Trekking in Leh Ladakh
Bewitching travellers with its stark beauty and rich culture, Ladakh stays on the top as one of the most toured destinations in India. Despite its remote location and high altitude, it has been continuously attracting travellers from around the world. The best possible way to see the regional natural beauty is to go trekking in Leh Ladakh. Many such expeditions will take you to distant and remote villages, where you may experience the traditional way of life, and learn about the Buddhist faith and culture.
• Elevation: With an average elevation of 10000 feet above sea level, the Ladakh plateau is subject to an arid and cold climate.
• Terrain: Four mountain ranges span the breadth of the plateau, which going north from south are Himalayas, Zanskar, Ladakh and Karakoram Ranges. The northern boundary of the Himalayas here is heavily glaciated, and gives rise to most of the rivers of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. The average altitude of the Ladakh Range is about 20000 feet while that of the Zanskar Mountains is approximately 19700 feet.
• Temperature in Leh Ladakh: During winters, lasting from October to March, the minimum temperature here mostly remains below freezing point, and can be as low as -40 degree Celsius. The harsh winters are accompanied by huge amounts of snow, which often make the town cut-off from the rest of India. April onwards, the temperature starts increasing, and in the peak of summer, it can be as high as 30 degree Celsius. The desert-type climate of the region means that it receives little rainfall.
Stok Kangri Trek: One of the most popular routes for trekking in Leh Ladakh is the one, which will take you to the summit of Mount Stok Kangri. At roughly 20182 feet above sea level, it is the highest point in the Stok section of the Ladakh Range. This hike has been popular with expert mountaineers as it is quite challenging, and provides bewitching scenery throughout.
• Route: You first arrive in Leh, and get a whole day to rest and acclimatise to the harsh terrain and weather. Your excursion begins in the little but culturally significant village of Stok, and from here you will travel Chang Ma, where you will set tents on mountain slopes.
You next hike to Mankorma, where the changing colours of the mountains, depending on the amount and angle of sunlight, will spellbind you. The next section of the journey, which will take you to the base camp of Stok Kangri, will be equally scenic. Next you will make the final ascent, and it will test all your skills and will power.
Chadar Trek: Chadar Trek or the ‘frozen lake trek’ remains a favourite among ardent explorers of Ladakh. This trek is equal parts challenging and rewarding. The whole trail is a thing of beauty as it is filled with natural wonders, out of which the frozen Naerak glacier is a highlight. The best time to feast your eyes on the completely frozen trail is January to February. Considerable amount of caution is advised and the trek is meant for experienced trekkers only.
• Route: The journey will start from Leh and move towards Chilling, followed by a hike to Tilad Do, the starting point of Chadar trek. From Tilad Do, the group will proceed towards Gyalpo and then to Div Cave and the village of Naerak. The trail route from Div Cave to Naerak is considered the most picturesque one and will give you a great opportunity to click some wonderful pictures. From Naerak, the return journey starts that passes Tibb, Shingra Koma, Chilling and finally reaching Leh.
Markha Valley Trek: Also known as a ‘tea house trek’, a trekking expedition in the Markha valley offers splendid views of Stok Kangri and Kang Yissay peaks. Markha is located close to Leh, this is why the initial phase of the trek is acclimatization in Leh for a day or two before you tread further. Markha Valley is a treasure trove of lush meadows, towering peaks, expansive deserts and glacier basins. Also if you are one to enjoy a tryst with the local culture, this one awaits you.
• Route: After spending a day of acclimatization in Leh, the Markha valley trek will begin from the desertous lands of Spituk and Zingchen. In Zingchen, a green valley amidst the surrounding sandy deserts, river Rumbak merges with the Indus River. From here, trek to Yurtuse and later to Ganda la and onward to Skiu. Next stop, trekking along the banks of river Markha, is the Markha village. Visit the local shrines and monasteries. Beyond Hangskar, the last hamlet of the village, lies Thachungtse. Trek onward to Nimaling and finally to Shang gorge. Return to Leh after boarding a vehicle from a little away from Shang Sumdo.
Much of Leh Ladakh is bereft of vegetation, owing to the arid climate, which is characteristic of deserts. Still, you will see occasional expansive patches of greenery, along the numerous rivers of the plateau. The two most important crops for the Ladakhi people are barley and apricots, which provide them food and revenue. Their requirement for timber is fulfilled by willow and poplar trees, which grow here in abundance.
The avian diversity of this desert-plateau is also immense, and the variety of birds found here will give you an idea of the same. Apart from birds, animals like ibex, snow leopards, sheep, wolves, foxes, deer and yak are also seen here in plenty. By going for trekking in Leh Ladakh, you can easily explore the plenteous flora and flora of the region.