Zanskar Valley Tour

Zanskar, one of the remotest and beautiful tourist destinations in India, is a sub district (tehsil) of the Kargil district. It lies in the eastern half of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Padum is the administrative center of Zanskar. The entire region covers an area of 7,000 sq km at an elevation of between 11,500 -23,000 feet from sea level. Zanskar River, which flows through it, joins the Indus a little below Leh. Having divided into three sub regions of (i) Sham, (ii) Stod and (iii) Lungnak, Zanskar preserves the archaic form of Buddhism in its rich monasteries. Once lost world or isolated region, Zanskar has become one of the most popular trekking regions since 20th century. The Chadar Trek in frozen Zanskar River is the famous and amazing trekking route. Till the 1980s, this was the only accessible route to and from the Zanskar region (winter season only). Buddhism being major religion of the region, monasteries have immense significance in the region. Every year, a large number of tourists visit Zanskar to explore its untouched beauty.


  • Zanksr Valley Tour (Detailed Itinerary)

  • Day 1: Arrive at Leh
  • Arrival Leh by morning flight and transfer to the hotel. Full day for complete rest for acclimatization to the high altitude of Leh (11,500 ft / 35 00 mtrs). Arrive hotel in Leh for dinner and overnight.

  • Day 2: Leh local sightseeing
  • After leisurely breakfast, visit Shey Palace, Thiksey Monastery, Hemis Monastery and Stok Palace Museum. Arrive hotel in Leh for dinner and overnight.

  • Day 3: Leh to Kargil
  • Arrive in Kargil after a (long) drive. From Leh, it takes about 6 hours to reach. on the way you can visit one of the biggest and oldest Lamayuru Monastery, Moonland and many more enchantings. Overnight stay at Kargil Hotel.

  • Day 4: Kargil to Rangdum
  • An early start at the break of dawn. From Kargil you drive along a paved road to the green Suru-valley with lots of apple orchards and green fields. Passing through Muslim villages like Trespone and Sankhu, you make a small side trip to a giant rock-cut statue of Maitreya Buddha. Beyond Sankhu the road gets gradually worse, but after some time you will have the first views of Kun and Nun, the holy twin peaks which rise up 7000m above the valley. In Panikhar there is a large police check post where the drivers will have to register, so you will some time to stretch the legs and take a walk. After Panikhar, the river takes a U-turn and so does the road leading you all the way to Parkachik, the last Muslim settlement. The overhanging snout of the Parkachik Glacier can be easily seen from the road as it’s descends from the Nun -Kun mountains. This view is certainly one of the highlights of this first day on the road. Continuing along the Suru River you enter some narrow gorges and broad valleys with boulders everywhere. The colors of the hillsides change dramatically as the light grows weaker and finally you enter into a wide basin formed by meandering mountain streams. On a small hilltop you can already see Rangdum monastery, against a backdrop of barren mountains. It takes another hour to reach the monastery, but you will enjoy the sheer beauty of the landscape. Rangdum is the perfect spot to break up the journey to Padum; (total driving time about 7 hours) Overnight at the foot of the monastery in the Kun – Nun Tented Camp.

  • Day 5: Rangdum to Padum.
  • Rise early if you are in for a spectacular sunrise on the mountains. Take a cup of tea and walk up to the hilltop to see the first rays of sun on the hillsides. After breakfast your guide will introduce you to the monks of Rangdum. This is Zanskar at its best: a crumbling old gompa presiding over a scenic valley, with monks who live in splendid isolation. Padum lies about 110km away from Rangdum, so once again you will be spending most of the day on the road. Leaving the river valley the road winds up to the Penzi La Pass (4400m), the highest pass on the Kargil – Padum Highway. Just before the top you can have a short stop at a scenic lake with a watchtower.

    The main attraction of the day however is still yet to come. Driving down the Penzi La along some sharp bends, suddenly the enormous Drang Drung Glacier comes into sight. This glacier is 23kms long and is the only glacier in the Himalaya that is so perfectly visible from a motorable road. After every bend the view is even better, so have your camera ready. After the glacier you enter in the Stod-valley where normally in summertime you will meet some local shepherds making cheese near the yak pastures. You are surely in Buddhist area now: endless rows of Chorten and mani walls, Buddhist prayer flags and small temples are scattered all over the valley. Finally you reach Padum, the ‘capital’ of Zanskar Valley, basically a very big village spread out in a green valley. Padum will be your base camp for the next days to explore the Zanskar district. Overnight in the Hotel.

  • Day 6 – 7 – 8: Padum and surroundings
  • Padum is the biggest settlement in Zanskar and has about 3000 inhabitants. For 3 days you will be exploring the area visiting the major sights by car and by walk. There are lots of options and your private guide will discuss with you what to do, but some places really need to be visited. The major attraction near Padum is the whitewashed Karsha Gompa, where every summer an important Buddhist festival takes place. Further in the valley lies the hilltop gompa of Stongde which can be easily combined with a visit to the old royal palace of Zangla. Other monasteries include the cave monastery of Zhongkul, where you can climb up to some meditation caves high up in the cliffs, and the valley monastery of Sani. For those who like a hike, there is a beautiful hike up and down along the river to the cliff top gompa of Bardan, or you can make a nice, light walk through the fields surrounding Padum. Above all, Zanskar is a place to experience and you can easily spend an afternoon chatting over tea in one of the village houses.

  • Day 9: Back to Kargil
  • By jeep you return back to Kargil via Rangdum. Normally the drivers don’t stop that much on the return journey, so they will make it in a long 10-hour ride back to Kargil. You can have a good rest in Kargil and the next morning you continue your journey onwards to Leh.

  • Day 10: Kargil to Leh (Leisure Day)
  • Free day for rest after the long journey from Kargil. In the afternoon visit the markets for shopping. Arrive hotel in Leh for dinner and overnight.

  • Day 11: Departure Leh
  • Leave on time for Leh airport to board your flight back home

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At Glance

    1. Name of Tour: Zanskar Valley Tour
    2. Duration: 10 Nights/ 11 Days
    3. Places Covered: Leh - Lamayuru - Kargil - Rangdum - Zanskar - Leh

    Karsha Monastery Zanskar

    Phugthal Monastery Zanskar

    Rangdum Monastery Zanskar

    Holy Lake - Sani Monastery Zanskar

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