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"Trekking in Ladakh" guidebook

A Cicerone guidebook by Radek Kucharski "Trekking in Ladakh"
Trekking in Ladakh
author: Radek Kucharski
publisher: Cicerone Press
Second, revised edition; 14 Oct 2015
ISBN: 9781852848309

I have visited Ladakh a few times since the book was first published. I had a chance to repeat some of the routes and to check new variants. The information gathered and the new experiences are reflected in the second, revised edition. As the previous version, book contains extended introduction about Ladakh's environment, history and culture as well as the trip and trekking preparations. Route descriptions make the main part of the book. They range from fairly easy to very demanding adventurous trails across beautiful and wild terrain. The guidebook is designed for self-trekkers who will find all the information required to trek in this challenging region as well as for group trekkers who may find it helpful during their trip preparations and during the trek itself.
Please check the publisher's website to read more about the book.

 
A Cicerone guidebook by Radek Kucharski "Trekking in Ladakh"
Trekking in Ladakh
author: Radek Kucharski
publisher: Cicerone Press
First edition, 19 Oct 2012
ISBN: 9781852846756

The book is based on my experience of intense trekking in the region; it is the effect of a few years work. Trekking in Ladakh on my own I have covered over a thousand kilometres before completing this book and I still return to the region quite regularly. Eight trekking routes of different requirements have detailed description in the book and a vast introduction on the region's culture and trek preparation has been included. There is more about the book at the publisher's website. You will find some updates and comments below.

Press reviews

Author's Ladakh photos and articles

Author's comments and updates

  • 2015.10.16 Second, revised edition of the book
    The 2nd edition of the book has been published. It includes some route updates and information on new variants. Visit this page for more about the new edition.
  • 2015.10.14 Tsarab and Zanskar rivers flood
    There was a big flood on Zanskar and its tributary the Tsarab River (Lungnak / Lingti) in May this year. I checked the condition of some routes after the flood in September this year. Some bridges have not been reconstructed yet and trekkers need to follow alternative pathways in places. Please check my blog post about that flood and its effects.
  • 2014.10.05 Alternative start of the "Tsarab Chu" trek
    The "Tsarab Chu" trek as described in my guidebook (route #2) is the trek which starts on Manali-Leh road and finishes in Padum and follows the Tsarab valley through its major part. During my research for the writing I started the trek in Pang and reached the Tsarab valley over the Morang La. This version of the route has been described in the book. (If you can read Polish, you may check the article about my experience on this route.)
    The alternative start of the trek (not tested by me while preparing the book) - as mentioned in the book - is in the place where the road from Leh reaches the Tsarab valley (from Pang you need to continue driving for about 1h30min towards Manali, crossing Lachulung La i Nakee La). The place is called Gian in my book as it is called so on one of the Ladakh maps which I was using. The local people call the place Barandy Nala and most of the drivers should know it by this name. You need to get off just at the place where the descent from the pass finishes, just at the bottom of dozens of road loops ("Gata Loops" on some maps). From that place walk on a clear pathway along the Tsarab river, on a traverse which is high above the river through its major part. I tested the way this year. The route is fine. It takes 3-4 hours (ca. 11km) to reach Tsokmitsik which is by the 2nd major tributary valley on your right. Here you will join the route from Morang La and you can follow the detailed description of the further route in the book from here onwards.
  • 2014.10.05 Update on Padum-Darcha road construction works
    I came back from Ladakh in late September where I did trek from Barandy Nala to Shilla (near Padum). I had reached the Lungnak (Tsarab / Lingti) valley in Enmu from where I continued on the classic route along the river down to Shilla.
    The Padum-Darcha road has been already mentioned here (see updates below). At the moment (in late September), on the Padum side the road extends as far as Enmu (at this section it is on the true right side of the river). However, there is another road (still not ready but the works are in progress) on the other side of the river, opposite Enmu village! Yes, I was surprised to see it too! It is a link road to Surley village (and maybe to Kalbok). Most probably, there will be a road bridge on Tsarab (Lingti / Tsarab Lingti / Lungnak) river just below Enmu village, which will join the link road to Surley with the main road from Padum.
    I didn't check the progress of the road construction works on the Darcha side myself this year but according to some local people the road under construction extends as far as the Shinkul La or even crosses the pass already!
    This – sadly – marks the end of the classic Darcha-Padum trekking route at least for some trekkers, as walking on the road seems to be a doubtful attraction. Once the road is finished it will also mean big changes for Padum and many places in Zanskar which – I'm afraid – will case to be quiet.
    Walking on the opposite side of the river than the road is on the Ichar and Raru (as described below) as well as Tsetang and Ichar (as described in the book) is still fine. (Read below to know on which side of the river the road is in particular sections).
  • 2014.09.29 Tsarab Chu trek in September
    I did Tsarab Chu trek with a small, brave group earlier this month (major part of the route #2 in the guidebook). It confirms again that it is one of the best treks in Ladakh and that September is the best time for trekking in the region!
  • 2014.02.13 Amazon Kindle and EPUB versions
    Now the guidebook is also available for Amazon Kindle users as well as for users of any EPUB compatible device!
  • 2014.01.30 Markha Valley in winter
    I came back from the Markha Valley last Sunday. I did a 8 days trek up to Thachungtse sleeping at homestays in the villages + a day hike to Shingo and back. No other trekkers, fantastic evenings spent with the Ladakhis, many snow leopard footprints, silence, tranquillity. A great trek!
  • 2014.01.18 Winter trekking in Ladakh
    Winter trekking in Ladakh is possible! And I do not mean chadar here. I've just finished Sham Trek and Tar to Mangyu hike. You can enjoy wild mountains even on routes near to Leh, spend time with the locals who have plenty of time now and are happy to host you at their homes. And it it so quiet and tranquil! The trek gives much satisfaction. Sure, it is harder to trek now and I do not mean demanding treks here. I'm leaving for Markha Valley soon - expect more updates.
  • 2013.10.15 Road extension from Padum towards Shinkul La
    The road is planned to link Padum and Darcha and it will follow the Lungnak and Kargyak valleys roughly as the classic Darcha-Padum / Padum-Darcha trekking route does. The road has been extending gradually from both sides for a couple of years. On the Zanskar side it extends now (Sept 2013) a bit beyond Tsetang (Changpa Tsatang), almost to the village of Enmu. From Padum it follows up the Lungnak valley on its true left side a few kilometres beyond Raru and crosses the river on a bridge that is between Raru and Ichar. Then it continues on the true right bank of Lungnak to a place just opposite Tsetang. Cars can get to this point (Sept 2013). There is a simple restaurant or tea-shop near to the road head (run by a woman from Tsetang) and there is a pedestrian bridge enabling to cross to the true left bank, to Tsetang village. (The bridge is quite simple and needs extra care while crossing. I have crossed it and the locals cross it regularly but might be difficult for some trekkers. It is not suitable for horses.) An another bridge is below Enmu village about 30min further up-valley (this one is not an easy neither nor suitable for packed animals). A good and safe bridge is in Cha village about 2h walk along the true right bank beyond Enmu.
    So, if you are on the way towards Padum (see Trek 2 and Trek 3) you could cross to the right bank using the Cha bridge (see page 182) and finish the trek in Tsetang (you should be able to catch a car there). And if you are following the valley upstream (Trek 4) you could take a car from Padum and start the trek in Tsetang either following the right bank as far as Phukthal (see below) or crossing to the standard route in Tsetang, Enmu or Cha.
    The road is planned to follow the true right bank of Lungnak on the section between Ichar and Cha and then follow the Kargyak valley on its left bank, passing the village of Testha.
  • 2013.10.15 Route between Cha and Enmu on the right bank of Lungnak
    Walking from Phukthal Gompa and Purni (Purne) down the Lungnak valley (Trek 2, Stage 10 and Trek 3, Stage 7) or along Lungnak up-valley beyond Changpa Tsetang (Tsetan) you could go on the right bank of the river, which I did a few times in Sept this year. This is an alternative to the usual route following the left bank.
    On the way down the river, cross the bridge towards Cha village which is opposite the first solitary house beyond Purne (see page 182). You do not need to reach Cha; from the bridge climb steeply and continue to the left, down the valley on a high traverse.
    On the way up the valley (Trek 4, Stage 2) cross the bridge in Dorzong and continue by the road on the true right bank to the village of Enmu (just beyond the Tsetan village which is on the opposite side), where the road ends (Sept 2013). To return to the route described in the book (passing Purni on the way) cross the bridge just before Cha village (and below it). Alternatively continue on the right bank as far as Phukthal as described below.
    The route between Enmu and Cha follows a high traverse all the way. It goes up and down in places so it is not an easy one. It passes a small nunery (ani-aompa) or a nun's monastery: Dolmaling which expressively clings to a sheer slope. The path is good; the route is scenic with fantastic vistas. It takes about 2h to cover the way.
    As the road between Padum and Darcha extends and it will follow the right bank of Lungnak on this section (between Ichar and Cha), the next season (2014) is probably the last moment to try this way. It is possible to reach Phukthal in one day from Padum taking a car to Tsetang, following this route and then continuing to Phukthal on the right bank of Tsarab as described below.
  • 2013.10.15 Route between Ichar and Raru on the right bank of Lungnak
    I tested this route during my Sept trek this year. The route is perfectly fine, it has beautiful views but it requires some steep ascents. From Ichar you need to climb steeply to the main part of the village, then go into the side valley, cross it and climb again. This is on a very well path as villagers take this route to get to their fields which are high above Lungnak. Pass the fields and continue on the high traverse to finally descend to the bridge on Lungnak just after its confluence with Raru Nala. It takes approximately 3h to cover the way between the Ichar bridge and Raru on this route. Ask locals the details of the route and about its condition before you start. It is a great alternative to the usual walk between Ichar and Raru which follows the road. (For more info see: Trek 2, Stage 11 on p.184; Trek 4, Stage 2 on p.219.)
  • 2013.09.24 The Cha way to Phukthal Gompa
    Finally, during my latest trip to Ladakh in Sept this year, I had the chance to check the Cha-Phukthal way which is an alternative to the usual Purni-Phukthal way to the monastery. The route is perfectly fine at the moment (although there are a few sections where the path is very narrow and might be challenging for some trekkers) and it is used daily by the locals and some trekkers. The views are superb. It takes about 2 house to cover the way between Cha and Phukthal. (For more information check: Trek 2, Stage 10 on p.179; Trek 3, Stage 6 and 7; Trek 4, Stage 3 on p.221-222.)
  • 2013.09.24 Road bridge on the Zanskar river near Chiling
    When starting my Markha Valley trek from Chiling in May this year I saw road bridge construction works there. According to my Ladakhi friends, the road is planned to link Chiling and Skyu. The bridge has not been finished yet, and probably will not be completed before the next trekking season. However, if you want to cross Zasnkar on the famous cablecar you need to hurry! (For more about this trek see Trek 8 in my book.)
  • 2013.09.23 Road bridge in Zanskar Sumdo
    The road bridge over Jankar Nala in Zanskar Sumdo (on the way to Shinkul La - Trek 3 in my guidebook) has been completed in the last days of August or first days of Sept this year. Road construction works are in progress towards the pass - the road extends to Ramjak at the moments.

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