Duration: 19 Days, 10 days trekking
Accomodations: Camping on trek
Best Time: May-October
Grade: Gentle to Moderate to Strenuous
This trek begins with a visit to the stunning Lamayuru Monastery, the oldest in Ladakh, and ends with a visit to the Hemis Monastery, the largest and richest in Ladakh. Lamayuru is about 80 miles west of Leh, just off the Leh to Kargil road. From Lamayuru the trek proceeds through Wanla and over two high mountain passes with their breath-taking vistas, before reaching Chilling on the Zanskar River. Just beyond Chilling the trek enters the Markha Valley and follows that popular trekking route.
The Markha valley epitomizes the best of Ladakh scenery. It has giant rock pinnacles, beetling cliffs, narrow defiles, prayer-flagged passes and evidence of a much older civilization, the history of which has been lost in antiquity. As you trek up the valley, there are the ruins of many forts and castles, some built in some pretty unlikely places!
It is a fairly long trek, crossing a final pass of over 17,000ft, and has the fine objective of visiting the base camp of the highest peak in the Zanskar range, Kang Yatse, 21,000ft.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
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 to Leh. This must be one of the most sensational flights in the world! On the northern horizon you may be able to pick out K2, the world's second highest peak, and other Karakoram giants. On your left you can see Nun and Kun the highest peaks in Ladakh at 7100m and 7080m. On your arrival in Leh transfer to hotel. Day at your leisure for acclimatization
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 and 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: PHYANG SIGHT SEEING. The Phyang Gompa has 50 lamas and seven 'novices' of the red-cap sect and possesses five chapels. The monastery is interesting for its museum containing some old Chinese, Tibetan, Mongolian and possibly Saracen weapons and armour. The museum room itself is said to be nearly 900 hundred years old. The monastery has had several renovations recently, including the addition of a large house for the head lama and a new entrance hall with a large prayer wheel. The 650 year old Dukhang Temple was renovated in the late '70's. Return to Leh hotel.
DAY 5: DRIVE TO LAMAYURU, CAMP. After breakfast we drive down the geologic wonderland of the Indus River valley, past the confluence with the Zanskar River, and on through the small villages of Nimu, Saspol and Khalse. We cross the Indus just past Khalse and begin a steep climb to the village of Lamayuru. We reach the monastery, perched on top of a steep cliff, in the early afternoon with plenty of time for a tour. This monastery is the oldest in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. The monastery is built around a cave where the Naropa lived and meditated. After the tour we camp in fertile green village of Lamayuru.
DAY 6: TREK TO HINJU. (7 hrs) Leaving Lamayuru we gradually climb the mountain-side opposite the monastery until we reach a small valley. We follow the valley up to Prinkiti-La pass (12,200 ft) and then descend into a gorge. At Shilla we cross a bridge and continue on the right bank to the village of Wanla. We now follow the left bank of the Yapola River and cross a bridge to Penji-la. We go up the valley and take the right fork to Hinju, where we camp.
DAY 7: TREK TO SUMDA. (5-6 hrs) We continue up the Hinju valley on our way to Konzke-la pass (16,236 ft). The final ascent becomes steep, but the fabulous views of snow-capped peaks make it well worth the effort. From the summit we begin a long descent to pastures along the river. We continue along the left bank till we reach Sumda and camp.
DAY 8: TREK TO CHILLING. (6-7) hrs. We cross the valley to the rock shelters where we cross the bridge and begin the ascent to the pass. We reach Dundunchen-la pass (15,744 ft) after a steep climb for more spectacular views. The trail is steep on the descent as we head towards a valley. The valley continues to narrow until it opens out at Chilling on the banks of the Zanskar River. The villagers here are metal craftsman.
DAY 9: TREK TO SKIU. (11,050ft) (4 hrs) We begin this day by crossing the Zanskar River in a cable car located upstream a short distance from Chilling. We follow the well worn path to the village of Skaya. From here it is a short walk to the lush green campsite at Skiu. The village of Skiu is situated in a narrow part of the Markha Valley, so the temperatures can soar. We camp at Skiu, and at dusk it is worth climbing back up the valley to where the Skiu Nala meets the Markha river. Here there is a small monastery cared for by an old nun who comes every evening to light the candles at the altar of 'Chamba', the future Buddha.
DAY 10: TREK TO MARKHA. (11,776ft) (6 hrs) A very pleasant walk up one of the loveliest sections of the Markha valley. Woody bushes grow thickly along the river which is spanned by several bridges over which the trail marches to Thinlespa. The camp is beyond this small village on the right bank of the river, just before the village of Markha.
DAY 11: TREK TO THACHUGTSE. (13,078ft) (6-7 hrs) The trail continues eastwards climbing steadily up the valley through the picturesque village of Markha, which has a fascinating monastery well worth a visit. Coming in from the south is the trail from Rubering La, one of the routes from Zangla. From Markha the country changes and the warm, relatively heavily wooded section of the lower Markha is left behind. Between the twin villages of Lower and Upper Hankar is a ruined fort, the walls of which climb sharply up a crag to an aerie of a lookout tower - worth visiting for those with a good head for heights. Follow the Nimiling river up the narrow valley to the camp at Thachugtse. It will be considerably cooler here.
DAY 12: TREK TO NIMALING. (16,097ft) (3 hrs) The trail continues to climb up the valley to a picturesque lake with a reflection of snow-capped Kang Yatse, the highest peak in the Zanskar range. From here the Nimaling plain is a broad undulating meadow which slopes upwards to the base of the ice-clad Kang Yatse which dominates the area. Nimaling with tiny ponds and rivulets flowing all over its meadows provides pasturage in the summer for an astonishing number of animals; yaks, sheep, goats, dzos and horses, not only from the Markha but also from villages all around. Himalayan marmots and white-tailed hares are seen in plenty and it is not unusual to spot the occasional blue sheep or wolf. You should reach camp in the early afternoon and have the rest of the day to relax and explore.
DAY 13: REST DAY IN NIMALING. A day to recuperate and enjoy this beautiful alpine meadow. You can take a short hike to the base of the glacier on Kang Yatse.
DAY 14: TREK TO SUMDO. (13,230ft) (7-8 hrs) After crossing the Nimaling river, climb to the top of the highest pass on the trek, the 17,409ft Kangmaru La with its wonderful views from the top. Snow peaks in every direction, and on a clear day the giants of the Karakorams, including K2 can be seen on the north-western horizon. The trail descends steeply to the head of the Martselang valley past the sulfur springs of Chyushkarmo, and follows the Martselang stream to the village of Sumdo or Shang-Sumdo, at the confluence of the Shang Nala and the Martselang River.
DAY 15: TREK TO MARTSELANG. DRIVE TO LEH. (3-4 hrs trek) An easy descent mainly along the left bank of the Martselang River to where it broadens into the valley of the Indus River at the village of Martselang. Transport will be waiting here for the 2 hr drive to Leh, after first visiting the Hemis Gompa. Overnight at the hotel in Leh.
DAY 16: AT LEISURE IN LEH. 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 17: FLY TO DELHI. Our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel.
DAY 18: RELAX IN DELHI. International flights usually leave after midnight, so sleep in and relax. Leave for the airport about 10 pm.
DAY 19: 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 sleeping tent, foam mattresses, mess tent, dining tent & toilet tent
- All transportation from pick up from the Delhi Airport to Airport.
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 TREK NOTES
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, 2017.