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Trekking in Ladakh: A Beginner's Guide

Updated: May 5, 2020

A quick summary of the different trekking routes of Ladakh

Ladakh has plenty of trekking trails ranging from extreme glacier expeditions above 6000 Metres Ranges, and also light hiking trails passing through villages of Ladakh. Here is a quick guide to all these trails of Ladakh.

"The mountains are calling, and you can't turn a deaf ear" Whether you prefer a light hike, or an extreme conditions trekking, Ladakh has everything to offer

Trekking in Ladakh is a dream come true for trekker across the globe! Walking past the desert mountains into the narrow passes, over the highest roads, Ladakh trekking experience is arguably the best in the country, if not in the world.Truly a paradox of nature, this landscape of extremes has a myriad of beautiful elements of nature– from the desert to blue waters, burning sun to freezing winds, and from glaciers to sand dunes. If you are the adventurous kind, missing these treks in Ladakh is a sin! So, make sure you plan a trip for trekking in Ladakh, India this year after picking your adventure from below.

Below are some of the most famous and well-known trekking trails of Ladakh.

Markha Valley Trek

Duration: 6-7 days Difficulty Level:Moderate Best Season: June-September

This is the one most of the trekker choose, because it combines hiking and landscapes with people and culture by incorporating homestays with families in villages along the way. For us, this combination is ideal and resulted in a trekking experience that exceeded our expectations. The Markha Valley Trek is also the most popular Ladakh trek and we’re told it can get crowded in the high season (July and August). If you travel to Ladakh during high season, take this into consideration and perhaps choose a less popular trek to avoid crowded trails and home accommodations.

Sham Valley Trek

Duration: 3-4 days Difficulty Level:Moderate Best Season: June-September

The Sham Valley trek—also known as the “Baby Trek”—is a short 3-day trek perfect for beginners, or those hoping to do a bit of warm-up before a more strenuous adventure. Don’t let the name deter you; though one of the easier treks in Ladakh, the Sham Valley trek is tiring at times due to the altitude, and you’ll certainly break a sweat. A basic level of fitness is still required, but we highly recommend it for anyone looking for a short or beginner trek in Ladakh.

Stok Kangri Trek

Duration: 5-6 days Difficulty Level:Extreme Best Season: May-September

One of the most challenging treks around Leh, Stok Kangri is one of the finest peaks made for those who have always aspired to be a climber but never have had the opportunity before. For starters, stok kangri is the highest peak in the stok range of the himlayas. Stok kangri is particularly famous as an initial non technical expedition into high altitude mountaineering. It is known to be one of the trouble free 6000 m. trek in the world, never the less a demanding expedition into high altitude mountaineering.

Ladakh Accommodation and Sleeping Options: Camping or Homestay?

Some treks will give you the option of either camping or homestays (staying with Ladakhi families in villages). Here are the advantages and disadvantages of both.

Camping: The primary advantage of camping (if you are going with an agency) is that it includes a horse to carry your bags so you don’t have to haul your stuff on your back up to 5,000+ meters and back down again. Another bonus: you can sometimes camp closer to passes, making for easier ascents. A perhaps obvious disadvantage of camping: sleeping in a tent when it’s rainy and cold or blowing snow can be unpleasant. In addition, this option is usually more expensive as you'll need your own cook and horse guide in addition to your trekking guide.

Homestays: If the trek you choose offers the option of homestays, we suggest taking it. Staying with Ladakhi families in villages throughout our Markha Valley trek was absolutely one of the highlights and delights of the experience. The people, culture and tradition ground you. Food (see below) is also a fun facet. Not to mention, homestays are typically less expensive than camping.

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