Ladakh Treks

Ladakh Trekking Information

Ladakh is one of the best places to trek independently in India.  There is very little regulation except near the border areas, it is easy to find places to stay in villages, the people are friendly and the scenery is spectacular.  Yet the vast majority of people go through travel agencies to book their treks despite the fact it is relatively simple to trek here on your own.  The main problem here is maps.  The maps are, in general, adequate at best yet still its a lot better than other areas of India.  It is possible to get foreign good quality and expensive (1300 INR) maps at the Ladakh Book Shop above the SBI ATM in Leh.  The trailblazer guide Trekking in Ladakh is a good resource for independent trekking despite being dated, and is what I've used in the past.  Unfortunately it has a limited number of trails, and the information on homestays is woefully out of date.  It is now out of print but may still be found it book stores in Leh.  A newer and much more up to date guide book is Cicerone's "Trekking in Ladakh" published in 2012.  There is also a convenient ebook vision to save weight.  It covers a good variety of trails between Ladakh and Zanskar, including the popular Markah Valley, Hidden Valley, and Across Zanskar treks.  It does not cover any of the Rupshu (Tso Moriri region) area treks or the Nubra Valley.  It is written with the independent trekker in mind and gives vital information such as shelters and water sources.  There are also cheaper locally produced books that cover popular trails like Across Zanskar and the Markha Valley, these are adequate but not nearly as good as the trailblazer guide which has more detailed information about water sources and stone shelters for those trekking on there own.  There are independent trekking opportunities in Ladakh to suite any type of trekker, whether you are just hopping between homestays or heading off in to the barren landscape on your own with just a tent and sense of adventure to guide you.  It is also probably the easiest place in the world to hike above 6000 m.  There are numerous trekking peaks which require no technical climbing.  The arid climate of Ladakh means that high peaks which would be engulfed in thick glaciers elsewhere in the Himalayas merely have a few snow fields and small glaciers clinging to their sides in Ladakh.

Best Season: mid-June through August

Base City: Leh (flights from Delhi, bus service via Manali or Srinagar)

Guide book/Maps: Cicerone Guidebooks: Trekking in Ladakh by Radek Kucharski (2012) and Trailblazer Guide: Trekking in Ladakh by Charlie Loram (out of print)

Guides:  While these treks can be done independently by well equipped experienced hikers and trekkers, inexperienced and first time trekkers may feel more comfortable taking a local guide.  Numerous travel agents in Leh can arrange guides at short notice.

Homestays: Information on formalized homestays can be found at http://www.himalayan-homestays.com/ladakpages/default.html, homestays can also often be arranged informally in villages along popular trekking routes, independently or with the help of a local guide.

Trekking Practicalities : 

If your are trekking into the areas around Tso Moriri, or the Nubra Valley you will need an interline permit available for a 100 to 200 INR from any travel agent in Leh, although you are unlikely to have it checked unless you are driving out or in to the area. To climb Stok Kangri you need a permit from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) which you can get for 2000 INR, the office is near the beginning of Chanspa Road in Leh. Technically you need approval for other peaks as well but Stok Kangri is the only one you are likely to get checked. Other than that Ladakh remains blissfully free of the infamous Indian red tape. If your are trekking into the areas around Tso Moriri, or the Nubra Valley you will need an interline permit available for a 100 to 200 INR from any travel agent in Leh, although you are unlikely to have it checked unless you are driving out or in to the area. To climb Stok Kangri you need a permit from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) which you can get for 2000 INR, the office is near the beginning of Chanspa Road in Leh. Technically you need approval for other peaks as well but Stok Kangri is the only one you are likely to get checked. Other than that Ladakh remains blissfully free of the infamous Indian red tape.

Indie T&T Reviews of Guidebooks & Maps

Published: 2012-12-15
5
Indie T&T Review in Brief

The Cicerone Trekking in Ladakh guidebook is the most up to date guidebook for trekking in Ladakh. It covers most of the information needed for trekking on your own including water sources, trekking times, and accommodation. Treks covered: Across Zanskar, Round Sultanlango (Zanskar Region), an alternate route from Padum to Lamayuru via the Kanji la, "Hidden Valley" area to Alchi, and the Markha Valley.

Published: 2017-06-26
4
Indie T&T Review in Brief

The Swiss published Olizane maps of Ladakh are probably the best and most detailed contour map for trekking in Ladakh, but you pay for it, they are not cheap, nevertheless if you want to explore some more remote routes on your own then these maps are probably worth the investment. The northern section covers treks north of Leh, including the Nubra Valley. The central section covers Leh, Markha Valley, Pangon Lake, and a portion of Lamayuru to Padum. The southern section covers the area of Tso Moriri, as well as Zanskar from Padum to Darcha. Each is sold seperately.

Published: 2001-08-01
3
Indie T&T Review in Brief

Although out of print, you can still find it used as well as new in some book shops in India. In addition to treks, Trekking and Climbing in the Indian Himalaya, covers many trekking peaks as well as a couple more technical ones.  I used this book as an outline when I climbed Chamser Kangri in Ladakh.  The practical information is pretty brief on the treks and climbs themselves and there is a lot of extra nonessential information and pictures that makes it pretty heavy to trek with, but the book covers some interesting routes and peak not covered elsewhere.  If you can get your hands on a copy it worth a browse to get some ideas.

Published: 2013-10-01
3
Indie T&T Review in Brief

Lonely Planet is still probably the best guide book for logistics in India though I find it seems to get worse with each edition instead of better, and its monopolistic popularity mean that any place mentioned in the book is likely no longer a good deal when it comes to accommodations.  Still when it comes to the nuts and bolts of getting around, maps ect, LP is still probably the way to go.