Frozen River Trek

Detailed Itinerary (18 Days)Experience the thrill of walking on the frozen Zanskar - a Himalayan river in the windswept highlands of the Buddhist kingdom of Ladakh, where subzero temperatures chill the blood in the veins; very strictly for the very firm and fit only. This route has been used for centuries as a trade link by the inhabitants of this region. On the way you will also have the opportunity to stay with the native Zanskaris and visit some of the ancient monasteries behind ice walls, wedged between the mighty Karakoram and the Great Himalayan ranges.

IMPORTANT: THIS IS A VERY STRENUOUS PHYSICALLY TAXING EXPEDITION THEREFORE BOTH PHYSICAL FITNESS & MENTAL ENDURANCE ARE REQUIRED.

We cover two routes.

1. Chilling - Lingshed - Chilling , Duration : 15 Nights / 16 Days

Destination Covered : Delhi - Leh - Ladakh - Tibetan Camp - Leh - Phyang - Alchi - Ridzong - Lamayuru - Likir - Leh - Khardong La - Hundar - Leh - Delhi

Day 01: Arrive Delhi; Afternoon city tour
After arrival in Delhi early morning, Company Representatives will assist you to transfer to the hotel. Have some relaxation and get back to normal from overnight flight exhaustion. After that, take a half-day sightseeing tour of the city. Delhi is basically divided in two parts, the Old Delhi and the New Delhi. The Old City was the capital of Mughal Domain for a long period. New City was declared the capital of India after India got independence from british rule in 1947.

This is the city where one can experience the amazing combination of past and present. The city tours cover ancient monuments, narrow streets and busy bazaars, the vast Red Fort(built in 1648), the Jama Masjid(the greatest mosque in India), and the Raj Ghat(the simple memorial to Mahatma Gandhi). the governments buildings, the India gate, the President House, the Qutub Minar, the Humayun Tomb, the Chandani.chowk, the Laxmi Narayan Temple(popularly known as Birla Mandir) and so on.

Day 02: Morning flight to Leh
Familiarization day. Take an early flight for over the rain shadow of the Himalaya to a lush valley, just to the north of the mighty Indus River, where towering peaks of ice and snow govern the surrounding landscape. Nestle amongst this fabulous panorama is the town of Leh, the largest in the region and once an important commercial centre for goods traveling across Central Asia on the Silk Route from China. A small, pleasing town of about 8,000 people, Leh lies at 3500m, making it the perfect place to begin to adjust for the forthcoming trek and the rest of the day is free to walk around at your leisure. The people of this harsh land are Mongoloid/Tibetan and have maintained their strong sense of tradition, a feature that will become more obvious as your journey progresses. The town is dominated by the 9 storey Namgyal Palace that sits on top of a hill to the north.

Once the home of the Ladakhi royal family, until their exile in the 1830s, the now partially ruined palace has been likened to a mini version of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Your tour leader may be able to organise a gentle orientation walk today, taking in the narrow alleys and markets of this most engaging of towns and perhaps visiting the Shanker monastery, a small but interesting gompa housing an impressive Dukar figure (Avalokitesvara), complete with 11 heads and 1000 arms, all holding weapons. It is also possible to walk up to the Shanti stupa, from where there are some eye-catching views of the surrounding countryside.

Day 03: Half-day tour of Phyang and Spituk Monasteries
The predominant faith of the local residents here is the Lamaistic form of Buddhism of Tibet. This is seen clearly in the monastery (gompa) architecture and by the extraordinary number of gods and demons that order the daily life of the community. This morning we will get a chance to witness this for ourselves,when we visit the nearby monasteries of Phyang and Spituk, built in the 15th and 16th centuries. Phyang monastery is located on a hillside that overshadows a valley some 16km to the west of Leh. Belonging to the Red Hat Kagyupa sect, the monastery was built in the 16th century, during the reign of King Jamyang Namgyal.

Phyang contains an interesting collection of statues and Kashmiri bronzes and its temple walls are covered in vivid images based on the eight emblems of happiness.

This is the setting for the Buddhist festival of Tseruk, a spectacular display of masked dancing that takes place during July. Our second visit today is to the Gompa of Spituk, again located on a hill top high above the valley floor. Built in the 15th century the monastery belongs to the Gelukpa order (the yellow hats), a reformist order of monks of whom the Dalai Lama himself is the head.The monastery is a series of tiered buildings and courtyards that contain a magnificent collection of Jelbagh masks, as well as icons and weaponary from the Potala Palace. After our visit we will return back to prepare for the coming trek.

Day 04: Drive to Chilling (3350m); village visit
This morning we begin our trek with a drive by jeep to the village of Chilling, lying on the banks of the Zanskar River. The village itself is famed for its handicrafts and it is reputed that the artisans of Chilling are the only ones to work with traditional metals, such as copper, tin and silver. These craftsmen today are the descendants of the artists who arrived in Ladakh from Nepal some 600 years ago to create the 7.5m golden statue of the Shakyamuni Buddha of Shey, once the old capital of Ladakh. We have time to explore something of the village and witness for ourselves the skill of these artisans, before meeting up with our porters for the forthcoming trek. Then we settle down beneath a mantle of stars as we prepare ourselves for the days ahead, the river's frozen flow pointing the way for our coming journey.

Day 05: Trek to Darbau (3400m) via Tilat Sumdo
Today we begin our trek in earnest, with a 5-6 hours walk following the course of the river south. Over the next few days we will traverse a landscape of frozen waterfalls where the harsh winters have preserved the traditions and cultures of the local people in a frozen Shangri-La. We stop for lunch at Tilat Sumdo at the confluence of the Tsarap Chhu, before we continue towards our second camp at Darbau, located next to a cave. The Zanskar Valley is the most isolated of the Trans-Himalaya valleys and that true sense of remoteness will become all the more evident as we approach our camp. As evening falls we sit down to a well-earned and much needed dinner in our comfortable dining tent. Trekking distance 5/6hours.

Day 06: Trek to Tip Yokma (3400m) via Na Chhumchhar waterfall
Camp life will begin to take on its own routine, with a hot drink to cut through the morning chill and a nourishing breakfast to set you up for the day. Continuing through this breathtaking landscape we follow the meandering course of the river as it turns west, towards the waterfall of Na Chhumchhar. This harsh environment might seem a desolate wilderness, but life is very much in evidence as we trek through the valley.

Wildlife has adapted to the conditions of this frozen desert and the valley is reputedly home to bears,wolves, yak and various species of goats and sheep, including Ibex, Nyan and Urial. After lunch we continue on to tonight's most unique of camps, a large natural cave at Tip Yokma, where we can shelter together from the biting icy winds and enjoy the prospect of camping outdoors, indoors! Trekking distance 6/7 hours

Day 07: Trek to Lingshed Do (3700m)
From Tip Yokma we continue west, passing an ice-fall and forests of juniper trees enroute to the small settlement of Yulchung, on the border of the Leh and Kargil districts of Jammu and Kashmir. Continuing through plunging canyons, normally inaccessible, but for the frozen river, we take lunch in the lea of a juniper forest. Sometimes you can hear locals calling down into the valley, a local custom, designed to scare away the spirits that haunt the ice. Above us the craggy cliffs rise to precipitous heights, their slopes sometimes inhabited by fearless ibex and, as we near our camp, we see a bridge high above. This links Zanskar with Ladakh during the summer months, when the river is impassable. Our camp is close now, located below the village of Nyrak near to the summer grazing lands of its people. Trekking distance 5/6 hours.

Day 08: Trek to Lingshed Village (3800m)
Departing from the Chadar route today we enter into the Lingshed Nallah. The trek to Lingshed takes us through the passes of the Netuke La and Khyupa La and, as we traverse the undulating landscape, we are afforded some spectacular views of the valley below. Following a small stream we climb higher, across ground criss-crossed by trails used by ibex and blue sheep, their natural instinct taking them towards the gompas of the highlands where life is sacred and hunting banned.

As we ascend the altitude will begin to take affect, so it is important that you take it easy today, a task made all the more unhurried by the breathtaking views as we continue to climb. Stopping for lunch we then take a walk up to a locally renowned gompa, majestically located in the shadow of a high cliff, its walls pitted with meditation caves. The monastery and its adjoining school presents us with an exhilarating visit and as we head for our nighstop, in local houses, we will doubtless have much to discuss over dinner this evening. Trekking distance 4/5 hours.

Day 09: Lingshed Village
Today has been left free to relax from yesterday's trek and explore some more of these most scenic of surroundings. In the distance you may catch a glimpse of Morgon La (4100m) and the massive ice wall of Hanuma La, part of Zanskar's summer trekking route. Lingshed is somewhat unique,not only for its splendid isolation, but also for its remarkable 'Solar School', where the local children are afforded the luxury of year round education by the merits of their solar powered classroom.

A stroll through the village will also reveal the villagers green houses, what appear to be abandoned homes, that are actually covered in plastic sheeting in the summer and used to grow vegetables. Lingshed will prove to be a most enlightening and spectacular setting in which to recharge our batteries for the journey back.

Days 10 to 13: Trek back to Chilling; drive to Leh
The next 4 days will see us retracing our steps as we journey back towards Chilling. Averaging 5-6 hours walking a day we enjoy the spectacular scenery, frozen waterfalls and isolated wilderness of this awe inspiring landscape. Superlatives seem to pale into insignificance before the natural wonders we encounter. But all good things must come to an end and eventually the river brings us full circle back to Chilling. From here we return to Leh by vehicle.

Day 14: Leh
Today we have another opportunity to explore Leh and its environs. The yak caravans that once plied their trade through the Karakoram Pass, into Central Asia and onto the markets of Kashgar are now a distant memory. Today Leh's importance lies in its strategic position, at the juncture of India's borders with China and Pakistan. Although the caravan and pilgrim routes are no longer in use the town still retains a frontier feel and the markets buzz with the sounds and smells of trade.

You may wish to spend your day strolling through its vibrant streets, or perhaps to a walk up to the palace. Built on a granite rock meant to represent an elephant's head this was considered such a masterpiece in its day that theking ordered the chief mason's right hand be cut off to prevent him building another. It was eventually destroyed during the Dogra war of the 19th century, when the royal family was exiled to Stok.

Day 15: Fly Leh to Delhi
Morning transfer to the airport this morning we take an early flight back to Delhi. After checking into our hotel the rest of the day is free to explore a little more of Delhi's bustling streets and markets. You may wish to discover some more of the city's architectural gems, or perhaps use the time to do some last minute shopping. Old Delhi contains many of the city's most impressive Muslim and Moghul monuments, such as the magnificent Jama Masji (The Friday Mosque), the largest of its kind in India and a spectacular collection of minarets and domes in sandstone and marble.

Then of course there is the Chandni Chowk Bazaar, a jamboree of deafening noise and colour, where bartering is the order of the day and a bargain is sure to be had. Delhi provides a marked contrast to the solitude of the past few days and its noise and clamour can be somewhat disconcerting after our days of splendid isolation, but the Indian capital is perhaps the perfect finishing point for our journey, emphasizing the uniqueness of our odyssey into Zanskar's frozen wilderness.

Day 16 : Delhi-Onwards Destination
Transfer to International Airport for onwards Journey.

2. CHILLING - KARSHA - CHILLING TREK , Duration : 19 Nights / 20 Days
Day 01: Arrive Delhi:
Welcomed and greeted by our representative who will transfer you to your pre-booked hotel. Overnight in hotel.

Day 02: Delhi - Leh:
Early morning transfer to domestic airport for the 1-hour spectacular flight over mighty Himalayas. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Rest of the day free for acclimatisation. Overnight in hotel.

Day 03: Leh (sightseeing):
After breakfast proceed for sightseeing to the Indus Valley. Visit three important gompas - Shey, Thiksey and Hemis OR Spituk Festival. Overnight in hotel.

Day 04: Leh - Chilling:
Morning drive to Chilling (about 4hrs), one of the famous villages in Ladakh, known for craftsmanship especially metal works. In the afternoon meet your trekking crew and prepare for the mission ahead. Overnight in local home/camp.

Day 05: Chilling - Tilat Sumdo:
After breakfast start trekking towards Tilat Sumdo (3180m) along the iced up Zanskar river. This trek along frozen river is the only route into Zanskar region, as heavy snow on high passes blocks all other approach routes in to this remote valley. Trek: 5-6hrs; overnight in cave.

Day 06: Tilat Sumdo - Paldar Sumdo:
After breakfast trek to Paldar Sumdo (3220m). The trek is along the edges of the frozen river, through a narrow mountain gorge. Dwarfed by the mountains around us and mesmerised by the awesome scenery we carefully trek along the river. Trek: 6-7hrs; overnight in cave.

Day 07: Paldar Sumdo - Nerak Pullu:
Walk through sheer canyons, inaccessible in any other season, to Nerak (3300m). If lucky we may catch sight of a rare Red Fox on the high mountain ridges as we trek along the river valley. Trek: 5-6hrs; overnight in cave.

Day 08: Nerak Pullu - Hanumul:
After breakfast trek to Hanumul (3380m) the first village on the trail and inhabited most likely by the first people we shall see since setting out from Chilling. Trekking: 5-6hrs; overnight in cave.

Day 09: Hanumul - Pishu:
Today trek along a well established path to the village of Pishu (3470m), which is larger than Hanumul. Trek: 5-6hrs; overnight in local home/camp.

Day 10: Pishu - Karsha:
After breakfast trek to Karsha (3600m), along the banks of Zanskar. Arrive at Rinam village and then ascend gradually to Karsha village, with its 15th Century Karsha Gompa - the largest monastery in Zanskar region. The monastery is perched on a hill side overlooking the valley. Trek: 5-6hrs;overnight in local home/camp.

Day 11: Explore Karsha:
Today go to this charming village and observe the local way of Life; and also visit the splendid Karsha Monastery, dating back to about 11th century and belonging to the Gelukpa order. Perched on a hill it is a large white complex housing over 100 monks; there is also a 500 year old nunnery nearby. Overnight in local home/camp.

Day 12: Karsha - Pishu:

After breakfast trek to Pishu. Overnight in local home/camp.

Day 13: Pishu - Hanumul:
Today we trek to Hanumul, through the frozen Zanskar. Overnight in cave.

Day 14: Hanumul - Nerak Pullu:

Trek to Nerak Pullu. Overnight in cave.

Day 15: Nerak Pullu - Paldar Sumdo:
Trek to Paldar Sumdo. Overnight in cave.

Day 16: Paldar Sumdo - Tilat Sumdo:
Trek to Tilat Sumdo. Overnight in cave.

Day 17: Tilat Sumdo - Chilling - Leh:
Trek to Chilling village and then drive back to Leh. Overnight in hotel.

Day 18: Leh:
A day free to relax or visit monasteries / festival at Likir. Overnight in hotel.

Day 19: Leh - Delhi:
After breakfast transfer to airport for flight back to Delhi. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Afternoon free for individual activities. Overnight in hotel.

Day 20: Delhi (sightseeing) / late evening departure:

After breakfast a full days guided tour of Old and New Delhi, visiting Red Fort, Jama Masjid, Gandhi Samadhi, India gate, Qutub Minar and the Lotus Temple. (your rooms are reserved till 1800hrs/Day rooms). After dinner transfer to International airport for return flight to home country.

Ladakh Trekking Tour » Markha Valley Trek
» Nubra Valley Trek
» Ladakh Zanskar Trek
» Lamayuru Padum Trek
» Darcha Lamayuru Trek
» Frozen River Trek
» Tsomoiri Lake Trek
» Rupshu Trek
» Ladakh Monastery Trek
» Sham & Indus Valley Trek
» Lamayuru Alchi Trek
» Lamayuru Martselang Trek
» Stok Kangri Climb-Markha Trek
» Lamayuru Chilling via Dung-Dung La
» Wild Ladakh Trek

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