Monday, July 22, 2024

Tourism      Adventure Sports      River Rafting      Jammu and Kashmir     Ladakh    

The Zanskar 

: Zanskar Valley, Ladakh Region, Jammu & Kashmir
Best Season
: July to September
Starting Points
: Padum, Phey etc
Highest grade
: Grade IV
Highlight : Zanskar is the only river in India high enough to raft in the summer
Write Comments | Read Comments   [ 1 ] | Tour Packages

Ladakh's Zanskar Valley takes its name from the Zanskar river which has cut itself a deep gorge through the Zanskar range, traveling thrugh solid rock, first north then east, finally joining the Indus river at Nemu. This river 150km long originates from the high altitude Plateau of Sarchu at the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Originally known as the Tsarap river, it passes past Padum, the capital of the Zanskar valley and joins with the Stod river which flows down from the Pensi- la pass and it is from this confluence that the Zanskar takes birth. Zanskar river expeditions in summer is the ultimate for a rafter which takes one through the one of the most breathtaking gorges in Asia. Few places on earth can match the grandeur of this gorge known for its dramatic beauty.

The zanskar gorge face on either side of the river is near vertical with its walls rising a few thousand feet out of the river bed. The stark, barren and rocky massifs are interspersed with colorful bands of mineral deposits, which run through entire mountainsides giving it a picture book finish. There are many expeditions through the river in summer which finishes at the confluence of the Indus and the Zanskar rivers at Nemu. The same river in winter (best time mid January- mid February) is famous for the great Ice walk on the 6-10 feet deep frozen river from Nemu till Padum and back which takes 12 days or a ten day trek from Chiling to the village of Lingshed and back.

Only experienced rafters should attempt the challenging river of Zanskar, which offer good runs for a professional generally on the 15th of July and August, when the water level is high. The water of Zanskar river is frigid at 6 - 7 degrees Celsius. There are small campsites nestled within the Zanskar gorge for stop overs in between runs. Wet suits and sleeping bags are essential. Life vests and helmets can be rented. The arrangements should be made only through a dependable agency. Adequate arrangements for rescue coverage is an essential pre-requisite for embarking upon an expedition on the Zanskar. Make sure while booking that the price includes transport to and from the river, rental of life vests and helmets, and meals, and that the raft has a waterproof strong box for valuables.

Among the most exciting runs on the Zanskar is the 120km run from Padum to Nemu, a trip which takes several days and involves having to camp out in utter wilderness. Itís replete with exhilarating rapids, Grade III - IV which are frequent and can be dangerous. It is suggested only for those with good training and experience in white water rafting and with the right equipments.

Another good run is the Phey – Nemu route, easier than the Padum-Nemu run, mostly Grade II or III. The main attraction of the run is that it passes through astoundingly beautiful mountains, many of them with tiny villages and imposing old monasteries nestling among the valleys. The run starts at Phey and ends about 36 km from Leh, at Nemu. 

In both Ladakh as well as Zanskar, public transport and other facilities- including tourist accommodation are very limited. Zanskar’s administrative centre, Padum, is accessible from Kargil. The single motor-able road which connects the two places during the summer months, passes over the 14,500 ft Pensi- la pass in the Suru Valley. Buses run between the two towns on alternate days between July and October, the rest of the months the road is snowbound and inaccessible. Alternatively vehicles can be hired in Kargil for the trip to Padum.

In addition to this, parts of the area, especially those lying close to India’s international borders, require special permits to be obtained. To overcome all these difficulties, it’s better to go through a well organised professional agency which organises river runs. They’ll make all the necessary arrangements, including permits, transport, equipment and accommodation. Many such agencies have their offices in Leh, and some also have offices in other cities in India, such as New Delhi.