Tibet, in the course of time has attracted innumerable tourists worldwide because of the trekking facilities it provides. The Qinghai-Tibet plateau, over which Tibet is situated, is surrounded by the trans-Himalayan ranges. Further the high altitude and the uneven elevations also provide scopes of trekking and hiking within Tibet whereas the surrounding ranges are the epitomes of trekking experience themselves. The Shalu to Nartang trek in Tibet is a very famous trekking route in Tibet. It is a short religious trek trip, which usually ends in three to four days. The total distance covered in the trekking is almost about 45km. The journey starts from the historically famous Shalu Monastery and ends in Nartang Monastery. On the way various villages and monasteries like Ngor monastery can be witnessed. It also covers Upper Lungsang.
Shalu to Nartang trek
Highlights of the route and a classic itinerary
This short trekking route has a variety of experience embedded in the path. From engaging in the authentic Tibetan lifestyle and charm in the villages to experiencing an adventurous journey through trails of uninhibited canyons and roads, the journey is spectacular. A possibly classic and enjoyable itinerary can be.
The journey should begin in Lhasa. After arrival in Lhasa, take two to three days off to acclimatize the body. The altitude of Lhasa is about 3650m. The arrival can be either through China or Nepal, availing train, flight or road. The Tibet train is also a remarkable experience that a tourist must encounter in the Tibet trip. All the schedules of flights and trains can be noted from a detailed online survey or through tourism office.
These days should be for relaxation and getting accustomed to the climate and altitude. The famous places to visit in these days are Potala Palace, Barkhor Street, Jokhang temple, Sera monastery, Drepung monastery and many other regions.
On the fourth day or the fifth day, drive to Tsedang in the Yarlung Valley. It is also known as the ‘cradle of Tibetan civilization’. You can visit to Samye monastery and witness the charm of Gelugpa sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Stay a day in Tsedang.
After a day of stay in Tsedang, drive to Gyantse. On the way Gampala Pass with an altitude of 4790m, will be witnessed. The tourists will also witness the spectacular view of Karola Glacier and a glimpse of the stunning Yamdroktso lake (4400m). The trekkers can also see the mesmerizing view of snow-capped peaks of the holy Nyenchen Khangsar mountain, the highest mountain near Lhasa with an altitude of 7191m. In Gyantse, you can visit the famous Pelkor monastery and Gyantse kumbum, if you wish. It is advised to take a day of rest in Gyantse .
From Gyantse, it is better to travel to Shigatse via road and acquire the Alien Travel Permit. Then drive to Shalu monastery, located 20km south east of Shigatse and enjoy its uniqueness. Shalu in Tibetan means ‘New Bud’. It indeed became the seat of Buddhist culture and teachings. The attraction lies in its Han and Tibet architectural style. The frescoes in Shalu monastery are also a great deal of attraction. The restaurants nearby will provide authentic Tibetan food and drink. Take a day rest and enjoy the tour of the Shalu monastery.
Trekking begins from Shalu monastery. Trek from Shalu monastery to Upper Lungsang. The trek distance involves 13km. Approximate time required is four to five hours. On the way, there are many spectacular tourist attractions like Ripu hermitage, food plain, Phunup village and Show-La pass. Camping is done here.
Start trekking from Shalu monastery
Then the journey is toward Ngor monastery from Upper Lungsang. Distance required to be travelled is 8km and time taken is three to four hours. Usually camping is done at this point. You will witness the Ngor village containing the vast farming fields. In Ngor monastery there is a spectacular Sanskrit library and some Newar style murals which are the chief tourist attraction.
Trekking on the way
After camping in Ngor, start the journey of trekking again towards Nartang monastery. The journey covers 18km distance and time taken is almost six hours. In Nartang monastery, there are many Buddha sutras and scriptures, and carvings that are materials of interest to the tourists.
Have a rest during trekking
The return journey takes place as is planned by the tour guide. Usually it takes place via road from Shigatse to Lhasa. The time taken by road is almost four hours. On the way, tourists visit the largest monastery in west Tibet, namely the Tashilhunpo monastery.
Altitude change in the trekking
As Tibet itself is a place of uneven elevation, the different regions of Tibet are situated at different altitude. While most of the trekking involves a journey from high to even higher altitude, some even involves high to low altitude or vice versa. The trekking route from Shalu to Nartang, involves a great difference of elevation. While the trekking begins at an altitude of 3980m in Shalu, it ends at an altitude of 5000m in Nartang monastery. However if the total journey is considered, it begins in Lhasa at an altitude of 3650m and finally ends at 500m in Nartang monastery.
Best time for the hiking
The best time to trek this route is the beginning of April to end of October. The winter is extremely harsh in Tibet to withstand. The plateau weather with the strong wind makes it extremely hard and almost impossible to do trekking. The time period between April to October is the most comfortable time as the temperature is soothing. Further the festivals like the Tibetan New year occurs during this time that ensures the tourists an authentic Tibetan charm.
Important Documents Required (All will be taken care by us)
For Shalu to Nartang trek, Alien Travel Permit is very important. The Alien Travel Permit (P.S.B) is required to visit the restricted trekking routes The Alien Travel Permit can be acquired only after entering Tibet as along with the passport and Chinese Tourism Visa, the T.T.B is required. The tour operators always help to acquire these permits. Other than them, we also help the tourists acquire these documents. Another most important requirement for Tibet tour is the Tibet Travel permit issued by the Tibet Tourism Bureau (T.T.B). It was a popular belief that this permit holds no significance in Tibet tour. However this notion is completely wrong. The cost of this permit is different for different countries and unlike visa; it does not have a date of expiry. All people are allowed to have a T.T.B except journalists, government officials and diplomats. No permit is required to leave Tibet, however entry to certain other cities requires special permit card. For example, camping at the base of Mount Everest requires special travel permit.
How to Get a Tibet Travel Permit
For the Tibet Travel permit, following documents are required to have the entry-
• The Chinese Visa and a passport that is valid for six months
• A properly scanned copy of the passport with the photo, date of issue and passport number.
• A properly scanned copy of the Chinese tourism visa.
• The itinerary of the travel sites and trekking points. A tentative itinerary will also do.
• Military Permit, required if the tourists are trekking to sites occupied by the militaries.
What to Pack for the trekking
The accessories for trekking should be carefully chosen and packed. Shalu to Nartang trek, being a short journey, the packing list for trekking can be-
• Enough warm clothes and woolen clothes.
• Casuals should also be taken in adequate measures and preferably of cotton.
• Trekking trousers and trekking shoes.
• Polar fleece sweater, wind fleece gloves also ensures absolute protection.
• Rain proof coats and trousers.
• Cotton socks as well as woolen socks.
• Windproof jackets and trousers.
• Thermal inners as well as casual inners.
Other trekking accessories-
• Sunscreens of SPF 35 (minimum) and sunglasses.
• Moisturizers and lip balms.
• Torch or head lamp
• Trekking sticks if possible
• First aid box which must include bandage and antiseptic cream, including medicines of all kind.
• Water purification tablets.
• Plastic bags (enough)
• A set of two towels
• Wet tissues.
• Sachets of shampoo and soap.
• Toilette kit containing toothbrush, tooth paste and comb.
• Cotton plugs
• Lots of water
• Dry foods like nuts, chocolate bars, candies and dried fruits.
It is necessary that a well knowledgeable and well versed guide is taken for each and every trek. The guide or the Sherpa will help accessing the various trek points and also knowing the easiest and shortest routes.