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Zanskar To Indus Traverse


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A stunning traverse of the Indian Himalaya through the dramatic region of Zanskar


Join Delhi

On arrival in Delhi you will be met by a World Expeditions representative and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free to explore the sights and sounds of this great city, where cows walk freely through busy streets laden with rickshaws and old style cars, and sari clad ladies with bundles of shopping balanced on their heads pass by beggars and street peddlers all the time against a background noise of beeping horns and bicycle bells. Should you arrive earlier in the day we are happy to assist with any optional sightseeing. Due to the differing times of arrival of group members and the early morning departure to Leh the following morning the initial briefing will be on ‘a need to know basis’ such as what to pack, ordering a packed breakfast, what time for departure from the hotel, arrangements for leaving gear in Delhi etc. Your World Expeditions kit bag will also be distributed after the initial briefing.Overnight group hotel.Note: the main briefing will be on arrival in Leh and distributions of sleeping bags, liners, insulated mattress and down jackets will be made. Please note if you are arriving in Delhi on a late night flight, you might like to arrive the day before the trip commences. Please talk to your World Expeditions reservations consultant or travel agent for pre–tour accommodation options.

Fly to Leh

We board the early morning flight from Delhi to Leh in the Indus Valley. If the conditions are clear you will be rewarded with magnificent views of the Great Himalaya and Zanskar ranges before landing at the capital of Ladakh. On arrival we transfer to our hotel to rest and acclimatise. Optional walks to the main market will provide your first insight into Ladakh’s rich cultural history.

In Leh (3510m)

The gradual ascent to the Kings Palace and then to the Tsemo monastery and Victory Fort will help to prepare for the trek. The Kings Palace is located above the old town of Leh with views of the labyrinth of alleyways that lead to the market and to the Polo Ground. The seven storied palace built in the 17th century has been extensively restored in the last decade. It's a short ascent to the Victory Fort and the Tsemo monastery built in the 16th century to commemorate Ladakh’s victories over the armies from Baltistan and Central Asia. From the fort you gain superb views north to the Ladakh Range and south across the wide reaches of the Indus Valley to the snow capped peaks of the Stok mountain range.

Drive to Kanji via Lamayuru (6.5 hours)

From Leh we head west and drive down the Indus Valley to Nimu before ascending to Lamayuru monastery. After visiting the monastery we drive another hour and a half up to the spectacular Kanji gorge to the outlying fields of Kanji village (3790 m). It is from here that our trek will begin the following morning.

Trek to Shila Kong (6 hours)

From Kanji village we slowly ascend across open meadows before a short steep climb to the Yoma La (4650 metres). From the pass we gain our first dramatic views of the Zanskar Range before a long gradual descent to the camp at Shila Kong (4030 metres).

Shila Kong to Doksa (9 Hours)

We ascend Nagutse La (5080m) and then gradually descend to our secluded camp (4550 metres). On our trek today, we will pass many "doksar," an area where local villages bring their sheet and goats to graze on the lush green meadows throughout the summer months.

Trek to Photaksar (6 hours)

We ascend a minor pass before completing a gradual ascent to the Sisir La (4720 metres). The pass affords dramatic views of the Zanskar Range and the trail which heads down to the substantial village of Photaksar (4100 metres). Evidence of road construction is also apparent, as a road is planned that will eventually extend to Lingshet.

Trek to Singge La and camp (8 hours)

The trail winds across meagre grazing pastures for several km to reach the base of the Singge La before a short, steep climb to the pass. From the Singge La (5100 metres) there are panoramic views across the Zanskar Range - to the north are the snow-capped ridges of the Ladakh Range on the far side of the Indus Valley. From the pass there is a descent (steep in places) to a flat, albeit rocky campsite with a birds eye view down to the Zanskar River.

To Lingshet (5 hours)

There are two small passes - the Khyupa La (4360 metres) and the Neruka La (4280 metres) - to reach the substantial village of Lingshet (3850 metres). The village is located in a secluded, fertile valley high above the Zanskar Gorge. The monastery was built during the 17th century although the original foundations may date back to the 11th century when Buddhism was first established in the Zanskar.

To Snertse (8 hours)

It's a long and quite formidable ascent on the far side of the valley to the summit of the Hanuma La (4710 metres). Anticipate fine views that stretch across to the Singge La and north to the Ladakh Range. From the pass the trail enters a dry valley that heads down to the shepherd encampment at Snertse (3740 metres).

To Hanumil (7 hours)

From Snertse there is a steep descent to the Zinchen Tokpo followed by an equally steep ascent to the Purfi La (3850 metres). From the pass the trail descends to the banks of the Zanskar River and continues to the small settlement of Hanumil (3380 metres) with its willow trees and well-tended barley fields.

To Pishu (5 hours)

The trail follows the silent, swirling current of the Zanskar River along to the village of Pidmu before continuing on to the village of Pishu (3470 metres) and a huge grassy camping site.

Drive to Zangla (3370m) via Karsha Monastery and Padam

Today is a rest day of sorts before the reasonably demanding second stage of this trek. From Pishu we drive to Karsha the largest monastery in Zanskar. From the monastery the views across the Zanskar Valley and the snow capped peaks of the Great Himalayan Range are something the truly savor. We then continue to Padum, the administrative centre of Zanskar and if time permits visit the local amchi centre, where traditional medical practices are still in use to this day with the support of organisations such as the Australian Himalayan Foundation (AHF). We complete our drive heading direct to Zangla Village (3370 m), on the opposite side of the Zanskar River from Pishu, where we camp overnight.

To the base of the Cha Cha La (6 hours)

We will also ascend to the dilapidated fort with its commanding views across the lower reaches of the Zanskar Valley. We then enter a side gorge and follow the course of a side stream to reach the camp (3800 metres) at the base of the Cha Cha La.

Ascend Cha Cha La and camp at Chupchak (8 hours)

From camp the trail winds up to a dry valley before gradually ascending a series of scree slopes to reach the final steep stage to the pass. From the Cha Cha La (4950 metres) savour views of the Zanskar Range as well as the snow capped peaks of the Great Himalaya to the south. From the pass it's a long, gradual descent. At times the ill-defined trail climbs high above the floor of the gorge while at other times it follows the main stream to the camp at Chupchak (4000 metres).

To Tilat Sumdo (10 hours)

Today's planned routes sees us utilising some of the most remote and isolated trekking routes in Ladakh. The sun only penetrates the depths of the awesome gorge country for a few hours each day and with a number of river crossings required today as we forge a route to the confluence of the Tilat and Khurna rivers. The lack of bridges in this part of the world means keeping your boots dry will be a challenge and although river levels are generally at their lowest this time of year the sensation of crossing a glacier fed river cannot be avoided and is something that you won't forget in a hurry. On reaching the confluence the prayer flags on the opposite bank are a welcome sight before fording the Khurna River to Tilat Sumdo (3750 metres).

To base of Rubrang La (8 hours)

Another testing stage that initially follows the course of the Khurna River, requiring yet more river crossings to reach a side gorge that marks the route to the Rubrang La. The trail along the gorge is difficult in places for laden mules that may have to be offloaded several times before we finally reach an open grassy camp (4680 metres). While resting keep an eye out for bharal, the blue sheep who regularly graze in the vicinity of the camp.

To Markha Valley and Humlung village (10 hours)

From camp it is a steady haul to the Rubrang La (5020 metres) with impressive views across the Zanskar Range, while to the north are the snow capped peaks of the Stok Range, the trail then descends gradually to the confluence of the Markha Valley about two km above the village of Markha. We head up the valley – fording the Markha River - to the settlement of Humlung.

To Nimaling (7 hours)

We are now on the popular Markha Valley trail so expect to meet other trekking groups as we ascend to the campsite at Thochuntse. It's a further two to three hours ascent, steep in places, to the windswept meadows that constitute Nimaling. Villagers from Hankar bring their yaks to graze on these vast meadows set against the dramatic backdrop of Kangyaze (6400 metres).

Cross Kongmaru La to Shang Sumdo (8 hours)

The ascent to the Kongmaru La (5150 metres) should take no more than two hours. From the summit there are unrivalled views of Kangyaze while to the north are the peaks of the Ladakh Range. There are also glimpses of villages on the far side of the Indus Valley over 1500 metres below. From the pass the trail descends through a spectacular gorge that leads on down to the village of Chogdo (4000 metres). The well-defined trail then continues to Shang Sumdo(3690 metres) and our final campsite.

To Shang monastery, drive to Leh (2 hours)

An early morning trek to the nearby Shang monastery provides a fitting conclusion to our trek. Returning to camp our vehicles will be ready to drive to Hemis monastery before continuing down the Indus Valley to Leh.

Depart Leh & fly direct to Delhi, trip concludes

This spectacular flight takes us across the backbone of the West Himalaya en route to Delhi. On arrival in Delhi your trip concludes. If you are departing on late flights and require a day room in Delhi please liaise with your World Expeditions reservations consultant or travel agent. This is not included in the cost of your tour.

Additional Information

It would be hard to surpass this challenging Trans Himalayan circuit of Ladakh. We follow ancient trails leading over high passes that link isolated Buddhist villages to the secluded Himalayan kingdom of Zanskar. Zanskar is one of the last truly remote regions in the Himalaya, where villages are cut off from the outside world for much of the year due to heavy snowfall and blocked mountain passes. Zanskar is also known for its rust coloured mountains and dramatic deep gorges - a vast, silent and truly spectacular wilderness, that leads to the whitewashed settlements of the upper Markha Valley. We cross numerous passes before we complete our circuit back through the Indus Valley and Leh, the historic capital of Ladakh. If you are in search of an all encompassing Himalayan adventure then this is the trek for you.

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22 Days


Indian Himalaya

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