Nomads Trek of Ladakh Itinerary
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Depart Home Country.
Arrive Delhi. Pick up and transfer to 4 Star hotel.
Delhi Tour. On our Delhi tour we will experience this city that has been in existence for centuries. From the beginning of time, successive layers of gifted civilizations have left their architectural marks with the great Mogul Emperor Shah Jahan being India’s architect extraordinaire. We visit the imposing Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) that was built by Shah Jahan in 1651, the largest and most impressive mosque in India. After visiting the Mosque we wander or take a ricksaw ride through Chandi Chowk (Silver Street), the colorful market street of ancient Shahjahanabad, now a bustling bazaar, followed with a visit to Raj Ghat where Mahatma Gandhi was cremated.
Our exploration of New Delhi includes a visit to India Gate, built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War. We drive/pass through Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy and is currently the official residence of the President of India and Parliament House. A unique circular building with huge colonnades, it houses the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament. Then we move on to Humayun’s Tomb, the first Mughal garden tomb. Visitors are immediately struck by the tomb’s resemblance to its more famous cousin – the Taj Mahal – with its four grand gateways, octagonal base-plan, soaring niche-shaped arches, lofty double domes and the symmetrical garden with central canal. Overnight Delhi
Fly to Leh: (11,500ft/3,500m). After breakfast you transfer back to the domestic airport for the flight to Ladakh. This 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 ~1.5 hours). Leh, the capital of Ladakh, is blessed with markets, curio shops and is something of a traveler’s mecca. You will be met on arrival and transferred to local hotel. We recommend that the rest of the day be filled with gentle walks in town and resting to help adjust to the altitude. Overnight in Leh
Raft trip and Alchi visit. We drive to the small village of Phey for a short raft trip. This will not only give us some more time to acclimatize but a chance to see this wondrous region with a worms eye view. The journey downstream is a fascinating experience as you pass between elaborate rock formations interspersed with granite outcrops. The raft trips is about three hours, where we reach the confluence of the famed Indus and Zanskar rivers. We exit at the village of Nomu and travel to vist the great monastery (also known as a gompa) of Alchi.
Alchi Gompa is located near the small village of Saspol. It is one of the earliest monasteries built in Ladakh, dating from the 11th century. Because it was built before the invading wars began in the 15th century, Alchi was built on lowlands, rather than on a hilltop as others were, in order to protect them from marauding armies. King Rin-chen-Izghimpo, one of the first Ladakhi kings to engage in foreign relations, was the builder. Prior to construction, the Ladakhi king signed a treaty with the Gyalpo (king) of Tibet, who agreed to provide the artisans.
The rambling monastery has six main buildings while the temple is surrounded by wooden pillars and carved woodwork of mythological animals. The woodwork is original and reflects Kashmiri influence. The walls along both sides of the Dukhang (inner building) are covered by mural paintings which are probably original to the time of the monastery’s founding. Of particular interest are the miniature scenes of royal life. The best preserved is the royal drinking scene which is one of the most remarkable to have survived anywhere in the Tibetan-speaking world. The costumes in this scene clearly depict central Asian dress and the king and queen each have a halo, a convention that appears elsewhere in Alchi and possibly shows Nestorian Christian influence from Persia. This is the only painting in Ladakh that shows central Asian influence so clearly. The chortens around Alchi gompa also contain numerous wall murals, often of Rin-chen Zang-po, meant to honour his activities as a translator in collaboration with Indian teachers of Buddhism. We return to our hotel in Leh for overnight.
Today we walk to Shanti Stupa, a large, white-domed Buddhist chorten perched on a hill outside of Leh, Gyamsa village, and farther to Kalon Farm and across to Leh Palace. From Palace we walk through the Old town of Leh back to the hotel.
Drive to Rumtse (13,120′). En route we visit the palace of Shey, and the famed Thikse and Hemis Monasteries.
- Shey Palace (15 km from Leh) The old ‘Summer Palace’ of the kings of Ladakh was built about 550 years ago by Lhachen Palgyigon, the first king of Ladakh. It stands next to the remains of a larger construction on the east side of a hill, which runs south-east towards the Indus. From the palace you can see over the fertile Indus plain northeast to Thikse Gompa and over the Indus to the Zanskar mountain range. The old Shey palace has the largest golden Buddha statue in Ladakh in its gompa. The statue is worked out of gold and gilded copper sheets, stands 12 meters high and has blue hair. King Dalden Namgyal erected it in the middle of the 17th century. The most important moment in the construction of such a figure is when the eyes are painted in and the statue can ‘see’. No artist or monk would dare to look the Buddha in the eye so the pupils are painted over the artist’s shoulder, with his back to the idol.
- Thiske Gompa (17 km from Leh) The 500-year-old Thikse monastery, perched on a hill high above the Indus, has the largest contingent of monks in Ladakh. On the right of the entrance to the main courtyard a new chapel houses an enormous 15-metre-high seated Buddha figure. About 100 yellow-cap sect monks belong to the gompa. We hope to witness the daily morning prayers preceded by the mournful sounds from the long Tibetan horns on the roof.
- Hemis Gompa (45 km from Leh) Hemis Gompa is famous far beyond the borders of Ladakh for beauty and the Hemis annual. This takes place every year with mask dances on the 9th to 11th day of the fifth Tibetan month. Hemis also has a gigantic thangka (Buddhist cloth painting), one of the largest in the world, which is only displayed to the public every 12 years at the Hemis Festival. Hemis Gompa is the largest and one of the most important in Ladakh quite apart from its annual festival. It was founded about 350 years ago by Stagtshang Rinchen, who was invited to Ladakh by King Singe Namgyal.
Each of these monasteries are profoundly beautiful in both architecture and internal artwork. We continue our drive to Rumtse (about 2 hours) to reach our trek starting point. Overnight in tented camp.
Start Trek to Kyamar (4-5 hours, 14,760′) We begin our trek with a hike into the exquisitely green Kyamar Valley, an ancient trade route through which the salt harvested from sacred Tso Kar Lake (‘tso’ means lake in Tibetan) is brought into Leh. We camp in the valley Overnight at camp.
Trek to Riti River Camp (6-7 hours, 16,072′) over Kyamar La (16,400′) and Mandalchan La (16,564′). The Kyamar Valley is a refuge for a variety of wildlife, and we may see some today on our hike. This is a gradual ascent over two passes, the Kyamar La and the Mandalchan La, where we get spectacular views across the Changthang Plateau. After the final climb, a short descent from pass brings us to the Riti River camp, inhibited by Changpas with herds of sheep, goat and Yaks. Overnight at camp.
Trek to Tso Kar Lake Side( 5-6 hours, 15,088′) over Shibuk La (16,728′) From Camp, a gentle climb to the Shibuk La. From the summit, we can see part of Tso Kar, From top descend through a valley that leads us to Tso Kar and camp. Overnight at camp.
Day at Tso Kar to explore area.
Trek to Rajung Karu (7-8 hours, 15,190′) As we hike along the west side of Tso Kar, where the banks of the lake have vast salt deposits. Eventually we begin a slow ascent, climbing to the Rajung Karu Pass. This area offers of the excellent views down into Tso Kar. From pass we descend down into the valley of the Ponglong Chu river camp. Overnight at camp.
Trek to Gyama Chu (4-5 hours, 16,400′) over Kayaru La (17,548′) The trail gradually climbs up towards the Kayaru La, followed with gentle descent all the way to the camp near Gyama Chu. Overnight at camp
Trek to Pangnating (4-5 hours, 16,564′) over Barma La (17,548′) Today immediately after leaving camp steep climb takes us to the Barma La, offering spectacular views of the peaks and surrounding valleys. From top trail descend to the Gyama Chu, followed by a gradual climb to the camp at Pangnating, situated in a beautiful valley at the base of a series of mountains. Pangnating is our highest camp of this adventure. Overnight at camp.
Trek to Lanyal Valley(6-7 hours, 16,326′) over Lanyal La (18,532′). Today we cross the highest pass of trek the Lanyal La (18,532′), taking us across a small glacier on our way to the high point. The views are some of the finest of surrounding areas. From here, we descend down to the pastures of the Lanyal Valley, where camp will be set for the night.
Trek to Lato Gongma (7-8 hours, 15,416′) From camp trail descend into a large mountain-ringed valley, the landscape changes from arid to green pasture land. Good chances to some the wild life in the area. Overnight at camp.
Trek to Kyangdom (6-7 hours, 15,000′) Our trail descends along the Phirtse Chu takes us into a beautiful valley surrounded by snow peaks, and the magnificent lake Tso Moriri, with its blue waters. Overnight at camp.
Trek to Gyaling Gyak (3-4 hours, 15,450′) With a short trekking day, we hike along the western side of the lake, camping on its shores. Overnight at camp.
Trek to Karzok (3-4 hours, 15,760′) Ascending along the northern side of lake Tso Moriri, we should see migratory and resident birdlife during the walk towards the only village of the Changpa people. Here we are surrounded by some of the highest barley fields in the world. We stop at Karzok, a small monastery with around 30 monks. Overnight at camp.
Drive to Leh. We board vehicles for our drive to Leh. It takes about seven hours passing through Thantsang Karu Lake and cross the Namshang La Pass Some villages are inhibited by Tibetans, and eventually road joins the main Indus Valley at Mahe Bridge. From here we drive along the Indus river all the way to Leh. Overnight at hotel.
Delhi. Transfer to Leh airport for the flight to Delhi. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the Hotel and prepare for onward trip. (Most flights depart late night). Trekkers may depart afternoon on this day or later in the evening.
Early morning flight.
Arrival in home country.
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.
Gordon – Your deft guidance and deep knowledge of India made our experience unforgettably outstanding. All five of our senses were continually stimulated – to the max. Also the unusual bonding of the group was gratifying. We care about one another. Your background and experiences in India helped us experience India in a unique way […]