An epic multi sport journey, focused on trekking, in our series of ‘best-of’ journeys in Ladakh & Zanskar, crafted from 15+ years of exploratory treks in the wilds of the Indian Himalaya. This trek (+plus) is a diverse and stunningly beautiful route through some of Ladakh’s most unique regions – otherworldly high salt lakes, several nomadic regions, remote Himalayan villages, sparkling rivers, Himalayan passes, Tibetan Buddhist culture and monasteries, rare wildlife are a few of the highlight. This journey combines two very different trekking regions with a jeep safari to the turquoise Pangong Lake, on the border of Tibet, white water rafting on the Zanskar or Indus Rivers, some incredibly beautiful and challenging cycling around Leh, visiting ancient monasteries and palaces in the Indus valley + more!
Ladakh Silk Route Trek – High Salt Lakes + Tibetan Nomadic Region
Our epic Kamzang Journeys Ladakh Silk Route Trek is an adventure into the high nomadic regions of Ladakh, in the sublimely beautiful Indian Himalaya, trekking across the Tibetan-style green plateaus of the beautiful Tsomoriri & Tso Kar lake region and crossing some of Ladakh’s highest mountain passes. We follow the old Silk Route caravan trails over high Himalayan passes of the Changthang plateau as we trek through remote valleys, populated with Tibetan-style villages, to Pangong Lake on the border of Tibet. This is a remote region reminiscent of western Tibet, with the snow-peaks of the Ladakh, Zanskar and Pangong Ranges providing a spectacular backdrop.
Highlights are spending several days trekking along the shores of Lake Tso Moriri in Ladakh during the peak of nomadic migrations, camping next to the nomads in their yak-hair tents on the banks of this incredibly scenic 26-kilometer lake, surrounded by snow-capped peaks. And crossing a small pass to arrive at the salt lake of Tso Kar, once an important source of trade and income for the local Ladakhi villagers and nomads, now a wetlands preserve, home to a vast array of migratory birds and rare wildlife. The kiang, or wild ass, run wild in big herds through these watery realms.
Our green Ladakhi campsites are backed by the snow-capped Himalayas and the grasslands are peppered with colonies of yak-hair nomadic tents. We visit several small semi-permanent villages with ancient Tibetan Buddhist monasteries, sacred lands. We camp along the meandering rivers that feed into the lakes, an exciting entrance into the fading world of Tibetan and Ladakhi nomads. The nomadic Ladakhi population has traditionally transmigrated from the high plains of Tibet in search of nutritious grass for their livestock, salt to trade, and a market for their butter and wool, a difficult and tenuous existence. This unique way of life, sadly, is quickly dying as the nomads find an easier existence to this harsh life in the cities …
Kyang (wild donkeys) roam these wide valleys of Ladakh, guarding their territory, and red fox, blue sheep, argali, marmots, pikas and Himalayan hare. It is a truly awesome, wild landscape of wide plateaus and craggy snow-peaks but also a gentle world of grassy meadows, delicate flowers, blue skies and meandering streams. Once past Tso Kar salt lake we trek though our favorite exploratory route of years past, camping at the far-flung Teri village, which hardly, if ever, see Westerners.
Markha Valley + Rupshu Nomadic Trek
From the traditional villages of the willow-lined Markha river valley, we trek to the high nomadic plateaus, where we camp with the Markha-pa and their hundreds of sheep, yaks and goats, a timeless vignette. Crossing the 5000+ meter Zalung Karpo La pass, we reach the Ladakhi nomadic region of Rupshu, a green, willow filled and breathtakingly beautiful region of canyons, grasslands, river valleys and Buddhist shrines.
We trek along ancient trade routes lined with long Tibetan Buddhist mani walls, where travelers and their caravans were protected by a series of lookout towers and fortresses guarding against invasion from Tibet or India, all of which attest to this region’s importance in days of yore. We’ll take you into hidden winter settlements of the nomads, with wolf traps, ‘lhatoos’ (shrines to mountain dieties) and local village monasteries. En route through this nomadic region, we splash through rivers, wade through a slot canyon, cross grassy pasture lands and trek up remote valleys to reach idyllic campsites in some of the region’s most far-flung locations, with lots of time to relax, enjoy the Himalayan scenery and soak in the surroundings …
Some highlights are rare wildlife such as kiang, blue sheep, snow leopard, wolves, ibex, argali and golden eagles. Remote villages, active Buddhist monasteries, nomadic settlements on the high grazing plateaus, 5000-meter Himalayan passes, soaring canyons and sparkling river valleys to ford.
Pangong Lake Jeep Safari
An epic jeep safari over the 5000+ meter Chang La pass to the stunningly beautiful Pangong Lake, where traditional villages with tented camps dot the lakeside. Enjoy a swim in the (chilly) lake, visit the villages, wander barefoot on sandy lakeside beaches, rejuvinate and enjoy the views!
Cycling, Rafting + Sightseeing
There is endless opportunity for adventure in the Indian Himalaya, and as we love all of these activities, have added a day of rafting, cycling and Indus Valley sightseeing to the trip!
The Indian Himalaya in the summer is one of our favorite trekking locations; the campsites are green and breathtakingly beautiful, the days are sunny and long, the villages bustling with activity. A photographer’s dream and a real adventure!
Join our wonderful journey through Ladakh, a piece of ‘old Tibet’!
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Kamzang Journeys is owned and operated by Kim Bannister, an American expat and traveler of 25+ years who is based in Kathmandu, Nepal (spring, autumn and sometimes winter) & Leh, India (summer).
Kamzang Journeys is a registered LLC in the USA. The inspiration for Kamzang Journeys originated in Ladakh, where Kim and team have been trekking for 15+ years.
It came from trekking through sparkling river valleys of sculpted ochre, mustard and moss-green rocks under soaring Himalayan peaks, through green, nomadic pasture lands peppered with nomadic yak-hair tents under a canopy of endless blue skies.
Our passion for these regions inspired us to make a lifestyle of leading treks and bicycle trips through Nepal, India, Tibet and Bhutan, later adding Mongolia and newly Pakistan to the list.
All of our Kamzang team shares our love of these Himalayan regions, of the adventure of trekking, of exploring far-flung villages, sipping salt-butter tea in local houses, of camping with the nomads as they round up their flocks of sheep, goats and yaks, of watching for snow leopard and kiang as we journey through remote plateaus on the border of Nepal and Tibet, of bicycling through some of Bhutan's most breathtakingly beautiful regions.