We went out to Qinghai last year for a scouting trip and put together a trip that covers the large variety of sights and places in the area—the sights of nature, like Qinghai Lake and the snow mountains of the Qilian Range; and historically important places like Kumbum Monastery.
Kumbum Monastery was our first stop on the itinerary, and we were able to learn a lot thanks to our Tibetan local guide.
Next up was a hike on the sandy shores of Qinghai Lake, hiking up and over sand dunes on the shoreline.
From the lake we could spot the snowy peaks of the Qilian Mountain Range, and that’s where we were headed next, hiking up to the Gangshika glacier and getting up to 4,500m above sea level. (For an extra challenge, our guide Yanjing stayed on after the trip and made a summit of the mountain – not bad!)
Keep reading for a photographic diary of the trip.
At Kumbum Monastery.
The famous eight white pagodas represent the eight merits of Buddha.
Looking about the monastery.
The monastery has buildings in Chinese style (tiled roofs) and Tibetan style (golden roofs).
We hiked up Laji Mountain to where all the prayer flags were.
And then it started snowing! Blue skies in the morning, then snow in the afternoon.
An ancient bell surrounded by prayer flags.
Wind-powered prayer wheel.
Far off snow mountains.
Snow on the near hills.
A large temple.
We stopped for a look at an old town named Dan'ge'er.
A big gate in the old town.
This lady was selling barley bread, and we stopped for a taste.
Taking a look at some local arts and crafts.
On the sand by Qinghai Lake.
Looking across the sand to the lake, and then the snow mountains in the distance.
Coming down from the dunes.
Grass, sandy dunes, and more mountains.
Time for a swim.
A patch of water that’s separated from the lake.
Group shot by the shore.
Playing around in the dunes.
Taking a break – what a view!
We spotted this little guy taking a peek outside his burrow.
We visited the Mixian National Geopark for a walkabout. Here are some coloured stupas.
A waterfall flows from a cave.
A photo with some youngsters.
Shaggy sheep grazing.
Hiking up the boardwalk in the park.
We went for a short hike further into the park.
Hiking in the park – a warm up for the upcoming mountain climbing.
Walking out of the park.
Now we’re at the Gangshika Snow Mountain, getting ready for the climb up to the base camp and glacier.
Taking a break on the trail between V1 and V2.
It got colder as we got higher up.
Arriving at V2 – only 1.4km from V1, but it took us more than an hour due to the altitude.
From V2 we hiked up to the basecamp.
Getting close to the basecamp.
It was lovely to get out of the cold and into the huts at the basecamp.
We headed further up, aiming to reach the Gangshika glacier.
Deep drifts of snow.
Getting closer to the glacier.
We hiked further up, topping out at about 4,500m above sea level.
Back down in Menyuan County, below the mountains.
Prayer time at the largest mosque in Xining.
The men are all praying.
Our guide for a tour of the mosque.
Local snacks – deep-fried bread sticks.
We also visited the Beishan Temple.
Built on the cliffs, it’s very similar to the Hanging Temple near Datong.
Views of Xining City.
Statues in caves and nooks.
Here’s Yanjing back at the mountain, heading for the peak.