If you have three more days in your kitty, then we'd highly recommend the complete circuit - what's the point of hurrying up with the magical lan that is Ladakh?!
We do understand that work and other such mundane stuff (!) may not allow you that time, so here's a shorter version. You will still get to see all the views and we're not hurrying you up - your acclimatization and your safety is always our top priority.
Whichever option you choose, you will surely enjoy this spectacular corner of India's Himalaya!
When you trek with MHE, you can be assured that we are backed by many years in the business of providing safe and sustainable adventure trips. The staff you deal with in the office, all the way through to the guides and porters on trek, have years of experience in safe and enjoyable trekking behind them. We can advise you on the right gear, the right training, and no question is too crazy for us to answer.
Our trips are designed for your maximum enjoyment and comfort, taking into consideration the environment and conditions, wherever you are. And since we firmly believe that an "army marches on its stomach", our chefs on the expedition will try their best to cook up a storm!
We use the best available camping and safety equipment and try to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. Please remember though, that you are in a remote and difficult location, and your expectations should be reduced accordingly.
We believe in sustainable, ethical and responsible tourism. Our guides are all CPR-trained and First Aid certified, the porters receive above standard wages, and we do not allow them to carry more than 30 kg (the international standard set by IPPG). Our crew are all insured, and provided with suitable clothing and equipment.
We support the local economy wherever possible, and do NOT encourage giving any gifts of sweets, pens etc to the charming local children you meet along the trail. If you are really interested to donate something, please discuss with us first.
Our "all inclusive" trip means that you aren't constantly rummaging for money, and you know up front what is included.
Trip starts from: Leh No. of days of the trip: 8 No. of trekking days: 5 Maximum altitude: 5,100m Kongmaru La Trekking Grade: Moderately Challenging All-Inclusive Cost: contact us for details We are adventure lovers here at MHE and want to make adventure travel accessible to any one who yearns it. That is why we've introduced the Pay Monthly scheme. That's right, you can now pay in manageable monthly instalments! Simply call us for more details.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN LEH - 3,540M
Land in Leh. You will be met at the airport by an MHE representative. Spend the day...doing pretty much nothing. You've flown in directly to an altitude of 11,562 feet (3,504 m). Acclimatization is key. Drink a lot of water, take short walks, but otherwise, just chill.
Overnight at hotel.
DAY 2: SIGHTSEEING IN LEH
After breakfast drive up along the scenic Indus valley. Enroute, you stop over to visit the famous Shey Palace, and the Thiksey and Hemis monasteries. Packed lunch will be organized on the way.
SHEY PALACE AND MONASTERY: This summer palace of the erstwhile King of Leh is set upon a hill. The monastery itself has a 7.5 meter high, copper statue of a sitting Buddha, wrought in gold. This is the largest of its kind in the world.
THIKSEY MONASTERY: Thiksey Monastery is one of the largest and most impressive Gompas of Ladakh. The Thiksey monastery provides a panoramic view of the green Indus Valley from its vantage point atop a hill. It has chambers full of statues, Stupas and colourful Thankas.
HEMIS MONASTERY: Situated just off the Manali-Leh Highway, this is Ladakh’s biggest and wealthiest monastery. The annual festival held here in summer is a spectacular and stunning experience. Even if you miss this spectacle, the visit to Hemis will still be worth it!
Overnight will be back in Leh.
DAY 3: DRIVE LEH TO CHILLING AND TREK TO SKIU - 3,400M | 4 - 5 HRS
Leave Leh early morning by Innova and reach Chilling (2 Hrs | 55 KM). The trek to Skiu is around 12 KM and will take around 4 hours.
Overnight at camp.
DAY 4: TREK SKIU - MARKHA - 3700M | 8 - 9 HRS.
This is probably one of the longest days on the trek (our trekking leader Dilshad's Goqii showed 22 KM, which would be pretty near accurate).
There's no camping site until you reach Markha so we have no choice but to power on! And if the bridge over the river still isn't re-installed, then you got a a river crossing today so be sure to pack in those river sandals. It's an awesome trek up to Markha village, through a beautiful long valley, past low bush forests and flowing streams. Do look out for the wild rose bushes - in Latin they're called the Rosa Webbinia. The locals however, call it Sia, the flower after which Siachen Glacier is named - Sia (wild rose) Chen (found in abundance). Needless to say we never spotted these lovely flowers in our trek to Siachen Glacier!
At dusk, if you still have some energy left, it's a lovely walk to where the Skiu Nala meets the Markha. Also, pay a visit to the small monastery which is cared for by an old nun who comes twice a day to light the butter lamps at the altar of Chamba - the Future Buddha. The campsite here is truly made in heaven - it is so unbelievably pretty that you want to stay there forever!
Overnight at camp.
DAY 5: TREK MARKHA - THACHUNGTSE - 4,100 M | 7 - 8 HRS.
From Markha the country changes and the warm, relatively heavily wooded sections of the lower Markha are left behind. There's a collapsed bridge here and if it hasn't totally broken down, it's requires quite come tricky maneuvering! There are several smaller river crossings on this trail until you reach Hankar, the highest village in the Markha valley. From here you will get great views of Gyalpo Ri. with terraced green fields and irrigation streams. You will pass several chortens on the way, monasteries and ruins are scattered all along the trail.
On the way, closer to lunch time, is a little home-stay that is equipped with a solar satellite phone (there's one in every big sized village provided by the local administration). You can make calls to home from here if the phone is charged and it will cost you around ₹5/- per minute. It's approximately 19 KM of walking and the high point of today is your first sneak preview of Kang Yatze 2!
At the campsite, be amazed to see the little darting Pikas - small rabbit-like creatures with fat rounded bodies, round ears and no external tail. They're shy and you'll see them scurrying around hiding in their deep burrows as you approach them. And for fans of Pokeon, the fictional creature Pikachu is named after these furry mammals! Overnight at camp.
Trek starts on a lovely green path with several small inclines and grassy ridges. There are a series of mani walls (walls carved with Buddhist prayers) and chortens en route. This is one of the most beautiful high valleys in Ladakh and the Kang Yatse 2 peak stands guard, like a sentinel, almost all along the route. She's a true beauty! As you move along the trail, you begin to realize that you're actual;y seeing twin peaks Kang Yatze 2 at around 6200m with its triangular features stands up front and then a sharp ridge to it left and the more flatter and higher Kang Yatze 1 at 6400m.
We spot our first Yak on this trail and also badhal - the Blue Sheep, so keep your eyes peeled. The little Pikas are still scurrying around, nibbling away on the food some of the passing ponies may have left behind. The high point of this trail is a beautiful high altitude lake dominated by a gleaming shining statue of Padmasambhava right in the middle and in the back drop, Kang Yatze 2 standing tall! Padmasambhava, also known as Guru Rinpoche, was an 8th-century Indian Buddhist master, widely venerated as a "second Buddha" by followers of Tibetan Buddhism in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan and the Himalayan states of India. The Nimaling campsite is an absolute stunner - a patch of green meadow in the middle of the high altitude desert region!
Overnight at camp.
DAY 7: TREK NIMALING - KONGMARU LA (5230M) - SHANG, DRIVE TO LEH. TREK 8 - 9 HRS | DRIVE 2 HRS
Today you will cross to the north of the Markha, climbing to the top of the highest of the three passes, the 5,230M Kongmaru La, with its wonderful views from the top. It will take you anywhere between 2 to 3 hours to reach the top of the pass and you will reach there breathless - for more reasons than one! Yes, it's a steep steep climb to the top, but once you get there...there are snow peaks in every direction and on a clear day the giants of Karakoram, including K2, can be seen on the north-western horizon! It is not advisable to stay here longer than 10 - 15 minutes, so take your pics, grab a bite of your packed lunch and move.
It's pretty downhill from the pass. The trail descends to the Martselang valley, following the Martselang stream. It's a pretty grueling day today and you will often find yourself walking in deep canyons, on stream beds, hopping across rivulets and then scrambling your way up to catch a trail only to descend again! The mountain trails here are narrow with sharp plunging ravines that lead to rocky beds and a flowing stream below. Watch out for the ponies - they're on the same path and it's mountain etiquette to wait for them to pass by - even if you have to squish yourself against the hill-side The village of Shang is a welcome site and you really want to give the driver waiting for you there a big hug! Your car will drive you back to Leh and the oh-so-needed hot shower!
Overnight at hotel.
DAY 8: DEPART LEH
Today after breakfast take your flight back to Delhi.
Seven nights accommodation in expedition camping tents and hotels on twin sharing basis.
All Meals - 7 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, and 7 Dinners with boiled or filtered drinking water.
Full camping equipment - tents, porters/horses, chef and kitchen staff, English speaking guide.
Transfers to/from the Leh airport.
Monument entrance fee.
A first aid kit with basic supplies appropriate for the group size and trek route – if you require or are taking specific medications it is critical that you discuss this with us prior to your trip departure
Environmental fee and Inner Line Permit.
Transport by Innova vehicle (4 passengers per car) from/to trekking points.
All government taxes included.
Costs Do Not Include:
International/Domestic air fare or train fare.
Single supplement (supplement charge includes trekking nights, strictly where available).
Costs incurred due to changes in programs and reservations due to unforeseen events (e.g. illness, adverse road conditions due to natural forces, road blockages, flight delays/cancellations, labour strikes, fuel shortages, extreme exchange rate changes, etc) illness.
Any gear or equipment that you may need to rent/buy
Services and activities not mentioned in the detailed itinerary above (e.g. additional nights, optional trips and sightseeing tours)
Tips for your guide, drivers, hotels, restaurants etc (please ask if you would like guidance about appropriate tips)
Adventure Travel, Medical and Evacuation insurance - we can arrange this for you if you like.
Expenses of a personal nature - mineral water/soft drinks/bar bills, photography and video fees at monasteries, laundry, telephone calls, postage, donations, extra snacks/beverages etc.)
• When we have groups of 4+ people we supply a comprehensive first aid kit carried by your guide. For individual trekkers and small groups (less than 4 people) we supply a basic first aid kit carried by your guide
• Your local trek guide and leader of the trekking crew (which depends on group size): Guides and Porters with equipment and clothing (snow gear, warm gear, sleeping gear) and with all accommodation, meals and insurance provided for your crew.
The first things you need: • Sleeping bag and liner – a 3 or 4 season bag is recommended, depending on your trek • Down jacket – need for this depends on the season and where you are going • Kit / duffel bag – required to pack your gear in (suitcases are not suitable) Please note: Unless you advise us otherwise we will assume you are bringing these items with you. If you need help to buy or rent them, please just let us know, we’re more than happy to help. Other items that we recommend you take on trek: • Loose comfortable T-Shirts NOT COTTON or long sleeved shirts for sun protection • Long trousers (for cultural reasons, we request you not to wear tight pants or shorts. If you really want to wear shorts, please make them loose fitting and long) • A warm jacket / fleece pullover • A thermal layer (shirt and pants) • A water and wind proof layer (jacket and pants) • Woollen or thermal gloves • Sun hat and sun glasses • Woollen or fleece hat • Scarf / stretchy ‘buff’ • Socks – depending on the season bring either warm, woollen socks or cool, breathable cotton socks • Comfortable and worn in trekking boots • Sandals or flip flops for camp • A comfortable day pack with adjustable waist and shoulder straps • Personal toiletries - shampoo, soap, shavers, moisturizer, travel towel, etc • Ziplock bags are handy for convenient leak-proof storage • Sun block and lip balm • Dust mask/ scarf / stretchy ‘buff’ for dusty trails • Personal first aid kit + any personal medications you need to take + water treatment tablets/drops • Camera, batteries and charger, music, book • Airtight and waterproof ‘dry bags’ are great for 1) keeping your clothes dry and 2) storing your dirty laundry separate from clean clothes! • Sleeping bag liner – either silk, cotton or fleece • WATER BOTTLES - please be able to carry 2 litres of water and have bottles that can handle boiling/hot water • HEAD TORCH and spare batteries • Your sense of humour and adventure!
What to take with you in your day pack: Please carry the following in your day pack, as a minimum: • 2 litres of water (please make sure your water bottles will take boiling/hot water) • sunscreen, sun glasses, sun hat, lip balm, dust mask / scarf / ‘buff’ to help on dusty trails • warm fleece or thermal layer and gloves • water proof layer • head torch • hand cleaner • your camera • any money you want for snacks/drinks along the trail • CRITICAL – take any personal medications you require during the day – you will not see your kit bag until evening.
The rest you can put into your kit bag which will be carried by the porters, whom you won’t see until camp in the evening. It’s a great idea to use dry bags (ie airtight/waterproof) in your kit bag to store your dry clothes in to keep them DRY in case it rains and one to put your dirty laundry in (to keep from making everything else in your bag smell bad!).
Food on trek: You will probably be surprised by the menu items on an MHE trek. We know how important food is, and we don't stint by giving you 2 minute noodles and Cup a Soup. You'll get teal food in a home cooked style. And plenty of it! If you have any special dietary requirements, please advise us when booking your trek so that we can cater for you. Note: sometimes not all dietary requirements are able to be met, but please inform us and we will certainly do our best!
Some tips for staying healthy: • Do NOT drink or brush your teeth with tap water or untreated water! • Drink only properly boiled water or use water purification tablets, such as iodine. Bottled water is available, but as the plastic cannot be recycled we request you to consider the waste impact of your bottles – we recommend you drink boiled water or use iodine. • Your hands are perhaps your biggest enemy in terms of your health as they get very dirty during the day. Wash your hands before every meal or snack. People often think they get sick from the food, but it’s far more likely they forgot to wash their hands! • During the trek DO NOT try to test your fitness and walk too high, too quickly! Listen to your guide and take their advice as they are trained to look after your safety. Altitude sickness is a killer and you MUST take it seriously.
First aid kit: When we have groups of 4+ people we supply a comprehensive first aid kit carried by your guide. For individual trekkers and small groups (less than 4 people) we supply a smaller first aid kit carried by your guide It is recommended that you bring a small personal medical kit including your preferred painkillers, throat lozenges, plasters, strapping tape for blisters, etc. If you are taking regular medication you MUST bring those medicines with you PLUS an extra supply in case one pack is lost. If you have any allergies and/or take any medications, you MUST advise us when booking your trek!
The trails: Trekking trails vary from wide, road-like avenues to narrow, slippery paths built out over enormous drops. In many places, a fall from the trail would be fatal. One must pay attention at all times to where you are placing your feet. Be especially careful not to move while looking through the view finder of your camera!
Be prepared for the weather: Each altitude has its own weather, from tropical heat to arctic cold. In the main trekking seasons in the spring and autumn, the weather is generally stable and even the high passes may be free of snow and relatively easy to traverse at times. Some trekkers who have encountered an easy day at altitude may spread the word that boots and warm clothing are not required. This is a mistake. Sudden storms occur at any time, dumping snow on the passes without warning. At that point, any one poorly equipped will not be able to proceed and may even be stranded for a number of days risking their life and the lives of others. You are heading into the worlds highest mountain range. Be prepared for changes in temperature and weather!! Altitude and preventing Altitude Sickness • Being in a hurry in the mountains can be deadly. Acclimatization is the word used to describe the adjustments your body makes as it ascends to higher altitudes. • Ascending slowly, with appropriate rest days and drinking plenty of water is one of the best ways not to get Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Data indicates that drinking 3-4 litres of fluids (water, soup etc) per day to avoid dehydration helps in the acclimatization process. • You should not plan to go to high altitude if you have heart disease, difficulty breathing at sea level or are pregnant. You should consult your doctor about any known medical conditions if you are considering trekking in high altitude (over 2500m). • Avoid sleeping pills, alcohol and smoking while at altitude as they tend to decrease breathing and lead to AMS. • The first aid kit carried by your guide includes Diamox and other altitude medications and he/she is trained in the identification of AMS symptoms and their treatment. You MUST take their advice. If anything happens to your guide the first aid kit has a Wilderness Medicine handbook with comprehensive information about altitude sickness and other ailments. When relevant, your pre-trek briefing will include information about what to expect and what to do to avoid AMS before embarking on your trek.
Tipping and cash requirements: While all main meals are provided on trek, do not forget to bring some rupees for drinks or snacks that you might purchase on the way. You will be surprised by what is available on the popular trekking routes now! The amount to carry on the trekking routes depends on the area you are going to trek in, so please ask your guide for advice. Tipping is now common but there is no strict rule about how much the tip should be. You should only tip if you are satisfied with the service.
Photographing people: During your trek you will have many opportunities to photograph local people and the amazing scenery and you will use tons of film/memory space! When you want to take a photo of a person, please ask them first and respect their right to refuse – you will be surprised how easy it is to convey the request to take someone’s photo even when you don’t share a common language! If you have a digital camera it is considerate (and fun!) to show them their photo and if it’s possible to arrange to have copies printed and sent to them this is an amazing gift! However do not promise to do so if you are not sure you can deliver on the promise, so please talk to your guide about this! Photos can be a brilliant way to establish a connection with local people, but please respect their right to privacy.
Considering the Environment: While trekking you have to be careful not to destroy the very environment you are enjoying so much. It is not only for your enjoyment, people and wildlife rely on this environment for their drinking water and food supply and many places are of enormous religious significance to local people.
There are many ways you can help to conserve the environment of the area in which you trek. Here are some simple tips: • pick up any litter along the trail; • burn all your toilet paper and bury your faeces when not in camp, make sure you go at least 50m away from any water source; • do not make campfire, nor consume food cooked on wood fires; • drink boiled/treated water instead of mineral water as the plastic bottles are a problem; • stick to the trails to prevent erosion and damage to fragile alpine flora • ensure all rubbish is packed out (or burnt/buried if appropriate).
Insurance: All tour participants should obtain their own personal insurance which covers medical and emergency evacuation at a minimum. You will of course also want cover for loss or damage to personal effects, flight or trip cancellation etc.
Final tips! To ensure that you have the best time possible and that the local area benefits from your visit, please respect local traditions, customs, values and the environment. You will have a great time if you are open to the warm hearted local hospitality and if you respect their efforts to protect their local culture and maintain local pride. • Respect privacy when taking photographs • Respect holy places and dress appropriately • Refrain from giving money or food to children. There are many good organisations working to help street children, we recommend you support them instead of encouraging the kids to stay on the street. • Protect the natural environment, see above • Finally, respect local ways.