If you are the typical adventure junkie, craving for some adrenalin pumping and heart racing adventure, then Ladakh is the place for you. Situated on a height of over 12000 ft (3500 meters) above sea level and embraced by the mighty Himalayas and the gigantic Karakoram Ranges, this barren high altitude snow desert is one of the world’s best adventure tour destinations waiting to be explored.
The land of Ladakh abounds with innumerable options for adventure. There are formidable mountain passes, expansive valleys and gorges, serene rivers and crystal clear lakes, mystifying Buddhist monasteries and quaint villages to experience through long, arduous treks, camping, river rafting, bike and jeep safaris and village trails.
Ladakh offers several treacherous but exhilarating mountain climbing opportunities. Some of the highest peaks that are ideal for an exuberant trek are Nun (7,135 meters) and Kun (7,077 meters) in the Suru Valley, Stok Kangri (6,150 meters) and Gulab Kangri (5,900 meters) in the Zanskar Range, Saseer I, Saseer II and Saseer III in the Karakoram Range. Mountaineering expeditions require prior booking and in some cases even permission from the Indian Mountaineering Foundation.
Depending on their abilities and interests, adventure seekers can choose treks that are easy (for beginners), moderate (for somewhat experienced) or tough (for experts). The treks last between 3 – 30 days and are organized and conducted by both private adventure tour operators and also by the government of Leh. Some of the most popular treks include Spituk to Markha Valley Trek, Nubra Valley Trek, Zanskar Trek, Lamayaru Trek, Rupshu Trek, Wild Ladakh Trek, Frozen River Trek, Ladakh Monastery Trek etc.
Ladakh is home to several scenic camping sites that offer you a dose of adventure coupled with breathtaking natural beauty all around you. All most all the camp sites are situated at a height of 3000 to 8000 meters and are organized mainly in the Sham Valley, Nubra Valley, Zanskar Valley and Srinagar – Ladakh and include key places like Kargil, Hemis, Padum, Randum, Phyang etc.
For river rafting enthusiasts, river Indus and her many tributaries are an ideal destination, with the routes along river Zanskar being most exciting. For beginners, Spituk to Karu along the river Indus is the best places to start a rafting expedition while expert rafters can go all the way up to Saspol.
As you meander through the deep gorges and make your way through mountains looming high, you can discover the magical wonders of Ladakh – snow capped mountain peaks, rare flora and fauna, scattered villages and high rise monasteries.
Bike and Jeep Safaris
If you do not want to explore Ladakh on foot, then you can do it using your own or rented motor vehicles. There are several bike and jeep safari routes on rugged terrain and narrow roads that take you on an adventure ride through high mountain passes and ice fields. The most popular routes for bike and jeep safaris are Kahrdungla Pass (the world’s highest motorable road), Rohtang La, Baralachu La, Lachalung La, Pangong, Tsomori-Ri, Dah Hanu etc.
Do’s and Don’ts
- The best time to travel to Ladakh is from May to October. All adventure activities are also scheduled and organized during this time.
- Ladakh is a high latitude destination with frigid weather. Give yourself enough time for acclimatizing.
- Research and plan your trip well in advance. Contact tour providers for accurate destination details and requirements for the planned trip.
- Don’t forget to take along warm clothing, first aid kits, water bottles and quick snacks.
- Always stick to your trip schedule and never stray away if you are in a group.
- Choose only those adventure activities that specifically suit your physical fitness level.
- Don’t violate any of the rules and regulations.
- Carry a well equipped trekking/ rafting/ mountain climbing/ camping gear with you.
- Before renting bikes or jeeps, test the vehicles’ brakes, mileage and tyres.
Remember – adventure activities involve a certain degree of risk. Don’t venture on activities that you have been advised against as this can prove fatal or life threatening.
Pictures courtesy wiki commons.