Trails of Ladakh
Duration: 18 Days, 5 days on trek
Accomodations: Camping/guest house on trek
Sandwiched in-between the Himalayan ranges of the Karakorum and the Tibetan Plateau, lies the high-altitude desert of Ladakh, or 'Little Tibet'. Previously a major halting post on the caravan route through Asia, this Buddhist land is more culturally akin to Tibet than the lowlands further south. The beautiful multi-colored desert landscapes are arid and dotted with small villages inhabited by rugged-looking people of Tibetan heritage. This new trip includes sightseeing of the valley, an optional rafting trip and a short gentle trek through the foothills of the Ladakh Range. This trek takes you through traditional Ladakhi villages with fantastic views of the mountains. It starts with a sensational flight across the Himalaya to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. We spend three days of sightseeing and visiting impressive monasteries in the Indus Valley whilst also acclimatising to the altitude. You may choose to take an optional jeep trip to the highest road pass in the world and do some gentle rafting on the Indus River during these days of acclimatisation. You will then be driven to Yangtang, where we start the five-day trek. Our route traverses and winds its way through the Ladakh Range, part of the Greater Himalaya, and offers grand scenery and plenty of contact with the local Ladakhis. You will cross passes from one valley to the next with time to explore the monasteries and temples along the way and sample traditional village life. At the end of the trek, you will be driven to Lamayuru Monastery past some of the most spectacular moonscape scenery of Ladakh. You will also visit Alchi, a traditional Ladakhi village and home to one of the oldest temples in the region with its well-preserved 11th century wall paintings. The trip ends with a little time to explore Delhi.
IS THIS TRIP FOR YOU?
This trip is a mixture of sightseeing and walking with a fairly gentle 5-day trek, which takes in the best of the contrasting scenery that the Indian Himalaya has to offer: lofty snow-clad peaks, the wild and barren hillsides of this high altitude desert and the pretty green villages in the valley which spring to life in the summer when the crops are grown after the long, harsh winter. The trails are generally well-maintained and you will be required to walk for 3-6 hours each day with frequent stops. We have allowed 3 nights in Leh before the trek to allow for acclimatisation. The trip should be within the capabilities of those who are active and used to doing some walking. The luggage is transferred by vehicle and there will be a back-up jeep in case you want to spend more time exploring the villages. It can be very hot in Ladakh in the summer so we do start walking quite early to avoid the heat of the day.
This is a fully supported camping trek with providence of spacious two-person tents, dining and toilet tents, stools, cooking and kitchen gear and a full support staff. We have put a lot of effort into improving standards on our Indian Himalayan treks and we believe that in terms of organisation, our standards of service are as good as in Nepal - many of our Nepalese staff now work in Ladakh in the summer months and you may well find Nepalese sherpas working alongside our Ladakhi staff. All groups will be accompanied by a leader, who will be supported by a local guide, ponymen, assistant guides and a team of cooks.
Whilst on the trek you will be woken up with a cup of hot tea and provided a small bowl of warm washing water in the mornings. A First Aid kit is carried with the group.
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
The entries in bold at the end of each day indicate the type of accommodation normally used (if different standards of accommodation are used - see accommodation section below for key to codes), and meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner).
Please note: walk profiles given below in the itinerary are approximate and are intended only as a rough guide. Walk durations (or pace) will vary with each group and walks may be adapted to suit terrain conditions and weather.
DAY 1: ARRIVE DELHI. you will be met at the airport by our represenative and transfeered to your hotel.
DAY 2: FLY TO LEH. (3,500m/5500ft) You will be transferred to the domestic airport for an ealry morning flight to Leh. Our local representative will receive you at the Leh domestic airport which lies at an altitude of 3500m. The first day in Leh will require you to relax and acclimatize to this high altitude. A gentle orientation walk around the Leh town market can be done if health permits. (B, L, D)
DAY 3: SHEY AND THIKSEY MONASTRIES. Today you will be visiting two of the major Gompas (Ladakhi word for Monastery): Shey and Thiksey. Shey Khar, the former palace of the Ladakhi royal family is only 13km from Leh. The Palace houses a 350-year-old copper and gold statue of the Lord Buddha. From Shey you will walk across the field to Thiksey village, where you will visit the Thiksey Monastery perched imposingly on a hillock from which its red and white buildings can be seen from many kilometers away. This Gompa is famous for its 15-meter-high seated statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha. In the afternoon, you will be driven back to Leh. (B, L, D)
DAY 4: ACCLIMATISATION WALK. Day 4 of the trip will involve a bit of walk in and around Leh to have a closer look at the panorama of Leh and its history. Leh Palace and Tsemo Monastery are two of the historical sites that you will be visiting in the morning. Leh Palace was built in the 17th century and has been the residence of the Ladakhi royal family until the end of the 19th century. From here, a winding path leads to Tsemo Monastery which used to be the royal chapel. Here you will be rewarded by a magnificent view of the Leh town and its surrounding villages. A leisure walk in the afternoon will lead you to the stunning Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda). It is situated on the hillock above the Leh town and has a stunning view of the town and the Stok mountain range. (B, L, D)
DAY 5: OPTIONAL RAFTING/ DRIVE TO YANGTHANG. (3,683m). By the fourth day, you will be well-acclimatized to move forward with the trip into the depth of Ladakh. You can choose to do a few hours of rafting on the Indus River. This is not an extreme-level white water rafting, though there are some sections of grade 2-3 rapids. This means a novice rafter will find it exhilarating and not too scary. The rafting starts in Phey village after a safety briefing. The raft follows the course of an impressive gorge where the Zanskar River flows into the Indus River. The rafting ends in Nimmu village where provision for rest and luncheon will be arranged. (Those not wanting to raft can have time to explore Nimmu village). After lunch, you will resume your journey onwards to Yangthang which is a 2-3 hour drive. If time permits, you can also visit the Likir Monastery en route. The Monastery is well-maintained and also houses a monastery school. In the evening you will be camping near the Yangthang village (3,683m). You can explore the village and maybe visit the small local school or watch the Ladakhis sowing the barley and potatoes, the staple crops of these hardy mountain people. From the campsite there are wonderful southerly views over the village to the Zanskar Range and beyond. (B, L, D)
DAY 6: TREK TO ULLEY. (4,023m) (3.5-4 hours, 6km/3.7mi). After leaving Yangtang, the trail heads north with spectacular rock formations alongside the trekking route. During the first couple of hours, you will come across some interesting erosional features, including pinnacles with rock boulders precariously balanced upon them. You will reach the campsite at Ulley in time for lunch. This area is famous for sightings of Ibex and Snow Leopards. In the afternoon you can opt to walk higher up the valley. (B, L, D)
DAY 7: TREK TO HEMIS SHUKPACHAN. (3,663m) (4.5hrs, 8km/5mi). On this day you will head off along an easy trail which climbs up to our first pass, the Spangpo La (4,082m) with a wonderful view of the hills ahead and down to the village of Hemis Shupachen (3,663m). This tranquil village with a small gompa, green pastures and clear stream is a lovely place to stay for the night. In the afternoon you can visit the monastery and have a look around the village. (B, L, D)
DAY 8: TREK TO TEMISGAM. (3,256m) (5hrs, 13km/8mi). After leaving the campsite, there are rows of mature Juniper trees that give the village its name ‘Shukpa’. The climb to the first pass of the day, the Mebtek La (3,796m) is rather easy. Pink and mauve-colored mountains come into view from the top of the pass and the zig-zag pattern of the trail up the mountainside can be made out in the distance as you descend into the next valley. The path winds up to the Lago La (3,832m) and from the top there are magnificent views across to the south side of the Indus Valley. The trail descends steeply from the pass to the village of Ang. From Ang it is an easy walk (although it can be hot and dusty) along the new jeep track to Temisgam (3,256m). This is the largest, most prosperous village on the trek. Set amongst fertile fields as well as spreading apple and apricot orchards, there are some fine examples of large, white-washed Ladakhi homes. As a result of a division of Ladakh in the 14th to 15th centuries, the lower kingdom was controlled from Basgo and Temisgam. The remnants of its glorious past can be made evident from its castle in ruins that is located on the top of the hillock along with few temples that are maintained beautifully even today. (B, L, D)
DAY 9: TREK TO SKINDIYANG. (3,531m) (6hrs, 13km/8mi).
It is a rather long day which begins with a gentle climb to the base of the Skindiyang Pass. The pretty village of Tia and Charcha falls on the way as you follow a new jeep track. The trail then begins with ascent to a barren hillside to a col at 3,927m. From here a wonderful boulder-strewn landscape greets us. The wild landscape around here is home to Snow Leopards and Blue Sheep. You can see the pass ahead and an easy 45-minute walk will bring you to the top of the pass at 4,060m. The path down lands into a dry valley which you will follow to a set of chortens above the village. The last 30 minutes of the descent is a little steeper as you drop down to Skindiyang, a traditional Ladakhi village where you are going to spend the next 2 nights. (B, L, D)
(Please note there is the option on this day of going all the way to Skindiyang by jeep, or if it is very hot you can drive to Tia at the base of the pass to avoid the heat).
DAY 10: SKINDIYANG; OPTIONAL WALKS. Optional day walk from Skindiyang to Junu La. (5.5hrs, 8km/5mi). You will spend the entire day in Skinyang with optional walks. For the energetic, there is a full-day walk to the Junu La at 4,080m with views down into the Nirma Valley. The walk to the pass will take about three and a half to four hours up a winding rocky valley. For those who want an easier walk, there are three small temples in and around Skindiyang which you can visit. Or you may just wish to relax in the camp and explore the friendly village. (B, L, D)
DAY 11: DRIVE TO LAMAYURU, ALCHI, CONTINUE TO LEH. Bidding goodbye to the trekking crew in the morning you will join the transport for the spectacular drive to Lamayuru Monastery, set amidst an amazing lunar landscape. You will be heading west on the Srinagar-Leh road after passing Khalatse village. The road winds through a fantastic landscape - it was here that 50 million years ago two continents collided to form the Himalaya. Just before Lamayuru you pass a futuristic lunar landscape. Arriving at Lamayuru you have time to explore the monastery and the village surrounding it. You will then rejoin your vehicles for the drive eastwards to Alchi. Alchi village is set in a side valley hidden from the main road and is an oasis of calm. In summer, the villagers are busy in the fields with their crops of barley, wheat and vegetables. The climate here is very mild and apricot trees abound. Alchi Monastery is one of the most important cultural sites in Ladakh. Built in the 11th century, it is a treasure trove of early Buddhist art in the Kashmiri tradition, a style quite different from the Tibetan art found in Ladakh's other monasteries. Drive back to Leh. (B, L, D)
DAY 12: PANGONG TSO. (4,250m) (5hrs) An early drive (normally after breakfast) is essential to cross over to the Pangong Tso/Lake via the Chang-La (17,500ft). Pangong Lake, situated at 14,000ft (4,267m) is a long narrow basin of inland drainage, approx. 6-7km at its widest point and over 135km long in the Himalaya Mountain Range between the Indo-China Border. About 1/3 of the lake falls in Spangmik, India and the remaining part is in China. The ever changing turquoise blue and green colour of this brackish lake can be seen reflecting the image of the mountains of Chang-Chenmo range to the north. Although being a salt water lake, it freezes completely in winter. The flora, or lack of it, is very unique to Pangong Tso. According to credible reports, the lake is devoid of both micro-vegetation and acquatic life, such as fish and crustaceans. However, the lake is an important breeding ground for migratory birds, including the Bar-headed geese and Brahmini Ducks. Overnight stay at camp. (B, L, D)
DAY 13: PANGONG - LEH. Drive back to Leh Hotel (B, L, D)
DAY 14: DRIVE TO NUBRA VALLEY. To arrive at Nubra valley, you will be passing through the Khardung La (18,380 ft), the highest motorable road in the world. From the pass, the road descends down a spectacular gorge through the Kardung village and on down to the valley floor where you can opt to camp or stay in the Hotel. In the evening, you will be driven to Diskit and Hunder Monastery. Further down the river to the scenic village of Hunder which is the home for pleasant sand dunes and the two-humped Bactrian camel. Camel Safaris are always exciting to try out. (B, L, D)
DAY 15: DRIVE TO LEH. The beautiful village of Summur follows the course of Shyok River where you can visit the stunning Samstanling Gonpa with its large children’s school. Then drive back to Leh. (B, L, D)
DAY 16: FLY BACK TO DELHI. On the last day in Leh there is an early morning flight to Delhi over the great Himalayas, bidding goodbye to the serene land of Ladakh. In Delhi, our representative will meet you and transfer you to your hotel. (B)
DAY 17: RELAX IN DELHI. Late night transfer to International Airport.
DAY 18: FLY HOME.
LAND COST: on request
- Hotel accommodations with breakfast.
- Meals as noted in the itinerary (B=breakfast, L=lunch, D=dinner)
- Camping accommodations as per the program with all meals during the treks.
- Mule drivers and mules during the trekking.
- All monastery entrance fee, wild life fees and camping fee.
- Hindi/English-speaking guide.
- Service of cook and attendants during the trek.
- All camping equipment including North Face or equivalent sleeping tents, foam mattresses, mess tent, dining tent & toilet tent.
- All transportation from pick up from the Delhi Airport to departure.
What’s not included:
- Medical and evacuation insurance.
- Miscellaneous expenses and tipping to the staff.
- Alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
- 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.
- Trip cancellation, travel delay or baggage loss insurance
- Charges incurred as a result of delays, natural calamities beyond the control of Yama Adventures.
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, 2019.