Meili Snow Mountains, Deqin
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CBP 2003
 Home >> Destinations >> Yunnan >> Meili Snow Mountains >> Pilgrimage routes
Updated on 1.9.2005


Inner route:

Yubeng Shenpu (Sacred Waterfalls). 雨崩神瀑

Route mark: No route mark. Look for Tibetan prayer flags which can be frequently found along the trail.
Walking time & Map: 3 to 5 days. A good map made by Trekker's Home.
Food/Water: During the peak season for circumambulation (normally in autumn), some tent shops are set up along the trail to supply noodles and water for pilgrims. During other periods except winter, you can find food and water in the villages along the trail.


1. Feilaisi Viewpoint (3360M) - Hot Springs (2680M)
Follow a trail descending steeply to the Mekong river, cross a bridge and climb up along the terrace fields to Xidang Village (2560M) (see left photo 2). Xidang has electricity and several rustic lodges. You'd better hike 2km further up to Hot Springs (Wenquan) and overnight at Wenquan Lodge in order to start the second stage early in the next morning.

2. Hot Springs - Nazongla Pass (3680M) - Yubeng (3100M)
If you go to Hot Springs or Mingyong Glacier from Deqin by bus, you have to stop at the ticket office, located just in front of the bridge over Lancang River. All travelers are asked to pay Y60.
The tough, 1000-meter-high ascent from Hot Springs to Nazongla Pass takes 21/2 to 3 hours for a fit hiker without carrying any heavy bag. The path zigzagging under the canopy of trees is quite damp and muddy. A Tibetan house, located at one-third of the route, sells snacks and drinks. No breathtaking view can be spotted at Nazongla Pass. Another alternative is to ride up on a horse or a mule. You can easily reach the pass within 2 hours. It costs Y100 from Hot Springs to Nazongla Pass either for riding or carrying heavy bags.
The descent from Nazongla Pass to the upper Yubeng Village takes one hour. Upon arriving at the village, take the trail turning to the left, walk further down to a stream, cross a bridge and climb a small slope up to the lower Yubeng Village. At the end of the village, you can find Aqinbu's Shenpu Lodge. (See left photo 1. The snow-crowned peak is Mt. Miacimu of 6054M.)

3. Trek around Yubeng
Yubeng Shenpu (Sacred Waterfalls, 3650M): It takes two hours to reach Shenpu from Aqinbu's Lodge. A climb of about 500 meters . The higher you go, the farther you seem to be from Shenpu (see left photo 4), the most sacred destination of circumambulation in Meili. Backdropped by tantalizing Mt. Miacimu, other lofty peaks as well as imposing glaciers, the valley is flamboyantly adorned by thousands of Tibetan prayer flags.

Cuoka Sacred Lake: 1300M higher than Yubeng. The ascent takes 5 to 6 hours.
- First three hours is a tough and long climb in a primitive forest where you may encounter local leeches, especially active after the rain. The ordeal will be rewarded later by a spectacular landscape when you reach the high meadow plateau at 4050M.
- Another one-hour climb, you will climb over a range (alt. 4300M), and reach Cuoka Pasture. There is a collapsed hut.
- Last hour: from Cuoka Pasture to Cuoka Lake (alt. 4385M).
I didn't do this trek. Part of the above information is based on Laoxie's article in Chinese posted on June 1st, 2003.The return trek takes 3 to 4 hours. This one-day excursion is only reserved for strong hikers. Before June, the upper plateau is often covered by snow. Bring enough food and ask Aqinbu to find a good guide for you. It may be more reasonable to do this trek in two days and overnight camp at Cuoka Pasture.

Base camp (3680M): There are several hiking possibilities proposed by CNCOOL.

4A: Yubeng - Hot Springs - Xidang - Mingyong Glacier
From the lower Yubeng Village, it takes 11/2 or 2 hours to climb back to Nazongla Pass. Horseback riding costs Y70. The further descent to Hot Springs is not easy due to the fairly muddy and slippery trail. Count another 2 hours for this stage. From Hot Springs to Mingyong Glacier (around 12km), there is no bus service. Walk along the main road, you may get a free ride to Mingyong.

4B: Yubeng - Ninong
4B: If you don't like to go back by Nazongla Pass, the same route that you hiked in, you can venture the steep narrow path along a stream and descend to Ninong Village. A local guide is indispensable for this trek as well as any of the following treks. You can stay overnight at the home of village's chef in Ninong.

5A: Ninong (2200M) - Yongzong (2540M) - Mingyong Glacier.
5B: Ninong - Qidingge (3150M) - Deqin.
5C: Ninong - Yunlin.

From Ninong, there are three possibilities for the next stage(see map): 5A. Pick the trail back to Xidang, in the northwest direction. When the trail meets the main road, walk along the road to Mingyong Glacier. 5B, 5C: Walk down to Mekong River from Ninong, cross the bridge. You reach the path that used to be the "Tea and Horse Trade Road". 5B: Climb to Qidingge, a 900-meter-ascent. Walk further to the Deqin-Weixi vehicular road. It's possible to hitchhike to Deqin from there. 5C: From the bridge, take the south Yunlin direction, walk along Mekong River without too many climbs, pass Jiabi Village. Yunlin is located along the Deqin-Weixi vehicular road, where exists a daily bus service to Deqin. From Yunlin, go further south to Yangtsa, the point of departure for the full circuit of Kawa Karpo. As per a traveler, this route is long and not very interesting. Most of travellers go back from Ninong to Feilaisi and rent a car to Yangtsa, Yongzhi.


Starting point:
1. Feilaisi Viewpoint, 10km from Deqin. A taxi from Deqin costs Y20 to Y30. Otherwise you wait for any bus in Deqin which is heading for the north. The Feilaisi monastery is 800M away from this viewpoint.
2. Hot Springs (Wenquan): In autumn, the peak season for the pilgrimage, one or two daily buses connect Deqin to Hot Springs (Y18). For other seasons, take a bus to Xidang: Deqin --> Xidang: 8:00,15:00 / Xidang --> Deqin: 8:00, 16:00. The departure time in the afternoon is dependent on the number of passengers. The bus might leave three or four hours before scheduled time if there are enough people.

Finishing point: 1. Hot Springs / Xidang. 2. Mingyong Glacier. 3. Yunlin.
1. In autumn 2003, two daily buses were scheduled to leave Hot springs for Deqin at 8:00 and 15:00. However, when I hiked back from Yubeng and arrived at Hot Springs at 14:00, I was told that the 15:00 bus fully packed, had left at 13:00. I had to rent a taxi with another traveler for Y150 to Deqin. During the low season, you have to go to Xidang to wait for the bus.
2. See Mingyong Glacier.
3. Yunlin is located along the Deqin-Weixi vehicular road, where exists a daily bus service to Deqin.

Mingyong Glacier, Lotus Temple (Lianhua Miao).

A well-paved road, souvenir shops as well as comfortable hotels have transformed Mingyong into a popular tourist destination. From the parking at the end of Mingyong Village (2450M), you can walk to the Taizi Temple (2940M, 7.5km). Horseback riding costs Y63 for the same journey. Continue along the main trail, and climb another 1.4km, you'll reach the Lotus Temple (3480M).

Deqin --> Mingyong Village: 8:00, 15:00 / Mingyong Village --> Deqin: 8:00, 16:00
Double check the schedule at Deqin bus station upon arrival. There is no bus running between Mingyong and Xidang or Hot Springs. You can either rent a taxi or walk to Hot Springs.

*Full pilgrimage: the circuit of Kawa Karpo.

Time: The full circuit of Kawa Karpo takes 12 days or more.
Location: Half of the circuit lies in Deqin County and the other half lies in the Tsawarong District of Tibet.
Difficulty: Difficult. Several 4000-meter-high passes to be ascended in a region without any access to a vehicular road. To rent horses for gear and supplies, contact the owner of Trekker's Home in Deqin.
Map: The circuit of Kawa Karpo. A map offered by Jihuoniao Cafe.
A good description of this circuit can be found at Globaladrenaline who organizes the expedition for this wonderful circuit. The
starting point is in Yangtsa. Stay the first night in Yongju(2489M), then head for west, climb towards Dokarla Pass (4479M) in the next two days. From the forth to the fifth day, descend to the Tsawarong District in Tibet and trek along the Salween River (Nu Jiang in Chinese). Go north from Lhakangla (1700M) to the town of Zhanang(910M) in the sixth and seventh days. During the eighth day, climb to the Tondula Pass (3352M) and stay overnight in Gebu (2340M). For the next two days, ascend to a pass at an elevation of 4300 meters. Then take a one-day rest. For the last two days, climb the last pass called Shula (4815M) and hike down to the Mekong River. The finishing point is the town of Meilishui where you can find buses to go back to Deqin.

For more information, see Trek details on

A full description of this trek in Chinese is available on CCTV's Travel Forum: Part 1, Part 2.

*This circuit becomes my dream. I hope that I can realize it sometime in the next two years. The above information has been collected from other travelers and the website of Globaladrenaline.

CBP 2003
Traveled to Meili in September 2003
Copyright Chinabackpacker