Trekking in Ladakh, by Radek Kucharski
An essential guidebook to trekking in Ladakh. With detailed descriptions of eight treks in the Ladakh, Zanskar and the Markha Valley of north India, including details on combinations and alternative routes. Ladakh is a remote environment where trekking is extremely challenging, for adventurous trekkers only. Practical information is also included.
This trekking guidebook gives detailed descriptions of eight different treks across the Ladakh, Zanskar and Markha Valley in northern India.
Ranging from moderate difficulty to very demanding, each trek is broken down into multiple stages, and has information on difficulty, available accommodation and access, as well as the many combinations and alternative routes open to exploration.
Known as Little Tibet; for both its landscape and culture, Ladakh lies at the northern tip of India. The region is bisected by the great River Indus and neighbours Tibet and Kashmir. This quiet corner of the Himalaya has developed a strong trekking culture over recent years for adventurous trekkers. Trekking in this remote, high-altitude region is extremely challenging, as paths are not signed and there are only a limited number of villages. However, its magnificent landscape (a huge area full of limitless trekking possibilities), hospitable people, rich heritage and limited number of tourists make Ladakh an amazing destination.
The guide includes background information on local culture, history and religion, as well as all the planning detail you need on crucial aspects such as environmental responsibility, health and safety in the mountains, trekking practicalities and preparation for altitude.
Moderate to very demanding trekking.
Unlike other parts of the Himalayas, Ladakh is not normally hit by the Monsoon. Therefore summer (June to September) is the best trekking season.
Access is through Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The treks travel through towns and villages all over the Ladakh region, as well as the Zanskar sub-region and the Phukthal and Karsha monasteries.
High altitude, lack of lodges and restaurants as well as the remoteness of the region make trekking in Ladakh a rather challenging activity. Moderate to very demanding treks have been covered in the book. A number of local agencies can help organise the trip and make the trek much easier.
The rich Tibetan-style culture, remote mountains, high passes, serene monasteries and Ladakhi people. See K2 from the Kanji Pass. Cover the classic Darcha-Padum-Lamayuru trek. Trace snow leopards and venture up deep river gorges.
Update on the effects of the Zanskar River flood on trekking routes
A flood on Tsarab and Zanskar rivers in Ladakh in May this year destroyed many bridges and parts of newly-built roads. This has effected some trekking routes in the area and much damage has not been repaired will last into next trekking season, too. Trekking is possible but alternative pathways need to be followed in places.
The following information records what the author recorded on his latest visit, in late September:
The route along the Tsarab River between Barandy Nala (Gian) and the abandoned village of Hormoche (Trek 2) has been repaired and is fine. However, this is an autumn option, usually not accessible earlier than the beginning of September due to high water levels.
All the way along Niri Chu (the Niri River) down to its confluence with Tsarab and the route along Tsarab to Yata and then down to Phukthal (Treks 2 and 4) is fine.
The bridge on Tsarab just below the Phuktal Monastery en-route between the gompa and Purni as well as the bridge on the Kargyak River just before its confluence with Tsarab in Purni had been washed away but new bridges have been built already. I saw the bridge in Phukthal but did not see the one in Purni and the one below Phuktal (Treks 2 and 4 as well as a side trip on Trek 3) is a simple footbridge, not suitable for horses.
My Zanskari friends also tell me that it is fine to follow the route on the right side of the river between Phuktal and Cha village (Trek 2).
The bridge in Cha below the confluence of Tsarab and Kargyak rivers has been already rebuilt but again it is not strong enough for horses. There is no bridge below it down the valley as far as Raru but it is possible to trek on either side of the valley (I tested the route between the Enmu village and the Raru bridge on the right side of the river).
The Pepula campsite (Treks 2, 3 and 4) no longer exists and there are no camping nor homestay options on the left side of the Lungnak (Tsarab Lingti) rive between Changpa Tsetan and Raru.
There is no longer a bridge between Changpa Tsetan and Enmu and the bridges in Dorzong and Ichar have also gone. The road between the Enmu village and Pobre (the solitary house half way between Enmu and Dorzong on the right bank), which was built in recent years, is badly damaged but passable.
If you reach Ichar on the right bank of the river there is no other option than to continue to the Raru bridge on Tsarab. It is a bit tough on a high traverse but views are rewarding. It is also fine to walk on the left side of the river although the part of the road between the place where the Ichar road bridge was and the Raru village was washed away during the flood - there is a footpath.
The pedestrian bridge over the Lungnak (Tsarab Lingti), just below its confluence with Raru Nala, had been partially damaged but it have been rebuilt already. It is fine both for people and horses. As reported by the local people, the road bridge over Raru Nala was not effected.
The bridge connecting the two banks of Lungnak in Pibcha village was not seriously effected and can be crossed by people and animals. The next bridge (a road one) is in Pibiting near to Padum, just above the confluence of Lungnak (Tsarab Lingti) and Stod (Doda) which marks the beginning of the Zanskar River.
The bridge over Zanskar which existed near to Zangla and Pishu no longer exists (according to local contacts). The Padum - Hanumer - Lingshed route is fine again now and the way is clear.
The bridge in Niearak was destroyed but I do not have any information whether it was rebuilt.
The road bridge on the Zanskar River just below its confluence with Markha which was built in 2014 to link Chiling and Kaya villages was washed away in May. As this point marks an alternative beginning of the Markha Valley Trek (Route 8) we had to use rafts to start the trek in mid-May this year. I am told that there is a trolley (a kind of simple cable-car) crossing at this point at the moment.
The road bridge on Zanskar below Chiling as well as the bridge on Indus just before the confluence of the two rivers survived the flood so the road connecting Chiling with Leh is open.
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