The route from Lhasa to Yangpachen to Shigatse (via the Nyenchen Dangla Mountains) and then on to Gyantse and Yamdrok Lake is a great route for travelers who want to huge snow-capped mountains, lakes and Buddhist monasteries. The route from Lhasa to Shigatse via Yangpachen and the Nyenchen Dangla mountains is not a route many people take, but it is amazing. The Nyenchen Dangla mountains are home to many nomads living in traditional style tents. This high elevation area is the furthest southern region of Tibet's famous Changtang or Northern Tibetan Plateau. The highest pass along the route from Yangpachen is the Suge La which tops out at 5430m/17,815 feet. At the Sugu La, there is an excellent view of the snow-capped Mt. Chomo Gangtse (pictured above) which rises to 7048m/23,118 feet. From the Sugu La, you drop over 1500m down to the Yarlung Tsangpo River. Here is what this itinerary would look like:
Day 1: Take the train from Xining to Lhasa. Xining is the starting point of the Tibetan Railway that opened in 2006. Xining, elevation 2300m, is a good place to spend a day or two to help your body acclimatize before going to the higher elevation areas of the Tibetan Plateau.
Day 3: Lhasa
Day 4: Lhasa
Day 5: Lhasa to Shigatse via Yangpachen. This rarely traveled route goes through the Nyenchen Dangla mountains near the small town of Yangpachen and past the 7048m Mt. Chomo Gangtse. The mountain is best viewed from the 5420m pass of Sugu La. This region is home to many Tibetan nomads living in tents and riding horses.
Day 6: Shigatse. Shigatse is the second largest city in Tibet and is home to the famous Tashilhunpo Monastery (pictured below). The monastery has a kora around it that offers great views of the city. The hike around the monastery takes about an hour.
Day 7: Shigatse-Gyantse. Gyantse is home to the Kumbum Chorten, the largest chorten/stupa in Tibet. Gyantse also has the towering hilltop fort of Gyantse Dzong which offers a stunning view of the plains surrounding Gyantse.
Day 8: Gyantse-Yamdrok Lake-Lhasa. Yamdrok Lake is one of the most holy lakes in Tibet. It is a bright turquoise color and sits at 4488m/14,720 feet high. The snow-capped Mt. Nojin Kangtsang sits behind the lake and rises to 7191m/23,588 feet. Yamdrok (pictured below) is one of the most photographed lakes in Tibet.
Day 9: Depart from Lhasa
The 9 day trip from Xining to Lhasa on the train and then from Lhasa to Yangpachen, Shigatse, Gyantse and Yamdrok lake is a great route to take in Tibet. With high mountains, lakes, nomads, monasteries and old military forts it has plenty of things to see and do.
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