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Our latest exploratory trek is an adventure into the high nomadic lake regions of Ladakh, following old Silk Route caravan trails over the high Himalayan passes of the Changthang Plateau, to Pangong Lake on the border of Tibet. This is a remote region reminiscent of western Tibet, with the snow-peaks of the Ladakh, Zanskar and Pangong Ranges providing a spectacular backdrop.

This year's exploratory trek is a combination of years of exploring the most remote pockets of this wild region.
The turquoise salt-lakes and high Tibetan grasslands of Kharnak and Rupshu, with soaring, snow-capped Himalayas as a back-drop and peppered with colonies of yak-hair nomadic tents, are simply breathtaking. Getting there involves fording rivers and crossing high passes, and our reward is camping along the meandering rivers that feed into the lakes, an exciting entrance into this fading world of the nomads. The nomadic population has traditionally transmigrated from the high plains of Tibet in search of nutritious grass for their livestock, salt to trade, and a market for their butter and wool, a difficult and tenuous existence. This unique way of life, sadly, is quickly dying as the nomads find an easier existence to this harsh life in the cities...

Kyang (wild ass) roam these wide valleys, guarding their territory, and red fox, blue sheep, ibex, marmots, pikas, Himalayan hare and many high altitude birds and fowl live in the region. It is a truly awesome, wild landscape of wide plateaus and craggy snow-peaks but also a gentle world of grassy meadows, delicate flowers, blue skies and meandering streams.

We start the journey with a taste of traditional Ladakhi village near the green Markha valley, under the soaring Himalayan & Zanskar ranges. This region too was part of an ancient network of trade routes, made all the more poignant by the crumbling fortresses, ancient Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, long mani walls and huge, white-washed chortens. Tibetan Buddhism, along with remnants of an older, more animist Bon religion, infuse the region with powerful symbols: 'lhatoos' or offering chortens for the mountain deities and prayer flags strung up on high peaks. We'll cross several of Ladakh's highest passes as we venture through the Changtang, camping with the nomads and at some of the most beautiful campsites in Ladakh. Most of them our secret...

Join our wonderful journey through a piece of 'old Tibet'!

Trek

Full Trek

Day 01: Meet in Leh
Day 02: Leh
Day 03: Leh
Day 04: Drive Lato
Day 05: Drive Dat
Day 06: Trek Nomadic Winter Doksa
*Day 07: Trek Kyang Camp
*Day 08: Trek Lungmoche (Over Yar La 4,950m)
Day 09: Trek Zabuk Barma
Day 10: Trek Narbus (Over Narbus La 4,850m)
Day 11: Trek Numa
Day 12: Trek Shemra High Camp
Day 13: Trek Kyagar (Over Gyama La 5,830m)
Day 14: Trek Rajung Karu
Day 15: Trek Tso Kar Camp (Over Horlam Kongka La 4,950m)
*Day 16: Trek Nabukha
*Day 17: Trek Tisaling 4,850m (Over Shingbuk La 5,230m)
*Day 18: Trek Tirido
*Day 19: Trek Kyungyam
*Day 20: Kyungyam
*Day 21: Trek Gun La High Camp
*Day 22: Trek Gun La Sumdo Camp (Over Gun La 5,680)
*Day 23: Trek Pangong Sumdo
*Day 24: Trek Tarmar
*Day 25: Trek Harong Lake
*Day 27: Drive Pangong Lake
Day 28: Pangong Lake
Day 29: Drive Leh
Day 30: Leh
Day 31: Trip Ends

Short Trek

Trek Short

Day 01: Meet in Leh
Day 02: Leh
Day 03: Leh
Day 04: Drive Lato
Day 05: Drive Dat
Day 06: Trek Nomadic Winter Doksa
*Day 07: Trek Kyang Camp
*Day 08: Trek Lungmoche (Over Yar La 4,950m)
Day 09: Trek Zabuk Barma
Day 10: Trek Narbus (Over Narbus La 4,850m)
Day 11: Trek Numa
Day 12: Trek Shemra High Camp
Day 13: Trek Kyagar (Over Gyama La 5,830m)
Day 14: Trek Rajung Karu
Day 15: Trek Tso Kar Camp (Over Horlam Kongka La 4,950m)
Day 16: Drive Leh
Day 17: Leh
Day 18: Trip Ends

* = Exploratory

Highlights

  • Exotic Leh & the historic Indus Valley
  • Wild & remote exploration to Pangong Lake
  • The nomads of Kharnak & Rupshu
  • Tso Kar Lake region
  • Yaks, pashmina goats & 'gurs'
  • Trans-Himalayan snow-peaks & high passes
  • The green Tibetan, Changthang plateau
  • Challenging trekking
  • Beautiful campsites in remote locations
  • Central Asian wildlife
  • The drive along the Leh-Manali Highway back to Leh (crossing the Zanskar Range)
  • Few other trekkers
  • Our secret routes!

Photo Gallery | Trip + Trek Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Kashmir + Srinagar Photos
Kim Bannister Photography

Himalayan Photos
Wildlife
Himalayan Wildlife Photos

Birds
Himalayan Bird Photos

Flowers
Himalayan Flowers Photos

Travel Reading
Travel Books

Articles on Ladakh

Ladakh Diaries: Postcard from Paradise | India Today - Features Kamzang Journeys

Chang Tang Pa | Cat Vinton Photo Essay

Ladakh, Mountains & Men | Le Figaro

Blog Article | Za Rahula Local Nomadic God

Street Food in India | India Mike Blog

Ladakh, the Last Shangri La | National Geographic

A Journey to Little Tibet | National Geographic

Legends of Dha Hanu

India: Extreme Biking in Beautiful Ladakh - The Telegraph UK

The Grey Ghosts of the Mountains - Vimeo

Kashmir, the Inheritance of Loss - New York Times

Date+Price

Dates
tba

2013 Cost
18 Days: $2780
31 Days: $3880
+ Flights NOT included (meet in Leh)
+ Hotel Single Supplement $100

Includes

  • Airport transfers in Leh
  • Hotel in Leh
  • Group transportation by private vehicle
  • 'Kamzang' expedition-style trekking: Delicious meals, fresh coffee & gourmet teas, horse portering, Western & Sherpa guides, local staff, single, roomy Marmot & Big Agnes tents (double for couples) & our famous 'Tibetan Festival Tent' as a dining tent

Excludes

  • Domestic flights
  • Meals in Leh (while not on trek)
  • Travel or travel health insurance
  • India visa
  • International flights
  • Equipment rental
  • Alcohol and bottled drinks
  • Gompa donations
  • Laundry
  • Tipping and other items of a personal nature

Tips & Extra Cash
Allow approx $300 for meals (while not on trek), drinks (on trek) and tips. We recommend $150 per trekker thrown into the tips pool for the crew.

Contact+Details

Trekker's Comments
Travel Books

Kamzang Journeys Contact
Kim Bannister
kim@kamzang.com
Kim Mobile: +(91) 9419 981715
Lhakpa Mobile: +(91) 9419 977569

Delhi Airport Transfers & Sightseeing | Dhruv Travels
Contacts: Prince & Rajesh
travelorganiserindia@yahoo.co.in
Office: +(91 11) 6536 8764
Prince mobile: +(91) 98104 85897
Rajesh mobile: +(91) 98993 73886

Srinagar & Kashmir Contact
Shangaloo Travels
Mehraj Deen (GM & Ladakh Operations)
mehraj@shanglootravels.com
Mehraj Mobile: +(91) 9419013874, 9858986512
Office: +(91) 0194 2502083
Shangaloo Travels Tel : +(91) 0194 2502082|2502083|2502084|2502085|2502086|2502087|2502088|2502089|2502090,
+(91) 9596 787001 -20

Kathmandu Contact
Khumbu Adventures
hiking.guide@gmail.com
Office: +(977) 01 4488352
Lhakpa Dorji Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 235461, 9813 371542
Doma Sherpa Mobile: +(977) 9841 510833, 9803 675361

On-Trek Contact
We are not able to access SMS or phone calls to our satellite phone in Jammu & Kashmir state because of security restrictions. In case of emergency, a few numbers are listed below, or contact Doma Sherpa of Khumbu Adventures (above)

Ang Chuk (driver) +(91) 9419 344641
Rinchin (Shaynam Hotel manager) +(91) 9906 990444

InReach Explorer
NOTE: We are probably not able to use this satellite messaging system in 2016 either, but in case of restriction changes, info below:
We have a MapShare page that works for sending emails to our InReach messaging device. Give this link to people who want to follow us and have them send us a message so we have their email in the system. We can email them back directly Please tell people not to expect updates every day. There is a ‘message’ button on the top left, and the message sender needs to put their EMAIL address instead of phone number to get a response. Messages are free, enjoy.

Follow Us on Facebook
Kamzang Journeys Facebook
(Posts before and after treks, from Leh)

Arrival Hotels Leh
Hotel Shaynam
Padma Guest House
Hotel Omasila

Hotels in Leh
We use one of the three hotels below as our 'arrival hotels' depending on availability and your preference. Our standard hotel is the Hotel Shaynam where Kim and the staff stay, a lovely family-run guest house with a blooming garden, deck chairs & umbrellas. We don't charge a single supplement here. There is a single supplement or small upgrade charge for Hotel Omasila &  Padma Guest House. We book all hotels for you regardless of where you stay. Please specify your preference when booking a trek. If staying at Shaynam or Padma we recommend 'Open Hand' down the road for a delicious meal or coffee & great atmosphere.

Hotel Shaynam
Single Supplement - No
Breakfast - Included
Extra Nights - Single $30, Double $35

Padma Guest House
Single Supplement - $75
Breakfast - Included
Extra Nights - Single $45, Double $55

Hotel Omasila
Single Supplement - $175
Extra Nights - Single $65, Double $75, Suite $115
Breakfast - Included

Alternative Hotels
We're happy to book other hotels of your choice for you. Some recommended hotels below.

Dragon Hotel
Single Supplement - $185
Extra Nights - Single $70, Double $80, Suite $120
Breakfast - Included

Luxury Hotels in Leh
We offer options to upgrade to one of Leh’s wonderful luxury hotels, which include breakfast in the tarriff. Indulge yourself! We’ll make the bookings for you, just let us know the dates …

The Grande Dragon Ladakh
Inquire for price
Breakfast - Included

Health Information
India Health Information
CDC

We also recommend bringing probiotics with you to help prevent infections while on trek. Doctor's recommendation!

Travel Medical Insurance
Required for your own safely. We carry a copy of your insurance with all contact, personal and policy information with us on the trek and our office in Kathmandu keeps a copy. Note that we almost always trek over 4000 meters (13,000+ feet) and that we don't do any technical climbing with ropes, ice axes or crampons.

Note that private helicopter insurance generally not available in India!

Global Rescue
We recommend that our trekkers also sign up for Global Rescue, which is rescue services only, as a supplement to your travel medical insurance.
Book package through Wicis-Sports via Carlota Fenes (carlota@wicis-media.com)

Medical
We have a full medical kit with us including Diamox (for acclimatizing), antibiotics, inhalers, bandages, re-hydration, painkillers, anti-inflammatory drugs etc. but please bring a supply of all prescription and personal medications. Kim has First Aid, CPR and Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certifications as well as many years of experience with altitude in the Himalaya but is NOT a qualified medic or doctor, so please have a check-up before leaving home, and inform us of any medical issues. This is for YOUR OWN safety.

DO bring all prescription medications and good rehydration/electrolytes. We advise bringing your own Diamox, Ciprofloxin, Azithromyacin & Augmentin. We have all of these with us but the Western versions are always better than the Indian equivalents.

PAC Bag + Oxygen
We carry a Portable Oxygen Chamber, or Gammow Bag, with us on many treks. There is no charge for use of the PAC bag but oxygen is $300 per canister (cost price, pass on to insurance company).

Travel Books
Travel Books

Arrival India

Arrival in India
NOTE: Flights to/from Leh are NOT included in the price or itinerary. Everyone will need to arrange their own flight or overland trip to Leh. You can book your international flights all the way to Leh, Ladakh (IXL) which will ensure that your flight provider is responsible for hotels if your flight is delayed or cancelled. You might also want to come overland from Manali, breath-taking jeep safari, or from Srinagar, both some of the planet's most spectacular drives.

Email us your flight arrival details and have our contact details with you when you arrive in Delhi in case you need assistance. Kim will have her mobile with her, as will our agents from Dhruv Travels, so don't hesitate to call. We can help with hotels, flights, airport pick-ups and drops, sightseeing in Delhi or travels further to Rajasthan or Agra & the Taj Mahal (see Dhruv Travels).

Indian Visa
Be sure to have your Indian Visa before arrival in India. Most countries qualify for the new visa-on-arrival system, which is valid for 30 days. Information about the new visa-on-arrival for citizens of many countries (excluding the UK). NOTE that you need to apply and pay for the visa BEFORE arriving in India. You get the actual visa with your paid application once in India.
Indian Visa

Reference for Indian Visa:
Hotel in Leh: Shaynam Hotel, 20 Old Leh Road, Leh 194101
Travel Agent in Delhi: Dhruv Travels, 2464, Nalwa St, Chuna Mandi, Paharganj, New Delhi, 110055, India, +91 11 2358 2715
Hotel in Delhi: Jyoti Mahal Guest House, 2488-90 Nalwa Street, Chuna Mandi, Pahar Ganj, New Delhi,110055, +91 1123580523/24/25/26

You can print out + fill out your Visa on Arrival form before arriving in India, but you need to apply for the visa before leaving for India!

Delhi Airport Hotels
Delhi Airport Hotel

Delhi Restaurants + Bars
Zomato

Notes on Itinerary
Although we try to follow the itinerary below, it is ONLY a guideline based on years of experience trekking in the Himalaya. At times local trail, river or weather conditions may make a deviation necessary; rivers may be impassible, snow blocks passes, and landslides wipe out trails. The trekking itinerary and campsites may also vary slightly depending on the group's acclimatization rate or sickness.

The Himalaya are our passion, and we take trekking seriously. Although everyone is here on vacation, please come with a dollop of patience and compassion added to your sense of adventure ...

Temperatures + Clothing
Dress conservatively in Leh and on the trail as a rule. Shorts are okay if they aren't too short, mini skirts aren’t recommended. Sleeveless t-shirts are absolutely fine, but perhaps avoid tank-tops on the trail. Super tight doesn't go over so well with the village elders. Many of the younger generation in Nepal wear modern Indian or Western-influenced clothes, but remember that you haven't signed up for a beach or surf vacation. Use your good judgment, be an ambassador for western tourists! Please ask Kim or your guide if unsure about appropriate clothing.

Leh is generally very hot during the day (t-shirt weather) and cool at night (long sleeve shirt, fleece or synthetic jacket weather depending on month in the summer). A sun hat is essential during the day, sandals like Keens perfect for both a wander around town and trekking. Ladakh is very casual, a pair of jeans and shirt fine for evenings.

Trekking temperatures vary considerably, and you will need a wide range of trekking gear during the trek. Gear will range from sandals to boots, from t-shirts to down jackets. We suggest packing a warm sleeping bag, and bring layers. A full discussion of gear on 'Gear' tab.

Duffel Bags
We have North Face style duffel bags with Kamzang Journeys logos for sale (XL, orange). They are (mostly) waterproof, mid to lightweight (lighter than North Face) and good quality. Price $40. Please inquire early as we need to bring from Kathmandu.

Cultural Issues
Ladakhis are very open and welcoming, but there are a few issues you should be aware of to make your stay in Ladakh more fulfilling. Use your right hand to pass things, shake hands or do most anything. Left hands are somewhat taboo. Best not to pat kids on heads, or point feet ahead of you at monasteries. Don't walk over someone's legs or feet, but put your hand down in front of you to signal them to pull their legs to the side. Take off shoes and hats when going into Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples, don't use flashes inside monasteries or temples in general, be respectful of a puja (prayer ceremony) if attending one. You can talk, all religious are very tolerant, but be aware of your level of voice.

Ladakhis don't anger quickly, so try not to raise your voice if exasperated or angry as it only will make a situation worse. Do bargain at shops, with taxis and rickshaws, but don't fleece them. They are poor and making a living, generally.

Give small donations on the streets if you choose, but try not to encourage begging too much. Be aware of who you are giving money to, and please only give small amounts. If you do want to donate to a cause, ask about our Kamzang Fund or other responsible organizations.

Note that Leh and Ladakh are melting pots of different religions: Buddhist, Hindu and Muslim, as well as a few Christians. Tolerance and acceptance of all religions tolerated!

Pampering Yourself in Leh
Inquire if you're interested in staying in one of Leh's high end hotels. A few suggestions ...

Stok Palace
'Built entirely by the Ladakhi craftsmen in 1820, the Stok Palace still continues to be a snug abode for the Namgyal dynasty. The Namgyal dynasty traces its origin to its founder –Lhachen Palgygon as early as 10th century. You are entering a historical property and the Palace stands 195 years old. The Stok Palace was opened to public in 1980 with blessings of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and since it’s been over a decade and visitors continues to pour from all over the World. It encapsulates and reflects the lifestyle and history of Royalties set in the midst of the valley of Singey Sangpo which is known more popularly as Indus River.

Preserved from urbanity, this pristine natural landscape allows you to relax in serene atmosphere, pregnant with the delicious aroma of the country side and amazing views all around and takes the visitors through the imagery experience, detailing the softness of Snow, the brilliance of sunlight, billowing clouds, wandering pathways, and picturesque local architecture. As with anything embracing the grandeur and beauty of nature, the landscapes achieve a sense of timelessness; they envelop the echoes and silence of eons gone by. So come and enjoy the fine dining experience prepared from the family kitchen products coming from the local market and village. You can enjoy the pleasures of healthy and natural Ladakhi, Tibetan and Indian food.'

Nimmu House
'Nimmu House Ladakh is a sustainable Hotel in Ladakh, 30 km from Leh, in the village of Nimmoo. A noble house belonging to the cousin of the king of Ladakh, from the early 90s, surrounded by an orchard. Nimmu House includes five spacious tents scattered across the orchard and a room located in the house. Activities include Hiking, trekking, rafting, cooking classes, visits to the village of Nimmu and the monasteries of the Indus Valley'

The Ultimate Traveling Camp
'The first truly mobile luxury camps in India covering a calendar of destinations and festivals. This nomadic super luxury camp introduces the discerning traveller to different adventures in Carefully selected exceptional locations in the mountains, deserts, jungles and unexplored Countryside. Experience the many moods of exotic India with its dramatic landscapes, rustic and unexplored rural surroundings. Rediscover yourself…meet gurus from the far reaches of the Himalayas, raft down the River Indus, watch a game of Polo, a sport of the Royals, picnic in picturesque spots, celebrate tribal hues at the Hornbill Festival, explore quaint tribal Naga villages, or simply curl up in your ‘tent with a view’!

Tips for Staff
We recommend at least $200 per person to go into the tip pool for the staff. Please bring IC with you on the trek for the tips. It’s nice to buy the staff drinks on the last night. Or any other night that you feel like getting them a bottle of run!

Tips in General
Tips are always appreciated but they don’t need to be extravagant. 50 IC to carry bags to/from your room is fine. 100 IC for drivers to/from the airport. Round up taxi fares. A larger tip would be expected for a day trip in a car, perhaps 500 IC. 10% is included in some restaurant and hotel bills in India, and if it’s not included it’s still expected. Check your bills, and still round up at restaurants. Feel free to give out small change to the beggars in the streets (5, 10, 20 IC).

Cash + ATMs
You’ll want some cash with you on the trek for drinks, snacks, beer, sodas, etc. There are often  chances to during the trek, and usually local crafts to buy en route. (You’ll want your tip money IC as well). There are ATMs in Leh but they don’t dispense large amounts of cash so you’ll be best with currency to change. Traveler's checks not recommended in India.

Extra Days in India | Customize Your Journey
We are happy to book extra nights at the hotel, or a hotel of your choice, if you want to stay in Leh for a few extra days to explore our favorite Central Asian capital, or just to relax and soak in the mountain scenery. We are also happy to book trips to Nubra, sightseeing jeep safaris along the Indus Valley, rafting, bicycling down the Kardung La or any other activity you would like.

See our Extensions Tab for trip ideas!

Gear List

Gear List
This is a guideline, not a bible, for the gear you will need on the trek. Ask if you have questions!
NOTE: Your duffel bag can NOT be any larger than a North Face XL (140 Liter, 32" x 19" by 19"). ONE duffel bag only please.

20 kg (50 lbs) weight limit for treks

  • Duffel Bag
  • Day Pack (35-45 L)
  • Sleeping Bag (-20F/-30C recommended)
  • Down Jacket
  • Trekking Boots
  • Air Mattress
  • Crocs (evenings & washing) 

  • Hiking Sandals | Running Shoes (REQUIRED for river crossings - Crocs will also work)
  • Trekking Pants (2-3)
  • T-Shirts (3)
  • Long-sleeve Trekking Shirts (2-3)
  • Trekking Jacket
  • Gortex (or similar) Jacket & Pants
  • Fleece or Thermal Top (evenings)
  • Fleece or Thermal Bottoms (evenings)
  • Lightweight Long Underwear (to sleep in or layer under clothes)
  • Socks (5)
  • Gloves (lighter & heavier for passes)
  • Wool Hat
  • Baseball Cap or Wide-brimmed Hat
  • Camp Towel
  • Trekking Poles (optional, recommended)
  • Down Booties (optional, recommended)
  • Sunglasses (2)
  • Water Bottles | Nalgenes (2-3)
  • Bladder (optional, recommended)
  • Toiletries, Sunscreen with SPF, Lip Balm with SPF
  • Watch (with alarm)
  • Extra Batteries
  • Battery Chargers
  • Head Lamp 
(2)
  • Yak Trax (for treks with icy passes)
  • Water Purifying Tablets, Small Water Filter or Steripen
  • Camp Washing Bowl (optional, collapsible for clothes)
  • Laundry Detergent (Kathmandu) or Bio-degradable Clothes Soap
  • Hand Sanitizer
  • Small Solar Panel (optional, recommended for iPods, iPhones, camera batteries, Kindles)
  • Book(s)
  • Zip-Lock | Plastic Bags
  • Soft Toilet Paper | Tissues (we supply toilet paper but you will want something softer for blowing your nose)
  • Baby-Wipes | Wet-Wipes (for personal cleaning)
  • Handi-Wipes, J-Cloth or Chux (optional: easy for a quick daytime clean, fast drying)
  • Rehydration | Electrolytes
  • Snacks!
  • Personal Medical Supplies

NOTE: We have a 'dress code' for the evenings in the tent, which essentially means you'll be changing out of your trekking clothes and into clean, dry evening clothes!

Medical Supplies
We strongly suggest bringing Western meds with you as there are a lot of Indian fakes on the market!

Suggested: Diamox, Azithromyacin, Ciprofloxacin, Tinidazole or Flagyl & Augmentin. Bring COMPEED for covering blisters & good tasting electrolytes &/or rehydration salts (Emergen-C is a good American brand). The local versions aren’t very appealing.
We also recommend bringing strong knee & ankle supports & braces, ACE bandages for sprains & strains, Tegaderm &/or other would coverings. Duct tape is always useful. We're happy to take excess medical supplies off your hands when you leave if you won't need them and pass them on to others. We use lots of the large amount we have with us to treat locals as well as our own trekkers ...

Comments on Gear
Layers are essential for trekking. Quality is more important than quantity. It’s worth investing in the great, newer lightweight trekking gear available in all gear shops or online.

Kim's Gear Suggestions: I generally wear a trekking t-shirt, light trekking pants, a mid-weight shirt, a lightweight synthetic jacket (instead of a fleece), a lightweight jacket and pants for wind and rain. If the weather looks stormy or it’s a pass day I carry a lightweight down jacket and a storm-weight jacket. I always have a pair of lightweight gloves (heavier ones additionally for pass days), a hat, a baseball cap and an extra pair of socks in my day-pack. I generally trek in low Merrill hiking shoes, and Keen boots on very cold days and over passes. I always carry Crocs with me in case of river crossings, or to air my feet at lunch. I carry a 38 L (although it looks larger) Black Diamond day pack although I also love Osprey packs. On pass days I carry Yak Trax and trekking poles, and I always have an extra pair of sunglasses, electrolytes, my camera, a medical kit, a Steripen, snacks and lots of water in my pack. My favorite gear brands are Patagonia Mountain Hardwear and Marmot.

Good trekking boots are essential. High boots are best, but you don’t need climbing or plastic boots (for mini-crampons or micro-spikes). You can also get away with low, sturdy trekking boot, which I wear quite often except for over the passes. Trekking poles are not required but strongly recommended, especially for going down passes which are often steep and icy and for treks with river crossings. Bring gators if you tend to use them but they’re not required if you don't own a pair. Micro-spikes (mini-crampons) or YakTraxs are almost always useful (or essential) for the pass crossings. We will have at least one ice ax with us. It’s also good (possibly essential) to have a pair of plastic Crocs for washing and to wear in the lodges in the evenings. Tevas take a long time to dry and are relatively heavy.

Good, polarized sunglasses are essential. Do bring an extra pair. Don’t forget a sun hat and/or a baseball cap, an extra headlamp and have plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with SPF!

The weather is changeable in the Himalaya, so again I recommend that everyone has a strong, WATERPROOF duffel bag for the trip (although they do tend to weigh more). We supply covers that go over the duffel bags to protect them from rain, dirt & rips.

Nights are chilly to cold, so a down jacket and a WARM sleeping bag are essentials. For your sleeping bag, we recommend a DOWN bag of 0 to -20 F (-18 to -28 C). Mine is -20 F. At lower altitudes I open it and sleep under it like a quilt and up higher am toasty warm during the cold nights. Campsites near passes can get COLD. Rentals available. The dining tent is a Tibetan style ‘yurt’, with blankets and camp chairs on the ground. It warms up in the evenings with the gas lamp but it is still important to have warm clothes for the evenings. I always use down booties which are great when it’s cold, but a pair of thick wool socks also work.

Bring extra large plastic bags or stuff-sacks in case of rain. You can pack electronics in them or stash your sleeping bag and clothes. The weather is changeable in the Himalaya, so again I recommend that everyone has a strong, WATERPROOF duffel bag for the trip. We supply covers that go over the duffel bags to protect them from rain, dirt & thorns.

Tents
Everyone gets their own Northface Dome tent (3 person, huge) without a single supplement. Couples share the same sized tent.

Day Pack
We recommend a 35-45 liter day pack (ask at your gear shop if you’re not sure of the capacity). Better to have it too large than too small as on pass days you’ll need to carry more warm gear. Most have internal water bladders built in, which are good for ensuring that you stay hydrated. Make sure it fits and is comfortable before purchasing!

In your day pack, you will be carrying your camera, 2 liters of water, a jacket, wind & rain pants, hat, gloves, extra socks, sunscreen, snacks, electrolytes, water purifying tablets, filter, or Steripen camera, hand sanitizer, a pack-cover and often a down jacket. I slip my Crocs on the back in case of unexpected stream crossings or for lunch. Lhakpa & I carry small medical kits in our day packs.

Water
We bring KATADYN expedition-sized water filters along on the trek for fresh drinking water, ecologically the best way to get water in the Himalaya’s fragile trekking regions. Bring your own filter pump, Steripen/UV purifier or iodine/chlorine tablets for fresh water while trekking. NOTE: To be extra safe with your drinking water, you can drop one purifying tablet into your water bottle after filling with our filtered water. Make sure you wait the required amount of time before drinking, and don’t add anything with Vitamin C as this negates the iodine.

Please bring at least TWO (and better three) Nalgene, Sigg or other unbreakable plastic/metal water bottles. Camelbacks and other bladder systems are good for trekking but can leak, so as a back-up it’s best to also bring a Nalgene or other water bottle.

NOTE: We do not provide boiled water for drinking on either our tea-house/lodge or our camping treks although there is endless hot water for herbal, black or green teas, hot chocolate, hot lemon as well as Indian chai and Kashmiri tea.

Snacks
You will NEED snacks hiking at altitude, even if you’re not a snacker. People crave unusual foods at altitude!  Energy bars, ‘GU’ gels, chocolate bars, dried fruit & nuts, beef jerky (or whatever) are important to have along for long days, pre-lunch bonks and passes. Lemonade mix, Emergen-C or similar drink mixes are great to have for hot days in your water bottles, and it is ESSENTIAL to bring electrolytes with you every day.  

Bring something to share in the tent in the evenings if you want. Cheese is great as a treat on a cheese-board before dinner (Blue, Stilton, Yarlsburg, good Cheddar, Brie, etc). If you would like, bring a bit of your favorite and we’ll throw it on a cheese board for appetizers one night.

NOTE: Nothing besides your personal snack food is required, but it’s fun to see what everyone comes up with!  Lots of basics available in Leh, so no need to over-load.

Rentals
We have Western down jackets to rent for $1.50 per day.  We also have good super-down sleeping bags to rent (0 to -10 F) for $2.50 per day. Please book these early as we sometimes need to bring from Kathmandu.

Packing & Storage
It’s easiest to pack and unpack from a duffel bag, especially when the temperature drops. It's a good idea to invest in a strong, waterproof duffel such as a North Face. You can store extra gear in Leh at your hotel.

Shopping
You can get some trekking gear in Leh, such as trekking poles, sleeping bags (about 0F), light down jackets, Chinese-made gear which is often quite wearable. Top up your gear in Leh if you need to, but best not to rely on purchasing too much there.

Extensions

Srinagar & the Jewels of Kashmir
Kashmir, Srinagar & Indus Jeep Safari

A great extension to any of our Kamzang Journeys treks in Ladakh & Zanskar, or a wonderful trip on its own. Kashmir and Srinagar are some of the jewels of the Indian Himalaya, often described by local Kashmiris as 'heaven on earth' ....

We are offering a wonderful nine-day itinerary, flying from Delhi to Srinagar and finishing in Leh via the overland route.
There are many ways to customize this trip, please get in touch to make this trip exactly what you are looking for!

Some of the highlights: old historic Srinagar & the Mughal Gardens, touring Dal & Nageen Lakes by shikara (local boat), the atmospheric morning floating market, a visit to Dacigram National Park, an excursion Manasbal & Wular Lake, the largest lake in Asia, a tour of
Yousmarg  and a visit to Naranag Temple, the oldest in Kashmir.

En route to Leh you'll have the option to drive the stunningly beautiful Indus highway via the Koji La, with a chance to visit idyllic Sonmarg and stop at several Tibetan Buddhist monasteries along the road to Leh. Or you can take a one-hour flight directly to Leh.

Enjoy the world renown beauty and hospitality of Kashmir!


Leh, the Indus Valley & High Lakes
Leh, Indus Valley Monasteries & Salt Lakes

We also have a nearly perfect extension, again also a trip on its own, of Leh, the Indus Valley monasteries (gompas, in Tibetan or Ladakhi) and a jeep safari to the breathtakingly beautiful and culturally interesting Tso Moriri and Pangong Lakes, the later partly in Tibet. Visit the nomadic communities at Tso Moriri, the traditional villages at Pangong Lake and explore the bustling Tibetan Buddhist monasteries en route to these lakes.

There is lots to explore in historic Leh and tucked away amongst the shady villages and intriguing alleyways of this Central Asian capital.

 

Itineraries

Full Trek

Day 1 - Meet in Leh 3500m
Welcome to Leh, the capital of predominantly Buddhist Ladakh, in Jammu and Kashmir, tucked away amidst the Ladakh mountains, part of the great Trans Himalayan range. If you arrive by air you'll feel the big jump in altitude and it will take your body a few days to adjust. If you arrive by road from Manali or Srinagar you'll have had some extra acclimatization en route, but will still need time to adjust to the 3500 meter altitude. Hydrate with plenty of water, stay away from beer for a few days, rest and don't over-exert yourself. Even walking up the stairs of the guest house, let alone the Leh Fort, will make you breathless for the first day or two. Diamox is a good way to help your body acclimatize naturally; Kim will discuss.

We stay at the family-run Shaynam Hotel, more of a family-run guest house with a lovely garden in the center courtyard, located just a few minutes south of the Main Bazaar in old Leh town. Your rooms will be booked for you, you'll just need to advise Kim of your arrival time, whether by air or by road. Once everyone has arrived and checked into rooms, Kim will show you around town: the bakeries, cafes, tandoori restaurants, email cafes, banks and wonderful markets. We'll meet for dinner in the evening at the Ibex or Summer Harvest, a few of our favorite restaurants.

Days 2, 3 - Leh
We've scheduled two free days in Leh to acclimatize and to enjoy the peaceful, willow-lined streets and bustling bazaar life of Singge Namgyal's 17th century capital of Ladakh, once an integral part of Western Tibet and a major trading post along the southern Silk Route. There is lots to explore in this wonderful Central Asian town; the newly-restored ruins of the 17th century Leh Palace, the ancient 16th century Leh Fort and the attached Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, other historic Tibetan Buddhist gompas, the Sunni Muslim mosques, narrow back alleys with steaming Muslim bread, tiny antique shops tucked away amidst the many ancient stupas and architectural remnants, the exotic Main Bazaar (c. 1840s) which once accommodated trade caravans, and even a polo field. Caravans of merchants from far-flung destinations such as Yarkand, Tibet, Kashgar and North India passed through Leh during ancient trade missions, trading salt, wool, Pashmina, tea and semi-precious stones, lending to the city its exotic allure. Pilgrims flocked to the monasteries of Leh and the Indus valley, explorers of old stopped in Leh to re-stock and weather out the harsh Himalayan winter and soldiers en route to plunder and conquer desirous destinations passed through Leh, all leaving their mark on this unique capital.

Kim will take you for a walk up the bustling Fort Road, lined with shops owned by Kashmiri, Tibetan and Kashmiri shop-keepers, to 15th century Leh Fort and the red, MaitreiyaTsemo Gompa, perched high on a craggy and crumbling hilltop overlooking the bazaars of old Leh. You can stop at 16th century nine-story Leh Palace, of a similar architectural design to the Tibetan Potala Palace, on the way down if you have the energy. Visit the museum, a worthwhile endeavor, as well as the nearby gompas (Tibetan Buddhist monasteries) - Soma Gompa, Chamba Lakhang and Chensrig Lakhang. There is a great cultural show around sunset at Soma Gompa.

We might wander the willow-lines streets of Changspa to reach the many steps leading to the Japanese-built Shanti Stupa for a view over the green fields and white-washed Ladakhi houses of the villages surrounding Leh. The precariously perched Leh Fort guards the eastern edges of the fertile valley. Sankar Gompa (17th - 18th century), reached through shady lanes to the east of Changspa, lies in the midst of Chubi's groves of poplar and willow and is another wonderful morning or afternoon walk. The back route to Leh Fort starts in Chubi and passes through a desert-like Buddhist cremation ground before climbing to the fortress.

OPTIONAL GOMPA-TRIP: Arrange (through Kim, our Tibetan jeep-driver Wang Chuk or the Shaynam Hotel) a 'jeep safari' through the fertile Indus Valley to visit a few of the living Tibetan Buddhist gompas, the crumbling ruins of ancient fortresses and palaces and the traditional villages that dot the banks of the region, the 'cradle of civilization' of much of the ancient world. Kim can help arrange jeeps and/or a guide for a day's excursion.

To the East: Shey, Thikse, Hemis, Chemde, Thagthok, Stakna, Matho & Stok.
To the West: Spitok, Phyang, Basgo, Likir, Alchi, Rizdong & Lamayuru.

OPTIONAL RAFTING-TRIP: You can arrange a day rafting trip on the Indus (easier) or the Zanskar River, approximately $35-40.

Day 4 - Drive Lato 4020m
After breakfast, we jump into our jeeps and head for the start of the trek at our acclimatization destination, Lato. We following the Leh Srinagar highway east, past the ancient, 14th century Spitok Gompa, spectacularly perched on a craggy hillock above the cultivated fields of Spitok village. We continue past the old palace and gompa at Shey, surrounded by hundreds of whitewashed chortens, and continue past more chortens built by the kings of Ladakh towards colorful Thikse Gompa on the left. The renown Hemis Gompa is built high up on a hillside to our right, down a connecting lane. Soon after passing this landmark we turn right at Upshi, following the Leh Manali highway south as it snakes its way over the high passes of the Zanskar and Himalayan ranges heading to Manali. Following the Gya Chu along a spectacular section of highway, we soon reach our campsite at the hamlet of Lato where the staff has set up camp for the night. We'll set you up in your tents, show you around our 'Kamzang' style dining tent and settle in with a mug of chai. Beers are available at a small tea-house nearby ...

Day 5 - Drive Dat 4310m
Another spectacular and short day of driving as we head south, crossing the 5300 meter Tanglang La and descending through a wide, green nomadic region peppered with nomad tents. At the bottom of the long pass we turn right, heading west through the nomadic region of Zara over the 4960 meter Yar La and descend on a serious of switchbacks to the valley below. At the end of this small valley our jeeps will turn right and drive for half an hour through a wild plateau of nomads, kyang and marmots to our idyllic campsite at Dat.

Our campsite for the night is lovely, high pastureland next to the now-deserted village of Shemen. Dat, which houses approximately forty families (although many have now moved to Choglamsar) in the Spring and late Autumn, is actually composed of the two villages of Dango (upper) and Shemen (lower). The nomadic villagers move to the Sangtha and Lungmoche valleys with their flocks in the summer months, and to the valley behind Dat few a couple of months in the wintertime. Marmots share the campsite with us and Kyang might check us out from the ridge above Dat. Sunsets and sunrises are glorious from camp so it's worth a visit to the small, monk-run teahouse to pick up a beer for 'sundowner' ...

The perfect, grassy campsite for an afternoon of relaxation and acclimatization. Warm streams meander through the valley, providing luke-warm washing water, and the sun usually shines brightly. If you feel like a wander, head up the side valley in back of Shemen village for an afternoon of wildlife spotting. Spend some time in the deserted villages and Dat Gompa, where the local god Ka La Bu Skyong, the protector and 'giver of sons', reins supreme. (Interestingly, this god is only recognized in Kharnak). The semi-permanent village of Shemen is fascinating, and the gompa worth a visit if we can find the resident key-keeper, a young monk from Hemis, who also collects the camp charges. Wander through the empty passageways between the stone houses; the discarded rubbish gives a picture of what life is like during the inhabited periods.

Another option is a (slightly difficult) hike up the plateau and prayer-flag topped peak above Dat at 4710 meters for totally amazing birds-eye views down on the valley, but be ready for some scrambling.

Day 6 - Trek Nomadic Winter Doksa 4505m
Our trekking begins, finally. We're keeping the details of the next few days quiet as no trekking groups know about this route. Trust us to lead you to one of the most beautiful and green valleys in Ladakh where we will set up camp in what we call our 'snow leopard valley'. I'll not write much about this to keep it as protected as possible, but will note that we found a wonderful shrine at the top of the winter doksa with unique stone carvings of the god Rahula. From the blog BlueStarBlackSnake – An Appalachian witches daily musings and interests:

'Rahu became Rahula after being subdued by Padmasambhava from originally being an asura or rakshasa to being a Protector of the Dharma, thus the La at the end, meaning god. Rahu’s father was a Rakshasa and his mother was a Nagini ... Rahula is the chief Nagaraja or Naga King of the race of Nagas and Naginis. He is blazing ultraviolet blue/black in colour. Rahula is a wrathful manifestation of Vajrapani. In the ancient Bon shamanism gZa is Zaw, or the 9 planets, with Rahula as Rahu the eclipse demon. His form is a 9-headed Nagaraja crowned with a black crow head, his coils covered with eyes. In one form he has three heads – one black, one white, and one red. His six arms hold to the right a sword, vajra, and wheel, and to the left a threatening mudra, snare, and hatchet. In another form he has nine heads, wrathful ones below and peaceful above. In his four armed form he holds a Makara staff to the right, snake left, and the two at centre pull a serpentine bow and arrow. And below the waist he is a twisting serpent surrounded by flames within a fiery quadrangle ... His lower body is like that of a snake, while his upper body is covered with eyes, which, together with the further eyes in his nine heads symbolize his ability to see in all directions. His bow and arrow are ready to strike at enemies, and his many mouths are ready to devour their ignorance. He is shown surrounded by flames of high energy, as are all Guardians, but Rahula’s power is so intense that the practitioner has already developed considerable mastery. He can be a dangerous ally of potentially overwhelming power if not approached in the right way ... He can be approached for assistance with relatively mundane matters.'

Day 7 - Trek Kyang Camp
Another secretive day with an easy pass at 4815m to reach our campsite in a green valley full of kyang, and perhaps snow leopard ...

Day 8 - Trek Lungmoche 4710m (over Yar La 4950m)
We have a small pass to crest, with views of the Zanskar Range, during which we often spot herd of kyang that reside in the nearby valleys (kyang translates as 'wander' in Ladakhi). The male often comes out to the main valley to scout for the herd of females and younger males, all of which will snort, paw the ground and arrange an impressive maneuver for us if their territory is threatened. Himalayan hares also reside in the valley and dart in and out of site. We crest one last ridge from camp before contouring towards the ascent of the 4950 meter Yar La, a relatively easy climb of just over an hour from the end of the valley following the winter snow wall built for winter sheep crossings. The chorten on the pass has some beautiful carvings including the Kharnak mountain deity, a lovely mountain goddess called Tsering Ma (Ched Inga), the eldest of five sisters, also recognized in Tibet. Most of these nomadic mountain deities are Bon deities which have been subdued by Guru Rimpoche as protectors of the Buddhist faith. We can see our old campsite just five minutes down the pass, and it will only take us half an hour (or a bit more if we camp further down the valley) to reach the turnoff to that camp at Lungmoche, another lovely pastureland. We're still Kyang territory still, so keep your cameras ready. We'll continue down the lovely, green Lungmoche valley for another half an hour or so from here, setting up camp somewhere green ...

Day 9 - Trek Zabuk Barma 4350m
Today we head into well-loved nomadic territory, hiking down the green valley on the right side of the valley (there is a road being built on the opposite side, sadly). We'll pass a large doksa soon after leaving camp, and then a mani wall and large chorten. An hour from this last chorten after a short, traversing climb brings us to a small pass where we'll have a short rest in front of the mountain home of the three sister goddesses. Look back across the Zara Chu to see the 'Five Sisters' peaks, the dwelling of the five mountain goddesses that live in the distinctly shaped range. From here we descend gradually to the right, contour up and down several arid hillsides and reach a short but dramatic canyon through which we descend. Turning left we soon reach a broad plateau with chortens marking routes on all three sides and a cluster of eight magnificent, white-washed chortens across the river. Fifteen minutes later we drop into the seasonal nomadic settlement of Sangtha, built of rounded, white river rocks and littered with goat and sheep droppings. Cross the river to the complex of mani stones and chortens for wonderful photos and great views back to Sangtha, which marks the intersection of the Ladakhi and Tibetan nomadic regions.

We follow the magnificent, clear Zara Chu on the chorten-side to a grassy lunch spot at the first river intersection. We continue for another hour or so on the same side (left) past more sparkling river intersections, nomadic settlements (doksas), and a wolf trap and then drop down to the grassy riverside. Near camp on our side of the river is a marmot colony, with small trails leading to their tunnel shelters.

One more river bend and we spot out campsite across the river at Zhabuk Barma, a spectacularly-situated seasonal settlement of the Karnak-pa. To the east (below our camp) the Tozay Chu leads to Pang on the Leh-Manali highway and the Ladakhi nomadic region of Kharnak, and is bordered by a fantastic canyon of sculpted rocks leads. The campsite is wonderful and green with perfect swimming holes along the river and a cold, fresh spring in back. There are three tri-colored chortens in a shallow cave above the stone doksas, worth a steep climb up for views over the campsite and down the valley. And just to the left of these, a steep valley leading up to a fantastic plateau with vast vistas, a must-do in the afternoon with the perfect light. Keep your eyes on the hilltops next to camp for kyang, Himalayan hare and blue sheep, all of which are common in this area.

We'll have a yak-dung fire in the evening ...

Day 10 - Trek Narbus 4820m (over Narbus La 4850m)
We have a wonderfully dramatic hike today as we re-cross the Zara Chu right out of camp and climb to a high plateau just above us. Heading slightly around the hilltop to our right we cross the plateau on a sort of natural bridge and reach the fantastic canyons above the Tozay Chu to reach the sculpted canyons. The multi-hued spires of rock sculpted by centuries of wind and water erosion make for amazing photos. The river valley below our camp leads to the small settlement of Pang, which is off the Leh Manali highway from Narbus. We hike along this plateau, a feast of textures and colors high above the valley below, eventually contouring left towards the Narbus La.

It will take us four or five hours from camp to crest the 4850-meter pass. From the wide crest, marked by a small cairn, we can spot the canvas and yak-hair tents of the Tibetan nomadic settlement of Narbus where we set up camp for the night. Our nomadic Tibetan friends camp here for about four months every summer, and we can take a look at the inside of a nomad tent or two in the afternoon. Be ready, as we will be offered treats such as salt butter tea and fresh curd (yogurt) from their flocks of goats and sheep. Narbus is a good place to donate your supplies or extra clothes; years ago we had a meeting of the women from each tent and distributed evenly much needed school supplies and extras. Another year we bargained for yak and sheep-hair blankets and nomadic knives with binoculars, a Leatherman and some cash.

The evenings are a wonderful time of the day as the orange orb of sun begins to set, the nomads returning to camp herding their hundreds of sheep and goats, and the yaks wandering back to the tents followed by the haunting yells of the Tibetans.

Day 11 - Trek Numa River Camp 4610m
We start on our six hour day to the beautiful Numa Valley Camp. We cut across the Narbus valley for two hours to reach the Leh - Manali highway (unless we hitch a ride), and then continue right across the tussocked plateau towards the spectacular canyon that extends from Pang, four hours from Narbus. There are several nomadic settlements peppering the plateau in front of us and to our left, and we often spot Kyang along the way, even a weasel last year. It can be hot and there is no shade along the way so it's a good day for an umbrella. Look up and down valley as the views are spectacular, the Himalayan rising impressively in front of us behind Pang. When we reach the edge of the plateau leading to Pang we are on yet another dramatic plateau overlooking sculpted rock outcroppings and 'hoodoos', with the river snaking through the flood plain valley below us.

We hike along the canyon rim for another hour to the turnoff to camp, the second large valley descending to our right. We'll have lunch somewhere just before we hit this valley. After lunch, we'll drop and contour around two small hill-sides and then descend extremely steeply to the river, following in the tracks of our horses (in case you can't believe this is really a trail). We see our campsite being set up far below us as we descend.

Dropping steeply down a scree-filled gully, we slip our way down to the riverbed far below. Our campsite is right on the river at the intersection of a lovely stream, under the pillars of eroded sand which have formed themselves into Himalayan cathedrals called hoodoos. We'll have time in the afternoon for a wash in the river, or a wander up the stream bed to the left of camp ...

Day 12 - Trek Shemra High Camp 5100m
Yet another wonderful Himalayan trekking day ahead of us and another sandals day. The trek takes on a completely different character as we follow the wide Sumkhar Togpo river valley for a few hours along the flood plain, jumping over and splashing through the river many times and passing a large valley leading to the high Barma La to the left side of the river. Crumbling hoodoos line the trail on either side, backed by vivid blue skies and fluffy Himalayan clouds. We reach the second large valley junction, the Shemra Chu, which leads to Shemra, a grazing settlement, and the base of the Gyama La (5830m) which we will cross tomorrow. We'll camp at a high, grassy camp site a few hours up the narrowing, stunningly beautiful valley.

Day 13 - Trek Kyagar (over Gyama La 5830m)
A big pass day ahead of us as we leave our high camp heading east and ascend on a switchbacking trail of scree to the top of the formidable Gyama La, our highest pass at 5830 meters. It should take us three or so hours to reach the top of the pass, where we're treated to a great Himalayan panorama. The green valley widens as we descend, soon reaching the Gyarmasharma Chu which we follow to the bottom of the valley. We may have a bit of snow at the upper reaches of the valley, which narrows as we near the next sumdo. We've reached familiar nomadic territory at the bottom of the valley, a wide, green and stunningly beautiful Tibetan vignette where kyang graze freely, yaks roam the plateau and pikas and marmots stick their heads out of their burrows. This valley is pure Tibet; open, grassy plateaus, wild, amazing views, big sky and nomads on horseback herding their sheep. We'll set up camp at the nomadic settlement of Kyagar, at the base of tomorrow's small pass and enjoy the rest of the afternoon in our idyllic campsite.

Day 14 - Trek Rajung Karu 4880m
We have a truly beautiful 'Changthang' day with the nomads ahead of us, a relatively easy one after yesterday. We leave the winding, crystal clear stream which snakes its way down valley from our camp and head up the the Kyamayuri La (5430 meters), an easy ascent. From the prayer flags at the top of the pass we finally get a view of the turquoise Tso Kar Lake below us, a breathtaking site backed by Himalayan peaks. The descent to camp will take us about two hours of riverside walking along the Spanglung Chu. En route we'll pass by many nomadic encampments with their Tibetan mastiffs chained to a stick in the ground, hopefully tightly. More Kyang in this green valley. Again, we follow the river to our camp at Rajung Karu although the easiest way is to stay a bit higher on the left side. The grassy riversides are home to marmot, pikas, Himalayan mice and numerous varieties of birds which build their nests in the uneven tussocks. Camp is on the right side of the river, another beautiful and green spot with good washing in the river next to us. We'll watch the daily migration of the flocks of sheep and goats heading back to camp at upper Rajung Karu in the evening ...

Day 15 - Trek Tso Kar Camp 4560m (over Horlam Kongka La 4950m)
Continuing along the right of the river on the green riverside, past several mani walls, it will take us an hour to reach the wide Horlam Kongka La (4950 meters). From the rounded top we look down onto Tso Kar Lake and several stone nomadic dwellings. We have an easy descent to the river and a small river crossing at Nuruchan, another nomadic seasonal settlement. We continue to hike along a dirt track towards Tso Kar, glimmering like an oasis in the distance. Kyang will be watching us from a distance as we trek past the stone settlement of Riyul and the wetlands surrounding the lake. Bubbles of salt are visible at the shores, which are very boggy, and shorebirds are plentiful.

Tso Kar Lake is the 'salt lake' of Rupshu, previously the site of large salt excavations by the Rupshu-pa nomads, a section of the lake given to each group each year when the salt trade between Tibet and the lower hills was thriving (after the border with China was closed in 1959). Today, Tso Kar Lake is not as salty as it previously was, and the salt trade has diminished in importance because if the introduction of iodized and subsidized Indian salt. There is a small Tibetan village to the north of the lake called Tukje with an old gompa; most of the people of Tso Kar lake are Tibet semi-nomadic people who spend the winters in their villages at the lake.

After stopping for lunch on the grass we'll continue to round the western side of the lake, either on the dirt track or right next to the lake, a bit longer. We also have the option to climb the small Kongka Seru La (4850m) and descend easily to camp that way. It will take us a few hours to reach the tented camp of Pongunagu at the northwestern corner of the lake where we camp for the night.

Day 16 - Trek Nabukha 4700m
The next 12 days are wild exploration of some of the most stunningly beautiful nomadic regions in Ladakh. Have sandals with you every day as we're not sure of how many rivers we'll have to cross ... Back off the Tso Kar trail, we head north towards the high, seasonal nomadic settlements of Shingbuk and Nabukha, setting up camp at the later.

Day 17 - Trek Tisaling 4850m (over Shingbuk La 5230m)
A real trekking day today, starting off by trekking up a wide valley and cresting an unnamed 5070 meter pass from where we contour gradually to the real pass, the Shingbuk La (5230m). The descent is also wide and gradual, and we soon reach the nomadic settlement of Tisaling (#1) where we reach a small stream which we follow to the east, staying at about 5000 meters for an hour or so. We've got a river crossing at the next sumdo, from where we follow the intersecting stream directly north for a short time. One more crossing and we've reached the seasonal settlement of Tisaling (#2) where the staff has hopefully found us a nice campsite.

Day 18 - Trek Tirido 3820m
The explorations continue as we follow the Tiri Chu downstream, crossing several intersecting streams en route. We gradually descend to 4400 meters and trek through the green pastures of Tiri, followed by the smaller nomadic settlement of Kiamchumikchan. Chumik means 'spring' in Ladakhi ... The valley is green as we follow good grazing land through the narrow valley, reaching the Indus (and the road across it) at Tirido.

Day 19 - Trek Kyungyam 4110m
There is a bridge crossing the Indus about half an hour below (to the south) of camp, and after crossing we have to hike up the Indus highway for an hour to the turnoff to Pangong Lake on our right. At Kyungyam Do we head north along the Kyungyam Chu, following a dirt track past Thanka on the right followed by Kiamlun and Kardang on the left, eventually reaching Kyungyam at the next river intersection. We'll set up a lovely camp in this green valley ...

Day 20 - Kyungyam
We've scheduled a rest day in this small nomadic settlement, which has its own gompa (Kyungyam Gompa) and looks on the map to be a beautiful spot. We may use this rest day somewhere else if needed ...

Day 21 - Trek Gun La High Camp 5200m
Crossing the river to the east in the morning, we continue to follow the Kyungyam Chu northeast, crossing the first intersecting stream at Roang, and the next about an hour later. The valley widens as we ascend gradually for another hour or more, again crossing the Kyungyam Chu at about 5000 meters, just after it intersects a stream to the left. After another hour or so there is a third crossing at a similar altitude; we will camp somewhere in this area ...

Day 22 - Trek Gun La Sumdo Camp 5000m (over Gun La 5680)
Another high pass to cross, so have an extra cup of coffee and a good breakfast before setting off. We're starting high for the pass, so our 600+ meter ascent shouldn't take us more then three hours. Once on top of the Gun La (5680 meters), we'll have, we hope, views of the beautiful Pangong Tso (lake), two thirds of which is in Tibet. Heading down the pass, we soon reach a stream which we follow on the left banks for an hour, crossing an intersecting stream and continuing on the same side of the river until we find a good campsite for the evening.

Day 23 - Trek Pangong Sumdo 5000m
Continuing to stay high, at around 5000 meters, we continue to trek along this valley as it opens up into a wide plateau. As this is still exploratory, we'll see how far we get as we head towards Pangong Lake. We're heading towards a large, green and fertile valley which follows the Harong Chu to the west, and perhaps we'll reach a bit further than we expected today ....

Day 24 - Trek Tarmar 4450m
Switching directions, we head northwest along the Harong Chu on the eastern banks of the river, parallel to the snow-capped Pangong Range directly to our north. It's not a long day to the nomadic settlement of Tarmar where we'll hope to camp with nomads in the fertile valley.

Day 25 - Trek Harong Lake 4310m
The valley becomes greener as we continue along the same route as yesterday, staying at a similar altitude as we trek past several intersecting streams which we cross. After a few hours the valley widens to a massive plateau and we see the small Harong Lake ahead of us. The crew have hopefully found us another idyllic campsite for the night, and we'll hope to spend the afternoon drinking salt-butter tea with more nomads.

Day 26 - Trek Chilam 4070m
Our last day of trekking along an ancient trade route that went from Leh to Rudok and on to Lhasa in Tibet. We journey with our caravan along the eastern banks of the river, again crossing several intersecting streams and eventually pulling away from the river to the north as we cross a high plateau. The sky is wide and blue above us as we pull into our last camp at Chilam , lower than we've slept in a few nights.

As our horsemen are heading in a different direction tomorrow, we'll have the tips ceremony tonight and share a few bottles of rum with the crew. Ang Chuk and our drivers will meet us here today and drive us to Pangong Lake tomorrow.

Day 27 - Drive Pangong Lake 4280m
Jumping into our jeeps for our 'jeep safari' to Pangong Lake, we continue, on a small jeep track, to the Pangong Highway, make a sharp right and follow the river to Lukung, the village at the far western tip of the lake. We will probably continue to Spangmik on the southern shores of Pangong Lake to set up camp ...

Day 28 - Pangong Lake
A free day at this idyllic setting to wind down from the trek and enjoy the surroundings ...

Day 29 - Drive Leh
Back in the jeeps, we drive back along the southern shores of Pangong Lake and after a few hours, following a branch of the large Shyog River, turn south and drive over the Chang La (5300m) to Karu, where the road intersects the Indus and the Leh-Manali highway.En route we pass the western Indus valley gompas, amongst them the 1000-year old Alchi, Hemis, Rizdong, Likir, Thikse and Shey. Back at the Shaynam Guest House in Leh, hot showers and a clean change of clothes await, and tandoori food and cold beers are not far away at the Ibex.

Day 30 - Leh
We've scheduled one last day in Leh, our favorite Central Asian capital, in case of delays during the trek. We'll also have time to do some more shopping and exploring, and to wind down after our journey through the high, nomadic regions of 'old Tibet'.

Day 31 - Trip Ends
Our wonderful Himalayan journey ends today, sadly. You have several options after the trip: a flight back to Delhi, an epic 'jeep safari' back to Manali or elsewhere in the Indian Himalaya, or spending more time in Leh. We're happy to assist on all fronts, but Leh flights are not included in our India treks.

Trek Short

Day 1 - Meet in Leh 3500m
Welcome to Leh, the capital of predominantly Buddhist Ladakh, in Jammu and Kashmir, tucked away amidst the Ladakh mountains, part of the great Trans Himalayan range. If you arrive by air you'll feel the big jump in altitude and it will take your body a few days to adjust. If you arrive by road from Manali or Srinagar you'll have had some extra acclimatization en route, but will still need time to adjust to the 3500 meter altitude. Hydrate with plenty of water, stay away from beer for a few days, rest and don't over-exert yourself. Even walking up the stairs of the guest house, let alone the Leh Fort, will make you breathless for the first day or two. Diamox is a good way to help your body acclimatize naturally; Kim will discuss.

We stay at the family-run Shaynam Hotel, more of a family-run guest house with a lovely garden in the center courtyard, located just a few minutes south of the Main Bazaar in old Leh town. Your rooms will be booked for you, you'll just need to advise Kim of your arrival time, whether by air or by road. Once everyone has arrived and checked into rooms, Kim will show you around town: the bakeries, cafes, tandoori restaurants, email cafes, banks and wonderful markets. We'll meet for dinner in the evening at the Ibex or Summer Harvest, a few of our favorite restaurants.

Days 2, 3 - Leh
We've scheduled two free days in Leh to acclimatize and to enjoy the peaceful, willow-lined streets and bustling bazaar life of Singge Namgyal's 17th century capital of Ladakh, once an integral part of Western Tibet and a major trading post along the southern Silk Route. There is lots to explore in this wonderful Central Asian town; the newly-restored ruins of the 17th century Leh Palace, the ancient 16th century Leh Fort and the attached Namgyal Tsemo Gompa, other historic Tibetan Buddhist gompas, the Sunni Muslim mosques, narrow back alleys with steaming Muslim bread, tiny antique shops tucked away amidst the many ancient stupas and architectural remnants, the exotic Main Bazaar (c. 1840s) which once accommodated trade caravans, and even a polo field. Caravans of merchants from far-flung destinations such as Yarkand, Tibet, Kashgar and North India passed through Leh during ancient trade missions, trading salt, wool, Pashmina, tea and semi-precious stones, lending to the city its exotic allure. Pilgrims flocked to the monasteries of Leh and the Indus valley, explorers of old stopped in Leh to re-stock and weather out the harsh Himalayan winter and soldiers en route to plunder and conquer desirous destinations passed through Leh, all leaving their mark on this unique capital.

Kim will take you for a walk up the bustling Fort Road, lined with shops owned by Kashmiri, Tibetan and Kashmiri shop-keepers, to 15th century Leh Fort and the red, MaitreiyaTsemo Gompa, perched high on a craggy and crumbling hilltop overlooking the bazaars of old Leh. You can stop at 16th century nine-story Leh Palace, of a similar architectural design to the Tibetan Potala Palace, on the way down if you have the energy. Visit the museum, a worthwhile endeavor, as well as the nearby gompas (Tibetan Buddhist monasteries) - Soma Gompa, Chamba Lakhang and Chensrig Lakhang. There is a great cultural show around sunset at Soma Gompa.

We might wander the willow-lines streets of Changspa to reach the many steps leading to the Japanese-built Shanti Stupa for a view over the green fields and white-washed Ladakhi houses of the villages surrounding Leh. The precariously perched Leh Fort guards the eastern edges of the fertile valley. Sankar Gompa (17th - 18th century), reached through shady lanes to the east of Changspa, lies in the midst of Chubi's groves of poplar and willow and is another wonderful morning or afternoon walk. The back route to Leh Fort starts in Chubi and passes through a desert-like Buddhist cremation ground before climbing to the fortress.

OPTIONAL GOMPA-TRIP: Arrange (through Kim, our Tibetan jeep-driver Wang Chuk or the Shaynam Hotel) a 'jeep safari' through the fertile Indus Valley to visit a few of the living Tibetan Buddhist gompas, the crumbling ruins of ancient fortresses and palaces and the traditional villages that dot the banks of the region, the 'cradle of civilization' of much of the ancient world. Kim can help arrange jeeps and/or a guide for a day's excursion.

To the East: Shey, Thikse, Hemis, Chemde, Thagthok, Stakna, Matho & Stok.
To the West: Spitok, Phyang, Basgo, Likir, Alchi, Rizdong & Lamayuru.

OPTIONAL RAFTING-TRIP: You can arrange a day rafting trip on the Indus (easier) or the Zanskar River, approximately $35-40.

Day 4 - Drive Lato 4020m
After breakfast, we jump into our jeeps and head for the start of the trek at our acclimatization destination, Lato. We following the Leh Srinagar highway east, past the ancient, 14th century Spitok Gompa, spectacularly perched on a craggy hillock above the cultivated fields of Spitok village. We continue past the old palace and gompa at Shey, surrounded by hundreds of whitewashed chortens, and continue past more chortens built by the kings of Ladakh towards colorful Thikse Gompa on the left. The renown Hemis Gompa is built high up on a hillside to our right, down a connecting lane. Soon after passing this landmark we turn right at Upshi, following the Leh Manali highway south as it snakes its way over the high passes of the Zanskar and Himalayan ranges heading to Manali. Following the Gya Chu along a spectacular section of highway, we soon reach our campsite at the hamlet of Lato where the staff has set up camp for the night. We'll set you up in your tents, show you around our 'Kamzang' style dining tent and settle in with a mug of chai. Beers are available at a small tea-house nearby ...

Day 5 - Drive Dat 4310m
Another spectacular and short day of driving as we head south, crossing the 5300 meter Tanglang La and descending through a wide, green nomadic region peppered with nomad tents. At the bottom of the long pass we turn right, heading west through the nomadic region of Zara over the 4960 meter Yar La and descend on a serious of switchbacks to the valley below. At the end of this small valley our jeeps will turn right and drive for half an hour through a wild plateau of nomads, kyang and marmots to our idyllic campsite at Dat.

Our campsite for the night is lovely, high pastureland next to the now-deserted village of Shemen. Dat, which houses approximately forty families (although many have now moved to Choglamsar) in the Spring and late Autumn, is actually composed of the two villages of Dango (upper) and Shemen (lower). The nomadic villagers move to the Sangtha and Lungmoche valleys with their flocks in the summer months, and to the valley behind Dat few a couple of months in the wintertime. Marmots share the campsite with us and Kyang might check us out from the ridge above Dat. Sunsets and sunrises are glorious from camp so it's worth a visit to the small, monk-run teahouse to pick up a beer for 'sundowner' ...

The perfect, grassy campsite for an afternoon of relaxation and acclimatization. Warm streams meander through the valley, providing luke-warm washing water, and the sun usually shines brightly. If you feel like a wander, head up the side valley in back of Shemen village for an afternoon of wildlife spotting. Spend some time in the deserted villages and Dat Gompa, where the local god Ka La Bu Skyong, the protector and 'giver of sons', reins supreme. (Interestingly, this god is only recognized in Kharnak). The semi-permanent village of Shemen is fascinating, and the gompa worth a visit if we can find the resident key-keeper, a young monk from Hemis, who also collects the camp charges. Wander through the empty passageways between the stone houses; the discarded rubbish gives a picture of what life is like during the inhabited periods.

Another option is a (slightly difficult) hike up the plateau and prayer-flag topped peak above Dat at 4710 meters for totally amazing birds-eye views down on the valley, but be ready for some scrambling.

Day 6 - Trek Nomadic Winter Doksa 4505m
We're keeping the details of the next few days quiet as no trekking groups know about this route. Trust us to lead you to one of the most beautiful and green valleys in Ladakh where we will set up camp in what we call our 'snow leopard valley'. I'll not write much about this to keep it as protected as possible, but will note that we found a wonderful shrine at the top of the winter doksa with unique stone carvings of the god Rahula. From the blog BlueStarBlackSnake – An Appalachian witches daily musings and interests:

'Rahu became Rahula after being subdued by Padmasambhava from originally being an asura or rakshasa to being a Protector of the Dharma, thus the La at the end, meaning god. Rahu’s father was a Rakshasa and his mother was a Nagini ... Rahula is the chief Nagaraja or Naga King of the race of Nagas and Naginis. He is blazing ultraviolet blue/black in colour. Rahula is a wrathful manifestation of Vajrapani. In the ancient Bon shamanism gZa is Zaw, or the 9 planets, with Rahula as Rahu the eclipse demon. His form is a 9-headed Nagaraja crowned with a black crow head, his coils covered with eyes. In one form he has three heads – one black, one white, and one red. His six arms hold to the right a sword, vajra, and wheel, and to the left a threatening mudra, snare, and hatchet. In another form he has nine heads, wrathful ones below and peaceful above. In his four armed form he holds a Makara staff to the right, snake left, and the two at centre pull a serpentine bow and arrow. And below the waist he is a twisting serpent surrounded by flames within a fiery quadrangle ... His lower body is like that of a snake, while his upper body is covered with eyes, which, together with the further eyes in his nine heads symbolize his ability to see in all directions. His bow and arrow are ready to strike at enemies, and his many mouths are ready to devour their ignorance. He is shown surrounded by flames of high energy, as are all Guardians, but Rahula’s power is so intense that the practitioner has already developed considerable mastery. He can be a dangerous ally of potentially overwhelming power if not approached in the right way ... He can be approached for assistance with relatively mundane matters. '

Day 7 - Trek Kyang Camp
Another secret day with an easy pass at 4815m to reach our campsite in a green valley full of kyang, and perhaps snow leopard ...

Day 8 - Trek Lungmoche 4710m (over Yar La 4950m)
We have a small pass to crest, with views of the Zanskar Range, during which we often spot herd of kyang that reside in the nearby valleys (kyang translates as 'wander' in Ladakhi). The male often comes out to the main valley to scout for the herd of females and younger males, all of which will snort, paw the ground and arrange an impressive maneuver for us if their territory is threatened. Himalayan hares also reside in the valley and dart in and out of site. We crest one last ridge from camp before contouring towards the ascent of the 4950 meter Yar La, a relatively easy climb of just over an hour from the end of the valley following the winter snow wall built for winter sheep crossings. The chorten on the pass has some beautiful carvings including the Kharnak mountain deity, a lovely mountain goddess called Tsering Ma (Ched Inga), the eldest of five sisters, also recognized in Tibet. Most of these nomadic mountain deities are Bon deities which have been subdued by Guru Rimpoche as protectors of the Buddhist faith. We can see our old campsite just five minutes down the pass, and it will only take us half an hour (or a bit more if we camp further down the valley) to reach the turnoff to that camp at Lungmoche, another lovely pastureland. We're still Kyang territory still, so keep your cameras ready. We'll continue down the lovely, green Lungmoche valley for another half an hour or so from here, setting up camp somewhere green ...

Day 9 - Trek Zabuk Barma 4350m
Today we head into well-loved nomadic territory, hiking down the green valley on the right side of the valley (there is a road being built on the opposite side, sadly). We'll pass a large doksa soon after leaving camp, and then a mani wall and large chorten. An hour from this last chorten after a short, traversing climb brings us to a small pass where we'll have a short rest in front of the mountain home of the three sister goddesses. Look back across the Zara Chu to see the 'Five Sisters' peaks, the dwelling of the five mountain goddesses that live in the distinctly shaped range. From here we descend gradually to the right, contour up and down several arid hillsides and reach a short but dramatic canyon through which we descend. Turning left we soon reach a broad plateau with chortens marking routes on all three sides and a cluster of eight magnificent, white-washed chortens across the river. Fifteen minutes later we drop into the seasonal nomadic settlement of Sangtha, built of rounded, white river rocks and littered with goat and sheep droppings. Cross the river to the complex of mani stones and chortens for wonderful photos and great views back to Sangtha, which marks the intersection of the Ladakhi and Tibetan nomadic regions.

We follow the magnificent, clear Zara Chu on the chorten-side to a grassy lunch spot at the first river intersection. We continue for another hour or so on the same side (left) past more sparkling river intersections, nomadic settlements (doksas), and a wolf trap and then drop down to the grassy riverside. Near camp on our side of the river is a marmot colony, with small trails leading to their tunnel shelters.

One more river bend and we spot out campsite across the river at Zhabuk Barma, a spectacularly-situated seasonal settlement of the Karnak-pa. To the east (below our camp) the Tozay Chu leads to Pang on the Leh-Manali highway and the Ladakhi nomadic region of Kharnak, and is bordered by a fantastic canyon of sculpted rocks leads. The campsite is wonderful and green with perfect swimming holes along the river and a cold, fresh spring in back. There are three tri-colored chortens in a shallow cave above the stone doksas, worth a steep climb up for views over the campsite and down the valley. And just to the left of these, a steep valley leading up to a fantastic plateau with vast vistas, a must-do in the afternoon with the perfect light. Keep your eyes on the hilltops next to camp for kyang, Himalayan hare and blue sheep, all of which are common in this area.

We'll have a yak-dung fire in the evening ...

Day 10 - Trek Narbus 4820m (over Narbus La 4850m)
We have a wonderfully dramatic hike today as we re-cross the Zara Chu right out of camp and climb to a high plateau just above us. Heading slightly around the hilltop to our right we cross the plateau on a sort of natural bridge and reach the fantastic canyons above the Tozay Chu to reach the sculpted canyons. The multi-hued spires of rock sculpted by centuries of wind and water erosion make for amazing photos. The river valley below our camp leads to the small settlement of Pang, which is off the Leh Manali highway from Narbus. We hike along this plateau, a feast of textures and colors high above the valley below, eventually contouring left towards the Narbus La.

It will take us four or five hours from camp to crest the 4850-meter pass. From the wide crest, marked by a small cairn, we can spot the canvas and yak-hair tents of the Tibetan nomadic settlement of Narbus where we set up camp for the night. Our nomadic Tibetan friends camp here for about four months every summer, and we can take a look at the inside of a nomad tent or two in the afternoon. Be ready, as we will be offered treats such as salt butter tea and fresh curd (yogurt) from their flocks of goats and sheep. Narbus is a good place to donate your supplies or extra clothes; years ago we had a meeting of the women from each tent and distributed evenly much needed school supplies and extras. Another year we bargained for yak and sheep-hair blankets and nomadic knives with binoculars, a Leatherman and some cash.

The evenings are a wonderful time of the day as the orange orb of sun begins to set, the nomads returning to camp herding their hundreds of sheep and goats, and the yaks wandering back to the tents followed by the haunting yells of the Tibetans.

Day 11 - Trek Numa River Camp 4610m
We start on our six hour day to the beautiful Numa Valley Camp. We cut across the Narbus valley for two hours to reach the Leh - Manali highway (unless we hitch a ride), and then continue right across the tussocked plateau towards the spectacular canyon that extends from Pang, four hours from Narbus. There are several nomadic settlements peppering the plateau in front of us and to our left, and we often spot Kyang along the way, even a weasel last year. It can be hot and there is no shade along the way so it's a good day for an umbrella. Look up and down valley as the views are spectacular, the Himalayan rising impressively in front of us behind Pang. When we reach the edge of the plateau leading to Pang we are on yet another dramatic plateau overlooking sculpted rock outcroppings and 'hoodoos', with the river snaking through the flood plain valley below us.

We hike along the canyon rim for another hour to the turnoff to camp, the second large valley descending to our right. We'll have lunch somewhere just before we hit this valley. After lunch, we'll drop and contour around two small hill-sides and then descend extremely steeply to the river, following in the tracks of our horses (in case you can't believe this is really a trail). We see our campsite being set up far below us as we descend.

Dropping steeply down a scree-filled gully, we slip our way down to the riverbed far below. Our campsite is right on the river at the intersection of a lovely stream, under the pillars of eroded sand which have formed themselves into Himalayan cathedrals called hoodoos. We'll have time in the afternoon for a wash in the river, or a wander up the stream bed to the left of camp ...

Day 12 - Trek Shemra High Camp 5100m
Yet another wonderful Himalayan trekking day ahead of us and another sandals day. The trek takes on a completely different character as we follow the wide Sumkhar Togpo river valley for a few hours along the flood plain, jumping over and splashing through the river many times and passing a large valley leading to the high Barma La to the left side of the river. Crumbling hoodoos line the trail on either side, backed by vivid blue skies and fluffy Himalayan clouds. We reach the second large valley junction, the Shemra Chu, which leads to Shemra, a grazing settlement, and the base of the Gyama La (5830m) which we will cross tomorrow. We'll camp at a high, grassy camp site a few hours up the narrowing, stunningly beautiful valley.

Day 13 - Trek Kyagar (over Gyama La 5830m)
A big pass day ahead of us as we leave our high camp heading east and ascend on a switchbacking trail of scree to the top of the formidable Gyama La, our highest pass at 5830 meters. It should take us three or so hours to reach the top of the pass, where we're treated to a great Himalayan panorama. The green valley widens as we descend, soon reaching the Gyarmasharma Chu which we follow to the bottom of the valley. We may have a bit of snow at the upper reaches of the valley, which narrows as we near the next sumdo. We've reached familiar nomadic territory at the bottom of the valley, a wide, green and stunningly beautiful Tibetan vignette where kyang graze freely, yaks roam the plateau and pikas and marmots stick their heads out of their burrows. This valley is pure Tibet; open, grassy plateaus, wild, amazing views, big sky and nomads on horseback herding their sheep. We'll set up camp at the nomadic settlement of Kyagar, at the base of tomorrow's small pass and enjoy the rest of the afternoon in our idyllic campsite.

Day 14 - Trek Rajung Karu 4880m
We have a truly beautiful 'Changthang' day with the nomads ahead of us, a relatively easy one after yesterday. We leave the winding, crystal clear stream which snakes its way down valley from our camp and head up the the Kyamayuri La (5430 meters), an easy ascent. From the prayer flags at the top of the pass we finally get a view of the turquoise Tso Kar Lake below us, a breathtaking site backed by Himalayan peaks. The descent to camp will take us about two hours of riverside walking along the Spanglung Chu. En route we'll pass by many nomadic encampments with their Tibetan mastiffs chained to a stick in the ground, hopefully tightly. More Kyang in this green valley. Again, we follow the river to our camp at Rajung Karu although the easiest way is to stay a bit higher on the left side. The grassy riversides are home to marmot, pikas, Himalayan mice and numerous varieties of birds which build their nests in the uneven tussocks. Camp is on the right side of the river, another beautiful and green spot with good washing in the river next to us. We'll watch the daily migration of the flocks of sheep and goats heading back to camp at upper Rajung Karu in the evening ...

Day 15 - Trek Tso Kar Camp 4560m (over Horlam Kongka La 4950m)
Continuing along the right of the river on the green riverside, past several mani walls, it will take us an hour to reach the wide Horlam Kongka La (4950 meters). From the rounded top we look down onto Tso Kar Lake and several stone nomadic dwellings. We have an easy descent to the river and a small river crossing at Nuruchan, another nomadic seasonal settlement. We continue to hike along a dirt track towards Tso Kar, glimmering like an oasis in the distance. Kyang will be watching us from a distance as we trek past the stone settlement of Riyul and the wetlands surrounding the lake. Bubbles of salt are visible at the shores, which are very boggy, and shorebirds are plentiful.

Tso Kar Lake is the 'salt lake' of Rupshu, previously the site of large salt excavations by the Rupshu-pa nomads, a section of the lake given to each group each year when the salt trade between Tibet and the lower hills was thriving (after the border with China was closed in 1959). Today, Tso Kar Lake is not as salty as it previously was, and the salt trade has diminished in importance because if the introduction of iodized and subsidized Indian salt. There is a small Tibetan village to the north of the lake called Tukje with an old gompa; most of the people of Tso Kar lake are Tibet semi-nomadic people who spend the winters in their villages at the lake.

After stopping for lunch on the grass we'll continue to round the western side of the lake, either on the dirt track or right next to the lake, a bit longer. We also have the option to climb the small Kongka Seru La (4850m) and descend easily to camp that way. It will take us a few hours to reach the tented camp of Pongunagu at the northwestern corner of the lake where we camp for the night.

Day 16 - Drive Leh
Back in the jeeps, we drive back along the southern shores of Pangong Lake and after a few hours, following a branch of the large Shyog River, turn south and drive over the Chang La (5300m) to Karu, where the road intersects the Indus and the Leh-Manali highway.En route we pass the western Indus valley gompas, amongst them the 1000-year old Alchi, Hemis, Rizdong, Likir, Thikse and Shey. Back at the Shaynam Guest House in Leh, hot showers and a clean change of clothes await, and tandoori food and cold beers are not far away at the Ibex.

Day 17 - Leh
We've scheduled one last day in Leh, our favorite Central Asian capital, in case of delays during the trek. We'll also have time to do some more shopping and exploring, and to wind down after our journey through the high, nomadic regions of 'old Tibet'.

Day 18 - Thursday, 8 August - Trip Ends
Our wonderful Himalayan journey ends today, sadly. You have several options after the trip: a flight back to Delhi, an epic 'jeep safari' back to Manali or elsewhere in the Indian Himalaya, or spending more time in Leh. We're happy to assist on all fronts, but Leh flights are not included in our India treks.

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