Duration: 17 days, 9 days trekking
Accomodations: Camping on trek
Best time: May-October
The Kharnak Nomad Trek is a wonderful, high altitude trek that crosses a few of the mountain passes offering spectacular views of the Ladakh and Zanskar Ranges. It begins from Shang and proceeds to the Nimaling high pasture land, to Zalung Karpo La, to Tsokar Lake. We then cross the "Changtang” plateau where nomads move from place to place with their yaks in search of pasture. Here we will visit nomad camps and the puga valley where we might be able to view bar-headed geese, brahiminy ducks, and rare, black-necked cranes.
The itinerary allows for us to visit a couple of nomad camps and get an impression of the Markha valley and Kangyatse (6420m/21186ft), as well as the Puga valley (sulfurs and borax) and Sumdo, a Tibetan settlement .
Day By Day Intinerary
DAY 1: ARRIVE DELHI. Our Local representative will greet you at the international airport and help you transfer to the hotel.
DAY 2: FLY TO LEH. You will have an early morning transfer to the domestic airport for the flight up to Leh. This surely is one of the most sensational scheduled flights in the world, taking you right over the top of the Greater Himalaya before dropping down in a series of steep turns, to land at the small military airport at Leh. Flight time is about 1 hour. You will be met on arrival and driven through Leh to check into your Hotel. Leh is at an altitude of 11,500 ft and therefore we recommend that the rest of the day be spent resting to help adjust to the altitude.
DAY 3: AT LEISURE IN LEH. Again we will take it easy today and your guide can show you around town. Leh is very Tibetan in many respects; the national dress, 'stove-pipe' hats and felt boots with turned-up toes are much in evidence. The Royal Palace which dominates the town is very reminiscent of the Potala in Lhasa. Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, large chortens, prayer flags and mud brick houses with flat roofs are a dramatic culture change from the hot, teeming, frenetic rush of Delhi. Don't try to do too much on this first day! Visit the palace, poke around the bazaars, and if you're feeling really keen and strong, walk out to one of the villages just to the north.
DAY 4: SIGHTSEEING OF ALCHI MONASTERY. We drive to Alchi to see the most beautiful murals and paintings in Ladakh. Alchi was built in the 11th century by Lotsava Rinchen Zangpo. Drive back to Leh and prepare for trekking the next day.
DAY 5: SHANG SUMDHO TO CHUSKYURMO (4070 m/13431 ft) (3-4 hrs) This will be a day of climbing up a beautiful gorge, tiresome but stunning. Keep your eyes peeled for snow leopards at all times! After 3-4 hours, you will arrive at Chuskyurmo, whose waters are reputed to have medicinal qualities.
DAY 6: CHUSKYURMO TO NIMALING (4720 m/15576 ft) via Kongmaru la (5220 mt/17226 ft) (5-6 hrs) From Chuskyurmo upwards, the valley opens and you have a great opportunity for viewing blue sheep (Ladakhi: napo), one of several species of wild goat living in the mountains of Ladakh. From Kongmaru la there is a fabulous view of Nimaling and Kangyatse. You will see the stone huts of villagers from Markha, who inhabit this pasture land several months of the year. *In case of extreme cold, it is advised not to camp at Nimaling, but to continue down the valley towards Thatchuntse.
DAY 7: NIMALING TO YAKRUPAL (4600 m/15180 ft) (6-7 hrs) This day presents the challenge of up and down walking above 4500 meters. You cross first one, then a second pass from which you have a fabulous view into Zanskar. Don’t forget to look for wolves! During the afternoon, you will first drop deeply down to the Langtang Chu, then gradually stroll up the valley towards your grassy campsite at Yakrupal.
DAY 8: YAKRUPAL TO TSOKRA (4060m/13398 ft) (6-7 hrs) This morning, you will climb up up up, finally reaching the fabulous Zalungkarpo La after several hours. After a short break (bring prayer flags!) on the pass, you will descend into the wilderness of Kharnak, finally camping at Tsokra. Your horses will be happy with the abundant grass, and you will have the opportunity to see both ancient ruins and one of the most beautiful cliff faces in Ladakh.
DAY 9: TSOKRA TO DAT (4200m/13860ft) (5-6 hrs) Today’s walk is one of the most beautiful on the trek, and there is no climbing –– so you can really enjoy it! Your path will wind through willow groves and around rivers that flow into Zanskar. Check for snow leopard prints on the sandy banks! You will camp in Dat, the winter site for the Kharnak nomads. If time permits, pay a visit to the gompa before dinner.
DAY 10: DAT TO LUNGMOCHE (4550 m/15015 ft) via Yar La (4950 m/ 16335 ft) (5 hrs) This morning, you will walk on flat ground for several hours, appreciating the vastness of the fairly bleak Dat valley. Towards lunchtime, you will take a turn at a natural spring, and begin your approach to the Yar La. From this pass, you will see a great change in landscape. You are now arriving in the Changthang plains. A one-hour descent from the pass will bring you to Lungmoche, a windy but beautiful campsite.
DAY 11: LUNGMOCHE TO ZARA (4390 m/14487 ft) via the nomad settlement at Yagang. (5-6 hours) Today’s walking is fairly gentle, and after several hours you should reach the nomad headquarters of the Kharnak people at Yagang. Here you can interact with the nomads and enjoy some lunch. Several more hours of walking will bring you to the settlement of the Rupshu nomads at Zara, where you will spend the night.
DAY 12: ZARA TO PANGUNAGU (4430 m/13290 ft) (2-3 hrs) Leaving the nomad camp after breakfast, you should arrive on the Manali road after just an hour’s walk. From here, an opening into the Tsokar basin lies in front of you, and it is a short 2 hour walk to your camp at Pangunagu. For the rest of the day, you can explore the TsoKar basin - an afternoon walk to the shore of the lake (45 min) should be considered a must.
DAY 13: REST DAY AND CLEAN UP THE CAMPING SITE. In the afternoon, the taxi will meet you and drive to Leh via Tanglang la, the second highest road in the world.
DAY 14: RELAX IN LEH. You will have a chance to relax in the relative luxury of Leh, and do any last sightseeing and exploring. There will no doubt be a chance to have a final celebration with your guide and crew before the flight tomorrow. In the summer there are often polo matches on a Sunday. Overnight in the hotel.
DAY 15: FLY TO DELHI. Our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.
DAY 16: RELAX IN DELHI. International flights usually leave after midnight, so sleep in and relax. Leave for the airport about 10 pm.
DAY 17: FLY HOME
LAND COST: on request
- All accommodation in Delhi and Leh with breakfast.
- Camping accommodation as per the program with all meals during the treks.
- Mule drivers and mules during the trekking.
- All monastery entrance fees, wild life fees and camping fees.
- English-speaking guide in monasteries and while trekking.
- Service of cook and attendants during the trekking.
- All camping equipment including North Face or equivalent sleeping tent, foam mattresses, dining tent and toilet tents
- All transportation from Delhi Airport pick-up to departure.
What’s not included:
- Medical and evacuation insurance
- Miscellaneous expenses and tipping to the staff
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and food in Leh and Delhi.
- International Air ticket to and from Delhi.
- A single supplement.
- Laundry and other services not mentioned in the package. If you need any arrangement, please let us know.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Whilst every effort is made to keep to the above itinerary, clients will hopefully appreciate that this is Adventure Travel in a remote mountain region. There will quite likely be changes to the itinerary in terms of anything from on-the-spot choice of campsite to when a rest day is taken. Weather conditions, road conditions, vehicle breakdowns off the beaten track, local availability of horses or yaks, can contribute to the need for changes. The Trek guide will do everything in his power to see that you are inconvenienced as little as possible in such circumstances. Timings are approximate.
© Yama Adventures, 2022.