Best Treks in Leh Ladakh- An experience of a Lifetime

Ankita | Updated on May 17, 2022

Every hiker dreams of trekking in Ladakh once in a lifetime. The trekking experience you encounter walking past the various terrains, landscapes and narrow passes to the deserted mountains on the highest roads surpass your experience to another level. The mountains and valleys of Ladakh are arguably the best to explore with sheer beauty, natural landscapes, glaciers and sand dunes. They beckon you to come and experience an adrenaline rush like never before:

Here’s a list of some of the best treks in Ladakh:

Chadar Trek:

Chadar Trek is known as a Trek on the Frozen River. It is one of the fascinating treks for adventurous trekkers to come and hike here when the water freezes. The route for this trek is open during winters for a couple of months where the trekkers are allowed to walk on the frozen Zanskar River. Depending upon your level of proficiency, trek ranges between 6 – 15 days. Walking on the frozen river is certainly difficult in temperatures below -35 degrees Celsius. 

 There is a sheet of ice on the Zanskar River, and the frozen river looks like a blanket of snow; hence, it is also called a Chadar trek. You may encounter different types of surfaces which makes this trek extremely challenging physically and mentally both. At times you may also be scaling and sliding on the rocky ice.

 The starting point of this trek is at Chilling, which is 64 km away from Leh. You can behold breathtaking sights of the frozen waterfalls, snow-clad mountains. Apart from that, you will also find beautiful monasteries such as Karsha Gompa and Lingshed Gompa, the fort at Zangla Village and the shining Shanti Stupa which makes this trek even more thrilling and exciting.

Duration: 6 – 15 days

Best time to visit: January, February

Level of Difficulty – Extremely Difficult

Altitude : 11,123 ft

Stok Kangri Trek:

Stok Kangri Climb is also one of the most famous treks in Leh. Offering gorgeous views of the Himalayan ranges, Stok Summit, the sun shining at Zanskar, Karakoram peaks, this trek covers some of the scenic regions of Leh.

You can commence your journey from Spituk village, which is 7kms from Leh. From there you can hike to the Zinchen valley which will take around 4-5 hours. This place is perfect for camping or even take a dip in the Rumbak River which flows to the Indus. One of the best in Ladakh, offering multiple views through varying landscapes in every couple of hours. From barren, dry land to green terrain, the sight you witness from the top of the mountains will make you speechless. You can visit the Hemis National Park and catch hold of the beautiful flora and fauna. Before pursuing this trek, it’s essential to be prepared mentally and physically as the terrains are steep descending through narrow valleys. Pick this trek if you wish to see the unseen and follow an unusual journey.

Duration: 4 – 9 days

Best time to visit: September. October

Level of difficulty – Difficult

Altitude: 20080 ft.

Markha Valley Trek :

Markha Valley trek is termed as one of the most famous and best treks in Ladakh. The Markha valley lies between Ladakh and Zanskar close to the Markha River. The most popular speciality of this trek is the trek up to Kongmaru La pass which is 5000m above sea level and the highest pass on the Markha valley. Prepare yourself to experience the amazing culture and biodiversity of Hemis National Park. The stunning views of the brown peaks and interacting with the locals at Indus village will leave you with beautiful memories.

You will have the experience to remember passing through the Hemis National Park crossing the two great pass namely Gandala La Pass and Kongmaru La Pass. This trek is best for adventure lovers as well as photographers who love to capture beautiful landscapes. One of the most amazing trekking experiences awaits you at Markha valley adorned with varying landscapes, scenic river, prayer flags and vibrant culture. 

Duration: 8 – 9 days

Best time to visit: June to September

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Altitude: 17,060 ft.

Gompa Valley Trek :

This trek is harder than the Markha Valley trek. It allows you an opportunity to interact with the locals in the villages and gives you a sneekpeak of the lifestyle and heritage of Indo-Tibetan people. You will come across a few monasteries when you commence your journey on this route. However, some of the main attractions are the Lamayuru Monastery and Alchi monastery trailing along with few remotest villages like Wanla, Tar La Pass, Mang Gyu and Ursi offering some pleasing view. About 3 hours drive from the Srinagar – Leh Highway, the trek commences from Lamayuru through the Sham valley and ends at the Alchi Monastery known for its Kashmiri Tradition and Buddhist art.  The trek is a truly enriching experience for adventure lovers and photographers as the trail offers truly dramatic views of Leh Ladakh landscapes. This trek will allow you to get to know the cultural spectrum of the region and is undeniably difficult in some parts, but it will definitely make your journey to Ladakh all the more special.

Duration: 5 – 6 days

Best time to visit: May – September

Level of difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Altitude : 17,220 ft.

Padum to Darcha Trek :

The Trek from Padum to Darcha in Himachal is one of the most enthralling trails. It passes through a few of the most beautiful regions in Ladakh including the Zangla village, Zanskar Valley and Markha valley. It’s a long trek starting from Padum and covers Zanskar in Ladakh to Lahaul in Himachal Pradesh. The trail also leads you to one of the most famous places in Ladakh – Kargil. It will require you to cross many rivers and acclimatize yourself with different climatic conditions due to frequently changing altitudes.

The trail from Padum will bring you some of the most beautiful trekking experiences following crystal clear rivers, jagged mountains and grazing yaks. You can stay at local villages overnight to savour the taste of homemade delicacies like thupka or skyu. You’ll end up with friendly locals in Lahaul valley along with an unforgettable trekking experience.

Duration: 8 – 9 days

Best time to visit: June – September

Level of difficulty: Difficult

Altitude: 5200 m

Sham Trek :

This trek starts from 125km of Leh. The valley in Sham is also known as Apricot Valley. Being the easiest treks in Ladakh, the valleys blossom during the winters with beautiful blooming flowers of Apricot. If you are a just a beginner and would love to go for trekking in Ladakh, then this trek is ideal for beginners for reasons like lower altitude, short distances between passes and plenty of homestay options. Also known as the ‘Baby trek’ this trek does have its own challenges. This trek traverses to some of the most beautiful villages in Ladakh offering views to contrasting landscapes, barley fields, shady willows and rocking mountains. 

The scenic hike from the lower Ladakh starts from an impressive Gompa of the 11th century or Buddhist monastery – Likir towards Khaltsey village. The Sham valley trek tempts you to take pleasurable walks to some of the most beautiful villages and also allow you to come across ancient monasteries reflecting the ethnicity of Buddhism. The trek passes through Mebtak La which is dotted with prayer flags to Ang, which is full of apricot orchards along with small villages like Ridzong, Temisgang and Hemis Shukpachen. This trek makes you experience the traditional essence of the unique Indo-Tibetan culture. All in all, this trek is best for tourists new to trekking and even suitable for families who love to make their journey adventurous.

Duration: 4- 5 days

Best time to visit: May – October

Level of difficulty: Easy

Altitude: 3750 mts

Snow Leopard Trek :

This trek takes you to the fascinating wildlife of Ladakh. If you want to venture into the wild and experience the exotic sights of rare species of animals and birds, then this trek cannot be missed. This popular winter trek will let you seek complete adventure and excitement in the wonderland of Leh. Some of the endangered species that you can catch while on this trek are Ladakhi Urial, Ibex, Shapo, Marmot, Tibetan Hare and Antelope, besides the most popular Snow Leopard.

It is the most sought after treks in Ladakh, at an altitude of 3000 meters, this trek covers the Hemis National Park which spread at an area of 600sq km in the valleys of Rumbak and Markha. You will get different surprises at each turn of the trail. Clicking pictures of the very rare Snow Leopards, yaks, sheep and birds that you find exclusively in this cold desert will give photographs a much needed adrenaline rush. You will have a beautiful trek walking on the frozen river and amidst the ambience created by the vibrant flora and fauna. 

Duration: 8 – 9 days

Best time to visit: November – February

Level of difficulty: Moderate to Difficult

Altitude: 9,842 ft

Apart from this, there are plenty of treks in Ladakh. Your choice of the trek will depend on what level of difficulty you are seeking, how much you are willing to hike and the number of days you have in hand. Before you decide to go trekking in Ladakh, you also need to be acquainted with few rules. Trekking in some regions may require special permits, but your travel agency can take care and inform you about the same in advance. Depending on the trek that you are taking, you may or may not require a guide in your journey. Some of the trails are pretty well marked and can be done independently. No matter which trek you choose, make sure to rest for at least two days to acclimatize in Leh before setting your foot ahead for a fascinating journey of a lifetime!

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