Adventure Trails to Zanskar Valley

Ankita | Updated on May 16, 2022

Let me first start by telling you the reasons for visiting Zanskar Valley. The beauty of this place is beyond comparison. It will leave you asking for more, and you will desire to come back to this place again and again. It is not just the stunning vistas and wonderful scenery but the experience that you encounter here, which cannot be expressed in words.

India’s Zanskar valley perched at an average altitude of 3600 meters, covering an area of approximately 7000 sq kilometres has been isolated for centuries due to its barren land and high passes. This valley has been cut off from the rest of the world for years due to geographical constraints with self-sustaining communities living off through cattle rearing and farming.

The simple and humble people there will touch a chord deep within you through their kindness and hospitality. Zanskar has something to offer to each one of you. It is covered with beautiful landscapes, snow-capped mountains, and crystal clear sparkling rivers, Zanskar is a perfect holiday destination for people across the world.

Most of us often plan to go on a trek in the Himalayan region. Normally the plan ends up selecting either the Gangotri Glacier Trek or the Churdhar Peak Trek. But if you want to take the adventure to an entirely different level, select the Zanskar

Valley trek that takes you through the heart of the recently turned union territory Ladakh in the Himalayan region. The Zanskar Valley is a beautiful trek area and hotspot for tourists with scenic beauty that includes views of most parts of Ladakh. Zanskar Valley region and the surrounding trek is one of the most unexplored and least visited places in Jammu and Kashmir. It’s high and beautiful mountains, landscape, pleasant climate, snow-capped Himalayan Mountains with semi-desert scenic beauty and sparking rivers make Zanskar a perfect holiday destination for tourists of all age groups and tastes. 

The trip to Zanskar valley is guaranteed to be a memorable experience for any nature lover. The isolation from the chaos of a highly-visited tourist place, and the vivid variety of flora and fauna provide the best of the sceneries and sites. Less an amount of rain in the area and the high terrain result in drought at some places in the Zanskar valley. This adds colour to the scenic beauty around the region. 

The Ever Ending Desire: Once you enter the areas of Zanskar valley. Be it any circuit from the above list or any other trek in the region, the naturally enchanting sight that you will see on the first day will fill you with enough enthusiasm and desire to see more to keep you going through the trek. Witnessing the sights of yaks grazing in the plains, or the river either frozen or flowing, the wildflowers will pump enough energy to last till days.

The land of moonscapes, threatening as well as overwhelming paths, attracts and charms the best of wanderers. Numerous natural beauty seekers and peace-hunters visit Zanskar valley and Padum for the promised enthralling sights and enchanting landscapes. The vast range of mountains, tremendous passes, beautiful valleys and rugged terrains, make any visitor a pro traveller for a lifetime. Zanskar has all the elements that entice any explorer including the

plain and green area, the semi-desert areas or the freezing treks. 

There are various methods to get to the Zanskar valley. As it is located in Ladakh, the only available airport is at Leh and most of the flights there are from Delhi so if you are coming in from any other state you will have to reach Delhi before you can catch a flight to Leh. 

 There are various options to reach Zanskar by road.  There are two main routes to the valley which are as follows:- 

Srinagar – Kargil – Padum route 

This is the most convenient and fastest route to get to the valley. It is also the most frequently used road. 

The second route is the – Manali – Leh highway to Kargil – Padum route 

This route is the best if you are planning to enter via Manali and exit via Srinagar. It’s got a lot of stops, and you’ll get to see loads more than the first alternative, but it is also a bit longer than the first one. It would be wise to check out the itinerary of various Leh Ladakh tour packages for the route taken and locations covered on the way.

Two new routes are under construction that will go on to make travel a lot easier for tourists. 

Darcha – Shingo La – Padum 

This route also crosses paths with the Phuktal Monastery trek. So once this route opens up to vehicular traffic, you can stop and visit the monastery without having to do the whole trek. 

Currently, the route from Darcha – Shingo La is open. Meaning half the route is done. The BRO (Border Roads Organisation) is working on completing the rest of the route from Shingo La – Padum. 

Leh – Chilling – Padum Route 

Once this route is finished, the Zanskar valley will be accessible throughout the year. As the Pensi La pass gets closed during the winter due to heavy snowfall. It gets so bad even the locals in the area get landlocked for about 5-6 months. Once this problem is also solved making winter trips possible, most Leh Ladakh tour packages are likely to opt for this route. 

Places to see at Zanskar :

 Zanskar has a lot of tourist destinations that can keep you occupied and always on your toes. From the majestic Himalayas to the lush green valley of Suru, you will find unbound beauty here. The cold desert and the drang drung glacier are natural beauties apart from several tourist attractions. Mentioned below are a few places in Zanskar that are worth a visit :

Monasteries :

  • Dzongkhul Monastery
  • Rangdum Gompa
  • Karsha Monastery
  • Pibiting Monastery
  • Stongdey Monastery
  • Phuktal Monastery
  • Sani Monastery
  • Bardan Monastery

Rivers and Lakes : 

  • Doda River
  • Zanskar River
  • Suru River
  • Ta Tso and the Lang Tso lakes

Glaciers :

  • Parkachik Glacier
  • Drang Drung Glacier
  • Shafat Glacier

High Altitude Passes : 

  • Umasi La
  • Shingo La
  • Parkachik La
  • Pensi La

Adventure :

Chadar Trek

The first place to hit once you embark on the Zanskar valley tour will be Kargil. You can travel to Kargil either from Srinagar or Leh city. Even though bringing your own vehicle will give you more flexibility in planning as per your comfort level, The cost of fuel will be the biggest expenditure in your Ladakh package. The amount of expenses you incur on the fuel of your vehicle, be it a car or a motorbike, will burn your pockets. If you are tight on budget, you can choose to travel to Zanskar in either taxis or buses. 

The Leh Ladakh package that you choose will determine your modes of commuting through the lanes in Ladakh. However, let us see what are the different options available if you decide to explore Zanskar valley in your Leh Ladakh tour

Getting to Srinagar from Delhi by bus or train is not difficult. From Srinagar, you can take regular local buses connecting to Kargil. Another cost-saving and budget-friendly option to take by locals and tourists have shared cabs which ply regularly to Padum. The road from Kargil to Padum starts deteriorating after Sankoo, the condition of the roads turns bad at some stretches. There is a risk of getting stuck in the slush or while crossing the rivers. 

The cost of local buses from JKSRTC is very cost-effective, where you can save the major portion of your travel cost. Local shared taxis are also the most cost-effective and convenient means of transport available in Ladakh. The majority of travellers choose this option as the fare is almost the same as local buses. 

Apart from this, you can take your own personal vehicle or motorbike, depending on the cost you want to incur. A ride to Zanskar valley on the bike will take approximately 9 – 10 days, so do ensure you are riding on a larger engine like Royal Enfield 350 or 500 CC. As you will be driving through highly remote areas, do carry basic spare parts and service your vehicle well in advance before the journey begins.

The optimum time to visit Zanskar valley is somewhere between June to September. It is not possible to access the valley in the winters due to heavy snowfall and the roads being blocked. Then it is only accessible through trekking which is long and hard to do. It’s called the Chadar trek.

Any interested trekker, hiker or nature lover can select the beautiful Zanskar valley as destination. One can find many trip plans and guides online. Some key features that you can ensure while selecting the place for a trip or some particular guide are:

  • Ensure your plan includes the Phuktal Monastery Trek, Kargil – Rangdum – Padum, local Sightseeing in Padum and the above-mentioned circuits.
  • Ensure you take a minimum of 10-12 days to enjoy the beauty and have the vast category of experiences that this region has to offer.
  • Select the months of your visit carefully based on your weather preferences, and the beauty you want to witness. If you want to see the Zanskar River frozen, select winters as per the weather in Ladakh territory.
  • Accommodations can be found across most of the regions which will vary from economic to luxurious. Select wisely and plan for the stay as per your trek plans.
  • This region might give tourists altitude sickness so ensure drinking water at regular intervals and keeping proper medical care. The Zanskar valley promises every tourist a lifetime experience and scenery you will never want to come back from. It encapsulates all the colours of the Himalayan region ranging from chilly winters to hot summers, from frozen lakes to greenery, from plateau areas to unnerving rocky mountain treks. Visit the place for yourself, and have the best experience of trekking.

Ladakh Tours Packages By Themes

Leh Ladakh Tour Packages from Top Cities

Leh Ladakh Bike Tour Packages from Top Cities

Leh Ladakh Road Trip Packages from Top Cities