The Hidden Zanskar Trek via Manali

Every trip generally provides you with one recipe of joy. The Hidden Zanskar Trip is a buffet of sensational treks- you explore the western Himalayas like a newborn child discovers the world for the first time. The multifarious face of Himalayas lures every traveler but rarely do people get to explore her sufficiently. The Darcha to Lamayuru trail has been deemed the most wanted route in the trekking world, owing to the way in which it gives the traveler a taste of the entire Himalayas- like a pill that cures your mind and body. This trail is often accompanied by a pause at Padum to manage time and reach Srinagar or Leh through Kargil. Other geographical reasons for its popularity include the location of Darcha in Lahoul, understood as the verboten land. The cross-over to Shingo La or Phirtse is followed by our ingress to the Zanskar region. While the monasteries give our mind the potion of spirit, the landscapes delight our senses. Clad in virginity, Zanskar is the land of tradition and passionate trails.

Intensity: Difficult

Hidden Zanskar Trek Itinerary:

  • Day 1: Delhi to Manali (Elevation: Manali at 2,050m) : You are received heartily by the Zanskar Himalayan Exploration team representative and transferred to AC Volvo Coach which takes you to Manali. The departure time will be approximately 18:00hours. The journey lasts over the night.
  • Day 2: Manali (2,050m) : After reaching Manali in the morning, you are settled in at your hotel. This day is reserved for sightseeing and the list of places includes Vashist Hot Springs, Hadimba Devi Temple, Club House and others. We rest for the night at the hotel.
  • Day 3: Manali to Darcha (Distance: 180kms)
  1. Duration: 5 to 6 hours
  2. Elevation: Darcha at 3,400m

A satisfying breakfast makes way to a ride hearing the churning grace of Beas River. As we move upwards, we intersect with the Rohtang Pass at 4,050m. This is led by a drive down to the Gramphu and Koksar where our passports are checked. The tribal zone headquarters Keylong is our next stop. About 35kms away from this point lays our campsite Darcha. The river bank brings the soothing sounds of the river that forms the background to our sound sleep. We rest for the night at our camps.

  • Day 4: Darcha to Zanskar Sumdo
  1. Form of activity: Trekking
  2. Duration: Approximately 7 to 8 hours
  3. Elevation: Zanskar Sumdo at 3,640m

A short period of ride on the road leads us to Darcha. Rarig lying a little ahead of Darcha forms the beginning point of our trek. We walk across the Barai Nallah river) going through the Palamo Village. The village glistens with the flat tops of its houses. As we cross multiple streams, we can hear nature taking residence in us. We reach our campsite and stay the night.

  • Day 5: Zanskar Sumdo : This is the climate acclimatization time. Complete rest sprinkled with series of short distance walking readies the ardent minds with stamina-filled bodies.
  • Day 6: Zanskar Sumdo to Chuminakpo
  1. Duration: About 7 hours and 30 minutes
  2. Elevation: Chuminakpo at 4,500m

The sixth day of our trip initiates us into the cult of mountaineers with trekking over the mountain sides. Beginning with the light crossing of river by a bridge hanging thousands of feet in the air, we reach a sharp climb and hike for about an hour before reaching a deep ravine and lastly, Ramjak, the quaint field which forms the last stop before we bump into Chuminakpo for our night. We set up our camps and rest for the night.

  • Day 7: Chuminakpo to Lahkhand (Across Shingo La)
  1. Duration: 7 to 8 hours
  2. Elevation: Lahkhang at 4,300m and Shingo La at 5,090m

The route is a capsule of whites- through the towering mountains and across the frozen lakes. The glacier stands as the god of the region, over which after a point prayer flags can be seen calling us to peace and harmony with nature’s wonders. We gradually move down to Zanskar Valley and make our way to the camp-site passing through Kargyak Chhu. The shore of Lkakhang Chu opens up like the curly hair of a ravishing woman, laying arms to care us into sleep at our camps. We spend the night at our campsites.

  • Day 8: Lukung to Kargyak
  1. Duration: 5 hours
  2. Elevation: Kargyak at 4,060m

The right hand of Kargyak Chhu kick starts our day with smooth hiking through the base of Gumboranjom Tower. A frozen water-body awaits our arrival. You witness glory of the trip unfolding as you feel the nearness to the yaks and marmots which childishly play their game of hide and seek. The urban air of grey’s is colored into a white fairy’s tale in the Himalayas. We reach the Kargyak Village which is home to a Gompa placed at peak of the village. We set up our camp and spend the night here.

  • Day 9: Kargayak to Purni
  1. Duration: 6 hours
  2. Elevation: Purni at 3,800m

Our route moves through Kuru, Yal, Tanze and Testa. The sight of farmers taking care of their lands plays the orchestra of awaiting adventure and inner harmony for us. We reach Purni which is placed at the wedlock point of Tsarap and Kargyak Chhu. We spend the night resting in our tents.

  • Day 10: Purni to Phugtal Gompa to Purne
  1. Form of activity: Trekking
  2. Duration: About 4 to 5 hours
  3. Elevation: Phugtal Gompa at 3,850m and Purne at 3,950m

The Phuktal Gompa lays hidden in the curtain of Tsarap and Kargyak River. Visiting the monastery is a trip into nostalgia bringing back memories of one’s happy moments spent with animals and plants. One of the first Europeans to explore Zanskar, Csomo de Koros was a Hungarian who built the monastery near the holy spring in the 1820s. Our time with Gompa is succeeded by peaceful resting at our campsites.

  • Day 11: Purne to Tanze
  1. Form of activity: Trekking
  2. Duration: 4 hours
  3. Elevation: Tanze at 3,850m

We move back to Tanze. The short walk lightens our feet letting us flow freely into the surroundings. We spend the night at our camps relaxing.

  • Day 12: Tanze to High Camp
  1. Form of activity: Trekking
  2. Duration: 7 to 8 hours
  3. Elevation: High Camp at 4,800m

Phitse La forms the first point of halt during our trekking on the twelfth day. As we move through the valley, the route opens up to a vast upland like a well-folded cloth covers the entire floor. We attempt to set up our camps closest possible to the pass which would allow us to climb it without difficult tomorrow. The site of our camping will be a dovish meadow echoing with the sounds of nocturnal birds. We spend the night relaxing at our tents.

  • Day 13: High Camp to Phitse La to Lingti Camp
  1. Form of activity: Trekking
  2. Duration: 7 to 8 hours
  3. Elevation: Phitse La at 5,526m and Lingti Camp at 4,700m

Even though the distance is short, the slope of our trail will be steep. The last step of our climb-up contains walking over loosely situated debris which though difficult makes the destination of Phitse La (5,250m) worthy. The landscapes that devour our eyes from crest of the pass almost borders trance of sacred revere. We make a small digression into a tiny ridgeline that lets us sight the Zanskar range between. We reach a willow at Chumik Marpo through a series of descents before arriving at the Lingti Valley. The camp for our night is set up on the shores of the Lingti River whose sounds falls into notes of lullaby cradling us to sound sleep. We spend the night rest in our camps.

  • Day 14: Lingti Camp to Tsarap Camp
  1. Form of activity: Trekking
  2. Duration: 4 to 5 hours
  3. Elevation: Tsarap Camp at 4,400m

The smells of raetam shrubs and holiness of prayer flags marks our route today till we reach the uniting of Lingti River with Tsarap. The trail also contains a glance into the lives of nomadic group of Gaddi who herd their yaks here. We set up our camp for the night at Tsarap.

  • Day 15: Tsarap Camp to Kilong Sarai
  1. Duration: 3 to 4 hours
  2. Distance: 4,600m

Walking through a stream of low-level pasturelands, we reach a wide valley. We can spot the Leh-Manali Highway from this point. The Kilong Sarai forms are bed for the night. We set up our camp and rest for the night.

  • Day 16: Kelong Sarai to Keeling : Keylong is the central base of Lahaul Valley where we reach and transfer into hotels. We spend the night at the hotel.
  • Day 17:   Keylong to Manali : A early rise welcomes us with a hearty breakfast following which we ride to Manali through the Himalayan route of panoramic views. An interval at Rohtang Pass allows travelers to photograph the experience into digital memories. We check into our hotel at Manali and stay for the night.
  • Day 18: Manali to Delhi
  1. Distance: 580kms
  2. Duration: 12 to 13 hours

We spend the day relaxing, breathing in the mountains on the last few days of our trips. The evening brings us farewell and departure to Delhi on our Ac Volvo Coach. The journey through the road lasts over the night.

  • Day 19: Arrival at Delhi : We reach Delhi at 8:00hours and catch our flights depending on respective schedules.

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