Fertile green villages are found along the Nubra and Shyok rivers which flow in the wide valley floor formed by the Karakoram Mountains to the north and the Ladakh Range to the south. This valley was on a major branch of the silk route between Leh andYarkend, and a small herd of camels that descended from the caravans can still be found in the valley near under. Our trek begins from Sabo via the valley floor and then slowly limbs up to Diga la Pass (about 17,490 ft) in the Ladakh Range before descending to Tangya and Agam.
DAY 1: DRIVE TO SABU (3400m/11,155ft), TREK TO SABU ZONG (3,830m/12,565ft). 3 to 4 hours trekking. It is only a short drive (7 kms) to Sabu situated at the foot of Sabu mountain (14,749ft). From this pretty and prosperous village we will start trekking north on the road through the extended village, following the Sabu River, to our camp site at the end of a dirt track.
DAY 2: TREK TO PULU BEFORE THE DIGGAR LA (15,649ft) 5-6 hrs. Above the village we follow a well-marked trail up a sharp valley with a tumbling stream on the right. Sabu Mountain in on the left. Granite mountains, burnt grey or brown, are on either side. We may well see Dzos grazing in the valley and see other cattle, donkeys and marmots. There are one or two stone shelters on the way and again we may meet local people who are often up here collecting dried yak dung for their fires in the village. Eventually, we reach a large area of undulating meadows where there is a good choice of camp sites. There are wonderful views across the Indus Valley of the Zanskar Mountains, with Stok Kangri (20,082ft) dominating the scene. The camp area is about as close as practicable before the ascent of the pass.
DAY 3: CROSS DIGGAR LA (17,230ft) TO DIGGAR LARTSA (15,305ft). 6hrs. Follow the stream to the east, skirt a large moraine and begin climbing; the La summit can be seen from here. The ascent is a series of zig zags up a steep rise to the pass which is adorned with prayer flags and the views are breathtaking (that is if you have any breath left at all!). The mountains you can see to the north are the Saser range of the eastern Karakoram, which contain Ladakh’s highest peak Saser Kangri, 25,165ft. Do not expect to see K2 from here – it lies further to the northwest. However there are also fabulous views of the Zanskar range. Moorcroft describes the ascent as being no less than 1,200ft/366m from the foot of the climb. It is about 2 to 3 hours to the pass, and the same down from the Pass to Diggar Lartsa. Heading north from the pass we descend into the valley, joining a small stream which flows all the way to Diggar village.The route crosses a beautiful small plateau where the stream forms slow moving pools.
DAY 4:TREK TO DIGGAR VILLAGE. (12,647ft). 3-4 hrs. As we near Diggar, which can be seen as a green patch in the distance, the path drops steeply to a collection of chortens and prayer flags and passes an impressive granite peak on the left. The stream disappears into a deep gorge on the right and flows far below the village. The marmots here are more easily spotted and we may well see Lammergeyers. At the village there is an interesting temple built onto a huge boulder and old monastery above, which is currently being extended. House owners on the opposite side of the valley seem to be fighting a losing a battle against the river as every year it erodes their fields more and more. From the mani wall to the north west of the village we’ll have tremendous views of the vast plain of the Shyok river and the eastern Karakoram.
DAY 5:TEK TO KHEMA (14520ft) 5 hrs. We leave Diggar village up in the valley to Khema passing a few Doksa fom Digga village, high pasture the path is well defined and interesting walk as we might see wildlife.
DAY 6: TREK TO TANGYAR (13,200ft) 5-6hrs. Today we go over a small pass of Kirtila and we follow the up valley in the morning though the zig zan to the kirtila pass. From the top we will have beautiful view of Khalsar and the Nubra valley. Fom the top we decend to Tanga Doksa then continue to Tangya village.
DAY 7: TREK TO AGHAM DIVE TO DISKIT (10,958ft) 3½-4 hrs. Leaving the beautiful village of Tangya behind, we contour around the mountain side to the left for about an hour. Then we will come to a huge, flat plain and descending, walk across this (12,139ft). After skirting some granite bluffs, we enter a narrow, twisting defile leading down to the bottom of the main river valley. This descent takes about 45 minutes. The defile itself is fascinating geology with compacted strata of varied coloured sands. Then it is out onto the valley floor and about an hour on the flat to Agham. On the right are cliffs of conglomerate and Agham itself is a veritable jungle of bushes and trees. There are a number of different camp sites here set amongst tamarisk trees. The new road goes past here. This a short day’s trek, but in the afternoon we could walk up the road to a new bridge which takes half an hour, and then another half hour brings you to a rather nice traditional Ladakhi house on the right hand side.We meet the transport and drive to Diskit camp Guest House
DAY 8: DESKIT MONASTERY FESTIVAL. Today we witness the festival .This is a wonderfully relaxing day where you will visit arguably the most beautiful monastery in Nubra Valley at Deskit. The monastery was founded and built around 1420 AD by Lama Shesrab Zangpo of Stod (the chief disciple of Tsong Kha-Pa, the founder of the ‘yellow hat’ sect of Tibetan Buddhism) during the reign of King Dragspa. Approximately 100 monks live in the Gompa. The little town at Deskit at the foot is the largest village and is the administrative centre of Nubra, complete with a bazaar and shops. Presently, there is a huge outdoor statue of the Buddha being constructed on a protruding bluff above the town. Incidentally, on the way to Deskit, we will pass the famous sand dunes of Nubra and if any are interested, then it may be possible to arrange a Bactrian camel safari. In any event, continuing onwards we drive to Hundar which has a palace, deserted 50 years ago and now belonging to the monastery. It was originally three storeys, but ever since a flood filled up the bottom floor with silt 100 years ago, it is only now two storeys. Hundar is a pretty village full of religious and historical sites including the palace and monastery and a huge Chorten arch with fine paintings in the dome. Inside the temple, the desiccated hands and head of a Tibetan soldier from an invading army of the past are kept in the chapel of the protector deities. Remember to ask the monks who may tell you the legend surrounding them. Overnight camp at Hundar.
DAY 9: DRIVE TO TIRIT, AFTERNOON VISIT SAMSTANLING This is a beautiful short drive of less then two hours that starts to give you an idea of the scale and beauty of the Nubra Valley. The road at times is cut out of cliff faces, and on the way, we will meet the road coming down from the Khardung La. Thereafter, we drive over the Shyok to Tirit. Our Ladakhi partner’s family has a small “palace” here, set in huge gardens and orchards. They have 25 large family-sized tents with separate showers and toilet block. There is a very nice dining room attached to the main building. After lunch, visit Samstanling Monastery, passing on the way the abandoned Royal Palace. The monastery was founded by “Lama Tsultim Nima”, some 140 years ago, and is the sister Gompa of Rizong Monastery. The “Kushok” (reincarnate spiritual leader), whose title is Shas Rinpoche, is a very close adviser on scholarly matters to the Dalai Lama and is often found in meditation retreat at Samstangling. At present 60 monks reside in this gompa nestled among apricot orchards. After this visit, drive up the Nubra Valley from Sumur for 22 kms to Panamik. This is the beginning of the Restricted Area; the military base for the Siachen Glacier is 50 kms further up the valley to which we will see supply convoys being driven. Often, if you are lucky and have keen eyes, you can spot herds of blue sheep not far from the road and there are an unending number of interesting road signs. In Panamik, we hope to arrange for a visit to a house in the village. Return to overnight at the tented camp.
DAY 10: Drive to Leh, we drive on the highest motorable road in the world over the 18,380 ft Kardung La pass. The road descends from the pass down a spectacular gorge back to Leh.