Strap on your boots and and get ready for adventure!Our week-long trip will begin in Qinghai’s provincial capital, Xining, and finish in Gansu’s provincial capital Lanzhou. A cross between wilderness and cultural exploration, our journey will take us to secluded temples, remote gorge and mountain hikes, and both a Tibetan village and nomadic tent homestay in a quest for authentic immersion.While this region is known as the Gateway to Tibet, its unique culture is also influenced by its large Muslim population and proximity to Mongolia and Sichuan.Still undisturbed by the furor of tourism, Qinghai and Gansu both offer the chance for true adventure. Be prepared for challenges of every kind, whether picking up a new phrase in Tibetan or breathing at an altitude of more than 2000m, and also for the chance to create memories that will last a lifetime.
Day 1Flying into Xining, the capital of Qinghai province, will take us straight to an altitude of 2200m (7200ft). Day 2We will drive from Xining to Rebkong (or Tongren) where we will visit a Thangka School and learn some of the techniques used in their incredibly intricate Thangka paintings. After lunch, we will continue to Labrang at 2,900 meters and settle in for the night at a hotel just next to Labrang monastery, the most influential Gelugpa monastery outside of the Tibet Autonomous Region.Day 3Spending the first half of the third day immersed in Tibetan Buddhism, we will walk the Labrang monastery sacred kora next to pilgrims before entering the monastery with a guided tour with a Tibetan monk. Participants will have a chance to scour the markets on the streets of Labrang before we have lunch and take a ride to Langmusi at 3,300 meters. Langmusi is a quintessential Tibetan mountain town that straddles the borders of Gansu and Sichuan Province. We will settle into our first homestay in an authentic Tibetan village.Day 4From our homestay location we will walk right out of town to a stunning hike that overlooks the quaint village of Langmusi. We will climb up 2.5 hours to the ridgeline at 3,700 meters and have an excellent picnic on top of tall red rock cliffs with miles and miles of views. After a nap in the sun we will come down the backside of the cliffs and loop around back to Langmusi town where we will celebrate with a hearty dinner and a stay in a hotel.Day 5This is our big hiking day. We will walk from the outskirts of town past the mud walls and golden rooftops of Langmusi’s Sichuan monastery as we follow the White Dragon River to its source up into a gorge and to a natural spring. We will wind through the bottom of the gorge and look up at the soaring granite towers above us. Note: One or both Day 4 and 5 hikes can be changed into 1 or 2 days of horse trekking through the wild grasslands surrounding Langmusi town.Day 6Today we will head out into the grasslands to explore nomadic life. We will be treated to a traditional breakfast of tsampa and have the chance to see the nomadic families tend to their yaks and sheep, make yak cheese, yak yogurt and yak butter.After spending the morning and lunch with a Tibetan nomadic familie, we will transfer to Hezuo.Day 7Hezuo will take us deeper into Tibetan religious life with a visit to their 6-story Monastery where students can explore the beautiful artwork and sculptures that line the walls and learn some more stories about Milarepa, an icon of Tibetan Buddhism.Day 8Depart Lanzhou