trekking in Zanskar

Camping and trekking go side by side and you explore the fabulous outdoors while marching on the Zanskar Trek. You can always book a tent at the Nun Kun Tent Camp at Rangdum. This spot Rangdum stands at an altitude of 3,657 m and midway between Kargil and Padum. This spot is surrounded by colourful hills on one side and glacier encrusted Rocky Mountains on the other. Gifted with countless beautiful sites, and snow-capped peaks, the entire stretch is the perfect choice for visitors to break their grueling driving experience. Their overnight stay makes for a perfectly memorable experience.

One of the least explored trekking routes amongst the tourist, this particular trek takes you through some of the remotest villages in Zanskar valley. Walking by some of the deepest gorges and highest passes in the region, this trek is for those who have an adventurous heart. Taking a different route altogether for many days, interacting with the villagers and dining with them will be part of the trek.

Trekking also promises an exploration of local inhabitants to understand the way of life at both Ladakhi and Zanskari.  Less frequented, this trek includes crossing rivers, some of the remotest villages of Zanskar, unique and tough terrain, many passes. Usually recommended to start by the beginning of the month June till end of October, this special trek last for 6 days to two months and is one of the most popular trekks route among the adventure enthusiasts.

•    Crossing  Zanskar - Lamayuru – Darcha via Nerag
Duration: 22 Days (17 days trekking )
Season: July To September Last
Average temperature: Day (20-30 degrees) Night ( 7 -15 degrees)

•    Diagonal Zanskar – Kanji to Tsokmitsik
Duration: 29 Days (21 days trekking )
Season: July To September
Average temperature: Day (20-30 degrees) Night (07 -15 degrees)

•    Trans  Zanskar - Kanji – Darcha via Lingshet & Nerag
Duration: 22 Days (17 days trekking )
Season: July To September Last
Average temperature: Day (20-30 degrees) Night (07 -15 degrees)

•    Chiling – Zangla via Jumlang
Trek Route
Chilling - Sku – Markha – Langtang Chu – South Camp –Charchar La - North Camp – Zangla Sumdo – Zangla – Karcha – Padam – Sani.
Duration: 20 days (10 days trekking )
Season: September
Average temperature: Day (20 – 25 degrees) Night (07-11 degrees)

•    Lamayuru – Padum or Padum – Lamayuru
Trek Route
Photoksar – Youlchung – Lingshet – Snytse – Hanumur – Pishu – Karcha – Padam
Duration: 12 days (7 days trekking)
Season: June – October

The Chadar Trek
In winters the valley plunges into extreme cold. The river rafting activity is closed for the winter session but the frozen, icy river provides a memorable experience for the trekkers and is famously known as the Chadar Trek. When all of Ladakh roads experiences snowfall, the roads are closed for vehicular traffic, only this frozen river is considered as the access path. Trekkers travel the entire frozen river and this can take around 8-10 days. The enchanting part is, the camps are set up on the frozen river.

Wonderful Biking Experience
Those who are out there in Zanskar on a cycling expedition, the roads are fantastic and you would want to paddle all day long without tiring. But we recommend that you bring your camping gear along because without experiencing the nights out, it would be foolish just to reach the next destination. Note that towards the outskirts and further towards the local routes, the roads are dirty, bumpiest and if your bike does not have shock absorbers, it would help if you deflate your tires a bit. Also, after every ride, you should check all bolts for tightness so that you should not be stranded in the middle, if a loosened section gives way.

The local children and men, inquisitively love to inspect your bicycle using their eyes and their hands. For them the vehicles don't appear daily and hence curiosity plays in their minds. While they don’t mean bad at all and it is unlikely that your bike will be stolen, you’d better not leave your bike unattended. Putting a cover (plastic bag) over the handlebar may take away the temptation for the locals.

When you hike with your bike and camp along, you will be asked for “camping fee”. This is true even in wild camping areas. In the off-season you may be asked to pay a camping fee in Chi for the next two nights of ‘wild’ camping before and after the pass. Half of the village may show up to collect camping fees but only one person hands out an official ticket.

Internet on the Biking Route
Some Internet cafes, complete with Wifi can be found only in Kargil and Padum, with Keylong being the first access after the Traverse. Many a time during periods of bad weather Padum loses its internet connection so you might spend your complete break in Padum without getting access on the internet.

Remember that there is no mobile phone network coverage for foreigners in the state of Jammu & Kashmir so you won’t have internet access on your phone, tablet or computer outside wifi areas. However, international phone calls can be made from two shops in Padum who also provide some mobile connectivity.

There are some quirks one should know about.
1.    The Pensi Pass stays clear of snow starting from mid June to mid/end October although officially the pass closes on 15thSeptember.
2.    Many tourist guesthouses and restaurants don’t open before July. Obviously, commercial aspects drive most decisions and if you can arrange for your own food and camping gear, these minor discomforts should not dampen your spirits.
3.    Get your snacks and food either from Kargil or Keylong as till Padum you won't find any shops selling knick knacks. Also no bike shops can be found along the entire route.
4.    It is better to carry a portable stove, so that you can prepare your tea while taking a break from cycling.
5.    Stretching your legs and strolling a bit in the open spaces will relieve your body. Even if you do not need a break, getting down from your bike and walking some distance will help you a lot.

Daredevil Cycling Expeditions
When you travel from Leh to Zanskar, there are at least two shortcuts that bypass Kargil. Both these routes involve trekking over high passes and rarely attempted by cyclists. A daredevil biker can attempt it either from:
1.    Shergol (east of Kargil) to Sanku, and/or
2.    Khaltse (on the Leh side of Lamayuru) to a six day trek (or two day biking) to Rangdum.

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