Panoramic of Karsha monastery, nunnery and village

Treks in Zanskar and Ladakh

Recommendations of Lama Sonam Wangchuk :

  • It’s a good idea to allow two days of acclimatisation at the altitude of Leh before starting your trek.
  • You can visit all the monasteries that we encounter on our way, where a warm welcome will be guaranteed.
  • Consider choosing the date of your trek to coincide with the festival of religious dances. For example, the Karsha Gustor festival of which I was the dance master, usually happens in the second half of July. This year, the Karsha Gustor will happen on July 11th and July 12th 2018.
  • If you prefer September or October you can perhaps join in a marriage celebration in Zanskar.
  • All my proposed treks can be made in either direction, or can be combined.
  • Solo travellers are welcome. Groups of more than six are not advised if you really want to encounter the local people.
  • In addition to the treks proposed here I would be very happy to consider other routes, according to your wishes.
  • You are older and you still love to travel out of the ordinary...
    let yourself be tempted by the double crossing of the Himalayas by jeep to Manali - Leh - Kargil - Zanskar - Srinagar. Three weeks trip unforgettable!
  • If you have already visited Zanskar I have plenty of other great trekking routes "in reserve". Just contact me !
  • You'll find descriptions of the treks below (click on their picture to see more photos). Itineraries given for information purposes. Contact me for a more precise itinerary. You can see them in Google Earth by clicking on "kmz" for a particular trek or click here to see all the treks.

Chadar trek on the frozen river

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 7 days of trek, 2 days in Leh, 3 days in Delhi, 1 day Delhi - UK, 15 days.

Itinerary :This trek passes through the fantastic wonderland of the frozen gorges of the Zanskar river, with nights passed in caves in the gorge. Rest at the monastery of Karsha, home of our guide Lama Sonam. Then we return along the frozen river via Nyerak on the right bank.
Going by the mountain between Chilling and Zangla possible (expect 1 more week), by Tilat sumdo, the Charchar-La pass (4950m) and Zangla Sumdo.

Lama Sonam's idea :Zanskar is totally isolated in the winter time, with this frozen river the only link to Ladakh and the outside world. Lama Sonam has 30 years of experience of this unique route and can guarantee you a warm welcome with the Zanskar inhabitants.

Lama Sonam's advice :Only from early January to end of February.
We make our night stops in caves in the gorge, just like the local people. Tents are not suitable as they freeze and in the morning, as the frozen condensation falls from the roof of the tent, you think it’s snowing inside !
Choose the period between end of December and middle of January to make the Chadar before the arrival of the Indian tourists. The ice may not be good enough at this period, expect 1 more week to go by the mountain (see above).

This is a historic trek following the route taken for centuries by the Zanskarpas. A road through the gorge is under construction so it is recommended to do this trek as soon as possible !!!

Important !!! It is essential to allow 2 days in Delhi on the return.
It can happen that flights from Leh to Delhi are unable to take off due to meteorological conditions.
So we strongly advise allowing this two days window in Delhi to be sure of not missing your international return flight.


Wild trek of Marpo-La

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 1 day by jeep Leh - Skyan, 9 days of trek, 2 days by jeep Rangdum - Kargil - Srinagar, 2 days on houseboat in Srinagar, 1 day in Delhi, 1 day Delhi - UK, 18 days.

Itinerary :A wild trek in Zanskar with few villages, passing over three passes around 5000m, including the Marpo-La. This trek will bring you in Lingshed with its beautiful monastery and in the village of Dibling. This trek is very infrequently used after Lingshed, you will walk on very small and vertiginous paths (if any), in the middle of nowhere.

Lama Sonam's idea :Variant possible in order to go to Karsha after the village of Dibling instead of Rangdum (trek of same duration).

Lama Sonam's advice :Difficult and very wild trek, sometimes dangerous, only for experienced trekkers !

Very little known trek in the middle of wild and vertiginous landscapes !


Paldar valley trek through the Umasi-La pass to Manali

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 2 days by jeep Leh - Kargil - Karsha, 1 day in Karsha, 16 days of trekking, 2 days by jeep Akhiri Mor - Udaipur - Manali, 1 day in Manali, 1 day in Delhi, 1 day Delhi – UK, 25 days.

Itinerary :This trek follows an ancient link between Zanskar and Kashmir, over the high Umasi-La pass (5342m), with a bivouac on a wide flat glacier surrounded by magnificent snowy peaks. You will go though another high pass above 5200m, the Shiv Shankar pass, after walking through the Darlang valley, toward Udaipur and Manali.

Lama Sonam's idea :New variant of the Paldar valley trek of Lama Sonam since 2015, with a second pass above 5200m, towards Manali !

Lama Sonam's advice :New itinerary which brings you from bouddhist Zanskar to an Hindu region, passing through the Paldar valley, also called the sapphires valley, and the Darlang valley, you will discover different cultures and meet Bouddhist and Kashmiri nomads in the middle of magnificent landscapes.

Through a wide glacier, the trek takes you from the high arid desert landscape of Zanskar to the lush forests of the Paldar valley, and from a remote Buddhist land to an originally Hindu valley.


Paldar valley trek through the Umasi-La pass to Srinagar

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 2 days by jeep Leh - Kargil - Karsha, 1 day in Karsha, 11 days of trekking, 2 days by jeep Atholi - Kishtwar - Srinagar, 2 days in Srinagar, 1 day in Delhi, 1 day Delhi – UK, 22 days.

Itinerary :This trek follows an ancient link between Zanskar and Kashmir, over the high Umasi-La pass (5342m), with a bivouac on a wide flat glacier surrounded by magnificent snowy peaks.

Lama Sonam's idea :Some of my family live in this valley, so we will be received like kings !

Lama Sonam's advice :This trek was not advisable when there was trouble between India and Pakistan. The Paldar valley, also called the sapphires valley, has only recently been re-opened to tourists and you may be regarded with curiosity by the local inhabitants. You can witness the very important Hindu pilgrimage "Chhadi Yatra", when a lot of Hindu pilgrims go to Machel temple in the month of August !

Through a wide glacier, the trek takes you from the high arid desert landscape of Zanskar to the lush forests of the Paldar valley, and from a remote Buddhist land to an originally Hindu valley and then to Islamic Kashmir.


Trek of the Lingsti valley

Duration :7 days of trek from Karsha.

Itinerary :The trek passes some very remote villages in the Lungnak valley up to the Phirse-La (5550m). On the way you will visit the awesome Phuktal monastery, and walk in the Lingsti valley up to Sarchu, on the Manali - Leh road.

Lama Sonam's idea :Rest for 1 day at Phuktal and have time to visit the monastery !

Lama Sonam's advice :New variant of the ancien trek going from Padum to Darcha avoiding part of the road in construction, going through another valley after Table. The new variant is superb, much quieter, but it is more committing !

Phuktal monastery which seems to flow out of a cave in the mountainside is an unforgettable sight.


Trek of Ladakh lakes (Tso Moriri and Tso Kar)

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 1 day in Leh, 7 days of trekking, 1 day in Leh, 1 day in Delhi, 1 day Delhi – UK, 13 days.

Itinerary :High altitude trek which will make you discover the lakes in the desert of Ladakh, with the Tso Moriri lake more than 20km long, and Tso Kar lake. After visiting the village and monastery of Korzok, you will go through 3 passes at 5400m of altitude walking from Tso Moriri lake to Tso Kar lake.

Lama Sonam's idea :The visit of Korzok monastery near the Tso Moriri lake.

Lama Sonam's advice :For those who want to do a trek in the middle of the large landscapes of Ladakh and discover these very nice lakes, walking for several days at an altitude of 5000m on average (altitude is between 4500m for the lakes and 5400m for the passes) !

Walk for several days at high altitude to discover the lakes with magnificent colors in the desert of Ladakh !


Markha valley trek
(possibility to climb Stok Kangri)

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 1 day by jeep Leh - Zhingchan, 8 days of trek, 1 day in Leh, 2 days in Delhi, 1 day Delhi - UK, 15 days (3 more days if you make the Stok Kangri).

Itinerary :Trek in Ladakh easily accessible from Leh which goes through the Markha valley and have two passes near 5000m. This trek will delight all those who appreciate the villages and wish to meet their inhabitants in the heart of a national park that protects animals : chamois, mountain sheep, foxes, wolves, vultures. You also have the possibility to climb the Stok Kangri (6123m) which offers a beautiful view of the Himalaya !

Lama Sonam's idea :A privileged contact with the local population by staying with the locals.

Lama Sonam's advice :For those who want to try walking at altitude (2 passes at 4970m and 5250m).


Junglam trek from Hemis to Karsha

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 1 day acclimatisation in Leh, 11 days of trekking, 1 rest day in Karsha, 2 days by jeep Karsha - Kargil - Srinagar, 2 days on houseboat in Srinagar, 1 day in Delhi, 1 day Delhi - UK, 21 days.

Itinerary :A trek through remote, wild country with few villages, passing over three passes around 5000m, with the Kongmaru-La and the Karpo-La. You will visit the Hemis monastery in Ladakh before starting the trek and arrive in Zanskar via Zangla village. The path often follows river beds, so expect to get wet feet !

Lama Sonam's idea :It’s possible to start from Stok (5 extra days of trekking) or from Chilling (2 extra trekking days), which lets you visit the villages of the Markha valley.

Lama Sonam's advice :The trek is not practicable before September as there is too much water in rivers.

Follow the traditional paths in the Zanskarpa way, in plastic sandals !


Trek of Bilu Jagarnat

Duration :10 days of trek from Karsha.

Itinerary :This trek leaves from Zangla near Karsha up to the Manali - Leh road, through 2 passes around 5000m, and the village of Shade.

Lama Sonam's idea :A trek isolated, infrequently used, distant from villages. Variant possible to go back to Padum through Phuktal after Shade.

Lama Sonam's advice :A trek for those who want to walk in a remote place.


Trek over Stongde-La via Shade village

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 2 days by jeep Leh - Kargil - Karsha, 1/2 day rest in Karsha, 1/2 day by jeep Karsha - Stongde, 9 days of trekking, 1 day by jeep Raru - Padum, 2 days by jeep Padum - Kargil - Srinagar, 2 days on houseboat in Srinagar, 1 day in Delhi, 1 day Delhi - UK, 21 days.

Itinerary :Stongde-La pass at 5140m offers a steep, exposed path leading to the very remote village of Shade where we stay for one day, providing you with the opportunity to meet the inhabitants. Afterwards we trek to Phuktal, with its magnificent monastery.

Lama Sonam's idea :Very few tourists do this trek, the paths are only used by locals.

Lama Sonam's advice :It is best done late in the season, when you may be lucky enough to combine it with participating in one of Zanskar’s famous marriage ceremonies.

Trek of the beaten path meeting with Zanskarpas that you will never forget, and Phuktal monastery is especially impressive.


Ralakung trek

Duration :9 days of trek from Karsha.

Itinerary :A trek very little known with very few visitors and discover exceptional villages in a grandiose setting.

Lama Sonam's idea :In September and October only, it is possible to descend to Zhingchan and to return on the Lamayuru to Karsha trek.

Lama Sonam's advice :A short walk to go where everyone else doesn't go !


Trek from Likir to Khalse, said "Sham trek" (or Baby trek)

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 7 days of trek, 1 day in Leh, 2 days in Delhi, 1 day Delhi - UK, 13 days.

Itinerary :A rare trek in Ladakh ! The altitude does not exceed 3800m.

Lama Sonam's idea :A home stay in a guest-house.

Lama Sonam's advice :This route can serve as preparation for a more difficult trek or the discovery of the Buddhist world.
For seniors, it is possible to visit the same sites by jeep on the roads of Ladakh.


Nubra valley trek

Duration :UK - Delhi (1 day), Delhi - Leh (1 day), 1 day acclimatisation in Leh, 11 days of trekking, 1 day in Leh, 2 days in Delhi, 1 day Delhi - UK, 18 days.

Itinerary :This trek in Ladakh crosses two 5420m passes, the Digar-La and the Lasirmu-La, and takes place in the high isolated valleys of the Shyok and Nubra rivers.

Lama Sonam's idea :A reward is to visit the characteristic Buddhist monasteries of this region.

Lama Sonam's advice :You need excellent acclimatisation for this trek, as we have to spend one night at 4800m and another one at 5000m.

A desert landscape where you can even find sand dunes !

Other treks are possible, more details by email with Sonam.

This text was not written by Lama Sonam Wangchuk, who, if he speaks English, find difficult to write it. Any potential error would not be attributable to him.