The Lahul valley in India's Himachal state is renowned for its classic high-altitude landscape occasionally dotted with lush forests and terraced fields, and a profusion of wildflowers. People from the Lahul valley are likely to usually be something between Hindu, Buddhist, animist, and shaman. The contrast on this trek is fascinating. The second half takes you to Zanskar, which is profoundly remote - in the winter for months it can be snowed out of the normal access routes, and the only way to get to it, and around it, is over the treacherous but beautiful frozen river. Zanskar is known for its spectacular gorges, which in the summer enable brilliant rafting. It is a wonderfully complete, actually insular until recently, mountain culture, combining Tibetan influences with those from the rest of Kashmir, and highland Pakistan. The landscape here is like a Tibet in intense miniature, with bluer skies and lakes, starker cliffs, sharper-edged mountains, and lusher oases. The prayer flags keep fluttering, and the mani walls, chhorten, monasteries and prayer wheels add a sense of calm and composure to even the most jaded traveller. This trek offers real isolation and a varied cultural experience.
Day 1: Arrival at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport and transfer to hotel.
Day 2: Make the 550km-long drive to Manali (2,050 m) in the Kullu valley through the north Indian plains, parts of the Punjab, and the valleys of the large Beas and Sutlej rivers.
Day 3: Drive through the easy, wooded Himachal landscape up over the Rohtang pass (3,978 m) to the charming small town of Udaipur in Lahaul. Spend the night either at the Rest House, or in camp.
Day 4: Walk through the lush Miyar valley, often encoutering scores of brightly and subtly coloured wildflowers to reach Chamrat (2,950 m).
Day 5: Another easy day's walk takes you through typical stone-and-trees Lahuli countryside brings you to the pretty, prosperous village of Urgos (3,250 m).
Day 6: Although today's destination is quite high, (Tharang, 3,250 m), the walk up to it is fairly standard, and a field and flower-filled day awaits you.
Day 7: Meadows and pastures with little streams and more fields and wildflowers take you to Gumbah (3,900 m).
Day 8: Today marks the transition from high-but-green, to high altitude desert as you make your way to Miyar Nala's Base Camp (4,200 m). Now the walking gets difficult, as you make your way over rocky, narrow, high, and sometimes traverse scree slopes to reach camp.
Day 9: This is a full-on glacier walk that brings you to Glacier Camp (4,600 m) at the base of the pass.
Day 10: Cross the challenging Kang La (5,450 m) on a trail that will test your skill and nerves to descend to the Base Camp (4,500 m) on the other side. This is the awe-inspiring Zanskar, walking up a narrowing valley and realising that this is for real, the massive mountains of slate and granite, snow and ice, and the deep deep gorge through which the river flows.
Day 11: Walk into the heart of Zanskar, up to the brilliant Burdun Gompa, near where the last camp of this trek will be set up.
Day 12: Walk along a wide, almost motorable trail to the road head at Padum.
Day 13: Drive into Leh, an historic old trading town with echoes of Lhasa sthat is replete with excellently preserved old-style buildings and monasteries, an old mosque, as well as the first real polo ground in the world.
Day 14: Fly out to Delhi first thing in the morning, go on a quick sightseeing tour around Delhi, and catch your flight back home.
Cost on your request
1. Accommodation in Leh in B category hotel on full board basis (breakfast, lunch, dinner)
2. Arrival and Departure transfer by non-a/c jeep/ car in Leh
3. Full board during the trek section of the tour
4. English-speaking Ladakhi mountain guide for trekking
5. Cook, ponies (where needed), and porters
6. Complete kitchen gear and all supplies including gasoline
7. All tents for camping
8. Accommodation in Delhi in budget hotel with AC rooms .
Cost does not include:
1. Lunch and dinner in Delhi ($ 5-10 per day per person)
2. Rescue in case of emergency
3. Medical and personal insurance
4. Tips, laundry, all drinks, telephone calls if any
5. Sleeping bags/ ropes/ crampon/ ice-axe/ other gear
6. Inner-line permit fee (US$12 per person)
7. Leh-Delhi airfare (Current fare is US$164 one way)