Geology & Ecology Field Trip in Ladakh
In the itinerary below, we will traverse the spectacular landscape of one of the world’s most rapidly growing mountain ranges, from Kashmir to Ladakh. In Kashmir we will see many familiar plants but, as we gain height and the geology opens out, we will see how plants have had to adapt in extraordinary ways to the constraints imposed by cold, drought and intense solar radiation. We will look at how plants are used by the people of Kashmir and Ladakh, both for food and shelter, and will see evidence of the threats to traditional ways of life posed by global warming.
“Thank you for the chance to stand with the world at my feet and the heavens on my shoulders. I will truly cherish every tiny memory.” – Caitlin Jones, King Edward VI College, United Kingdom (2010)
Delhi – Srinagar – Sonamarg – Kargil – Leh – Delhi
Day 1 – Depart for Delhi
Departure for Delhi from your home country
Day 2 – Delhi to Srinagar
Arrive in Delhi and take the connecting flight to Srinagar, the capital of the Himalayan state of Jammu & Kashmir. Enjoy a sumptuous lunch and the ensuing afternoon on a traditional Kashmiri houseboat. Take a Shikara ride on the famed Nagin Lake in the late afternoon. Overnight stay on the houseboat.
Day 3 – Srinagar
Spend your day sightseeing in Srinagar. Visit the enchanting Pari Mahal and the beautiful Shalimar Mughul gardens. Afterwards, enjoy lunch in the Cheshma Shahi Gardens. In the late afternoon within the comfort of the houseboat, you will be introduced to the key highlights of the tour.
Day 4 – Srinagar
On this day trip to Khunamuh (Guryul Ravine), you will examine the basic volcanic rocks of the Panjal Traps & the sedimentary rocks of the Permian /Triassic boundary. You will be introduced to the aspects that influence the growth of the plants – altitude, nutrients, grazing etc. and to the various survey techniques.
Day 5 – Srinagar to Sonamarg
Spend your morning in the Dachigam National Park to view an amalgamation of commonplace and more exotic flora & fauna. After a picnic style lunch on the banks of the Sindh River, you will be driven to Sonamarg (altitude 2800 m). Along the way, take a look at the transforming geology (Quaternary sediments, Panjal Traps, Triassic limestone etc.) and ecology. Overnight stay at the Sindh Resorts in Sonamarg.
Day 6 – Sonamarg
Observe typical features of a glacier on your walk to the Thajiwas glacier. Examine the lichens to connect geology and ecology. Compare the ecology with that of Srinagar, especially among the stones above the snow pocket. Take an initial look at plant pollination.
Day 7 – Sonamarg to Kargil
Kargil lies at an altitude of 2676 m. Drive past the mesmerising Zoji La pass (3528 m), viewing varied geology on the way including deformed Triassic limestone, metamorphic rocks of the Zanskar Crystalline granitic rocks of Kargil igneous complex, basic volcanic rocks of Panjal and Drass and Indus Molasse. Compare the vegetation in the meadow at Matayin with that at Guryul. Overnight at Highlands Mountain and Spa Resort.
Day 8 – Kargil to Nurla
Drive to Nurla via the Shergol valley and Buddha monastery at Mulbek. Go through the Namika La (3718 m) and Fatu La (4108m) passes, viewing the Indus Suture Zone (ISZ) rocks. Visit the Lamayuru monastery, which showcases panoramic scenes of the sediments of the now-empty paleolake (‘Moonland’). Descend to Nurla (altitude 3040 m) for your overnight at the Apricot Tree Hotel.
Day 9 – Nurla to Leh
Relax leisurely in Nurla and then visit the rock-cut Tibetan Buddhist temples in Saspol that exhibit 13-15th Century wall paintings. Examine the geology on your way to Leh (altitude 3524 m). You will cross the spectacular confluence of the River Indus & Zanskar. You may enjoy some leisure time in Leh in the early evening. Stay at Caravan Centre Hotel
Day 10 – Leh
To view the rocks of the Ladakh Batholith, you will visit the famous Thiksey monastery and Shey Palace, as they sit on these rocks. Rest of the day at leisure.
Day 11 – Leh
Visit the world renowned Hemis Monastery, which is located on the Indus Molasse. View the merging of the Indus Molasse and Ladakh Batholith (Karu) on the way. Examine the lichens forming beneath the monastery and have lunch afterwards. Take a leisurely stroll to see the vegetation of high altitudes as well as the fascinating rock formations on the peaks in the Hemis National Park.
Day 12 – Leh to Tso Moriri
After an early breakfast, leave for the ethereal high altitude lake Tso Moriri (4500 m), via the hot water springs at Puga and Chumathang. This lake, nestled atop the Himalayas, is a sight to behold with its intense colours and crystal clarity. Observe the transforming geology & vegetation owing to the increasing altitude. Overnight in comfortable tented camps.
Day 13 – Tso Moriri
Day at leisure at this surreal lake, which one cannot get enough of.
Day 14 – Tso Moriri to Leh
Drive back to Leh via the Taglang La pass (5303 m) and the Tso Kar salt lake. Overnight at the Caravan Centre Hotel.
Day 15 – Leh to Delhi
Take the flight back to Delhi from Leh. Spend your day at leisure in Delhi. Stay at the Hotel Royal Plaza in the city centre.
Day 16 – Departure Flight
Fly back home.
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