Ladakh Trekking
Extreme Adventure Zanskar- 21 Days

Season: June - September
Number of Days: 21 Days
Grade: Very Strenuous
Max. Altitude: 5090m
High Passes: Sir Sir La (4850 m), Bumiktse La (4200 m), Hanuma La (4950 m), Sengge La (5090 m)

Day 1: Leh:
On arrival in Leh; transfer to the guest house / hotel. Have the rest of the day to check out the extraordinary market center of Leh, where charismatic shops, restaurants, and taverns align the streets; where people of at least a dozen different languages and cultures intermingle; and from where one can view spectacular mountain ranges, the precariously perched Leh Monastery, and a must see place the famous sunset point Shanti Stupa.

Day 2: Leh:
There's no better place to spend a day acclimatizing to Himalayan altitude than in Leh. Several local monasteries welcome visitors to explore their ancient dwellings; cultural expositions are regularly held in the market. The day is all yours - whether you choose to explore Buddhist sites, relax in the sun on the hotel deck, or just watch people in the market.

Day 3 to Day 14: Lamayuru – Padum Trek (12 Days)
Leh - Lamayuru (3 - 4 hours drive):
We leave Leh in the morning for Lamayuru. Along the way, we come across some of the oldest and most famous monasteries in Ladakh, founded around 11th century by Lotsawa Rinchen Sangpo. Lamayuru, Likir and Alchi are truly worth visiting for their age and historicity. After reaching Lamayuru (3420 m) we will spend the day exploring the ancient monastery and prepare for the next day.

Day 4: Lamayuru – Wanla (Altitude – 3250 m | Time - 3 - 4 hours):
We pack our small backpacks; the horses get ready, and set off for this first day of our adventure. A gentle trail leads up to the small pass of Prinkti La (3750 m) before heading down to the village of Shilla and the last 3 km to Wanla. Here we set up camp for the night and spend the afternoon relaxing in the sun or exploring the Gompa in Wanla, before we gather around for a good dinner.

Day 5: Wanla – Hanupatta (Altitude – 3760 m | Time - 6 hours):
An easy walk towards Phansi La (3410 m) will lead us to a beautiful valley. From here we descend a pass beyond which the valley starts to narrow, with mountains towering above our heads and the Zanskar River making its way deep down in the gorge. In this barren, harsh landscape, beautiful rosebushes give your senses an unforgettable experience. We camp close to the river, just after the village of Hanupatta, where we have a great view down the valley.

Day 6: Hanupatta – Sir Sir La (4850 m) - Photoskar (Altitude – 4200 m | Time - 6 - 7 hours):
We follow the river and the wide valley up for some time before we cross the river and start the long and gradual ascent to Sir Sir La (4850 m). From the top of the pass we can get panoramic views of the main Zanskar Range as well as our next pass, the Sengge La (5090 m). It is another 2 – 2 ½ hours of walk down to the village of Photoskar, situated in the cliffs of mountains virtually piercing the sky and surrounded by green fields. The trail towards Sumdo disappears in the deep gorge down to the right of the village. We spend the night close to the village and enjoy a well-deserved rest.

Day 7: Photoskar – Sengge La ( 5090 m) – Foot of Singe La ( Time - 7- 8 hours):
After crossing the small pass of Bumiktse La (4200 m) this morning, we enter the broad and lush Photang valley. A gentle trail leads us through this beautiful landscape, where villagers graze their yak / dzo and horses. One of the most fascinating things about the Zanskar trek is the ever-changing landscape. Every time you turn a corner, or cross a pass, a new world appears in front of you. Passing through the deepest of gorges and meandering through the greenest of fields, the majestic Zanskar River assumes a fascinating form and life of its own. With colors and shadows changing with the sun, one never gets bored! Slowly we ascend towards Sengge La, or the "Lion Pass". The last few meters are steep, but will give us an incredibly rewarding view from the top. From the pass it is an easy walk down to our campsite.

Day 8: Foot of Sengge La – Lingshed (Altitude – 3800 m | Time - 5 hours):
We follow the trail high above the Zanskar River; the mountains take a greener and gentler formation, before we descend from Kiupa La (4400 m) down the steep zigzag trail to the villages of Gongma (3840 m) and Skiumpata. From here we climb up a gentle trail to the Margum La (4400 m), from where we can see Lingshed an hour or so away. The campsite in Lingshed is just by the monastery belonging to the Gelukspa order and housing around 60 monks. The village itself is spread out over a big area, enclosed in green fields of barley.

Day 9: Lingshed – Snertse via Hanuma La 4950 m (Time - 8 hours):
A long day, we walk through the green fields of Lingshed early in the morning. It takes some ups and downs before we reach the base of the Hanuma La, from where we start climbing the many steep zigzags that lead to the top of the pass. The walk down is gentle before we enter a rocky, spectacular gorge and soon the valley flattens out, the trail following a lush riverbed with rosebushes. Just above the campsite of Snertse, there is a herders' camp, and sometimes fresh cheese, milk and curd is available here. Down in the riverbed it is possible to go hunting for fossils. The locals sometimes show nice collections of their findings. When the Indian plate slammed into the stationary mass of Asia some 50 million years ago, the Great Himalaya were formed from the base material of the Indian plate. The Zanskar range consists of layers of sediments from the ocean floor and the Ladakh range is granite born out of the immense heat generated by the friction between the two plates.

Day 10: Snertse – Hanumil via Parfi La 3950 m (Altitude – 3380 m | Time - 5 hours):
Today we head for another pass: Parfi La. A short walk after Snertse, there is a wonderful lookout from where we can see the pass and, down the valley, the Oma Chu River. We follow the trail 500m down the valley, cross the bridge and start on the juniper covered zigzag trail up to Parfi La. Red alert! If fortune strikes, we may come across a rare species of the Himalayan region: the majestic brown bear. We may also see herds of attractive Himalayan blue sheep. Here we walk down to the banks of the Zanskar River and follow it all the way to the village of Hanumil (3380 m), where we will camp for the night.

Day 11: Hanumil – Pishu (Altitude – 3470 m | Distance - 4-5 hours):
We will start with an easy walk on plain and barren land along the Zanskar River and follow it all the way to Pishu (3470 m), passing Pidmo (3420 m), an exotic landlocked hamlet of 8-9 families leading a simple traditional life. Pishu is located on the west side of the Zanskar River and opposite of Zangla (formerly a tiny kingdom). Here we will come across a 55m hanging bridge, the longest on Zanskar River. Our day will end at a lush green campsite with a spring situated nearby where we can quench our thirst.

Day 12: Pishu – Karsha (Altitude – 3600 m | Time - 4-5 hours):
After a hearty breakfast we will begin our day with another effortless stride towards our next destination. From Pishu the trail ascends gradually to Rinum (3550 m) along the bank of the Zanskar River. We will have a view of the stunning monastery of Tongde. Once reaching Karsha, we can reinvigorate ourselves at the banks of Zanskar River. Karsha monastery is one of largest monasteries of Gelukspa sect, located on a hillside with an imposing view of the entire valley. Believed to have been founded around 10th century A.D, a visit to the monastery to get its blessing is highly recommended.

Day 13: Karsha – Padum (Altitude - 3531m | Time - 2hours):
We will follow the route to Pipiting village on the dusty road from Karsha. Padum is the major hub of activities of the entire valley. The villagers gather here on every auspicious occasion. The day can be used for sightseeing the famous Sani Gompa, located at a distance of 4 hours both ways. The Kanika Chorten, the oldest Stupa in the entire Ladakh region (dating from the first century BC) stands in the courtyard of Sani Gompa, belonging to Drukpa Kagyud sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Or simply stroll around the village or visit the nearby monasteries of Pipiting and Stakrimo.

Day 14: Stongde and Zangla Sightseeing:
One extra day in Zanskar that's optional, but we can opt for some sightseeing around Stongde and Zangla.

Day 15 – Day 20: Rafting from Zangla to Nimo (6 Days)
Day 15: Zangla – Karsha Gompa ( Altitude – 3496 m | Distance – 30 km ( 4- 5 hours):
Rafting expedition begins at Zangla. Raft till near Karsha Gompa, near Padum (3496 m) Today we will raft 30 km in 4 - 5 hrs which includes a break for lunch and hot beverages. We are surrounded by 6000 m high peaks. River section today includes a Class II section, a good introduction for first timers as well as to the river in general. Settle into camp by afternoon, later it will be nice hike up to the Karsha Gompa.

Day 16: Karsha Gompa – Honyo / Pidmo (Altitude – 3361 m | Distance – 25 km (3 hours):
After a late morning start, we raft from Karsha up to Honyo / Pidmo (3361 m / 11,025 ft: 3 hrs). This stretch is approximately 25 km with Class II and III rapids. Another easy day to get used to the river, the altitude and hone our paddling skills.

Day 17: Honyo / Pidmo – Nyrak (Altitude – 3286 m | Distance – 25 km (3 hours:
After packing camp, we will raft 25 km to Nyrak (3286 m /10,780ft: 3 hrs) a Class III section. The gorge narrows in on the river. We stop for the day to pitch camp in a gorge below Nyrak village.

Day 18: Nyrak – Rest Day:
Hike up to Nyrak village or relax under the cool shade of the willows at our campsite. Wash up at the campsite stream and enjoy the day off.

Day 19: Nyrak – Lamayuru (Altitude – 3190 m | Distance – 35 km (5 – 6 hours):
Today’s 35 km rafting section takes us from Nyrak to Lamayuru (3190 m / 10,465ft : 5-6 hrs including scout and lunch) through the core of the Zanskar classic white water day with continuous Class III rapids, and a few Class IV rapids where the river squeezes between a gap of about 18ft. We stop for lunch near a huge waterfall and continue to camp at the confluence of Markha river with the Zanskar. Rock formations, spires and an amazing palette of colors add to the trip today.

Day 20: Lamayuru – Nimo (Altitude – 3154 m | Distance – 40 km ( 3 – 4 hours):
We will raft 40 km of Class III / IV white water from Lamayuru to Nimo (3154 m / 10,345 ft: 3-4 hrs) today. We will raft past the village of Chilling and exciting rapids as the Zanskar plunges out of the canyon to meet with the Indus at Nimo. We end our trip at the confluence of the Zanskar with the Indus. Drive an hour back to Leh. Last minute retail therapy and a hot shower! Overnight at hotel.

Day 21: Leh:
Transfer to the airport and fly back to Delhi with an expedition to be proud of!
Trip ends.

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