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It's better in the mountains, isn't it? Ladakh is referred to as the forgotten kingdom! A life in the mountains and one which is straight out of a beautiful picture! A cult among the wanderlusts or the Mecca for the thrill seekers, Leh in Ladakh is the destination that can tempt anyone to ditch the rest of the world!

For lovers of Ladakh and Zanskar, there is a beautiful circuit that makes you travel out of time, out of the world. It is the trek from Zanskar to Lahaul through the passes. This circuit allows the traveler to discover little known valleys. The diversity of the landscapes and the privileged meetings with the local population will fill, I am sure, those who already know the Zanskar and dream to discover the hidden face and its secret valleys, Ladakh, Zanskar, of course, but also the Paldar and Pangi valleys.

The crossing of Phe (Ating) to Bugian via Umasi La pass is a pedestrian link used by locals during the summer for those of them who wish to reach the Jammu region without having to follow the tedious road route that bypasses the Himalayan range through Kargil and Srinagar. By crossing this pass, they find themselves by the S side of the Great Himalayan Range and can in a few days reach the tracks that will allow them to go down to the cities of the South.

In the middle of winter, the Zanskar River offers an accessible path that allows this isolation to end for a while. Because of the cold, the waters are frozen building an avenue of ice in the center of the mountains. The tumultuous Zanskar then becomes chadar, the ice river. The Zanskaris can move for four or five weeks.

The Chadar trek is one of the most impressive itineraries in the world for several reasons. Its location, the conditions in which the expedition is carried out and the wild environment it transcends is for those who assiduously visit the mountains of the world in search of new challenges, of landscapes and authentic and indescribable sensations.

The average temperature during the day is about 10 degrees below zero, which at night can reach the glamorous 30 degrees below zero. However, with the right Chadar trek preparation and clothing we can enjoy the wonders that this trekking offers us with a river literally stopped with turquoise and deep blue colors, completely frozen waterfalls, vertical rock canyons bathed only by the sun the morning.

Trek to Leh and Ladakh

Day 1: Arrival in New Delhi

We arrive at the airport and we are welcomed as heroes in New Delhi by our team present on the spot who came to give us all your travel documents. They stare at us, curious to meet such adventurers and proud to send us to Ladakh. We are taken to the hotel where we spend the night.

Day 2: Delhi - Leh (3,500 m)

We take a Delhi-Leh flight, very early in the morning, which flies across the Himalayas. In less than 24 hours, we are at 3500 m altitude, in the bustling bazaar of Leh to establish a first contact with the Little Tibet. Leh is a city rich in history. Indeed, it was a recognized center of commerce. Caravans from Tibet and Central Asia stopped there before continuing on their way to Kashmir.

In the old quarter, under the Stok Palace, we come across women dressed in black dresses with a fuchsia pink belt. They are Ladakhi women who come to sell their vegetables. This 4-storey building, typically Ladakhi style, is the official residence of the royal family of Ladakh. In the museum there are beautiful paintings, ritual, ceremonial and thankas. In addition, we are surprised by a sword that they have exposed whose blade is knotted.

Matho gompa, or Tibetan monastery, becomes one of the best visits of Ladakh since they only open it for us. When we arrive it is closed but a young monk opens the doors of the monastery and guides us. He shows us a very dark little museum, but what impresses us most is a prayer room with thick orange garments prepared for the winter ceremonies. During the summer the monks do not live in this monastery, and they move to another and leave the prayer room ready for their return in the cold winter.

Stakna Monastery is surely one of the most photogenic of Ladakh, since it is located in a privileged place, on top of a hill and with the Indus River meandering at its feet. The views from the road before entering Stakna are impressive, although the gompa itself is not one of the prettiest in Ladakh.

When we reach the end of the narrow road that leads to the monastery, we meet a young monk who indicates with signs that he will guide us. We travel the rooms alone, in the company of the monk and we are aware of how fortunate we have been on this trip in which we have enjoyed incredible places with hardly any visitors.

We arrive at the Takthok monastery but the old gompa, founded in the mid-sixteenth century is closed and we cannot enter to visit it. We approached the new gompa and there we found all the monks of the monastery. In the Takthok monastery there is a mixture of Buddhism and Bon culture, an ancient shamanic and animist tradition from Tibet. The Gungpa order is present in the monasteries of Lamayuru and Fyang. The Drugpa order maintains the monasteries of Hemis, Hanle, Chemré and Stakna and the saskyapa order is represented in the Matho monastery.

We head to the Thiksey Monastery, a 15th century monastery, that holds Tibetan manuscripts, numerous works of art and murals. We see the panorama on the the Indus valley. We then head to the Chemrey monastery, one of the most photogenic monasteries that we found during our travel in Ladakh. It is impressive for its size and unusual architecture. We then take the road back to Leh.

In the evening we relax with a good tea in the garden of the pleasant guesthouse. We have dinner in front of the Stok Kangri while eating momos.

Day 3: Leh - Dah

Leaving Leh we pass the Mulbekh chorten, impressive in size. Dah is a village 130 km from Leh and northwest of the town of Khalsi, in the Ladakh area. The road to Dah is of an unexpected slowness. The streets in Ladakh are in very poor condition and in permanent repair. The hours will pass and the expectations will be transformed and the path becomes abstract.

Dah is not accessible by car. Dha is lost in time and in the desolate geography of Ladakh. It does not have a single street. To access the village, you have to leave the road that borders the Indus River and walk along a high path over a narrow valley full of flowers.

From time to time, travelers like me, with a backpack on their shoulders, appear in the village and stay a couple of days, in love with their golden valley, their solitude and their infinite peace.

The people of this area are known as Drokpas or Brokpas, literally meaning people who live in the mountains. Its origin is unknown but for its features and its skin color, and perhaps for its clear eyes are believed to be Aryans, descendants of the invading forces of Alexander the Great.

Their religion is called Bon and seems to be similar to Buddhism, and the dialect is Tschina - an archaic language. And for centuries they have protected their race by prohibiting inter caste marriages. Arriving in Dah was quite an experience.

After so many hours of travel (which do not amount to many kilometers), the tiredness and late night was having to surrender to the moon to illuminate my path and sleep in what I thought was a cave where someone offered me a mattress.

Trek to Leh and Ladakh

Day 4: Dah - Parkachik (3400 m)

In the morning I discovered I really slept in a cave, and among other caves were drawn other doors from which appeared a tiny village of women with flower ornaments and long braids. For acclimatization, we leave for Parkachik and the green Suru Valley. The number of hamlets start reducing until we reach the Nun Kun pass. The view dazzles us. We camp here.
Day 5: Parkachik - Padum (3600 m)

The big day of departure arrives. Everything is ready on our side. We have acclimated, equipped as on the commercials and the great adventure begins in the direction of the West Valley of Indus to Zanskar, Padum! The circuit will allow us to explore a beautiful alpine valley to the foot of Umasi La and to the pass.

The delimitation between the Muslim part and the Buddhist part is constituted by a long plain. Once we enter Buddhist territory, we visit the Rangdum Monastery. Going towards the Padum valley, the Drang Drung glacier is visible from the highest point of the road from the Pensi La pass, which rises to 4400 m height.

We pass by Zangla, Thongde and Karsha monastery. Founded between the 10th and 15th centuries, Karsha is arguably the largest and largest Buddhist monastery in Zanskar, with some thirty buildings on a hillside. About 150 yellow hat monks from the Gelugpa sect live here.

We spend the night in guest house, in the direction of the east of Zanskar.

Day 6: Phe - Ating - Dzongkhul Gompa - Camp near Malung river

From the center of Phe, the large agrarian village located on the Kargil-Padum road and 25 kms from Padum, we walk on the road for 2 km. After the last houses of Phe, we find the pedestrian bridge that allows us to cross the Stod Chu and find ourselves at the foot of the village of Ating. We go up a small path along the meadows to reach the track that passes in the middle of houses.

From Ating a vehicle to reach the gompa effortlessly can be found for a few hundred rupees, this one being located at 3850 m and the distance from the village is about 9 kms. We cross the Doda river on a bridge before entering the Malung valley. On foot, it is not necessary to follow the laces of the track when it rises to the right to bypass a gigantic landslide from above.

We continue on a artificial slope to find the track a little further at a concrete ford. After, we follow it until it ends, we reach the foot of the monastic complex. We see the various prayer rooms and especially that which is at the top of the building in a cave. Unfortunately the murals are very old and especially too blackened by the smoke to be appreciated at their fair value.

The descent starts. There is no need to go down to the grassy areas at the foot of the gompa because a path has been traced at the base of the cliffs, path that we reach once we wandered between the monastic buildings. Beyond, it descends slowly to reach the edge of the stony moraine at 3770 m. The trail is well serviced despite the hostile atmosphere of scree large blocks.

We pass a chorten. Just behind we are forced to go back to bypass an avalanche corridor. We descend into a green hollow where wild rhubarb grows. The zangskarpa are very fond of it. We continue to reach a little further to one of the arms of the river in a big meander. We cross a space before a small climb to a big rock. A slight descent leads to a large grassy area by the river, the last opportunity to find a welcoming space after two hours.

Day 7: Camp near the Malung River - Hinju Pullu

We leave the turf spaces of the doksa to tackle a day with a mineral character a little more assertive. We continue crossing the moraines of the Malung Togpo valley using a few traces and cairns to squeeze between the granite blocks. We now cross a large scree of yellow rocks before descending to a wide grassy clearing in the middle of which grow young willows.

We continue on the moraine down to cross the river on a bridge using a tracery of fallen stones on which we cross in all safety with the torrent rumbling below. We move into the valley side as we begin to see the Malung Glacier at the bottom. At the level of a large dejection cone, we cross a torrent that has a high flow before continuing on a green expanse. We reach the site of Gaura.

From the grassy platform we go through a collar in the middle of blocks before descending just behind to reach an alp where graze yaks. Then we cross a stretch of pebbles before turning on the G to take an alley between two stony moraines towards the valley which opens on the left. We climb to the side of the cliff on crumbling rocks and enjoy in the distance the end of the Malung Glacier which has greyish seracs.

The climb is not very steep but the terrain is rough so we have to look for the route in the middle of the blocks that overlap. We finally reached the moraine lock with a well-shaded alpine lawn opening the view of a new glacial complex at the foot of which we will now go. We start to go to cross a daring stone bridge, again enjoying a rocky chaos and under which roars the muddy torrent.

Then we cross an area of ​​pastures until reaching a source that dies from a lateral moraine. We continue towards the valley floor where the trace helps to find the best passage between the collapsed blocks and the tiny meadows present around the springs that spring from everywhere. Around 4480 m, we move away from the bed of the torrent to pass a collar and just behind reach Hinju village in Pullu located at the confluence of two glacial valleys.

Day 8: Pullu - Omasi La

From the camp on the moraine, we cross the large flat expanse and bypass the moraine to get a little further on the black glacier covered with stones. We go up the glacial tongue to the slight slope until the altitude of 5000 m before we can distinguish the flags that mark the passage of the pass. We go up the rocky banks often covered with snow to reach the Omasila.

Located in the Paldar Valley, Umasi La rises to 5300 m altitude, and overlooks a sea of ​​ice. This valley opens on a magnificent glacier which contrasts with the usual landscape of Ladakh. We see the Zanskar in the north, Kashmir and Pangi in the west and finally Lahaul in the south. Sersank is a magnificent peak of about 20000 feet in the Himalaya Range.

The Sersank Pass is a mountain pass that is left of the Sersank and connects Sural Bhatori in Chamba valley with Dharlang. This difficult passage has fallen into disuse. Currently there is virtually no marked track in the glacial areas. But it is used by climbers. People of Sural Bhatori are Buddhists and have an ancient connection with Zanskar and with Tibet. We go back through the glacier to reach the place where we camp for the night.

Day 9: Hinju Pullu - Ating

We descend by the same path as that of the climb until the crossing of the big stream after Gaura. But instead of going to the stone bridge below, we continue to a large grassed area. We follow the river on a trail that is better serviced and we soon come to face the of Dzongkhul gompa. We follow the path drawn on the side of moraine to reach the top of the pastures of Ating and quietly reach the village.

There are many variations to cross the Sach Pass, but the most beautiful circuit is from Bairagarh to Killar and forward to Udaipur in the Pangi Valley and beyond to Lahaul, a part of the tribal district of Lahaul and Spiti in Himachal Pradesh. A longer circuit that can be tried is from Dalhousie to Manali through Sach Pass.

At 4420 m, the Sach is a treacherous and narrow passage and lies on what is widely considered to be the most dangerous road in India. Another path from the pass leads to Kashmir, to Kishtwar. Stock up on food in Bairagarh, since there is absolutely nothing after that until you reach the charming town of Killar. There are no roads in the country of rocks, and nature rules here. Pray your prayers to the gods and count your rosaries; This is a trip you will never forget.

We must say, a trip to this paradise was an experience of one of its own kind. Seated high in the lap of the Indian Himalayas it's a traveler's delight and can satiate all your cravings for an adrenaline rush. The alluring landscape, cerulean lakes, cobalt skies, hospitable culture and roughly set monasteries make visiting Ladakh a picturesque place and such a dreamy vision to capture.

Ladakh tour packages can also be enjoyed with just your girlfriends through many tour companies which offer an all ladies tours. Such companies are always available to assist and entertain you through your Leh Ladakh tour offering the best of security and services throughout. Sumptuous breakfast, lunch, and dinner are mostly inclusive and many of such tour companies also offer a 'Zero Money on Tour Policy'.

Some highlights of Leh Ladakh tour packages and the itinerary is mentioned here that are offered by most tour operators in Ladakh.

Arrival in Leh

On the first day, after reaching Leh airport, you are greeted by the respective representatives and transferred to the hotel for check-in. Rest in the hotel and revel in the peace of this place. In the evening visit Shanti Stupa and Leh market for meeting locals. Have an overnight stay in Leh.

Leh - Uleytokpo

Cover the Leh to Srinagar Highway for some sightseeing in the daytime. Supposed to be built to mark the visit of Guru Nanak Dev to this area, visit the Gurdwara Pathar Sahib and the Hall of Fame Kali Mata Temple. Admire the confluence of Indus and Zanskar which are simply gorgeous and experience the effects of Magnetic Hill which is set to defy the law of gravity. Visit Alchi Monastery, Likir, and Basgo.

Uleytokpo - Leh

Cover a good stretch of Leh and proceed to Lamayuru (the oldest monastery in Ladakh). Take some good snaps of the moon landscape (land which reassembles the lunar surface) and enjoy the stunning views on the way.

Leh to Pangong Lake

Proceed to Pangong via Changla Pass, the third highest pass in the world and make some lovely memories and as you visit places like Shey and Thiksey. Nothing remains of Shey's palace, you can not visit because they are only a handful of ruins. This palace was for some time the summer residence of the kings of Ladakh, until it was abandoned. We have read that it is in the process of being restored, as is the royal palace of Leh.

Being 6 to 7 Km broad at the longest point and 120 km in length, Pangong Lake is a saltwater body. It is bisected by the international border between India and China (2/3 of the lake is in China's possession). Enjoy outing along the banks of the lake as you visit the lake which is the exact location of the famous 3 idiots movie. Chushul was an airstrip used in the Sino-Indian War. It is close to Rezang La and Pangong Lake at a height of 4360 meters. Stay overnight in one of the camps in Pangong Tso.

Pangong Lake to Leh

Travel back to Leh and give rest to some of your nerves. Enjoy a cup of hot steaming tea en route Leh as you take a short halt at Changla Pass. Return to Leh after visiting the Hemis Monastery. We had already been to the monastery of Hemis on the day of the Tshechu festival, but we decided to return so that we could tour it without crowds.

We are fortunate to find a young monk who tells us many things about Buddhism, his life in the monastery and the history of the monastery of Hemis. It seems incredible that days before there were so many people in the courtyard of the gompa, and today we are walking through the rooms of the monastery alone. Hemis is one of the largest monasteries in the region and dates from the middle of the 17th century

Leh to Nubra Valley

For the most scenic ride of your life, drive to Nubra Valley known as the valley of flowers and the warmest region in Ladakh via Khardung la pass. Considered to be the highest motorable road in the world, it is a must visit. Offering a spectacular view, are the never-ending snow-capped mountain ranges around Khardungla Pass (18,390 feet). Khardung La is the gateway to the Nubra Valley and the Siachen Glacier. After spending some time at Khardungla, proceed to Nubra. Enjoy camel safari in the evening.

Nubra Valley (local sightseeing) and back to Leh

Take a stroll around the place to see the lifestyle of people living in the northernmost region of India as you visit Diskit and Hunder villages and monasteries. The road after Diskit reminds the lost times on the Silk Road, when you see Bactrian camels in the dunes. Turtuk village is only ten kilometers from the border with Pakistan. Known as the ancient Baltistan, the place was under Pakistani control until 1971 along with Dhothang, Tyakshi and Chalunka. Drive back to Leh via Khardungla pass.

Departure from Leh

Get transferred to Leh Airport for boarding the flight to your destination on the last day of your journey. Tour concludes with some wonderful long lasting memories.

Most tour companies offer Leh Ladakh tour packages with the below inclusive and non-inclusive items. Check them carefully before you select your preferred tour operator.

Trek to Leh and Ladakh

Package Inclusions

Assistance on arrival at Leh

To and fro air ticket in economy class

Traditional welcome in the hotel

Accommodation on twin sharing basis in the above-mentioned hotel or similar category

MAP Meal Plan (Breakfast and Dinner) at all locations

Inner line permit for Nubra and Pangong

All airport transfers and sightseeing tours

Budget, super deluxe, premium and luxury transport options for every kind of tourist.

Package Exclusions

Monument and museum entrance fees.

Charges for extra meals, starters and drinks etc. and personal expenses.

Any kind of optional tours.

Insurance, tips, laundry, phone calls, guide fee and camera fee.

Costs of any adventure activity (pony ride, camel safari, rafting etc.)

Medical and travel insurance.

Services of the vehicle on off days and after finishing the sightseeing tour

Charges coming out of - flight cancellations, roadblocks, natural calamities etc.

Ladakh is amongst one of the most exotic destinations in India. If there is paradise, it's here as well. Most common on the list of all tour operators, Ladakh is a great and majestic place to visit but some precautions need to be kept in mind as well. Make sure you are fit and healthy and get a physical check-up done before you embark on any of the Ladakh tour packages to be doubly sure of your health.

Ladakh is at high altitude. The oxygen levels are generally low which are not taken too well by most of the travelers and especially people who are unhealthy in any sense. It's going to be an exhaustive journey to this place. Keep that in mind and prepare yourself accordingly. We wish you an absolutely wonderful, adventurous and rocking journey to this place which is full of magical stories!

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Kalyan Kalyan Author

21 comments:

  1. wow what a lovely place sounds like you had a great trip hopefully one day i will visit too

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  2. wow what a lovely place sounds like you had a great trip one day i hope to visit too

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  3. What an amazing trip! Never been to these places so it's great to read and be part of your journey ;)

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  4. wow this sounds like an epic adventure! thanks for sharing

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  5. Never visited India, but really want to discover it !!

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  6. Wow! That sounds like such an amazing adventure. I have to show this to my husband. His old college roommate was from Delhi.

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  7. Ladakh sounds like such a dream! I'm a little afraid of the low oxygen levels but I would definetly go halfway up haha!

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  8. Wow, sounds like a fascinating place. I've been dying to go to India for a while now. It certainly is high altitude! Once, in Chile, we ended up at 4320 metres. Even just walking around worked up a sweat.

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  9. Ladakh sounds like such a great place to visit. This certainly sounds like a fab trip.

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  10. I have never been there and it sounds like a nice place to visit. I bet you've had a nice and fun experience when you are there.

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  11. Wow that sounds like quite an adventure. I would love to go on something even half as exciting, this sounds wonderful! Thanks for sharing the excitement!

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  12. I was in India few years back but to Kashmir and glad to find out this itinenary. I can refer to this for my next trip.

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  13. Wow, I'm trying to picture how amazing this must look!! Thanks for going into such great detail about a fascinating place!

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  14. I've been to Delhi before but never trekked there. This is sooo magical. Thank you so much for the recos.

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  15. Such great information for anyone traveling to New Delhi; thank you for such detailed descriptions!

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  16. Great post! A lot of wonderful information for anyone traveling throughout India!

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  17. Thank you for sharing your amazing adventure. I wish I could travel and visit the place soon.

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  18. I cannot believe you trekked through all of that! What an incredible experience that must have been.

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  19. Thats some trek and we'd love to spend time in the city of New Delhi just to see the sights and the sounds. Trekking into the wilderness sounds amazing x

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  20. it sounds amazing! what a neat adventure!

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  21. I have never visited but, I only hear amazing things. Thanks for the comprehensive break down, what a journey.

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