WELCOME TO TIBET: ROOF OF THE WORLD!!!
Profound spirituality and a soaring landscape have combined to provide Tibet with a unique allure for pilgrims and adventurers alike.
Tibet is often dubbed ‘the roof of the world’, because its average elevation of more than 4000 metres makes it the highest area anywhere on the globe.
The country’s most sacred peak is Mount Kailash (6714m), home of the god Shiva and a magnet for trekkers in search of religious fulfilment, as well as for those who appreciate a spectacularly visual experience.
Mt Kailash, in the west of the country, is also the source of the region’s four greatest rivers, the Indus, the Brahmaputra (Tsangpo), Karnali (Ganges) and Sutlej, all of which are supplied by the sacred Lake Manasarovar.
Even disregarding the devotional significance of Kailash, the destination of a lifetime for both Hindus and Buddhists, the mountain has an aloof and mystical beauty, standing aloneTibet Antelope in the landscape and acting as an inspiration for poets and artists as well as for the pilgrims who circuit its base, wiping out all their sins in the process.
There has been much publicity over the last half century about the invasion by China in 1959, the exile of the Dalai Lama and the ensuing dilution of Tibetan culture.
However, our company is one of the very few offering you the chance to trek to one of the last unspoiled bastions of true Tibetan tradition and lifestyle – the Kharta Valley, where you can also see Khangshung, the ‘forgotten’ eastern face of Everest.
Flora & Fauna:
Some of the West’s most gorgeous examples of exotic flowers, including rhododendron, peony, and saxifrage were first brought from Tibet by early travellers such as the British botanist Kingdon Ward, who travelled to Tibet in search of exotic plants in 1919.
There are 400 species of Rhododendron on the Tibetan plateauTibet Flower (50 per cent of the world’s total species).
There are several species of medicinal herbs which thrive in the forested areas (4000 metres), including mock ginseng, Solomon’s seal and figwort.
Tibet is also rich in varieties of fungi, having an estimated 5,000 species (82.4 per cent of the entire Chinese stock).
As far as animal life is concerned, the elusive snow leopard makes its home in the Tibetan mountains, as well as bears, wolves, blue sheep, musk deer, yaks and Tibetan antelope.
The snow grouse can survive up around the snowline even during the harshest of winters.
People & Culture:
Renowned for their optimistic spirit and seemingly inexhaustible reserves of happiness, Tibetans have largely managed to maintain this reputation despite the incursions of the Chinese, and the consequent restraints imposed upon them. Much of this resilience is due to the fact that the vast majority of Tibetans are Buddhists -and have the serenity which derives from generations of people steeped in this faith.Tibet Festival
Tibetans are the main inhabitants on the plateau but share their region with Menpa, Luopa, Han Chinese, Hui, Sherpa and a few Deng people.
The earliest Tibetans were barley farmers who created small settlements. Nomads also formed part of the original population and tended to herd yaks and sheep. Gradually larger settlements evolved, with some of the populations turning to craft work to make a living. Latterly more and more Tibetans have made the move into business and commerce.
Most Tibetans are devout Buddhists, a small minority still believing in the old Bon religion, which pre-dates Buddhism and follows the old rites such as sky burials. There are clusters of followers of the Islam and Catholic religions in Lhasa and Yanjing respectively.
Tibetans have their own language with many regional and sub-dialects, which are generally mutually intelligible. English is not commonly spoken in Lhasa. Of course, nowadays many Tibetans speak Mandarin, which is taught in schools and proficiency in Chinese is an essential for any Tibetan hoping to progress within the power structure.
The population of Tibet is around 2.7 million, 92 per cent of whom are native Tibetans. The average lifespan is 68, while the literacy level of the population is approximately 65 per cent.
Tibet’s currency is the Chinese Yuan. US dollars are also acceptable, but still only in a fairly limited number of shops and the exchange rate may be poor. There are a limited number of ATMs in Lhasa, but they are not available elsewhere. The recommended option is to change your money into Yuan at the Nepal-Tibet border or in Lhasa.
Tour guides work under the control iof the Chinese government and are certified by the National Tourism Administration. Our guides are hand-selected for their friendliness, as well as for their experience and knowledgeability. We do our best to provide you with a native Tibetan guided, rather than someone Chinese, as they are more informed about Tibetan culture and about Buddhism.
Jeep : Four Wheel drive to TibetMode of Transport in Tibet:
Because of the harsh landscape and uneven roads (most roads outside Lhasa are not even gravelled), we charter four-wheel drive Land Cruisers for our groups in Tibet. The Land Cruisers are either of the 1962 type, or the more deluxe 4500 version. We also provide a supporting truck for trekking and expedition groups, to carry all the necessary supplies.
It is only possible to use a car or van in Lhasa, where there are some tarmac roads.
Hotel and Guest Houses:
While the bigger cities such as Lhasa, Shigatse, Gyantse and Tsedang have a reasonably good choice of hotels (up to 4 star), in other places expect the accommodation to be very basic – usually in dormitories with a typical Tibetan toilet. Unfortunately, there are no hot shower facilities outside the cities.