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LAMAYURU -DARCHA VIA ZANSKAR VALLEY FOR 20/21 DAYS TREK IN  Details
  • Seasons :  Jul-Oct
  • Duration :  21 Days
  • Grade : Moderate - Strenuous
  • Max Alt. : 5,090 m A beautiful trek to the forbidden Kingdom of Zanskar - and further on to Darcha in Himachal Pradesh
  • Villages : Wanla, Hanupatta, Photoskar, Lingshed, Hanumil, Karsha, Padum, Mune, Ichar, Purne, Kuru, Pallamo, Darcha
  • Monasteries: amayuru, Likir, Alchi, Lingshed, Tongde, Bardhan, Phuktal,
  • Highlights :  Photang valley, Zanskar River, Drang Drung Glacier, Gorges, Nun (7,135 m) Kun (7,080), Sham valley, Gonpo Rangjung, Lakung
  • Passes :  Prinkti La 3,750 m, Sir Sir La 4,850 m, Singge La 5,090 m, Hanuma La 4,950 m, Parfi La 3,950 m.
 
 
After breakfast drive from Leh to Lamayuru. Along the way, you will come across some of the oldest and most famous monasteries of Ladakh, founded around 10th century, Lamayuru, Likir and Alchi are truly worth visiting for their age and historical ground. After reaching Lamayuru (3420m) you will spend the day exploring the ancient monastery and get prepare for the next day trek.
 
 
 
After breakfast get ready, and set off for the first day of your adventure . A gentle trail leads up to the small pass of Prinkti La (3750m) before heading down to the village of Shilla and then slow down to Wanla village (3250m). You will be camping near the stream and spend the rnoon relaxing in the sun or exploring the village of Wanla and its monastery at top.
 
 
After breakfast take an easy walk towards Phansila (3410m) will lead us to a beautiful valley. From here we descend a pass beyond which the valley starts to narrow, with mountains towering above our heads and the Zanskar River making its way deep down in the gorge. In this barren, harsh landscape, beautiful rosebushes give ours senses an unforgettable experience. Today you will be camping close to the river, just after the village of Hanupatta (3760m), where we have a great view down the valley.
 
 
After breakfast you will follow the river and the wide valley up for some time before we cross the river and start the long and gradual ascent to Sir Sir La (4850m). From the top of the pass we can get panoramic views of the main Zanskar range as well as our next pass, the Singge La (5090m). It is another 2-3 hrs of walk down to the village of Photoskar (4200m), situated in the cliffs of mountains virtually piercing the sky and surrounded by green fields. The trail towards Sumdo disappears in the deep gorge down to the right of the village. We spend the night close to the village.
 
 
After breakfast we will start crossing the small pass of Bumiktse La (4200), we enter the broad and lush Photang valley. A gentle trail leads us through this beautiful landscape, where villagers graze their animals. One of the most fascinating things about the Zanskar trek is the ever-changing landscape. Every time you turn a corner, or cross a pass, a new world appears in front of you. Passing through the deepest of gorges and meandering through the greenest of fields, the majestic Zanskar River assumes a fascinating form and life of its own. With colors and shadows changing with the sun, one never gets bored! Slowly we ascent towards Sengge La, or the "Lion Pass ". The last few meters are steep, but will give us an incredibly rewarding view on the top. From the pass it is an easy walk down to our campsite.
 
 
We follow the trail high above the Zanskar River; the mountains take a greener and gentler formation, before we descend from Kiupa La (4400 m) down the steep zigzag trail to the villages of Gongma (3840m) and Skiumpata. From here we climb up a gentle trail to the Margum La (4400m), from where we can see Lingshed an hour or so away. The campsite in Lingshed is just by the monastery belonging to the Gelukpa Order and housing around 60 monks. The village itself is spread out over a big area, enclosed in green fields of barley.
 
 
A long day, we walk through the green fields of Lingshed early in the morning. It takes some ups and downs before we reach the base of the Hanuma La, from where we start climbing the many steep zigzags that lead to the top of the pass. The walk down is gentle before we enter a rocky, spectacular gorge and soon the valley flattens out, the trail following a lush riverbed with rosebushes. Just above the campsite of Snertse, there is a herders' camp, and sometimes fresh cheese, milk and curd is available here. Down in the riverbed it is possible to go hunting for fossils. The locals sometimes show nice collections of their findings.
 
 
Today we head for another pass: Parfi La. A short walk after Nyertse, there is a wonderful lookout from where we can see the pass and, down the valley, the Oma Chu River . We follow the trail 500m down the valley, cross the bridge and start on the juniper covered zigzag trail up to Parfi La. Be alert! If fortune strikes, we may come across a rare species of the Himalayan region: the majestic brown bear. We may also see herds of attractive Himalayan blue sheep. Here we walk down to the banks of the Zanskar River and follow it all the way to the village of Hanumil (3380 m), where we will camp for the night.
 
 
We will start with an easy walk on plain and barren land along the Zanskar River and follow it all the way to Pishu (3470 m), passing Pidmo (3420m), an exotic landlocked hamlet of 8-9 families leading a simple traditional life. Pishu is located on the west side of the Zanskar River and opposite of Zangla (formerly a tiny kingdom). Here we will come across a 55m hanging bridge, the longest on Zanskar River . Our day will end at a lush green campsite with a spring situated nearby where we can quench our thirst.
 
 
After a hearty breakfast we will begin our day with another effortless stride towards our next destination. From Pishu the trail ascends gradually to Rinam (3550 m.) along the bank of the Great Zanskar River . We will have a view of the stunning monastery of Tongde. Once reaching Karsha (3600 m), we can reinvigorate ourselves at the bank of Zanskar River . Karsha monastery is one of largest monasteries of Gelukpa sect, located on a hillside with an imposing view of the entire valley. Believed to have been founded around 10th century A.D, a visit to the monastery to get its blessing is recommended
 
 
We will follow the route to Pipiting village on the dusty road from Karsha. Padum is the major hub of activities of the entire valley. The villagers gather here on every auspicious occasion. It is also a place to purchase our food supply for the remaining trekking days. The day can be used for sightseeing the famous Sani Gompa, located at a distance of 4 hours both ways. The Kanika Chorten, the oldest Stupa in the entire Ladakh region (dating from the first century BC) stands in the courtyard of Sani Gonpa, belonging to Drukpa Kagyud sect of Tibetan Buddhism. Or simply stroll around the village or visit the nearby monasteries of Pipiting and Stakrimo.
 
 
From Padum we continue along a dusty Jeep track. En route, we'll come across Shila and Bardhan villages. Bardhan is known for its valley monastery (3620m), which is closely associated with the Drukpa order of Hemis monastery. It is also famous for its huge and beautifully engraved prayer wheels. From Bardhan it will take another 2-3 hrs (approx.) along the Tsarap River before we turn off to the Kangla, and mount to a plateau and the village of Mune (3900 m).
 
 
People consider the day ahead from Raru (3850m) onwards a bit tough. Till Raru, the dusty road trip is quite easy and relaxing. After crossing the main tributary beyond Raru, there is a short walk before a gradual descent to the main valley. Thereafter the trail begins alongside the river leading to Ichar village (3650 m), where we will camp for the night, near a dike.
 
 
From Ichar the trail is sometimes quite tricky for the horses, but it's really thrilling to be in the magnificent gorge. En route there are many climbs and falls as we cross some small side rivers leading to Surle and Cha village. From Cha, walking along the river amidst greenery till the crossing of the bridge with the mystical tune of flowing rivulet drives the exhaustion away. We will camp at Purne village (3700 m).
 
The trail to Phuktal (3850 m) follows the right bank of the Tsarap River and enters splendid gorges for sometime before reaching a makeshift bridge. After a short walk we will come across a small plateau with sprinklings of chortens and prayer flags. Here we'll have an amazing view of Phuktal monastery, one of the most fabulous sights in the Zanskar valley. The sight of the monastery leaves a lasting impression due to its unique creation. It is on a limestone cliff, with the main assembly hall carved out of a huge cave and the monks' residences scattered down the hillside. The spring that gurgles deep in the cave is still out of bounds for women. Inside the monastery there is an inscription of Cosma de Koros (the Hungarian historian, 1825-26), one of the first Europeans to visit the Zanskar region. After visiting the monastery, we'll come back to Purne for an overnight of rest.
 
Now it's time for us to start a fresh venture with the crossing of the bridge in the gorge. Before the steep ascent to the huge fertile plateau of Tetha village (3980), we keep to the trail along the right bank of the river. An excellent path with a minor climb and descent marked by a progression of well-maintained stupas of the village of Kuru (3990), a major centre for livestock breeding. After Kuru the trail descends back to the right side of the riverbank toward the village of Tanze (3850m). From Tanze, it's an easy short walk to the route that joins up with hiking tours Darcha-Padum by the Baralacha & Phirtse la.
 
 
The trail from Table gradually ascends to the village of Kargyak (4050m) on the left bank, the highest permanent settlement in the Zanskar region. We climb up easily towards a majestic rock tower known as Gonpo Rangjung. After passing the awesome rock-face, there are plenty of passages to the upper reaches of the Kargyak River . The path then heads to the beautiful yak grazing pastureland known as Lakung (4470 m). This is one of the most rewarding places for encampment.
 
 
Today, we'll have good breakfast to generate extra energy to meet the challenge of Shingo pass (5090m). Though not tough by Himalayan standards, it is a trying one and can be accomplished in a couple of hours. The gradual ascent leads to the top of the pass. The view can leave us aghast with its panoramic scenery, a backdrop of 6000mtr snow-capped peaks defining both the main Himalayas and the Baralacha Range . A series of prayer- flags mark the Shingo la. The descent path is easy and well trodden. It starts with a small steep route leading to a slope to the right side of the valley, passes shepherds' huts at Chumik (4640m) and a further descend leads to the meadowland campsite of Rumjak (4290 m).
 
 
We continue on the right bank of the river, where the descent is rather gradual until the last section of the Zanskar Sumdo (3860m). Before reaching Zanskar Sumdo, the path is easy; but we need to be alert of the steepness. After a steep descent at the intersection, we cross the river on a manned pulley bridge. Further on, the trail runs along the far bank towards boulder fields until Pallamo. There, we will camp for the last night of our trekking, ending our thrilling adventure on prepossessing greenery.
 
 
Today we will commence the easiest and shortest hike on this adventure. We will pass the village of Rarig (3430m) down the valley, continuing in a spectacular gorge along a dusty path until the final count down to Darcha.
 
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