Ladakh is known as La-dvags in Tibetan to mean the "land of high passes.” This high-altitude mountainous desert, once an ancient kingdom and trade route connecting India to the Silk Road, is now known for its challenging alpine treks and dearth of history and diverse culture - evident in the Buddhist monasteries, mosques and Hindu temples built into the mountainsides throughout the region. How do you see everything in one trip - high adventure and history/culture? Answer: We’ll trek our way there. Digar La is an 18,000ft pass, connecting Leh with the stunning Nubra Valley. After a 4-day trek up and over this route - known for its wolfpack sightings and view of both the Stok and Karakoram ranges from the pass, we descend into Nubra Valley and continue our journey by car toward Turtuk, the northernmost village of India bordering Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, for a night’s stay. Finally, a visit to the massive, brilliantly blue Pangong Lake that borders India and Tibet before returning to Leh via two high-altitude passes.
SAC T3 Demanding Mountain Hiking
Path traces are not always present. Some sections require the use of hands. Grounds are relatively exposed, tricky grass slopes, craggy ground, simple firn fields and snow free glacier sections.
Delhi to Delhi
6 days travel & rest
4 days hiking & camping
40 km / 25 mi
5432 m / 17820 ft
Welcome to Leh! This heavily Tibetan-influenced city is known for taking visitors’ breath away - with its high altitude as well as the beauty and history associated with this remote mountainous desert. We will convene for the first time at the hotel arranged for you to meet and brief on the plan for the upcoming days.
Since Leh is already at an altitude of 11,500 feet, we will spend today acclimatizing in the city itself. Our goal is to be active and hydrate, so any kind of exploring will do - and this city has plenty of that to go around. Some of our favorites include climbing the prayer flag-adorned steps to the Leh Palace, built in the early 1600’s, pick up some traditional handicrafts from the main bazaar and Tibetan Refugee Markets, catch the view over the valley at sunset from the ornately decorated Shanti Stupa or explore the winding alleyways, Central Asian Museum, mosques, gurudwaras and freshly-baked tandoor bread of Old Town. Tonight, we reconvene one final time to make sure everything is set for tomorrow. In the morning, we’re off!
After making the short drive to Saboo, we start following the valley upwards along the river, crossing small bridges along the way. True to the arid nature of Ladakh’s mountains, the terrain is mostly rocky, with a spattering here and there of purple-green scrub, and mountains closing in on us from all sides in this narrow valley. We rise steadily, and as we near our first night’s camp, we turn around to see the view of the valley and mountains beyond has opened us below us - almost the entire Stok Range is visible from here.
Today we move on toward our goal of crossing Digar La by reaching its base by the afternoon. Constantly climbing, even more of the Stok mountain range reveals itself behind us, with occasional storms forming over the higher peaks in the distance at sunset creating an unforgettable scene. The trail becoming less obvious now, we crest several rocky knolls and find ourself at the base of Digar La, its prayer flags just barely visible waving 2,000 feet above our camp.
Today is the day! We walk an easy 2km to the base of our rocky ascent, and then for the first several hours, the climb is steep and arduous, navigating through the rocky slope to the top of the pass. From here, a panoramic view into two major valleys is your reward - from the prayer flag-topped pass where we now stand, the entirety of the Stok Range on one side and the famed Karakoram on the other. After celebration, we make the long but easy descent, the land gradually flattening out as we go, until we reconvene with another river in a much wider valley than before. We set up camp on this expanse between enormous mountains capped with snow.
Finishing the trekking portion of our journey today, we continue down the valley, through increasingly green meadows, laced with shepherd paths along the river. Valley widening by the minute until a final, we make a steeper descent along a rocky path where we meet with a dirt road that guides us the rest of the way to the quiet village of Digar, surrounded by rows of Buddhist lhatos. From here, we will meet our transport and make the 8 hour drive through the rural beauty of Nubra Valley toward Turtuk, crossing herds of yaks grazing in the yellow meadows that get their color from the flowers that carpet them.
Having arrived late last night, we now have the full day to rest and explore Turtuk, one of India’s northernmost villages that lies on the Baltistan border of Pakistan Occupied Kashmir. Here, we can have a rare look into Balti culture, taste the local apricots and visit the coexisting monastery and mosque of this little green village tucked among the arid mountains.
We will head out from our little village home toward Pangong Tso, and the winding drive through the multicolored mountains is almost as beautiful as the enormous lake we’re driving to see. Pangong Tso, lying halfway between Tibet and Northern India, this massive 134km-long lake makes everything around it look absolutely microscopic. The waves are a deep royal blue, and we can enjoy strolling along the shoreline, basking in the afternoon sun until we retire for the night in a cozy homestay nearby.
Our adventure must come to an end (for now), and so we leave the glimmering waters of North India’s largest lake behind en-route for civilization once more. We’ll arrive in Leh mid-afternoon for some last-minute exploring, shopping in the handicraft markets or some well-deserved rest before our departure flight tomorrow morning.
Fly and/or drive back to Delhi. Mode of transport is subject to weather conditions and availability of flights.
Handcrafted & Curated
We don’t copy our itineraries off the internet. We scout and design all trip offerings personally. This ensures enough time to acclimatise at high altitude, explore around the campsite, and indulge in authentic local experiences so you don’t miss out on anything.
Honestly, everything. Internal flights, best-in-class travel insurance, personal camping equipment, and all meals - we’ll take care of everything that most travel operators will mark with an asterisk. You pay for nothing except personal purchases from the day your trip starts.
Equipment & Safety
4 season Mountain Hardwear tents and sleeping bags, emergency oxygen reserves & PACs to provide a safety net against AMS, UIAA Safety Label glacier rescue kits for technical trails, WAFA/WFR & CPR certified guides, best-in-class adventure insurance - we’ve always got a plan B.
Personalised & Bespoke
We curate bespoke adventures and trips every day because we recognise that everyone’s travel bug is unique. When it comes to adventure travel, there are different ways to experience the world’s most beautiful places, because every traveler is different - which is why we’ve stepped in to provide a space for environmental advocacy, cross-cultural connections, wellness and adventure to combine - all through travel.
Responsible travel starts with acknowledging that travel and tourism often contribute to the global climate crisis. We believe in the positive power of travel to transform mindsets & generate a sense of preservation towards wild spaces. We follow LNT Principles, minimise our carbon footprint, adopt regenerative practices & give back to local communities - from making sure our field staff are well equipped to higher-than-industry-standard compensation.
Self Guided & Operated
We’ll never hand you off to someone else - we run all trips ourselves. We minimise external contracting and only partner with people we know and trust personally. While we employ and collaborate with local guides and support staff for their unparalleled expertise and knowledge of the Himalayan ranges, our trips are led by one of our core team members so you always have a single point of contact.