This itinerary's focal point is one of the most beautiful multi-day treks in the Indian Himalayas. Once you've acclimatized in the city of Leh, begin a journey through off-the-beaten-path landscapes with a small team who will cook meals and set up camps. The route includes monasteries, mountain passes, Tibetan communities, and sacred lakes, including Tsomoriri Lake, where you'll end the trek. You'll also arrive and depart from Delhi with just enough time to get a taste of India's sprawling capital.

Highlights

  • Visit Buddhist shrines and monasteries while acclimatizing to the altitude
  • Take a guided tour of a center in Leh that helps children with disabilities
  • Trek through a green valley known for rare wildlife like alpine ibex and wild donkeys
  • Camp near friendly Tibetan nomads while learning about their unique lifestyle
  • Descend the highest peak of the trek to reach a sacred lake with crystal-clear water

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Delhi Delhi
Day 2 Fly to Leh - Orientation Walk Leh
Day 3 Visit the Likir, Alchi & Rizong Monasteries Leh
Day 4 Morning Heritage Walk - Afternoon Tour Leh
Day 5 Transfer to Rumtse, via Shey, Thiksey & Hemis Gompas Rumtse
Day 6 Trek from Rumtse to Kyamar Camp
Day 7 Trek from Kyamar to Riti Camp
Day 8 Trek from Riti to Tsokar Lake Camp
Day 9 Trek from Tsokar Lake to Rajung Karu Camp
Day 10 Trek from Rajung Karu to Gyama Jangma Camp
Day 11 Trek from Gyama Jangma to the Base Camp of Lanyal La Camp
Day 12 Trek from Base Camp to Lanyal Pasture Camp
Day 13 Trek from Lanyal Pasture to Lato Gongma Camp
Day 14 Trek from Lato Gongma to Kyangdom Camp
Day 15 Trek from Kyangdom to Karzok Karzok
Day 16 Drive from Karzok to Leh Leh
Day 17 Fly to Delhi - Free Time Delhi
Day 18 Depart Delhi  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Delhi

Check out handcrafted goods and quality food stalls at Dilli Haat

Welcome to India! Your trip starts in bustling Delhi, home to the capital of India and more than 21 million people. Think of this sprawling city as divided into two distinct areas: Old Delhi, founded in the 17th century, and New Delhi, established in the early 20th century by the British. 

Upon arrival, you'll meet your guide at the airport for a traditional swagat (welcome), followed by a transfer to your hotel. Check-in and take some time to relax after your travels.

If feeling energized, you can taxi to New Delhi's Dilli Haat, an outdoor craft bazaar selling handcrafted souvenirs from each of 29 of India's states. The bazaar also offers various street food stalls selling a range of regional eats from all over the country, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian, so come hungry!

Day 2: Fly to Leh - Orientation Walk

Scenery in the Himalayas near Leh
The mountainous scenery near Leh

After breakfast in Delhi, you'll take a morning flight to Leh in India's northernmost state of Jammu and Kashmir. Surrounded by mountains, this high-altitude city (11,483 feet/3500 m) is known for its Buddhist sites and outdoor adventures. The flight route travels over the Himalayan range where, if lucky, you'll get a fantastic view of the peaks and fertile valley just above the Indus River (views depend on weather and flying conditions). Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.

The rest of the day is free to relax and acclimatize to the altitude. In the late afternoon, you can take an easy orientation walk through Leh and its bazaars. Historically, Leh was an important trading center along the Old Silk Route from China. The town is still known for its immense Namgyal Palace, which is often compared to Lhasa's Potala Palace.

Day 3: Visit the Likir, Alchi & Rizong Monasteries

Rizong Buddhist monastery near Leh
Rizong Buddhist monastery near Leh

Today's sightseeing tour begins with a visit to Likir Monastery, located 32 miles (52 km) west of Leh. During the lifetime of Lachen Gyalpo (the fifth king of Ladakh), a religious estate and the land on which to build the monastery was offered to Lama Duwang Chosje, a great champion of meditation.

From here, you'll drive to the largest and most famous of all the monasteries in the area: Alchi Monastery, located 43 miles (69 km) west of Leh. This monastery, built 990 years ago, is known for its massive Buddha statues and lavish woodcarvings and artwork.

Rizong Monastery is your last stop of the day. Also known as Vuma Chngchubling, Rizong was built about 135 years ago by the great Lama Tsultim Nima. The monastery has a precarious mountainside location and is recognized for its strict code of ethics. 

Following the tour, you will be returned to Leh for free time in the evening.

Day 4: Morning Heritage Walk - Afternoon Tour

The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace
The Shanti Stupa promotes world peace

Today is a busy day of sightseeing! After breakfast, you'll take a Heritage Walk conducted by the Tibetan Heritage Fund (THF), whose goal is to preserve Leh's Old Town and its historic buildings. The walk lasts for more than two hours and is accompanied by an experienced local guide who shares facts about critical landmark buildings that have been restored by the THF. 

Later in the morning, you'll have the chance to see more key sites starting with the Leh Palace, initially built in the 17th century as the residential palace for the King Singge Namgyal. It was deserted in the 1830s when the royal family shifted to the Stok Palace. Next, visit Shanti Stupa, located on the hilltop at Changspa. Constructed by a Japanese Buddhist organization, the aim behind the construction of the Stupa was to commemorate 2,500 years of Buddhism and to promote World Peace.

You'll also see Namgyal Tsemo Monastery, founded in the early 15th century. The monastery is renowned for its three-story solid gold idol of Maitreya Buddha. Situated on a mountain top behind the Leh Palace, the monastery offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside, the gently flowing Indus river, and snowcapped peaks of the Zanskar range.

Save some energy because, in the afternoon, you will visit the Rewa Ability Center (RAC) with a local guide. This society was founded in 2007 by parents of children with disabilities and other local citizens who saw the desperate need of the special children of Ladakh.

Every afternoon, the therapists at RAC find new things to do for the children. It's not easy to find activities that all of the children can participate in because of their different levels of ability. You'll see how the personnel of RAC helps children of all levels develop skills. The duration of your visit depends on how much time you wish to spend there but, generally, two hours is enough to carry out this visit.

After these excursions, there will be free time in the evening.

Day 5: Transfer to Rumtse, via Shey, Thiksey & Hemis Gompas

Shey Monastery
This statue at Shey Monastery is one of your stops

After breakfast in Leh, you'll transfer to Rumtse (49 miles/78 km), the starting point for your trek. En-route, you will visit three Gompas (Buddhist temples or monasteries): Shey, Thiksey, and Hemis

Following these brief albeit memorable visits, you'll continue driving to Rumtse, arriving in the afternoon. This is where you'll meet your local team (cooking staff and pony men). The rest of the day is free to relax or to explore the area on your own.

Day 6: Trek from Rumtse to Kyamar

Landscapes in the Changthang area
Otherworldly landscapes in the Changthang area

After breakfast in Rumtse, you and your group will set off on the trail, which begins with a lot of excitement! The trek first makes its way up to Kyamar Valley, also known by the name of Jadis La, or the "salt route" thanks to the transportation of salt from Tsokar Lake to the Leh area.

In the afternoon, you'll set foot in the region of Changthang, located closer to Tibet, with a distinct topography. This is where you'll set up camp and have dinner served by the team. Enjoy the area's unique landscapes and views before sundown.

Trek distance: 4-5 hours
Trek altitude:
14,764 feet (4,500 m)

Day 7: Trek from Kyamar to Riti

Keep your eye out for the black partridge
Keep your eye out for black partridge sightings

Today, you'll trek through another portion of the green Kyamar Valley—a refuge for a number of species of wildlife like the wild hare, black partridge, alpine ibex, and wild donkey of Tibet, also called keyang.

There will be plenty of time to look for these unique animals and birds as you approach the pass. Later, you'll descend into the Riti River Valley where you'll spot some camps of shepherds and their herds. Continue to climb for a while in order to reach tonight's campsite, situated in the hollow valley.

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 16,076 feet (4,900 m)

Day 8: Trek from Riti to Tsokar Lake

Tso Kar is a famous highland salt lake
Tsokar is a famous highland salt lake

After breakfast at camp, you'll depart Riti and walk along a gentle path towards a calm desert. A bit further, there's another gentle climb that takes you to Shibuk La (pass) from where you can see part of Tsokar Lake, surrounded by a number of prominent peaks.

The trail eventually descends through a valley that leads you closer towards the lake, where you and your group will find a nice, dry place to camp for the night. 

Trek distance: 5-6 hours
Trek altitude: 15,092 feet (4,600 m)

Day 9: Trek from Tsokar Lake to Rajung Karu

Sunset overlooking Tsokar Lake
Catch a sunset overlooking Tsokar Lake

Drink plenty of water—today's route is a bit longer and more strenuous than the previous days. That being said, as you proceed further along the trek, the landscape becomes more extraordinarily beautiful.

First, you'll continue walking along Tsokar Lake from the western side, where the huge presence of salt on the shore appears like a moon. Then, start a new climb through a splendid valley towards an easy pass called Nuruchan La from where you will have an excellent view of the lake. From here, you'll walk down to the valley of Ponglong Chu where you'll camp near shepherds and their huts in Rajung Karu

Trek distance: 7-8 hours
Trek altitude: 16,240 feet (4,950 m)

Day 10: Trek from Rajung Karu to Gyama Jangma

Meet semi-nomadic Tibetans in Changpa
Meet semi-nomadic Tibetans in Changpa

Today's route is shorter than yesterday, and therefore, you'll have some extra time to enjoy camp this morning and meet the Tibetan semi-nomads who represent a unique way of life that is quite admirable. Your group will also need to be aware of dogs in the area. 

When it's time to hit the trail, the trek heads gradually towards Kayaru pass and takes you to an exceptionally beautiful stop for photos. From here the path winds down gently to Gyama Jangma where you will camp overnight, not far from another group of nomads.

Trek distance: 4-5 hours
Trek altitude: 17,060 feet (5,200 m)

Day 11: Trek from Gyama Jangma to the Base Camp of Lanyal La

A Tibetan nomad with cattle
A Tibetan nomad with cattle

Today is another short trekking day and your last opportunity to camp near the nomads. The route starts with a short but steep climb towards Barma La where you will get spectacular views of the surrounding peaks and valleys. You'll then descend to a valley where a track leads to Gyama Chu—a place where you can see nomads living with their cattle.

From here, there's an easy climb that takes you to a camping site nicely situated in a beautiful valley, at the base of a chain of mountains. This is the highest altitude camping spot of the trek.

Trek distance: 4 hours
Trek altitude: 17,224 feet (5,250 m)

Day 12: Trek from Base Camp to Lanyal Pasture

More uninterrupted views
More uninterrupted views

Now that you and your group have had a chance to acclimatize to the high altitude for the past eleven days, everybody should be ready to climb the highest pass of the trek: Lanyal La (18,536 feet/5,650 m). This climb does not offer any significant difficulty in terms of terrain, but the higher elevation can sometimes make it more challenging.

After crossing a small glacier, you'll reach the top from where you can capture some stunning photographs. Then, the trail meanders down towards a frozen lake where you will stop and have lunch. After trekking for a while, you'll join the pastures of Lanyal Valley and find a spot to camp for the night.

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 15,912 feet (4,850 m)

Day 13: Trek from Lanyal Pasture to Lato Gongma

Look for rabbits hopping around today's trail
Look for rabbits hopping around today's route

Today, you'll descend to a large valley surrounded by high mountains where the landscape is different from all the previous places you've visited on this trek; nevertheless, it's marvelous.

The trek continues gently along an oasis of greenery until you reach Lato Gongma. Along the way, you'll likely see a number of rabbits and mammals galloping quickly in the meadows. 

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 15,256 feet (4,650 m)

Day 14: Trek from Lato Gongma to Kyangdom

Arrive at the lake in time to enjoy sunset views
Arrive at the lake in time to enjoy sunset views

After breakfast at camp, the trek starts with a descent along Phirtse Chu ("chu" means water, stream, or a river in the Tibetan language).

From here, the valley abruptly narrows and evolves into a different landscape altogether. After trekking through the gorges and moraines, the trail finally opens into a valley surrounded by colorful mountains and snow peaks. Yes, you have arrived at your final destination of the trek, Tsomoriri Lake! The blue water of this picturesque lake is crystal clear and you'll have some free time to enjoy the views before sundown.

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 14,764 feet (4,500 m)

Day 15: Trek from Kyangdom to Karzok

Walk on the western edge of the lake to get to Karzok
Walk on the western edge of the lake to get to Karzok

After breakfast at camp, you'll continue trekking along the western side of Tsomoriri Lake. (The eastern side of the lake is off-limits due to its proximity to the China border). Though it may be tempting to get your feet wet, the local people advise against taking a bath in the lake to avoid inviting the wrath of gods who supposedly get irritated by human interference in the lake.

From here, a gradual climb starts along the northern side of the lake where a number of migrant and wild birds can be seen. You'll stop for the night in the magnificent village of Karzok, one of the highest inhabited villages in the world. Changpa people live here all year round and there is a beautiful Tibetan Buddhist monastery to visit with around 30 monks. 

Tonight, celebrate the completion of your trek!

Trek distance: 6-7 hours
Trek altitude: 14,764 feet (4500 m)

Day 16: Drive from Karzok to Leh

Check out Karzok's monastery before getting on the road
Check out Karzok's monastery before getting on the road

After breakfast, you'll make an early departure back to Leh (131 miles/211 km), via a fleet of jeeps waiting in Karzok to take you. This roughly 7-hour drive travels from Tsomoriri Lake and passes another body of water called Thatsang Karu.

The magnificent route also passes over Namshang La before the road descends along the valley of Indus where you'll drive along the river from Upshi. In other words, sit back and enjoy the views!

Upon arrival in Leh, you'll have free time to either rest or explore the streets at your own pace.

Day 17: Fly to Delhi - Free Time

Request a window seat on the flight from Leh to Delhi
Aim for a window seat on the flight back to Delhi

After breakfast in Leh, you'll be picked up and transferred to the airport for your return flight to Delhi.

Upon arrival, you'll be transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is free time to explore the local bazaars and dining options of Delhi.

No matter how you spend your day, relax with a good dinner and enjoy your last evening of the trip.

Day 18: Depart Delhi

Delhi's India Gate monument
Delhi's India Gate monument

It's time to say goodbye to India! At the designated time, you would be transferred to Delhi's international airport for your departure flight or onward journey. Safe travels!

Map

Map of North India Rupshu Tsomoriri Trek - 18 Days
Map of North India Rupshu Tsomoriri Trek - 18 Days