Day 2: We will meet for an early breakfast. You can join us whenever you wake up. Today's objective is to rest and recover from jet lag. Optional sightseeing today could include the Jama Masjid Mosque and the Red Fort in Old Delhi, followed by a leisurely late lunch at a tasty Indian restaurant.
Day 3: Today we have an early morning transfer to the domestic airport for our flight from Delhi to Leh. The spectacular show is outside the window as our flight takes us over the main Himalayan range and onto the Tibetan plateau. As soon as you land you can tell the difference. The air is clear and cool and people are relaxed and friendly. You'll hear the welcoming Ladaki greeting "Julay! Julay!" We'll transfer by car to our comfortable guest house located on the outskirts of Leh in a neighborhood called Changspa. It is very important that you rest this afternoon. It will also aid your acclimatization if you drink plenty of water.
Day 4: Free day for acclimatization, sightseeing and shopping in Leh. Visit the deserted Leh Palace overlooking the town. Eight stories tall, it was built in the 16th century — around the same time as the Potala in Lhasa. The old town of Leh clusters at the base of the hill below the palace. The Leh Gompa stands high above the palace.
Take a short nap or rest in the afternoon. Don't underestimate the combined effects of jet lag and altitude — if you rest and drink as much as you can now, you'll adjust to the higher altitudes faster. Also be mindful of the extremely bright sun. You can get sunburned very easily at this altitude.
Day 5: Sightseeing. We'll visit Shey, (the old capital of Ladakh), Thiksey Monastery (architecturally impressive), and the Stok Palace Museum. Ladakh or "La–Dags" means land of the high passes. It is one of the last strongholds of Mahayana Buddhism — the principal religion of Ladakh for the last millennium. Buddhism has been brutally repressed by the Chinese in Tibet for the last forty years. Ladakh became a part of India with independence in 1948, following the first of three wars waged between India and Pakistan. China annexed a large portion of Ladakh in a war fought with India in 1962.
This border zone was so sensitive, it only opened to foreign tourist in 1974. It is the best place to see and experience traditional Tibetan Buddhism. The first independent kingdom was established in the ninth century. Encouraged by royal patronage, the Gelugpa (Yellow Hat) sect of Buddhism established many of the monasteries in the region around the fourteenth century. Around 1639 a new capital was founded and palace at Leh was built along with a string of monasteries, including the well known Hemis.
Day 6: Today we will drive to the road's end and begin our days of trekking. Our starting point will be near Jinchan (11,900 feet). We hike to Rumbak (12,470 feet) where we spend the night.
Day 7: Today our goal is from Rumbakpast Yuruche (13,500 feet) to Gondola Base Camp. Since we are now at a high altitude, the air temperature is much cooler. Behind us is a remarkable panorama of dramatic views under a sparkling sky.
Day 8: Rest day for acclimatization. Surrounding us are many different and comfortable walks, meandering through rough–hewn valleys.
Day 9: The first part of our day is a steady climb to the crest of Gandala Pass — requiring about three hours. After we rest and take–in the wonderful view, we'll make a long and steady descent to Shingo.
Day 10: Today we'll pass through gorges and splash along several easy stream crossings, before we reach the village of Skiu. Turning east, our path follows the Markha Chu (chu means river in Ladaki). Crossing the river, we pass through fields and bucolic scenery as we arrive in Chalak — a collection of just a few houses at 12,100 feet. We'll camp nearby.
Day 11: Today we continue trekking and exploring along the Markha River canyon. After a river crossing, we later set camp tonight near the village of Markha.
Day 12: Following the Markha River, we pass clusters of mani walls and chortens. We'll enjoy wonderful views as we amble up the valley. Following the main trail through Humlung village and past its monastery, we'll arrive at Hankar, the site of impressive fort ruins. Soon after, we'll leave the valley to climb gradually. We'll follow a stream to the village of Tahungtse, camping in the nearby pastures at 13,620 feet.
Day 13: We climb steeply this morning, passing a small lake to finally reach a plateau at 15,500 feet. This beautiful area is dominated by the mountain Kang Yaze (21,000 feet). We pass several mani walls before reaching our camp in the wide open Alpine meadows of Nimaling at 15,490 feet.
Day 14: There will be a steep but steady climb to the top of Kongmaru La at 16,730 feet — the highest point on our trek! First, we'll cross the river, then continue on a steady climb with lots of switch backs towards the top. The climb requires about two to three hours. We are rewarded with excellent views of Ladakh and the Karakoram Range where we can spy points as far away as Pakistan. Afterwards, we descend steeply along grassy slopes dropping through a gorge as we head to our camp at Chukirmo (13,350 feet).
Day 15: Continuing our decent, we arrive at the village of Shang Sumdo — a short two to three hour walk along an easy path. Vehicles will be waiting there to drive us to Leh. We stop on the way to visit Hemis Monastery — home of the famous Hemis Festival in June.
Day 16: This is our final day in Leh. Free time in the afternoon will be followed by dinner at our guest house and memories of the trail.
Day 17: Today we begin early with an airport transfer for our return to Delhi. Soaring over the mountain barrier that once isolated Ladakh, we reluctantly return to the modern world. Free time in the afternoon is for rest and exploration. In the evening, we meet for a simple but delicious vegetarian meal at our guest house.
Day 18: An all day excursion to the Taj Mahal in Agra is our main event today. We take the train (Shitabi Express) early in the morning for its three hour trip to Agra. We'll visit the Taj Mahal — the famous Moghul monument constructed by Emperor Shah Jahan in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Our tour includes a visit to Fatehpur Sikri, an abandoned Moghul city. Our return is again by the Shitabi Express which arrives back in Delhi at 10 PM.
Day 19: A free day today in Delhi for sightseeing, relaxing or shopping. New Delhi is historical and has excellent museums as well as many ancient ruins. Our group will check out of the hotel at noon and transfer to the airport for your departure.
A detailed itinerary is available on request.
Scheduled Dates: Markha Valley Ladakh Trek
About This Supplier
Also see tour packages in:
Asia India Outdoor: Land Rambler Hiking & Trekking Walking Tours
Email it to a friend:
Click here to email this vacation to a friend