impressions from

Ladakh From Hemis to Tso Moriri: Introduction

Some of the most outstanding high altitude scenery and thriving Buddhist culture can be found in India's northwestern corner. Roads were built just a few decades ago mainly for military purposes, tourism became possible only after they were opened to the public in the 1970s. Unlike many other countries, Ladakh coped well with the incoming Western influences, and still offers fantastic and remote trekking routes.

Old fort and monastery above LehA one-hour flight brings us from Delhi to Leh, the capital of Ladakh. The city lies in the Indus valley, the wide fertile riverbed, followed on both sides by stretches of desert that end in the steep flanks of the mountains gives a first impression of Ladakhi landscape. Numerous monasteries are spread in the valley, usually situated on a ridge, their whitewashed walls stand out against the black rock of the Zanskar range that rises behind it.

Our plan is to walk from the Hemis sidevalley near Leh over several high passes to the lake Tso Moriri in south-eastern Ladakh. This will be take a little over two weeks, and offers a lot of variety of scenery and wildlife. The area is sparsely populated but luckily we have some days for acclimatization and thus enough time for to experience local culture in Leh.

High pass between Pang and KarzokWe start in the hamlet of Shang Sumdo and follow the trail towards the summer grazing area Nimaling over the 5'000 m pass of Kangmara La. From there we make a little detour to Hankar, then continue upstream to Zalung Karpo La and enjoy fantastic views over southern Ladakh and into Zanskar.

After a short stop at the road in Pang to refill supplies we continue in a valley of bizarre natural stone figures to the foot of a little known pass. Climbing is tiring for both men and horses, but eventually we make it to the snow-covered saddle at 5'900 meters.

Nomad near Karzok bringing goods to the next trading placeSome days later we arrive at one of the very few villages in the area. Karzok lies at the shore of Tso Moriri, the blue water contrasts nicely with the barren slopes and snow covered ranges that glow orange in the morning sun. The nomads live in a valley above the town and set out trading the goods they've acquired in summer.

Two weeks went quickly, a jeep will pick us up in Karzok and after a long and bumpy ride we're back in Leh.



In-depth travelogue with pictures: Outside sources of information: