Day 1. Arrive at Chengdu or Beijing
Transfer to Hotel. Rest of day free
Day 2. Fly to Xining Fly to Xining and discover Xining.
Day 3. Drive 310km via Guider to Tongder County To enjoy changeable geographically landscape and to visit a Nyinmapa monastery Terton Chogar built in 1831. The monastery is famous for its 200 meters long Mani Wall and the religious opera enacting the life of King Songtsen Gampo who first united whole Tibet in 7th century. Government Guesthouse.
Day 4. Drive 170km to Machen A hometown of the Tibetan Golok people. If time allows we can visit two big Gelukpa monasteries or can do some trekking on the way along the Yellow River bank. Tsang-gar Gonpa is 30km away from the main road in a beautiful valley, was built in 1765. Now it has 400 monks. At the Yellow River bank, just by the road, we visit the Rabgya monastery, is an important branch of Sera monastery in Lhasa, founded at the advice of Dalai Lama 7 in 1769 by a Mongol from Kokonor named Arik Geshe. Before 1958 the monastery had more than 1300 monks and now has 500. Stay in Machen Snow Mountain hotel.
Day 5. Machen To visit one or two old monasteries and Golok nomad's family.
Day 6. Drive 340km to Madoi If the weather is fine we can see a good view of holy Anmye Machen snow peaks on the way.
Day 7. Drive 360km to Yushu(Tib: Jyekundo) County Today's driving is exiting, we pass the first bridge of the Yellow River, the famous mountain pass Bayankala at elevation 5080m and upper reaches of the Yangtse River. Those landscapes present you an amazing picture: Under the blue sky with white clouds, you see different type of mountains decorated with pray flags, beautiful grassland embellished with flock of yak and sheep, nomad's black and white tents, the colorful dressed Golok and Khampa people while some different sects of old monasteries on the way without tourists to visit, which brings you back to the nature. Stay in Yushu hotel with facilities in the rooms and hot water for shower.
Day 8. Yushu (Jyekundo) The local people honored Yushu as small Lhasa and more than 90% of people here is Tibetan Khampa people, one of the four Tibetan main tribes. They are strong and wild but honest and former fierce warriors of Tibet. Many Sakyapa monasteries are concentrated here with different construction style. We visit an important Sakyapa monastery Jyekundo Dondrublin, built in 1398, which in old days had more than 1000 monks and created many masters and scholars who made great acheavments to Tibetan religion, medical, history and art. One of the Rinpoches Gyanak created originally more than 100 kinds of dances and Jyekundo was famous for the hometown of Tibetan dancing and singing. To visit another old Sakya monastery Saiba Gonpa, was founded in 1269 and 30 km away from Jyekundo.
Day 9. Drive 380km via Sershul Gonpa to Zogqen (Tib: Dzogchen) monastery, one of four important Nyingmapa Monasteries in Tibet, they are Katork, Paiyu, Mindroling. It was built in 1684 on the advice of the Dalai Lama 5 and from its location and background, you can imagine how great and holly it was during past thousands of years. All foreigners who came here said they were just in larger Switzerland, but altitude is 4023m. overnight in the monastery.
Day 10. Drive 160km to Dege About 52km we pass a small town Manigango at the T-intersection, one road to Garze and another to Derge. Most of the houses in Manigango are made of timber and a small place where for truck drivers and nomads' shopping, lunch and overnight. The famous holly and one of the most beautiful Lakes Yilhun Lhatso is 15km from here on the way to Derge. Starting from here we drive up to Tro La pass at 5080m and all the way down to Derge is 90km. Derge Guest House.
Day 11. Dege To visit Parkhang Printing House, Gonchen Monastery and a very old Temple of Tangtong Gyelpo was built in memory of Tibet's first multi-talented bridge-builder, dramatist, engineer and treasure-finder during 11th century.
Day 12. Drive 170km via Babang monastery to Baiyu Along this road we pass Babang (Tib: Pelpung) monastery 30km away from the main road and Katork monastery 27km from the main road, both located in beautiful valley. Babang was built in 1717 and is the most important learning centre for studying the Kagyu tradition in East Tibet. Now it has more than 300 monks. After visiting here we continue our trip to Baiyu County. Overnight in Baiyu Hotel
Day 13. Drive 50km to Gartok monastery A really important and famous monastery at home and abroad, especially for Nyingmapa believers as many famous scholars and masters graduated from here for thousands of years. It was built in 1159. For Nyingmapa monks, usually they study at home or mountain caves, only during the religious activities and festival time, they gather in the monastery.
Day 14. To visit Baiyu ( Tib: Pelyul) monastery in the county
Day 15. Drive 245km to Garze or Kandze Very nice driving, road is not so good but landscape is fantastic, high mountains, rivers, forestry and the best grassland view. Garze was once of the largest and important town in Kham area during the 17th century and Garze Gonpa is in town built in 1642 by Mongols. It once was the largest monastery in Kham along side Chamdo with 1500 monks. But now almost everything in the temple looks new. We must visit another old one Den Gonpa built in 13th century and was luckily survived in the past political events. It is the most important protector temple for the local people. Khampa Hotel.
Day 16. Drive 160km to Dawu. Nothing to see in the city. Just for overnight. Dawu hotel.
Day 17. Drive 170km to Damba The place where Tibetan Gyarong live. Gyarong is another tribe, which is different from Golok and Khampa people. They speak their dialect and maintained unique way of life and culture for centuries. The dress is also distinctive. Most of the women wear multi-coloured embroidered headscarves and elaborate belts and aprons. Almost every family has its own block-house built with stones, ascending to heights of between 30-60 meters, which kept the powerful sino-Manchu armies at bay for 10 years during 18th century. Government GuestHouse.
Day 18. Damba Go for trekking around to the hill side to visit Gyarong family and to see their block houses.
Day 19. Drive 190km to Barkam. Mainly enjoy the scenery along the road by the tributary of the Yangtze. Nothing to see in Barkam city. Barkam Hotel.
Day 20. Drive 250km to Aba ( Not open yet for foreigners, but we will try to manage to get permit for them if the situation would be all right at that time) is area where nomadic groups and long established sedentary communities intermingle. The villages are characterized by large detached adobe farming houses with tapering walls and windows all on one side of the building. Aba has also thrived on the trade for centuries; you can meet the businessmen from here frequently throughout Tibetan area. The two biggest Benpo monasteries of Narshi and Topgyel lie just here. Narshi is large and was built in 1168, now it has 800 monks. The figures and art works in the monasteries are quite different from other sects, very impressive to see. Because of one of the important Tibetan city in Amdo and the central of Tibetan culture, religion, trade and communication, you will have a strong feeling of atmosphere of real Tibetan culture and life here. The monasteries and a biggest Tibetan style open market are highlight to be visited in Aba. Government Guest House.
Day 21. Aba visit
Day 22. Drive 220km to Heishui ( Not open yet). Less people have been to this sacred place even for us. It is said it's interesting to see some old cultures about Gyarong and Qiang people in this mystery county. Government Guest House
Day 23. Drive 230km to Songpan
Day 24. Drive 90km to Juizhaigo. Juizhaigou Bing Guang
Day 25. Juizhaigou
Day 26. Drive 430km to Chengdu
Day 27. Exit