Trek to Zanskar Valley (Lamayuru - Padum)

07/16 - 07/26/2010

Officially the trek starts at Lamayuru and ends at Padum. But on the first two stages and on the last two stages you are mainly walking on roads and that's not really cool. Because of this we started at Phanjila. So we skipped at least one road walking day.

Day 1 - Going to Phanjila

We went by jeep from Leh to Phanjila. We visited monasteries (e.g. Lamayuru) and had lots of photo stops. So we needed almost the whole day to get to Phanjila.

When we arrived at the camping ground of Phanjila our tents were build up and we moved in, had some soup and enjoyed the rest of the day.

Day 2 - Just waiting

As we knew it before, we still had no animals and we had to wait at least one day. So we spent the second day with a short trip to the Wanla Gompa and we used these 15 km to get used to walking again.

Meanwhile the owner of the trekking agency arrived by motorbike from Leh to make everything clear with the horses or donkeys. In the evening he told us that the horses are on their way from Padum to Lamayuru, but that they are carrying still the baggage of another group. As soon as they arrive in Wanla they drop off the baggage and soon will catch up with us.

By the way thats us (starting left): Tanja (Germany/Switzerland), Christine (France), Marion and Thomas, Norbu (our guide) and Lorella (Italy)

Day 3 and 4

We just started walking. Actually we met our horses on our way to Hanupata. Let's see, when they will catch up to us. We think, we will need another rest day to wait. Meanwhile our baggage is carried to the next camp by car. Reaching Hanupata camp in the afternoon we take a bath in the river - instead of the missing shower.

Actually we didn't expect the horses but suddenly at 9.30 on day 4 the horses arrived. Now we had to be really fast, because we had to climb the Sirsir La today and it was already getting late.

The ascent was a cruelty, but he marvelous nature and the breathtaking views recouped us.

Day 5

From Photoksar our trek went on to Sengge La Base Camp. Mainly ascending, but we've already been run in and the trek was very easy. We almost started running up the mountains.

We also had our first river crossing today. Our sandals were already stored in our day packs. The only point was the water: it was freezing cold but that should be at least good for the blood flow.

Day 6

The Sengge La (4960m) crossing was no problem. We had almost no snow and the small altitude difference from the base camp to the pass were quickly done. After this the trek went on descending.

We had a break at a parachute cafe, were a very nice old guy served us milk tea.

After the break some rainfall hit us the first time on our trek. But only one short hour and the weather was fine again.

The last descent was very steep and the short ascent to the Gongma camp at the end of the day really left us without breath.

Day 7

From Gongma there was a nice path leading to our next camp in Sumdo. Right in the middle between Gongma and Sumdo we were passing the small village of Lingshed with its beautiful built Gompa, which we visited of course.

Regarding our schedule, we should have slept in Lingshed. But the idea of our horse men to go on and camp right before the next pass was really good.

So, the next, we were fit to climb the Hanamul La. But before we could enjoy Mirinda and chocolate which was expired for one year and three months. We drank the Mirinda but disposed the chocolate.

Day 8

That stage was again very demanding. The Hanamul La had lots of altitude difference to offer, which was very exhausting. The next part was a long descend, but the sun burned down like hell.

On this stage we also skipped our original plans and did not stay on the crowded camp ground of Nyetse,

but went on until just before the last pass (You can see it on the picture).

We were completly alone on our camp ground at Zingchan (Can you see our tents? - They are orange) and could - for the second time on the trek - take a bath in the river.

Day 9 and 10

The last pass, the Parfi La, was really demanding, but after all we made it. We reached Zanskar Valley and the so called river and just enjoyed the fantastic view.

Nevertheless there was still some kilometers to go and the supposed plain trek offered some other short but mean ascents and river crossings. And also the sun did a hard job on us.

At the end of the day we arrived at the big camp ground of Hanumil, were some big groups already moved in.

We were really afraid about doing the next stage to Karsha, the last village before Padum (actually two stages with 9 hours in total).

Today we wanted to catch up our rest day, because slowly but savely we were running out of food. But ... everything came a little bit different.

Our guide decided, that we should only walk until Pishu and to do the long stage over Karsha to Padum the following day. We think he wanted to arrive early in Pishu, so he could get a jeep to his near home village to visit a festival.

Arriving in Pishu (the camp ground was a bit under water) we decided to finish the trek here and to drive the rest of the stages to Padum by jeep. That was very wise, because the rest of the trek was again just walking on roads. Not very funny.

Arriving in Padum everbody was covered with about two kilos of dust (we had to go on the back of the jeep) and we didn't want to sleep in the tent right in the middle of the town and to wash ourselves in the river. So we just moved into a guest house and made us look human again.

That's the end of our first trek on this trip to Asia ... almost, because there is one other thing to mention:

The way back from Padum over Kargil to Leh (about 460 km) cost us 2 additional days. From Padum to Kargil it took us 12 hours and after a really disgusting night in Kargil it took us another 7 hours to reach Leh. But ... jeep tours in Ladakh are worth another story.