Guest blogger Jack Plumb, of NGO Frontier, explores “Roof of the World” Tibet on this ethical adventure…
To the north east of the highest mountain range in the world lies Tibet. Despite its tumultuous history and ongoing struggles, Tibet has managed to retain much of its cultural heritage and is a country like no other. This secretive corner of the world has only recently become more accessible to travellers.
Here, Frontier operates the Tibet Ethical Adventure Trail giving adventurous travellers the opportunity to experience an ancient and untouched culture amongst the stunning beauty of some of the most savage mountains in the world: The Himalayas.
What to expect on the trail
Upon arrival in Beijing you will be greeted by a Frontier representative. All in-country travel is included and much of it is by overland train giving you an unrivalled opportunity to see stunning Chinese countryside. You’ll travel to Lhasa, the residence of the Dalai Lama prior to his exile and capital of Tibet Autonomous Region. While in Lhasa you will visit the stunning Potala Palace, the bustling Barkhor Square and pious Jokhang Temple.
When travelling to more rural areas, the striking, timeless life led by the villagers is a humbling experience, and as they gather in the local tea-houses you will feel steeped in their wonderfully stoic lifestyle. Journey further, and herders enveloped in the shadows of birds of prey circling towering mountain peaks, is an awe-inspiring vision of ancient Tibet.
Accommodation during the tour consists of comfortable hostels, hotel shares, homestays and tea houses.
Traditional Tibetan food consists of cured meats, barley and dairy products. Meat is often of very high quality and spiced with salt ginger and other spices. Tibetans enjoy tea and a Tibetan liver sausage is definitely worth a try! Food is not included in the tour costs but with many restaurants and street food vendors, there is a plethora of interesting and delicious delicacies available. Vegetarians can be catered for comfortably and much of the tradition cuisine is vegetarian.
Recommended for… Anyone interested in the local customs and culture of Tibet
Be aware that… The trip lasts for four weeks (with monthly departures), and you must be 18 years or over to join
We acknowledge that tourism in Tibet can be a contraversial subject, but there are ways to visit Tibet responsibly – here are some tips on ethical travel to Tibet:
- Tourism to Tibet is encouraged by the Dalai Lama (see more here).
- When visiting Tibet, ensure your custom goes to local small businesses operated and owned by Tibetans.
- When visiting temples and other culturally significant areas, a donation is encouraged. Make sure you donate directly to a monk or nun.
- Refrain from talking about the Dalai Lama and engaging in any conversations of a political nature while in Tibet.
- Be careful when taking photos – photography of security staff is strictly prohibited.
- Make sure your ethical adventure is well planned to avoid any scrutiny from Chinese officials regarding your itinerary – this ensures no Tibetan national is subjected to any uneccessary contact.
About the author: Jack Plumb is an Online Journalism Intern at Frontier, an international non-profit volunteering NGO. Check out Frontier’s blog ‘Into the Wild’ for more gap year ideas to help make your time out meaningful. For more information about travel and volunteering opportunities available please visit www.frontier.ac.uk.