Trekking in Ladakh, India

India

Trekking in Ladakh Itinerary

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Day 1: Depart from country of origin.

Day 2: Arrive Delhi. Meeting and assistance on the arrival and transferred to the Delhi hotel. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3: In Delhi. We will see 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 imposing Jama Masjid (Friday Mosque) that was built by Shah Jahan in 1651. This is 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 visit 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. Drive/pass through Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy is today the official residence of the President of India and Parliament House, a unique circular building with huge colonnades, houses the Upper and Lower Houses of Parliament. Humayun's Tomb is 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 its central canal. Overnight at Hotel.

Day 4: 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 approx. 1.5 hours. You will be met on arrival and driven through some part of Leh to check in to the hotel, where you stay overnight. We recommend that the remainder of the day be spent resting to help adjust to the altitude. Overnight at hotel.

Day 5: In Leh, Raft Trip and Alchi Visit. After breakfast drive to Phey village to begin a raft trip. The journey downstream is a fascinating experience as you pass between amazing rock formations interspersed with granite outcrops. It takes about three to four hours to reach the confluence of river Zanskar and Indus close to the village of Nimu, where you will be picked up and driven back to the Alchi Gompa.

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, erected it. To build the monastery, 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: 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 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.

[More on the Gompas of Ladakh]

Day 6: In Leh. 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..

Day 7: Drive to Rumtse (13,120') enroute visit Shey Thicksey, Hemis. We load our vehicles and depart for Rumtsey, en route to visit the largest monestary and palace in the Indus Valley.

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 metres 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.

THIKSE 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 monks belong to the gompa. If you get there by 6.30am you can witness the daily morning prayers but there are also prayers closer to noon, preceded by long, 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 its Festival. 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, 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.
We continue our drive to Rumtsey for another two hours where we reach our trek starting point. Remainder of the day to explore surroundings and meet trek crew. Overnight in camp.

Day 8: Start Trek to Kyamar (14,760') 4-5 hours. We begin our trek with a hike into the 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 overnight in the valley.

Day 9: Trek to Riti River Camp (16,072') over Kyamar La (16,400') and Mandalchan La (16,564') 6-7 hours. The Kyamar Valley is a refuge for a variety of wildlife, and we may see some today on our hike. We begin with a gradual ascent over two passes, the Kyamar La and the Mandalchan La, where we get spectacular views across the Changthang Plateau. A short descent from the pass brings us to the Riti River camp, inhibited by Changpas with herds of sheep, goat and Yaks. Overnight at camp.

Day 10: Trek to Tso Kar Lake Side (15,088') over Shibuk La (16,728') 5-6 hours. 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 11: Rest Day at Tso Kar.

Day 12: Trek to Rajung Karu (15,190') 7-8 hours. As we hike along the west side of Tso Kar, banks of lake have vast salt deposits, followed with gradual climbing to the Rajung Karu pass, offering of the excellent views down into Tso Kar. From pass Our descent down into the valley of the Ponglong Chu river camp. Overnight at camp.

Day 13: Trek to Gyama Chu (16,400') over Kayaru La (17,548') 4-5 hours. Trail gradually climbs up towards the Kayaru La, followed with a gentle descent all the way to our camp for the day near Gyama Chu. Overnight at camp

Day 14: Trek to Pangnating (16,564') over Barma La (17,548') 4-5 hours. Today, immediately after leaving camp, a 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 with gradual climb to the camp at Pangnating, situated in a beautiful valley at the base of a series of mountain. Pangnating is the highest camp of this adventure. Overnight at camp.

Day 15: Trek to Lanyal Valley (16,326') over Lanyal La (18,532') 6-7 hours. Today we cross highest pass of the trek, the Lanyal La (18,532'). We cross a small glacier on our way to the top, which offers spectular views of surrounding area. From here we descend down to the pastures of the Lanyal Valley, where camp will be set for the night. Overnight at camp.

Day 16: Trek to Lato Gongma (15,416') 7-8 hours. From the camp trail we descend into a large mountain-ringed valley, where the landscape changes from arid to green pasture land. Good chances to view some of the wildlife in the area. Overnight at camp.

Day 17: Trek to Kyangdom (15,000') 6-7 hours. Trail descent along the Phirtse Chu takes us into the beautiful Valley, surrounded by snow-capped peaks and the magnificent Tso Moriri, with its blue waters. Overnight at camp.

Day 18: Trek to Gyaling Gyak (15,450') 3-4 hours. With a short trekking day, we hike along the western side of the lake, camping on its shores. Overnight at camp.

Day 19: Trek to Karzok (15,760') 3-4 hours. Ascending along the northern side of Tso Moriri, there are chances to see we should see migratory and resident birdlife during the walk towards the only village of the Changpa people, surrounded by some of the highest barley fields in the world. Karzok has a small monastery with around 30 monks. Overnight at camp.

Day 20: Drive to Leh. We board vehicles to our drive to Leh. It takes about seven hours passing through Thantsang Karu Lake and cross the Namshang La Pass and some villages manly inhibited by Tibetans, road joins main Indus valley at Mahe bridge. From here we drive alongh Indua river all the way to Leh. Overnight at hotel.

Day 21: Delhi. Transfer to Leh airport for the flight to Delhi. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the Hotel.

Day 22: You will be transferred to the airport as per flight schedule.

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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