Start: Delhi Finish: Delhi
Physical rating: Challenging
Special diets catered: Please inform Exodus of specific dietary requirements
Tour code: TGR
Group size: 4 - 16
16 to 99
Tour operated in:
Extra tourhub saving: $52
Ladakh remains one of the best places to experience the unique culture of the High Himalaya. As our trek follows the Markha River, we discover a landscape where lofty peaks of the Stok, Matho and Zanskar Ranges tower above picturesque Ladakhi villages and verdant valleys below. From the highest pass, the Gongmaru La (5200m), we enjoy incredible views extending as far as Tibet, before descending to Hemis, Ladakh’s largest and most famous monastery.
Meals: No Meals
The tour starts in Delhi today. The group flights usually arrive in the
morning. There will be a welcome briefing but otherwise, today is free to
relax and recover from the flight or for individual exploration of Delhi.
Rooms in the hotel are usually available after mid day.
A very early start today for the flight to Leh. We often have to leave the
hotel at around 2 am and drive to the airport for the very early morning but
highly spectacular flight over the Himalaya to Leh. If the weather is good
and the flight goes on time we should be in Leh early. The rest of the day is
free to relax and acclimatise to the altitude (3,500m). In the morning we
rest and catch up on some sleep and in the afternoon there will be a gentle
orientation walk of Leh and its bazaars.
Today there is a sightseeing tour to two of the major gompas in the area. We
first drive to Shey, a former Royal Palace of the Ladakh kings. Inside is a
small temple containing a 350 year old copper and gold statue of the Buddha.
From Shey we drive (or we can walk across the fields) to Tikse, where we
visit the monastery - perched on top of a hill - its red and white buildings
can be seen for miles. A recently built temple contains a magnificent image
of the Future Buddha. We return to Leh and the rest of the afternoon is free
Location: Old Leh Road
Today we will have an acclimatisation walk round the Leh Valley. Set above
Leh on the Namgyal Hill, are the ruins of the Old Royal Palace. From here a
winding path takes us to Tsemo Monastery, from where we are rewarded for our
efforts by magnificent views of the whole of Leh and its surrounding
villages. Descending round the back of the palace we walk via Sankar to the
recently built Japanese Peace Pagoda. This huge stupa overlooks Leh and we
have stunning views of the town and the Stok range of mountains across the
valley. (There is the chance today to make an optional jeep safari to the
Khardung Pass; at 5,602m, one of the highest motorable roads in the world.The
journey to the top of the pass and back takes roughly 4/5 hours in total and
can be booked and paid for locally. Your leader will have details. (If you do
the jeep safari this will be in the morning and you can do a walk in the
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
By now we should be well acclimatised, and we take a short drive from Leh to
Jinchen. We drive past Spituk, the site of the first Gelugpa Monastery in
Ladakh. There should be time to visit the monastery with its commanding views
over the Indus Valley. From here a new road takes us across the Indus towards
Jinchen. We will drive as far as the road conditions allow and to where our
ponies will be waiting. After they are loaded up we start our trek into the
Jinchen Gorge at the foot of the Stok Mountains. The trail is straightforward
as we follow the Jinchen Nala upstream. The valley closes in around us and
spectacular rock formations tower above us. An ever-changing panorama of
fantastic coloured mountains surrounds us as we ascend the valley. We may
have to cross the river as the stream forces the path closer to the side of
the valley. Suddenly the valley widens and reveals the snow-topped peaks of
the Stok mountains. Prayer flags on a wide pasture mark the junction with the
trail leading to Rumbak village. Tonight's camp is below Rumbak village with
stunning views all around - looking left towards Rumbak a fantastic
multi-coloured toothy skyline ridge appears in the distance. We can visit the
village this afternoon and maybe sample the local delicacy, salty yak
buttered tea, in one of the many home stays.
*Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 3,880m)
A short day today for acclimatisation. We head up the main valley past a
watermill and to a bridge, which we cross. The trail ascends the valley
gradually and when the valley splits we take the right-hand fork up past the
one house village of Yurutse. Leaving the fields behind we ascend towards the
Ganda La and camp tonight by a small stream below the pass. In the afternoon
there will be an acclimatisation walk on the hills around camp.
*Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 4,539m)
A long day today as we cross our first pass. The trail is clear as it zigzags
towards the pass. As we climb the views become more and more spectacular.
Behind us, Stok Kangri dominates the skyline. Finally, we reach the top of
the Ganda La (4,970m) decked with colourful prayer flags and the views are
worth all the effort. Ahead is the Zanskar Range and behind are the Stok
Mountains. Far below in the valley are the fields of Shingo. As we descend
keep an eye open for marmots and blue sheep, both of which seem to thrive in
these desolate, high altitude spots. The trail to Shingo is easy and in the
main season, there is usually a tea tent here, which may sell cold drinks.
From Shingo, the trail takes us through a spectacular gorge with beautifully
coloured and eroded rocks. We continue down the gorge all the way to the
small hamlet of Skiu. As we pass through Skiu we can stop and have a look at
a Women’s Eco Café that Exodus helped renovate as part of our Himalayan
Community Support. We camp either in Skiu itself or about 20 minutes beyond
the village by the river.
*Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 3,360m)
A fairly long, but easier walk today, as we trek along the valley to Markha.
The terrain along the valley is not demanding so there are plenty of
opportunities to admire the magnificent scenery. The colours of the barren
mountains of Ladakh are truly spectacular, pastel pinks, blues and greens
shine in the brilliant sunshine and change colour dramatically as the sun
rises and sets.
We follow the river all day today and will have to cross the river a few
times and although bridges have been built in some places there will be some
river crossings today. We will have lunch in Sara, where there is usually
some welcome shade in a tea tent. Beyond the settlement of Chalak, there is
an impressive line of chortens and a huge mound of goat horns, which are
placed on the chortens to ward off any evil spirits trying to enter the
valley. Climbing up to a small col we descend again to the river and a
mediaeval fort silhouetted on the hillside tells us that we have almost
reached Markha. Just before Markha, we will need to don our river crossing
sandals for at least 2 river crossings.
Markha is only a small village and there will be time to explore the small
monastery in the afternoon. Our camp will be on grazing flats near the
*Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 3,750m)
Just beyond Markha, the trail meets the Chacham Valley. We will have one or
two river crossings this morning. Just after the river crossings is Tache
gompa, set way above us on the cliff face. There is time to visit the
monastery, which is the most important in the valley and is affiliated to
Hemis. It is a steep 10-minute climb up to the small temple but the stunning
views from the top are well worth the effort. Continuing up the valley we
walk through Umlung village to Hankar where there are more impressive fort
ruins and a small gompa. We have lunch in Hankar at the Eco Cafe that Exodus
has helped set up and support as part of our Himalayan Community Support
Projects. From Hankar the trail turns off from the main valley, climbs up a
small side valley past the ruins of Hankar Fort before dropping down to Upper
Hankar. Climbing more we now follow the Nimaling stream to Thachungtse where
we camp. We may be lucky and see Blue Sheep (a type of wild goat) high up on
the grazing areas above the campsite.
*Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 4,250m)
A short but quite tough walk today to Nimaling. The trail climbs steeply to a
plateau where the valley opens out. Ahead are spectacular views of Kang
Yangtse, at 6,400m, the highest peak in the valley. In this area, there is no
permanent habitation but during the summer months, the shepherds bring their
flocks of sheep, goats and dzos (cow-yak cross breeds) to graze on the high
altitude pasture. The shepherds stay in stone shelters close to the grazing
area for the whole summer and we can often buy yoghurt or local cheese from
them. In the evenings, the animals are brought down from the hills and it is
quite usual to have hundreds of them wandering through the campsite. Look
after your edibles! We should get to Nimaling by lunchtime and in the
afternoon, there is an optional walk up behind camp towards Kang Yangtse.
This is well worth doing and highly recommended for the impressive close-up
views of Kang Yangste.
*Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 4,854m)
A long day as we cross our second, and highest, pass of the trek. Our trail
begins today by climbing to the Gongmaru La. It is a fairly long, steep
ascent zigzagging to the top of the pass at 5,286m, but the views from the
top are worth the effort. Looking back we see Kang Yangtse, Dzo Jongo East
and West and Regoni Malari. Ahead there are views of the Stok Range and down
to the Indus valley. The descent is steep at first and we then enter a
spectacular gorge and descend more gradually with many small river crossings.
High up on the barren cliffs we may spot the elusive Blue Sheep which inhabit
this area. Passing through Chuskurmo we continue our long descent crossing
the river several times to the village of Chokodo. Today is a tough one due
to crossing the high pass and the long descent.
*Full-service Camping *(sleeping altitude 3,980m)
This morning we drive to Hemis Monastery though very occasionally the road
gets blocked and our transport cannot make it so we will then need to walk
down the jeep track to Hemis. Hemis was once the largest and richest of all
the Ladakhi monasteries. A wander round the dimly lit temples containing
grotesque yet beautiful masks and statues will take us back hundreds of years
in time. We then drive back to Leh and the comforts of a hot shower at our
hotel. We should get to Leh for lunch and the rest of the day is free for
last minute sightseeing or shopping in the bazaars.
We fly from Leh to Delhi. The rest of the day is free for individual
sightseeing in Delhi.
The tour ends after breakfast today.
13 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners.
All breakfasts, 7 lunches and 7 dinners are included.
All meals except for main meals in Delhi and Leh are included; please allow
about GBP70 (approx. USD115) for these.
Whilst camping, the staff will bring a hot drink (usually tea) to your tent
each morning. When you reach camp in the afternoon tea and biscuits will be
served. At breakfast, dinner and in the afternoons, there is a choice of hot
drinks. Breakfasts typically include cereal, toast and jam, eggs and
porridge. Lunch on trek is usually served as a picnic en route (except on
shorter days when it is in camp). Lunch and dinner typically include soup to
start, followed by a variety of hot dishes (both local and western) such as
potatoes/chips, vegetables, curry, pasta, rice, dhal and paneer (cottage
cheese). At dinner time a dessert such as tinned fruit and custard, fritters
or cake is also be served.
Please note that although some meals will include meat, it is not as readily
available whilst camping.
Staying hydrated is important when undertaking any physical activity but
particularly so at altitude where it is generally recommended to drink at
least 3-4 litres per person per day.
We strongly encourage you not to buy bottled water as this contributes to the
growing problem of plastic pollution in Ladakh. In Leh there is a shop
called Dzomsa which sells safe drinking water. Your leader will show you
where this is on your first day in Leh.
During the trek the cooks will collect and boil drinking water from the
mountain streams and fill up your water bottles for you, but you may need to
collect water during the day and may wish to use your own water purification
treatment as well.
We also suggest that you may like to bring a reusable bottle with a wide
opening (Nalgene or similar) with you and use a SteriPEN to treat any
non-boiled water. A SteriPEN is a handheld UV water purifier – small,
lightweight and battery powered so easy to pack for a trek. It’s quick to
use, far more effective than purification tablets, and the water is ready
immediately. It’s fine to use a SteriPEN on non-boiled water so long as it
isn’t cloudy or full of sediment (which is uncommon in these regions).
SteriPENs are widely stocked on Amazon, outdoor shops and other online
retailers; look for the latest models but avoid USB charging ones. Using a
SteriPEN means you won’t leave behind a single plastic bottle – and you
can keep it for future trips.
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