Trekking in Ladakh
In the past few years, Ladakh has become increasing more popular as an adventure travel destination. Because of the recent political problems in Nepal (which hopefully are now overcome), many travelers have sought the Himalayan region of Ladakh as an alternative trekking destination. Trekking in Ladakh, however, is much different from trekking in Nepal. Whereas in Nepal it is possible to trek from teahouse to teahouse with lodging and food provided for, in Ladakh it is necessary to take all provisions with you as there are no teahouses along the way- making the packing more difficult as well as heavy. However, trekking in Ladakh can be just as light as trekking in Nepal.
The standard way to trek in Ladakh is to hire a guide as well as a couple horses and assistants to walk with you, making the trip much easier and hassle free. Because of the rough and dry terrain as well as extremely high altitudes, it is highly recommended that trekkers take advantage of these services in order to experience an enjoyable as well as safe trek in the Himalayas. There are a plethora of travel agents in Leh, the capital city of Ladakh, who will be happy to provide an arranged tour which ranges from luxury to the bare basics at a reasonable price. Either you can book your tour before you leave home over the internet through a travel agent, or you can arrange your tour once you arrive in Leh- usually much cheaper.
One popular trek which takes you through the varied terrain of Ladakh is the Markha Valley trek. This trek will take you through green valleys, as well as over high altitude passes passing through moon-like desert landscape along the way. The trek begins from Spituk monastery or Stok village and passes through Gandala Pass, which takes you across Markha valley crossing Kongmaru La (5135m) pass to finish at the famous Hemis Buddhist monastery. This trek usually takes around 9 days with Moderate to Strenuous physical challenge.
Because of the high altitudes and passes the best time of year to do this trek is from July to September. An easier trek to consider is the Sham trek from Liker to Khaltser. This trek usually takes 5 days passing through many small villages and monasteries, and crossing the lower Tsermangchan La (3750m) pass. If you have the time, it is possible to do much longer treks ranging from 10- 22 days. One such trek is from Lamayuru monastery to Hemis monastery which takes around 15 days passing through the Hemis national park established to protect the infamous snow leopard (although the chances of spotting such beautiful animals are slim).Trekking in Ladakh is a once in a lifetime experience where you can not only challenge yourself physically, but also experience the amazing landscape and the vastly different Ladakhi culture along the way.
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