Ladakh Tours and Himalayan Trekking Company


Marvellous Markha Valley
We've just returned from a wonderful 10 days in Ladakh, and could't recommend it (or Stan) enough - we had a great time! Throughout, Stan was our guide, mountain health advisor and occasional builder of bespoke stepping stones. As a native of Ladakh and student of politics, Stan was also our guru on all things Ladakhi and we left much better informed about all aspects of this beautiful mountain region than when we'd arrived. If you're thinking of coming to Leh, here's a brief account of our trip to whet your appetite…

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We'd done plenty of walking in the UK but never done anything at any altitude before, so we were a little nervous about how we would react. Consequently, having someone recommend a programme, arrange all the transport, food and accommodation, as well as guide us through our walk, was very attractive. Our plan, as recommended by Stan, was as follows:
Day 1: lounging and drinking tea in Leh (aka acclimatisation)
Day 2: seeing some temples and castles down the Indus valley
Day 3 and 4: overnight trip to Pangong lake
Day 5-10: Marka Valley Trek

Leh itself is a fun town with plenty to see - we visited the palace and castle, as well as stocking up on a few things in the shops. If you know the north of England, it feels like an Indian version of one of the Lake District towns but with more new buildings going up everywhere you look. We stayed in the Palace Hotel, and the staff there looked after us really well. The Indus valley was incredible - expansive panoramas, beautiful temples and tiny castles perched precariously amongst the rocks. Pangong lake was a fairly major journey - 5 hours drive over the world's 3rd highest drivable road. The drive itself was spectacular, but didn't prepare us for the lake's beauty. We had been a little unsure our lungs would take a night in Pangong (a further 800m higher than Leh) so soon after arriving in Ladakh, but in the event we were fine and a night there was totally worth it - sumptuous mountain views over a crystal blue lake.

However, all that was really an appetiser to the main event - the trek! We set off from Leh in the morning, with all our supplies, equipment and… our team of four Ladakhis (guide, cook, assistant, and horseman). As people used to doing treks under our own steam we were a little embarrassed to see how much we were bringing (and how many people were coming to help!). Any sense that this was going to be a luxurious cake walk, however, soon evaporated as we arrived at the start of the walk to find the bridge across the final river had collapsed and that we (and all our belongings) were to be carried across the river on a pulley car!

Any residual embarrassment at being accompanied by four men (and six horses) dissolved when Lobzang brought over tea, noodles and biscuits (all laid out on a picnic table) within moments of us arriving at the first campsite. we may never be able to camp on our own again! What followed was five days of glorious landscapes (highlight being the views from the GongmaruLa Pass) and delicious camp food (highlight being an authentic pizza cooked atop a kerosene stove). Of course, sometimes the walking was hard work - as we got higher we definitely started to feel the steep parts more. But the scenery justified every step taken and, thanks to the horses, we weren't carrying nearly as much as we would on a hike in the UK. Many guide books suggest day four's walk up to the Nimaling plateau is the best - it's relatively short and offers amazing views of the highest mountains in the region. However, for it's sheer beauty, our favourite was the ascent of GongmaruLa and walk down through the Chuskyurmo Valley (so different to the landscape we'd grown used to walking up the Markha) on the fifth day.

Overall, it was an amazing 10 days, made possible by Stan's knowledge, planning and (occasional) encouragement. It had just the right mix of luxury and feeling intrepid, hard work and complete relaxation. And, despite the occasional headache and breathless climb, our fears about dealing with altitude never materialised. So thank you Stan and team, you made our trip. We'll be in touch next time we come to Leh for another adventure !

Tom Wells | London

Three of us from the UK had a wonderful trip to Ladakh, thanks to our guide  Stanzin Sharaplee (Stan). Ladakh is an incredible place to visit, and Stan  is the perfect July 2014.

We all felt Stan was an amazing guide: he put together a fantastic itinerary  for us, and coordinated our trip perfectly taking very good care of us. From  meeting us at the airport, to arranging our many logistics for our sightseeing and trekking, we could not have asked for any more. Stan speaks  excellent English (and many other languages), and is extremely knowledgeable  about the whole Ladakh region. He is extremely friendly, was great at  anticipating our needs, and is generally unflappable and adaptable and in  control with a great sense of humour - a perfect guide!

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Our trip to Ladakh started with several days of sightseeing, so that we were  acclimatized to the altitude. The hotel Stan arranged for us in Leh was very  comfortable and clean with excellent service. We started our trip by seeing  the old city of Leh and surrounding areas (benefiting from Stan's extensive  knowledge of local area, history and customs), including some historic  temples and spectacular landscapes and natural features. We also had one  night camping at the stunning Pangong Lake near the India / China border.

Stan then arranged and accompanied us on a 5-day trek of the Markha Valley, coordinating a friendly team of a horseman and six horses (to carry tents  and food), a cook and a helper to make the trek possible and leave us free  to enjoy the experience to the full. The trek was superlative - the  landscapes are the most stunning imaginable, and very varied, with a wide  variety of terrain and wildlife. Stan and the trek team worked tirelessly to  help us and keep us comfortable, and the cook in particular was extremely creative, serving up plentiful, varied and very tasty food every night. Stan  and the team were always there when we needed them, but also struck the  perfect balance and gave us plenty of time to ourselves.

The whole trek was a unique and very memorable experience, and we feel very  lucky to have had Stan to make it all possible. What's more, the cost  charged by Stan was extremely reasonable, and much lower than the fees  quoted on Ladakh websites aimed at international travellers. Stan quoted a  very attractive total price at the outset, which included everything (all  transport, accommodation, food, entry prices, permits etc) - there were no "hidden extras" of any kind.

In summary we had a superb time in Ladakh, and this was entirely down to  Stan. I have travelled extensively round the world, and Stan is the best  (and best value) guide I have been lucky to meet. I give him my very highest  recommendation.

Philip, Jennie Earis and Charlie | London

   Year 2014 in Ladakh. 
I would like to thanks “Trekking in Ladakh and Zanskar”, and specially Stanzin, for their kind guidance and explanations during my two trips to Leh and the Monasteries-Gompas located in the Indus Valley.

Through those trips I have learned a lot about the ladakhi culture, history and geography as well as experienced the friendship of the people of “the last Shangri-La”.

I expect to visit Ladakh again soon and enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of that land.

Enrique Augusto Noria Freyre | Peru Embassy at Austria

Unforgettable Ladakhi experience for two Dutch

After having previously been to other regions in India (Kerala and Bangalore) we decided to head for something completely different, i.e. Ladakh for our 2014 summer holiday.

Stan was highly recommended to us by London friends who had enjoyed his hospitality, good care and profound knowledge of the region and the charming Bhuddist culture everywhere you go.

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Our first week was nice and easy-going, which was really the only way to adapt ourselves to the initial discomforts of being 3500+ meter up. Stan is very clear about giving yourself all the time and relaxation to avoid those altitude discomforts from becoming annoying.

Stan and and our driver Motup took us to all the beautiful and inspiring places in and far around Leh, up to the awe-inspiring Pangong Lake which we reached after a breathtaking drive winding up and over Changla Pass.

Stan shares so much ins and outs about Ladahki culture, history, habits and family life, which really helped us get into to spirit of Buddhism. We learned everything about stupa's, mandala's, thanka's, prayer books, flags & wheels, teachings and mani walls. We spent our second week hiking the Markha Valley trek, an unforgettable - sometimes strenuous, gasping for oxygen - experience with Stan and his team of horseman, cook, helper and 6 horses guiding us gradually a good 2000m up the friendly valley, ultimately reaching the 5130m high Kongmaru-la pass.

For us Dutch with nothing but flat country around us the scenery we almost became part of was superb and extraordinary at the same time. Enchanting green valleys with pitoresque ancient monastries, little kiddies playing around, wildlife galore, stupa's, prayer wheels and mani walls in the remotest places, snow-capped peaks in the distance and a steady uphill trail to follow.

Effortless for Stan and the guys, and certainly the heavy-packed horses, but often only do-able for us in a slow but steady foot-by-foot pace. The last thing you should do here at this altitude - as we found out - is to fool yourself that it is a piece of cake! And Stan makes sure you take your time and enjoy every (tiny!) step you take.

But then after a long day of hiking there was the well-deserved reward of hot lemon tea and biscuits, the wholesome Maggi noodles and for dinner the best tasty Indian dishes you can imagine, all locally cooked in the army type tent that sheltered Stan and his team. The relaxing nights in our conspicuous - but oh so Dutchy - orange tent under crisp and clear starry skies helped us to unwind and prepare for the next day to come.

The ultimate very early ascend from the Nimaling camp meadow up to Kongmaru-la Pass was literally breathtaking, realising we were climbing to 5130m and thinking that was high but then in a distance still seeing the even further rising snow-peaks of Kang-yatse at 6400m and only a distance away!. The group of Swiss tourists almost hastily running up the pass with a seeming competitive element made us shrug and smile, encouraging us to stick to our own steady tread.

The final reward of standing on the Pass overlooking the valley below and the soaring golden eagle above us (yes, it is true, you can really see it if you're lucky, so not just a teaser by Stan!) helped us feel humble but oh so proud of having achieved it ......

The subsequent 1500m descend into Sumdo village should not be underestimated .... it takes a while and your knees are hard-worked but the scenery again is unforgettable.

With a tasty home-baked farewell cake and a pot of the piping hot lemon tea we became so accustomed to we celebrated the completion of this fabulous trekking.

The last two days we spent with Stan in Leh and surrounding formed a natural conclusion to two fantastic weeks in this incredibly beautiful remote and fortunately not overcrowded region of India. And it was Stan's friendliness, expertise and empathetic guidance that made it the unforgettable experience and lasting impression it left with us.

Well done, Stan, thanks ever so much to you and your team!

Eric & Jacobien from Haarlem | The Netherlands