A truly unique camping experience in the Tibetan Plateau
There are both tents and log cabins that are very comfortable with beds covered in yak wool blankets and soft rugs
Enjoy a range of authentic and immersive activities; have lunch with a monk, go hiking or horse riding and even visit a local textiles workshop run by the owner of Norden Camp
Sleep surrounded by miles of wildflowers and enjoy some of the best stargazing in the country
Norden is only open from May to October due to weather conditions
China’s ancient Silk Road spans 3 vast provinces, stretching from the city of Xian in Shaanxi province through to the westerly terminus at Kashgar in Xinjiang province, close to the border of Kyrgyzstan. With such a vast range of terrain and topography, there are significant climatic changes as you follow this hallowed trading route across China. Xian’s continental climate makes it pleasant year-round, with more rain during the summer months, mirrored by the cities of Lanzhou, Jiayuguan and Dunhuang in Gansu province. It is only as you cross into the more rugged, arid terrain of Xinjiang that the variations in temperature become more apparent. Summers are scorching and winters are bone-chillingly cold, with snow on the mountains and huge temperature variations from morning to night. May is a spectacular time to traverse the Silk Road, as the snow begins to melt and the meadows spring to life with lush green pasture and wild flowers. Autumn is similarly pleasant, with less extreme temperatures and whilst the summers are very hot, the oasis towns across the desert region are bountiful with flowers and fruits and the humidity is low in the westerly reaches of the Silk Road.
Run and staffed by nomads, Norden Camp is an extraordinary option in the slender province of Gansu on the Tibetan Plateau. It offers visitors the opportunity to experience and immerse in Tibetan culture as well as enjoying the most inspiring landscape.
Open from May to October each year, Norden Camp is one of China's most astonishing accommodation options that's designed for those wanting to immerse in Tibetan culture and get away from it all. Owned by American Tibetan Dechen Yeshi, and her husband Yidam Kyap, the camp combines style with authenticity and at the same time is incredibly environmentally friendly.
The area combines brilliantly with Beijing, Xian and Chengdu to form a truly unique itinerary that blends old with new and city with wilderness. Designed for those who don't mind living without luxuries for a few days, Norden's yak wool tents and log cabins offer a simple level of comfort in true Tibetan style. Bathrooms are shared or showers are offered by buckets, and you'll sleep under yak wool blankets, eating local cuisine at night. It's definitely not for everyone, but is perfect for intrepid and adventurous travellers that want a glimpse into Tibetan life.
Surrounded by miles of wilderness enshrouded with wildflowers and home to hares, marmots, foxes, gazelles and birds, Norden feels, and is, truly remote. While you are there enjoy hiking, horse-riding, making your own yak, having lunch at a monk's house or with a local family or otherwise relaxing in the small spa. After a magical Tibetan dinner share stories around the camp fire and gaze at the stars before a cosy sleep inside your tent or cabin.
We feel this is a simple but stylish camping option that's incomparable in China. It's perfect for adventurous families or couples wanting to add something adventurous and unique into their itinerary in China.
There are yak hair tents and wooden cabins to choose from. The wooden log cabins, of which there are eight, are inspired by those found in Tibetan woodlands. They can accommodate double or twin beds and there is an option for adding an extra bed as well. These are solar powered with dry toilets and decks overlooking the grasslands. Inside you'll find European beds covered with soft yak hair blankets, wooden floors and cosy rugs. They are very simple but stylish and completely unique. The four tents are made using traditional yak hair; these are fun, comfortable and well insulated with proper beds covered in yak hair blankets. Inside you'll find a sink and an outside dry toilet. They are warmed with wood stoves, making them cosy and warm through the night.
We wouldn't recommend Norden Camp for young children as there are no specific facilities, but it's a great option for families with older children looking for adventure and an insight into a unique culture.
Choose from horse riding, trekking, visiting local Tibetan families, eating lunch with local monks, visiting local monasteries as well as relaxing. You can also enjoy bird watching and stargazing in this remote and very beautiful location.
Located in the Tibetan Autonomous Kenlho Prefecture in China's Gansu province, Norden Camp is approximately 30 minutes from Labrang or four hours from Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu.
We generally recommend flying into Lanzhou, the capital of Gansu, as flights here are more reliable than nearby Labrang. From Lanzhou it's a 4-hour scenic drive to Norden Camp, which all adds to the experience. There are flights to and from Xian and Chengdu, making this a great stop in a more classic itinerary.
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