We plan to follow the itinerary however roads wash
out, or are extended, occasionally people get sick, logistical challenges arise,
or we hear of a better campsite, and so
we will adapt it as needed.
For this trek there is no detailed itinerary, although we do cover the first few days...
(Day 0 - arrive Delhi / early Leh arrival)
We spend two nights in Leh, so reasonable acclimatization to the
3480m/11,415ft altitude but if you are new
to altitude or to Leh, perhaps plan to arrive one day early and we will
arrange transfers and hotel and show you around.
Included in all our Ladakh trips are a couple of sightseeing trips, with or
without a cultural guide (your choice) and it is your choice of where to go;
many people joining are previous trekkers so have seen some places previously.
If you are more ambitious we can also help you arrange a day or overnight trip
to Alchi (~3100m) and Basgo Gompas or further afield Lamayuru (~3500m), a day rafting trip on the Zanskar River or or hammer down the Khardung La on a mountain bike (best a few days into your Leh
sojourn). If you have been working flat out you are welcome to just relax, kick
back and de-stress too, and adjust a little more slowly to the time zone change.
Sophie admires the mural at Basgo - Jamie
Day 1 - meet in Leh 3480m
Phew, after a long series of flights, you are here! Look for a Project Himalaya sign or a simple sign with your
name on it at the airport, and our wonderful drivers Ang Chuk or Pasang will pick you up.
Jamie meets you at the hotel on your arrival and we discuss altitude health (and the time zone change for North Americans) over
tea/coffee or breakfast then introduce Leh and show you the better places
to eat. Most people crash out for a few hours and spend the day relaxing and recovering. Do drink
plenty of fluids, which helps the acclimatization process, and do also pop some multi-vitamins to help in a small way to ward off colds from the plane or being rundown from the travel.
We normally go out to
dinner together; let's meet in the peaceful hotel garden by 6:30pm, arrive earlier to soak in the view. We eat at some of our favourite clean (very important!) restaurants: Wonderland, Chopsticks, Bon Appetit, Open Hand, G Kitchen, Tibet Kitchen and Summer Harvest.
Day 2 - Leh 3480m
This is a day for experiencing the revered gompas, monasteries and palaces of the Indus Valley, ie a short drive from Leh. We arrange a jeep or two (and a local
culture guide if you like, included). Usually, we arrange as a morning trip with a late lunch out of Leh then
you can relax in the afternoon although we can easily arrange a full day trip as an alternative.
Choosing what to see is the biggest
challenge, there are so many special places to visit. Close by are Spituk Gompa and Stok Palace. To the east is Shey Palace, and the gompas Thikse, Hemis, Chemde, Thagthok, Stakna and Matho, although don't plan on visiting all of them in one day. Thikse also has a good restaurant for lunch.
Heading west out of Leh are Spituk, Phyang, Nyemo where the Indus meets the Zanskar River, and further afield are Basgo, Likir and Alchi.
Visiting a gompa is atmospheric and a timeless experience engendering respect for their philosophy.
By chance on a sightseeing trip to Matho we watched this - Jamie
Day 3 - drive Chiling, trek Skiu 3300m
We set off after breakfast for a two hour drive then a surprise - a small cable car is the only way across the fast flowing Zanskar River. There was a brand new steel girder road bridge in 2014 that we ducked across as perhaps the first foreigners, using the painting planks, but sadly this was destroyed by the flood of 2015, and lies in a twisted wreak downstream. So the cable car is an adventure and it will take a while to get all our gear and us across, especially if there are other groups there at the same time.
It is only a couple of hours of sometimes hot and sunny walking to our camp where there is shade and a wonderful afternoon tea awaits. We introduce our crew and the camp, and your tent, your home for the following few weeks.
Afternoon tea is ready! Our shady Skiu campsite - Jamie
Day 4 - trek Markha 3700m
This is a longer trek day. We pass the remains of old hermitage caves high on the opposite cliffs and inside are the remains of tiny caves where lamas once sat in meditation,
platforms carved in rock. Look also at the chortens that lines of trekkers sweat
past - inside are piles of tiny 'tsatsas', the remains of ashes of the departed
formed into tiny clay figurines. As soon as the valley widens we spot the old fort on
the hill above Markha village, and then, on the other side of the hill is our
camp on the banks of the Markha river. Long ago invaders from what is now Pakistan coveted the high grazing and livestock of Nyimaling, thus the Markha valley was at one time heavily fortified.
After tea we ascend to explore the local
gompa, the inside dark and chang smelling; and check out the ornate carved
silver barley beer holders in front of the village lamas chair. Look, and look
again, the more you look the more you will see.
Fields and villages in the Markha Valley - Jamie
Here are a few photos to whet your appetite..
Esther crossing the steam above Markha - Jamie
That is a view! 6000m Kang Yatse II summit selfie - Jamie
Blue sheep horns - Jamie
And much better to see blue sheep alive, here is a young one - Jamie
Wow, the dramatic panorama from the Zalung Karpo La - Jamie
Day 17 - drive Leh
We hit the the Leh-Manali highway which has mostly been resurfaced and so is a relatively quick drive
now. Driving back will take around 2 hours driving time (barring
delays) where we deserve a cold beer or cocktail and a celebratory
meal. Chopsticks or Bon Appetit?
Stakna Gompa, with this view we know we are getting close to Leh - Jamie
(Stakna literally means tiger/leopard's nose on account of the rock)
Day 18 - trip ends
You are free to take the morning flight to Delhi or bus to Manali for the
long way back, or just enjoy more time in this central Asian town of yore.