Sacred Mountains of Indian Kashmir
In September 2016 Untamed Borders will be running the first commercial trekking expedition since the 1990’s to traverse from Ladakh into the Kashmiri Himalayas. We will start the journey with a spectacular flight from Delhi over the southern Himalayas to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. Here we will visit ancient Buddhist monasteries and acclimatise at an altitude of 3500m. On this pioneering trek we will scale high Himalayan mountain passes, visit the holy Hindu shrine Amarnath, a high altitude ice cave, and enjoy downtime in the culturally rich regional capitals of Leh and Srinagar. This trekking expedition truly ticks all the boxes! – photo top Petr Liska –
- Be part of the first commercial trekking expedition since the 1990’s to make the traverse from Ladakh into Indian Kashmir
- Visit the Amarnath Ice Cave, one of the holiest Hindu shrines in India
- Catch a glimpse of 8000-metre peaks in neighbouring Pakistan
- Stay on one of the famed houseboats on Dal Lake in Srinagar
- Experience four world religions
Dates: 3rd -18th September 2016
Start point: – Delhi
End point: – Delhi
Maximum number of people: 10
Number of days: 16
Day 1 – Delhi
Saturday 3rd September 2016
Guests arrive. Arrival times permitting we might have some time to hop in a rickshaw and explore Delhi a little.
Day 2 – Delhi – Leh
Sunday 4th September 2016
From our hotel we will be transferred to the airport to catch our 5.40am flight to Ladakh. This is arguably one of the most spectacular flights on the planet. From bustling Delhi we’ll be flying into the biggest mountain range in the world, the Himalayas. Our first port of call is Leh, the capital of Ladakh in northern India. This is one of the most important places in Tibetan Buddhism. Saffron robed monks roam the narrow streets of this town which is steeped in history. Due to the high altitude we’ll take it easy the rest of the day to acclimatise.
Fly: 1.30 hours
Day 3 – Leh
Monday 5th September 2016
Today we’ll have the chance to visit the centuries old Buddhist gompas that lie in the vicinity of Leh. Thikse gompa is one of the biggest and resembles Potala Palace in Lhasa against a spectacular backdrop of snow-capped mountains. If altitude doesn’t affect you too much you can hike up to Shanti Stupa for a magical view over Leh and the eastern end of the Zanskar mountain range. It is another acclimatisation day in preparation for our trekking expedition when we will exceed 4000m in altitude.
Day 4 – Leh – Panikhar
Tuesday 6th September 2016
The four wheel drive journey from Leh to the trailhead of our trekking expedition at Panikhar follows a big part of an ancient Central Asian trading route that connected Kashmir’s capital Srinagar with Yarkand in China. It is also known as the Treaty Road, named after an economic treaty that was signed in 1870 between the British and Maharaja Gulab Singh. The treacherous road winds its way through the high altitude desert up the 4108m high Fotu La. We’ll be visiting the Buddhist monastery at Lamayuru which was founded in the 11th century AD. At the crossroads in Kargil we’ll leave the Treaty Road and head south up the Suru Valley in the direction of Panikhar.
Driving: 7 hours
Day 5 – Panikhar
Wednesday 7th September 2016
In Panikhar we’ll spend a day exploring the area, and helping acclimatise by taking in the views across the mountain giants of the western Himalayas.
Day 6 – Panikhar – Top of Du Naad Valley
Thursday 8th September 2016
This is a short day of walking, following an excellent trail that takes us through the upper part of the Du Naad Valley. The small stream ultimately drains in the mighty Indus River on its way to the Indian Ocean. We’ll set up camp at the confluence with the stream that comes from the Bobang Galli Pass, our goal for the next day.
Trekking: 3-4 hours
Day 7 – Top Du Naad Valley – Moraine Camp via Bobang Galli Pass
Friday 9th September 2016
Today we’ve got a potentially long and tough day ahead of us. The aim is to cross the glaciated Bobang Galli (altitude 4410m). We’ll make an early start to make the most of the solid snow conditions and to anticipate bad weather that may arrive in the afternoon. If weather conditions allow you can catch a glimpse of the twin mountain giants Nun and Kun (both over 7000m) and the 8126m high Nanga Parbat, meaning Naked Mountain in Urdu, in Pakistan. The glacier on the Bobang Galli is non-technical which means we do not plan to use ropes and crampons. However, the crew will bring mountaineering equipment, just in case. After the pass we’ll descend to lower elevations and set up our camp at around 3550m.
Trekking: 9 hours
Day 8 – Moraine Camp – Humpeth Valley
Saturday 10th September 2016
From the rough alpine environment we’ll descend to more friendly surroundings. It’s a short walk and gives us the chance to recover from the hard day’s trekking over the pass.
Trekking: 4 hours
Days 9 – Humpeth Valley – Sheshnag Lake
Sunday 11th September 2016
Today is probably the hardest day of the trekking expedition. From our camp we’ll descend to an altitude of roughly 3100m. From here we’ve got a long strenuous climb ahead of us, scaling over 1200 vertical metres to reach the Gulool Pass (4380m). Unlike the Bobang Galli this pass is free of snow and ice. After the pass we’ll descend towards Sheshnag Lake, which lies on the yatra (pilgrimage) route to the Amarnath Ice Cave. We may share our camp spot on the Sheshnag shores with Hindu pilgrims who do the trek from a westerly direction.
Trekking: 10 hours
Day 10 – Sheshnag Lake – Panjtarni Heli Pad
Monday 12th September 2016
We will follow the yatra pilgrimage route that’s frequented by many thousands of pilgrims in Monsoon season (July-August). Again we will scale a pass that’s higher than 4000m, the last one of the trek. We’ll climb up the first side of the valley on the left towards the Mahagunas Pass (4260m). We then drop down to the camp site, where affluent pilgrims can be dropped off by helicopter for their visit to the Amarnath Ice Cave.
Trekking: 7-8 hours
Day 11 – Panjtarni Heli Pad – Amarnath Ice Cave
Tuesday 13th September 2016
It’s a well-deserved short walking day to one of the holiest shrines in Hinduism: the Amarnath Ice Cave. The cave harbours an enormous ice stalagmite that is considered to be a Shiva Linga by Hinduist worshippers. Annually around half a million pilgrims travel to this remote high altitude cave. We’ll be visiting Amarnath in “low season”.
Trekking: 2 hours
Day 12 Amarnath Ice Cave – Sonamarg – Srinagar
Wednesday 14th September 2016
Today we’ll leave the mountains, but there is still a few hours of trekking to do. First we will trek down to the Sind Valley and move downstream to the village of Sonamarg. Here our vehicles are awaiting us. Within a day we go from one of the holiest places in Hinduism to Muslim Kashmir and the old summer retreat of the Mughal emperors – Srinagar. We will be staying on one of the famous houseboats on Dal Lake.
Trekking: 4-5 hours
Driving: 3 hours
Day 13 – Srinagar
Thursday 15th September 2016
This is a much needed and well deserved resting day. Everyone is free to relax on the houseboat or explore Srinagar.
Day 14 – Srinagar and surroundings
Friday 16th September 2016
We’ll hop in a car for a couple of hours and drive to the ski town of Gulmarg. It boasts one of the world’s highest gondolas, which drops you off at an altitude of 3750m. In the afternoon we’ll explore Srinagar itself. In town there are plenty of things to see and do. One of the must visits is the Khanqah Sha-i-Hamadan, a beautiful 18th century Muslim meeting hall.
Day 15 – Srinagar – Amritsar
Saturday 17th September 2016
We are heading southwards to “mainland” India. But first we will have to cross the last mountains of southern Kashmir. Via Jammu we will head in the direction of Amritsar. We will leave Srinagar early as this is a long travelling day.
Day 16 – Amritsar – Delhi
Sunday 18th September 2016
After a morning visit to the Golden Temple, the holiest of Sikh temples, we will head back to Delhi. This is the last day of the journey. Our drivers will drop us off at our hotel.
You will be accompanied by an experienced international (trekking) guide from Untamed Borders for the entire length of this trip.
The trip includes:
All accommodation, including tents during the trek
All meals on the trek
Domestic flight from Delhi to Leh
Experienced international trekking guide
Local trekking crew
The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas and permits
International flight to India
Cost – £1900
To reserve a place on this trip we need a deposit of £250
If you have any questions about this trip or about India in general please contact us>>>
We do not directly arrange international flights to India. However, we can suggest routes and operators.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966
You will require an Indian visa for this trip. We will provide visa support and advice on how best to obtain this visa. If you are based in the UK or Australia then we can recommend using The Visa Machine as a visa agent. Visit the Untamed Borders page at their website – untamedborders.thevisamachine.com
We include breakfast every day. In our experience people sometimes want to eat different things in different places at different times and when there is an option we will be happy for you to have your say. We know some great places and will also happily show you some of our favourite restaurants and tea houses. Some are luxurious, some are more earthy, but all have character. During the trip our trekking crew will serve us big hearty meals that keep us happy and strong.
Difficulty – The trek is technically not difficult, mainly walking on well-worn paths. However, the gradient is steep at times and some days you have to scale more than a thousand vertical metres.
Comfort – You will be sleeping in a tent at high altitude for longer than a week. The accommodation when we’re not on trek is mid-range and comfortable.
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. Even if we wanted to, the reality is that standards in Delhi cannot be compared to a guest house on the road in the Indian Himalayas. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing a room when that is available. When we are trekking we will be staying in tents. You have the choice of sleeping in a single or shared tent.
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. We will be travelling by four-wheel drive vehicles when road conditions require. Your comfort, enjoyment and safety of the journey is the first priority.
On this trip you will be accompanied by an experienced international trekking guide, plus an English speaking local guide from Untamed Borders during the trek. This allows for greater flexibility and means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you.
Currently the part of Indian Kashmir where we’ll be travelling is a stable area. However, we monitor the situation closely and we listen very carefully to advice from the foreign office and from our friends in the areas we visit. Our client’s safety is our primary concern. We must state that the tour leader has the final word with regards to changes in the itinerary for safety reasons. Whilst the route we have chosen passes through areas which we consider to be stable things can change and we may have to alter the route or cancel sections of the trip at short notice.