People often want to go and live on top of mountains, away from busy weekly schedules and urban life. However, the real fun is climbing these mountains, daring yourself to go one step ahead. Ladakh, the land of the cold desert mountains, has many trekking trails to offer an adventurer. We bring you four such offbeat trails that might just bring out the explorer and adventure seeker in you.
Tia Village to Tia Dok trek
Located about 80 kilometres from Leh, the drive to the western valley of Ladakh is dotted with monasteries like Spituk, Phiyang, Basgo, Likir, Alchi and Rizong. The two-three hour drive along the snow clad mountains is just the start of your trekking experience. Once you reach Tia, you will find just one homestay called Kagapa where you can put up for the night. This is an ideal trekking destination for newbies: explore Tia village and experience the culture and way of life there. There are also two monasteries, Tia and Katsa, to explore. There's a prayer wheel on the right side of the river Pacha Thokpo (3500m) which marks the start of the trek. It can be completed in a day. One can reach the top, Tia Dok, and be back on the same day with possibilities of wildlife sightings (red fox, Ibex and if lucky, the snow leopard). There are numerous streams here and one can even set up a tent and live amid nature.
Difficulty level: Beginner
Rumbak Valley Trek or The Snow Leopard Trek
Giving you a sense and feel of remote Ladakh, opt for the Rumbak valley trek for a thrill. Remember to be fit because the trek is challenging. Start off by entering the Hemis National Park gate in Zingchen, the trail gradually ascends to Rumbak valley and can last for about a day to reach the destination. Over the course of the next few days, you can explore the cultural folklore of the place and witness some spectacular views of the mountains during the nights, especially with the clear starry skies on offer. Search for the elusive snow leopard on foot and also spot rare species of wildlife like Ibex, Tibetan antelope, blue sheep, shapo, marmot and the Tibetan hare. This trek usually lasts for about 8-9 days with the altitude of the trek ranging from 3700 to 4500 metres.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Phuktal Monastery Trek
Located in Zanskar valley, the most isolated valley in all of India and a few hours drive away from Padum, the biggest town in Zanskar leads to Phutkal, one of the remotest places in the region. The Phutkal monastery stays true to its Tibetan roots and spirit of life. With the only signs of civilization being in the Cha and the Amu villages which is seen surrounded with lush greenery but only to be contrasted by the stark brownish-gold landscape of the cold Ladakhi mountains, they are great options to camp at en route to the Phutkal monastery. Offering scenic views and tranquility of the essence of Tibetan culture, this adds to the offbeat trek list as not many people really know about it. The difficulty level of the trek is moderate and it will take about 7-9 days to complete.
Difficulty level: Moderate
Rumtse to Kibber trek
This trek is a demanding and challenging offbeat trek in Ladakh, located on the vast high plateau of Changthang in the southeastern part, about 85 kilometres from the Leh. Rumtse, located at the foot of the Tanglang La Pass at an altitude of 5328 metres, is a physically demanding trek which follows the route of the ancient nomadic and trade routes between Ladakh and Spiti Valley. With the largest lake in the region, the turquoise blue Tsomoriri, and also the Tso Kar lakes on the trail along with amazing panoramic landscapes, the experience is almost indescribable in words. Wild animals like marmots, wild ass and migrant birds can be spotted during the trek as well. The trek ends at Kibber in Himachal Pradesh and it lasts over a period of 20 days.
Difficulty level: Difficult
More and more trek routes are closing down due to numerous dangers and unforeseen circumstances, So, get your hiking boots on and go and explore these beautiful sights and locations Ladakh has to offer. If not now, then when?