Our “special” feature drives through most of western Ladakh, monasteries, palaces, villages, hikes and travel to one of the most surreal places on the planet. Starting the trip on the Stod river, we begin our self contained multi-day river adventure down the spectacular and scenic Zanskar river gorge. The trip takes you down the extremely desolate, remote and sheer Zanskar gorge with walls rising a few thousand feet out of the river bed, culminating on the mighty Indus river, (which incidentally lends India its name). We finish with spending a couple of days in Leh town acclimatizing at 11,000 feet above sea level and visiting the ancient monasteries, palaces and villages around Leh. Undoubtedly a classic, this journey to the last truly lost horizon of our shrinking planet – Zanskar, the “land of white copper” is a trip of a lifetime.
Fly Delhi – Leh
(3466m ; 11,370ft)
Transfer to hotel. Rest, hydrate and acclimatise. Overnight Leh hotel, the Mogol.
Acclimatise, hydrate and sightseeing. For the more energetic a visit to a few monasteries such as Shey, Thikse and Hemis will be arranged. Or choose to relax and walk into Leh town, to its exciting market and outdoor restaurants. Again, the mantra is rest and hydrate, hydrate and hydrate some more. In the evening we meet for a packing update, where we discuss what goes on the trip and what can be left behind in Leh at the hotel. Overnight Leh hotel.
Drive Leh – Kargil
(3201m ; 10500 ft ; 9-10 hrs)
Today, We set out after an early breakfast, and we will pass the airport and Spituk gompa on our way, travelling west of Leh towards Kargil. After the army camps, the road rises upto a plateau and passes the diversion to Phiyang gompa. After 36 kms of leaving Leh, we reach Nimu, the confluence of the Zanskar with the Lion river, the Indus. The next 60 kms are a culture vulture's dream. 06 kms after Nimu we pass the temples and derelict fort at Basgo. Another 10 kms, we reach the painted caves at Saspol. The historic gompa of Alchi is only a 4 km diversion from here. 44 kms further down the road we reach Khalsi where the road crosses the Indus river and slowly winds its way 27 kms upto the beautiful gompa at Lamayuru. On the left, just before reaching the village, there are great views of the 'moonlands'. We continue climbing for 15 kms upto the highest pass on the route, the Fatu La (13,450ft). After 36 more kms we cross another pass, the Namika La (12,210ft) and then the road descends 15 kms to the village of Mulbekh. Just before the village, there is an ancient 9 metre sculpture of Maitreya, or future Buddha carved into the rock. From Mulbekh, the Wakha river leads upto the cliff face gompa of Gyal. 41 kms further is the town of Kargil which marks the transition to a predominantly Muslim area from where one can either continue west to Kashmir or take the rough road south up the Suru valley into Zanskar, which is our destination. Settle into the hotel D’Zojila in a quieter part of town, have our last showers, and charge camera batteries. We are moving into a week of the great outdoors!
Drive Kargil - Rangdum
(3964m ; 13,000ft ; 8-9 hrs)
A spectacular drive past Panikar and Parkachik, with magnificent views of the 7000 metre plus Nun and Kun massif, hanging glaciers and large meadows. We drive till Rangdum Gompa (12,000 ft). From Kargil, the road runs south upto the Suru valley for 67 kms upto Panikhar. The Balti settlements along this valley are surrounded by lush fields growing a wide variety of crops and fruits ; the villages may seem rather untidy and in a state of disrepair. As we gain height the mighty snow capped peaks of Nun (23,410ft) and Kun (23,220 ft) begin to dominate the view. The road swings to the east for 63 kms, past the last Muslim settlement of Parkachik, to the Buddhist Gelukpa monastery of Rangdum, sitting astride a small hill in the middle of a wide plain. An optional hike around the huge meadow. Overnight Camp.
Drive Rangdum – Remala
(3635m ; 11,925ft ; 6 hrs)
We drive to Remala, which is the starting point for the rafting trip on the Stod river, a tributary of the Zanskar river. Overnight tented camp. The Pensi La (14,440 ft), which is the entrance to Zanskar is only 20 kms from here. We drive over the Pensi La (14,500 ft), which enables grand views of the Zanskar peaks at the bottom of which is the Drung Durung glacier that feeds the Zanskar river, 40 km below, into which we flow trip the next day.The road descends to the Stod or Doda river which it now follows past the well cared for Zanskari villages to Padum (90 kms), the capital of Zanskar. A little more than a large village, it has a surprisingly large Muslim population, mainly Baltis from the Kargil area, who have settled here since the mid 17th century.
Rafting expedition begins at Remala
Raft till near Karsha Gompa, near Padum. (3496m ; 11,466ft ; 4 hrs) We raft 30 km in 4-5 hrs which includes a break for lunch and hot beverages. We are surrounded by 6000 metre high peaks. River section today includes a Class II section, a good introduction for first timers as well as to the river in general. Settle into camp by afternoon, we can take an optional hike around Camp. For the energetic, a long walk to Karsha Gompa, is possible.
Honyo / Pidmo
(3361m ; 11,025 ft ; 3 hrs)
This stretch is approximately 25 km with Class II and III rapids. Another easy day to get used to the river, the altitude and hone our paddling skills.
After packing camp, we raft 25 km to Nyerak (3286m ; 10,780ft ; 3 hrs) a Class III section. The gorge narrows in on the river – there is now a new rapid formed at the entrance to the canyon, by the making of the road, the dynamiting and also due to a fallen JCB ! This indeed is a Grand Canyon in its own right. We stop for the day to pitch camp in a gorge below Nyerak village. Click here for video!! Dislocator, Spanish Fly, many names for this new biggie!
Rest day at Nyerak
Take a hike to Nyerak village or relax under the cool shade of the willows at our Campsite. Wash up at the campsite stream and enjoy the day off !
Nyerak to Lamaguru
Todays 35 km rafting section takes us from Nyerak to Lamaguru (3190m ; 10,465ft ; 6 hrs) through the core of the Zanskar A classic white water day with continuous Class III rapids, and a few Class IV rapid where the river squeezes between a gap of about 18ft. We stop for lunch near a huge waterfall and continue to camp at the confluence of Markha river with the Zanskar. Rock formations, spires and an amazing palette of colours add to the trip today. Camp.
Lamaguru to Nimu
We raft 40 kms of Class III/IV white water from Lamaguru to Nimu (3154m;10,345 ft ; 3-4 hrs) today. We raft past the village of Chilling and exciting rapids as the Zanskar plunges out of the canyon to meet with the Indus at Nimu. We end our trip at the confluence of the Zanskar with the Indus. Drive an hour back to Leh. Last minute retail therapy and a hot shower! Overnight hotel. Day 12. Transfer to Leh airport. Fly Leh - Delhi. Trip ends.
Fly Leh - Delhi
Transfer to Leh airport. Fly Leh - Delhi. Trip ends.
Amenities includes according to the tour
- Accommodation on twin sharing Hotels and deluxe camps as mentioned.
- Meals inclusion as specified in the itinerary.
- A back up vehicle (pick up jeep) and one experienced mechanic from day 3 till the the 7th day .
- Royal Enfeild 500cc bikes from day.
- Local guide in Turtuk village.
- Airport pickup and drop in Leh.
- one dedicated trip leader.
Amenities excludes according to the tour
- Any Airfare
- Expenses of personal nature like laundry, telephone/fax calls, alcoholic beverages, camera/video camera fee at monuments, medical expenses, gratuities etc.
- Any Insurance
- Any expenses incurred due to delays owing to Force Majeure conditions or unforeseen circumstances
- Any other services not mentioned in the inclusions.
Payments and cancellations
- A minimum 50% of total on confirmation.
- 2 months before departure –No Charge
- 29‐60 days before departure‐25% of total
- 10‐28 days before departure‐50% of total
- Less than 10 days before departure‐No Refund
What to Do and Don’t on the Trip
- On Arrival please rest for 24 Hours, as you are travelling to High Altitude and would need time to acclimatize.
- Have plenty of drinking water or any kind of liquid (except alcohol).
- While visiting any Gompa, Please take a Lamas Permission for Photo or Video Shoot.
- Please wear proper clothing while visiting Gompas.
- For Females: No Open Hair, Short Skirts or any Short Dresses allowed at Gompa.
- For Males: No Short Pants or Sleeveless allowed at Gompa.
- Please follow Gompa Rules while visiting.
- D Cold –Illness / Combiflam–Body Pain.
- Vicks Balm.
- Diamox(250mg) –For High Altitude / High Pressure.
- Personal Medicines if any.
- GluconD / Electralpowder & Camphor.
- Dependel M
- Vicks inhaler
Essential Stuff that you might need.
- T-SHIRTS (preferably dry-fits)
- TRACK LOWERS
- THERMAL INNERS (Upper & Lower)
- SWEAT SHIRT
- SUN CAP & BALACLAVA
- EXTRA BATTERIES
- SUNSCREEN, minimum 50spf
- SUN GLASSES
- DOWN JACKET
- PERSONAL MEDICATION –if any
- PEN KNIFE
- SOCKS (min.5 pairs) –Cotton & Woollen