Ladakh is a union territory of India. Ladakh diverges into two districts: district “Leh” and district “Kargil”. The former district has a prominent village, “Leh” and is a splendid sightseer appeal because of Shanti Stupa, cafes, and Leh Bazaar defining the place’s culture. Extending from the Siachen Glacier to the Great Himalayas, Ladakh is a land like no other in the world. Conquered by dramatic topography, Ladakh is renowned for rafting and high-altitude trekking. Mention that Ladakh is inaccessible by road beyond the summer months. The path passes close entirely from around October to May, and the best course to go is by air.
Travelers to Ladakh can relish some amazing and interesting trekking opportunities. In Ladakh, countless trekking options are ranging in difficulty and duration. Some treks take two weeks to finish and others can be accomplished in three days or less. However, these trips will furnish you with lifelong experiences.
The Best time for Trekking in Ladakh
If you’re a thrill-seeker, overlooking these Ladakh treks is a sin. So, after deciding your activity from the beneath list, make programs to go trekking in Ladakh this year. The months of April through October are excellent for trekking in Ladakh. However, due to intense snowfall on mountain trails, certain treks are only accessible from early July. Winter glorifies the onset of two higher-altitude treks in Ladakh, from January to March each year: the Chadar walk on the frozen Zanskar River and the Snow Leopard trek.
The Top treks to do in Ladakh
1) Trekking from Lamayuru to Alchi
This hard hike departs via four of Ladakh’s most earlier remaining monasteries. The trip is an incredible opportunity to realize the region’s history. It initiates in Lamayuru, approximately a 3-hour drive through the Sham Valley on the Srinagar-Leh Highway. This panoramic town acts as the beginning point for many Ladakh treks. Even though the neighborhood has guesthouses, the Lamayuru Monastery is located majestically just above the camping grounds. The trip is difficult at times, but the sparkling clear streams and sights of the Zanskar Range make it worthwhile!
- Time frame: 5-6 days
- Difficulty Level: Moderate to hard
- Route: Lamayuru—Wanla—Hinju—Sumdha Chenmo—Sumdha Chun—Stakspi La-Alchi
- Highlights: The oldest monastery in Ladakh, Lamayuru Monastery, dates from the 11th century and is where the mysterious Naropa meditated in a cave. The Alchi Monastery is known for its early Kashmiri Buddhist painting.
- Best time to visit: From mid-June to late-September
2) Markha Valley Trek
The most famous trek in Ladakh is the Markha valley trek in Hemis National Park. It’s not heading to be easy! It demands passing through two or three high-altitude mountain passes (16,000-17,000 feet above sea level) and resting at extremely high elevations for several nights. This trek offers an outstanding blend of Ladakhi culture, lifestyle, exquisite landscapes with gullies and rock formations.
The Markha Valley is located south of Leh, between the Zanskar and Stok mountain ranges. Depending on the route taken, the hike takes 6 to 8 days to finish. The Markha valley is accessible via two routes: one from Spituk and the other from Chilling. The trek from Spituk is the toughest. The trail transits through Hemis National Park, with the road only ascending to Zingchen, the park’s entrance point. Before advancing Hemis, the trip travels via two passes: Ganda La (4961m) and Kongmaru La (5260m). Those who don’t have sufficient time or want to bypass the Ganda La pass can commence their trip in Chilling, which is a considerably easy and quicker alternative. You will have the opportunity to stay in these villages’ homestays and learn about the local people’s way of life.
- Time frame: 6-8 days
- Level: Moderate to Extremely Intense
- Route: Spituk-Zingchen-Kandala Base Camp-Skiu-Markha-Thujungtse-Tsigu-Nyimaling-Shang Sumdo-Hemis.
- Highlights: Panorama sights from high altitude passes, Ruins of forts at Markha and Hankar with a visit to the Hemis monastery.
- Best time to visit: Mid June to late September.
3) Spituk-Stok Trek: Hemis National Park
The traditional trek from Spituk to Stok is a briefer and more convenient deviation of the Markha Valley Trek. It commences at Spituk and follows the same path until it veers off across Stock Pass. After traversing the Indus, you’ll reach Zingchen, where you’ll initiate a two-hour climb to Rumbak. Nature fanatics can stay in Rumbak village for a couple of days and explore the neighboring Hemis National Park with competent local guides.
After spending the night in Rumbak, climb to the summit of Stok La pass for a breathtaking glimpse of the snow-capped mountains. The winding road down to Stok will leave you with some unforgettable memories. If you don’t feel up to complete the full journey, Zingchen to Rumbak is a modest half-day hike from which you can return without having to tackle the most challenging section.
- Time frame: 4-5 days
- Level: Easy to moderate difficulty.
- Route: Spituk-Zingchen-Rumbak-Stock La Campsite-Stok
- Highlights: Views of the Indus Valley from Stok Pass, Hemis National Park’s flora, animals and Stok Palace
- Best time to visit: Mid June to late September.
4) Sham Valley Trek
Are you new to trekking? Sham Valley Trek is a considerable straightforward hike in Ladakh and a perfect spot to start from. The Sham valley trip is often called the “baby trek”. Though this expedition is referred to as a “baby trek,” it is not without hardships. Yet, there is no denying that the trip delivers trekkers with some spectacular views. It never surpasses 4000 meters and may be completed at any time of year. The distance between passes is short, and homestay accommodations are available.
The walk passes through a number of small villages where you can enjoy sample authentic regional cuisine made by the local families. After the trip, you can visit some renowned monasteries in Likir, Rizong, Temisgam, Basgo, and Alchi.
- Time frame: 4 days
- Level: Easy difficulty level
- Route: Likir-Yangthang-Hemis Shukpachen-Ang-Temisgam-Nurla
- Highlights: Rugged and frequently changing landscape, plus monasteries at Likir and Ridzong.
- Best time to visit: Anytime between late May and late September is ideal
Padum-Darcha is a long trip that runs from Zanskar in Ladakh to Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh. This trip is not very hard and is the right choice for anyone. There’s only one high-altitude pass, at roughly 16,500 feet above sea level. There are tons of local homestays and campgrounds. The trip begins in Padum, roughly a two-day drive from Leh, and finishes in Kargil. It’s feasible to integrate this journey with one from Lamayuru to Padum for an added challenge.
The road from Padum, the old capital of the Zanskar dynasty, passes through rugged hills, alpine streams, and grazing yaks. You’ll have the opportunity to appreciate some homemade dishes like thukpa (Tibetan noodle soup) or skyu with overnight stops at village homestays (Ladakhi dumplings). You’ll reach Lahaul Valley, an off-the-beaten-path Himachali hideaway with snow-dusted landscapes and welcoming residents.
- Time frame: 9 days
- Level: Easy to moderate
- Route: Padum-Shilla-Reru-Changpa Tsetan-Purne-Phuktal-Purne-Kargyak-Shingo La Base-Ramjak-Pal Lhamo-Darcha
- Highlights: Phuktal monastery, reachable only by trekking. Gombu Rangjom, a magnificent monolithic rock, poetically surrounded by wildflowers and grazing yaks.
- Best time to visit: June to September
6) Zanskar Chadar Trek
Snow starts to drop in Ladakh’s higher elevations at the end of September, closing the Zanskar Valley off from the rest of the world for nine months. Due to the inaccessibility of the exclusive road, inhabitants cross the frozen Zanskar River to get into or out of the region. The “chadar” is the phrase for the ice sheet that forms on the river. The Chadar trip has evolved into the “next big thing” in Ladakh over the years. The Chadar road operates as a lifeline for Zanskar. The trekkers’ perseverance is tested as they walk 105 kilometers along the frozen Zanskar river in mind-numbing conditions (-25 to -35 degrees).
There aren’t multiple hikes that travel through valleys with frozen waterfalls and follow an ice route that transforms into a sky mirror. The Chadar expedition has been noted in BBC’s “Human Planet” series from 2011. If you’re fit and adventurous you can also trek this way. Each night, you’ll sleep in a series of caves that deliver shelter from the biting wind.
- Time frame: 10 days.
- Level: One of India’s most difficult treks.
- Route: Treks begin in Chilling village, about 2 hours southwest of Leh, and follow the river.
- Highlights: include the trail’s pristine white splendour, walking on ice, and climbing over frozen boulders.
- When to Go: Mid-January to Mid-February.