CHECK IT OUT NOR­DEN CAMP, GANSU PROV­INCE, CHINA

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence -

A new luxury camp on the Ti­betan Plateau run and staffed by lo­cal no­mads, with food cour­tesy of an exA­man­re­sorts chef, opens this month near the 18th­cen­tury monastery town of Labrang in China’s re­mote Gansu Prov­ince.

Sit­u­ated at 3200m amid wild­flower-strewn grass­lands and cuffed by a Hi­malayan-fed river, Nor­den Camp com­prises four tra­di­tional tents and seven log cab­ins.

De­signed to pro­vide new op­por­tu­ni­ties through tourism for the tra­di­tional no­madic peo­ple, the an­nual sum­mer camp, open un­til Oc­to­ber 15, is run by Yi­dam Kyap and his Ti­betan Amer­i­can wife, Dechen Yeshi, a designer who has also set up a tex­tile busi­ness in the re­gion, sup­ply­ing cash­mere-like yak khullu to fash­ion houses such as Lanvin, Ce­line and So­nia Rykiel.

The charm­ing tents are made of yak fi­bre, while the so­lar-pow­ered cab­ins are in­su­lated with yak felt and fea­ture wooden decks over­look­ing the river or grass­lands.

Th­ese cosy spa­ces are kit­ted out with wood stoves, Euro­pean beds, lo­cal fur­ni­ture and an­tiques, and lay­ers of felted wool and yak blan­ket from Dechan’s com­pany, Norlha Tex­tiles.

This is a pris­tine lo­cale so ex­treme care has been taken with the plumb­ing; loos are com­post­ing (and, in the case of the tents, lo­cated out­side).

Hot wa­ter is brought to your tent or cabin for a bucket shower, while the shared Finnish sauna also fea­tures a shower.

Ac­tiv­i­ties in­clude guided treks, horse rid­ing, stargaz­ing and bird watch­ing.

Nor­den Camp is 30 min­utes’ drive from Gan­nan Xi­ahe Air­port, with con­nec­tions to Lhasa and Xi’an, and a four-hour drive from Lanzhou Zhongchuan air­port with good con­nec­tions to both Shang­hai and Bei­jing. DON’T MISS: A visit to the Norlha Tex­tiles bou­tique in Labrang to stock up on fac­tory-price yak tex­tiles.

DINING IN: Chef An­drew Notte, for­merly of Amankora in Bhutan and Whole Foods in Seat­tle, will work his magic with Nor­den’s high-coun­try or­ganic fare: yak’s milk but­ter, yo­ghurt and cream, wild mush­rooms and moun­tain herbs, bread baked in a mud­brick oven and hand-pulled noodles. High­lights in­clude black pig fat­tened on droma roots. Af­ter din­ner the bon­fire is lit and dessert served un­der the stars.

DINING OUT: The Nor­den Cafe in Labrang over­looks the monastery and is run by Yi­dam’s sis­ters.

ASK THE CONCIERGE: Visit with a tra­di­tional no­madic fam­ily or en­joy a pri­vate dumpling din­ner with a monk in Labrang.

CHECK­ING IN: Tents from RMB1600 ($323); cab­ins from RMB2800 ($565), in­clud­ing break­fast. More: nor­den­travel.com.

ALSO TRY: Ark­aba Walk and Sta­tion, Flinders Ranges, South Australia; Mara Ex­plorer Camp, Kenya.

CHRISTINE McCABE

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