When adventure travelers set out to hike the Himalaya, they traditionally go to Nepal to take on the Annapurna Circuit or make their way to Everest Base Camp. Some will venture to Tibet or even Bhutan to get their high altitude fix, but many forget that the Himalaya run into India as well, and they offer the same amazing views and cultural interaction.
Travel writer Stan Sesser recently made the journey to Ladakh, India, and wrote about his experiences for the Wall Street Journal. The quaint little villiage, which looks more Tibetan than Indian, sits at 13,000 feet and is a two hour hike from the nearest road. But despite it’s remote location, Sesser round ancient Bhuddist temples, hosbitable villagers, and towering, snow capped peaks.
Sesser says he paid $688 to a local trekking service to gain access to the region, and for his money he received a guide, a cook, a horesman, and five horses to carry their gear along a 40 mile mountain trail. Over the course of the next five days, he and guides explored mountain passes ranging from 10,000 to 16,000 feet, passing through villages that don’t appear on maps even to this day, and remain virtually unchanged from the way they were centuries ago.
Traditionally, trekking the Himalaya in Nepal or Tibet is best done in April and May or again in October and November. During the summer months the monsoon sets in, and the torrential rains makes it impossible to venture into the mountains. But that isn’t the case in India, where the high mountains cut off the rains, providing excellent trekking from June through October.
Sesser does note that trekking other parts of the region have become uncertain affairs, with the Taliban causing problems in the Karakorum of Pakistan, the Chinese locking down access to Tibet, and political unrest in Nepal. But he says that makes Ladakh all the more appealing. Few trekkers visit the area however, and of those that do, only a very small percentage are Americans.
If you’re looking for a trekking region that is truly off the beaten path, then head to this remote corner in India’s far north. You’ll get plenty adventure, a dose of unique culture, and views that will take your breath away for more reasons than just the altitude.