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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Guest Post: Top 10 Treks in Ladakh

Ladakh is a land of varied experiences. There is spirituality to be explored, adventure to be had and the bliss of nature to be felt. While you can explore Ladakh in plenty of ways, trekking is one of the best ways to do it. Trekking in Ladakh brings together all the different experiences to be had in Ladakh- a trip to monasteries gives you a spiritual experience; walking through varied landscapes lets you be with nature; and trekking to the top of challenging peaks gives you an adventurous experience. There are plenty of trekking trails in Ladakh to explore. However, here is an arguable list of top 10 treks in Ladakh which you shouldn’t miss:

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1. The Frozen River Trek
The name says it all. You get to walk on a frozen river and make your way through remote areas of the land and enjoy the bliss of nature. The trek happens in winters, when the Zanskar River freezes and is the only route to get from Kargil to Padum. Also known as the Chaddar trek, this 20 day trek is meant for professional trekkers and not for beginners.
Best time to trek: January to February

2. Sham Valley Trek
While the Chaddar Trek is meant to be adrenaline pumping, the Sham Valley Trek is meant to be a spiritual experience. It takes you through various beautiful monasteries of Ladakh, including the ones which date back to the 11th century. This 5 day long trek is not too demanding and includes a visit to the monasteries of Alchi, Lamayuru as well as Thiksey.
Best time to trek: June to October

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3. Stok Kangri Trek
If you love scaling heights and feel adrenaline pumping through your veins, the Stok Kangri trek is meant for you. This majestic peak, with a height of about 6137 meters above sea level, can be quite a challenge to scale. It takes about 9 days to reach a summit, and you encounter steep climbs as well as some gorgeous camping locations on your way. While the trek can be quite demanding, the views you get from top of Stok Kangri simply take your pain away.
Best time to trek: July and September

4. Rupshu Valley Trek
Lying in the south-eastern region of Ladakh is Rupshu Valley. A trek through the valley takes you varied terrains, with the altitude ranging between 4500 and 5500 meters. The valley has green pastures every now and then, but largely, the land is not suitable for agriculture. That makes the region sparsely populated. However, it is a popular route for nomads, and you can spot quite a few of them while on this trek. Watching them make their way through the arid land with their sheep and yak gives you glimpse into the local life of the people of Ladakh.
Best time to trek: June to October

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5. Indus Valley Trek
The Indus River has carved some gorgeous gorges in the valley, apart from some other beautiful sights. The valley has scintillating mountain peaks in the background, which give it the awe-inspiring factor. Located at quite an altitude, the trek can be difficult in parts. That’s why, it is necessary that you have basic levels of fitness before embarking on this trek. On the way, don’t miss the Spituk Monastery, which is one of the oldest in Ladakh. Likir offers nice camping grounds, and an opportunity to interact with the locals.
Best time to trek: May to July

6. Kang Yatse trek
If the Stok Kangri trek sounds exciting to you, the Kang Yatse trek is even more so. The peak is a little higher than Stok Kangri and requires considerable level of fitness to reach the summit. However, the trek to the top is not technical, which means you don’t have to be a trained mountaineer in order to reach the summit. Nevertheless, as you continue rising to the top, the ascent keeps getting steeper and more challenging. But despite the hardships, it is must have experience if your fitness allows it. The top of Kang Yatse gives an amazing view of Himalayan peaks, including K2, which is the world’s second highest peak.
Best time to trek: June to August

7. Nubra Valley trek
If you would rather have a more relaxing trek than being too adventurous, consider taking the Nubra Valley trek. Nubra valley is known as the valley of flowers, and it has a variety of blossoming flowers in the summer season. Along the trek, you get to cross the beautiful rivers of Shyok and Siachen, visit the Esna monastery, which is a remote monastery of Ladakh, as well as visit the hot springs of Panamik. Finding hot springs in such a cold destination is one of the many delights of nature.
Best time to trek: In the summer months

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8. Lamayuru to Alchi trek
This trek could easily be called the spiritual trek of Ladakh. Lamayuru and Alchi have two of the oldest monasteries of Ladakh, which dates back to the 11th century. Along the way, you get to see some other Ladakh monasteries of Ladakh as well, such as those of Thiksey. The trekking route from Lamayuru to Alchi is pretty undemanding, which makes it perfect for beginners who want to enjoy the joys of trekking in Ladakh.
Best time to trek: May to September

9. Markha Valley Trek
Walk alongside the mesmerizing Markha River and make your way through some really high mountain passes, including that of Stok La and Kongmaru La, which lie at a height of 4,800 meters and 5,200 meters above sea level respectively. As you make your way through the valley, you get to explore the diverse terrains of Ladakh. You can even spot ibex as well as blue sheep along the way, as Markha Valley is a part of Hemis National Park. If you are lucky enough, you could even spot the majestic snow leopard. Watch the terrain change from green pastures to barren lands, with towering peaks in the background.
Best time to trek: June to September

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10. Zanskar Valley Trek
Trekking through Zanskar Valley isn’t just a delight in the winter months only. It is equally exciting in the summer months as well, when the Zanskar River is flowing in full force, and remote villages of the place have bustling activity. A trek through Zanskar Valley takes you through some important monasteries of Ladakh, some remote villages as well as some wild canyons. There is rafting in Zanskar River to be done too.
Best time to trek: June to August
About the Author: Divij is an adventurer, a budding photographer and a writer. He has been to various trekking trails and to many offbeat destinations in India. His passion is to explore all the offbeat destinations in India. Currently, he writes articles on travel for Thrillophilia’s blog.

Note: All the photographs in this post belong to the author.

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