Trek On

July 3rd, 2007

It’s settled – Tomorrow i leave for a 10 day trek from Lamayuru to Padum – the Zanskar Trek. It’s supposed to be one of the most scenic treks in the region, views of mountains, river gorges, gompas (monasteries) and remote villages. I’m going with a group organized by Nature Explore, headed by S. Rabsang(Rabzang). We got guides, cooks, 6 or 7 ponymen, and 4 other paying trekkers like me, all from Switzerland. I’m siked. It turned out to be the cheapest around – $25/day per person. Other places were like $35, $50, and some up to $80/day. It took several days to sort this out – I did my homework and read Lonely Planet’s “Trekking in the Indian Himalaya” and Charlie Loram’s “Trekking in Ladakh” books. I talked to many travel agencies (Ladakh Ecological Footprint, Little Tibet, Wild East Adventure, Yak Tours ..) and had several options, but in the end it came down to this route and these dates worked best for me. Its amazing how much work it took to sort this out. There has to be over a hundred travel agencies in Leh, maybe 20-30 do shared group tours, but they don’t appear to coordinate with each other. You just have to go to each one, or goto popular spots in town where people post signs say “looking for peeps to join this trek on these dates”. I guess i’m just spoiled by things like craigslist and tribe.

Lemme tell you a bit more about the area. I flew from Delhi to Leh, the main town in Ladakh. Ladakh is the region in northernmost India, between China and Pakistan, and separated from the rest of India by the Great Himalayan range. Now part of the Jammu/Kashmir State in Northwest India, Ladakh used to be an autonomous kingdom for 9 centuries. It’s unlike the rest of India, Culturally and geographically it is very similar to Tibet. Ladakhi buddhist monastaries are similar to Tibet, the people are similar, and since the 1950s it has been the home of many tibetans fleeing Chinese rule. I really love the buddhists – they are very compassionate, truly wanting to help and not harm others, and have simple but reasonable ways of viewing life. I could go on, but that’s for another post. Ladakh gets little precipitation throughout the year, making it dry but good for trekking – don’t have to worry about rains messing up your hiking plans.

So wish me luck. Not sure if i’ll be back online before I leave India on the 20th.