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The Great Crossing of Zanskar

India - Indian Himalayas - Ladakh - Zanskar

Zanskar, the ancient Himalayan kingdom where time seems to stand still. Leaving from Leh, you depart for 20 days of trek in the Himalayas, crossing Zanskar from north to south. You dive into a mineral and lunar universe, filled with rocky mountains and roaring rivers. The second part of the route takes you to the Tibetan highlands and mountain pastures before returning to the Indus Valley at the end of the trip.

Throughout your trek in the Himalayas, you will visit Buddhist monasteries clinging to the mountains or perched on rocky outcrops. You cross many villages and hamlets and meet the warm and friendly inhabitants. Accompanied by a local English-speaking guide, a cook and muleteers, you embark on a great adventure in Ladakh-Zanskar.

The Great Crossing of Zanskar, is a great physical challenge. You oscillate between 4,000 and 5,000 metres of altitude during most of the trip and many mountain passes follow one another. The duration of the trek, the altitude and a certain isolation give this trip a true dimension of commitment.

Construction of new roads planned to open up the area and connect Zanskar to Lahaul have completely reshape our trekking routes in Ladakh. Some parts of the Great Zanskar Crossing have been modified by taking alternative paths to avoid walking on a road.

28 days
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Indian Himalaya Expert

This mythical trek through the Zanskar Valley is a great classic. This itinerary, brought up to date by our Travel Experts is an must-do for those seeking an adventurous trek in the Himalayas.

Your tailor-made trip - Ladakh - Zanskar

Arrival at New Delhi Airport
Day 1
Arrival at New Delhi Airport

Welcome to India

"Namaste!” : your driver welcomes you at New Delhi airport and drives you to your hotel. Without waiting, set out to explore the great Indian capital by taxi or tuk-tuk. Take the opportunity to visit the must-see monuments of New Delhi: the Jama Masjid Mosque and the Red Fort, from the Mughal era. Stroll through the alleys of Old Delhi, through the heart of the spice market and taste your first Indian specialties. At the end of the day, return to the hotel to rest before your early morning departure the next day to Ladakh, nicknamed "Little Tibet".

Delhi - Leh
Day 2
Delhi - Leh

Above the Himalayas

You will be picked up very early in the morning to go to the airport for your flight to Ladakh. This spectacular flight offers a unique view of the entire Himalayan range. You set foot on Ladakhi ground and are already inspired by the surrounding mountains around Leh Airport. Welcomed by the Shanti Travel team on site, you will be taken to your bed and breakfast. On your first day in Leh, it is important to rest well to acclimate to the altitude. Remember to hydrate yourself and do the least amount of physical effort and enjoy a relaxing day before your trek in the Himalayas.

Day 3

Acclimatisation day in the Indus Valley

This free day is important to acclimatize well before the start of your trek in the Himalayas. Take this opportunity to discover the charm of the small town of Leh and go visit the many monasteries of the Indus Valley. Take a trip to the monastery of Matho, perched on a rocky promontory on the left bank of the Indus. It houses a unique new museum of Tibetan art, an ideal introduction to Tibetan Buddhism. On the right bank of the Indus, the Thiksey Monastery is notable for its imposing architecture, reminiscent of Potala Palace in Lhasa. Return to Leh at the end of the day.

Leh - Kanji
Day 4
Leh - Kanji

Lamayuru Monastery

Today, you leave Leh by car towards the west of the Indus Valley to join the starting point of your trek in the Himalayas. En route, you visit the magnificent Lamayuru Monastery, perched on a rocky outcrop. At the heart of the majestic lunar mountains, you can admire a breathtaking view of the Indus Valley. Your driver then takes the newly built route to Kanji by crossing the Photo La Pass. On site, you meet your local team including the cook, the mule driver and his flock who will accompany you during your trekking in Zanskar.

Camp at 3,850 metres / 6h drive

Kanji - Shila Kong
Day 5
Kanji - Shila Kong

First day of the trek

Today is the big day! After breakfast at the camp, you start your first trekking day on the mythical route of the great crossing of Zanskar. Start by exploring the small village of Kanji and meeting its villagers. Once your trekking team is ready to go and the gear has been loaded on the mules, you all walk together towards the hamlet of Kanji Dok. You walk along the right bank of a stream and continue into a green valley that contrasts with the aridity characteristic of Ladakh. Walking is easy and rather short to reach Shila Kong where you set up the camp.

Camp at 3,900 metres / 5h walk

Shila Kong - Spangthang
Day 6
Shila Kong - Spangthang

Passage of Yokma-La

This morning, you take your first steps on a light incline before climbing to Dumbur Dhoksa. You cross a small stream before following a gentle slope to the Yokma La Pass (4,700 m). From the top, the view of the surrounding landscape is breathtaking. You continue your hike in Zanskar by heading into a beautiful valley to set up camp in an idyllic setting where sheep, goats and yaks graze. The wide open spaces of Ladakh-Zanskar are host a unique variety of wildlife. Home of the famous snow leopard, we also find some ibex, Tibetan antelopes, marmots, and many bharal (ibex from the Himalayas).

Camp at 4,100 metres / 7h walk

Spanngthang - Manechen
Day 7
Spanngthang - Manechen

Ki ki so so larghyalo!

This morning, you leave for a long day of walking in the heart of Zanskar. After crossing a river, you climb up to reach the pass of Sniuguste La (5,140 m). At the top, your local guide sings "Ki, ki so, so larghyalo!”, which translates to: the gods are conquerors, the demons are vanquished. You all thank the deities together by hanging flags of colorful prayers. The landscapes of Ladakh-Zanskar unfold before you, seeming to spread on forever. You start your descent along a steep path to Manechen. Set up the camp with your local trekking team and enjoy a friendly evening in an enchanting setting.

Camp at 4,370 metres / 8h walk

Manechen - Photoksar
Day 8
Manechen - Photoksar

Sisir-La Pass

From the camp, you cross the river and begin a long and gradual ascent in sumptuous mineral landscapes to the pass of Sisir La, at 4,850 metres. The steep descent of about an hour is followed by a torrent crossing. You reach the more pleasant slopes that lead to the splendid village of Photoksar (4,390 m), located at the foot of huge rock face, dominated by the Chomo Tang (6,000 m). Photoksar, bordered by vast fields and supported by bizarre rock formations is an unusual place in Zanskar. Set up camp not far from the village.

Camp at 4,150 metres / 7h walk

Photoksar - Foot of the Sengge La
Day 9
Photoksar - Foot of the Sengge La

The Photang Valley

Wake up early for a day of easier walking to refuel for the next day and the crossing of the Sengge La Pass at 5,090 metres. You start your walk past small streams and reach a vast plateau of pastures. Then continue towards Bhumiktse Pass at 4,200 metres and enter the Photang Valley. In this huge valley, you come across villagers who keep their yaks and horses in pasture. They will certainly offer you a cup of the famous salted butter tea, the local drink. You spend the night at a base camp at the foot of Sengge La.

Camp at 4,290 metres / 7h walk

Foot of the Sengge La - Gonma
Day 10
Foot of the Sengge La - Gonma

The crossing of Sengge-La

Early in the morning, you set off for a long and challenging climb to cross the Sengge La Pass at 5,090 metres, nicknamed "the Lion's Pass". This is without a doubt the most difficult day of your trip to Zanskar. At the top, you are rewarded with an extraordinary view of the Himalayan range. During the descent, the mountains become greener and softer. You cross the Kiupa La Pass at 4,400 metres and follow a steep path that goes down to the village of Gonma at 4,100 metres. You find your camp, tired but proud to have accomplished this difficult day of trek.

Camp at 4,100 metres / 7h walk

Gonma - Foot of the Hanuma La
Day 11
Gonma - Foot of the Hanuma La

Visit of the Lingshed Monastery

After a long, gradual climb to the first pass, the Margum La (4,100 m), you reach the village of Lingshed in the heart of a mineral landscape. You explore its splendid monastery and discover the meditation room where the monks gather every morning. It is possible to meet Amchi, a local healer who uses medicinal plants. Passed on from generation to generation, the practice of this traditional medicine dates back more than 2500 years. You continue on your way, crossing a small pass, Chapskang La (4,200m) to arrive at the camp established at the foot of Hanuma Pass La at the confluence of two rivers.

Camp at 3,840 metres / 8h walk

Foot of Hanuma La - Zingchen
Day 12
Foot of Hanuma La - Zingchen

Along the Oma Chu River

This morning, you start with a steep climb to the Hanuma La Pass (4,710 m). Then you descend into a long desert valley before reaching the last steep section to the foot of Parfi La (3,390 m). The verdant valley contrasts with the arid mountains and the wild rocks of the peaks. On your way, you come across many chortens (Buddhist stupas) and manis (stone walls with religious mantras on them). You then walk along a stream through gorges before reaching Snertse. You set up camp a little further down in Zingchen.

Camp at 3,390 metres / 6h walk

Zinchen - Hanumil
Day 13
Zinchen - Hanumil

Parfi La Pass

The day begins with the climb to the Parfi La Pass (3,900 m) along the side of the mountain, in the middle of the juniper trees. You enjoy the serenity of the place where the only sound is that of the wind twirling the flags of multicolored prayers. What a magical place to have a picnic break for lunch! Then you go down along the famous Zanskar River, which joins the Indus to the north. You reach the village of Hanumil (3,425 m) where you set up camp for the night.

Camp at 3,900 metres / 6h walk

Hanumil - Pishu
Day 14
Hanumil - Pishu

Villages of the Zanskar Plain

Today you set off for a day of easy walking. The path climbs quietly along the Zanskar River. A long wall of prayers and stupas mark the entrance to the small village of Pidmo, where we meet the inhabitants, engaged in field work. The villages Pishu and Pidmo as well as the two villages of Tsazar and Honia formed the former Zangla Empire. We stay on the left bank of the Zanskar River and set up our camp near the village of Pishu. You enjoy your afternoon to relax after the efforts of the past few days.

Camp at 3,500 metres / 5h walk

Pishu - Karsha
Day 15
Pishu - Karsha

Tongde Monastery

This morning, before setting off on your trek, you make a tour to the nunnery of Pishu. The walk then takes you along the Zanskar River, one of the most beautiful parts of this trek in the Himalayas. The trail climbs gradually to Rinam (3,550 m). From here you have a magnificent view of Tongde Monastery on the opposite bank. You leave the Zanskar River behind you, where its two tributaries, the Doda and the Tsarap, meet. Arrival near the village of Karsha. Camp below the village.

Camp at 3,600 metres / 7h walk

Day 16

Visit of the Karsha Monastery

Enjoy a day of rest before continuing on the southern part of the great crossing of Zanskar. We take this opportunity to do a day of cultural exploration of the surroundings. The charming village of Karsha is dominated by its monastery. Clinging to the cliffs and overlooking the Padum Valley, it is one of the most important monasteries in Zanskar. This monastery of the Gelugpa Zanskar School is home to about 150 monks and a monastic school under the tutelage of the Dalai Lama's brother. During the harshest winter months, the monastery and the region are completely cut off from the world.

Camp at 3,600 metres

Karsha - Reru
Day 17
Karsha - Reru

Stroll in the Padum Bazaar

After breakfast, you join the vehicles that will bring you to the village of Reru where you will continue your trek in Zanskar. Sani Gompa dominates the valley that leads to Kargil. Visit the monastery, then make a short stop in Padum, the small capital of Zanskar that is home to a population of both Buddhist and Muslim. This big market town is connected by a track that goes from Kargil to Leh. You take the road to the evening stage, Reru (3,791 m), located at the foot of a beautiful waterfall. On the way, visit the monasteries of Bardan and Mune. In the evening, your local team makes delicious momos, stuffed ravioli typical of Tibet.

[4H drive] Camp

Reru - Kelbok
Day 18
Reru - Kelbok

Along the Tsarap River

This morning, you cross the small village of Reru and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. You then take a path alternating between ascents and descents without much difficulty. Going along the steep banks of the Tsarap River, you leave the narrow gorge and join the village of Tsetang. The view of the landscape of Zanskar is magnificent. You cross the small bridge of Ichar and continue on a gradual climb of several hours to reach the village of Kelbok where you set up your camp for the night.

Camp at 3,830 metres / 7h walk

Kelbok - Purne
Day 19
Kelbok - Purne

Visit of the Phuktal Monastery

You walk along the river, passing several villages until you reach the confluence of the Lungnak River and the Kargyak River. At the turn of a mountain, you are rewarded by the incredible view of the Phuktal Monastery, embedded in the rock at 3,900 metres altitude. A little further away is the village of Purne where you set up your camp. Take the path along the right bank of the Tsarap River to reach Phuktal. You enter beautiful gorges before reaching a makeshift bridge. Chortens and prayer flags open the way to the most fabulous site in the Zanskar Valley. Return to Purne at the end of the day.

Camp at 3,830 metres / 4h walk

Purne - Tangtse
Day 20
Purne - Tangtse

From narrow gorges to wide valleys

After breakfast, follow the path along the Kargyak Chu River. The path is bordered with red, white and yellow chortens and stone manis. Cross through fields of barley, pea and potato crops. Here, the valley has widened and the landscape has changed radically from previous days. The atmosphere is serene in the villages you pass: Jal, Teta and Kuru. The locals greet you with a warm "Julley Julley". In the villages, you share a glass of chang, the thirst-quenching barley beer.

Camp at 4,100 metres / 5-6h walk

Tantse - Zingchen
Day 21
Tantse - Zingchen

View of the Zanskar Valley

Today, you set off for a long day of walking with a large elevation gain. We leave the Kargyak Chu Valley and the classic route leading to Darcha by the Shingo La Pass. To avoid the road under construction between Lahaul and Zanskar, you head for the Phirtse La Pass, on the other side side of the valley. The atmosphere is different, the places crossed serve as summer pastures to shepherds. Here we find the typical landscapes of Zanskar: steep gorges and mountain passes. Cross Toden La Pass (5,000 m) before descending gradually to reach the small river and reach Zingchen.

Camp at 4,200 metres / 5h walk

Zingchen - Chumik Marpo
Day 22
Zingchen - Chumik Marpo

Phirtse La Pass

After a good breakfast, you leave for a daunting challenge: crossing the highest pass of the trek, the Phirtse La, culminating at 5,450 metres altitude. The climb is tough but after the effort, the view of the Himalayan peaks is a truly spectacular reward. You take the time to admire the beauty and immensity of the infinite spaces of Zanskar and Lahaul. On the opposite side, you start a long descent to reach a large valley and reach the river. You set up camp in the summer pastures of Chumik Marpo.

Camp at 4,800 metres / 8-9h walk

Chumik Marpo - Umlong
Day 23
Chumik Marpo - Umlong

Towards Himal Pradesh

You set off early from your camp for a long day of trekking in Zanskar. You walk along the river that you will cross several times. Some passages require the help of a rope when the current and the water level are too high. You then progress along the left bank of the Lingti Chu River. The mountainous landscape now gives way to vast plains, summer pastures of the Gaddhi nomads from Himachal Pradesh with their herds. Installation of the camp at Umlong.

Camp at 4,710 metres / 6h walk

Umlong - Tso Kar
Day 24
Umlong - Tso Kar

End of the trek at Sarchu

Early this morning, you begin your long descent to the plateau of Sarchu (4,290 m). On the way, you cross several torrents before arriving in Himachal Pradesh, a region frequented during the summer season by shepherds and international tourists. In Sarchu, you say goodbye to your muleteers and take the road to Lake Tso Kar. The road from Manali to Leh is spectacular and crosses several high mountain passes. You reach the Changtang region: the Tibetan highlands. On this vast wilderness, you may have the chance to see herds of wild donkeys, the kyangs. Camp near Lake Tso Kar.

Camp at 4,500 metres / 3-4h walk

Tso Kar - Leh
Day 25
Tso Kar - Leh

Back to Leh

Enjoy a unique awakening on the shores of Lake Tso Kar. You have breakfast in an exceptional setting, in front of the unique colors of the immense Tibetan plateau. Then depart by car to reach the Indus Valley. You cross different passes, including Taglang La (5,330 m). Take the time to stop en route and have a cup of tea at the roadside bistros and admire the beauty of each panorama. On this ancient salt route between India and Tibet, large caravans of yaks roamed the region. Pass through Rumtse before reaching, through narrow gorges, the rich valley of the Indus and its monasteries. End of the day in Leh.

Day 26

Last day in Ladakh

Enjoy your last day in Ladakh to explore this mixed capital, relax or stroll through the busy streets. Why not do some shopping? In the old bazaar, you will discover local Tibetan or Kashmiri handicrafts. The handicraft here is rich with different influences; discover the pashminas, these wools of cashmere known throughout the world. In the shops of Leh, you will find many souvenirs to bring back to your loved ones. For lunch, visit one of our favorite Leh restaurants. In the evening, meet our Ladakh-based expert to share your experiences and discuss your trek to Zanskar.

Leh - Delhi
Day 27
Leh - Delhi

Back to the Indian capital

Enjoy a very early breakfast in front of Stok Kangri before heading to Leh Airport with your driver. The flight to New Delhi takes you over the Himalayan range again, offering an unforgettable show. You will be greeted at Delhi Airport by your private driver and driven to your hotel. Relax at your hotel away from the hustle and bustle of the city. For the more adventurous, why not visit the must-see sites of the Indian capital? In the south of the city, stroll through the Lodhi Gardens, visit the Lotus Temple or go to the great Qtub Minar Minaret.

Delhi - Indira Gandhi International Airport
Day 28
Delhi - Indira Gandhi International Airport

Return flight

Depending on the schedule of your international flight, choose how you will enjoy your last moments in India. Why not treat yourself to a moment of relaxation during an Ayurvedic massage? Based on the principle of rebalancing the energies of the body, this treatment is recommended after a trek in Ladakh. You have your private driver available for your additional visits. Visit India Gate, the gateway to India, the equivalent of the Arc de Triomphe or the incredible Humayun Tomb, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Depending on the time of your flight, your driver will take you to the airport. End of our services.

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Travel terms and conditions

Price includes

  • Welcome to New Delhi by your Shanti Travel Expert.
  • Reception and briefing in Leh by Shanti Travel representative.
  • The assistance of your Travel Expert 24h/24h and 7d/7d.
  • Transfers and scheduled trips with English-speaking driver, according to the program.
  • Delhi-Leh / Leh-Delhi flights. (Price subject to change at the time of booking).
  • Accommodation: At the hotel in a standard double / twin room in Delhi and Leh; camp during the trek.
  • A local team to accompany you: English-speaking Ladakhi guide, cooks, muleteers as well as pack animals for the transport of collective and individual equipment.
  • Camping tents (2 people), kitchen tent, kitchen equipment, camping mattresses.
  • Meals: In Delhi and Leh, only breakfast; full board during the trek.

Price does not include

  • International flights.
  • Lunches and dinners in Delhi and Leh.
  • Entrances to the temples, monuments and museums planned for the program.
  • Assistance-repatriation insurance.
  • Drinks and personal expenses.
  • Tips.
  • Anything that is not listed in the "price includes" section.


  • Starting from £0 per person based on 2 travellers
  • Quotation is subject to change according to availability, exchange rates and government tax rise. All the rates mentioned are based on current best available rate and can be modified at the moment of the booking.

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