GUEST POST: Five Beautiful Treks in Ladakh by Ondrej Svestka

The disputed northern reaches of the Indian sub-continent called Ladakh afford some of the most stunning trekking in the world.

Although I deeply love oceans, deserts and other wild landscapes, it is only mountains that beckon me with that sort of painful magnetic pull to walk deeper and deeper into their beauty. They keep me continuously wanting to know more, feel more, see more.

Victoria Erickson

Ondrej Svestka Ondrej is an outdoor enthusiast and web developer from Ostrava, Czech Republic. His favorite multiday hikes are Alta Via 2 in Italy, Zentral Alpine Weg 2 in Austria, or basically any trek in Nepal. He reminded me of the stunning and wild beauty of the Himalayas. I trekked to K2 basecamp in Northern Pakistan in the mid ’90s, but have yet to visit India, Nepal or Ladakh. I hope Ondrej’s suggestions whet your appetite to plan a walking trip yourself!


Ladakh is a haven for adventurers, from casual hikers to expert mountaineers. Its vast mountains, valleys, and peaks are worth the challenges of its trails. The diverse types of circuits make the area popular among all types of adventurers. 

Families, first-timers, and solo travelers can take on the easy trails where they can explore the beauty and culture of Ladakh. Moderate to difficult treks are also available to those who are testing their skills and limits. 

The best season to visit Ladakh is around May to October. However, some circuits are only available beginning early June due to heavy snowfalls. So get your trekking poles ready; check out one of these beautiful treks in Ladakh.

Markha Valley Trek

Max Elevation5260 meters
DifficultyModerate
Duration6 to 8 days

Located within the Hemis National Park, the Markha Valley Trek is one of the most popular trails in Ladakh. The Markha Valley is wedged between Stok Kangri massif in the northern area and the Zanskar range in the southern part. The entire trek provides a spectacular view of snow-capped peaks, mountain scenery, and ranges. 

You will explore multiple high passes, isolated villages, and barley fields. Along the trip, you get to stay at homestays, where you will experience the hospitality of the locals. Participate in their way of life and try delicious dishes. The valley is also home to wolves, foxes, and Himalayan bears. You may spot the elusive snow leopards that call this protected area their home if you are lucky. 

Lamayuru to Alchi Trek

The Alchi Monastery in Ladakh has some of the oldest and most elaborate wall paintings in the region as well as massive Buddhas.
Max Elevation5,153 meters
DifficultyFairly Difficult
Duration5 to 6 days

The Lamayuru to Alchi Circuit connects two of the most significant religious sites in western Ladakh. Explore these breathtaking monasteries along with shrines, Tantric relics made of human bones, and observe the religious practices of the monks before and after your trek. 

The hike is quite challenging as you take on Stakspi La, the highest elevation in the trek, and Kongskil La, around 4,900 meters maximum elevation. These passes require trekking skills and experience. But, the reward throughout and at the end of the trip is worth it. 

You will pass through the Ripchar River and spend a few nights in your tent along the rocks, under clear skies. At the end is Alchi, a peaceful village with a monastery along a tall canyon. The village is home to popular wood carvings and stunning frescoes.

Sham Valley Trek

Max Elevation3,874 meters
DifficultyEasy
Duration3 to 5 days

If you want an introduction to Ladakh Treks or a beginner who wants to enjoy the beauty of the area, the Sham Valley Trek is a great trail. Aptly named “baby trek,” the circuit will take you through the picturesque lower Ladakh region starting in Likir. Start your journey with a view of the 11th-century Buddhist monastery, where you can see a golden statue of Lord Buddha. 

Throughout the three-day adventure, you will pass through homestays, where you get to enjoy local cuisine and know more about the people. While there are some steep slopes, the trek is even suitable for kids. You will pass through poplar-lined roads and a few other monasteries in Basgo, Lemisgam, and Alchi.

Stok Kangri trek

The mountain scenery is unparalleled for walkers in Ladakh.
Max Elevation6,153 meters
DifficultyDifficult
Duration4 to 6 days

For mountaineers who are ready to take on challenging trips, the Stok Kangri Trek is a great sampler for what a Himalayas climb will look like. The trail is not exactly technical, but you will have the chance to use mountaineering equipment such as axes, ropes, crampons, and more. You will spend about a day in the base camp to acclimatize to the altitude and gather supplies

The trek will be challenging physically and mentally, but the iconic view of the razor-edged summit of Stok Kangri is worth it. Along the way, you will face lashing winds as well as perilous slopes. The circuit starts at Spituk or Stok. You can also combine it with the Marka Trek. 

Nubra Valley Trek

Max Elevation5,438 meters
DifficultyModerate
Duration6 to 10 days

The Nubra Valley is known to be one of the most beautiful regions of Ladakh. The ancient gateway to Silk Road provides scenic views of purple mountains and white sand dunes. Besides following the age-old trade route, you will go through the Lasermo La pass, the trek’s highest point. This snow-covered peak offers a breathtaking panoramic view of the Karakoram range. 

Once you are done with the core trail, you can explore the rest of the Nubra Valley. Ride on a double-humped Bactrian camel and explore the Hunder sand dunes. Then, visit the Diskit monastery, where you will see the 32-meter statue of the Maitreya Buddha. 

Conclusion

Ladak offers more than the scenic view of its peaks. The isolated villages with their friendly locals provide memorable experiences to any hikers. Its legendary monasteries are home to the most intriguing spots and artworks in the world. You can visit Ladakh over and over, each time taking home unique memories. 

Published by alison young

Alison Young is the Blissful Hiker, a voice artist and sometime saunterer. 📣🐥👣🎒

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