CHECK IT OUT NORDEN CAMP, GANSU PROVINCE, CHINA
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.