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Kaleidoscope: China’s Last Wilderness

Among mountains, monks and nomads on the roof of the world

06·20·2012

Kaleidoscope is a regular feature of The World of Chinese magazine, but this week, we’re bringing you our adventurous photographer’s Tibetan travels right here. For other stories on China’s brave backpackers, check out The Adventure Issue.

Racing against the millions of tourists who would soon be arriving in the Tibet Autonomous Region via the new Lhasa Express railway, I spent the early summer of 2006 drifting across the plateau on foot, bus and donkey.

My journey started with a 4×4 expedition across the remote tundra of eastern Tibet’s Kham region, where I spotted Buddhist monasteries and black tent settlements of nomadic drokpa shepherds.

At Rongchu Gorge, a landslide literally tore the road from the mountain face, forcing me on an arduous four-hour hike in the dark and pouring rain. And at Mount Kailash, Asia’s most scared mountain, my path to purity almost ended in breathless fatality atop the Drolma-La pass, had not a Ngari pilgrim woman literally carried me the remainder of the spiritual circuit.

These images capture something of the peerless beauty and character of the people I came across during my journey in Tibet: China’s final frontier.

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This article was taken from our Adventure Issue. For more adventure in China and beyond, and for more on Tom Carter, pick up a copy from our store.

For another photo essay of Tibet, click here. 

And for a carnal journey through Tibet, click here.

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