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Trekking In Northern India In 20 Awe-Inspiring Photos

Trekking in Northern India in 20 Awe-Inspiring Photos

Visiting India had never been on my travel wish list – mostly on account of the noise, the huge population and the sheer amount of effort just to get there. But then I thought back to a film I saw about a dozen years ago from the Best of Banff Film Festival on Zanskar – and it alone was responsible for an overwhelming desire to go trekking in northern India.

The film showcased a teacher from the west living in a remote village in northern India’s Zanskar region, basically cut off from civilization, especially in the winter when traveling on the frozen Zanskar River was the only way to get around. The mind-blowing mountain scenery stayed with me for over a decade. And then I found a company that did exactly the trekking tour in northern India I was after.

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
Only the hardiest of flowers grow in the Zankar region

Planning the trek in northern India

A big birthday was the impetus for planning the trip to the Zanskar region. The images from the film came to mind and so I began the search for a tour company that offered a trek. There are lots of companies that offer the Markha Valley trek but I wanted something longer, especially if we were going to be traveling that far.

After a lot of research my husband and I ended up choosing World Expeditions, largely because they run the most comprehensive tour in the area. We ended up on a trip that involved trekking for 18 days, at altitudes up to 5,100 metres (16,732 feet).

The landscape that we trekked through from the turnoff on the main highway near the Lamayuru Monastery several hours west of Leh to the finale, a campsite at the end of Markha Valley was nothing short of spectacular, even otherworldly at times.

Read: Places to Visit in Leh if You Have 48 Hours

These 20 photos will merely give you a taste of what it’s like to go trekking through northern India.

The unbelievable scenery on the first day of our Zanskar trek
The unbelievable scenery on the first day of our Zanskar trek
Breathing again - on the backside of our first pass on day one in the Zanskar region
Breathing again – on the backside of our first pass on day one in the Zanskar region
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India
The second day of hiking was the coldest on the trip but every afternoon without fail we’d be down to shortsleeves
The only time we had any snow to deal with was on the second day out
The only time we had any snow to deal with was on the second day out
Unbelievable afternoon of hiking in this untouched landscape
Unbelievable afternoon of hiking in this untouched landscape
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India
We did have to cross the new highway on a few occasions but the only car we saw was one from another trekking company
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India
Looks out towards the small town of Lingshet
The village of Photaksar is improbably perched on the edge of the mountain
The village of Photaksar is improbably perched on the edge of the mountain
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
All the passes have prayer flags
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India
Our amazing 60 year old horseman – Suklal – seemed to have the lung capacity of a 16 year old
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
Looking out towards Lingshet
We had 15 horses and donkeys carrying our gear
We had 15 horses and donkeys carrying our gear
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
The day the hike went under the ice
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
Do not fall off here or meet a pack of horses
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
The views never got old while trekking in northern India (though the food did!) An airy view over to the next day’s pass – the Parpi La
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
View from Parpi La at 3,909 metres (12,824 feet); with acclimatization we were able to knock off this pass in just 75 minutes
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
View from the top of the Cha Cha la at 4,890 metres (16,043 feet)
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
The horses we used were free to graze every night – and roam so the horseman would be up before dawn to find them
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
We got really good at crossing rivers – with over 100 crossings in a two day period
20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India
Our last day of hiking took us over the Kongmeru La at 5,150 metres down through this fabulous valley of red rock to the end of the trek

Would you do a trekking trip in Zanskar?

It was always beautiful, often dusty and very tough going at times because of the altitude, some long days of hiking and plenty of tent time.

You really need to go prepared mentally and physically. A huge thank you to all the congenial, hardworking staff on the ground – including the three horseman, the three cooks/assistant cooks/do anything that needs doing fellows and to our two guides.

Further reading on the trek from the Zanskar Valley to the Indus River 

Click on the photo to bookmark to your Pinterest boards.

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India - from the Zanskar Valley through to the Indus River that flows into Pakistan

 

 

Leigh McAdam

Leigh McAdam is a Calgary based writer, author, photographer and social media enthusiast with over 61,000 followers. Her blog: HikeBikeTravel is frequently cited as one of the top travel and outdoor adventure blogs in Canada.

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
Co-author of 125 Nature Hot Spots in Alberta

This Post Has 10 Comments
  1. Wow, I’m very impressed by these pictures. Glad to see there are still wild and untouched places on our planet.

    1. @Steffi Over 18 days there was only one place you could phone out on a land line and there is no cell coverage. SAT phones are forbidden in India so you sure need to go prepared. I love the wild places!

  2. These photos are jaw-dropping. I look forward to reading more about this unique adventure that I hope is not still lingering on my bucket list when I kick the bucket!

    1. @Suzanne Northern India is a unique, beautiful, magical destination and these photos really just scratch the surface. The Markha Valley which we hiked for three days is an easier trek and more well traveled but it was the remote part of the trip that was really special.

  3. Absolutely spectacular scenery! Amazing! What an adventure! Thank you so much for sharing this Leigh! I had no idea it was so beautiful there. Awesome pictures too! Just WOW!

  4. Hi Leigh,
    I’m just wondering what time of year you did this trek? I’m planning on heading to Leh around the end of September this year and I was hoping to do this trek. Any advice traveling to that area around that time of year would be great. Beautiful pictures!
    Cheers,
    Jocelyn

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