With its sheer beauty of lofty Himalayan peaks, high mountain passes, lush meadows, serene alpine lakes and ancient Buddhist monasteries, Ladakh is the epitome of nature’s craftsmanship. With the place’s amazing topography abundant in unparalleled scenic charm, adventure fanatics from all across the globe come here to discover the hidden magic of this mystical abode and satiate their adrenaline rush like never before. While there are many ways to explore the serenity and spirituality of Ladakh, ranging from biking to nature walks, there is nothing that can beat the adventure of trekking.
One of the most challenging and strenuous treks in the Leh-Ladakh region, the Stok Kangri trek takes you deep into the wilderness of the Zanskar Valley. While on the trek, you can witness stunning vistas of nature, ranging from gray barren lands, sparkling streams, mountains and rivulets with purple hues to lush meadows and vast stretches of snow-covered terrains.
The Stok Kangri trek demands high physical and mental strength. Trekkers from different parts of the world have tried this incredible trek, but only a few have succeeded in their attempt. Requiring you to traverse through narrow tracks and dangerous glacial patches (sometimes even confronting snowstorms) the Stok Kangri trek is an unforgettable experience for real trekkers. While you make your way to India’s highest trek-able summit, which lies at a height of almost 70% of Mt. Everest, you will notice sudden changes in altitude levels, weather or landscapes. Gradual acclimatization during the climb plays an important role in helping you successfully reaching your destination. As you reach the summit, the sight that greets you is beyond words, making you forget all of the fatigue from the climb.
Darcha is a small quaint village located on the banks of Bhaga River in the Lahaul valley of Leh-Ladakh region. The trek to Darcha from Lamayuru, the moon land of Ladakh, is one of the most strenuous treks of the Ladakh region and traverses through three different valleys, precisely, Ladakh, Zanskar, and Lahaul. Commencing from the Lamayuru Monastery, the trek takes you through steep passes, narrow gorges, alpine lakes, gorgeous villages and remote Tibetan monasteries. The trek also requires you to cross rivers like the Indus, the Zanskar, the Chadra and the Bhaga.
Before starting with the trek, do not miss an opportunity to take pictures of the amazing moonlike landscape of Lamayuru, one of the most miraculous creations of nature on earth. As you make your way towards Darcha, marvel at the quaint villages dotted with fluttering prayer flags, beautiful valleys blooming with rose bushes, and lush fields and mountains changing colors with the varying position of the sun. Staying with locals in the villages across the route is another once in a lifetime experience which you can get on this trek. Interact with people and different tribes of Ladakh, get to know their simple lifestyle and cultures and enjoy some home-made Ladakhi delicacies.
For those who strive to explore as many new horizons as possible, the Lamayuru to Darcha Trek is an absolute delight.
One of the most scenic treks in Ladakh, the Rupshu Valley Trek is also one of the most difficult treks in the region. The valley is a high altitude desert tucked away in the southeast part of the region, which is inhabited by only a few nomads and their farm animals. Home to the crystalline lakes of Pangong Tso and Tso Moriri, the Rupshu Valley attracts trekkers who want to see how astounding nature can be. Taking you through deserted villages, lofty mountain passes, alpine lakes and different colored mountains, the trek gives you an insight into the life of the Changpas, Tibetan nomads who spend their lives in these harsh conditions. While on the trek, do not miss the famous Shey, Thiksey and Hemis monasteries or the beautiful Tso Moriri Lake.
Walking on the Chadar Trek is one of the most thrilling activities you can do in Ladakh. The trek involves walking over the frozen Zanskar River, which is tucked away in the secluded Zanskar valley that gets covered under thick layers of snow during winters. As you marvel at the eye-catching scenery with ever changing hues of snow-clad mountains, frozen waterfalls, and amazing natural rock formations, you’ll make your way through deep ravines and hidden mountain caves, braving sub-zero temperatures with your hands numbing and teeth clattering, even the thought of this enigmatic trek can send chills down your spine. A dream trek for adventurers, the Chadar Trek tests your physical and mental endurance and gives you one of the most blissful experiences of your lifetime all at once.
One of the most popular and adventurous treks in Ladakh, the Hemis to Padum Trek requires a high amount of determination and skill. This trek, which takes you through one of the most isolated routes and crosses the Markha Valley and Junglam before finally reaching Zanskar, is definitely not for the faint of heart.
Commencing from the famous Hemis Monastery, the route leads you through the wilderness of the Hemis National Park, where you might even meet a snow leopard. As you move forward, revel in the beauty of an amazing landscape of red rocks, icy cold rivers, rocky slopes, dangerous moraines, magnificent rock formations and narrow gorges before finally ending up in the remoteness of the Zanskar valley. For the first few days, you will not see even a single sign of humanity. Constantly raising altitude levels will require you to frequently acclimatize yourselves, but it is worth it to discover a world full of untouched natural beauty.
Another strenuous trek, the Kharnak Nomad Trek gives you an opportunity to understand the lifestyle of Tibetan nomadic tribes while simultaneously reveling in the beauty of the famous Markha and Puga valleys. As you commence the trek from Shang Sumdho (the gateway to Markha Valley), you can: climb beautiful gorges, dip your feet in the medicinal waters of Chuskyurmo, cross a few mountain passes, admire the breathtaking splendours of the Zanskar and Karakoram ranges, witness the beauty of green pasture lands, make your way through steep cliffs, explore the ancient ruins of Tsokra, visit old monasteries, appreciate the vistas of serene valleys, and interact with nomadic tribes at Yagang and Zara. Keep an eye for rare sightings of wild species like snow leopards, blue sheep, golden eagles, wolves and Himalayan marmots that can appear as if from nowhere in the deep wilderness of this trekking route.
Do not forget to take some memorable pictures against the spectacular Tso Kar Lake during your expedition to Kharnak.
There is no end to the number of enigmatic trekking trails in Ladakh. Our list is just a glimpse at the exquisite offerings of this mystical land of Ladakh, a major part of which still remains untouched and unexplored. If you are a true trekking junkie, go on to a journey to explore the hidden magic of this serene world.