Ladakh, the winter beauty of India, is known for its valleys, mountains, lakes, rivers, passes and the unique Buddhist culture. The wonders of Ladakh stretches from the borders of China to that of Pakistan. This stretch is blessed with a unique manifestation of nature. And one of the best ways to get closer to nature in Ladakh and experience the beauty at its best is through trekking. For mountaineers, adventurers and trekkers, Ladakh is one of the hotspots of India for trekking and mountaineering. Trekking in Ladakh has its own taste that neither the peaks of Uttarakhand can offer nor the backpacking trails of Himachal! Trekking in Ladakh involves its own personal logistics and many trails are yet to be discovered in the land that largely remains untouched.
One of the most famous trekking routes in Ladakh is the Stok Kangri Trek. A trekking peak, Stok Kangri is the epitome of adventure trekking in Ladakh. Standing at an elevation of 6,153 m, Stok Kangri is a difficult trek that offers grandeur views of K2 and Mt. Godwen-Austen from the summit. The best season to embark on this trek is from mid-July to mid-September, when the weather conditions are in favour. Every year, hundreds of mountaineers and trekkers summit the peak, making it prone to ecological imbalance. Hence, for the same reason, the trek has been closed for the next three years to restore its natural order.
Ever wondered what walking on a frozen river feels like? Well, fret not! The Chadar trek is another famous trek in Ladakh, starting from Chilling, that involves walking over the frozen Zanskar for almost a week. Difficult in level, the day-time temperature usually ranges between -5 and -10 C and at nights it can drop down to -25 C. On your way, you may see frozen waterfalls and monasteries such as Lingshed Gompa and Karsha Gompa. The highest altitude during the trek is 3,850 m and the best season starts from mid-Jan to end- February when the river is safe to walk on.
Beginning from Spituk, the Markha Valley trek is an 8 day long journey that involves crossing Gand La pass and Kongmaru La pass, which is the highest pass on the Markha Valley trek. While trekking, you will see the Ladakh and Zanskar Ranges, Kang Yatze and Stok Kangri peaks. The trek also crosses villages such as Shang Sumdo which gives you a chance to interact with the locals and provides a more meaningful insight into their daily lives. The best season to do this trek is between June and September and the level of difficulty is moderate.
Trekking in Ladakh not only involves the ranges and the valleys but the flora and fauna of the region as well! Covering the Hemis National Park which stretches over Markha and Rumbak valleys, the Snow Leopard trek offers a chance to spot rare and endangered species that live exclusively in the cold interior desert of Ladakh which includes ibex, snow leopard, Ladakhi urial, marmot, Tibetan hare and antelope. The trek also includes spotting rare Himalayan birds. Attracting animal lovers every year, the best season of the trek is from mid-Nov to mid-March when the valley is covered entirely with snow. The average elevation of the trek is 3000 meters, making it moderate in level.
Standing at an elevation of 6,400 m, another challenging trekking peak that mountaineers and trekkers try to summit is the Kang Yatse. A long journey, the trek takes about 12-13 days to complete which includes acclimatisation at various stages. The trek passes through monasteries, forts and small villages. The trek is a serious game changer for those who want to pursue mountaineering and trekking. After summiting the peak, you will climb over the Kongmaru La pass and further descend towards the narrow Shang Gorge to finish the expedition. The level of difficulty is challenging and the best season to summit the peak is from June to September, when the snowfall is minimum.
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All these treks require prior acclimatisation and medical health check up at the tourist centre in Ladakh. Note that solo trekking is permitted but not advised during the winter season! To know more about Ladakh and the packages offered, check out our Ladakh Tour Packages.