Yes, Ganzi is not privileged to be part of the awesomeness that is Qinghai. But this spectacular region of glaciercapped mountains, forbiddingly deep gorges and broad grasslands shouldn’t be excluded from consideration due to the above geographical misfortune [take THAT, Sichuan!]. The region generally enjoys better coverage in guidebooks than most of Qinghai, but remains big and wild and remote – and thus generally an awesome area to travel through. Below are some of my favorite areas, listed sequentially following the southern and northern branches of the Sichuan-Tibet Highway 川藏公路 respectively. This is NOT a comprehensive guide; the places listed are only the regions I’ve visited or of which I have some knowledge. Many of the most-traveled areas, including Danba, Moxi/Gongga Shan, Derge and Batang, are not covered here. That being said, everything listed below is truly spectacular.
This section includes:
- Kangding 康定 (Dartsedo དར་རྩེ་མདོ།)
- Xinduqiao 新都桥
- Lhagang ལྷ་སྒང། (Tagong 塔公)
- Ganzi 甘孜 དཀར་མཛེས།
- Rongbatsa རོང་པ་ཚ།
- Manigango མ་ཎི་གད་མགོ། (Manigange 马尼干戈)
- Derge སྡེ་དགེ། (Dege 德格), Pelyul དཔལ་ཡུལ། (Baiyu 白玉) [BRIEF mentions of these places]
- Dzogchen Gonpa རྫོགས་ཆེན་དགོན་པ། (Zhuqing Si 竹庆寺)
- Sershul སེར་ཤུལ་རྫོང་། (Shiqu 石渠县; also known as Dzachuka) and Sershul Gonpa སེར་ཤུལ་དགོན་པ། (Shiqu Si, 石渠寺)
- Litang ལི་ཐང། 理塘
- Xiangcheng 乡城 (Chadreng ཆ་ཕྲེང།)
A few disclaimers:
NB: This region isn’t always covered in snow – my pictures were mostly taken in the winter. That being said, prepare for limited heat/utilities anywhere you go.
NB: Significant instability in this region has resulted in frequent closures; all of Ganzi was closed to foreigners from February-early May 2012 (and some remains closed). Check the status of this region online or with Chengdu/Xining travel agents before you go.
NB: There is still some major road construction between Drango/Luhuo and Manigango (G318) interspersed with newly paved sections; additionally, the road from Manigango to Sershul is under construction (January 2013). Expect slow travel in these areas.