Exciting white water rapids, spectacular canyons, beautiful campsites, hidden Himalayan hamlets, monasteries and palaces
Dry and pleasant climate perfect for photographers
White water action and scenic overkill
Relax on a houseboat in Srinagar
Extensive cultural contact with traditional Tibetan Buddhism, a touch of Moghul majesty, monasteries and palaces
ZANSKAR RAFTING - REMOTE, WILD AND TRULY SPECIAL!
John Yost, Sobek Expeditions co-founder and long-time international river guide, rates the Zanskar as the #1 river experience in the world, combining true adventure and wilderness with superb off-river activities. “It is remote and wild enough to keep the crowds away, a truly special place”, he says.
The Zanskar River takes you through some of the most starkly beautiful and remote areas of the Himalaya. Starting in Srinagar, you enjoy the sights of this beautiful lakeside city, before driving to Kargil via the Zojila pass, on a spectacular mountain road. Your Zanskar River Rafting Expedition begins at Remala, and takes you through wondrous canyons and gorges, along rapids and on to the monasteries of Leh.
When you travel with MHE, you can be assured that we are backed by many years in the business of providing safe and sustainable adventure trips. The staff you deal with in the office, all the way through to the guides and porters on trek, have years of experience in safe and enjoyable trekking behind them. We can advise you on the right gear, the right training, and no question is too crazy for us to answer.
Our trips are designed for your maximum enjoyment and comfort, taking into consideration the environment and conditions, wherever you are. And since we firmly believe that an "army marches on its stomach", our chefs on the expedition will try their best to cook up a storm!
We use the best available camping and safety equipment and try to ensure you are as comfortable as possible. Please remember though, that you are in a remote and difficult location, and your expectations should be reduced accordingly.
We believe in sustainable, ethical and responsible tourism. Our guides are all CPR-trained and First Aid certified, the porters receive above standard wages, and we do not allow them to carry more than 30 kg (the international standard set by IPPG). Our crew are all insured, and provided with suitable clothing and equipment.
We support the local economy wherever possible, and do NOT encourage giving any gifts of sweets, pens etc to the charming local children you meet along the trail. If you are really interested to donate something, please discuss with us first.
Our "all inclusive" trip means that you aren't constantly rummaging for money, and you know up front what is included. #NOHIDDENCOSTS
Trip starts from: Srinagar No. of days of the trip: 11 No. of rafting days: 05 Maximum altitude: 3,913 M Rangdum Trekking Grade: Moderately Challenging
We are adventure lovers here at MHE and want to make adventure travel accessible to any one who yearns it. That is why we've introduced the Pay Monthly scheme. That's right, you can now pay in manageable monthly instalments for this trip! Simply call us for more details.
DAY 1: ARRIVE IN SRINAGAR
Srinagar – the summer capital of the state of Jammu and Kashmir - situated on the shores of Dal Lake. Srinagar is famous for this beautiful lake, wonderful gardens and the ubiquitous houseboats. In colonial days, the English were prohibited from owning land here, but they enjoyed coming to escape the oppressive heat of the plains, so they came up with the idea of houseboats to allow themselves semi-permanent accommodation.
On arrival you check into our houseboat, which has beautiful carved wood furnishings, attentive staff, and a balcony where you can sit and take tea, enjoy shopping from the passing boats, and gaze at the mountains. After settling in you take a tour of the city, which you reach by riding on shikaras, small gondola-like boats. Our visit will include two of Srinagar’s famous Mughal Gardens. Nishat Garden is a beautiful garden which descends in tiers to the lake’s edge, and many of the trees are hundreds of years old. The avenues of chinar and cypress trees frame the scenery perfectly. Shalimar Garden was laid out over 400 years ago by Emperor Jehangir for his wife. Shalimar means Hall of Love in Sanskrit. The garden has fountains, terraced gardens, and the trees, shrubs and ponds are a delight to behold, especially when the spring bulbs are in bloom.
There is also time for us to visit the Shankracharya Temple, which sits atop a hill overlooking the city of Srinagar. It originally dates back to 200 BC and although it is dedicated to Lord Shiva, it is also revered by Buddhists. A visit to the market to see the local handicrafts such as papier mache, shawls and embroidery is highly recommended.
Overnight on houseboats. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 2: DRIVE SRINAGAR TO KARGIL (8,780 FT / 2,676 M)
An early morning shikara ride on the Dal Lake will take you to the floating vegetable and flower market - a totally fascinating experience!
Today you drive from the Kashmir Valley to the Zanskar region. It is an extremely photogenic drive so be sure to keep your camera handy. The drive will take us past Sonamarg - which is the starting point of many treks in the area, as well as a base to undertake the yatra (holy pilgrimage) to Amarnath Caves. You cross the Zojila Pass, also known as the Gateway to Ladakh. This is without doubt one of the most spectacular mountain roads you will ever travel on, and reaches a height of 11,575 feet/3,528 metres so you should be prepared to feel a little lightheaded from the altitude. You continue to cross through Drass, the coldest inhabited place in the world, and arrive at Kargil, the headquarters of the Kargil district situated on the banks of the Suru river (which later forms the mighty Indus River). Kargil is a mix of Buddhist and Muslim, which has created some interesting architectural styles in the mosques.
Overnight at hotel. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 3: DRIVE KARGIL TO RANGDUM (12,900 FT / 3,931 M)
After breakfast, you drive past Panikar and Parkachik, remote villages nestled in the picturesque valley. Today’s 6-hour drive has beautiful views of the large Himalayan meadows, icy rivers, hanging glaciers and the snow capped peaks of Nun and Kun. You stop at the isolated village of Rangdum for the night, at an altitude of 11,811 ft/3,600 metres. Rangdum is famous for the Rangdum Gompa, which was founded in the 16th Century and is home to about 40 monks. The spectacular surroundings and stark beauty will have you entranced.
Overnight at hotel. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 4: DRIVE RANGDUM TO REMALA - START RAFTING
You leave early for the 4-5 hour drive to Remala, the starting point for the Zanskar Rafting trip on the Doda River, a tributary of the Zanskar. You drive over the Pensi La (14,500 ft/4,419m), from where you get a great view of the Zanskar peaks and the Drang Drung glacier that feeds the Zanskar River. You meet our boats at the start point and paddle for about 3 hours. You meet our expedition crew and gear at Karsha (11,470 ft/3496m) and camp for the night. This is a great time to get to know the rest of the team for the rafting days ahead.
Overnight in camp. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 5: KARSHA GOMPA AND PADUM VISIT. RAFT TO PIDMU OR SIMILAR (11,025 FT / 3,360 M)
In the morning you drive to the foot of Karsha Gompa, the largest and most important monastery in Zanskar, and hike up to explore the treasures and paintings, especially the ancient rock carvings. The monastery is currently under the control of the younger brother of the current Dalai Lama. Once you are done here, you drive back across the Zanskar to the town of Padum, an interesting market town with some good shopping for Tibetan jewelry, trinkets, and carpets. After lunch you raft from Karsha up to Pidmu or further down to Zangla. This stretch is approximately 18 miles/30 km with Class II and III rapids. After settling into the camp by mid-afternoon, you visit the nearby villages or a monastery close by. Or perhaps an intriguing cleft in the sandstone to explore!
Overnight in camp. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 6: PIDMU - NYERAK (10,708 FT / 3,263 M)
From our camp it's not too far to the gorge, the highlight of this river trip. The Zanskar gorge is steep and deep, with towering mountain walls in whirling shades of green and purple, breathtaking geology, waterfalls and challenging white water. After packing camp, you raft 12 miles/20 km to Nyerak, a Class III sections. The gorge narrows in on the river - this indeed is a Grand Canyon in its own right. Camps are scarce and it is uncertain where you will stop for the night. The main idea is to limit our river hours so we can explore some of the many tributaries the beckon the adventurous hiker! We may stop for the day to pitch camp in a gorge below Nyerak village, a remote and stunning place.
Overnight in camp. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 7: REST AT NYERAK (10,708 FT / 3,263 M)
Rest day at Nyerak. Take a hike to Nyerak village - a steep and challenging hike. The 3-hours are well spent though - the village is famous for its Tibetan style rugs that are weaved in the homes there and offered for sale. You could also choose to relax under the cool shade of the willows at our campsite. Wash up at the campsite stream, read a book and enjoy the day off.
Overnight in camp. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 8: NYERAK - LAMAGURU (10,456 FT / 3,188 M)
Today's 21 mile/35 km rafting section takes us from Nyerak to Lamaguru, through the core of the Zanskar. A classic white water rafting day with continuous Class III rapids, and a few Class IV rapids where the river squeezes between a gap of about 18 ft/5 m - its not called the Constriction Rapid for nothing!. The biggest one in this section of the river is the Jackhammer - a rapid created by the debris from road construction in the area. It's a class V rapid that is definitely going to get your attention! In very high waters, your guide may opt to portage around it. You stop for lunch near a huge waterfall at the confluence of Markha river with Zanskar. Rock formations, spires and an amazing palette of colours add scenic beauty to the trip today.
Overnight at camp. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 9: LAMAGURU - NIMMU - ALCHI - LEH
You raft 25 miles/40 kms of Class III/IV white water from Lamayuru to Nimmu today. The rafting portion of the trip finishes at Nimmu and you then drive 37 miles/60 kms to Leh. Enroute you visit Alchi, home of a fascinating monastery. Alchi monastery consists of six temples, which contain many chorten (Tibetan stupas), seated Buddhas and exquisite paintings. Over 10 centuries old, the profusely painted walls depict the events of the Buddha’s life, lamas and musicians. These are some of the oldest surviving paintings in Ladakh. The murals, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, pre-date the Tibetan style of painting that is present in all the other gompas. Some of them are reminiscent of the paintings of the far off Ajanta caves in Maharashtra, and are presumed to be almost the sole survivors (along with some in Phuktal Gompa in Zanskar and Tabo in Spiti) of the Buddhist style current in Kashmir during the first millennium AD.
Overnight in hotel. Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
DAY 10: SIGHTSEEING IN LEH
Shey and Thiksey are two of the most famous Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in Ladakh. Shey Gompa built in the 17th century has a huge two-storey high image of Buddha made of copper and gilded with gold - the largest metal statue and the second largest Buddha statue in Ladakh. The lower storey has a library with fine murals. Only one monk lives here now. Thiksey monastery is known as one of the most beautiful monasteries of Ladakh region. The 12 storey high monastery is famous for the images of Shakyamuni Buddha, Maitreya Buddha, Dharamkaya, Mahakal and Bhairava. Thiksey closely resembles the Potala Palace in Lhasa, traditional home of the Dalai Lama. It is the largest gompa in central Ladakh. You have an option to either drive to Hemis Gompa or make a sunset excursion out to the Shanti Stupa.
The Hemis Monastery on the west banks of the Indus River belongs to the Drugpa order and is perhaps the largest and the richest monastery in central Ladakh. The monastery treasures a copper- gilt statue of Lord Buddha along with other gold and silver statues and magnificent mural paintings of various incarnations of Lord Buddha. A magnificent white-domed structure, the Shanti Stupa of Leh, Ladakh offers spectacular views of the sunrise and sunset. Shanti Stupa was built in 1991 by a Japanese Buddhist and holds some relics of the Lord Buddha which were enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama.
Overnight in hotel. Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
DAY 11: FLY BACK HOME
After breakfast you will drive to Nubra Valley via Khardungla – the highest motorable road in the world at 18,380 feet. Lunch will be packed for you to have on the way. It's a 116 KM trip and should take you around 4 - 5 hours - depending on how many time you want to get off at take pictures on the way!!
Nubra is a tri-armed valley located to the north east of Ladakh and its head quarters is at Diskit, home to the dramatically positioned Diskit Monastery. Local scholars say that its original name was Ldumra (the valley of flowers). The average altitude of the valley is about 10,000 feet.
You will need an inner line permit to enter this area and Hundar used to be the last point beyond which non-locals were not allowed to go. Just a little beyond Hundaris the village of Turtuk - unseen by tourists until 2010 . Between Hundar and Diskit lie several kilometres of sand dunes, and the two-humped bactrian camels graze in the neighbouring "forests" of seabuckthorn. If you want a ride on one that can be arranged.
The beautiful village of Baigdandu is also located in this area. There is a marked presence of people with startling blue eyes, auburn hair and rosy cheeks as against the typical mongoloid features of the Ladakhis. Local lore has it that they were a Greek tribe who came in search of Jesus Christ's tomb and eventually settled here.
Overnight at camp.
You take the morning flight back home.
End of trip.
Cost Per Person: ₹65,000/- per person
04 nights accommodation in hotels and lodges and 1 night on houseboat, on twin sharing basis
05 nights in camp, on twin sharing basis
Pick-up and drop off at Sringar/Leh airport respectively.
All Local transportation once you arrive in Srinagar up until Leh airport.
Local sight-seeing at Srinagar and Leh, including monastery and garden entry fees
Shikara Ride on the Dal Lake.
All meals: 10 Breakfasts, 10 Lunches, and 10 Dinners.
All government taxes included.
All rafting equipment, rafting guides, safety kayakers, life jackets and helmets, wet suits with splash jackets and sleeping bags (if you require)
All camping equipment.
Costs Do Not Include:
International/Domestic air fare or train fare.
Pick up and drop off from airport/railway stations not included. We can arrange for it however, so let us know if you need to get picked up or dropped off. Nominal charges apply.
Unforeseen expenses that demand a change in itinerary like natural forces, changes in weather, road blockages, flight/train cancellations and illness.
Medical, Travel, or Evacuation insurance.
Expenses of a personal nature - tips, laundry, phone calls, beverages.
• When we have groups of 4+ people we supply a comprehensive first aid kit carried by your guide. For individual trekkers and small groups (less than 4 people) we supply a basic first aid kit carried by your guide
• Your local guide and leader of the crew (which depends on group size): Guides and Porters with equipment and clothing (snow gear, warm gear, sleeping gear) and with all accommodation, meals and insurance provided for your crew.
The first things you need: • Sleeping bag and liner – a 3 or 4 season bag is recommended, depending on your trek • Down jacket – need for this depends on the season and where you are going • Kit / duffel bag – required to pack your gear in (suitcases are not suitable) Please note: Unless you advise us otherwise we will assume you are bringing these items with you. If you need help to buy or rent them, please just let us know, we’re more than happy to help. Other items that we recommend you take on trek: • Loose comfortable T-Shirts NOT COTTON or long sleeved shirts for sun protection • Long trousers (for cultural reasons, we request you not to wear tight pants or shorts. If you really want to wear shorts, please make them loose fitting and long) • A warm jacket / fleece pullover • A thermal layer (shirt and pants) • A water and wind proof layer (jacket and pants) • Woollen or thermal gloves • Sun hat and sun glasses • Woollen or fleece hat • Scarf / stretchy ‘buff’ • Socks – depending on the season bring either warm, woollen socks or cool, breathable cotton socks • Comfortable and worn in trekking boots • Sandals or flip flops for camp • A comfortable day pack with adjustable waist and shoulder straps • Personal toiletries - shampoo, soap, shavers, moisturizer, travel towel, etc • Ziplock bags are handy for convenient leak-proof storage • Sun block and lip balm • Dust mask/ scarf / stretchy ‘buff’ for dusty trails • Personal first aid kit + any personal medications you need to take + water treatment tablets/drops • Camera, batteries and charger, music, book • Airtight and waterproof ‘dry bags’ are great for 1) keeping your clothes dry and 2) storing your dirty laundry separate from clean clothes! • Sleeping bag liner – either silk, cotton or fleece • WATER BOTTLES - please be able to carry 2 litres of water and have bottles that can handle boiling/hot water • HEAD TORCH and spare batteries • Your sense of humour and adventure!
What to take with you in your day pack: Please carry the following in your day pack, as a minimum: • 2 litres of water (please make sure your water bottles will take boiling/hot water) • sunscreen, sun glasses, sun hat, lip balm, dust mask / scarf / ‘buff’ to help on dusty trails • warm fleece or thermal layer and gloves • water proof layer • head torch • hand cleaner • your camera • any money you want for snacks/drinks along the trail • CRITICAL – take any personal medications you require during the day – you will not see your kit bag until evening.
The rest you can put into your kit bag which will be carried by the porters, whom you won’t see until camp in the evening. It’s a great idea to use dry bags (ie airtight/waterproof) in your kit bag to store your dry clothes in to keep them DRY in case it rains and one to put your dirty laundry in (to keep from making everything else in your bag smell bad!).
Food on trek: You will probably be surprised by the menu items on an MHE trek. We know how important food is, and we don't stint by giving you 2 minute noodles and Cup a Soup. You'll get teal food in a home cooked style. And plenty of it! If you have any special dietary requirements, please advise us when booking your trek so that we can cater for you. Note: sometimes not all dietary requirements are able to be met, but please inform us and we will certainly do our best!
Some tips for staying healthy: • Do NOT drink or brush your teeth with tap water or untreated water! • Drink only properly boiled water or use water purification tablets, such as iodine. Bottled water is available, but as the plastic cannot be recycled we request you to consider the waste impact of your bottles – we recommend you drink boiled water or use iodine. • Your hands are perhaps your biggest enemy in terms of your health as they get very dirty during the day. Wash your hands before every meal or snack. People often think they get sick from the food, but it’s far more likely they forgot to wash their hands! • During the trek DO NOT try to test your fitness and walk too high, too quickly! Listen to your guide and take their advice as they are trained to look after your safety. Altitude sickness is a killer and you MUST take it seriously.
First aid kit: When we have groups of 4+ people we supply a comprehensive first aid kit carried by your guide. For individual trekkers and small groups (less than 4 people) we supply a smaller first aid kit carried by your guide It is recommended that you bring a small personal medical kit including your preferred painkillers, throat lozenges, plasters, strapping tape for blisters, etc. If you are taking regular medication you MUST bring those medicines with you PLUS an extra supply in case one pack is lost. If you have any allergies and/or take any medications, you MUST advise us when booking your trek!
The trails: Trekking trails vary from wide, road-like avenues to narrow, slippery paths built out over enormous drops. In many places, a fall from the trail would be fatal. One must pay attention at all times to where you are placing your feet. Be especially careful not to move while looking through the view finder of your camera!
Be prepared for the weather: Each altitude has its own weather, from tropical heat to arctic cold. In the main trekking seasons in the spring and autumn, the weather is generally stable and even the high passes may be free of snow and relatively easy to traverse at times. Some trekkers who have encountered an easy day at altitude may spread the word that boots and warm clothing are not required. This is a mistake. Sudden storms occur at any time, dumping snow on the passes without warning. At that point, any one poorly equipped will not be able to proceed and may even be stranded for a number of days risking their life and the lives of others. You are heading into the worlds highest mountain range. Be prepared for changes in temperature and weather!! Altitude and preventing Altitude Sickness • Being in a hurry in the mountains can be deadly. Acclimatization is the word used to describe the adjustments your body makes as it ascends to higher altitudes. • Ascending slowly, with appropriate rest days and drinking plenty of water is one of the best ways not to get Acute Mountain Sickness (AMS). Data indicates that drinking 3-4 litres of fluids (water, soup etc) per day to avoid dehydration helps in the acclimatization process. • You should not plan to go to high altitude if you have heart disease, difficulty breathing at sea level or are pregnant. You should consult your doctor about any known medical conditions if you are considering trekking in high altitude (over 2500m). • Avoid sleeping pills, alcohol and smoking while at altitude as they tend to decrease breathing and lead to AMS. • The first aid kit carried by your guide includes Diamox and other altitude medications and he/she is trained in the identification of AMS symptoms and their treatment. You MUST take their advice. If anything happens to your guide the first aid kit has a Wilderness Medicine handbook with comprehensive information about altitude sickness and other ailments. When relevant, your pre-trek briefing will include information about what to expect and what to do to avoid AMS before embarking on your trek.
Tipping and cash requirements: While all main meals are provided on trek, do not forget to bring some rupees for drinks or snacks that you might purchase on the way. You will be surprised by what is available on the popular trekking routes now! The amount to carry on the trekking routes depends on the area you are going to trek in, so please ask your guide for advice. Tipping is now common but there is no strict rule about how much the tip should be. You should only tip if you are satisfied with the service.
Photographing people: During your trek you will have many opportunities to photograph local people and the amazing scenery and you will use tons of film/memory space! When you want to take a photo of a person, please ask them first and respect their right to refuse – you will be surprised how easy it is to convey the request to take someone’s photo even when you don’t share a common language! If you have a digital camera it is considerate (and fun!) to show them their photo and if it’s possible to arrange to have copies printed and sent to them this is an amazing gift! However do not promise to do so if you are not sure you can deliver on the promise, so please talk to your guide about this! Photos can be a brilliant way to establish a connection with local people, but please respect their right to privacy.
Considering the Environment: While trekking you have to be careful not to destroy the very environment you are enjoying so much. It is not only for your enjoyment, people and wildlife rely on this environment for their drinking water and food supply and many places are of enormous religious significance to local people.
There are many ways you can help to conserve the environment of the area in which you trek. Here are some simple tips: • pick up any litter along the trail; • burn all your toilet paper and bury your faeces when not in camp, make sure you go at least 50m away from any water source; • do not make campfire, nor consume food cooked on wood fires; • drink boiled/treated water instead of mineral water as the plastic bottles are a problem; • stick to the trails to prevent erosion and damage to fragile alpine flora • ensure all rubbish is packed out (or burnt/buried if appropriate).
Insurance: All tour participants should obtain their own personal insurance which covers medical and emergency evacuation at a minimum. You will of course also want cover for loss or damage to personal effects, flight or trip cancellation etc.
Final tips! To ensure that you have the best time possible and that the local area benefits from your visit, please respect local traditions, customs, values and the environment. You will have a great time if you are open to the warm hearted local hospitality and if you respect their efforts to protect their local culture and maintain local pride. • Respect privacy when taking photographs • Respect holy places and dress appropriately • Refrain from giving money or food to children. There are many good organisations working to help street children, we recommend you support them instead of encouraging the kids to stay on the street. • Protect the natural environment, see above • Finally, respect local ways.