On arrival in Delhi you will be met by a World Expeditions representative and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore Delhi and sightseeing tours can be arranged. Due to the differing times of arrival of group members and the early morning departure to Leh the following morning the initial briefing will be on ‘a need to know basis’ such as what to pack, ordering a packed breakfast, what time for departure from the hotel, arrangements for leaving gear in Delhi etc. Your World Expeditions kit bag will also be distributed after the briefing. The main briefing will be on arrival in Leh and sleeping bags, liners, insulated mattress and down jackets will also be distributed. Note: As an alternative to arriving in Delhi on a late night flight, you may wish to consider arriving the day before the trip commences. Please talk to your World Expeditions reservations consultant or your travel agent for pre-tour accommodation options.
We board early morning flight from Delhi to Leh (3505m) where you will be rewarded with spectacular views across the Great Himalaya and Zanskar ranges. On arrival in Leh it is essential to rest and start the all-important process of acclimatization (and also catch up with some sleep after the very early morning start). Our schedule today will be flexible and depend on how everyone is adjusting to the altitude. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to climb to the Victory Fort (above the Palace) built in the 15th century to commemorate Ladakh’s independence from the invading armies from Baltistan and Kashmir. From the Palace we can also appreciate the alleyways that comprise the old town of Leh, located to the east of the main bazaar and appreciate the wonderful panoramic view back over the Indus Valley to the south. You’re sure to fall in love with Ladakh from this great vantage point!
Today we have a full day sightseeing some of the outlying forts and monasteries in the Indus Valley. We include a visit to Shey Palace – the capital of upper Ladakh - until the Royal family moved to Leh in the 17th century. We also visit the nearby Tikse Monastery perched on the summit of a sugarloaf mountain overlooking the Indus Valley. Tikse was founded in the 14th century after the Dalai Lama sent monks to Ladakh and the outlying regions of West Tibet. The monastery is situated in a commanding position in the Indus Valley with the monk’s chambers spreading down the hillside below the main Assembly Hall. Note the presence here of the new multi - denominational chapel that was completed a decade ago. It was built with the assistance of tourist funds and is proof of the continuing vitality of Buddhism in Ladakh. In the evening we can either wander up to Shanti Stupa for a magnificent sunset or relax around our hotel in the comfortable grounds.
From Leh we drive to Zinchen (3380m), a small settlement to the south of the Indus Valley. After our packhorses are loaded we head up a spectacular gorge to our campsite (3850m) below the village of Rumbak.
An opportunity to acclimatize before ascending to Rupshu. We undertake day walks to Rumbak village and up a side valley leading to the base of the Stok La that affords spectacular views of the Trans Himalaya.
A second day to acclimatize. We follow a trail that winds up past the solitary house at Yurutse towards the base of the approach to the Ganda La before returning to Zinchen and driving back to Leh
We drive alongside the upper Indus river for 180km before heading over the passes leading to Tso Morari and Korzok (4500m) We camp a short distance from the village where the Champa nomads will be preparing to attend the two day festival
The two-day festival at Korzok commemorates the Indian sage Padmasambhava who introduced Tantric Buddhism to this region of the Himalaya in the 8th century. The festival consists of an elaborate series of masked dances depicting the life of Padmasambhava and the moral victory of knowledge over ignorance etc. Several hundred nomads and local villagers attend the festival. Besides its religious significance it is a time to renew acquaintances, visit the many stands and drink large quantities of butter tea and barley beer. In essence it is more of a medieval fair than a religious festival that reflects much of the contemporary cultural life of Ladakh.
We complete an exhilarating drive that heads to the Kunzum La (4551m) the dramatic pass separating Spiti and Lahaul. From the pass there are spectacular views of the snow capped peaks that define the Pir Panjal and the Great Himalaya range that converge just above the market at Batal. We drive down to Batal and follow the course of the upper Chandra River and a welcome cup of chai at the dhaba at Chatru. The final stage of the drive leads up and over the Rhotang Pass (3978m) to the meadows and pine forests of the upper Kullu Valley and the former hill resort of Manali.
We complete our trek down to Kibber in a few hours. We have time to visit Kibber at 4117m – the highest village in Spiti and one of the highest in the world before driving to Spiti’s administrative centre at Kaza for a well-earned hot shower and bed for the night.
An early start is imperative as we negotiate the extensive snow and boulder fields leading to the Parang La (5590m). As we ascend we will be greeted with impressive views of the host of 6000 metres peaks in the immediate vicinity of the pass while panoramic views extend to the distant ridges that form the borderlands of Tibet. From the pass we descend through a series of impressive gorges to a sheltered, grassy camp at approx. 4750m
Over the next three days we gradually ascend the Parang Chu, the river flowing from the northern glaciers of the Parang La taking in the spectacular vistas of the snow-capped Zanskar Range to the south and take in the wild landscape of the Champa nomads. At times the trail enters impressive gorges where wet boots are the order of most days as we ford a number of side streams en route to the base of the pass. There are also reminders of the regions past. The long abandoned stone huts that once served as tax posts date back to a time when the trail linked Korzok to the trading towns of Tibet. The trail was also a favoured route for the 19th Century ‘Summer Rambler’ keen to track the ibex, markhor and the elusive snow leopard. Our base camp (5100m) is located at the snout of the glacier and snowfields leading to the pass.
Depending on the time and activities during the second day of the festival we will aim to commence our trek alongside the shores of Tso Morari.
It’s a relatively straightforward stage. We follow a trail that gradually ascends past nomad encampments to the confluence of the Parang Chu at Norbu Sumdo (4500m).
Depending on how far we trekked the previous day we continue along the shore of Tso Morari to our camp at Kiangdom (4450m) at the southern end of the lake. The rest of the day we rest and take in the magnificent landscape and the herds of kiang – the wild horses for which the region is famous.
We have time to relax, wind down and catch up on any last minute shopping in the main market. There are also gentle walking options to the nearby Hadimba temple set in a pine forest just above Manali as well as visiting the Tibetan camp and temples below the main market.
Today we have a day built into the itinerary to accommodate any delays in the trip thus far or to allow the group to take a rest in preparation for the challenging days ahead.
We drive down the Kullu Valley to the historic town of Mandi before the road heads across the forested clad ranges and the rolling Shivaik foothills to Chandigarh to board the early evening train to Delhi. On arrival we transfer to our hotel in Delhi