A challenging exploration by foot of this little-visited corner of the roof of India
This fantastic ancient trek will take you across from the high Changtang plateau and the scenic emerald blue-green Tsomoriri Lake at 15,000 feet across the high Parangla Pass at 17,700 feet into Spiti.
After spending a few days acclimatizing in and around Leh, we follow a less frequented path. Chances of seeing wildlife – marmots, ibex, blue sheep, skyangs(wild donkeys) are plentiful. In the summer months the pastures here spring to life with mountain wildflowers. This challenging trek offers a chance to experience the high altitude lakes and wide open plains where the Tibetan nomads (Changpas) can still be seen moving around with their herds of sheep and living in their yak-skin tents.
We follow the ancient traders route up a spectacular gorge to the high, arid Parangla Pass at 17,700 feet where we will delight in excellent views of nearby 6000 meter snowcapped mountains. The Kibar Gorge, famous Ki Monastery and a drive to Manali will round out the trip. The fort palace at Nalagarh is a befitting place to spend the last night of the trip before returning to Delhi
- Marvel at the rugged and stunning high mountain scenery in this little-visited corner of India
- Be challenged by our most difficult, high elevation trek, crossing 15 passes in 14 days of hiking
- Discover the warm and friendly people of the Spiti Valley
- Visit some of the most remote monasteries found anywhere
Duration: 24 days Start Location: Delhi End Location: DelhiDownload Detailed Itinerary
Day 1 : Arrive in Delhi
Upon arrival in Delhi, we will transfer to the hotel (we will hold rooms starting at 12:00 noon).
Day 2 : Delhi to Leh
Transfer to the airport for the early morning flight to Leh, the ancient historical capital city of Ladakh and once a stop on the Asian “Silk Route.” This is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular one-hour journeys on earth as the Airbus 320 jet flies out of the scorching Indian plains over a virtual sea of snowcapped Himalayan peaks before landing at the ancient city of Leh in the Indus River Valley. Situated at an altitude of nearly 12,000 feet in elevation, Leh is in stark and spectacular contrast to the urban intensity of New Delhi.
Day 3 : Leh
Today we will visit Alchi Monastery in the charming village of Alchi. Alchi is one of the only monasteries in Ladakh on flat ground, so no climbing is involved in getting there. This gompa was established in the 11th century by Ringchen Zangpo on his return from India. The monastery is characterized by Indian and Kashmiri influences in the design and art.
Day 4 : Leh
Today we will further acclimatize with a day at leisure. We will have the option to take an acclimatization walk to Gyamsa (approximately 3.5 hours).
Day 5 : Leh to Rumste
Today we will visit Shey, Thiksey and Hemis Monasteries . Shey was the former summer palace of the Ladakhi kings and boasts a 35-foot Sakyamuni Buddha statue, fashioned from gold-plated copper. Thiksey Gompa is a beautiful Gelukpa gompa and the best place near Leh to observe a puja (a religious ritual which entails making an offering to various deities, distinguished persons, or special guests and receiving their blessing). This monastery receives lots of visitors. Hemis Gompa was founded in the 17th century and is now one of the most accessible, famous and oft-visited gompas in the area.
After the monasteries we will continue driving to Rumste (approximately 3 hours). At Rumste, we will set up camp across the river a little beyond the village of Rumste (13,250 feet).
Day 6 : Rumste to Kyamar
Today we walk through pastureland and continue on further to the base of Kyamar (14,800 feet). We camp in a lovely spot . Our day will consist of easy walking and will take us about 4 hours.
Day 7 : Kyamar to Tisaling
Our trek today continues gently up to Kyamar La (Pass) at 16,200 feet and then descends the grassy slopes to Tiri Doksa (14,800 feet). We then climb up to Mandalchan La (16,500 feet) and descend to camp at Tisaling (15,800 feet). We trek for about five hours.
Day 8 : Tisaling to Tsokar
From our camp we climb up to Thasang La at 16,500 feet. Here we can command excellent views of Tsokar Lake below. We then descend and take a pleasant walk on the plains of Changtang to Phongponagu (Tsokar) at 15,000 feet. We will have the opportunity to see skyangs (wild donkeys), marmots and birdlife. Our afternoon is spent touring the area. Tsokar is a salt water lake and the nomads trade this salt in Tibet.
Day 9 : Tsokar to Nuruchan
Today we enjoy an easy walk along the shores of the lake--viewing birds and wildlife--and then across the wide plateau and pastures to a beautiful campsite in the pastures of Nuruchan (15,300 feet) . We hike for 4 to 5 hours.
Day 10 : Nuruchan to Rachungkaru
Walking out of camp we come to a Mani wall made by the local nomads before we climb gently to Nuruchan La (15,600 feet). With luck, we will meet nomads and herds of sheep and yaks grazing in the area. The descent is also gentle before we cross a shallow river and climb another small pass at 16,200 feet. We will camp at Rachungkaru (16,100 feet). Our afternoon is at leisure after an easy hiking day of 4 to 5 hours.
Day 11 : Rachunkaru to Gyabarma
Today we have a fairly long day as we cross two passes above 16,400 feet. Crossing the passes themselves is not very strenuous, as we are already trekking at about 14,800 feet, so the passes appear more as small bumps. First we tackle Kyamarula Pass at 17,100 feet. This will take us about two hours. Then we move on to Gyabarmala Pass, which is just a bit lower at 17,000 feet. . From the second pass we descend to cross a small wading stream. We camp in the pastures at Gyabarma at 16,400 feet. We trek today for approximately 6 to 7 hours.
Day 12 : Gyabarma to Korzok
Today we follow a nice path up to Yalungnaula Pass at 17,300 feet, where we will be treated to spectacular views of Tsomoriri Lake, which is surrounded by snowcapped mountains. The walk is easy but lengthy. We then descend to Korzok Dok on a zigzag path taking approximately five hours and continue for another 3 hours to our camp spot at Korzok village by the lake (14,900 feet). Today is one of our longest trekking days.
Day 13 : Korzok to Kiangdam
A picturesque walk along the shores of the lake for about six hours brings us to the southern end of the lake at Kiangdam ( 14,500 feet). Our camp is an excellent place for birdwatching.
Days 14 - 15 : Kiangdam to Norbu Sumdo to Umdung
For these two days, we continue following the Pare Chu upstream, hiking along the stream. We do not need to make any river crossings or cross any passes. The landscape is dry with mountain views. We hike for 5-6 hours each day and camp at Norbu Sumdo and Umdung at altitudes of about 14,000 feet.
Days 16 - 17 : Umdung to Kharsa Gongma
For the next two days, we continue to trek and explore the wide Pare Chu Valley. Our ultimate destination is to camp at the base of Parangla at Kharsa Gongma at 16,000 feet. We make camp enroute at Thaktoke or Dutung
Day 18 : Kharsa Gongma to Jeigthag
Today we depart early morning, climbing up a moraine path, which might be glaciated at places. We reach the pass at 17,700 feet, which offers some of the finest views of the broad Changtang Valley and the narrow Spiti Valley on the other side. From the pass the descent is steep and strenuous on a scree trail and contrasts greatly with the wide open Pare Chu Valley we have been trekking through in the past few days. We enjoy great views as we descend. We camp at Jeigthag at 16,100 feet. We trek for about 8 hours today.
Day 19 : Jeigthag to Kaza
We pass lovely, rocky landscape as we climb up the Parilungbi Gorge from 15,400 feet to 16,100 feet. Then we descend to beautiful meadows at Thaltak (15,700 feet) from where we trek further to Dumla (13,800 feet). Our vehicles will be waiting at the road to drive us to Kaza. We will make a stop to visit the Ki Monastery enroute. The Ki Monastery, the oldest and largest gompa in Spiti, has an amazing location surrounded by high desert. It belongs to the Gelukpa order. In addition to withstanding many invasions, it was struck and partially destroyed by an earthquake in 1975. Its important and valuable collection of thangkas has survived.
Day 20 : Kaza
We spend another day in Kaza for an optional excursion to Tabo.
Tabo Monastery also has the distinction of being the oldest (according to an inscription on one of the walls, the monastery was founded in AD 996) and longest, continuously-functioning Buddhist monastery in India and the Himalayas with its original decoration and iconographic program still intact. A thousand years ago Tabo served as a meeting place between two cultures, which is graphically represented in the art. Indian pundits and Tibetan scholars came to Tabo to learn Tibetan and Indian Buddhist works respectively. This interaction germinated the seeds of a new art statement best defined as Indo-Tibetan.Even today, Tabo holds the distinction of being the largest monastic complex in Spiti. According to His Holiness Dalai Lama, "The most important Monastery is in Tabo, noted for its exquisite quality of paintings and stucco images that adorn its walls. These works of art delightfully express the vigor of the transmission of Buddhism from India to Tibet and the dynamic mingling of cultures.
After this visit we head directly to the caves overlooking the village above the retreat. A 10-minute walk from the road will take us to the caves, which command a mesmerizing view of the whole Tabo village surrounded by fields.
Day 21 : Kaza to Manali
Today we drive to Manali via the Kunzumla Pass (14,900 feet). We will be on the road for 6–7 hours).
Day 22 : Manali to Chandigarh to Delhi
Today we drive approximately 7 hours to Chandigarh, where we catch the air-conditioned, fast Shatabdi train at 6:25 pm. We arrive in Delhi at 9:45 pm and transfer to our hotel.
Day 23 : Delhi
After our rigorous trek, we have the day to enjoy at leisure in Delhi. You might want to sightsee or just relax in the hotel.
Day 24 : Depart for home
You will be transferred to the airport for your early morning flight.
DATES: Best time to go: July Departures: Jul 21, 2013 - Aug 13, 2013
$4,395 (9-14 members)
$300 internal airfare - subject to change
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