Zanskar Valley, nestled in a remote corner of Ladakh, is a hot topic this season among the adventure lovers who embark on the adrenaline rushing journeys in trans-Himalayas every year.
Since I am getting loads of queries related to Zanskar Valley this year, and of course, we had our DoW Mega Meet 2015 in Zanskar Valley only, I thought why not share the most common itinerary for Zanskar Valley and help everyone make an amazing journey filled with full of adventure to this wonderland.
The alternate itinerary also covers Srinagar – Leh Highway and if you have more time on hand, feel free to leave a comment below so that I can help you with a plan to exit Ladakh over Manali – Leh Highway.
Let's quickly dive into the details:
I have started from Srinagar side because it gives at least two benefits, if not more. Firstly, the body acclimatizes better due to gradual ascent by the time you reach Padum in Zanskar Valley. Hence, fewer chances of getting stuck with Acute Mountain Sickness or shortly called as AMS.
Secondly, you can travel back to Leh and further over Manali – Leh Highway through Tso Moriri in case you have missed Tso Moriri in your last trip to Ladakh, which most commonly is the case.
For now, these two reasons are good enough to start your road trip to Zanskar Valley from Srinagar side 🙂
The road to Zanskar Valley runs through Suru Valley. Hence, you will be able to cover the Suru Valley, too, while following this itinerary. In case you have already visited Ladakh, I will strongly advise that you do not distract yourself and focus just on Suru Valley and Zanskar Valley over these 8-9 days.
Zanskar is one of the most enchanting and scenic valleys with landscape and culture identical to the rest of Ladakh, at times more beautiful than the Changthang region. The fall or autumn colors are just majestic to witness as those beautiful orangish colors make it no less than a wonderland.
Besides regular sightseeing of Srinagar – Kargil Highway, you will be witnessing a breathtaking glacier in touch distance, named Drang Drung Glacier while passing over the Penzi La Pass that connects Suru Valley with Zanskar Valley.
Apart from that, you will be visiting the Rangdum Gompa, Zongkhul Monastery, and Zang La Fort near Padum. However, the most amazing thing that you can do apart from these eight days is to explore the unexplored trek of Phugtal Monastery (read more on Phugtal Monastery – Zanskar Valley) which is uniquely located into the cliffside like a honeycomb and considered as one of the remarkable sites in whole Zanskar Valley.
I will write a detailed travel guide on Phugtal Monastery trek (also called Phuktal Monastery) with all the required details but as of now, you can keep it like if you are beginner it will take about 5 days of the trek at easy pace else you can do it in 4 days if you are intermediate trekker.
In the last, you may give a shot at a road less traveled in Ladakh, the Umba La Pass route that directly connects Sankoo to Drass. Finally, you can end the trip at Srinagar from where you can fly back home after spending a relaxing night in Shikara over Dal Lake 🙂
So, now where is the plan:
Let’s look at this detailed day by day plan of the Zanskar Valley trip in 8-9 days. You will travel from Srinagar Leh Highway and come back home via the same route.
Travel Tip: If you are driving yourself to Zanskar, you must check 40 must-have things to carry on a self-drive road trip to Zanskar Valley.
In case you want to include Leh local sightseeing as well to complete the journey of Srinagar – Leh Highway, you follow the below plan. Traveling on this route you can fly to Srinagar, cover Zanskar Valley and then fly out of Leh.
Finally, in this travel plan option, you can cover Tso Moriri and Manali Leh Highway as well. It will only be possible if you have the luxury of more days in hand.
Many people on their first trip to Ladakh only cover Pangong Tso and Nubra Valley. Hence, the chances of leaving the Tso Moriri lake are very high. Now that you are making a trip to Zanskar Valley, you may want to cover Manali – Leh Highway and Tso Moriri lake too.
If that is the case, then you can follow this itinerary for Zanskar Valley trip:
Zanskar Travel Guide: If you want to deep dive into the detailed planning of your trip, you should refer my comprehensive travel guide of Kargil – Padum road trip.
As of 2019 September, only one car was able to reach Padum from Darcha – Shingo La route. In the coming years, I expect to see this route from Manali – Darcha – Padum getting more attraction from the tourists.
Once it is fully operational and safe for travel, I will share more details on this route itinerary as well.
Other Zanskar Itineraries: You can also refer a 9-day travel itinerary for Leh – Zanskar – Leh.
The best time to visit Zanskar Valley is from June – July and then September month when monsoon rains reside from Northern India. It is not recommended at all to plan a trip to Zanskar in August or monsoon season. Even though it lies in the rain-shadow region, you will have to traverse the lower hills to reach Padum. You can check out my detailed article on the best time to travel to Ladakh & Zanskar Valley.
Yes, you can make a trip to Zanskar using public transport. Kargil is well connected with JKSRTC buses with Srinagar as well as Leh. Once you reach Kargil, you can travel to Padum using infrequent buses or shared taxis running on Kargil – Padum road.
I hope this common of the itinerary for Zanskar Valley will be useful for travelers planning their journey at least for the first time to this hidden wonderland. Like I said before, you must give time to Zanskar Valley alone. Avoid mixing it up and cramping it in fewer days. You will not be able to appreciate the real beauty of this trans-Himalayan heaven.
I will look forward to any queries or doubts or valuable suggestions and inputs you have and would love to discuss your custom plan as well in the comments section.
This post was last modified on Mar 31, 2021 23:14
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