Our “special” feature drives through most of western Ladakh, monasteries, palaces, villages, hikes and travel to one of the most surreal places on the planet. Starting the trip on the Stod river, we begin our self-contained multi-day river adventure down the spectacular and scenic Zanskar river gorge. The trip takes you down the extremely desolate, remote and sheer Zanskar gorge with walls rising a few thousand feet out of the river bed, culminating on the mighty Indus river, (which incidentally lends India its name). We finish with spending a couple of days in Leh town acclimatizing at 11,000 feet above sea level and visiting the ancient monasteries, palaces and villages around Leh. Undoubtedly a classic, this journey to the last truly lost horizon of our shrinking planet – Zanskar, the “land of white copper” is a trip of a lifetime.
- Day 1: Leh Airport – Hotel (3500 M)
Transfer to hotel. Relax and acclimatise. Visit Leh market in the evening.
- Day 2: Leh (3500 M)
A day for acclimatization. Optional visit to the Leh palace and the Shey, Thikse and Hemis gompas. Last minute shopping in the Leh market.
- Day 3: Leh – Kargil (3200 M)
Set out after an early breakfast, travelling west of Leh towards Kargil. 36 kms from Leh, we reach Nimu, the confluence of the Zanskar with the Indus. We pass the derelict fort at Basgo, the painted caves at Saspol to reach Khalsi where the road crosses the Indus River and slowly winds its way 27 kms up to the beautiful gompa at Lamayuru. Continue to cross the Fotu La (4108m) and Namika La (3700m) to reach the village of Mulbekh. 41 kms further is the town of Kargil which marks the transition to a predominantly Muslim area from where one can either continue west to Kashmir or take the rough road south up the Suru valley into Zanskar, which is our destination. Settle into the hotel D’Zojila in a quieter part of town, have our last showers, and charge camera batteries. We are moving into a week of the great outdoors!
- Day 4: Kargil – Rangdum (4000 M)
A spectacular drive past Panikar and Parkachik, with magnificent views of the 7000 metre plus Nun and Kun massif, hanging glaciers and large meadows. The Balti settlements along this valley are surrounded by lush fields growing a wide variety of crops and fruits. The road swings past the last Muslim settlement of Parkachik, to the Buddhist Gelukpa monastery of Rangdum, sitting astride a small hill in the middle of a wide plain. An optional hike around the huge meadow.
- Day 5: Rangdum – Remala (3600 M)
We drive to Remala, which is the starting point for the rafting trip on the Stod river, a tributary of the Zanskar river. Overnight tented camp. We drive over the Pensi La which enables grand views of the Zanskar peaks at the bottom of which is the Drung Durung glacier that feeds the Zanskar river.The road descends to the Stod or Doda river which it now follows past the Zanskari villages to Padumthe capital of Zanskar.
- Day 6: Remala – Karsha Gompa (3496 M)
Rafting begins at Remala. Raft till near Karsha Gompa, near Padum. We raft 30 km in 4-5 hrs which includes a break for lunch and hot beverages. We are surrounded by 6000-metre-high peaks. River section today includes a Class II section, a good introduction for first timers as well as to the river in general. Settle into camp by afternoon, we can take an optional hike around Camp. A long walk to Karsha Gompa, is possible.
- Day 7: Karsha – Honyo / Pidmo (3361 M)
After a late morning start, we raft from Karsha up to Honyo / Pidmo. This stretch is approximately 25 km with Class II and III rapids. Another easy day to get used to the river, the altitude and hone our paddling skills.
- Day 8: Honyo / Pidmo – Nyerak (3286 M)
After packing camp, we raft 25 km to Nyeraka Class III section. The gorge narrows in on the river – there is a rapid formed at the entrance to the canyon, by the making of the road, the dynamiting and also due to a fallen JCB! This indeed is a Grand Canyon in its own right. We stop for the day to pitch camp in a gorge below Nyerak village.
- Day 9: Nyerak
Rest day at Nyerak. Take a hike to Nyerak village or relax under the cool shade of the willows at our Campsite. Wash up at the campsite stream and enjoy the day off.
- Day 10: Nyerak – Lamaguru (3190 M)
Today’s 35 km rafting section goes through the core of the Zanskar A classic white water day with continuous Class III rapids, a few Class IV rapids where the river squeezes between a gap of about 18ft. We stop for lunch near a huge waterfall and continue to camp at the confluence of Markha river with the Zanskar. Rock formations, spires and an amazing palette of colours add to the trip.
- Day 11: Lamaguru – Nimu – Leh (3500 M)
We raft 40 kms of Class III/IV white water from Lamaguru to Nimu today. We raft past the village of Chilling and exciting rapids as the Zanskar plunges out of the canyon to meet with the Indus at Nimu. We end our trip at the confluence of the Zanskar with the Indus. Drive an hour back to Leh. Last minute retail therapy and a hot shower.
- Day 12: Leh Hotel – Leh Airport (3500 M)
Early morning transfer to Airport for Leh – Delhi flight. Trip Ends!
- All transfers in a Non-AC as per the itinerary (Leh airport to Leh airport)
- All arrangements for staying and camping while on trip
- Accommodation on twin sharing basis in Tents / Rest House / Hotel
- All meals as mentioned in itinerary & safe drinking water
- Individual climbing equipment, common camping and trekking equipment
- All trip arrangements with India’s most experienced guiding team, camp staff and cooks
- Porterage upto 15kg/ person
- A guide for all monastery sightseeing Shey, Thikse, Hemis gompa
- Peak fee/sanctuary fee/royalty/permits where applicable
- Sleeping bag
- Any transfers or meals outside of itinerary
- Bottled water
- Items of personal clothing
- Expenses of any personal nature (laundry / phone calls / alcohol / cigarettes / insurance / camera fee / etc.)
- Any expense incurred due to force of nature such as landslides, bad weather or reasons beyond our control
- Tips & gratuities (we recommend 5-10% of your trip cost- to be distributed among the team) – personal choice
- Travel & cancellation insurance
We enjoyed a remarkable white water rafting trip on the Zanskar with Aquaterra. I cannot overemphasize the beauty of this region – physical and in terms of people – and our admiration for Aquaterra.
I was a little apprehensive as I was travelling for the first time . But what a fantastic trip, I was looked after so well. I ran my first river- The Zanskar with Aquaterra. Best choice ever. ATA is slightly expensive than others but with the amount of effort they take, the professionalism and lot of warmth , one just cannot think of anyone else
I more than warmly recommend it if you crave for outdoors Adventures. Excellent organisation, logistics, security, hygiene and comfort (considering that is camping). Food is excellent and very generous!
I just completed the 11 days Zanskar Rafting Expedition with my 2 friends from Europe (German and Polish) and Aquaterra Adventures beat expectations in almost every area. Overall a 10 on 10 to Aquaterra in every area from me. This was my first trip with them and definitely not the last. Highly recommend to everybody considering a trip with them!
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