Trekking in Ladakh, India


Trekking in Ladakh Itinerary

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Day 1: Depart from the U.S.

Day 2: Continue travel through Europe or Asia

Day 3: Arrive in Delhi. You will be met outside the arrival hall and transferred to Oberoi Hotel (or a similar lodging)

Day 4: We'll have a half-day of sightseeing of Delhi. This will include a visit to the Red Fort, built in 1648 during the reign of Shah Jehan in red sandstone, which gave the fort its name. We also visit Jama Masjid is India's largest mosque, built of red sandstone and white marble in the middle of the 17th century. We wander down Chandni Chowk (Silver Street), once the imperial avenue down which Shah Jehan rode at the head of lavish cavalcades, today bustles with shops, stalls and silversmiths' ateliers. We also visit Raj Ghat, where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated. Additional areas, such as Humayan's Tomb may be visited if time permits.

Day 5: We'll fly to Leh (capital of Ladakh). The flight takes us over the Greater Himalaya and makes an exciting landing at one of the highest airports in the world. We may get excellent views of Stok Kangri as we fly in and, on a clear day, the great peaks of the Karakoram are visible to the north. Leh is at an altitude of nearly 11,000 feet, and you can expect to feel the effects of the rarefied atmosphere. For the first few hours, you may be a little breathless and perhaps have a slight headache. These symptoms of altitude sickness are mild and usually disappear quite quickly. We'll have the rest of the day to acclimatize and informally tour Leh.

Day 6: We'll tour Leh, a fascinating labyrinth of winding streets and quaint bazaars. The main street is open and airy lined with rows of shops. On either side of the market are long lines of Ladakhi women in traditional dress and colorful jewelry of coral and turquoise, selling vegetables from behind enormous baskets. The spectacular eight-story Leh Palace looming above, overlooking the town, was built in the 16th century, about the same time as the Patola in Lhasa. The stroll through the town is followed by a visit to Sankar Gompa, about 2 kilometers from the market. It has a number of pure gold icons and richly painted walls, its pictures depicting different stories, including some from Buddhist books, the Panchtantra.

Day 7: We'll tour Ladakh's Ancient Gompas (monasteries). After a short drive, we'll visit the Shey Palace was built in 1645 by Deldan Namgyal as a summer residence for the kings of Ladakh. It is the oldest palace in Ladakh, and above the palace is an even older ruined fortress. Return to the Ladakh Sarai for dinner and overnight stay. [For more on the Gompas of Ladakh]

Day 8: We'll drive towards Tsogotsi (3 hours, 45 km). There, we'll meet our porters and trekking team, and begin our trek from the left bank of the river Zanskar to the village of Tsogsti. This is a small, two-house settlement. From here, it will be a steep climb through the Tsogsti gorge, which leads us to the summer pasture of Tsogsiphu. It will be a fairly steep climb to our camp, a little further up to Pasture Camp, at 14,000 feet.

Day 9: We'll hike from Pasture Camp to Kandhalha, starting toward the Tsogsti Pass while passing herds of yaks, dzo and domestic cattle. The trail is long and uphill but gradual to the pass, at 17,000 feet. From the pass, we have a beautiful view of the Ladakh range Karakoram, with the Leh and Zanskar region on the right. We'll travel downhill to get to our campsite on the base of Kandhalha Peak.

Day 10: We'll travel from the base of Kandhalha to Rumbak. The day will start with an uphill climb to Kandhalha, at 16,000 ft. From the pass, it'll be downhill all the way to Rumbak Nala. Below the pass, we'll come across a small tented tea shop, where drinks can be purchased. And you will pass through Yurutse, which has a settlement of only one house. Walk along the Yrutse Nala, and turn right to reach Rumbak village. We'll set up camp there, and if time permits, we'll visit the village of Rumbak.

Day 11: We'll travel from Rumbak to the base of Chortenchan. We'll climb for about three hours to Stok Lha (15840 ft.). Here, we might see the upper part of Indus Valley and Stok Gorge, with beautiful rock formations below. We'll climb down to Khilchay, a summer pasture of Stok Village, then over two small humps and get down to Stok Allah. Then we'll walk uphill on the left bank of Stok Nallah and get into another summer pasture called Chortenchan. This is one of the few areas in the world known for snow leopards.

Day 12: Today we travel from Chortenchan to our Base Camp at Stok Kangri (16,000 ft./5,000m). The climb to Stok Kangari takes approximately three hours. We will spend the next two nights here.

Day 13: A rest and preparation day at Stok Kangri Base Camp.

Day 14: Acclimatization walk to 5,400m. You spend today walking up towards what used to be Advanced Base Camp (camping here is no longer allowed) before returning to base camp. The walk is on moraine to the edge of the glacier. Return to Camp for overnight stay.

Day 15: Summit Day: We start  before dawn  in order to have enough time for the summit push. Depending on the snow conditions, our trail passes through scree and boulders and leads  to the south ridge. The last section of the ridge is a steep, exposed 450m path.  Most of the time ropes and crampons are not needed. The summit is festooned with prayer flags and after spending some time taking pictures and enjoying vista, we descend down to Base Camp. Takes around 12 to 14 hours.

Day 16: Extra day for inclement weather

Day 17: From Base Camp, we'll trek directly down the valley towards the village of Stok. This delightful walk passes several homesteads and numerous ruins of old fortresses. We'll reach Stok after about six hours of walking. From there our vehicle is waiting to drive us back to Leh, where we will spend the night at City Hotel.

Day 18: In Leh, we'll visit the famed monasteries of Ladakh, such as Hemis and Lamarayu Gompa. If time permits, we'll visit one or two other gompas.

Day 19: Today we fly from Leh to Delhi, and return to Hotel Oberoi.

Day 20: In Delhi, we'll have a spare day in case of flight cancellation due to the weather conditions. We'll have time for last-minute shopping and sightseeing.

Day 21: We'll depart Delhi early for flights home.

Travelers note: Each day we will try to have some free time so one is not always on guided tour. While we often eat meals together, they will not be pre-arranged which will allow us the flexibility to eat at local establishments or at more preferred hours. Hotels are subject to change.

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