20 Days Meili Snow Mountain Pilgrimage Hiking Tour

A Pilgrimage around a sacred mountain is called Kora. Nowadays the Kawa Karpo area have become an essential part of the Three Parallel Rivers Park, being a World Natural Heritage entitled by UNESCO. This 20 days Meili Snow Mountain Pilgrimage Hiking Tour will first bring you to visit the top attractions of Lijiang and Shangri-La, including the ancient towns, ethnic villages and the grand Tiger Leaping Gorge. Then, step by step Shepherd Treks takes you deep into the region of Mt. Kawa Karpo which is considered by the pilgrims as the holy area, and used to be raved by the early western visitors as a paradise of flora. Till today some westerners, especially the British, would be thrilled when they find that some flowers from this region are exactly the same flowers species as they have in their own garden. Usually on our treks in Yunnan and Yunnan-Tibet we only meet the occasional trekker, but on this trek we are guaranteed to meet many trekkers in form of devoted Tibetan pilgrims. This is an unique opportunity to trek with the friendly and curious Tibetan people doing one of the most important pilgrimages of their life. 


  • Visit the top attractions of Lijiang and Shangri-La including the grand Tiger Leaping Gorge.
  • Lose yourselves in the extremely beautiful sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain.
  • Trek to meet snown mountains, tranquil lakes, shimmering rivers, Tibetan villages and rare animals on your way.
  • Trek with the friendly and curious Tibetan people doing one of the most important pilgrimages of their life.

Brief Itinerary

  • Day 1: Lijiang Arrival
  • Day 2: Lijiang
  • Day 3: Lijiang-Shangri-La
  • Day 4: Shangri-La -Deqin
  • Day 5: Trekk to Meili Snow Mountain
  • Day 6: Trekk to the campsite (2800m)
  • Day 7: Trekk to the camp meadow (3450m)
  • Day 8: Trekk to the Dokila pass (4560m)
  • Day 9: Trekk to the campsite (2550m) 
  • Day 10: Trekk to the pass (3820m)
  • Day 11: Trekk to the campsite(1950)
  • Day 12: Trekk to Chawalong
  • Day 13: Trekk to the campsite(2840)
  • Day 14: Trekk to the pass(3550)
  • Day 15: Trekk to the pass of Gebu la(4180)
  • Day 16: Trekk to Gebula pass(4180)
  • Day 17: Trekk to the pass of Shola(4810)
  • Day 18: Shola-Deqin
  • Day 19: Deqin-Shangri-La
  • Day 20: Shangri-La Departure

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Lijiang Arrival

Upon your arrival at the airport or train station, meet your local tour guide and driver, then transfer to the hotel for rest. If time permits, explore Lijiang Ancient Town. Lijiang Ancient Town has a history more than 800 years; it was listed as the World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO 1997. Here you will see the wonderful wooden architecture of Naxi ethnic people.

Day 2 Lijiang

Sightseeing and Activities:Yulong Snow Mountain,Spruce Meadow, Baisha Village and Murals,Baishui River and Terraces

Enjoy the sunrise of the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain and Lijiang Ancient Town in the morning, drive about 30KM to Ganhaizi Meadow(3100M), you will take the sightseeing bus for a short visiting through the Baishuihe River, take the chairlift up to visit the Spruce Meadow of Jade Dragon Snow Mountain. The cableway will be arranged according to the condition of the mountain. You will hike around 1 hours in the original forest in Spruce Meadow (3200M).
After lunch, you will enjoy the Impression Lijang Ethnic Show directed in Ganhaizi Meadow(3100M). A cultural show demonstrating the traditions and lifestyles of the Naxi, Yi and Bai peoples of the area. The show takes place inside Jade Dragon Snow Mountain Park at 3500m in an outdoor theater specifically designed to showcase the mountain which is used as a backdrop. The production itself was designed by Zhang Yimou, Fan Yue and Wang Chaoge, a cast of over 500 people, and a number of horses.In the afternoon, you’ll stroll through Baisha Old Town, which is an enchanting traditional Yunnan village. Visit the Baisha Murals about 600 years old, which is one part of the World Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO 1997.

Day 3 Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge -Shangri La

Sightseeing and Activities:Shigu Town, Tiger Leaping Gorge, Dukezong Old Town

From Lijiang, you’ll drive about 60KM to the First Bend on the Yangtze River with imposing gorge scenery, visit the Iron Chain Bridge,the Red Army’s Long March Memorial Monument in the Shigu Town. The town of Stone Drum got its name from a large, cylindrical, marble tablet shaped like a drum. The scenery is magnificent as the road running through the Lijiang valley which is filled with wheat fields and drying haystacks.
Visit the Tiger Leaping Gorge, the deepest gorge in the world. With 34 rapids of the Yangtze River, it is called the Jinsha in this area because you can find gold in the river.

Afternoon, you’ll head for Shangri-La, the former Zhongdian which is welknown as the paradise destination for every tourist. Upon arrival in Shangri-La, you will have entered the Tibetan cultural area and a landscape of barley fields and yaks scattered in the valleys. Walk around Dukezong Ancient Town, an important town of the Ancient Tea-horse Trade Caravan from Yunnan to Tibet and India.

Day 4 Shangri-La-Deqen

Sightseeing and Activities:Bengzilan Town, the Moon Bend of Jinsha River, Jinsha River Grand Canyon, Dongzhulin monastery and Baima Snow Mountain, the sunset of Meili Snow Mountain and the 13 white pagodas

In the morning, drive 6 to 7 hours to Deqin County (3400m altitude) which is 187km away
from Zhongdian through Baima Snow Mountain Nature Reserve, you will be able to view Baima Snow Mountain if the weather is clear, pass the top part of today at 4292m altitude at 156km. 
After traversing mountain ranges, you will make a short stop and have lunch at Benzilan town, take some shots on the first bend of Jinsha(Yangtze) River, Dongzhulin Monastery and Baima (white horse) Snow Mountain. The view along the way is fantastic with different kinds of trees, streams down the valley, prayer flags and stupas, and Tibetan villages. Stay at Feilaisi.
–Meili Snow Mountain (Meili Xueshan), also called Kawakarpo, is a UNESCO nature site located in Deqin County dividing Yunnan from Tibet, a wonderful place to hike and explore both nature and Tibetan culture.Rising between the Salween River and the Mekong River  in the extreme edge of Northwest Yunnan, the Meili Snow Mt. region is part of Three Parallel Rivers of Yunnan Protected Areas.Legend says that the Meili Snow Mountain is a god guarding Tibetan Buddhism. With 13 peaks over 6000m in the range, the main peak Kawakarpo (“Kawagebo” in Chinese) is a sharp snow mountain with an altitude of 6740m,which has never been conquered yet.

Day 5 Deqen-Mekong River-Meili Snow Mountain

Sightseeing and Activities:Meili Snow Mountain, Mekong River Valley, Kawa Karpo
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Try to get up early in the morning, enjoy the magic sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain. Then, drive 2:30 hrs towards the start point of the trek. We’ll drive to the south and into Mekong River Valley with a view of Kawa Karpo if the weather is fine, and a bird-eye view of winding Mekong below with tiny “castle-like” Tibetan villages nearby.
After a 2:30-hous-driving we’ll arrive the trekking start point where we’ll meet our horses with their cheerful owners. Trekking equipment and food will be loaded on the horses. Then we will have a short stretch over Mekong to a small temple, which is regarded by Tibetans as “the key “or “the permit” to the pilgrimage (Kora). Here we’ll put up our tents in the courtyard of the cozy temple. Alternatively, just set up our tents on the roof-top of Tibetan houses after a 2-hour walk more.

Day 6 the campsite (2800m) Meili Snow Mountain

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking for 7 hours
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 7 hrs to the campsite (2800m), We’ll load our ponies and say good-bye to the Mekong, and be ready to have a long climb towards Dokla pass (a mountain ridge of Kawa Karpo between Mekong- and Salween River), walking together with dozens of ponies along a winding trail, accompanied by the great sounds of our pony’s bells which gives you a feeling of being in a caravan. The trail leads us up through scattered villages on the slope, steep cliffs and old-growth forest overlooking the breathtaking Mekong river valley.
Frequently, you can encounter different species of Rhododendron, orchids and some other unknown-name wild flowers. Have Picnic lunch with hot tea and instant coffee, plus a spectacular view. We will encamp on the relatively flat slope by a running stream. The campfire will accompany us through the night.

Day 7 the camp meadow (3450m)

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to the camp meadow
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 5 hrs to the camp meadow (3450m) Today we just follow the footprints of Tibetan pilgrims. You will frequently encounter some holy places such as “Holy Caves”, where pilgrims crawl through for some certain reason and is surrounded by piled good-wish stones, old jewelry and clothing from pilgrims, prayer flags……so mysterious! At that moment, if you want to speak to someone just whisper to each other to pay your respect.
Have Picnic lunch by a running stream. Afterwards, the pilgrimage path brings you to a great meadow named Yongshiton, with a murmuring stream flowing through it and surrounded by Rocky Mountains. There are some shepherd’s sheds as shelters for pilgrims as well as for herds of yaks and horses. Here is our campsite tonight.

Day 8 the Dokila pass (4560m)

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to Dokila pass
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 9 hrs. Today is a tough day, which is a sort of challenge with a good deal of excitement. Morning we leave our charming campsite to ascend up through the old-growth forest and then arrive at the tree-line, where we can see the Dokila pass (4560m), which we are going to climb over.
Have Picnic lunch with hot tea and instant coffee will be served. After a 6-hour-climb, we will be at the top of the pass, up there the land is covered by the piles of prayer flags, bowls, yak skulls…. and the view is great. From here we’ll drop down along a zigzag “holy path” with pilgrims to another meadow (3670m) for camping just inside the TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region)

Day 9 the campsite (2550m) Meili Snow Mountain

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to the camopsite(2550)
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 7 hrs. Following a crystal-clear river into a long valley covered by immense forest. If you are lucky enough, some wild animals could be encountered. After a 5-hours-trek, we come to a shrine for pilgrims, where they left offerings of clothes, bowls, tsamba, money and so on for their next lives.
They believe that they will retrace back along this path after being reborn. Picnic lunch with hot tea and instant coffee will be served. From the shrine we will descend down to the campsite (2550m), located by a tributary of Salween river on the other side of Mt Kawa Karpo.

Day 10 the pass (3820m) Meili Snow Mountain

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to the pass(3820)
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 9 hrs. The pilgrimage path zigzags up through the untouched dense forest of fir, spruce, oak and pine trees with the beautiful “hanging” moss. After a 6-hour-climbing, we reach another pass (3820m) with a shrine, where there is a mass of offering of prayer flags, clothes, jewelry and so on. This is a good viewpoint for Salween River valley, Gaoligong mountain range and a Tibetan village named Aben in a deep valley down below.
Then downhill to Aben village, where we can sleep on the roof top of Tibetan family, and first chance in the trek: beers, sprite, pepsi are available here as a big luxury. This is also a good chance for our ponymen to have a nice relaxed night with local people. 

Day 11 Salween River

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to campsite(1950)
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 5 hrs. Today we descend down to meet Salween River, en route we’ll enjoy some fascinating stone carvings of Tibetan words and Buddhist images on the cliff, where is revered by Tibetan pilgrims as a shrine. But it is also a pity to see that some of the Buddhist carvings ruined during the Cultural Revolution.Afterwards, we walk along a dirt road to our campsite (1950m) by Salween amongst the woods of cactus.

Day 12 Salween River

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to Chawalong
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 4 hrs. We carry on by the Salween northward, so arid here but still some Tibetan hamlets scattered on the steep slopes of either side of the Salween. Eventually we come to a comparatively densely populated tiny town (Chawalong) with an old tiny temple. Camp overnight here.

Day 13 The Kora path to the campsite (2840m)

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to the campsite(2840)
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek about 4hrs. Today, we leave the bank of the Salween, following the mysterious Kora path which leads us to climb up through some charming Tibetan villages with some interesting tiny temples. We could have a fabulous chance to visit local families with hospitable hosts. Yak butter tea is the priority drink offered to guests here.
Eventually, the Kora path takes us to the campsite (2840m near a cozy nunnery on the slope. Here you could have a nice relaxed afternoon free just saving enough energy for the next-day’s long climbing.

Day 14 The Kora path to a pass (3350m)

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to the pass(3550)
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 8 hrs. The Kora path is winding its way to climb up to a pass (3350m), with mysterious prayer flags and breathtaking birds-eye views of the Salween River below. Our shepherds will offer a cup of hot tea or coffee here – you will feel that you are at the top of the world at that moment.
Afterwards, the path descends down through fir-tree forest and comes to a “holy spring” for picnic lunch.
From here the path have come into being a sandy winding one on the mountain sides, while below there is a snake-like tributary (Weiqu) of Salween with some fascinating Tibetan villages on the river banks. Then just cross Weiqu River by a typical Titetan-style bridge to a delightful village (2380m) dwelling on the arid mountain side. Here we set up our tents on the roof tops of the huge Tibetan houses.

Day 15 the Kora path to the pass of Gebu la (4180m)

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to the pass of Gebu la(4180)
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek about 7hrs. Today is a big ascent of nearly 1400m, we zigzag up along the Kora path heading for the pass of Gebu la(4180m), constantly being accompanied by the great views of the arid Weiqu river vally and rocky peaks on the opposite side of Salween.

Then, enter a forest and keep walking through till the campsite (3960m), perched on the steep slope of Gebula pass dominated by some big snow-capped peaks from afar and spectacular river gorges down below. I guess it is the most difficulty day for our ponies with so much camp stuff on their backs.

Day 16 the Kora path to Gebula Pass (4180m)

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to Gebula pass
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 7 hrs. From our campsite we have only a home-stretch distance to climb up, to Gebula pass (4180m), where there is another shrine for pilgrims. Here our pony men always hang their new prayer flags on the trees as a sort of offering for a good wish. Afterwards, we descend along a winding path through an immense forest of fir, spruce, birch, oak, pine trees mixed with bamboo and rhododendron.
Then, from time to time, the Kora path is being accompanied by the great views of the snaking Weiqu river blow, and spectacular snow peaks of Mt Kawa Karpo (in fine weather). Eventually, we cross Weiqu River again and ascend up to our campsite (3210m) by a tiny Tibetan village.

Day 17 The Kora path to the highest pass (4810m) of Shola

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to the pass of Shola(4810)
Accommodation:Camping tonight
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek about 9hrs. The Kora path leads up steeply through the oak woods with beautiful “hanging moss”. After a 3-hour-climb, the path here is getting more gentle through the shrubs and being accompanied by the peaks of Kawa Karpo to the south.
From here the path is continuing to be heading for the highest pass(4810m) of Shola, the pass is revered by Tibetan pilgrims as a shrine, where is piled by an enormous mass of prayer flags, pilgrims walking sticks and clothes….meanwhile Shola range is the watershed between Salween and Mekong River, as well as the frontier of Yunnan and TAR (Tibetan Autonomous Region). From here we are leaving Tibetan territory and steps into The Mekong valley of Yunnan until the campsite (4130m).

Day 18 Meilishui River – Deqin

Sightseeing and Activities:Trekking to Meilishui River
Meals:Breakfast, Lunch

Trek 5 hrs, and drive 4 hrs today it is the final stretch of a 300-KM-long path of the Kora, a long descending path along a stunning valley with a crystal-clear river of Meilishui, en route the various pilgrimage sites in the immense forest and many wild flowers.
Eventually, Meilishui River takes us to meet Mekong again, where we’ll reach the finishing point of the Kora.Tibetan pilgrims think what we have done could result in considerable merit. What do you think? A good job! From here we drive back to Deqing town for having a “great shower” which we have been missing for more than two weeks.

Day 19 Deqen-Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities:Feilaisi Monastery,Tibetan Village

Visit Feilaisi Monastery and enjoy the sunrise of Meili Snow Mountain in the early morning, then drive back to Shangri-La, have a nice experience of Yangtze River Grand Canyon, Baima Snow Mountain again on the way back.
–Feilai Temple means Guibading Temple in Tibetan. Legend has it that the temple was built by Sakyamuni Buddha who flew to the temple location from Tibet. This is the place for Tibetans to pay homage to the sacred mountains and it is said that circumambulators must get the key in Qidengge.

Day 20 Departure from Shangri-La

Sightseeing and Activities:Shangri-La Departure

Departure from Shangri-La.

Recommended Hotels

Destination 5 Star 4 Star 3 Star
Lijiang Lijiang InterContinental Resort Wangfu Hotel Louwailou Hotel
Shangri-La Shangri-La Resort Zhaxidele Hotel Shenqu Hotel
Deqin Deqin Songzan Meili Hotel Benzilan Lishi Hotel Kawaboge Hotel
Feilaisi / Feilaisi Mingzhu Hotel Flying Charm Grang Hotel

Service Included:

  • Admission fees for all of the sightseeing spots listed in the itinerary;
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary;
  • Hotels as listed in the itinerary;
  • Private English-speaking tour guide;
  • Private vehicle for transfers & sightseeing with skilled driver;
  • Service charge & government taxes;
  • Luggage transfers between airports and hotels;
  • High speed train tickets from Kunming to Dali (2nd class seats).

Service Excluded:

  • Any arrival and departure international airfares or train tickets;
  • Chinese visa fees;
  • Excess baggage charged by Airlines;
  • Single room supplement;
  • Tips to guides and drivers;
  • Personal expenses and gratuities to service staff;
  • Personal travel accident insurance;
  • All optional programs.

Travel Tips:

  • Visitors are advised to always carry changes of clothing due to the large variations in temperature between day and night.
  • The climate is relatively dry, so drink more water every day.
  • Protecting oneself from strong UV radiation at high altitude.
  • Protecting oneself from altitude sickness. Lessen the effects of altitude sickness, avoid strenuous exercise and have plenty of rest.
  • Respect local customs , habits, and religious beliefs.
  • Situated on the northern edge of the tropical zone, Xishuangbanna area is hot, humid and rainy; don’t forget to take an umbrella or a raincoat when go out.
  • When take photos, please pay attention to your safety, do not shoot in dangerous areas.