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The stark and pristine landscape of Ladakh, bound by rugged mountains, deep gorges and harsh terrain is ideal for adventure sports like trekking, mountain climbing, camping, etc. Moreover, the gurgling Indus and Zanskar rivers cutting through the scenery provide perfect backdrops for adventure in the water.
There are several mountain biking trails across Leh-Ladakh. Adventure seekers can bike on Khardung La, which is considered to be among the highest motorable roads in the world, along the shores of Pangong Lake, through the Warila pass, in the Nubra Valley, and by the banks of rivers Indus and Zanskar. Several tour companies organise day-long or multiple-day biking tours for individuals and groups. Along the way, bikers are treated to local cultures, homestays and food. Since this is a strenuous activity, bikers must make sure they are fully acclimatised and in good shape before they embark on this adventure. Mountain biking is a great way to see the Leh-Ladakh region for those who like to ride and are up for the adventure in the mountains. Some companies may need visitors to prove they are fit for the adventure with short exercises or fitness certificates. The tours vary in their levels of difficulty.
Chadar Trek can only be enjoyed during the winter months in Ladakh. It gets its name from the fact that, during winter, the rivers freeze and form a blanket of ice that forms the main terrain of this trek. Throughout the adventure, trekkers are walking on precarious icy formations, staying in caves filled with stalactites and stalagmites and encountering other snowy landscape. It is very important to have an experienced guide who leads the trek. The trek covers a distance of approximately 62 km, which takes about nine days to cover and scales a height of up to 11,000 ft. The trek is mostly covered on the frozen River Zanskar and begins from the village of Chilling. February is considered to be the best time to complete this trek as the ice is most stable during that month.
Due to the presence of two prominent rivers—the Indus and the Zanskar—Ladakh offers amazing river rafting opportunities to thrill-lovers. The Zanskar river features one of the best gorges for navigation in the world. Whitewater rapids are found in abundance as rafters head down the river and witness spectacular geological formations all around. There is also the chance to enjoy the hospitality of the Zanskari people. There are various tours that can feature a rafting distance of 5 km to almost 30 km. Even shorter rafting tours can be organised for a few hours. Some of the places that feature on these rafting routes include Tsogsti, Nimoo, Scorpoche, and Chilling. This adventure activity is best enjoyed in groups.
Leh-Ladakh’s diverse terrain includes mountains, valleys and rivers, making it a haven for trekking enthusiasts. These treks navigate through remote villages and pristine locations, offering a peek into the life of villagers. Some of these treks may last for a few hours or a few days. Some popular routes include Lamayuru to Alchi trek, Ripchar Valley trek, Padum to Darcha trek, Lamayuru to Stok Kangri trek, Markha Valley trek, Jhulum Hemis trek and the famous Chadar trek. The Chadar Trek can only be enjoyed during the winter months in Ladakh.
Bactrian Camel Ride
A prominent location on the ancient Silk Route, Nubra Valley, in Ladakh, is home to two-humped Bactrian camels, who were brought to the region from Central Asia. Today, these camels are the remnants of this glorious trading past and offer enjoyable rides around the sand dunes of Hunder in Nubra Valley. This experience can also be enjoyed at Agling, which is a Tibetan village close to Leh. The camel ride takes visitors to Stok and this journey takes about four hours to complete. Along the way, the terrain changes from lush greenery to a desert. Riding on the back of a camel is one of the most thrilling ways to explore this high altitude cold desert. Perched at an elevation of about 10,000 ft, Hunder is bordered by snow-clad mountains that present a picturesque backdrop to the arid but mesmerising landscape.
Since the region of Leh-Ladakh is blessed with the towering Himalayas and Karakoram ranges, it offers mountain climbers plenty of options to choose from. The most popular mountains for this activity are Stok Kangri, Kang Yatse, Mentok Kangri, Chamsher, and Lingser Kangri. Most of these aren’t tough to climb. However, climbers need to possess excellent skills. They must also ensure that they are fully acclimatised to the weather to prevent any breathlessness or Acute Mountain Sickness. Leh-Ladakh is one of the few places in the world where mountain climbers can scale a height of 6,000 m within a week or more. These expeditions take climbers through surreal terrains where they can encounter fauna like blue sheep and birds. On the way, pristine lakes and the unique cultures of the nomadic Changpa people can also be experienced.
Trekking in Markha Valley
The best season to embark on the Markha Valley trek is from June to September. It scales a height of approximately 3,700 m above sea level and takes about eight days to complete. There are mesmeric sights and experiences to be enjoyed along the route. Trekking along the Markha river will bring you to the village of Nimaling, where you can witness the tall peak of Kangyatse. Other peaks that can be viewed along the route include Saser Kangri, Stok Kangri, and Nun Kun. The most delightful part of this trekking route has got to be when it makes its way through the Hemis National Park. This place is unlike any other park and is famed for creatures like snow leopards, ibexes and blue sheep. Wildlife enthusiasts must not miss out on this trek. Being properly acclimatised is important before embarking on this adventure. It is best to complete the trek in a group with a professional guide.
Camping in Ladakh is one of the most amazing experiences. Be it on the side of crystal-clear lakes, near Buddhist monasteries or gorgeous locations amidst a stark scenery, camping in Ladakh is must-try. Camps here feature semi-luxurious and luxurious tents with bathrooms, warm bedding and other amenities. They also have a central dining room. Camp Martsemik La, Wonderland Camp and Camp Watermark are the popular camps near Pangong Lake. The Mystique Meadows Camp, Valley Flower Camp and Double Humped Camp Hunder are some of the popular spots in Nubra Valley. The Chamba Camp at Thiksey is one of the most luxurious camps in India. The camps vary in their costs: some are great for backpackers, other are mid-budget while the rest are luxurious. The camps usually help guests chart out itineraries, organise local tours and also set up bonfires and other activities within the premises.