Trekking through the Himalayas has always been on our travel bucket list and there is no better place to do this better than in Ladakh, the north of India.
Leh – Ladakh
Ladakh is one of the best places to experience the Himalayas, as it is much less developed and touristy than Nepal. Ladakh is also totally different compared to the rest of India. Imagine yourself visiting white monasteries surrounded by colourful praying flags or having a kahwa tea with the tranquil and friendly Tibetan Buddhist people while feeling the cool mountain breeze run through your hair. It is a very relaxing and peaceful place.
Leh is the main entry point to Ladakh. You can reach Leh by plane or by road (only in the summer). We flew from New Delhi to Leh with Air India and the flight itself was already spectacular, probably one of the most beautiful flights of our lives. Leh has numerous guesthouses and hotels as well as travel agencies with which you can organize your trek. We chose to trek with Ladakhi Women’s Travel Company – an all-women travel company highly reputed that aims to empower the Ladakhi women. We were very happy with our female guide Rigzin Angmo and with our trekking experience.
Once you arrive in Leh, you will be tempted to explore its beautiful monasteries or the largest lake in the Himalayas, the Pangong Tso. Resist this temptation and take at least three days rest before your trek to avoid Acute Mountain Sickness* (AMS).
Our two nights/three days trek started in Jingchen (3380m), a one and half hour drive from Leh. Already at the beginning of the trek, we could see some wildlife, such as blue sheep and marmots. We slowly ascend to Rumback (3870m), with a stop at a tea tent for rest and to recover our breath 😉 After four hours trekking we arrived at Yurutse (4150m), where we slept at the Yurutsepa Homestay.
Our second day started early and challenging. We ascend up to 4973m at Ganda La Pass and we must say that it was not easy, not because of the path, but because of the lack of oxygen. We had to stop every twenty minutes to catch some breath, drink water and, of course, enjoy the landscape. After four hours trek, we were rewarded with stunning views of the Zanskar Mountains and the Stok Kangri range of the Himalayas! Unforgettable and worth every breath!
After achieving the highest point, we descend for around two hours to Shingo (4150m), where we slept at Khangpa-Pa homestay and enjoyed delicious momos (a sort of dumpling) with Chai, which literally means tea.
On our third day, we continued descending. As we descended towards Chilling, our final destination, the trek got easier. We passed through the Zanskar gorge and the views were again impressive. After four hours of trekking, we crossed the Zanskar river by a cable trolley, which was fun! After, we took a car back to Leh, which was around a three hours drive over a very scenic road.
In total, we spent six days in Ladakh and, honestly, we regret that we haven’t stayed longer. There is so much to explore and the atmosphere is so relaxed that we definitely come back!
Sleeping at homestays was one of the highlights of our trek. It’s an amazing chance to interact with local Ladakhi people and see how they live. The homestays are simple but offer everything you need after a day trekking: a comfortable bed, great food and unlimited chai! Don’t expect a proper bathroom, rather a long drop composting toilet with no sink to wash your hands or brush your teeth. At one homestay we were lucky and got a bucket with warm water so we could “shower” 🙂 It’s basic but it’s lovely.
Meet the locals
We met many locals during our trek and most of them were working. Some were moving horses and transporting products, others were hosts at “tea tents” awaiting trekkers with a nice cup of tea and a big smile!
*AMS – Acute Mountain Sickness
Leh is located at an altitude of 3500m and AMS can be a serious issue here. It’s highly recommended to take two or three days rest in order to acclimatize before starting a trek. It’s unpredictable who will get AMS, so the best thing you can do is listen to your body. Drink lots of water and if you feel a headache, nausea, dizziness and breathless, go see a doctor quick.
- Good and sturdy pair of trekking boots (preferably with Gore-Tex) – Definitely the most important item to pack!
- Sandals for river crossings (not necessary if you have Gore-Tex trekking boots)
- Sleeping bag liner (no top sheets are provided at homestays)
- Cotton scarf (to protect your face from sandy winds)
- Toilet paper
- Wet Tissues
- Sunscreen and lip balm
- Hand sanitizer
- First aid kit and medicines
- Thermal underclothes (from June to September)
- Hat or cap
- Quick-dry towel
- External battery
- Water bottle (s) / water purification tablets