China: Gansu & Sichuan
Introduction and History
The Tibetan regions of Northern Sichuan and Southwest Gansu are part of the Amdo ཨ་མདོ། region of Tibetans. The most notable Amdo figure globally is the Dalai Lama, born in Qinghai near the Gansu border. It is a region that has been influenced and at times ruled by various Chinese dynasties, Mongols, and unified Tibetan kingdoms as well. As part of the ancient Silk Road, there is also a great deal of Muslim influence in the region with some sections being ruled by Muslim leaders from time to time. Diversity and disruption are the historical story of this region known as Amdo.
The Amdo region is home to two of the six great monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism’s Gelugpa sect, Kumbum and Labrang. In addition to these, Amdo is known for its nomadic lifestyle and culture as well as its vast grasslands. While Lhasa is the city of the gods, Amdo is a significant cultural part of Tibetan life and identity.
Key Cultural Sites and Observances in Sichuan and Gansu
Labrang Monastery and Kumbum Monastery are two of the six great monasteries of Tibetan Buddhism. The other four are all located around Lhasa. In addition to these are the well known monasteries of Langmusi which are significant spiritual centers as well as the subject of much Tibetan lore. All of these cultural centers host significant festivals for New Year, Monlam, and other religious holidays marked throughout the lunar calendar.
The grasslands along the Yellow River in Ngawa and Machu thrive in the summer months. Nomad camps dot the landscape. Horse races abound throughout the summer months. There are also music festivals and other lively gatherings unique to various tribes in the region.
Adventure Opportunities in Sichuan and Gansu
Trekking, biking, day hikes, and national parks such as Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong and Muni Valley make this region an adventure destination. Currently, adventure opportunities are limited due to the ongoing Covid policy. We will re-publish specific pages related to adventure opportunities in the region when applicable.
Best Time of Year to Visit
For those interested in the cultural gatherings of the year, the calendar determines when you should visit. If you are looking for adventure, July-September is the best time to come. April-June is typically the rainy season although there can be inclement weather at any time of the year. The nomads are known to say you can have four seasons in one day in Amdo.
Our Story with Sichuan and Gansu
The Amdo region is the birthplace of Adventure Access. Our founder, Brian, has lived for nearly two decades in the region, calling places like Labrang, Songpan, Xining, and Chengdu home. It is a place we know more than any other and the people are family to many of us. Though we carry our gained experience and expertise from this region into other regions throughout the Tibetan Plateau and across the Himalayas with us, Sichuan and Gansu is where it all began.