Trekking Gongga On Your Own

Introduction the Trekking the West Side of Gongga Mountain


Frequently Asked Questions:

How many days does it take?

Minimum four days, but you are missing so much.  Suggested 7 days.  See itinerary below.


Can I do it alone?

You can, but you shouldn’t.  On my way up the pass, my guide pointed out several cremation sites of trekkers who were foolish enough to try it on their own.  Two minimum and three is great.


Do I need a guide?

You don’t need a guide, but I would recommend one.  The top of the Riwuqie pass is not very easy to navigate and you are nearly 5,000m high.


How many horses do we need?

The local village of Lao Yu Lin from where the horses and horsemen come has mandated that there be a minimum of two horses (one for the horseman and one for you) and that they are hired for a minimum of 10 days (which enables them to make the return trip home.)  One horse can usually carry two trekker’s backpacks.  Generally for every 3-4 horses you will have to hire one horseman.


When is the best time to do this trek?

Late May and June have good weather.  October is cold, but good weather.  The passes are generally not crossable between December and May.


What is the highest elevation along the trek?

4,900m according to my gps


Should a trekker acclimatize?

Acclimatization is always important.  You never know when or if you will be the unluckily recipient of the killer altitude sickness.  To really acclimatize I think it takes nearly a month of being at high altitude.  2-5 days of day trips from our hostel in Kangding should help you out significantly.


What are the approximate costs?

Budget Gongga Mountain West-side Trek Price Estimates

Expense Per Day # of Days Total
Horseman (if you need a horse, you will need to hire a horse caretaker)



Cook (optional)


Horse (minimum two horses) 85/horse


Private SUV returning to Kangding


Private “Minibus Style Vehicle” 700-800
Hitch Hiking back Around 150/person
Gongga Monastery Park Entry fee 25/person
Gongga Monastery overnight 20/bed
Gongga Temple Tour (ticket to get into the ancient part of the temple) 15/person
Tent (buy new or rent)
Stove (buy new or rent)










Suggested Itinerary:

Day One:

Early morning departure from Zhilam Hostel (2,700m) to LaoYuLin Village (3,200m) (rmb 60 by taxi) (20 minutes).  Meet up with horseman and horses.  Hike to either AmBaLa or Xia Riwuqie (4,200m).

Day Two: (optional)

Explore the surroundings around AmBaLa and/or Xia Riwuqie.  Try to get to the glacier lake which sits beneath Mt. Riwuqie Feng and Mt. Leduomanyin.

Day Three:

From Xia Riwuqie climb up to Shang Riwuqie (4,200m) and then summit the infamous Riwuqie Pass (4,900m).   This is the toughest part of your trek and can take a good 8-10 hours.  It is also the most easy to get lost in if without a guide.  Descend the pass down to Moxi Gou Base Camp OR to the lake (+3-5 hours downhill) and camp.

Day Four:

Hike past the Winter Pasture along this steep valley.  About 3 hours slightly downhill followed by 3 uphill ending at the Gongga Temple (3,740m).  You’ll pass all sorts of grazing grounds, meadows, creaks, dense forests and more.  Keep an eye out on the other side of the valley for bear, deer, or the mysterious Yeti (rarely seen but known to live in this area).  Towards the end of the day’s trek is a split in the path in a beautiful forest with prayer flags.  Take a left to Gongga Temple or a right to Tsimei Village.  You can spend the night in the monastery for a mere 15-25 rmb or camp outside.  This remote monastery was built in the 1200rds and has morning sunrises that view the spectacular Gongga Mountain.

Day Five:

Hang out at Gongga Monastery for a day or two.  It is beautiful.  Try trekking to the Gongga Base Camp or go bird watching.

Day Six:

Trek to Tsimei Village (about 1.5 hours downhill followed by 45 minutes uphill) in the afternoon.  From Tsimei it is sometimes possible to find a car or motorcycle to take you back to the paved road where vehicles can more easily be found to bring you back to Kangding.  Spend the night in a local family hostel.   (around 25rmb) If you have chosen the Premium package or a private car return trip, we can try to have the vehicle meet you in Tsimei Village (depending on road conditions).

Day Seven:

Return to Kangding.  Tsimei Village to Shang Mu Ju to Sha-de to Pengbuxi (visit two ancient towers?) to JiaKenba (beautiful Tibetan farming village and optional overnight stay.)

Optional Extension:

Another great place to visit is Yu Long Xi Village.  You can either get a car there from Shang Mu Ju OR trek there from Gongga Monastery.  The ridge on the East side of YuLongXi offers beautiful views of Gongga and the ridge on the West side is full of colorful cold springs and geisers.  Well worth a day or two visit.




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