The best treks to participate in Ladakh includes an option for people of all fitness levels and experience. There are many trekking companies both local, regional and international that offers trekking vacations. These companies will organize the guide, support crew, provide necessary trekking equipment, pack animals and meals. Recently it has been possible to go trekking and stay in simple homestays with the villagers.

You will find that there is a considerable variation in cost between the trekking agencies. This gives you an idea of what you can expect in the quality of services, equipment, food and will definitely make a huge difference in the experience you will get.

You will find the most popular Markha Valley Trek both online and the ever-growing companies in Leh's main bazaar. However, don't be fooled into thinking everyone can do this trek; it isn't an easy trek. It involves crossing at least one if not two high passes that are around 5000 meters in altitude. You will be sleeping at high altitude for several nights on this trek.

This famous trek brings you an outstanding combination of Ladakhi lifestyles and culture with stark landscapes with unusual rock formations and canyons. The Markha Valley trek takes place between the Stok and Zanskar ranges, south of Leh. 

Trekkers admiring the moutain

The starting point can vary with the number of days you have for this trek as the construction of roads has opened up the options. Zinchen is the entrance to Hemis National Park where a fee is charged. It is one of the largest National parks in India and the only one North of the Himalayas. You have an option of going on a camping trek of staying at village homestays. A camping trek is a private "luxurious" version (depending on the company you have booked with), and the homestays can be overbooked as the phones might be out of order. If a homestay is fully booked, you might be able to spend the night in local teahouses or parachute cafes; make sure you have a really good sleeping bag. The parachutes are used to airdrop food supplies to the troops by the army. 

  • Duration: 6-12 days. 
  • Level: Moderate to strenuous
  • Hours of Trekking Per Day: 4-6 hours most days with some days 8-10 hours towards the end.
  • Highlights: Panoramic vistas from high altitude passes. Ruined Forts at Markha and Hankar. A visit to Hemis monastery at the end of the trek.
  • When to Go: Mid June to late September.

Ladakh - Stok Khngri

Sham Trek (Likir-Temisgam): For Beginners 

The Ladakhis call this the "baby trek," but you have to bear in mind that it does go over 4000 meters over smaller passes and the daytime temperatures can be hot during the summer. This is the least demanding trek in Ladakh and a good for beginners. It does have it's challenging with some steep climbs and descends.  You will be going through villages in the arid Sham region in Ladakh. You will get to Likir at a ninety-minute drive from Leh. This trek is ideal who want to try a shorter duration trek, beginners and families. It is a lower altitude trek compared to the other areas where you mostly sleep below 4000 meters, and the passes are relatively shorter in distance. Lately, homestay accommodation has been mushrooming. It is possible to do this trek without pack animals; you can have a support vehicle to carry your duffel bags and meet you at the homestay at the end of the day.

  • Duration: 4 - 5 days.
  • Level: Moderate.
  • Hours of Trekking Per Day: 4-5 hours.
  • Highlights: Rugged and frequently changing landscape, plus monasteries at Likir and Ridzong.
  • When to Go: Anytime from late May to late September (it will be hot during July and August).

woman in Ladakh

Lamayuru-Alchi: Ancient Monasteries Trail

Four of the oldest surviving monasteries in Ladakh lie on this route which is more robust than the Markha Valley Trek. It is a superb opportunity to combine the trek with historical heritage of this region. It begins from Lamayuru which is about three hours drive from Leh on the Srinagar-Leh highway. This famous village is the starting point for many treks in Ladakh. There are several guest houses in the village. Lamayuru monastery is beautifully perched above the camping ground. This trek is tough in parts, but the clear sparkling streams the Zanskar range makes it worthwhile. 

  • Duration: 5-6 days.
  • Level: Moderate to strenuous.
  • Hours of Trekking Per Day: 5-6 hours each
  • Highlights: Lamayuru Monastery, the oldest monastery in Ladakh, dates back to the 11the century and is where the mystic Naropa mediated in a cave. Alchi Monastery celebrated for its impressive early Kashmiri Buddhist murals.
  • When to Go: Mid June to late September.

Ladakh - Resting on top of Tar La

Spituk-Stok Trek: Hemis National Park 

The shorter trek from Spituk to Stok is a more accessible and a classic trek.

It can start at the same point as the Markha trek but diverges towards Stok pass from the village of Rumbak. One can spend a couple of days in the mesmerizing Rumbak village, exploring the surrounding Hemis National Park. Rumbak is where most of the snow leopard documentaries are shot during the winter months. This area is lively during the trekking season with passing trekkers, their support staff, caravans of pack animals and the scene is enhanced with blooming barley fields in July and August. Despite being less than 5000 meters, the Stok pass can be daunting with exposed trail and drops. If one isn't confident of doing a longer trek or going over the pass, you can turn back the same way you came.

  • Duration: 4-5 days.
  • Level: Easy to moderate.
  • Hours of Trekking Per Day: 4-6 hours.
  • Highlights: Views of the Indus Valley from Stok Pass. Flora and fauna in Hemis National Park. Visiting Stok Palace at the end of the trek.
  • When to Go: Mid June to late September.

Trekking in Ladakh

Padum-Darcha: Remote Wonders 

Despite being lengthy trek all the way from Zanskar in Ladakh to Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh, it is an ideal trans Himalayan trek for the first timer with only one pass above 5000 meters. It starts at Padum; two days drive from Leh, there are plenty of campsites and homestays are growing annually. You will trek towards the Lugnak Valley, southeast of Zanskar, an old trading route between Zanskar and Lahaul. If you like a longer and more challenging trek, you can combine the Lamayuru to Padum trek. It will become a three-week long adventure. It is best to do this trek soon as a road is being built between Padum and Darcha.

  • Duration: 9 days.
  • Level: Easy to moderate.
  • Hours of Trekking Per Day: 5-8 hours
  • Highlights: Phuktal monastery, is a mindblowing monastery. This isolated location of Phuktal is only reachable by trekking. 
  • When to Go: June to September.

Thiksey monastery

Zanskar Chadar Trek: Walking on Ice 

When snowfall starts covering the higher reaches of Ladakh from the end of September, it cuts off the Zanskar Valley off from the rest of the world for as long as nine months. The only road becomes inaccessible, so the resourceful residents walk on the frozen Zanskar river during the winter to get in or out of the region. The frozen sheet of ice that forms on the river is referred to as Chadar. This is a great winter experience as long as you are fit, adventurous and willing to bear the extreme cold. You will be mostly sliding and shuffling on the ice rather than walking. You will have to be very well equipped for this extreme adventure.

  • Duration: 10 days.
  • Level: Challenging. It's one of the toughest treks in India.
  • Hours of Trekking Per Day: Trekkers have to cover an average of 15 kilometers (9.3 miles) in about 5 hours per day. The whole journey is just above 100 km.
  • Route: Trek follows the river from Chilling village, around 2 hours southwest of Leh. 
  • When to Go: Mid January to mid-February.

Other articles on Ladakh:

Ladakh Tourism.
10 Amazing Festivals of Ladakh
Ladakh Popular for summer Himalayan Treks
Amazing Photos of Ladakh that will entice you to go trekking.
People of Ladakh
Monasteries to stay and unwind in Ladakh
Best reasons to visit Ladakh
Buddhist Mask dances by Tibetan monks
Travel Guide to Ladakh

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