escape - trekking in Ladakh

Ladakh is part of Jammu and Kashmir which is the northernmost state in India bordered by Pakistan, China and Tibet. Due to occasional trouble near the line of control, on the border disputed by India and Pakistan in the west of the region, we don’t currently offer treks there. Hopefully soon we’ll be able to offer treks in Kashmir but for now we have concentrated our services in the safe area of Ladakh to the east of the region.

Ladakh is an arid but beautiful mountain desert in the summer and is almost cut off from the rest of the world by winter snows. It is situated in the rain shadow of the Himalaya so isn’t affected by monsoon rains. It does rain in Ladakh but so infrequently it remains one of the driest regions in India. When the snow starts to melt on the high passes in June the trekking season starts, which is about the same time the monsoon hits the rest of the Indian Himalaya. The trekking season lasts until the snow starts to fall on the high passes in early October. When planning to trek in the region you should be prepared to be flexible particularly in early and late season as the snow can be slow to clear or arrive unexpectedly early.

Trekking in this pristine wilderness area is particularly rewarding but hard work. Trekkers should be prepared for both; heat and prolonged exposure to the sun; and extreme cold at night and high altitudes. Extra care and time should be taken to avoid AMS (Acute Mountain Sickness) caused by high altitude. You should allow at least three days to acclimatise in Leh before starting your trek - especially if you fly in. Please read our health section for more details. Ladakh has a particularly fragile eco-system so we encourage all trekkers to trek responsibly with this in mind.

 

Manali to Leh (jeep safari)
If you want to start your experience with an adventure you could consider reaching Ladakh by road giving you the added advantage of acclimatising more gradually than flying in. The Manali to Leh road is the world’s second highest, crossing Taglang La at 5328m as well as Baralacha La at 4883m and Lachlung La at 5060m! This is one astonishing road journey you’ll never forget.

Duration: 2 Days
Altitude Reached: 5328m
Season: July to Mid-September

 

Markha Valley
Crossing the Stok range near Leh this tough trek is a challenge due to three 5000m passes and tricky terrain. This is one of the most popular treks in Ladakh with good reason, you are rewarded for your efforts by impressive views of four major mountain ranges, the Ladakh, East Karakoram, Zanskar and Himalaya. You’ll also experience life in remote Buddhist villages along the route.

Trek Grade: Moderate - Demanding
Duration: 8-9 Days
Altitude Reached: 5150m
Season: June to Mid-October

 

Lamayuru to Chiling
This challenging trek, sometimes referred to as the ‘Hidden Valleys of Ladakh’, is less popular and more remote than the Markha valley trek but still offers great views of the Ladakh, East Karakoram, and Zanskar ranges. The trek starts in the enchanting village of Lamayuru with its famous ancient Buddhist monastery, and other worldly ‘moonland’ landscape. You can choose to explore the village and surrounds as part of your acclimatisation for the trek which means spending one less day in Leh. By adding a day its also possible to end the trek in the picturesque village of Alchi with its elaborately decorated 11th century Buddhist temples.

Trek Grade: Moderate - Demanding
Duration: 7 Days
Altitude Reached: 4950m
Season: June to Mid-October

 

Phugtal Gompa to Shingo La
This popular trek in the Zanskar will lead you to Darcha in Himachal Pradesh, which will be familiar if you arrived in Ladakh by road as its on the Manali to Leh route. This makes it possible to return by road to Manali in one day after the trek. The initial stages of the trek lead through remote Buddhist villages which gradually increase in altitude meaning you should acclimatise gradually before crossing Shingo La on day nine. You should be aware that Zanskar is very remote and therefore treks include a three day journey by road from Leh to Padum via Kargil. Neither Kargil or Padum are very inspiring towns but you’ll be rewarded by less congested trails.

Trek Grade: Moderate - Demanding
Duration: 11 Days
Altitude Reached: 4980m
Season: June to Early October

 

Above is just a sample to whet your appetite. Other popular treks include…

Singge La to Lamayuru
Remote Zanskar
Phitse La to Baralacha La
Kang La to Miyar Glacier
Kanji La to Shilakong Gorge