My sister’s and my most memorable tour, and an experience of a life time was our 16 day adventure through the Kham Tibet region with Mystic Tibet Tours.
From Shangri-la to Chengdu, whether driving, hiking or touring, we had many laughs and lots of fun. Plus, our Tibetan guide and driver Gonkho, taught us so much about Tibetan and Buddhist cultures. We covered over 2300 kilometers and loved every minute of the trip! I can’t agree more with what others have said in their reviews: Traveling with Gonkho is like traveling with a friend.
Leading up to our trip, Gonkho worked closely with us to personalize our tour. Once underway, he provided the flexibility to add or modify our itinerary, within reason, as our journey progressed.
We had some great hikes, visited monasteries, nunneries, temples old and new, old villages and had a very interesting homestay.
When Gonkho arrived at our hotel in Shangri-la he greeted us with a big smile and hug! Exchanging pleasantries with our host, he learned the host had family in Gatan-Ding Village which was slightly off our itinerary. In coordination with our Shangri-La host, Gonkho readily agreed to take a side trip to Gatan-Ding Village to deliver presents from the family in Shangri-la. Upon arrival, Gonkho engaged with the family like old friends. What was intended to be just a short stop to deliver presents, turned into a
wonderful afternoon with the Tibetan family. It would have been a missed opportunity if not for Gonkho’s flexibility to make the detour from our itinerary.
Gonkho is extremely professional and personable. With his warm, friendly demeanor he easily engaged with people along our 2300 km journey in the Himalayas. Gonkho’s fluency in Tibetan, Chinese and English languages and his gregarious personality opened many doors to simple but fun and educational opportunities through out our trip.
One such occasion, while my sister and I were taking pictures at a nunnery, Gonkho struck up conversations with several nuns who were busily splintering wood, making wicks for candle for the temple. The next minute we were invited for homemade soup and a glimpse of life in a nunnery. On another occasion, we walked into a small Tibetan restaurant where two men were taking and enjoying a noodle soup. A monk arrived and then another couple. In short order, Gonkho had everyone engaged in conversation to include the owner of the establishment. It was if they were all old friends. We learned the first two men were Nomads, and were interested to know about my sister and I and why we were visiting Tibet. Soon we were all laughing, enjoying the food, and the company and taking pictures of the group. A spontaneous dinner party with a group of strangers! My sister and I were the only English speakers, but thanks to Gonkho, and his great translating skills, we too were able to be part of the conversation. A few days later, while visiting a nunnery, Gonkho observed the food prep area and proceeded to lead us into the kitchen where nuns were preparing lunch for a 1000 more! The young nuns got a kick out of our interests and we got to see the behind the scene operations! Another memorable experience was when Gonkho suggested we take a public bus instead of walk back to our hotel. What a hoot! Gonkho had everyone on the small bus interacting, laughing and posing with us for pictures as he was helping elderly people on and off the bus.
Gonkho’s fun loving demeanor and spontaneity opened many doors allowing us to sample daily life in Tibetan villages, monasteries and private homes.
We all loved to take pictures. Gonkho knew the best vantage points for scenery and never hesitated to stop to allow us to snap a shot.
Gonkho knew the region like the back of his hand. He sometimes veered off the main road to lesser known roads, allowing us the opportunity get closer to the scenic beauty of the Kham region. We felt extremely comfortable in his SUV and with his skillful yet cautious driving through mountain passes, canyons and unpaved country roads.
Another big plus for us was that Gonkho loved to hike! He guided us through several stunning all day hikes which we never could have navigated on our own.
After our trip ended, we had the opportunity to meet Gonkho’s family, spending an evening together sampling Tibetan food and beer while listening to Tibetan music.
It was a wonderful and memorable evening.
We had 16 days filled with many laughs, memories and experiences of a lifetime. There are many travel agencies to choose from for tours of Tibet. Only a few are Tibetan owned. We were fortunate in our selection of Tibetan owned Mystic Tibet Tours and so lucky to have Gonkho as our tour guide, driver and fellow hiker. My sister and I can’t agree more, If you want to experience the real Tibet, we highly recommend Mystic Tibet Tours.