Kangding is the capital city of Ganzi Tibetan Prefecture. It is one of the Tibetan towns in Sichuan and the first stop from the traditional China to Tibet. A Kangding hiking tour goes into the tranquil valleys and by turquoise lakes as well as the holy mountain of Yala and Tagong Grassland. Kangding Hiking is an adventure to see both nature and culture of Kham Tibet. Sichuan is a big place and there are a lot yet to be explored. A hiking trip to in Kangding is a well-paced camping hiking with a medium difficulty. It is one of the hidden treasures of China and a place not polluted and troubled. It is not very far from Chengdu and a perfect week-long hiking adventure in China.
A hiking trip to Kangding starts from Chengdu by driving. The drive takes about 7 to 8 hours at present. There are scheduled buses departing Chengdu at Xinnanmen to Kangding every hour until noon. The drive itself is also interesting as the landscape will change from farming plains into mountain valleys. Elevation in Chengdu is at about 500 meters and elevation in Kangding is at about 2500 meters. Although there is also an airplane you can take from Chengdu every morning. The flight takes about 1 hour and it arrives at Kangding airport at the elevation of about 4200 meters. It is a lot of elevation gain in such a short time. If using the flight, you will need another two hours’ transfer from the airport to Kangding. For a standard Kangding hiking, it is usually arrive there by driving.
The best season to hike in Kangding is from May to October although sometimes April and November are also available. December to the next March is the winter in Kangding. A hiking to Kangding is not available as the snow will usually block the walking trail at the high pass. Summer is the best time to do a Kangding Hiking. July and Agust are nor cold and the mountains are green and flowers are blooming. Fall is also a good season as the mountain valleys will turn into golden colors. But hiking in Kangding in fall, the weather maybe a little cold especially during night time when usually it will drop below zero. Kangding has the most rain in June and September but this is the generally weather information. Temperature and rainfall changes a lot when you are in the mountains at high elevation. At Tagong, the other terminal of Kangding Hiking, it is drier and colder
Duration and Transfer
Around Kangding there are the magnificent Minya Konka, Buddhist town of Tagong, Mugecuo Lake and Mount Yala. A hiking trip in Kangding starts from 20km north of the town of Kangding at Zhonggucun at the elevation of 3100 meters. The hiking is in total 5 days and the driving from Chengdu to Kangding it is better to plan it as one day. After the hiking, you will end in Tagong and from Tagong it is 500km away from Chengdu. From Tagong you can either drive for 2 hours to the airport to catch the flight back to Chengdu or drive back to Chengdu for two days either via Kangding or Danba. There is also a shorter version of this Kangding Hiking which in total 3 days of hiking. This hiking will skip the high mountain pass to save two days and of course will skip some good views. At present in 2016, the motorway from Chengdu to Kangding is under construction, but after it is finished, the time spent on driving will be much less.
Travelers to do a Kangding Hiking will have the possibility of having mountain sickness. In Kangding the elevation is at about 2500 meters and at the hiking start point in Zhonggucun, the elevation is at about 3100 meters. It is better to acclimatize yourself in Kangding one night and go higher slowly. The highest point of this hiking is at around 4800 meters on fourth day of hiking. This Kangding hiking is not a strenuous one but the elevation are quite high so you need to be aware this while hiking. The precautions you can consider to minimize the chance of suffering from mountain sickness include drink a lot of water, keep warm and try to eat healthy before you go. Avoiding yourself getting a cold is essential as the temperature changes quickly from day time to night time.
A Kangding Hiking trip is not long and strenuous but fun and enjoyable. The difficulty level is medium considering the elevation and walking distance. But you still need to be fit enough to do this hiking. You can always consider your doctor before you go if you have never been to this height before. Experienced hikers also need to be aware of the walking. On the hiking passing the pass, it involves three to four hours of walking up and after the pass it is another 3 to 4 hours of walking down. It will be a lot of pressure on your knees.
Luggage and Porters
Chengdu is the stopover city for a Kangding Hiking trip. You can leave things you don’t need for the hiking and come back to collect them after the hiking. A Kangding hiking trip use packhorses as porters. A pack horse can carry up 50kg to 60kg of bags. Usually you can hire the horse at Zhonggucun at the hiking start location. A horse man will usually be assigned to the horse to watch the horse and feed the horse. So they don’t rent horse solely because they need to bring back the horse from end of the hiking. From a local perspective, a horse carrying luggage is different as a horse carrying a human. Carrying a human will usually cost more money as a human is heavier and needs more care. Not every horse is friendly so when you need or want to use a horse to ride, the horsemen will give you a horse that is considered mild and strong.
Kangding Hking Packing list
trekking boots, trekking hat, Jacket/windbreaker, Base layer/T-shirt, Walking trousers, Thermals, Fleece, Socks
Backpack, -15C down Sleeping bag (mummy), Water bottle, Walking poles, Bum bag
Waterproof, Sunglasses, Sun block, Flashlight/headlamp, Insect repellent, Toiletries
Camera, Cell phone, Charger, batteries
First-aid kit, Personal medications
Kanggin Hiking trip is not a well-known hiking among visitors to Sichuan but it is a really beautiful hiking and camping adventure. A suggested hiking itinerary has 5 days of hiking going in from Kangding and coming out at Tagong, visiting totally wild valleys and authentic Buddhist town of Tagong. It is a very good hiking vacation for families. You won’t miss nature as well as culture essentials of Kangding. There is no age limit for this hiking and it is open to everyone. The campsites are all very nice and the walking is not very strenuous.
Elevation and Walking Distance
The walking starts from Zhonggucun of Kangding at elevation of 3100 meters. In this total 5-day walking, the ascent is in total about 2000 meters and total descent is about 1500 meters. Among the walking days, the difficult day is the day that you will need to walk up for 700 meters and walk down for 800 meters. Daily walking distance is about 12km. Except the day you will hike over the pass, the rest days you will be walking on gradual terrains.
Landscape and Trails under Foot
The walking trails are former caravan trails used by former caravans. It was part of Tea-horse road trails. The trails are basically very fine trails except if it is too wet, some sections can be a little muddy. And there are also some rivers you need to cross if you are hiking in summer time, because usually in the summer the rivers become bigger and the former bridges will be probably destroyed already. The trails in the valleys are fine horse trails but the trail by the pass at elevation over 4500+ meters, the trail turns into rocky and slippery, that you need to be careful while walking on this. These trails are used by local nomad people all the time and there are no dangerous sections.
The campsites of Kangding Hiking are very good. Kangding Hiking is a well paced hiking and the campsites suggested are best-selected campsites. The campsites are basically very flat and spacious, with easy access to water. Except the camping night on the other side of the pass, the rest nights you can have a campfire lit by the campsite. The second night you will be camping at the holy small lake called Youcuo. It is a very beautiful and tranquil place just by the foot of Mount Yala. The other night’s campsite is close to some open hot spring. These hot springs are natural hot springs and you can soak yourself into the pond if you feel good. There you can also make campfire for the night. Along the hiking trail your cell phones will loose signal and at the campsites there are no electricity at all. You will have a few nights without any connection with the outside world.
While camping, you need to be aware of the yaks. There are a lot of yaks there. They are not very smart but they are interested in the food you have by your tent. They have very good smell as well. They like salt very much so anything that contains salt they can smell it. Former hikers had experience that the whole campsite was destroyed by the yaks overnight because they were not careful enough and left the kitchen open. Normally if you keep your food covered it should be fine and use the toilet a little further to your tents.
Eat and Drink
A hiking to Kangding will go into the wild where there are shops or people. You will be camping and hiking in the wild for 5 days before you see shops or restaurants. If you use porter then the horsemen will prepare food for you usually. And for drinking please use either water purifier or boil the water before you drink. There are plenty of streams along the hiking trail but there are also a lot of animals there so the water is not clean for drinking. You can prepare mountain food that you are familiar to because hygiene and convenience usually come before taste. The local horsemen do cook very nice meals. What they usually make local Sichuan food include stir fries of pork, vegetables, rice sometimes noodles, soup.
At present it is safe to travel to Kangding and do the hiking. In Kangding it is better to avoid walking alone in the street of Kangding when it’s late in the night. Kangding is basically a safe place but you need to take care of your gears and always to keep them in check.
During the hiking, if you have any injuries, the usual way of rescue is done by local horsemen. It is normally the quickest way possible. In Kangding they have a big hospital that are well equiped to deal with normal injuries.
Departure: Private Tour / Flexible Date
Route: Chengdu / Kangding / Chengdu
Kangding 8 days hiking is a perfect adventure in Sichuan for families. It starts in Chengdu and visit the Tibetan town Kangding. The hiking is in the valleys of primitive landscape and beautiful lakes and mountains. It ends in Tagong, a Buddhist town of Kham with stunning Buddhist constructions and interesting local Tibetan people. This is truly an adventure into the wild Sichuan.