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20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India

Visiting India has 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. It showcased a teacher from the west living in a remote village in the Zanskar region of northern India 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 all these years.

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to Trek in Northern India

Only the hardiest of flowers grow in the Zankar region

Last winter I was in the planning stages of a longer than usual trip to celebrate a big birthday. The images from the film came to mind and so I began the search for a tour company that offered a trek in the Zanskar region. 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. In the end 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: What You’ll Want to do if you Have 24 Hours in Leh 

These 20 photos will merely give you a taste of the trek with future blogs looking at the trip in more depth.

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India

The unbelievable scenery on the first day of our Zanskar trek

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India

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

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India

The only time we had any snow to deal with was on the second day out

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India

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

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India

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 had 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

20 Photos That Will Make You Want to go Trekking in Northern India

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

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

Now that you’ve seen some of the photos would you do a trekking trip like this?

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 – from the three horseman to the three cooks/assistant cooks/do anything that needs doing guys to our two guides.

Other posts related to this trek from the Zanskar Valley to the Indus River:

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

Author of Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures
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Author Leigh

Avid world traveler. Craves adventure - & the odd wildly epic day. Gardener. Reader. Wine lover. Next big project - a book on 100 Canadian outdoor adventures.

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Join the discussion 8 Comments

  • Steffi | Gipfelglück Blog says:

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

    • Leigh says:

      @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!

  • Suzanne says:

    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!

    • Leigh says:

      @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.

  • Cindy says:

    Wow! This area looks just amazing and your pictures are beautiful!

  • Mario Falconi says:

    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!

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