Rupshu Kharnak

A beautiful trek through a less-frequented area of Ladakh, this route follows the same trail as on the Markha trek for the first 3 days, before entering the high plateau of Changthang, which stretches far into Tibet. The only inhabitants of this desolate wilderness, where the climate is so extreme that you can get sunburn and frostbite at the same time, are nomadic and semi-nomadic people, who live in tiny settlements with their yak, sheep, pashmina goats and a small harvest of barley on which they survive.

Destination: Rupshu Kharnak
Best Time: May to Sept
Duration: 12 Nights / 13 Days


Upon arrival at Leh Airport you will met by Mountain trails representative and Welcome in traditional Ladakhi style and transfer to our pre-arranged hotel, rest of the day at leisure to acclimatize. Overnight stay at hotel
Leh City: The capital of Ladakh, at one time was a major stop on the Asian “Silk Route”. A stroll along the main bazar, observing the varied crowd and peering into the curio shops, is an entrancing experience. Chang Gali, behind the main bazar is less bustling but has intriguing little shops selling curios and jewelry like pearls, turquoise, coral, malachite, lapis and many other kinds of semi-precious stones, as well as curiously carved Yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls etc.

DAY 02 : LEH

AM: Excursion Spituk
PM: Excursion to Sankar Gompa & Shanti Stupa

Post breakfast we depart for AM Sightseeing tour to Spituk
Spituk monastery was built in 15th century during the reign of Grags ‘bum-lde, these new Gelug-pa monastery was built like fortress on the summit of crags. Spituk lies some 5 kms south of Leh. Nesting at the foot of the crags are the flat-topped houses which go to form the village of Spituk.Spituk or dpe-thub mean ‘effective as an Example’ and this is thus a suitable name for the first Gelug-pa monastery in Ladakh. Inside the monastery, which includes several courtyards and temples of various sizes, has been built at different levels, following the shape of the rock.
Later we drive back to hotel on time for lunch
Later in the afternoon, guided sightseeing tour visiting Sankar Gompa, located at a distance of approximately 3 km from the town of Leh. A subsidiary of the Spituk Gompa, it belongs to the Gelukpa or the Yellow Hat Sect. The monastery also serves as the official residence of the Ladakh’s head of Gelukpa Sect, known as The Kushok Bakul. There are time restrictions for visiting the Sankar Monastery of Leh Ladakh. You can also go either between 7:00 am and 10:00 am, or between 5:00 pm and 7:00 pm. These restrictions have been placed because a few of the monks, of the yellow-hat sect, attached to the monastery reside here permanently.
Later we visit Shanti Stupa A magnificent white-domed structure, The Japanese for World Peace built the Shanti Stupa, at Changspa, on the hilltop, and was inaugurated by Dalai Lama in 1985. Its state of the art work attracts a lot of tourists to Ladakh and is spectacular to watch. From there one can see the nice spectacular view of Leh town. The stupa looks best at night, when it is beautifully illuminated with glittering lights. A large number of tourists come to Ladakh every year to visit this amazing stupa.


We will leave Leh by jeep to the starting point of the trek at Martselang (3600 m). Along the way, we will visit the first Palace of Ladakh at Shey, the ancient capital of Ladakh. The monastery here has a huge gold-gilded statue of Buddha Sakyamuni with a large silver lamp burning in front of the statue, built in the memory of King Singee Namgyal by his son lDeldan Namgyal in 1633 A.D. It is the only kind of statue made of Gold, Gilt and copper in entire Ladakh.
following the famous Yellow Sect monastery of Thiksey, which houses one of the largest Buddha statues in Ladakh (called the future Buddha). We will then visit Hemis,
Hemis Gompa is the largest monastic foundation of Drukpa Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Most of the other Drukpa monasteries are the branch monasteries of Hemis. It was built during early 17th century with the blessing of Lama Stagtsang Raspa (Shambunatha), by famous Namgyal dynasty king Singee Namgyal.
The two-day festival of monastic dance in June-July has raised the reputation of Hemis particularly high. The festival is dedicated to Guru Padmasambhava, popularly known as second Buddha and responsible for spreading Buddhism in the Tibetan world.
From here we will drive to Martselang, where we will meet our crew. Martselang is the entry point into Hemis National Park, where we might get glimpses of such endangered high-altitude animals such as the snow leopard, Tibetan wolf, Tibetan sheep and Golden eagle. From there, we will walk for 2 ½ hours to the small village of Shang Sumdo (3700 m).

DAY 04 : SHANG SUMDO 3700 M. – LARTSA 4600 M.(6 HRS)

Today we will climb steadily through the gorge of Shang, enjoying the magnificent colors and rock formations on view. We will then pass through the small village of Chogdo (4000 m) and cross a few rivers before reaching camp for the night.

DAY 05 : LARTSA 4600 M. – THACHUNGTSE 4250 M VIA KONGMARU LA 5200 M. (6-7 HRS)

A steep ascent leads us up to Kongmaru La (5200 m). From the pass we will get a breathtaking view of the north face of Kangyatse (6400 m), Zanskar and the Karakoram ranges. We then descend gradually to the summer pasture of Nimaling, where the villagers from Marka valley spend the summer with their sheep, goats and yaks, which graze on this lush greenery. The campsite of Thachungtse is further down the valley on the bank of the Marka River at 4000 m.


After yesterday’s strenuous walk, today is easier as we walk through the remote Langthang valley, where few other trekkers go. It’s only the villagers from Markha, who use this valley as a pasture ground for their animals. From Thachungtse, we will follow the valley down until it divides, cross the river and follow the valley to the left along the Langthang Chu River. The valley down to the right leads to Markha. The Langthang River has a tendency to rise during the day due to the melting of snow in the mountains, and by noon it becomes a dangerous river to cross. An early start in the morning is therefore essential, as one has to cross the river several times. Yakrupal is a nice, green campsite
where both the horses and we will have a good meal.


After Yakrupal, we will continue up the valley towards the pass of Zalung Karpo La. From the top of the pass there is a spectacular view of the Zanskar range on one side, while on the other, the highest plateau in the world appears: the Chang Tang plateau stretching far into Tibet, known as the land of the nomads.
The trail down is steep and several river crossings will follow to the beautiful and lush campsite of Khar, which will be our home for tonight. Kharnak means “black castle” in Ladakhi, and, situated on a hill above the campsite, one can imagine the former palace of Khar where the king of Kharnak used to live. The ruins of this former kingdom still stand, and the nomads believe it to be haunted. It is said that the nomads in Dat are descendants of the people who lived in Khar and that they for some reason moved to Dat three or four generation ago

DAY 08 : KHAR – DAT (5-6 HOURS)

A relatively easy day and a beautiful walk through wide, lush valleys (by Ladakhi standards!). At Tangtse Sumdo the valley divides – the left valley leading to Dat and the right into Zanskar, by the ‘Zhunglam trek’, where one will get one’s feet real wet due to the 80 river crossings! On the way we pass several nomad camps before reaching the tiny village of Dat, a settlement of stone huts and the winter headquarters for the nomads in Kharnak. Here they live from October to December and March to June. The nomads of Kharnak are a colorful and joyful people moving together with their yaks and pashmina goats. In Dat there is also a Monastery, and when the villagers are away from Dat, one or two people ride back on horses every second day to light the candle here.


From Dat we enter the vast land of the Changthang plateau and follow a long, wide valley before taking one of the side valleys towards Yar La. In spring the nomads move with all their animals towards Zara and it can be an unforgettable sight to see 30-40 families moving with their yaks in caravans. It is an easy ascent to this pass. From here it is a short walk down to the pastures of Lungmo Che, where we will spend the night, surrounded by snowcapped mountains, grazing yaks and pastel light.


The trail follows rolling hills towards Yagang, another settlement of stone huts belonging to the Kharnak nomads. A jeep road continues to Zara, the summer headquarters for the nomads in Kharnak. If you go for a visit up here, you will most likely be welcomed with numerous cups of butter tea and probably be invited into the nomads’ black tents woven out of yak hair.


It will feel sad to leave this fascinating world, but it is time to return to Leh. From Zara the drive takes us back over the Taklangla pass, the second highest pass in the world.


Complete day at leisure to explore the beautif leh city on your own and time free for last day shopping.
one can take an optional excursion to KHARDUNG-LA-PASS (the highest motorable road in the world) at 18,390 ft, around 39kms from Leh.
PANGONG LAKE, situated at 14,000 feet (4,267 m). A long narrow basin of inland drainage, hardly six to seven kilometer at its widest point and over 130km long, it is bisected by the international border between India and China.


Tour concludes. Mountain Trails thank you for your patronage and ensure a punctual transfer to Domestic Airport to catch the flight for your onward Destination.

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