The Period of Operation:
July to early October
Strenuous trek
Highest Altitude:
5100 m
Special Note:
A minimum of three day of acclimatization is recommended for this trek at a height of 2500 m or more.

This is truly one of the finest long distance treks in the Himalayas. The prospect of undertaking this journey is at the same time daunting, exciting and challenging. For the explorer in you it is the stuff to make the adrenaline flow! It is something you will remember for the rest of your life.

Travelers and merchants passing through to the Silk Route have visited Ladakh through the ages. High up in the Himalayas, Ladakh is dominated by Buddhists and shares borders with Tibet, Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh.

The multihued mountains in Ladakh and Zanskar are dotted with small hamlets and many monasteries, called Gompas in the Tibetan language. The land is spectacularly preserved with its native culture still intact, as it happens in most remote mountains of the World. Ladakh and Zanskar offer trekking at higher altitudes than elsewhere in the World. The lowest altitudes in the region are as high as 3000 Mts above sea level!

Day 01 : Fly Delhi to Kullu Valley

We have a morning internal flight to Kullu, after which we drive the 42 kms. (Taking about two hours) to the town of Manali which lies near the head of the Kullu Valley at 1950 mts. (6’400 ft.) It is a popular hill resort for Indians and Westerners alike.  Time can be taken to visit the Hindu Temple in the forest above Manali, visit the bazaar or walk to one of the nearby villages.  During the flight you should have good views of the Greater Himalaya and Manali itself nestles in the foothills barely a dozen miles from the main peaks.  Overnight at hotel, where we will meet our trek staff.

Day 02 : Drive from Manali to Darcha

Our journey is by private bus over the Rohtang Pass (14’500ft. / 4000mts.) with views of snow peaks of the Himalaya in every direction.  The Rohtang was the first major pass to be crossed by early western explorers and its colourful history is well told in John Keay’s excellent “Where Men and Mountains Meet”.  We descend to the Chandra Valley and follow it downstream, to its confluence with the Bhaga Valley pausing for a picnic lunch just before Keylong we camp at Jespa, which is about four miles south of Darcha (Alt. 3300mts. / 10’826 ft.) in the Bhaga Valley.  Ahead the road continues up north east, up the Bhaga Valley and over the Baralacha – La (4891mts. / 16’046 ft.) and on across the Zanskar Range eventually to Leh.  However our route lies north – west, up the Barai Nallah to the Shingo –La.  Darcha lies at the confluence of the Bhaga River and the Barai.  Overnight at camp.

Day 03 : Trek to Barai River camp

This is a short day’s walk (04 hrs. approximately) of gradual, easy ascent on a good path up the Barai Nallah Valley.  Eagles are common in the valley, as are herds of sheep and longhaired goats.  We pass through a number of small hamlets and there are impressive snow peaks either side of the valley.  We will cross a deep but Narrow River gorge before arriving at our camp site about 40 minutes further along the side of the river.  Overnight camp (Alt.3’700mts. / 12’100 ft.)

Day 04 : Barai River camp to the Jula

Continuing up the valley we finally come to the crossing point of the river.  A bridge has started to be constructed here, but there is still only a “Jula” a single steel cable spanning the river with a small-suspended box from it.  We cross the river using this system.  (However, if there has been a heavy winter snowfall, it may be possible to cross by snow – bridge further up.)  The pack ponies will all be unloaded, and the equipment also comes across the same way.  The ponies themselves will have to wade / swim the river.  This whole river crossing operation may well take more than three hours.  As a result were will make camp here, beside the river, after a total of about four hours of walking.  This allows time for acclimatization, as well as ensuring that we allow enough time for the crossing.  Just beside the campsite here is a lovely waterfall and gorge, where we may do washing or sunbathed.

Day 05 : Trek to Chumik Nakpo, above Ramjak

We now start an ascent into a valley coming from the northwest; this is very steep and testing for the first hour, but is more gradual after that.  The path is well defined for the whole way.  There are massive scare slopes and impressive snow peaks on both sides of the valley.  We pass through the more spacious area of Ramjak, with its rock outcrops of white quartz.  From here we climb for another hour, thus shortening the climb for the following day.  After a total of about six hours of walking we reach our campsite at Chumik Nakpo (Alt. 4380 mts. / 14’400 ft.)

Day 06 : Over the Shingo – La (16’719 ft. / 509 mts.)

This is an arduous day of continued climbing to gain the top of the snow – covered pass surrounded by a number of peaks in excess of (20’000 ft.) of all sides.  There are a number of false summits prior to the top of the pass, all of which conspire to taunt the weary.  After lunch on the pass there is a long afternoon of descent into Zanskar, firstly over snow and rock, but eventually descending onto flat meadows.  Finally there is a view over a steep escarpment into the Tsarap Valley.  We descend this, ford the river and camp on a peaceful grassy meadow on the far side at Lakong.

Day 07 : Lakong to Shi

We are now in the Kingdom of Zanskar and the scenery is far more arid than on the other side of the main Himalayan chain.  We Pass the extremely impressive Gumburanjon  (Temple Mountain) and come to the first Buddhist Village of Zanskar, Kargyakh.  The signs of a Buddhist culture are everywhere, with numerous Chortens (religious oblisks) as well as Mani walls – these walls are made up entirely of stones carved with prayers.  Carry on to Shi where there is a lovely field beside the river where we camp at (4060 mts.)

Day 08 : Shi to Purne

We continue down the deep valley with its multi – hued cliffs and buttresses and wide alluvial fans.  The rocks are at times almost purple, also red brown, dark brown, gray and even light green, indicating the presence of copper.  We pass through Table and a number of other smaller Zanskari Village before camping at Purne.  This is a longish day of around 07 / 08 hrs.

Day 09 : Purne to Phuktal Gompa

This is half a day’s diversion leaving the camp standing at Purne.  We walk up a very deep and impressive gorge with a fast flowing river to this remarkable and remote monastery.  This 500-year-old Gompa is built literally on the side of a cliff.  Here we can visit the inner temples and see a stone tablet left by the Hungarian, Alexander Csoma de Koros, one of the first explorers in Tibet, 1826 / 27.  Return to Purne.  Overnight camp.

Day 10 : Purne to Ichar

The valley deepens and takes on the proportions of a gorge.  We pass some small hamlets: Cha, Kaydang (with a small teashop) and on to amuni where it is possible to camp, but it is much better to continue past the village of Surle and on towards Ichar where we cross the river on a new strong metal bridge.  This in marked contrast to the two small bridges made entirely from woven birch twigs, which we will have passed earlier today.  Once we have crossed the river we make a short ascent to a meadow where we camp.

Day 11 : Ichar to Reru

The fortified village of Ichar is about 30 minutes walk away and is well worth a visit, as it is perhaps the most beautiful fo the villages on the way to Padum, the capital township.  However, due to a destroyed bridge we can not visit it on today’s route.  Consequently we will aim to visit it after an early cup of tea and return to the campsite for breakfast afterwards.  We then have a short day’s walk through more magnificent gorge scenery and with further small monasteries to visit.  We camp by a small lake behind Reru Village.  In the past, the lake being filled during the night to allow for irrigation of the fields the next day has surprised unwary campers.  The locals area very amused when campers wake to find their tent under water!

Day 12 : Reru to Shila

Approx. 05 hours walking.  The gorge now contains a turbulent river.  Before reaching Shila, we pass Mune Gompa and come to Bardan Gompa, and impressive monastery sitting on top of a rocky outcrop in the middle of the gorge.  The building was erected in the early sixteen hundreds on the orders of Nawang Namgyal, the first ruler of Bhutan, who was given various lands in Ladakh at that time.  The campsite is opposite Shila, which can be visited in the afternoon if wished.  There is a high waterfall beside the village, which can be clearly seen from our campsite across the valley.

Day 13 : Pass through Padum to Karsha

Today the valley which we have walked down for the past six day’s opens out into the much wider Lunak Valley.  Reaching Padum, we can celebrate the completion of the first part of the trek with a few drinks and perhaps explore the few shops here.  After resting here we will continue across the wide plain past the small village of Pipiting with its attractive monastery.  After another hour or hour and a half we will reach the campsite below the village of Karsha with its Gompa which is one of the largest in Ladakh.  While in Padum we may get an introduction to Phunshok Dawa Gyalpo (Precious Rule) of Padum.  Phunshok’s ancestors collected taxes and hand a quasi – judicial role dealing with any disputes or family problems for the villages around Padum.  Now day’s the present holder of the title of “Gyalo” is the local schoolteacher.  He speaks good English and his stories of times past and explanations of Zanskari culture are of great interest.

Day 14 : Karsha to Pishu

This is a half-day of easy walking along the flat and large open valley with high walls streaked with multi colored hues of alluvial fans and rock strata.  Above Rinam we pass a gorge in the valley wall with a series of irrigation channels coming from it, this is a pleasant place to rest awhile, but is too soon for lunch.  We pass through Plshu and camp in a large meadow beside the river.

Day 15 : Rest Day

This is a day to recover from the exertions of the past 12-day’s.   There are very friendly children in this village.  You cam also visit the longest span rope bridge in Zanskar (it now has a steel cables running through it), and trek on up to the village of Zangla where the second King lives in a castle like palace.  On the following day we will begin the high passes, trek.  This route eventually crosses a number of passes and the whole character of this second half of the trek is entirely different.  Having crossed the Shingo – La, you will by now be well acclimatized and fit.

Day 16 : Pishu to Hanumil

Another easy day of around five hours walking following along the Zanskar River.  The valley deepness and narrows as it turns to the west and the trail continues, gaining height very slowly to the campsite at Hanumil.

Day 17 : Hanumil to Meadow camp

We cross our first pass, thew Parfi – La (12’795 ft. / 3900 mts.)  and descend steep zig – zags the other side, ascending again to camp in a meadow.  We have now left the main Zanskar River behind and ahead lie a very deep gorge, which we enter tomorrow.  During this day you will see some extraordinary limestone slab formations and stratifies rocks.  There is also quite a number of Himalayan Pheasant in this area and there is also the possibility of seeing Ibex.

Day 18 : Meadow camp – Lingshed

The contrast in scenery on this day is truly remarkable.  First we enter a very deep limestone gorge with vertical sides, the path narrows and the forge closs in gradually ascending until we cross the Hanuma – La (15’453 ft. / 4700 mts.)  From the top of this pass, the most magnificent views of distant mountains and the remote country that lies in between is quite a is lent added drama after having been confined in the gorge.  There is a steep descent of about 100mts. Before a steady climb to the large and well spread out village of Lingshed, with its famous Gompa, Camp overnight outside Lingshed.

Day 19 : Lingshed to camp below the Singi – La

We visit the monastery before beginning today’s track, after which there are two smaller passes to cross the Qoa – La.  A short day, but it is best to be camped right below the Sengge – La so that crossing early tomorrow the snows be hard and provide good going for the horses.

Day 20 : Cross the Sngi – La

On this day we cross the highest pass on this trek, at (16’60 ft. / 5000 mts.)  This is a long day; the pass is often snow covered and horses often have trouble on the other side of the pass.  Normally the horsemen will wish to make an early start.  We continue north for quite a long way before crossing another small pass and descend to the very picturesque village of Photoksar.  Camp overnight beneath huge moutain walls.

Day 21 : Photoksar to Hanuputta

We cross the Sirsir – La (15’764 ft. / 4800 mts.) in about 02 hrs. then trek in a long descent through the stony v alley to the village of Hanuputta .  You may well meet traders coming up from Leh with their goods on donkey and horses or Lamas passing form one monastery to the next.  Camp overnight next to the river.  A bath in the icy cold glacial water is certainly invigorating!

Day 22 : Hanuputta to Wanla

This is one of the most dramatic days of the trek, we spend most of the day walking through a very deep gorge whose vertical walls rise 600 or 700 ft. above us.  The path clings to the edge of the cliff and large foaming river rushes along the bottom of the gorge.  Where there are villages further on, the culfivations is a great deal lusher and the first trees for a number of days are to be seen.  We camp overnight at the village of Wanla, which has a beautiful Gompa on the hill above the town.

Day 23 : Wanla to Lamayuru, Drive to Leh

On our last day’s trek we cross the Prikiti – La (120224 ft.) a particularly arid section of the trail, eventually reaching Lamayuru on the other side.  This is one of the largest and most important Gompas in Ladakh.  When the Kashmir is invaded in the 1830’s, the monks hid their treasures in the mountains, hence today the ancient books and idols are still intact and used on special occasions.  The main road from Srinagar to Leh lies on the other side and we now drive along it for 04 / 05 hrs. to Leh.  Beds and baths at Leh hotel are very welcome after more than 200 miles of Himalayan trekking.


Important Note:   Whilst every effort is made to keep to the above itinerary, clients will hopefully appreciate that this is a adventure travel in a remote mountain region. Weather conditions, especially as Himalayan weather patterns seem to be changing, road conditions, vehicle breakdowns off the beaten track, local availability of porters or yaks can contribute to the need for changes. The trek leader will do everything in his power to see that you are inconvenienced as little as possible in such events.