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China: Trekking a High-Altitude Frontier
Adventure-approved excursions for right now.  By Costas Christ
Photo: Zhongdian Country

The Guided Tour
 
WHY GO: With jagged peaks piercing the clouds, woolly yaks grazing fertile valleys, and Buddhist monks tending sacred temples, the Chinese government didn't need to designate Zhongdian County the nation's official Shangri-la. Most travelers who visit this part of the eastern Himalaya, where the Yangtze and Mekong Rivers tumble from the Tibetan Plateau, realize that on their own. "This is China's last frontier—a world steeped in culture and natural beauty," says Toni Neubauer, founder of Myths and Mountains, which has run excursions to Asia since 1988. After acclimating at 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) in Gyaltang, a town that was off-limits to foreigners just a decade ago, participants travel to the 700-year-old Temple of the Five Wisdom Buddhas. From there, it's five days to Black Lake, the highest point of the trek, at
12,800  feet (3,901 meters).  Along the way, guests stay in Tibetan villages, where prayer wheels and mantras encourage reflection on life's greater journey.
 
NEED TO KNOW: The world's most populous country is now discovering leisure travel, so you will encounter mass-market tourism at the main temples, even in this remote region. Thankfully, tour buses leave as quickly as they arrive.
 
Days: 14

Outfitter: Myths and Mountains 
www.mythsandmountains.com

Cost:
$3,295

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Photograph courtesy of Keren Su/Corbis


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Adventure's September 2006 issue features 31 amazing adventure towns; chaos at the top of Mount Everest; an inside look at surfing California's Lost Coast; 11 fall weekend getaways near you; the best high-tech footwear, world class adventure travel; hiking the Alps, and more!




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