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Ladakh Trekking: A Beginner’s Guide

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Choosing a trek in Ladakh

Trekking in Ladakh requires special permits because it goes into sensitive border areas. You need to book your trip well in advance to get the permit. Trekking agencies can help you with this process.

A room with a view along the Markha Valley trek.

Some of the more popular treks in Ladakh include

We chose this trek because it combines hiking and landscapes with people. It incorporates homestay experiences with families in villages along route. It was the most popular trek in Ladakh and we were told it could be crowded in high season. If you travel to Ladakhi during high season, consider taking a less popular trek to reduce crowds.

Hidden valleys of Ladakh, Zanskari Range (9-10 day) trekking experience includes camping gear, which is necessary for this trek. Trekking experience includes camping, camel rides and other activities.

Kharnak trek (15 Days) begins like the Markha Valley Trek but continues further south for an additional week. A Ladakhti Trekking Guide told us this is one his favorite treks. Rumshe to Tsomori Ri (8-9 days) is another favorite trek from a Ladakhi Trekking Guide because of the beauty of Lakes and the joy of interaction along the way. This is on our shortlist for when we return.

Environmental note: Please be mindful of the fragile nature of the environment here. Try to minimize your impact by taking short showers and using less water than usual. Also, bring a refillable water bottle along on your trek.

To trek independently or with a guide?

Some treks require a guide because of the difficulty of the trail, or local regulations. Other treks like the Markha Valley trek can be done independently because the trail is pretty much marked and there are villages along the way. You then decide if you want to go on your own, or hire a guide. There are factors to consider when making this choice. Budget, your trekking experience level, ability to read trekking maps, and the weather. Let’s examine each of these.

We had a great time hiking in the Markha Valley. Our guide was very helpful and knowledgeable about the area. He helped us get around the valley safely by pointing out the paths and helping us cross streams. We didn’t want to turn back because we knew we could trust him.

Our local guide was very helpful and gave us lots of information about Ladakh. He helped us understand the culture and history of this region. He was our translator and helped us communicate with locals.

Friendly mother and daughter running a teahouse. Trekkers should consider hiring guides when traveling to Ladakh. Guides provide valuable information about the local culture as well as help with navigation.

What to expect in a Ladakhi homestay

Home cooked meals: All food is vegetable based, which is better and more safe for the digestive system, especially at high altitudes. Alert the trekking company, your guide and host family in advance if you have food allergies. Dinner is typically quite hearty and is either traditional Ladakhi or Tibetan dishes like momos (TIBETAN DUMPLINGS) or temo (TWISTED BREAD DUMPLINGS) with daal (LENTILS), or greens from the garden, or even fresh fruit salad. All our dinners were prepared freshly for us and were delicious. Breakfast, a little lighter, usually consists of Indian breads with butter and jam, while lunch is some kind of bread with packaged slices of cheese, hard boiled eggs, and other snacks.

Sleeping areas should be clean, and people should take care of them. People who stay in hostels or hotels should bring their own sheets and blankets.

Toilets: Expect bleak, outhouses or compost toilets. Headlamps are recommended. Bring a headlampa so you don’t accidentally slip and fall. Compost toilets are usually attached to houses or just outside. They work fine, but don’t expect luxury. Bedrooms are for sleeping. Common rooms are where you should spend most your time during a stay.

Traditional Ladakhi house with big common room and stove

Mountains India Ladakh Leh Kashmir Landscape

Itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh India

Highest point is located in the Himalayas. Difficulty level is easy to moderate. Distance is 27 km. Food and accommodation are available in village homestays. Trekkng time is 3 days, 2 nights.

Markha Valley trek How to do it independently

Joan is a female yak who lives in the highlands of Tibet. She grazes peacefully on green grassy plains. Her white fur coat is covered in snow during winter. She enjoys eating fresh greens. She is a member of the Yak species.

Markha River is a tributary of Zankar River, surrounded by big, rocky mountain ranges giving shape to the valley. Tourists can walk around Markha Valley for hours and not meet any soul apart form local shepherd tribes.

There are many Tibetan settlements along the valley. They are made of mud-bricked houses and Buddhist temples. These settlements were isolated from modern society, but now they are connected to the rest of the world. People who live here make a living from trekkers passing by.

This guide includes trekking information about the Himalayas.

Price without a guide

Transportation from Leh to Chilling – A taxi costs around 2.8k INR (43 USD) if you don’t have anyone else to share it with. I suggest you find a locals who can take you there by motorbike.I paid 1.5k INR (23 USD).Accommodation and food – Both homestay and tent cost 1.2k INR (16.50 USD), including dinner, breakfast, and a picnic lunch box.”

Transportation costs vary depending on time of day. You can save money by waiting until early morning.

Accommodation

There are three types of accommodation in Tibet: homestay, hotel and guesthouse. Inhomestay means staying with locals. Hotel means staying in a hotel or hostel. Guesthouse means staying in a guesthouse. You can choose any type of accommodation according to your budget.

Camping sites along the route are expensive. Trekkers need to pay extra money for tents, mattresses, and blankets. There are many camping sites along the route, but most of them are very expensive.

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Linda Barbara

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