ngari Kailas International Travel Service is able to
provide. Helicopters or planes are unavailable; therefore a
vehicle is the only way to reach a clinic or a hospital. All
extra expenses like hotels, vehicles, meals, telephone calls,
escort service and medical bills in the course of the evacuation
must be paid directly to the service providers in Tibet. Note
that hospitals and other medical facilities in Tibet are
Since we will be travelling in a group on a
group visa, there will be significant expenses incurred
if you separate from the group for emergency, medical or
personal reasons. We recommend that you carry at least US $500
in cash to cover emergency situations and also be prepared to
stick it out when things get rough.
It will be difficult or
impossible to communicate with Malla Treks once you arrive in
Tibet and will be equally difficult for us to influence the trip
if you do manage to contact us. You should be prepared to trust
the appointed leader deal with the Ngari travels staff and other
Chinese authorities with the assistance of the sirdar.
Due to the sensitivity of the
region, areas that are currently open may be closed to tourists
and we may have to be diverted to other areas. We will try our
best to update you with any new rules, but in China important
changes can take place without any advance warning. Although we
expect visas for all our guests, the Chinese Embassy in
Kathmandu can deny or refuse a visa for any member of the group
due to their own reasons. Please consult us in advance if you
are employed in field such as journalism or politics that might
be considered “sensitive” by the Chinese authorities. We run our
trips on the expectation of good weather, but over the course of
a three-week trip there is a good likelihood of rain or snow in
Tibet - even during the summer - and this can severely affect
both the trekking and driving conditions.
Travel to Kailas involves many
days of travel at high altitude. On the kora you will cross
Dolma La, a 5600 metre (18,500 foot) pass. Malla Treks will
provide a Portable Altitude Chamber for emergency use in the
event of altitude sickness, but the only “cure” for severe
altitude sickness is to descend, and this is not possible once
you reach the Tibetan plateau. If you are travelling without a
leader you must educate yourself about the symptoms and
treatment of altitude sickness and carry the appropriate
emergency medical supplies.
Because you will be making a fast ascent to
the plateau of Tibet at 3800 metres (12,500 feet) or more, you
will experience discomfort from the altitude. Please consult
your physician for suggestions on coping with the effects of
The Malla Treks Terms &
Conditions state: There will be no refunds if a passenger leaves
a trip for any reason whatsoever, either voluntarily or
involuntarily, after it has begun. We will make no refunds for
any meals, accommodation or services not used.
This is particularly important in Tibet where
we pay the Chinese in advance for the services they provide and
have no ability to obtain any refund whatsoever.
Assumption of Risk
Before you embark on the trip we will ask you to sign a release
form stating that you have read and understand this information
and you have purchased the rescue insurance that we require.