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Popular Treks to do in Ladakh

by Nathan Zachary

Ladakh provides visitors with some fantastic and exciting trekking opportunities. This Himalayan region is a paradise for those looking for adventure amid mountains and peaks. In Ladakh, there are numerous trekking options ranging in difficulty and duration. Some treks take two weeks to complete, while others can be completed in three days. Regardless, any of these excursions will provide you with unforgettable memories.

First-timers and families with children may choose an easy trek, whereas those seeking a more challenging experience may choose a longer trek that crosses multiple passes above 5000 meters and even attempts the ascent of a 6000-meter peak.

From May to October is the best time to go in Ladakh. However, due to heavy snowfall on mountain passes during the winter, some treks are only available beginning in early July. The arrival of winter heralds the start of two annual treks in Ladakh, which take place from January to March: the Chadar trek on the frozen Zanskar river and the Snow Leopard trek.

  • Trekking through the Nubra Valley from Phyang to Hunder.

The Indus and Nubra valleys are linked by the hike from Phyang to Hunder. It follows an ancient trade route that was once part of the Silk Road network, which connected India and Central Asia. The Laser La pass (5438m) is the highest point on this off-the-beaten-path trek, and it is covered in ice and snow even in summer. The pass offers a stunning view of the Karakoram range. 

Following the trek, you will visit the Nubra Valley’s main attractions. At Hunder dunes, you will be able to ride a double-humped Bactrian camel.

  • Sham Valley Hike

The Sham Valley trek, also known as the “baby trek” due to its ease of access, provides trekkers with some breathtaking views. If you’re looking for a simple hike suitable for your children, this is the one for you. It never goes above 4000 meters and can be done all year.

The trek takes you through many small villages where you can stay in homestays and eat authentic local cuisine prepared by the families. During and after the trek, you can visit some ancient and well-known monasteries in Likir, Rizong, Temisgam, Basgo, and Alchi.

  • Trek from Spituk to Stok

The trek from Spituk to Stok is designed for those with limited time but who want to experience a beautiful trek in Ladakh in three days. Begin your journey with an auspicious stop at the Spituk monastery, an 11th-century monastery of the Gelugpa sect.

After crossing the Indus, you will arrive in Zingchen, from where you will hike for two hours to Rumbak. It’s a lovely village with whitewashed houses and fields of barley and mustard. In this village, you can stay in a homestay. After spending the night in Rumbak, climb to the top of Stok La pass for a spectacular view of the colorful snow-clad mountains

  • Trek from Lamayuru to Alchi

The western part of Ladakh is well-known not only for its centuries-old monasteries but also for the Lamayuru-Alchi trek. This five-day trek includes two difficult passes – Kongskil La (4948m) and Stakspi La (5153m) – and will test your endurance to the limit, but you will be rewarded with spectacular mountain scenery. If you want to immerse yourself in local culture, stay at a homestay in a remote village. Visit monasteries either before or after the trek.

  • Snow Leopard excursion

Ladakh is home to one of the world’s most elusive wild cats: the majestic snow leopard. The Snow Leopard trek is held in the Hemis National Park in February and March. Snow leopards, as well as Tibetan wolves, Asiatic ibex, blue sheep, and Ladakh urials, can be found in the Hemis National Park.

It’s not easy to spot the elusive snow leopard in sub-zero temperatures. Patience is essential on wildlife expeditions such as these. Many people have seen snow leopards in their binoculars after hours or even days of waiting, and they have even returned home with images of the big cat captured on their cameras.

  • Trekking along the frozen river Chadar

The Chadar route serves as a lifeline for Zanskar, which is cut off from the rest of the country during the winter due to heavy snowfall.

The Chadar trek has become the “next big thing” in Ladakh over the years, and it’s easy to see why. Walking on the frozen Zanskar river for 105 kilometers in mind-numbing temperatures (-25 to -35 degrees) pushes trekkers to their limits. There aren’t many treks that take you through gorges with frozen waterfalls and follow an ice trail that turns into a mirror for the sky. The Chadar trek has been documented in documentaries, most notably in the BBC’s “Human Planet” series from 2011.

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