We drove 1,436 km (892 miles) from Lhasa to the small town of Darchen at the base of Mt. Kailash. This was not the shortest route, but it was the route we took. We drove for four days. The first day we drove south out of Lhasa to Shigatze. Just outside of Lhasa we crossed the Brahmaputra or Tsangpo-Brahmaputra River. It originates in Southwestern Tibet, cuts south through the Himalayas, runs through India and Bangladesh before flowing into the Bay of Bengal. This high up it was quite a small river, not too impressive. But this was also early in the season. By August it swells to several times this size due to the monsoon rains.
We drove high into the mountains crossing three high passes, the highest of which was 16,500′. Tall heavily glaciated peaks, probably around 20,000′ high soared above the highway in places. On the way to Shigatse we stopped in the town of Gyantse and visited the Pachu Monastery, built in 1418. In Shigatse we visited the Tashi Lhunpo Monastery. The next day we drove from Shigatze to Lhatse. The third day we drove to Sakya, then camped outside Saga. and the fourth day we drove to Lake Manasarovar and camped along its shores. On the fifth day we drove a short distance (about an hour) to the town of Darchen where we began our kora, or circumambulation around Mt. Kailash.
The first night we stayed in a hotel; the second night in a Tibetan guesthouse, and the rest of the time we camped out in tents. We would find a meadow on the outskirts of a small town and set up camp. Our party of seven had two Toyota Landcruisers, with two Tibetan drivers and our Tibetan guide.
Though Tibet is a bleak and barren land, it was stunning. We passed countless mountains, long straight highway, winding switchbacked highway, high mountain passes, lakes, dozens of small towns, truck stops, nomad camps, lush green meadows, herds of yaks, fields of barley and some wildlife. Below are my memories of this wild and lonely land. Click on the photos to enlarge them.