The real Guide to the Tibetan World ​!

Kelsang Phuntsok - General Manager

 “Responsible tourism is to present exactly who we are, to experience the local’s life with a positive impact. I will always be humble and grateful about my guests who want to see Tibetans in Gyalthang”

Enthusiastic, hard-working, and with a huge sense of responsibility for his local community, Kelsang inherited Khampa Caravan from his elders Dakpa, Yeshi and Tenzin (click) and become in charge of the organization since 2015 with the commitment to continue with the founders aim: Providing responsible tourism that meets the needs of both sides, tourists and villagers, who exchange and treat each other peacefully and with respect.  
Kelsang was raised and very much influenced by his great-grandfather Richan Pizu, who in his young days worked at the tea road as a horse man. Kelsang was raised among Richan’s endless and marvelous stories about the tea road, its folk tales and ancient songs. Stories that had a such a strong impact on the young Kelsang, that he became aware of the richness of Tibetan cultural heritage since his early childhood. Kelsang has always embraced the Tibetan ideals of benefiting other sentient beings as a core principle of his behaviour: he dreamed of becoming a buddhist monk when he was a young child, he founded an NGO with the aim to improve the welfare of his local community, and nowadays as the person in charge of Khampa Caravan, he is devoted to, among other aims, to be the first tourist provider of cultural, educational and responsible tourism of Shangri-La.

Lobsang Dolma – Sales & Operations Manager

“I want to be like a bridge between the travelers and the local community, so both of them can get benefit from each other“

Lobsang Dolma joined Khampa Caravan in winter 2006, after her graduation from Qinghai Normal University in Xining. Now she is our Manager of sales and operations, addressing the communication and service needs of clients from all over the world.
She speaks fluent Tibetan, Chinese and English, that she learned in University. Her studies in Qinghai, thousand miles away from her remote hometown, inspired her with a lot of new ideas, taught her to think independently and understand one’s own worth. Taking additional classes in sociology, world literature, ethnography and anthropology, Dolma learned to question the existing norms even in her own village such as position and workload of women. She is a very diligent and conscientious person, with an unbroken desire to learn more. 

Thubten Lobsang - Trekking guide

Thubten joined in Khampa Caravan in 2005, but his trekking experience reaches far beyond his 10 years of working experience. When he was 12 years old, a journey through the Himalayas taught him very early to adapt himself to the harsh climate and mountain environment. He spent 7 years studying abroad, were he learned to speak English and totally rely on himself.
Growing up in a remote farmer village north of Shangri-la, Thubten is very familiar to the hard-working life of Tibetan village farmers who always rely on their own efforts to support their family. Many of them lack of formal education, but they have a deep rooted practical knowledge of farming and nature. 
Thubten still feels a lot of respect for the strength and the deep rooted sense of responsibility of his people, and he hopes that tourism will help remote villages to open and connect with the outside world. This could be a chance to learn some new technical skills to facilitate daily life.

Agustin Vila - Travel advisor

Agustin has been traveling around Asia since 2013, driven by his enthusiasm of learning the roots of Asian culture: its religions, arts, and philosophy. When he arrived to Shangri-La for the first time, he immediately got in contact with The Shangri-La Association of Cultural Preservation and the Thangka Center, in order to learn Tibetan painting and culture. With time he has become a very good friend of Kelsang and Dakpa, as the three of them share the same interest and preoccupation for learning, preserving and transmitting the wisdom of ancient cultures into future generations. In this sense Agustin has become an excellent collaborator and travel advisor of Khampa Caravan, not only because of the communion of ideals with its founders, but also due to his wide experience acquired by traveling all over the world. 

`Adro` Kesang Dhondup - Chief Cook

Adro, hailing from Tai Gyab village close to Lake Napa, is part of the Khampa Caravan members since the very beginning. He is notorious in town for his distinguished puffy hair-style and his odd suits. After working as a laborer and later as a mushroom trader, Adro finally began his cooking career by the year 2000, joining a restaurant in Shangri-la that was run by an Austrian couple. There, he learned to prepare Western food, such as pasta and potato dishes, that he could add to his already rich repertoire of Tibetan and Chinese cuisine. 
When Adro is not trekking or cooking, he can be found at his home, gardening or scrubbing the floor, taking care of his wife and his son.

Numey` Sonam Phuntsok - Driver

Numey is the embodiment of patience and cares for all who sit with him in his van. After almost a decade of truck-driving on the narrow logging trails of Kham and transporting logs to Kunming and Chengdu, he knows the driving terrain in this part of the highlands inside out. With the government ban on logging in 1998, hundreds of local truck drivers lost their main source of livelihood. After a year of helping out in his fields in Trinyi village and a few summers of mushroom picking, our “younger brother” (that’s what “Numey” means) joined Khampa Caravan in 2003 with an unblemished safety record. He now drives our international guests, knowing the twists and turns as well as the great spots where one can catch the best views of the various gorges and mountains.

Chui Zong - Cash Manager

Chui Zong is working for Khampa Caravan since 2010, taking responsibility of the agency’s cash management. Grown up in a Tibetan village 30 km from Shangri-la, she is familiar to this place since her early childhood, filled with a deep love for her family and culture.
 
The Founders: 

Dakpa Kelden - Founder & Partner

In Shangri-la, you will hardly find a person who has not heard about Dakpa, an inspiring and charismatic personality with an extensive tour-leading and operating experience. 
Dakpa spent his early years as a monk in India, but instead of attending a monastic curriculum, he decided to return to Shangri-la and commit his life to support his local community.  In his aim to develop eco-friendly tourism and preserve Tibetan culture, he founded charity organizations, such as the Thangka Academy and the Shangri-La Association of Culture Preservation.
His educational background includes studying at the Institute of Tourism and Hotel Management in Austria and English at the University of Oklahoma. Dakpa speaks - and sings - in Lhasan, Kham-Tibetan, Mandarin, Hindi and English, being a passionate dancer and artist.

Lobsang Tenzin, Co-founder

Tenzin is Khampa Caravan’s link to many of our adventures in the remote regions of Kham and Amdo. Tenzin manages our staff and oversees our trek operations and guide trainings.
From a nomad family in the sacred Genyen valley of Lithang (Sichuan), Tenzin knows the land of the Khampas like no one else and has a remarkable ability in sharing the subtleties and insider knowledge of local culture. He has travelled widely throughout Kham and Amdo, first as a loyal attendant to the chief abbot of Genyen monastery, and later as a professional guide serving an international clientele.
Tenzin studied briefly in India, and speaks several eastern Tibetan dialects, Lhasan, Mandarin, and English, and can pull off some surprises when he gets his hand on a good horse. Besides being our in-house photographer, Tenzin is also a self-taught herbalist who is happiest in the wilderness, weathering storms, horse-riding, hunting for herbs or picking mushrooms.