"Heading up to an impressive 5,000+ metres, this is your chance to experience the mighty Indian Himalayas"
From the lush foothills of the Kullu valley to the high-altitude Ladakhi desert, this classic trek takes you on an unforgettable journey through the changing scenery of the western Himalayas. You’ll need a good level of endurance to complete this relatively challenging four-week journey, but the rewards will be plentiful, as the drudgery of high-altitude hiking will soon be forgotten amidst breath-taking panoramas. Before starting out on the Himalayan trail, you’ll get to grips with the local culture with some sightseeing and exploration. Heading north from Delhi, stop overnight in Chandigarh before continuing to the vibrant hill station of Manali. Nestled in the foothills of the Himalayas, Manali is famed for its laid-back ambience – visit a temple, fort, monastery and market to get a taste of the town.
Your epic trek begins at Pa Lahmo, at an altitude of 3,500 metres. Ascending through beautiful meadows, you’ll reach Shingo La (5,090m); here, admire stunning views of majestic snow-capped peaks in the distance. The trail then descends through canyons to reach the remote valleys of the ancient Zanskar Kingdom. Discover exquisite Buddhist monasteries and isolated villages as you enter the Ladakh region, following shepherds’ tails and old caravan routes over low and high passes. Conclude your tour with some last-minute sightseeing in Leh and Delhi.
Active India Holidays are local operators and, as such, have seen first-hand the benefits that tourism can bring to some of India’s most remote regions. They understand that tourism often helps to alleviate poverty and develop communities and, as part of the global tourism industry, acknowledge that they too have a crucial role to play in providing commercial benefits and financial impetus in local communities. The company is conscious of both the negative and positive impacts its operations potentially have within sensitive environments and communities, particularly in the Himalayas where most of Active India’s trekking and adventure operations are conducted.
To ensure that they operate in as responsible a way as possible, Active India trains all of its tour leaders and support staff on sustainability practices. One example is their ‘Leave no Trace’ policy, which ensures that campsites and trails are left free from any waste. The company even extends this policy to include the waste left by travellers who have come before them, collecting and disposing of any extra rubbish in a safe manner. Active India hopes to contribute towards building a tourism industry that brings pleasure to travellers whilst also constructing a future for the local people and places that the industry depends on.
Arrival in Delhi: Arrive at Delhi’s international airport and receive a traditional welcome from Active India’s representative before transferring to your hotel.
Delhi – Chandigarh: Drive to Chandigarh along the national highway – a comfortable journey, this will take around five or six hours. Chandigarh is the shared capital of the Punjab and Haryana states, and is a ‘gateway’ to several hill stations in Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and the northern parts of Punjab.
Chandigarh – Manali: Today’s drive might be long, but it’s certainly not boring! Starting early in the morning, you’ll pass through plains and green valleys before reaching Manali, a popular tourist destination nestled in the Himalayan foothills. This famous hills station sits on the banks of the Beas River, and is known for its laid-back ‘hippie’ lifestyle. The valley is renowned for its fertility, particularly in terms of apple and pear-growing.
Manali: Indulge in some sightseeing at the quaint village of old Manali: visit the Temple of Sage Manu and Goddess Hadimba, take a stroll on the Mall road, see the Buddhist monastery and barter at the Tibetan market.
Manali – Darcha – Pa Lahmo: Journey to the trek’s starting point at Pa Lahmo, passing through Darcha en route. You’ll leave Manali early, making your way to the infamous Rohtang Pass (3,970m) which literally translates as ‘pile of dead bodies’… Don’t be too disconcerted - the views across the Pir Panjal and into the Great Himalayan range are far less sinister! Descending to the Chandra River, your route follows the Leh Highway and continues up to Darcha. Here, you’ll leave the highway and journey on along the link road to reach your camp at Pa Lahmo.
Pa Lahmo – Zanskar Sumdo: After breakfast your trek begins. Leaving your camp at Pa Lahmo, you’ll walk along a good footpath through an amazing gorge. Continue along the river’s right bank until you reach Zanskar Sumdo where you'll camp for the night.
Zanskar Sumdo – Chumik Nagpo: Trek away from the main valley, heading north towards Shingo La. Gradually ascend across mixed terrain and through grassy meadows to reach your camp near some shepherds’ huts.
Chumik Nagpo – Shingo la – Lakhang: Today you’ll cross your first pass, Shingo La. From camp you’ll climb steadily to reach the base of the pass, before ascending steeply alongside the glacier to reach a chorten and a false crest. The true top of the pass (5,090m) is a little further, and is marked by colourful prayer flags, cairns and Mani walls. Admire breath-taking views of the enormous Himalayan peaks surrounding you before descending slowly along the steep trail to reach camp at Lakhang (4,530m). Here, you’ll camp in a meadow used by nomadic Gaddi shepherds and yak grazers.
Lakhang – Kargyak: Today is another beautiful trekking day, as you cross the upper reaches of the Kargyak River and move north, leaving the imposing granite mountain of Gumburanjan behind you. This sacred mountain is believed to hide a monastery, visible only to some at New Year. Hiking through meadows filled with herbs, you’ll finally reach the village of Kargyak (4,060m), the highest permanent settlement in Zanskar.
Kargyak – Purne: Passing through villages and fields, you’ll follow along a trail marked by chortens to reach the confluence of the Kargyak and Tsarap rivers. Note that the village houses have been built slightly below ground, giving them a strange appearance but helping to keep them warm in winter. Continue to the small village of Purne (3,800m) where you’ll stay overnight.
Purne – Phuktal – Purne – Galboh: Trek to Phuktal Gompa (3,850m), a monastery perched dramatically on the mountainside. Carved into the limestone cliff and built around a sacred spring, this monastery cannot fail to impress even the most worldly of travellers! Return to camp for lunch, before following the Tsarap River to reach your next camp at Galboh.
Galboh – Raru: Breath-taking landscapes and stunning scenery are the order of the day, as you follow the Tsarap River through a beautiful canyon. Follow the trail as it rises and falls, passing through numerous villages before reaching Raru.
Raru – Mune – Shilla: An easy trekking day, today’s route follows the mighty Tsarap River through the canyon. After around an hour of walking you’ll come to a small village called Mune, dominated by an ancient Gelukpa Order monastery. Further along, you’ll visit the impressive Bardan Gompa and admire its prayer wheel. Continue through mustard and barley fields to reach the village of Shilla.
Shilla – Padum – Karsha: Continue your trek into Padum, the former capital of the ancient Zanskar Kingdom and now home to a fairly large community of Sunni Muslims and Buddhists. Walk along a dusty plain towards the Doda River, crossing a bridge to reach the 16th century Karsha Monastery. This monastery is the largest and wealthiest of Zanskar’s yellow sect monasteries, and is truly fascinating.
Karsha – Pishu: Today’s trek begins with a fairly easy walk along the banks of the Zanskar River. Take a short detour before reaching Pishu to admire the longest hanging bridge in the region, boasting an incredible 55-metre span. Continuing on to Pishu, you’ll camp just below the village.
Pishu (Rest Day): Enjoy some rest and relaxation, wash some laundry or go to the Zangla village on this free day. At Zangla, visit the ruins of a castle and nunnery as well as a small gompa containing old thangkas and statues. Trek back to your beautiful camp at Pishu after your visit.
Pishu – Hanumil: Follow the river to cross a moraine plateau before heading up towards a bridge at Pidmo. From here, you’ll have a two-hour climb to the next camp at Hanumil. Enjoy the view of the entrance to the Zanskar River gorges in the late afternoon.
Hanumil – Parfila La – Sinertse: Follow the trail away from the Zanskar region, ascending to the Parfila La pass (3,970m) which marks the boundary between Zanskar and Ladakh. Descend to the Oma Chu River before crossing a bridge to crest a sandy slope. Here, enjoy stunning views of valleys and mountains before reaching your camp near the sheep pens at Sinertse.
Sinertse – Hanumil La – Lingshed: A gradual but long ascent brings you towards the summit of Hanuma La (4,700m). Wind and weave your way along the trail through the gorge, before climbing for two and a half hours to reach the top. Next, make a steep descent followed by a 300-metre climb to a small pass marking the rim of the Lingshed Valley. Finally, begin an easy walk down to Lingshed and your camp near the village’s monastery.
Lingshed – Netuksi – Kiupa La – Singe La Base Camp: Trek for an hour to reach Netuksi La (4,420), crossing an escarpment to enjoy wonderful views of the Nierag Valley and Zanskar River. Walk the gentle slope down to the villages of Gongma and Skiumpata before ascending steeply to Kiupa La (4,480m). The final part of the day’s journey takes you alongside a mountain to your camp at the base of Singe La.
Singe La Base Camp – Singe La – Bumiktse La – Photoksar: Today starts with a steep two-hour climb to Singe La. At over 5,000 metres, the pass provides breath-taking views of the glaciers. Descend into the wide Photang Valley and enjoy a fairly easy climb towards the Bumiktse La (4,480m), followed by a descent into Photoksar village. Enclosed by high mountain walls and surrounded by green pastures, the village is overlooked by an abandoned hillside gompa.
Photoksar – SirSir La – Sniugutse La – Shilla Kong Base: Begin today’s long ascent to SirSir La (4,850m). Just before reaching the top, the trail gets steeper; a remarkable view of the surrounding mountain range is your reward! An easy descent to the valley is followed by an ascent to the next pass, Sniugutse La (3,450m). Finally, reach your campsite on the bank of the stream.
Shilla Kong Base – Shilla Kong la – Kanji: Make your ascent to the trek’s final pass, Shilla Kong la, and enjoy spectacular views over the surrounding mountain range. Descend to the small village of Kanji, where you’ll be met by your vehicles in the morning.
Kanji – Lamayuru – Leh: Drive to Leh, stopping en route at the 11th century monastery at Lamayuru. One of the region’s oldest and biggest, this gompa houses around 150 monks. Arriving in Leh in the late afternoon, take some time to relax or explore the market.
Leh: Explore Leh and its bazaar at your leisure.
Leh – Delhi: Take an early morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Delhi, which offers spectacular views over the Himalayas. Upon your arrival in Delhi you’ll transfer to your hotel, and enjoy the rest of the day free for last-minute sightseeing or shopping.
Departure: After checking out of your hotel you’ll transfer to Delhi’s international airport for your onward flight.
- The rate shown is a 'from' price per person (on a double sharing basis)
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- Refunds: 80% refund available until 30 days prior to check-in; 50% refund available 15 days prior to check-in; 25% refund available 6 days prior to check-in; within 5 days of check-in there will be no refund.
- Full board meals during camping
- Breakfasts only while staying at hotels
- Full trekking service including food and equipment (apart from personal equipment)
- English speaking monument sightseeing guides at cities
- All land transport
- Government service tax as applicable
- Travel insurance
- Indian visa fees
- Any monument entrance fees
- Flights (domestic/international)
- Any optional activities or services not mentioned in inclusions
- Services of any professional English speaking tour leader/escort during the tour
- Miscellaneous expenses for tips, laundry, drinks, any medical emergencies and souvenirs etc.