Litang lies in the far western reaches of the Sichuan Province, high up on the Tibetan Plateau. Surrounded by beautiful grasslands and snow capped mountains, it’s remoteness gives a visitor the feeling of discovery that few places can still offer. At over 4,000 meters altitude, the town sits higher than Lhasa, and is one of the highest cities in the world. The town itself is host to a beautiful monastery complex which is known for being the birthplace of the 7th and 10th Dalai Lama. Even the journey itself is remarkable, as you rise through windy mountain roads until suddenly breaking free into the Tibetan Plateau through some of the highest passes in the world.
The key attraction to this trip, though, happens on the grasslands around the town. Every year, various Tibetan communities gather in the fields and set up tents, where they will live for 4-5 days celebrating their traditional culture through horse races and competitions that showcase the rider’s mastery of horsemanship. After the races are done, there is singing and dancing throughout the encampment as the men women and children don traditional garb and perform traditional dances and songs. One of the best parts of the entire experience is that the whole festival is not performed for tourists, but is instead done for themselves, and the authenticity of the celebration is undeniable.
The planned itinerary is as follows*†:
– Arrival in Chengdu and welcome dinner with a short summary of the days to come.
– Morning: Meet at hotel and head out from Chengdu and make our way to Kanding.
– Afternoon: Free afternoon to explore the town of Kanding that day and begin acclimatising to the altitude.
– Evening: Dinner and overnight in Kanding.
– Morning: Continue our journey towards Litang. Along the way, we will have many opportunities to stop and take photos of the ever-changing landscapes of the Himalayan foothills and Tibetan Plateau.
– Afternoon: Arrive in Litang and settle into Hotel. Have a short discussion about Tibetan culture, and approaching people to take their photos.
– Evening: Dinner at a Tibetan restaurant.
– Morning and afternoon: After breakfast, we’ll head to the Litang Monastery and explore the complex. On the way, we’ll have a chance to walk through small neighborhoods filled with friendly people. Once at the Monastery, we’ll wander through the many different areas and see one of the largest sitting Buddha’s in the world.
– Evening: Lecture on action photography.
– All day: Head out for a full day on the grasslands at the Horse Festival. Witness amazing feats of horsemanship, and practice your action photography as you try to capture those incredible moments.
– Free day to either return to the Horse Festival or wander the town of Litang on your own. If you choose to go to the Horse Festival, round trip transportation will be arranged.
– Time to start heading back to Chengdu, again stopping at Kanding on the return journey.**
– Free evening.
– Return to Chengdu. Free afternoon.
– Evening: Farewell dinner, where we will review some of the trip’s photos.
– Transfer to airport and departure.
*The itinerary may vary depending on the specific dates of the horse festival
†1st night of accommodation not included in the trip cost.
**Optional 3 day extension to the Seda Buddhist Academy is available. Inquire if interested.
To read more of my experience in Litang, click here.
Litang, Horse, Festival, Travel, Sichuan, Trip, Journey, Adventure, Sightseeing, China, Photo, Photography, Holiday, Tibet, Tibetan