Xiahe, China

Photo: Norden Travel

You needed to get away from everything. Absolutely everything. For the next few days, you’ll disconnect from your phone, social media, and everyday life. You plan to clear your head, enjoy nature, and, for once, pay attention to the little things. There’s no better place to do so than the Tibetan Plateau.

Technically, you’re in China. Xiahe is in Gānnán Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, a region that was claimed—or reclaimed, depending on your point of view—from Tibet from the 1950s. A decade ago, tensions were high, but peace seems to have returned since then. Amdo, as Tibetans call the region, was the birthplace of the Dalai Lama. It’s home to Labrang Monastery, one of Tibet’s greatest monasteries. Green pastures are full of sheep, yaks, and wildflowers. Snow-capped mountains tower in the distance. While, after traveling the world, a local Tibetan returned and opened a luxurious camp.

Norden Camp is glamping at its best. The camp sits on nearly 30 acres, along the Daxia River, just outside of town. Pink flowers, which carpet the land during the summer, are turning yellow and gold in the autumn air. Eight log cabins and four yak-hair tents dot the property. They can easily be dismantled when winter arrives. So can the shower houses, the bar, the dining area, and the concept store. Norlha Textiles sells yak-wool accessories, made by women from a nearby village, to famous designers around the world.

Photo: Norden Travel

You aren’t ready to start shopping for souvenirs yet, though. Your first stop is the bar for a hot cup of coffee as you learn about the camp. There’s blonde wood furniture, wool cushions, and lots of natural light inside. The front and back verandas look out toward the rolling hills, a small stream, and low trees. While the signature cocktails include Muddy Nomads and Pink Yaks. You’ll return later to start tasting the creative drinks.

En route to your cabin, you pass the raised tents and the eco-friendly toilets outside of them. With yak felt lining the walls, they look well insulated, but you can’t imagine stumbling outside to find the bathroom in the middle of the night. Your pine-log cabin will be much more comfortable. It features a dry toilet, which is based on the plumbing-less Finnish model. There’s a king-size bed, a wood furnace, and local antiques, as well. You’ll watch for marmots, pheasants, and even gazelles when you sit quietly on the patio. And, though you still have to walk to the shower house to bathe, there will be daylight and less urgency when you need to do so.

Now that you realize how comfortable you’ll be out in the middle of nowhere, it’s time to start exploring. The Space has a spacious deck for meditation and yoga. The sauna will become your favorite spot when you return from hiking and horseback riding in the afternoons. Bread from a traditional mud brick oven, hand-pulled noodles, droma root-fed black pigs, and lots of yak milk are served for dinner. While evenings will end around the roaring bonfire.

With clear nights, it’s easy to see the starry sky this time of year. When you wrap yourself up in a Norlha khullu, you’ll be able to stay outside even longer. Disconnecting will actually be easier than you expected.


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