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5 080 m ( 16 670 ft)
Tea House & Homestay Treksclick image to view gallery
This is a fabulous trek and most people don't realize it can be done predominately by homestays. It is also possible to do either half as there is transportation from Padum (administrative center of Zanskar) and Leh. The Lamayuru Padum half which has several steep passes is a much more strenuous trek than the Padum Darcha half which has one high pass. There are two nights you will have to sleep in your own shelter or in a tea tent on the Lamayuru Padum half and one or two nights on the Padum Darcha half. This is one of the best treks in Ladakh. It has everything diverse scenery, from high mountain passes to narrow gorges, beautiful villages, spectacularly situated monasteries, and the homestays are warm and authentic not like half hotels of the Markha Valley. If you have the time this is a must do trek.
Do It Yourself Information
Do It Yourself information for the Across Zanskar Trek
I brought a plastic tarp for emergency shelter, good sleeping bag, and dried food. If you have a tent its probably wise and a bit safer.
Food: Dried fruit and nuts are useful as well as candy bars, peanut butter and cheese to put on biscuits and chapatis for lunches. You can usually get some extra chapatis from the tea tent or home stay to take with you for lunch.
If you are trekking out of season you will need more since the tea tents will be closed, and you will also need better shelter for nights not spent in villages.
I used the trailblazer guide trekking in Ladakh you can get it in the Ladakh book shop in Leh for a steep 1185 rupees. List price is $20 USD. Its now out of print an alternative is the Ladakh Trekking Guide by Cicerone
Home stays available in every permanent village along the way usually for between 100-200 rupees (in 2008 prices have probably risen) with food just start asking people and eventually you will find a place.
Its possible to stay in Wanla, Phangila, Hanupata, Potoksur (most beautiful village on the trek), between Potoksur and Lingshed you need to either stay at the Tea tent on the Lingshed side of the Sengi La, or if you are trekking out of season there is a covered stone shelter at the first campsite after the pass (Lingshed side) In a very long day it may be possible to make it to Gongma from Potoskur and stay in one of the two homes there. I stayed in the tea tent. After Lingshed the other tough day is to Snertse where there is a tea tent in season. Out of season there are some cave shelters to the East of the camp sites, where we actually stayed since the tea tent was not so great. I won't say its impossible to make it from Lingshed to the next village of Hamumil (home stay possible) but it would be a dawn to dusk hike with not much rest over two of the steepest passes on the trek (coming from Lamayuru). To avoid a tedious walk along the Zanskar River cross the bridge at Pigmo and go to Zangla (stay in at the gompa with the nuns to the left as you enter the town from the Northwest) far better than the home stay we stayed at there. There is a bus that leaves between 7:30 and 8:00 am to Padum. Then it’s worth either hiking the 1.5 hours to Karsha or taking the 4 pm bus.
For the second half you can take a shared jeep to Reru to avoid a long walk on a road. The jeep leaves Padam in the late afternoon check locally. It’s possible to stay in Reru at the house to the left sort of across from the school. It’s a long but doable day to Purne (or Purni) where there are a couple of pricey (compared to the rest of the trek) guesthouse/homestays plus a couple of very well stocked stores. Better than Padum, but more expensive of course. Phuktal gompa side trip is highly recommended. It’s quite possible to go from Purne to Kargyak but we also stayed in Tangzen. Home stays available in both villages just start asking people. If you have the time in Kargyak you can cross the river a little south of town and climb the opposite ridge for great views, 2 hours of steady climbing. From Kargyak there is a tea tent at Lakang Sumdo, if trekking out of season there is a good covered shelter just above Lakang Sumdo on the right but no close water source. Over the pass (Darcha side) the best option for shelter out of season is a cement roofed shelter to the riverside of the trail a half hour to hour past Chumik Nakpo camp site. We stayed in a make shift tent (from the plastic) at Zanskar Sumdo since the tea tent there was closed. There is another tea tent at Palamo and in a very long day it would be possible but not fun to go from Lakang all the way to the next village at Chika. There is a bus from Rarik to Darcha and on to Keylong that leaves Rarik around 2:30 to 3:00 pm.
Morning bus goes from Leh to Lamayuru.
There is a bus from Zangla to Padum in the morning.
Shared Jeeps go from Padum to Reru
There is an afternoon bus from Rarik to Darcha (if you want to cut out the walk along the road) and to Keylong its better to stay in Keylong than Darcha and no matter which way you are going its more likely you get a seat on the bus.
A Possible Trekking Itinerary
Day 1: Lamayuru - Wanla (3250 m) ~5 hrs
Day 2: Wanla - Hanupatta (3760 m) ~6 hrs
Day 3: Hanupatta - Sirsir La (4850 m) - Photoksar (4200 m) ~6 hrs
Day 4: Photoksar (4200 m) - Singge La (5050 m) -Singge La Tea Tent ~6 hrs
Day 5: Singge La Tea Tent - Lingshed (4000 m) ~6 hrs
Day 6: Lingshed - Hanuma La (4950 m) – Nyertse (3850 m) ~6 hrs
Day 7: Nyertse - Purfi la (3950 m) - Hanumur (3380 m) ~ 6 hrs
Day 8: Hanumur - Zangla
Day 9: Zangla-Padum (bus) - Karsha (or hike ~5 hrs)
Day 10: Karsha - Padum (3610 m) ~3 hrs hike or bus
Day 11: Padum (A day to re-supply)
Day 12: Padum - Reru (jeep)
Day 13: Reru - Purne (3820 m/5 hrs)
Day 14: Purne - Phuktal Gompa - Purne (3 hrs.).
Day 15: Purne - Kargyak (4050 m/ 8 hrs. trek).
Day 16: Kargyak - Lakang (4320 m/6 hrs.).
Day 17: Lakang - Chumi Nakpo - over Shingo La (5100 m/7 hrs. trek).
Day 18: Chumi Nakpo - Rarik (4150/ 5 hrs.).
Day 19: Rarik (bus to Darcha or Keylong)
You can shave a few days off this with a day less in Padum and starting in Wanla or you may even be able to get to Hanupatta now by road.
Hello from Norway,Thank you for sharing your journeys. I really enjoy your beautiful pictures and all that you share. And wow what a fantastic loooong journey you have had and I am sure continue to have. This is Borghild from Bergen, Norway. I came across your website looking for some maps. I did the Lamayuru to Darcha trek in Sept 2009 and have now written a book about this. I would like to include a map of the trek in addition to a map around Leh. It seems to be a challenge to find any copy free maps of the trek and one for Leh. I am thinking of making one but I would need help to do this.Do you know of any suitable map that I possibly could include in my book or do you know of anyone who could help me to create one.Lovely to meet you. All the best from Borghildwww.borghildbo.com
Hi from Holland,I did half the trek, from Padum to Darcha in mid-September 2014, most of it solo. It took me six days, including a daytrip to Pughtal Gompa. Pictures can be found here: http://followhans.smugmug.com/India-Zanskar/ . The last picture of that gallery is the map I made based on my GPS recording. Download the (adapted) GPS recording here: https://db.tt/dnZP6h0vIt was a marvelous trek, with beautiful scenery and lovely little villages with homestay options for the first 3 nights. I constructed my own place to sleep for the last two nights, with a tarp and a good down sleeping bag (it was still very cold though). Note that they have started constructing a road which will go from Darcha to Padum (and on to Kargil), and also to Pughtal Gompa. With Indian building speed it will still take a while before it's done, but I already met up with some building activity, especially after Shingo-La, down to Darcha. If you want to do this trek, don't wait too long.If you don't feel like finding your own place to sleep after Kargyak and want to limit it to homestays, you could also double back from there and end again in Padum, with a daytrip from Kargyak to Upper Lakang to enjoy the scenery closer to the pass. It's well worth it and easily doable with a reduced pack. I would advise against going from Kargyak to the pass and back in one day.These was my itinerary:*) Day 1: when I was there, the "road" (very rough) had been extended towards a place called Anmu, about 40km from Padum. Shared taxis go there and back to/from Padum and take about two hours. At Amnu there is a nice tea tent, where you can also spend the night. I walked on 8km to the lovely village of Cha, which is a much nicer place to (home)stay than Purne.*) Day 2: daytrip to Pughtal Gompa, going there straight from Cha and going back on the other side of the river via Purne, where you can have tea and stock up on snacks. This is a lovely daytrip (19km). The monastery is simply amazing and the scenery is great. The colour of the river is uncanny. We caught the monks at lunch, as you can see in the pictures.*) Day 3: from Cha to Kargyak. This was a long day (26km), perhaps a bit too long. Homestays were also possible in the villages underway, so don't worry about spending the night. I passed through the main valley with the little villages and the friendly villagers working in the fields. I had tea in a house underway and later at a tea tent, where I got some snacks as well. It was closed when I got there, but the man came up a few miutes later when he saw me. At the end of the day the huge mountain/rock of Gumburanjon was visible. Very impressive. There is a side valley just before Kargyak, with another village as well. I regretted afterwards not having a look at that valley, so I'd recommend taking two days to get from Cha to Kargyak and add the side valley as well.*) Day 4: I was not 100% well the fourth day, so I made it a short one. I went from Kargyak to Lower Lakang, at the foot of the Gumburanjon. It was about 12km. I made my own bivouac there. There was no tea tent, but I brought my own food. I would recommend going about 5km further to Upper Lakang, which is more beautiful and has more options to make your own bivouac, which many half-ruins of huts, but I only found that out the next day :-)*) Day 5: The day of the pass. I crossed the 5km to Upper Lakang where the ascent to the pass starts. It's not technically difficult nor very steep, but the altitude and fatigue of the previous days - not to mention the 15-20kg on my back - made it a pretty good challenge :-). The pass is a special place, with prayer flags and all. Going down I found an abandoned shepherd's hut where I stayed the night. There was also a tent camp nearby where you could stay the night. Total length of the day according to the GPS: 18km.*) Day 6: the longest day (28km) and almost all of it down. The beginning was very beautiful, but after a few hours the road building activity started and popped the spell a bit to be honest. In the end I walked down to a few kms from Darcha, where I hitched a lift on a tractor. I spent the night at the Darcha bridge - 100 rupees for a bed inside a restaurant :-). Buses leave there early in the morning. So I didn't go into Darcha town itself which was a few kms further. Note that there were no tea tents the whole day and that the last half was on a proper asphalt road. At Palamao the road crosses a bridge and you might be tempted not to follow the road and go down on the other side of the river, through nice fields etc, but don't do that. You'll get into major difficulties down below.The next morning I was on my way to Manali :-)I hopes this helps other people who want to have some off-the-beaten-track adventures.Cheers,Hans
Thanks for the updated info Hans, and great pictures by the way. Sorry for the delay in approving. I'm working on a better spam filter. But until then have to approve individually and I was traveling in Colombia this last month.Looks like you had a great trip,Micah
Micah (Indie Trekking & Travel)
Hi You all, Thanks SO much for sharing all this information ! In 1 week I will be in Ladakh and want to trek solo. It is very incouraging to know that it is possible. Unfortunatly I couldn't open Your links Hans, neither GPS nor Photos. What tool did You have for the GPS? I bought one, but stupidly it doesn't work with apple products. My question: On this trek Lamayuru to Dacha: Is it easy to find/see the trek or could one get lost? I will of course try to get a map in Leh and do have the cicero guide, but still. That is my only worry. I plan to first drive to Nubra Valley as HH the Dalai Lama will be there on 18th July +/-, and walk south and then - hope it works with hich hike or bus??? Cross over on the Leh Srinagar Road to Lamayuru to start the trek, maybe visitin Alchi on the way. If anyone is in Leh starting from 15th July 2018, I am happy to gang up . Best regrads, andrea
Sorry for the delayed approval, hope you have a good trek Andrea.
Micah (Indie Trekking & Travel)