Darcha – Padum (Shingo La) Trek


Day 01: Drive Delhi to Nalagarh (270m) 5-6hrs
Overnight in Nalagarh Fort, a heritage property.

Day 02: Drive Nalagarh to Manali (2050m) 6-7 hrs
Nalagarh is the gateway to all the destinations in Himachal. Drive on the busy highway to reach Manali in the Kullu valley. Spend the evening visiting the old temples and the busy market. Overnight Hotel.

Day 03: Manali to Darcha(3300m) 6-7 hrs
The drive from Manali to Darcha goes over the Rohtang Pass and into the Trans-Himalayan terrain of the Lahaul valley.

Day 04: Darcha to Palamo (3350m). 5-6 hrs
Follow a small trail till Rarik and then a trail to camp at Palamo. Camp.

Day 05: Palamo to Zanskar Sumdo (3600m). 5-6 hrs
Cross a glacial stream and continue along a fairly level trail to Zanskar Sumdo where we cross the river by pulley. Camp across the river.

Day 06: Zanskar Sumdo to Chuminakpo (4050m).6-7 hrs
Climb steeply for about 45 mins. And then follow a fairly level trail to Ramjiak (4290m). Continue traversing the scree slopes to camp at Chuminakpo (base of Shingo La).Camp.

Day 07: Chuminakpo to Lakong(4470m) via the Shingo La (5100m) 6-7 hrs
Start early in the morning for the climb to the Shingo La following a path up a scree slope with some snow (if early in the season). Descend to camp by the river at Lakong Camp.

Day 08: Lakong to Kargyak(4050m) 6-7 hrs
Follow a path to the base of Gumburonjon (5900m), a huge rock face revered by the locals.Continue to camp near Kargiakh village the first Zanskari settlement. Camp.

Day 09: Kargyak to Testa (3950m) 4-5 hrs
Easy level trail passing mani walls and chortens past the village of Kuru and down to camp below Testa village. Camp.

Day 10: Testa to Purne (3700m) 4-5 hrs
Continue down towards the river. Climb gently to Jal and descend steeply to a bridge which you cross to get to Purne. A short day. Camp.

Day 11: Purne to Phuktal Gompa to Purne 6-7 hrs
Excursion to Phuktal Gompa (3850m), one of the most spectacular sights in Zanskar. This monastery dates back to the early 12th century and is built in a cave. Return to camp at Purne.

Day 12: Purne to Ichar (3650m) 2-3 hrs
Cross the river again for a 2 hr walk to Kaydang, a small village. Go past the village of Surle to camp at Ichar, an interesting fortified village. Camp.

Day 13: Ichar to Mune (3750m) 5-6 hrs
Climb gradually before descending to the village of Raru and follow a lovely path to Mune. Camp.

Day 14: Mune to Padum (3500m) 5-6 hrs
From Mune monastery, we descend to the main trail. Arrive at Bardan monastery 2 hrs later. This monastery is famous for its 180cm prayer wheel. Follow a dusty path till Padum. Camp/Rest House.

Day 15: Drive Padum to Kargil (2180m) 12 hrs
Overnight Hotel.

Day 16: Drive Kargil to Leh (3500m) 7-8 hrs
Overnight Hotel.

Day 17: Free day in case of bad weather/flight cancellations.

Day 18: Fly Leh – Delhi

Note: For ardent adventure-seekers, the trip from Padum to Leh can be made in rafts (4 days till Nimo) and a short drive to Leh

Nov 06 : Arrive Kathmandu
Airport meeting and transfer to our hotel in the bustling and colorful Thamel district of Kathmandu. Pre-trip meeting at the hotel at 630 PM, preceding a lively welcome dinner.
Kathmandu Resort Hotel, Dinner only

Nov 07: Kathmandu
A day to rest from the long journey to Asia and experience the ancient wonders of Kathmandu and the bustling streets of the Thamel district. The morning is free to rest and enjoy the small shrines, temples and shops of this vibrant town. Shopping is particularly tempting, with wonderful jewelry, fabrics, Buddhist religious art and handicrafts.

We regroup for lunch, after which our day continues with a half-day tour of old Kathmandu, focusing on the main temples of the city. These are:

The temple is colloquially known as the “monkey temple”, after the large tribe of garrulous monkeys guarding the hill and amusing visitors and devotees with their tricks, including sliding gracefully down the long double banisters of the main stairway. The soaring central stupa is topped by an aureate block featuring the watchful eyes of Buddha. Set around the base is a continuous series of prayer wheels that pilgrims, circumambulating the stupa, spin as they pass by.

This is Nepal’s pre-eminent Hindu temple and one of the most significant Shiv temples on the subcontinent. As the Bagmati is a holy river, Pashupatinath has become a popular place to be cremated – the ghats (river steps) immediately in front of the temple are reserved for the cremation of royalty, while those a little further south are for the commoners!

Another site with a religious bent is the huge stupa of Bodhinath, which is the largest in the country and among the largest in the world. It’s also the centre for Nepal’s considerable population of Tibetans. Late afternoon is a good time to visit. This is when prayer services are held and the locals turn out to walk around the stupa (if you want to join in, remember to walk in a clockwise direction). Surrounding Bodhinath are a number of monasteries, but be discreet and respectful if you intend visiting them.

Dinner is on your own. There are many good restaurants featuring a variety of cuisines.
Kathmandu Resort Hotel, Breakfast & Lunch only

Nov 08 : Nepalganj and Bardia
After breakfast we head to the airport for an early hour-long flight to Nepalganj, taking in amazing Himalayan views along the way. In Nepalganj we will meet up with the Indian members of our group arriving by overnight train from Delhi and with the Nepali rafting team. It’s about two hours to our lodge in Bardia National Park from there. If we’re in early enough we will enjoy the first of our wildlife viewing excursions in the park.

We stay at the Bardia Forest Hideaway set on the edge of Bardia National Park. The Forest Hideaway was created to provide the perfect setting from which to explore this pristine conservation area. With deluxe accommodations and a restaurant offering a wide variety of fine dishes, it provides guests with a relaxe atmosphere in rural surroundings. Built to reflect the local tharu style, the hotel complex consists of timber and clay cotages with traditional grass roofs and decorations plus all the modern conveniences.
Forest Hideaway or similar, all meals

Nov 09 – 10: Bardia National Park
Bardia National Park, the largest and most undisturbed park in the lowland region of Terai, is known for its abundance of wilderness. Initially a royal hunting reserve, it was later granted the status of a national park. The purpose was to preserve the ecosystem of the region including all wild species. The park encompasses approximate 300 sq km of sal forests and riverine grasslands. High elephant grass and dense forests provide home to plenty of animals.

We will enjoy an early morning elephant safari (1 hr), a full day walking tour within the sanctuary, outings in 4WD vehicles with the game guides, birdwatching, Tharu cultural activities, and visits to the elephant and/or crocodile breeding centers. We spend the days up close and personal with the game n a variety of ways and at the lodge enjoy an evening cultural program of local Tharu dances too.
Forest Hideaway or similar, all meals

Nov 11: To the river
It’s about a 7 hour drive from Bardia to the put-in spot on the Karnali. We intend to arrive there in the afternoon in time to float less than an hour down to our first campsite on the river.
Camp, all meals

Nov 12 – 17: Rafting down the Karnali
This is truly a great experience in whitewater. For the first part of the trip the river challenges our team efforts as we take on some demanding rapids such as First Blood, Human for Lunch and Flip & Strip, while passing through stunning gorges and dense jungle that creep down to the river side. You have an option of paddle or oar boat depending on how involved you want to be.

Camping on the Karnali trip is awesome. The massive floods of the monsoon deposit huge tracks of pure white sand, creating great beaches to camp on. Occasionally we might get visited by a local villager out hunting. Village kids also wander down to take a peep at the colorful rafts and safety kayaks and the people who are on them! We will have a lay-over day on the trip, depending on weather and such, which will give us some time to get into some beach volley ball action or go for a hike and explore a small village higher up. Maybe you would like to try your hand at kayaking by asking one of our friendly safety kayakers for a lesson. Or just relax with a great book and take in the sun and replenish the energy stocks!

Lots of whitewater and some great gorges to float and paddle through makes the Karnali one of the top 10 multi-day white water trips in Asia or even the world.

When we reach the confluence with the Seti River on about Day 10 we’re past the major rapids on the Karnali. The lower section of the river is home to fresh water dolphins, marsh mugger crocodiles and gaurials, the giant fish eating crocodiles with the long, graceful jaws, so there is are some good chances of spotting wildlife. The jungle and riverine forest scenery is entrancing.
Camp, all meals

Nov 18: To Kathmandu
After a short day on the river, we take out and enjoy a simple meal at a local spot. From there it is a two hour drive to Nepalganj where we’ll catch our return flight to Kathmandu. We’ll share a festive farewell dinner in Kathmandu, swapping stories of our adventures on the Karnali and preparing for the transition back home
Kathmandu Resort Hotel, all meals

Nov 19 : Depart
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your trip home or head on to your next adventure.
Breakfast only.

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Trip Details

Location: Nepal
 18 Days
Grading: Demanding
Custom Travel Only


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