To Walk on Sacred Lands: a Meditation Pilgrimage to Mt Kailash, through Nepal and Tibet

Retreat

Tibet & Nepal

start: Sep 14, 2020
end: Oct 3, 2020

Registration

Overview

MEDITATION + BUDDHISM + SACRED SPACES + NATURE TREKS

 

Our real power comes from knowing who we are, and that begins with looking inside ourselves in silence. 

A pilgrimage to Mt Kailash in Tibet, considered the center of the world by many faiths, symbolizes an empowering journey to the center of yourself. Simply contemplating embarking on such a pilgrimage shows a calling from within to go deeper, to the source of things.

This 20-day, once-in-a-lifetime trip through Nepal and Tibet, culminating with a three day circumambulation of the sacred Mt Kailash is a unique journey of self-discovery cradled in some of the world’s most breathtaking and holy landscapes.

While many natural spaces are sacred, there are some corners of our planet which have been a home to significant spiritual events - attracting travellers and pilgrims from all over the world aspiring to connect to something greater.

Tibet is certainly one such place. High above the clouds, Buddhist monks have spent centuries perfecting meditation techniques, mindfulness, and loving-kindness. These vast landscapes evoke a sense of cradling and protecting - teaching compassion, providing wellbeing and calm, and offering a perfect sanctuary for the daily practice of turning inward.

There is no better guide for this unique journey than Nepali local, Ellen Johannesen. A Buddhist scholar, a senior Yoga teacher and a translator for Tibetan language, Ellen brings a unique perspective and deep experience, interweaving local lore, Buddhist philosophy, stories from her life in a Tibetan monastery, and superb meditation instruction. Ellen will be joined by a team of professional local guides as well as horses and yaks as needed!

Setting out on a journey to Tibet we leave not only our daily life but also our daily thought pattern behind. -Ellen Johannesen

Teacher

Ellen Johannesen

Teacher

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Ellen Johannesen is a level 2 authorized by KPJAYI and one of Norway´s most experienced Ashtanga Yoga teachers. With more than 25 years of experience, Ellen teaches yoga based on her extensive background…

Highlights

  • Trans-Himalayan flight with breathtaking aerial views of Mount Everest and other highest peaks.
  • 3 days circumambulation of Mt. Kailash: The pilgrimage to the epicenter of energy and the most sacred place for many communities around the world.
  • 3 days in Lhasa: including a visit to the Potala Palace, the magnificent ancient residence of the Dalai Lamas; and the sacred Jokhang temple 
  • Watch the monks debate at the Sera Monastery, the largest monastery in Tibet
  • Visit Everest Base Camp and world’s highest monastery called Rongbuk just below Everest Base Camp
  • Bathe in the Manasarovar Lake, the sacred lake for Hindus and Buddhists alike
  • Climb or horseback to the 5700m Himalayan high pass, Drolma La
  • 3 days in Kathmandu: visit to the UNESCO Heritage sites, stupas and temples

Program

Discover the essence of age-old wisdom that radiates from the breathtaking lands at the roof of the world. 

We begin with a three-day stop in Kathmandu. Together, we will explore this fascinating city and its timeless cultural and artistic heritage. We will visit the holiest temples, and stupas, Pashupatinath, Bouddanath, Swayambunath and Patan- the most magnificent of the UNESCO protected sites in Nepal. As we prepare for our Tibet tour we will receive blessings from a Tibetan Lama and make aspirational prayers as we circumambulate the beautiful Boudha Stupa.

Flying over the majestic Himalaya, we will make our way from Nepal to the vast Tibetan high-plateau. In Tibet’s capital Lhasa, we will visit the magnificent Potala Palace, the ancient residence of the Dalai Lamas, a beacon for Buddhist pilgrims and travelers from around the globe. We will stop at the fascinating Sera monastery to observe the monks debate about Buddhist philosophy. We will travel through breathtaking landscapes, crossing the Himalayan mountains and hills, and stopping at monasteries and temples as well as fragrant, colorful palaces and marketplaces along the way to Mt. Kailash.

 It is believed that those who circumambulate this holy mountain will be cleansed of all earthly sins and reach liberation.

Following a three day circumambulation of Mt Kailash, we will take a bath in the sacred Lake Manasarovar, stunningly set on the Tibetan plateau bordered by the majestic Gurla Mandata. While in the neighbourhood, we will also trek to the Everest Base Camp (5,380m) taking in the opportunity to witness the majesty of the Himalayan highest peaks.

In the course of our journey we will learn about the key points of Buddhist philosophy and practices, as well as the symbolism of the circumambulation of Mt Kailash. 

We will be introduced to appropriate temple etiquette and rituals in sacred places so that we can make the most of our visits to the holy places. 

Our days will start with meditation, pranayama (breathing) practice, and ritual. Wherever possible, we will incorporate spiritual practice into our visits to sacred sites. This may include lighting butter lamps, performing prostrations or simply gathering for a meditation session in a temple.

Every effort will be made to follow the above program, but we reserve the right to make changes to itinerary due to weather conditions, permit or safety concerns.

Itinerary

  • Day 01: Arrival in Kathmandu. Check-in and meet at 4pm at Shambaling Hotel in Thamel (1,300m). Welcome dinner
  • Day 02: Yoga & meditation; Visa process; sightseeing around Kathmandu
  • Day 03: Yoga & meditation; Tibet trip debrief; sightseeing around Kathmandu 
  • Day 04: Visa collection; sightseeing around Kathmandu; preparation for departure
  • Day 05: Flight to Lhasa & drive to Tsedang (3510m), 2.5hrs drive. Time for acclimatization
  • Day 06: Sightseeing of Samye Monastery & Yambulhakang & drive to Lhasa (3600m), 3hr drive 
  • Day 07: Sightseeing of Jokhang Temple, Sera Monastery & Barkhor Market
  • Day 08: Sightseeing of Potala Palace 
  • Day 09: Shigatse via Gyantse & Yamdrok Lake (3,900m) visit Khumbum & Pelkhor Stupa;  6hr drive
  • Day 10: Sakya Monastery (4280m), 4hrs drive
  • Day 11: Rongbuk (5100m), visit Rongbuk Monastery & enjoy view of Mount Everest & drive to Old Tingri (4300m), 6 hr drive
  • Day 12: Saga (4840m) via Peigut Tso Lake, 6hrs drive
  • Day 13: Darchen (4560m) The foot of Mt. Kailash, 9 hrs drive
  • Day 14: Tarpoche (1 hr drive) and trek to Dirapuk (4900m). The starting point of Kora where the first leg of the walk begins towards Kailash (6-7 hours)
  • Day 15: Trek to Zutulpuk. Cross Dolmala Pass (4790m): 8-9 hours walk
  • Day 16: Completion of Mt Kailash circumambulation (Kora); bathing in Lake Mansarowar and Darchen (4558m), 1⁄2 hr drive
  • Day 17: Saga (4840m) 9 hr drive
  • Day 18: Shigatse and Tashilumphu Monastery (3900m), 8hrs drive
  • Day 19: Lhasa via the North Route (3600m ), 4 hrs drive
  • Day 20: Flight back to Kathmandu

Meditation

The intention of this unique adventure through Nepal and Tibet is to invite you on an inner journey of transformation. 

Through daily practice, you will have the opportunity to learn some of the ancient techniques of meditation and mindfulness that the yogis of the Himalayas have used for millennia, such as Calm Abiding and Loving-Kindness meditation. Although ancient, these techniques are highly applicable to modern life with and can easily be practiced as a daily meditation sadhana

A pilgrimage is a great opportunity to observe the mind; how does it navigate unknown territories and new challenges? 

Indeed, throughout the journey we will be challenged to let go of our ideas of comfort and some standards we are used from home. As part of the pilgrimage process, you are invited to regard any hardships which you encounter on the way as symbols of your inner challenge.  

We will learn to mindfully observe these processes, thoughts and emotions as they appear and learn to distinguish between the outer world as it is and our own mind´s habitual projections. We will experience daily talks, explaining the philosophy of mind that forms the base for meditative techniques and you will have time to ask questions.

No prior experience is needed, as all you need is your body and an open mind.

Locations

As one walks on the sacred lands of the Tibetan high-plateau, one’s awareness heightens, so that each step of the way bears significance. 

-Ellen Johannesen 

Nepal is the cultural powerhouse of the Himalaya, and Kathmandu offers an unrivalled collection of world-class palaces, hidden backstreet shrines and sublime temple art. With its sizable Tibetan population, Kathmandu is also a great place to begin to learn about Tibetan Buddhism. 

Tibet, the ‘roof of the world’, lies 5000m above sea level and is one of the most interesting, mysterious, and enchanting places on earth. We will drive past glittering turquoise lakes, across huge plains dotted with yaks and nomads’ tents, and over high passes draped with colourful prayer flags.  

Our main destination, the country's high mount Kailash is venerated by Buddhist, Hindu, Jain and Bön-Po faiths as the world’s holiest pilgrimage site, also representing the dwelling place of lord Shiva for Hindus, and the navel of the world to Tibetans!

 

Accommodation

All of the accommodation has been lovingly selected by our team to ensure maximum comfort during your travel through Nepal and Tibet.  

In Kathmandu we will stay in Hotel Shambaling, Boudhanath, a boutique hotel with quality accommodation, and an excellent restaurant, just a few minutes away from the magnificent Bouddhanath Stupa.

During our journey we will stay at various hotels and lodges, all with standard comfort rooms. All accommodations are on a standard twin-share  room basis. 

Be reminded that this trip is an opportunity to practice non-attachment to our ideas of comfort back home!

Food

We will have a welcome and farewell dinner of traditional Nepali food in Kathmandu.

During our tour breakfast is included in all of our hotels and lodging. Lunch and dinners are on your own.

During our stay in Kathmandu make sure to discover the delicious traditional Nepali food -an eclectic mix of cuisines from Tibet and India. Momos and Dal bat are some of the most popular items!

As we travel through Tibet, we will enjoy simple local authentic foods such as Tsampa (roasted Barley flour) and butter tea. Some of our our hotels will also offer continental food on the menu.

Cost

  • EARLY BIRD until 1 June  2020 | €4,200
  • STANDARD FEES after 1 June 2020 | € 4,500
  • Deposit to reserve your spot is €1000
  • Payment plans available.

Inclusions

  • Meditation course with Ellen Johannesen
  • Daily meditations, lectures and talks on buddhism and history of the region
  • Return flights (Kathmandu - Lhasa- Kathmandu worth EUR600)
  • Hotel accommodation Shambaling Hotel in Kathmandu on twin sharing basis (4 nights total)
  • 15 nights of twin sharing accommodation in Tibet
  • Entrance fees & guided visits to Kathmandu’s sacred sites
  • Monastery fees in Tibet
  • Welcome and farewell dinners in Kathmandu
  • All breakfasts
  • Experienced English-speaking and government-licensed local guides 
  • All necessary travel permits to Tibet
  • All private bus Transportation as per the itinerary 
  • All government and local taxes
  • All Airport transfers 

NOT INCLUDED

  • Nepal arrival and reentry visas (EUR30)
  • Tibet Visa Fee (approx EUR70 depending on nationality)
  • All lunches and dinners (EUR10 per person per meal)
  • Travel insurance that covers evacuation
  • Tipping of guides 
  • Hiring personal horse during the Mt Kailash crossing (EUR130 per day)

Health

For the most part of this journey we will be at higher altitudes than most of us normally experience. Beginning in Kathmandu at 1400 meters, we fly into Lhasa at about 3600 meters, from where we will immediately transfer to Tsewang at 3100 meters to take time to acclimatize. 

During the travel through Tibet, we will cross several passes of 5000 meters, which is a great way to acclimatise the Mt Kailash pilgrimage. During the circumambulation, which takes three days, the highest point we will reach is the Drolma La pass at 5700 meter. However we will not stay long in this altitude as the path quickly descends to 4790 meters.  

We will be reaching altitudes of 5000m during our journey, so it’s best to be prepared for some altitude sickness, and take acclimatization seriously: drinking enough liquid, eating easily digestible food, and avoid alcoholic drinks are a big part of it. Some people will experience slight headaches from time to time and have some difficulty falling asleep. That said, the accent to Mt Kailash and Everest Base Camp is accessible to most in good health and positive attitude. 

Oxygen flasks will be available at all times for your use. It is also possible to rent a horse to carry you over the pass should you feel too tired to walk.

Please consult your doctor before the trip, especially if you have a medical history  of heart, lung, or blood pressure conditions.

Meghan Currie's Bali Retreat Photos

This magical 8-day retreat in Bali was a journey of reconnecting to the wild unedited essence residing in us all. A week of movement, stillness, introspection, connection, ecstatic dance, kirtan, energy healing, aqua therapy, sauna parties, scrubs, sunrises and sunsets over the ocean, cacao & coconuts, silly jokes, laughter and tears, and forever-connections.

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