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Ladakh, as soon as the name is uttered, our minds are filled with mesmerising images of snow-capped peaks, high-altitude lakes and centuries-old monasteries. It is the aesthetic allure of this gifted place that beckons thousands of tourists every year. They probably come here to spend another vacation, but return with an experience that is unique and inexplicable. A great way to explore the spectacular landscape of Ladakh is by going on a trekking expedition, and that is something I believe everyone must try. The rugged terrain of this region offers all kinds of trekking trails, be it a strenuous one taking you to an altitude of over 20000 feet or easier ones that anyone can go for.
Let’s discover some amazing treks that you can try in Ladakh, even if you are a novice. People consider trekking as a very demanding activity which requires a high level of physical fitness. To be precise, the belief is not completely untrue, but will power and determination can make us achieve anything and everything. I have a job which requires me to sit in front of the computer for 9 hours a day and 6 days a week. And I confess, I do not work out too much; only when my wife pulls me to the gym with her. Does my lifestyle sound too similar to yours? It’s alright; we are just regular, modern-age people who are working hard to earn name and fame. You can imagine my physical condition; I’m not too fit but I’m not a couch potato either, and I have been on a few treks just in the past few years. Not in Ladakh, I am still to realise this dream of mine, but in Goa and Kerala. And yeah, they were FUN. More amazing than a tour I have taken to a hill station or some other place.
A few of the various trekking trails in Ladakh are fit for beginners. Read further to know the several options available from Treks in Ladakh For Beginners that you chose from.
Sham Valley – An Oasis amidst the Barren Ladakh
Amidst the barren mountains of Ladakh, lies a place that is adorned with awe-inspiring lushness, which can urge any painter to bring it to life on his/her canvas. This place is better known to the world as Sham Valley. People who have been here, or have heard even a little bit about this beautiful place might also know it as the Apricot Valley. It derives the name from the plantation of apricot flowers that covers the whole area.
Now, who wouldn’t like to go for a trekking excursion to such a wonderful place which is nothing short of heaven! The best time to go on the Sham Valley Trek is between the months of June and September. This trekking trail will get you to an altitude of over 18380 feet. I would suggest you to avail a package which also includes rafting, because one thing that’s better than trekking in Ladakh, is rafting on the Zanskar River. This around 8-day adventure will not only get the adrenaline pumping through your veins, but also take you to many quaint villages, allowing you to mingle with the local people.
Would you believe that there is still a lot more to do in Ladakh with the Sham Valley Trek? This trip also gives you many sightseeing opportunities taking you to some of the most popular points of interest located here.
Markha Valley – Passes, Wildlife and More
There is another, somewhat moderate, trek in Ladakh which can take you to an altitude of almost 18000 feet. If you consider yourself a wildlife enthusiast, then this is the trek you should opt for. For me, the highlight of Markha Valley trek is the passage through Hemis National Park. Sprawling over 4400 sq km, this protected territory is home to many rare animal species, including snow leopard. Other animals you can see while passing through the national park are Tibetan wolf, Asiatic ibex, Eurasian brown bear and red fox. Well, isn’t it a destination for nature explorers?
The trek will also give a chance to enjoy panoramic views of the Stok and Zanskar Ranges. Imagine snow-capped peaks rising to a height of thousands of feet and the sun rising behind them. Doesn’t this sound like the beautiful sceneries we used to draw in our art class in schools? This 8-day journey also takes you through the lush barley fields of Yurutse, and Ganda La, a high altitude pass situated at a height of over 16000 feet above sea level. The view will be surely amazing from such heights. If you have been working out a little for some time, and capturing enticing views of landscape of Ladakh in your camera is your aim i, then I suggest you go for this journey. You have my word, you will enjoy every second of it.
Spituk-Stok Trek – Short but Effective
Till now, we talked about 8-day sojourns but now let us discuss the shorter ones. This option is for those, who cannot take out that much time for an adventure trip. If you can manage to extend your weekend, then Spituk-Stok Trek is recommended to you. The journey may be short but it does not lack any lustre when compared to others. You still reach the altitude of over 16000 feet and capture astonishing views of the Ladakhi landscape. This is also a good option for those, who still are nervous about a trekking expedition. I urge you to go for this short journey now, and maybe a longer one during your next visit to Ladakh. I am saying this because I’ m sure that once you try trekking here, you will not be able to resist coming back.
Were you intrigued when I mentioned the visit to the famous Hemis National Park earlier and seeing rare fauna? You can do all that with this tour too. Zingchen, Rumbak and Mankarmo are three stops on the way. DO NOT forget to check out the stunning Stok Palace. Built around the 1820s, the monument is a masterpiece of Ladakhi craftsmanship. The palace also houses a museum which has a precious collection of weapons and currency. During your visit here, get a glimpse into the lavish lifestyle of the royals who once ruled the region.
Nimaling Plateau – Be Ready to be Surprised
Nimaling Plateau Trek has been gaining fame among adventure lovers for quite some time now. Maybe one of the biggest reasons for the rise in its popularity is its “lack of popularity”. Though other trekking trails have become quite famous, this one is yet to reach that level of fame. I guess that is why more and more people, who want to set themselves apart from the rest of the crowd, are opting for this excursion. Why not! Discover the undiscovered, or as they say, “take the road not taken”. So, perhaps there is a clock on this opportunity. Seize it before it is no longer there.
This 8-10 day expedition begins from Hemis, which is also the final destination of this trek. And, between the time you leave Hemis and come back again, is going to be a never-ending adrenaline rush. The route itself is amazing. Reaching the Shang village at the end of the first day, you reach the base of Nimaling at the end of the second. After reaching your destination, Nimaling Plateau, on the fourth day of the journey, trace your steps back to Hemis.
Here, you get the chance to explore the well-known Hemis Monastery that has made the namesake village a major tourist destination in Ladakh. Believed to have been in existence since the 11th century, this gompa is the venue of the sacred Hemis Festival, celebrated every year in the honour of Lord Padmasambhava.
Spituk-Matho Trek – Different Sides of Ladakh
This is another short trekking option, in case you were wondering for more. Spituk-Matho Trek is for 4 or 5 days. This trekking trail has some steep sections, so I will put this trek in the easy to moderate category. Embarking on this trek is like getting an insight into the varied landscape of Ladakh. The trekking trail passes through barren terrains and via a beautiful gorge to a picture-perfect valley. All faces of Ladakh will unfold before you go on this trek. While descending towards Matho Phu, enjoy awe-inspiring views of the mountains. I am sure the sight will remain engraved in your memory forever.
Though these may be comparatively easier than other treks in Ladakh, these also require physical fitness, and you should plan and prepare well for these journeys. There are not going to be too demanding; however, these are going to be a little more than just a walk in the park.