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Secrets of Ali Unveiled: Tale of Majesty on the Great Northern Route Tour

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Lhasa Tour

Ali Unveiled: A 12-Day Expedition into the Mystical West of Tibet”


Discovering the Enigma of Ali

In the heart of Tibet lies Ali, a region steeped in history, myth, and natural wonders. From the ancient Zhangzhong Kingdom to the majestic Guge Dynasty, Ali stands as a testament to the rich tapestry of Tibet’s past. Baidu speaks of centuries-old secrets, while outdoor experts unravel tales of the Himalayas, Karakoram, and the sacred Mount Kailash. Ali, a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, whispers stories of Tibetan antelope, wild yak, and the elusive brown bear.


Ali’s Diverse Facets:

  1. Historical Echoes: The Legacy of Zhangzhong and GugeDelving into Ali’s history, we encounter the remnants of the Zhangzhong Kingdom from the 4th to 5th centuries AD. The Guge Dynasty, an 11th-century powerhouse, adds layers to Ali’s intriguing narrative.
  2. Majestic Landscapes: A Glimpse of Ali’s Natural SplendorsThe route begins from Lhasa, leading travellers via Yanghu, Gyantse, and Shigatse. A pilgrimage to the Everest Base Camp offers awe-inspiring vistas, followed by a spiritual rendezvous at Mount Kailash and Manasarovar. Zhada Forest unfolds tales of the ancient Guge Dynasty, painting Ali with nature’s finest brushstrokes.
  3. Ngari: Gateway to the Wild WestThe journey officially enters the Ngari area, tracing through Shiquan River, Xiongba Township, and Gaize to Nyima and Bangor. The North Ring Road beckons with untamed beauty, promising encounters with Tibetan antelope, wild yak, and the elusive brown bear.

The 12-Day Odyssey: The Great North Loop in Ali

The author’s expedition weaves through Ali’s diverse landscapes:

  • Yanghu to Everest Base Camp: Embracing the cultural gems of Yanghu, Gyantse, and Shigatse before a spiritual ascent to Everest’s doorstep.
  • Mount Kailash and Manasarovar: A sacred journey to the heart of spirituality, transitioning from Taqin to Mount Kailash and Manasarovar.
  • Zhada Forest to Guge Dynasty: Delving into the ancient Guge Dynasty’s secrets amidst the captivating Zhada Forest.
  • Ngari’s Wilderness: Officially entering Ngari, the journey explores the Shiquan River, Xiongba Township, Gaize, Nyima, and Bangor.
  • Namtso Return: The grand finale, retracing steps through Namtso, concludes the Ngari Great Northern Ring Road.

Epilogue: Ali – Beyond Clouds and Borders

Ali, Tibet’s best-kept secret, is an invitation to witness uninterrupted snow-capped mountains, pristine valleys, and breathtaking lakes. This journey, spanning 12 days, transcends hurried glances, offering a profound exploration of Ali’s diverse landscapes and untold tales. Ali is not merely a paradise for wildlife enthusiasts; it is a canvas for photographers seeking the extraordinary in Tibet’s western haven.


Day 1 Lhasa to Shigatse: A Rainy Day Odyssey Through Yanghu Lake and Karola Glacier”


Our Tibetan expedition unfolds as we leave the enchanting city of Lhasa, navigating through the mystical landscapes that lead us to Yanghu Lake and onwards to Shigatse. The air is heavy with the scent of barley fields being harvested, setting the stage for a journey filled with unexpected encounters and serene beauty.


Yamdrok Lake: A Closer Glimpse

As we traverse the outskirts, the golden hues of rapeseed flowers surrounding Yamdrok Lake beckon us. The weather, a dance between clouds and drizzle, creates a canvas of ever-changing blue skies. Stepping closer to the lake, the clarity of its waters reflects the surrounding landscape. Tibetan Mastiffs, strong and regal, add to the picturesque scene as fishermen quietly go about their business.

A Plateau Gem: Yamdrok Yutso Lake,

often referred to as Yamdrok, stands among Tibet’s three largest lakes. Surrounded by perpetual snow-capped mountains, the lake’s original name might be a challenge to pronounce, but its beauty is universally understood. The seamless integration of snow-capped peaks, a pristine lake, and the vast blue sky makes it a breathtaking spectacle.

Karola Glacier: A Glimpse of Tibet’s Frozen Majesty

Emerging from Yanghu Lake, our journey takes us to the 4330-meter Smila Pass, revealing the awe-inspiring Karola Glacier. One of Tibet’s three continental glaciers, it stands as the closest glacier to the road. Despite the glacier’s receding snowline, the chilly glacier water remains a testament to nature’s endurance. Local children offer fossils found beneath the glacier, adding a touch of the ancient to the icy landscape.


Tashilhunpo Monastery: Seeking Shelter Amidst Spiritual Grandeur

As the rain accompanies us to Shigatse, we find solace under the eaves of Tashilhunpo Monastery. A historical gem dating back over 570 years to the Ming Dynasty, this monastery stands proudly alongside Lhasa’s esteemed Gelug Sect monasteries. Blending traditional Tibetan architecture with profound Buddhist features, Tashilhunpo Monastery invites us to immerse ourselves in its spiritual ambience.

Day 2 A Night at the Roof of the World: Journey from Shigatse to Everest Base Camp


Introduction: Into the Heart of the Himalayas

As Day 2 of our Tibetan odyssey unfolds, we bid farewell to Shigatse and embark on a soul-stirring adventure toward the iconic Everest Base Camp. A snowy night awaits, promising an immersive experience at the world’s highest peak.


Old Valley Road: The Path to Everest’s Majesty

  1. Leaving Shigatse via Lazi: Our expedition takes us through the enchanting landscapes of Lazi, weaving a tapestry of snowy wonders. The journey unfolds, carrying the spirit of adventure through Dingri County, leading us to the fabled Everest Base Camp on Old Valley Road.
  2. Jawula Pass and the “108 Turns”: Standing at the Everest Observation Deck on Jawula Pass, a breathtaking spectacle unfolds. The “108 Turns,” a winding mountain road, emerges in the distance. Snow-capped peaks create a continuous line, adorned with prayer flags fluttering in the wind, overlooking roads that wind like “intestines.”
  3. Rongbuk Temple and the Base Camp Encounter: Passing Rongbuk Temple, our gaze turns to Mount Everest. Dark clouds cloak its majestic form, revealing the mystique that surrounds the world’s highest peak. The Everest Base Camp, once blanketed in snow, now stands as a tourist check-in point. Tents dot the landscape, and the Everest Post Office remains, offering a connection to this remote realm.

Snowfall and the Morning After Witnessing Everest’s True Face

  1. Nightfall at the Base Camp: As night descends, a gentle snowfall blankets the Everest Base Camp. Emerging from our tents at dawn, we find the camp transformed. Stalled buses, off-road vehicles, and a chaotic landscape bear witness to the whims of the Himalayan weather.
  2. Clear Skies and Everest’s Revelation: The snowfall ceases, unveiling a pristine morning. The sun pierces through thick clouds, revealing the true visage of Mount Everest in the distance. Blue skies emerge, offering a canvas for the world’s highest peak to share its magnificence.

Descending through Seasons: A Valley of Wonders

  1. Descending through Altitudes: Continuing our descent through the valley, the altitude gradually diminishes. A unique experience unfolds, encapsulating all four seasons in a single day.
  2. Seasonal Spectacle: From Snowy Slopes to Green Valleys: Witness the transition from snowy slopes adorned with black wild yaks to lush green valleys. Nature’s canvas changes rapidly, offering glimpses of wildflowers beside shallow waters in the wetlands.

Day 3 From Everest’s Embrace to the Enchanting Pekucuo


A Descent from Everest’s Majesty

Day 3 of our Himalayan escapade marks a descent from the snowy embrace of Mount Everest. As we traverse valleys and snow-laden landscapes, the journey unfolds into a captivating exploration of diverse terrains, from wild roads to grassy slopes, where each turn reveals a new facet of Tibet’s beauty.


Descending from Everest: A Symphony of Seasons Unfolds

  1. Leaving Everest Base Camp: Departing from the snow-draped Everest Base Camp, our path meanders through valleys and ravines. The journey promises a symphony of seasonal changes, offering a kaleidoscopic view of Tibet’s landscapes.
  2. Traversing Snowy Valleys and Wild Roads: The expedition unfolds through snowy valleys and untamed roads, creating a cinematic experience where each twist and turn brings forth a new tableau of natural wonders.
  3. Experiencing Four Seasons in One Day: Tibet’s fickle weather treats us to an extraordinary spectacle—four seasons in a single day. From the crisp air of snow-laden landscapes to the warmth of grassy slopes, nature’s transitions unfold like a mesmerizing dance.

Pekucuo: Jewel of the Everest Reserve

  1. Introduction to Pekucuo: Our journey leads us to Pekucuo, the largest inland lake in the Everest Reserve and a jewel nestled in the heart of Shigatse. Spanning over 300 square kilometres, Pekucuo awaits our arrival, unveiling its enchanting beauty under the midday sun.
  2. Emerald Waters and Gradient Layers: As the sun reaches its zenith, Pekucuo unveils its emerald green waters, adorned with gradient layers that shift into various hues of emerald blue and white. The lake’s expanse becomes a canvas, painting a picture of serenity and elegance.
  3. Dolma Grazing by the Lake: Along the shores of Pekucuo, a picturesque scene unfolds—a group of Dolma grazes in the sun-drenched landscape. Their crimson coats stand in contrast to the vivid greens and blues, adding a touch of vibrant life to the tranquil setting.

Day 4: Serenity Unveiled – Manasarovar Lake and the Mystical Laangtso Crescent


A Journey to Tranquility

Day 4 of our expedition unfolds as a voyage from Saga to Tachin, promising the discovery of hidden treasures nestled amidst the undulating slopes. Our destination—a breathtaking sight that transcends the earthly realm—a deep blue jewel named Manasarovar Lake.


Manasarovar Lake: Where Sky and Water Converge in Blue Harmony

  1. A Glimpse of Rulian Blue: As our vehicle traverses the undulating slopes, a distant panorama hints at the mesmerizing Rulian Blue. Upon arrival, the enchanting sight of Manasarovar Lake, cradled between sky and earth, leaves us awe-struck.
  2. Reflections of Xishapangma Peak: Nature unveils its artistry as we witness reflections of the majestic Xishapangma Peak dancing on the surface of Manasarovar Lake. Believers from India, drawn to the sacred waters, engage in rituals, washing their bodies in reverence.
  3. “Western Yaochi” – A Sacred Haven: Revered as the “Western Yaochi” in ancient texts, notably in Xuanzang’s “Records of the Western Regions,” Manasarovar Lake stands as the highest freshwater lake globally. It holds the prestigious title of being one of Tibet’s three sacred lakes, serving as the cradle of Asia’s four major rivers.

Laangtso Crescent: A Mystical Companion to Manasarovar

  1. Laangtso’s Crescent Embrace: Adjacent to Manasarovar Lake lies Laangtso, a crescent-shaped lake, forming a celestial pair. While their proximity is intimate, Laangtso’s blue expanse, though close, holds a deeper hue than its companion.
  2. Holy Lake and Ghost Lake: An Enchanting Harmony: Manasarovar, the “Holy Lake,” and Laangtso, the “Ghost Lake,” share a mystical connection. Despite their closeness, each possesses distinct water qualities, with the waters of Manasarovar Lake showcasing unparalleled clarity.
  3. Whispers of a Love Legend: Seated by the tranquil Laangtso, we immerse ourselves in the gentle caress of the wind. Legends weave a fantasy love tale between Namunani Peak, Kailash, Manasarovar, and Laangtso, ensuring that even in stillness, the lake whispers tales of three waves.

Day 4-5: Pilgrimage to Transcendence – Kailash Unveiled


A Divine Encounter with Mount Kailash

Embarking on days 4 and 5 of our mystical journey, we set forth from Taqin, immersing ourselves in the sacred aura of Mount Kailash. As we approach the awe-inspiring peak, a divine encounter with Kang Rinpoche, the revered abode of tranquillity, awaits.


Mount Kailash: A Majestic Beacon of Tranquility

  1. A Conical Marvel: Mount Kailash stands as the pinnacle of the Gangdise Mountains, earning its place among the top ten most beautiful mountains in China according to China National Geographic magazine. Its conical, pyramid-shaped peak beckons pilgrims and adventurers alike.
  2. Source of Sacred Rivers: Beyond its aesthetic allure, Kailash is the spiritual wellspring of the Indus, Ganges, and Brahmaputra rivers. Originating from its slopes are the Maquan River, Xiangquan River, Shiquan River, and Kongque River, each contributing to the lifeblood of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
  3. Mountain of Ten Thousand Waters: Ancient scriptures aptly describe Kailash as the “Mountain of Ten Thousand Waters.” Its divine significance extends beyond the physical realm, embodying a sacred presence that resonates with the flowing currents of numerous rivers and streams.

Pilgrimage to Kailash: The Soul’s Ascent

  1. Spiritual Odyssey: A pilgrimage to Kailash is more than a physical journey; it’s a spiritual odyssey. As we draw nearer, the steep walls of the mountain form a majestic backdrop, setting the stage for a soul-stirring communion with the divine.
  2. Kailash – The Soul’s Summit: Kang Rinpoche, as Kailash is reverently known, transcends its physical prominence. It symbolizes a higher realm where devotees seek spiritual elevation, and its very presence radiates an aura of serenity and transcendence.

Kang Rinpoche – Summit of Serenity

Days 4 and 5 mark our pilgrimage to the ethereal realm of Mount Kailash. This sacred convergence of natural marvel and spiritual sanctuary resonates with the echoes of ancient scriptures. As we stand in the shadow of Kang Rinpoche, the mountain becomes not just a physical landmark but a conduit to the divine—a summit of serenity inviting all to partake in its timeless tranquillity.

Day 6: Unveiling Mysteries – Journey through Zada Earth Forest to the Enigmatic Guge Dynasty


Echoes of Antiquity Beckon

Day 6 of our transcendent voyage takes us through the Zada Earth Forest, a surreal landscape sculpted by the forces of time. As we navigate the earthy labyrinth, our destination unveils a chapter of history cloaked in mystery—the ruins of the Guge Dynasty.


Zada Earth Forest: Nature’s Sculpted Symphony

  1. Danxia Dance of Formations: Zada Earth Forest, cradled in the embrace of the Xiangquan River Valley, boasts a distinctive Danxia landform. Carved by ancient orogenies and weathering, the soil forest mimics a woodland of stone, with formations reaching heights of tens of meters, creating a captivating and otherworldly panorama.
  2. Driving Through Nature’s Canvas: Navigating through the forest is akin to a journey through nature’s canvas. Towering formations, whimsical shapes, and varied contours stretch for dozens of kilometres, creating a breathtaking spectacle that transcends the ordinary.

Guge Dynasty: The Enigma of Vanished Splendor

  1. Legacy of Centuries: Nestled on the banks of the Xiangquan River, the Guge Dynasty’s legacy dates back over a millennium. Originating from the Xiangzhong Kingdom in the 9th century, it flourished for more than 700 years, witnessing the ebb and flow of the Song, Yuan, and Ming dynasties.
  2. Mysterious Disappearance: The Guge Dynasty, shrouded in enigma, vanished abruptly three centuries ago. Leaving behind palace ruins, temples, murals, and sculptures, it endured an overnight disappearance, preserving the remnants of cultural and artistic achievements in an untouched state.
  3. Sunset Whispers of the Past: Climbing atop the earth mountain hosting the Guge Dynasty’s vestiges, the setting sun casts its golden hues on the scattered ruins. From collapsed roofs to watchtowers, each element tells a silent tale of a bygone era. Standing amidst the ruins, one is left to ponder the mysterious exodus of the Guge people.

Unanswered Questions: Murals in Darkness

  1. Veiled Artistry: Within the ruins lie hidden murals, remnants of an artistic past. While some are dimly lit and off-limits to the public, their existence hints at the artistic brilliance that once adorned the walls of Guge’s abodes.

Day 7: Shiquan River – Gateway to Ngari’s Wilderness

  1. The Untamed Wilderness: Ali unfolds its raw beauty as we traverse the Shiquan River, where the road is but a concept and obstacles emerge in the form of rivers and mountains. Anecdotes of a lone cyclist’s emotional encounter with a telegraph pole underline the remoteness of this vast expanse.
  2. Ngari’s Tapestry: Our path winds through Geji, Damxung, Gaize, and Nyima to Bangor, weaving through Salt Lake, Dalaocuo, Dongcuo, Bawucuo, Dazecuo, Wuru, and Se Lincuo. Each name resonates with the untold stories of this mystical land, setting the stage for the grandeur of Namtso that awaits.

Day 8: Shiquan River – Revelations at Every Step


  1. Altitude and Adversity: Ngari, with its average altitude of 4,500 meters, challenges not only with its physical obstacles but also with unpredictable weather. One moment bathed in sunlight, the next shrouded in storm clouds, our journey through the Ngari expanse becomes a dance with nature’s whims.
  2. Navigating the Risks: En route, the journey becomes a poetic navigation, akin to a couplet composed by newfound companions. “One pit before, one pit after; one measure left, one measure right.” The unpredictable terrain unfolds as a testament to the infinitely risky yet rewarding road ahead.

The Soul-Stirring Symphony of Ngari

As we forge ahead through the Shiquan River into the labyrinthine depths of Ngari, every step becomes a revelation, and every challenge met is a triumph. The unspoiled wilderness of Ali reveals not only the harshness of the terrain but also the indomitable spirit of those who dare to tread on its sacred ground. Days 7 and 8 mark not just a physical passage but a profound communion with Ngari’s soul-stirring symphony, where the journey itself becomes the destination.

Day 9: Nima – Where Wild Creatures Roam


  1. Wild Symphony of Nima: Nima, translating to “sun” in Tibetan, is a sanctuary for wildlife, particularly the Tibetan wild ass and antelope. Witnessing these creatures galloping beneath the majestic snow-capped mountains is a spectacle etched in memory.
  2. Desolate Beauty of Dongcuo: Moving forward, Dongcuo, or “Desolate Lake,” reveals its allure as a provincial wetland nature reserve. At an altitude of 4,396 meters, it stands as a testament to nature’s capacity to carve beauty even in desolation.

Day 10: Nima to Bangor – The Road’s Dance with the Elements


  1. Road Construction Ballet: An unexpected encounter with road construction amidst rain unveils a dance between construction trucks and our convoy. The weather’s capricious turns lead us to Selincuo, Tibet’s largest lake, where azure waters reflect the sudden clarity of Shalincuo.
  2. Serincuo’s Aquatic Ballet: Serincuo, with its clear waters, unveils a ballet of light and shadow. The lake, formerly known as “Qilin Lake” and “Selindongcuo,” stands as the second-largest saltwater lake in China, a testament to the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau’s geological narrative.

Day 11: Bangor to Namtso – A Celestial Grand Finale


  1. Namtso’s Enchanting Sunrise: As we arrive at Namtso, the culmination of the Ngari Great Northern Line, the stage is set for nature’s grand finale. Despite the notorious altitude-induced discomfort, the lakeside offers a captivating sunrise, justifying every challenge faced along the way.
  2. Tales by the Sky Lake: Namtso, “Sky Lake” in Tibetan, unfolds its vastness at 4,718 meters above sea level. Encounter with fellow travellers, from a cyclist overwhelmed by the sheer beauty to an old Tibetan in vibrant attire feeding fish, add human threads to the rich tapestry of Namtso’s story.
  3. Light and Shadow Sonata: Climbing the hillside for a sunset spectacle, nature surprises with a fantastic light and shadow show, revealing the true essence of “Lake Light and Sky Color.” In every unexpected turn lies the promise of adventure, ensuring that the journey, with all its challenges, never disappoints.

Nature’s Ovation

Days 9 to 11 unveil the crescendo of our expedition, a symphony conducted by the untamed elements. From the wildlife haven of Nima to the celestial drama at Namtso, each moment becomes a stanza in nature’s ballad, leaving an indelible mark on the souls of those who dared to embrace the wild beauty of Tibet. The journey, though challenging, stands as a testament to the magnificence of Earth’s untouched corners, inviting all wanderers to join in nature’s ovation.

D12: Homeward Bound – Rediscovering Lhasa’s Embrace


Day 12: Namtso to Lhasa – The Soulful Reunion

  1. Ali’s Farewell Symphony: As we leave Namtso behind, there’s a sense of liberation, a feeling of accomplishment that only a journey through the heart of Tibet can bestow. Ali’s rugged beauty becomes a distant memory as we steer toward the familiar contours of Lhasa.
  2. Barkhor Street’s Warm Embrace: Returning to Lhasa, it unfolds its labyrinthine alleys, inviting us to stroll through its bustling markets. Magjiami, a haven of comfort, awaits our check-in, marking the beginning of a different adventure–exploring Lhasa’s soul.

Rediscovering Lhasa – A Journey Within

  1. Jokhang Temple Square’s Tranquility: At Jokhang Temple Square, time slows down. Sitting facing the ancient walls, there’s a chance to breathe, to absorb the serene energy that permeates the plateau air. Lhasa, in its own rhythm, unfolds a different narrative.
  2. Sunlit Lhasa – A New Perspective: The sun continues its radiant dance in Lhasa, casting a golden glow across the city. Every corner tells a tale, and every ray of sunlight reveals the nuances of a city that wears its history like a cherished garment.

Lhasa’s Eternal Essence

Day 12 marks not just a return but a reunion with Lhasa, a city that transforms with every visit. As we immerse ourselves in Barkhor Street’s vibrancy, find solace at Jokhang Temple Square, and savour the sunlit streets, Lhasa unveils its eternal essence. The journey may have circled through the heights of Ali, the wonders of Namtso, but it is in the heart of Lhasa that the soul truly finds its home. In this reunion, Lhasa whispers its stories, inviting all wanderers to partake in the perennial magic of the Tibetan plateau.

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