Here are some practical considerations if you’re considering the Mt. Kailash trek. These tips were compiled by Meg Moser to accompany her guest post: Kailash: One Foot in This World (A description of the 3-day Mount Kailash kora trek).
Since no independent travel is allowed to Tibet and you must work with a travel agency, you want to be sure to choose a Tibetan-owned agency, which hires Tibetan guides only. The simplest way to do this is ask us to connect you to a reliable Tibetan-owned travel agent to plan a great trip for you that also supports the local Tibetan economy and culture. (Note to our Indian friends: Sorry, our agents cannot assist Indian nationals.)
- Seasonal considerations: Yolanda consulted several people who had done this trek multiple times about the best month to do this trek. Our experience of doing it mid-September was positive. I LOVED that we were mostly with Tibetan pilgrims. At other times of year (namely summer) we heard that there are busloads of tourists from India who are doing this. We did have some precipitation but we had adequate layers. And the snow was beautiful. We did not have any views of Kailash while on the kora, but I do not regret going in September.
- Speaking of rain, you need to be prepared. And if you have porters, they don’t have backpacks, much less rain gear. So, you will need to provide that for them.
- We were always agonizing about how much to tip the porters. As mentioned there is a government organization for the porters. As of September 2017 we were charged 630 yuan per porter for a 3-day trek. We were told if we had to turn back prematurely, the porters would be guaranteed the full amount. On the advice of someone who guides Americans in Tibet, we also gave the porters 100 yuan at the start of the trek that they could use for food and snacks along the way. At the end we tipped them 100 yuan for good service (which was a bit on the low side, but we took into account that we did give them money for food).
- Yolanda and I both used our iPhones (6 & 7) for all video and photos. We both had external batteries for extra power. There was electricity for few hours at Dirapuk and Zutulpuk, sufficient for charging, if you are there during the hours they have electricity. Yolanda did not bring her iPad as at that altitude electronics start to act weird. I suspect at some point, eventually there will be wifi.
- Lodging: we brought our own sleeping bags and were grateful we did, though there is basic bedding at both places. As stated, limited electricity. And bringing a solar-powered light like the great ones that LUCI makes, was handy.
- From a hygienic point of view, the cups and bowls at the teahouses on the kora are not the cleanest. I wish I had brought my mug (left in basecamp) along with my own bowl and spoon and chopsticks. But I did not get sick either.
- If so inspired, bring some extra ziplocks and gloves for trash collection and to carry out your own!
- There is time to just hang at the end of the day, which I didn’t expect. So bring that book or journal!