Day 01 : Arrive Delhi : Transfer to hotel.
The rest of the day 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. ( B )
Day 02 : Fly to Leh (3500m): rest of the day to acclimatise.
A very early start today for the flight to Leh. We usually leave the hotel very earlyand drive to the airport for the very early morning but highly spectacular flight over the Himalaya to Leh. The rest of the day is free to relax and acclimatise to the altitude). 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. (B)
Day 03 : Exploring in and around Leh, visiting the town, palace and monasteries at Shey and Thikse.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 to explore. (B)
Day 04: Acclimatisation walk in Leh Valley; optional jeep drive to the Khardung La (the highest motorable road in the world).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 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 afternoon). . (B)
Day 05: Drive to Skiu (3400m) 70 Kms & Trek to Pentse ( About 5 km Trek )
Morning we drive to Chilling / Skiu, here we meet our trekking staff and pony and trek to Pentse. Easy walk today, the terrain along the valley is not demanding so there is plenty of opportunity to admire the magnificent scenery. (B,L&D)
Day 06 : Follow the river to Markha (3753m). ( About 15 km Trek )
As we trek along the valley to Markha. 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 hill side 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 the grazing flats near the village. (B, L&D)
Day 07 : Trek through remote villages to Thachungste (4150m), ( About 15 km Trek )
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. 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 we are helping to set up and support as part of our Himalayan Community Support Projects. From Hankar the trail turns off from the main valley and now follows 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. (B, L&D)
Day 08 : Climb steeply to the high plateau at Nimaling (4700 m). (About 7 km Trek )
A short but quite tough walk today to Nimaling. The trail climbs steeply to the plateau where the valley opens out. Ahead are spectacular views of Kang Yangtse, at 6400m, 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. 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, which at 6,400m is the highest peak in the Markha Valley. (B, L&D)
Day 09 : Cross the Gongmaru Pass (5200m) with superb views of the high mountains of Ladakh. ( About 18 km Trek )
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 zig zagging 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 across 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 now with a few small river crossings. High up on the barren cliffs we may spot the elusive Blue Sheep which inhabit this area. Passing through Chuskurmo and Chokdo we continue our long descent to the village of Shang Sumdo .Today is a hard day due to the crossing of the high pass and the long descent. (B, L&D)
Day 10: visit Hemis monastery and drive to Leh.
Our transport should arrive this morning and we drive to Hemis Monastery.
(Occasionally the road gets blocked in which case we 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. (B, L&D)
Day 11: Fly to Srinagar (Kashmir ), Flight operates on WEDNESDAY’S as per present schedule Transfer to the houseboat. In the afternoon there will be an introductory shikara ride round the lake. CH - houseboat (B&D)
Day 12 : In Srinagar :
Today we will visit the famous Moghul Gardens. To get there we will have a relaxing shikara ride. First we will visit Nishat Bagh ('Garden of Pleasure'). This garden was laid out by Asaf Khan, the brother of Empress Nur Jahan in 1636. Ten terraces rise out from Dal Lake and are bedecked with flowers and mighty Chinar trees. We continue on to Shalimar Gardens ('Abode of Love'), which were laid out by one of Emperor Jehangir's nobles. After lunch we have a relaxing boat ride back to our houseboat. CH - houseboat (B&D)
Day 13 : In Srinagar :
In the early morning we will visit the early morning vegetable market where the men meet to buy and sell vegetables on the lake. A cacophony of noise and haggling ensues as each tries to out bargain the other. After breakfast the rest of the day is free for optional activities. You may want to visit the other two Moghul Gardens - Cheshmashahi and Peri Mahal or you can visit some of the craft workshops - including wood and papier maché makers. If you fancy a hike there is the chance to walk up to Shankar Acharya Hill. Known as the 'Takht-e-eSuleiman', the temple, believed to have been first constructed in 371BC, stands above Dal Lake and you get great views of the whole of Srinagar from
the top. CH - houseboat ( B& D)
Day 14 Fly to Delhi.
We transfer to the airport for the short flight back to Delhi. Upon arrival in Delhi you will be transferred to Hotel. ( B )
Day 15. Depart Delhi / Arrive Home