A challenging trek that covers remote upper Ladakh and Zanskar areas with steep ascents and winding descents along the way as one zigzags across high passes and deep gorges lined with multi-hued rocks and villages, dotted with white mud-brick buildings and Buddhist monuments. In short, this challenge provides abundant spectacular experience, both in raw nature and deep culture, in the rarefied mountain air of the high Himalayas.
After two days of gentle acclimatization in and around Leh the firs...
Day 2Fly to Leh (3500m)
Delhi - Leh
In the early morning flight from Delhi, the plane flies over the Himalayan Range providing amazing overhead view of the whole mountain range with gigantic glaciers and glaring peaks before it brings us to Leh, a fertile valley just to the north of the mighty Indus River (this flight is subject to appropriate weather and perfect flying conditions). Upon arrival we transfer to the hotel.
The rest of the day is free to relax and acclimatize to the altitude (3,500m). Late afternoon there is a gentle orientation walk in Leh and its bazaars. In the olden days Leh was an important trading center along the old Silk Route from China. The town is dominated by the nine- story Namgyal Palace whose faded grandeur has been likened to a mini version of the Potala Palace in Lhasa.
Day 3Leh – Thiksey – Hemis – Matho – Leh
Today, in the sightseeing tour to three of the major gompas (monasteries) around Leh we first drive to Thikse Monastery that belongs to Gelukpa order (Yellow hat). Perched on top of a hill its red and white buildings can be seen from miles. A recently built temple within this complex contains a magnificent image of the Future Buddha. Next we drive to Hemis Gompa that belongs to Drukpa order (Red hat). It holds the distinction not only of being the biggest and the wealthiest monastery of Ladakh but also of very rich collections of ancient relics and the rare 17th century murals and the painted stone reliefs adorning the courtyard gallery making it a true UNESCO World Heritage Site. We continue our excursion and visit Matho monastery situated right across Thikse on the other side of Indus River. This monastery was founded in 16th century and it's an only monastery that belongs to Sakya order of Tibetan Monastery.
Day 4Drive to Chilling
Leh - Chilling
This is a day with a fantastic option for rafting enthusiasts. We either drive to Nemo or do an optional 2½-hour rafting trip down the Indus River from Phey to Nemo where we stop for lunch. From here we drive for about two hours up the valley on a rough track following the Zanskar River upstream to Chilling (3180m). Chilling is a small village and one of the few where metalwork is still practiced. It is believed that the earlier settlers came from Nepal and intermingled with the Ladakhi people here.
Day 5Trek to Base of Dundunchen La (4050m)
Chilling - Base of Dundunchen La
After breakfast we start our trek that enters a narrow valley and follows a river. We pass several old Stupas & Mani Walls on our way. We then climb quickly over a zigzag path with scree on some sections all the way to the base of Dundunchen La. This is a short day as we gain a lot of altitude. (3-4 hrs walk/4050m).
Day 6Trek to Sumda Chenmo(3900m)
Base of Dundunchen La - Sumdo Chenmo
In the morning we begin with a steep climb for about 3 to 4 hours to the top of Dundunchen La (4800m), offering good views of the Stok range of mountains up to Kangyatse and the Indus valley. From the pass it is a gradual easy descent to Lanak, the other base of Dundunchen La. We then descend to a nice spot near a grove of willow trees and wild roses and then to the river from where we climb gradually for another hour to the small village of Sumda Chenmo (3900m). Sumda Chenmo has an old monastery and a couple of houses where we may see metalworkers at their craft.
Day 7Trek to Sumdo Phu (3800m)
Sumdo Chenmo - Sumdo Phu
Today we continue up the main valley to some shepherds' huts at Sumdo Phu and continue up on the stream bed for another hour. Campsite is at 3800m
Day 8Trek to Konke La Base (3800)
Sumdo Phu - Konke La Base
We climb through pastures where shepherds graze their yaks, to Konke La Pass (4900 m), another fantastic viewpoint for the distant Zanskar Peaks and the Stok Range. From the pass it is a short steep descent to camp (3800m) in pastures on the other side of the pass.
Day 9Trek to Hanupatta (3850m)
Konke La Base - Hanupatta
Today we descend to the village of Hinju and then further down through Ripchar Valley to the village of Phenjila (The trail is easy now as a road is being built). We then enter a lovely but narrow gorge with colorful rocks. (Some sections of the trail which are difficult for the horses are being widened). We go through natural stone archways and bridges before reaching Sumdo, the meeting point of three valleys. We take the right valley and follow the river for another two hours to camp in a relatively larger village of Hanupatta, marked by Mani walls and Chortens. We camp near the river a little beyond the village at 3850m.
Day 10Trek to Base camp of Sniugutse La (4500m)
Hanupatta - Base Camp of Sniugutse La
After breakfast we follow a nice path for about half an hour before climbing up gradually for another 45 minutes to a tiny settlement of two houses. From here we climb gently for another hour and a half, enjoying the captivating scenery of colorful rocks and snow-capped peaks as we walk past juniper bushes and wild rose bushes. After reaching an irrigation pond we leave the main Zanskar trail and take the one on the left side, crossing a small river before climbing a ridge. We walk along the right bank of the river to another small ridge and climb for another half an hour to the top, which offers very nice views of the surrounding valley. We continue climbing gradually past shepherds' huts to our camp at the base of Sniugutse La at 4500m
Day 11Trek to Sniugutse La
Base Camp of Sniugutse La - Sniugutse La (5100m)
Today we may have chances of seeing lots of marmots and ibex. We follow the right bank of the river for about an hour and then enter a narrow gorge with sharp jagged rocks before we climb steeply to the top of Sniugutse La (5100m), marked by fluttering prayer flags and providing great views of the Zanskar Mountain. We then descend steeply on a winding path for about 20 minutes before climbing gradually for about an hour. We cross another small river and walk past some more shepherds' huts before descending to a river we wade across several times. After the last crossing we climb again steeply for a while and then gently to camp (4767m) at the base of unnamed pass.
Day 12Trek to Spring Camp (5300m)
Sniugutse La (5100m) - Spring Camp (5300m)
In the morning we climb steeply on a direct but not too well defined zigzag trail to the top of the unnamed pass (5390m). The steep and strenuous walk for an hour and a half is rewarded with fantastic panoramic views of the colorfully landscaped valley and surrounding peaks, including the prominent peak of Tsomothang. An easy descent brings us to a lovely spot near a spring, where we establish our camp at 5300m.
Day 13Trek to High Camp (5520m)
Spring Camp (5300m) - High Camp (5520m)
Today we hike to the High Camp (5520m) where climbers stay and camp on their attempt to ascend Tsomothang peak. As we explore the High Camp we can see the glacier and K2 in a distance. Return to camp.
Day 14Trek to Kanji (3850m)
High Camp (5520m) - Kanji
Today we descend from the valley and follow a river that we cross several times until we reach the tiny village of Dumbur with its huge prayer wheel. We continue to the scenic village of Kanji (3850m) where we feel having returned to civilization as we see more people and shops. Today is a nice walk with good chances of seeing some wild life including Ibexes and marmots.
Day 15Trek to Base of Kanji La(4390m)
Kanji - Base of Kanji La (4390m)
After breakfast, leaving the village behind, we pass through cultivated fields and follow the river that we cross by a small wooden bridge. We then follow the right bank of the Kong River that we must wade across several times to reach a narrow valley past shepherds huts before taking a small trail leading to the Kanji La base camp. Camp at 4390m
Day 16Trek to Mapollan(4310m)
Base of Kanji La (4390m) - Mapollan (4310m)
Today we follow a steep rough trail on loose rocks to the top of Kanji la (5250m). From the camp we climb steeply about 2 hours to a small ridge and then walk on moraine and rocky terrain to the actual base of the pass from where we follow a steep narrow path to the top (the top of the pass is likely to have some snow). Fluttering prayer flags and fantastic views of the Nun Kun massifs and Zanskar Mountains greet us at the top. From the pass it's a two-hour descent on rocky terrain to a narrow dark gorge. We cross the river and camp at Mapollan.
Day 17Trek to Tashitongde (3667m)
Mapollan (4310m) - Tashitongde (3667m)
Today we walk through meadows of wild alpine flowers and follow a stream until we reach the road head. We walk up to Rangdum Gompa (3667m), scenically situated atop a hill and covering a huge area. Rangdum monastery was founded in the early 16th century and is currently home to about 40 monks. The monastery complex also houses a small school. We descend to the road and continue a little further to a lovely camp at Tashitongde where we finish our trek.
Day 18Drive to kargil
Tashitongde (3667m) - Kargil
It's a very scenic drive today as we cross the Parkachik la from where we get good views of the Parkachik Glacier, and drive through the most scenic valley of Ladakh - the Suru Valley, which is also known as the Granary of Ladakh as its hillsides are green and filled with flowers. Forming a backdrop to the green pastures are high peaks of Nun (7135m) and Kun (7087m). Overnight stay is in a hotel in Kargil.
Day 19Drive to Srinagar
Kargil - Srinagar
After early breakfast we drive to Srinagar passing through Drass, the second coldest inhabited place on earth. Spectacular view of the famous Tiger Hill and other surrounding snow-clad peaks fascinate us here. After a stopover at Drass, where our passports are checked at the Army Checkpoint, we continue our journey towards Zojila, a pass at 3527m. Here is a discernible change in the landscape from barren colorful mountains of Ladakh to lush green hills of Kashmir. After crossing over Zojila we drive towards Srinagar via Sonamarg. Upon arrival, we check-in to the hotel and relax for the rest of the day. In the evening, there will be an optional shikara (a small boat) ride on Nigeen Lake.
Day 20Sightseeing of Srinagar
In the morning we start our sight-seeing programme with a visit to the Mughal Gardens and the famous Shankaracharya Temple. Mughal gardens are a group of gardens built by the Mughals in the Islamic style of architecture. This style was heavily influenced by the Persian gardens. The Shankaracharya Temple, overlooking the city of Srinagar and dedicated to Lord Shiva, is located on the summit of the Shankaraharya Hill at a height of 300m above sea level. In the afternoon we visit the Old city. With its almost medieval charm the old city of Srinagar has sights, smells and sounds to enchant the most jaded traveler. Its labyrinthine roads and bustling bazaars are a photographer's delight.
Day 21Fly to Delhi and departure to airport
Srinagar - Delhi
Today we have an early-morning transfer to the airport to board the Srinagar - Delhi flight.
We arrive in Delhi and are transferred to the hotel where we have the facility to use day rooms. Evening is free to explore the local Bazaars of Delhi.
Late evening, we are transferred to Delhi International Airport to catch flights to our respective destinations