Jamie McGuinness, Project Himalaya owner-guide
Leader Jamie McGuinness
Lobsang, star organizer


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activity tracked

2014: looking to the huge Takling area - Jamie

Saving data; use your phone in landscape to see the detailed itinerary and more photos.

Detailed itinerary

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 adapt it as needed.

Here is the beginning of the itinerary in more detail but on exploratory treks we dont provide a full detailed itinerary.

(Day 0 - arrive Delhi / early Leh arrival)

We spend three 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 a Basgo Gompa mural

Sophie admires the mural at Basgo - Jamie

Day 1 - meet in Leh 3480m

Phew, after a long series of flights, you are here - welcome to Leh! Look for a sign with your name on it at the airport, and our wonderful drivers will pick you up.

Jamie and Esther meet you at the hotel on your arrival and we discuss altitude over tea/coffee or breakfast and perhaps introduce Leh and show you the better places to eat. Most people crash out for a few hours and spend the day relaxing; do drink plenty of fluids which helps the acclimatization process. We normally go out to dinner together, let's meet on the garden terrace at 6pm.

2 - Leh 3480m

This is a day for sightseeing but with some flexiblity to cope with people who have previously visited Leh and already seen some of the sights. For today perhaps the best plan is to visit some of the most revered gompas and monasteries a short distance from Leh. We will help plan and arrange a jeep, and a local cultural guide if you like (included). Usually we arrange as a morning sightseeing trip with lunch at the good restaurant at Thikse or a late lunch back at Leh then you can relax in the afternoon although we can easily arrange a full day trip.

Choosing where to go is the biggest challenge, there are so many special places to visit. To the east is Shey, Thikse, Hemis, Chemde, Thagthok, Stakna, Matho and Stok, although don't plan on visiting all of them in one day.

Heading west out of Leh are Spituk, Phyang, Nyemo where the Indus meets the Zanskar River, and further afield are Basgo, Likir and Alchi.

3 - Leh 3480m

After gentle sightseeing yesterday we exercise a little more today. In the morning we wander up to the palace and gompa above Leh, and before dinner, perhaps up to the Peace/Shanti Stupa for a Leh sunset panorama.

Because tomorrow we stay 4000m, at minimum we need three nights here in Leh prior to moving higher.

Leh from Shanti Stupa

Leh from Shanti Stupa - Jamie

4 - drive Chokdo 3980m

Starting a trek from the 4540m altitude of Tsomoriri requires two intermediate nights at 4000m and so we drive to a homestay at the end of the Markha Valley, probably with Lobsang helping out in the kitchen.

5 - trek Meru 3710m, drive Lato 4000m

We trek over the fairly minor Shapodak La just with day packs while Lobsang drives our gear around for us.

Lunch at Lato en route to the trek start - Jamie

Ang Chuk with his Scorpio jeep

Ang Chuk, one of our regular drivers, with his comfortable Scorpio jeep - Jamie

6-7 - drive and trek Kiangdam 4560m

With more altitude under our pillow now we can ascend to Tsomoriri without altitude worries. The closer to Tsomoriri, the more scenic it gets.

The mountainscapes and cloudscapes here are often stunning with a foreboding storm or two building in the distance, yet rarely do they hit us. We have made a 1050m/3500ft altitude jump over three days but now have several nights at a similar altitude and so will truly acclimatize.

Tsomoriri generates spectacular storms, here we didn't get a single rain drop despite the fearsome clouds - Jamie

8 - trek Lato Gongma / Lameke 4650m

Leaving the lake behind we climb up around a rocky spur to the valley coming down, so new views but still only a gentle altitude gain. We are now in classic trekking country, gently ascending a river valley with ever changing textured hills above us. We camp at one of a series of grassy camps.

Coming across kiang, the dominant male is protecting the rest of the herd - Jamie

8 - trek Manichen / Small Water camp 4760m

We continue along the main valley for a couple of hours then we feel very small when we turn left up a huge, wide side valley. This area is wilderness, not used by shepherds, instead is where kiang freely roam. At another large side valley we swing left again, to swing under Karpa Ri, the dominant peak that we have seen for the last couple of days.

There is only one reliable water source here, and we will camp nearby. In 2014 we scared some Tibetan argali sheep near here and we expect to see some wildlife this time too.

Way off the beaten track - Jamie

9-10-11 - trek Wolf Camp 5200m

Are you feeling remote yet? We are way off main trekking routes, even away from minor trekking routes with only one to two groups coming up here a year. Following the river bed, we skip across the dry river bed and where the valley breaks into branches, take the one that leads to our familiar camp where in 2014 a curious wolf circled our camp at night, and later Ram Lal and the horsemen got a view of more than just its glowing eyes. There is no danger of being attacked.

We also saw kiang and argali sheep around here.

A woolly hare poses for Demet - Jamie


Exploring the region (yes, it was grey and cloudy; there was flooding and a particularly heavy monsoon south of us) - Jamie

2014 Pangpo La exploring; Ram Lal and the superb horse team find a way though - Jamie

Shapely pinnacles - Jamie

Exploring with the horse team - Jamie