Sunday, October 25, 2009

Kailash Mansarovar Yatra - Tips for the Wanderer

Safely back at sea level, I look back at the yatra and feel that whole thing was a fantastic dream. Today, it seems so unreal as I wrote all those posts sharing my experience with you all.

I am not sure what my reaction would be if my friends were to plan a trip again next year. However, one thing is certain and I would be much better prepared. Probably, would also try and customise the route to some extent and be a bit more adventurous.

Let me go over some of the points that need to be kept in mind whilst you plan your trip.

Tour Agency: Very important. The agency needs to be up on all aspects of the tour and should have adequate sherpa staff to accompany the group. All Indian agents eventually tie up with Nepali agencies. Our Nepali tour agent was Richa Tours (

Visa: Various Indian agents get enquiries for Kailash Mansarovar tours. They just collect the details and forward them to Nepali agents. These Nepali agents then apply for an entry permit with the Tibetan Tourist Authority for each group of yatris. The TTA then directly communicates with their embassies in New Delhi or Kathmandu as the case may be.

Indian yatris have to apply for the entry visa at the Chinese embassy at New Delhi. will issue a group visa on a separate sheet of paper. Nothing is stamped on our passports. (This has nothing to do with recent controversies).

The Chinese embassy will start processing visas only after the entry permit has been received from TTA. This can be nerve racking at times. We were to depart on Thursday 30th July night (a day late) and the entry permit was received only on 27th July and visas issued on 29th July. Too close for comfort.

Those travelling from other countries will have to pick their visa at Kathmandu and it is advisable to reach a few days prior to the scheduled date.

Cost: The tour cost is around Indian Rs. 75,000 or thereabouts. This may increase next year. These charges are Kathmandu - Tibet - Kathmandu. One has to add travel costs from your place of residence to Kathmandu and back.

Foreign Currency: Indian rupee is also the currency for trade and commerce in Nepal and the exchange rate is fixed at INR 1 = NR 1.60. Please keep in mind Rs.500/- and Rs.1,000/- notes are not accepted in Nepal for the fear of fake notes.

Chinese Yuan...We bought CY in Mumbai. Rates are better in India. You can change INR for CY at Kathmandu or at Kodari, the border town. Rates will be higher and there will be no choice to shop around.

How much CY to carry? One does not need to spend on food or any other item on the tour. One may keep buying bottled water or an occasional soft drink. The main expenses are for the pony, porter and tips. Pony costs CY 1000 for three days of the parikrama and a porter CY550. Those who are fit may skip the pony but it makes sense to hire a porter for your backpack. You can then be free with just the camera on you. Being light helps walk comfortably. The pony that I had to hire just for the climb up Dolma La cost me CY300.

I guess it makes sense taking about CY2000 to take care of all contingencies. This does not include shopping. I recommend that shopping may be avoided.

The remaining part, and the last of this series appears tomorrow.


Anonymous said...

I just didn't realise what a lot of expense, organisation and even some hassle this involved!!!

This entire series has been delightful, interesting, and very informative!

Thanks :)

Mavin said...

Thanks IHM. It has been a pleasure writing this series and appreciate your comments.

Anrosh said...

this was the info that i was looking forward to. this calls for planning to get extraordinarily fit - i can walk 4 miles in the snow - - but again when it is of higher altitude and in the snow it is not a good idea - the chances of slipping are very high. i generally don't hike during this time. but this is money well spent and memories for a life time - that is the best part, i am sure.


Mavin said...


You need not worry about walking in snow if you are there in July - August.

Snow melts by end May or early June.

Extraordinarily a great thing. You can climb up Dolma La pass, the ultimate test.

I could walk 10 - 12 kms on flattish surfaces. I found it difficult while climbing those 1000-1200 metres and had to opt for a pony after some time.

Why don't you plan going there next year? Will be good fun...

Anrosh said...

mavin, do you think we can do this alone- land up in khatmandu ( and get connected with a sherpa from here ) with a chinese and a tibetan visa? i think visas are biggest hurdles.

Mavin said...


Contact (let us say) Richa Tours. You land up at Kathmandu. If you still have an Indian passport, there is no visa. I am not aware of provisions for USA passport.....could be visa on arrival.

If yo want to go with your own group, then also it is possible...a customised tour.

Try a agent to draw up a customised itinerary and arrangements for you. You will need help of the local guy to get a Chinese visa.

It may be difficult just landing up at Kathmandu and try and organise sherpas....You may get cheated or worse abandoned in Tibet. Suggest going through a proper agency.

For starters you may want to check with Chinese embassy in USA. I will also chk with the other foreigners in our group whether they got the visa at KTM or in their respective countries.

Will revert back in double quick time.......Cheers!!!

Anrosh said...

thanks mavin. i'll get in touch with you thru email

Kunal said...

I am coming back to India for vacations. Do you think can I make Sarovar trip on my own? Ohh, and there is no issues as of money concern.

Just for more adventure as me quite younger 26 yrs ..


NIkita said...

I have visited various destinations, but whenever i read your blog, my senses are left spell bound for a minute and i'm forced to go weave the imaginative cob webs in my mind. I liked your blog and would like you to explore more on Kailash Manasarovar Yatra 2013, Pilgrimage tour packages in India.

praveen pandit said...

Thanks for sharing this with us , This useful for all .
Mansarovar Yatra is a wonderful trip .

Ashok Bhagat said...

Hi friends
I was wondering about the possibilities of making this trip on our own cars with guides from Kathmandu or India? We are group of eight people with two cars.