Ladakh is a high-altitude desert located between the Karakoram Mountain Range and the Himalayas. It is famed for the high passes, pristine water lakes, and the stark and dramatic landscape that contrasts splendidly to the deep blue skies. Ladakh is truly a shock to the senses, making it one of the best trekking destinations in India.
Aptly named the land of high passes, Ladakh has come to be known as the adventure hub of India for various sports like trekking, rafting, mountaineering, motorbiking, etc. The arid desert attracts adventurers, thrill-seekers and nature lovers from all over the world. Though it is most known for the various Himalayan treks that take you through some of the most unique trails of the Himalayas.
These Ladakh treks go over high passes, deep gorges, over frozen rivers and crawling glaciers, and to the summits of high reaching peaks - all the while offering the majestic views of the desolate landscape. While trekking, you are treated to the magnificent scenery of the Karakoram and Zanskar ranges along with Nubra Valley, and the mighty views of some of the tallest mountains in Indian Himalayas like K2, Saser Massif, Stok Kangri, etc.
But the views are not the only thing that makes trekking in Ladakh an experience of a lifetime, it's the experience of exploring the various villages of remote Ladakh too. These villages are home to rich Tibetan culture and delicious cuisine, along with historic monasteries and some of the friendliest people you’ll meet while travelling
Here are some of the top treks in Ladakh:
The Chadar trek is one of the most unique treks in the world and one of the best treks in India. This thrilling trek takes you over the Zanskar River when it forms a thick ice sheet on its surface due to harsh winters. The trek takes you to remote villages across frozen waterfalls that seem to be stuck in time and through deep gorges with walls reaching as high as 2000 feet on some stretches.
On the Chadar trek, you trek over the frozen ice sheet with the Zanskar River flowing underneath and brace against the subzero temperatures of Ladakh that can go as low as -30 degrees Celius. And if this is not enough, then you get to spend nights in dark caves and river-side tents under the cover of a million stars.
The Chadar Trek is one of you if you are looking for an endurance testing trek that offers you a really unique view of the Ladakhi landscape. Do note, though, this trek is not easy and should only be attempted by experienced trekkers who can withstand the sub-zero temperatures of Ladakh.
Learn more about the Chadar trek, visit our blog!
Stok Kangri trek
If your idea of trekking is summiting soaring mountain peaks of the Himalayas, then the Stok Kangri trek is for you. This trek takes you to the peak of the highest mountain of the Stok Mountain Range, at an altitude of 20,182 feet. The trek consists of a challenging trail full of steep slopes, scree, sharp rocky ridges and a lot of snow, making it one of the most challenging treks in India.
The summit climb of the Stok Kangri trek is most exciting as you begin your trek in the wee hours of the morning. As you approach the summit, you watch the sunrise over the Himalayan landscape and lighting up the breathtaking landscape of Ladak. Once you’re on top, you’re treated to the panoramic views of the Zanskar and Karakoram ranges along with Ladakh. You can also see the city of Leh sitting serenely amidst the desolate landscape, and in the distance, the Indus Valley.
Markha Valley trek
The Markha Valley trek takes you through a gorgeous valley alongside the Markha River in the Hemis National Park. The trail goes through various quaint villages bustling with rich culture, and across streams, fruit orchards, farms and over the high altitude passes of Ganda La (15,748 feet) and Kongmaru La (17,060 feet). All the while, showcasing splendid views of the Karakoram Range, Saser Kangri, Stok Kangri and various other sky-piecing Himalayan peaks.
This is an endurance testing trek that requires you to walk for almost 7-8 hours every day along with conquering some steep ascents and two high altitude passes. Though not technical, this trek does require some prior experience of trekking in the Himalayas. This is an off-beat trek in Ladakh that showcases the beauty of Hemis National Park, rich culture of remote villages and the mighty Himalayan ranges.
Sham Valley trek
This is one of the easy and short treks in Ladakh that can be done by beginners as well as families. It takes you through the gorgeous Sham Valley, also called the Apricot Valley due to the apricot orchids that dot the region. The trek takes you to quaint Ladakhi villages like Lamayuru, Spituk, Likir, etc. where you get to explore the Indo-Tibetan cultural heritage of the place and visit some of the finest monasteries.
Kang Yatse II
A great alternative to Stok Kangri, this trek takes you to the summit of Kang Yatse II in Markha Valley in Hemis National Park. Once you are at the summit, you are treated to the mind-blowing views of the never-ending array of the Zanskar and Karakoram ranges along with the dramatic landscape of Ladakh. And if the weather is clear, you can even spot Stok Kangri and K2 in the distance
Though it takes you to an altitude of 21,313 feet, it is still one of the easier 6000-metre peaks to summit. But by no means is this an easy trek; the trail consists of steep ascents, moraines and loose rocks along razor-sharp ridges. This trek should only be attempted by experienced trekkers.
The Kang Yatse II trek is like a combination of two treks as it not only takes you to the summit of Kang Yatse but the initial part of the trail is the same as Markha Valley trek. Hence, it gives you the experience of two treks in one.
Since Ladakh is a high altitude mountain desert, while trekking in Ladakh, you are susceptible to AMS/altitude sickness. Hence, it is crucial that you take acclimatization seriously and take enough time to get used to the altitude.
TAll the packages are designed with altitude in mind, and these packages start from Leh. But it is recommended that you arrive in Leh a few days prior and spend at least two days at leisure without exerting your body too much to ensure proper acclimatization.
Additionally, if you are trekking and feel the onset of AMS, stop ascending immediately and rest for some time. If the symptoms don’t improve, you need to get to a lower altitude as soon as possible.
Ladakh is also one of the most popular motorbiking destinations in the world. Visit our page on motorbiking in Ladakh to explore!
Trekking in Ladakh Summary
- State: Ladakh
- Nearest city: Leh
- Total days: 5-12 days
- Grade: Easy to challenging
- Max altitude: 20,080 feet
- Season: Throughout the year