Adventure Sports in Ladakh: Ladakh Travel Guide

Introduction

Ladakh is adventure incarnate! Adventure sports in Ladakh lure travelers from all over the world. The challenging landscape in the lap of Himalayas has a number of adventure sports activities on offer in Ladakh, sure to satisfy every adventure enthusiast. From scaling the peaks of the Himalayas with trekking and mountaineering, white water rafting on the swift mountain rivers, bike riding though the high-altitude passes, camping, camel safaris, or the traditional sports such as polo and archery, a tour to Ladakh is sure to make a thrill-seeker exhilarated.

Some of the adventure sports in Ladakh that you can enjoy on a tour to Ladakh are:

Trekking

Trekking is the most exciting adventure sport in Ladakh. The rugged landscape offers abundant options. There are many routes for trekkers, ranging from beginners to experienced outdoor enthusiasts. Scenic, unexplored and challenging, trekking in Ladakh is nothing less than an adventure of a lifetime. From walking on the frozen Zanskar River to passing through high altitude mountains passes and scenic spots of lush greenery, you will certainly have cherished memories that last a lifetime. An experienced guide and good camping gear are essential for a trek. The isolated villages and ancient monasteries and to the thrill.

Best routes for trekking:
  • The Chadar trek on the frozen Zanskar River
  • Spituk to Markha Valley Trek
  • Hemis Gompa via Kongmaru La
  • Henaskut to Wanla
  • Lamayuru to Padum
  • Tsomoriri to Kibber
  • Hemis to Zangla by Junglam
  • Sham Trek (Liker to Khaltse)
  • Lamayuru to Darcha trek
  • Rumtse to Tsomoriri
  • Saboo to Khaltsar 
  • Hemis to Takh
  • Spituk to Stok.
  • Hemis to Tsomoriri
  • Liker to Khaltse Trek
  • Lamayuru to Hemis
  • Snow Leopard Trek

Best time for trekking: June to October

Mountaineering

When you are on the ‘top of the world’ how can you miss out to ascend some of the peaks that touch the very sky! Ladakh offers many mountaineering challenges. To embark on climbing any peak in Ladakh, permission is needed from the Indian Mountaineering Federation in Delhi.

Mountaineering in Ladakh is not just a sport, it is truly the ultimate challenge of fitness. Embark to ascend the mountains after you are clear of altitude motion sickness (AMS). Gear up with an experienced guide, crampons, ropes and ice axe and undertake the exhilarating adventure in Ladakh.

Best sites for mountaineering:
  • Stok Kangri (6121 m)
  • Nun and Kun Peak (7135 m)
  • Dzo Jongo (6280 m)
  • Kang Yatse (6400 m)
  • Golep Kangri (5950 m)
  • Kantaka (5275 m)
  • Saser kanagri (I) (7415 m)
  • Mentok kangri (6150 m)
  • Konglacha peak (6700 m)
  • Matho Kangri (5950 m)

Best time for mountaineering: June to October.

White Water Rafting

The swift-flowing Indus and Zanskar Rivers offer excellent opportunities for white-water rafting in Ladakh. Mostly frozen in winter, the rivers’ flow gains speed in summers, which is the best time for rafting expeditions. In fact July to September is the only time period for the exciting adventure sport. With rapids ranging from Grade 1 to Grade 4, the expedition on the rivers is truly exhilarating. Whether a newbie or a pro, river rafting is a must thing to do in Ladakh.

Best routes for white river rafting:
  • Hemis – Choglamsar
  • Nimmu – Phey  
  • Phey – Saspol
  • Upshi – Kharu route
  • Saspol – Khaltsey
  • Kharu – Spituk
  • Phey – Nimmo route

Best time for white river rafting: July to September.

Motor biking

Endowed with some of the highest roads in the world, motor biking in Ladakh is the greatest thrill! Only a true motor bike rider can dare to try the rugged terrain of Ladakh. It is not without cause that it is counted among the most exciting experience of a lifetime.

Every year when the roads open up, riders from all over the world come to explore this magnificent land on motor bike road trip. The journey is certainly not easy, as you ride on a bike 18,000 feet but is truly rewarding. The joy of riding through the highest passes of the world, breathtaking views, stops at ancient villages, monasteries and away from the civilization is amazing!

Best routes for motor biking:
  • Leh – Nubra Valley – Leh – Pangong Lake – Hemis
  • Leh – Pangong Lake – Hemis – Shey – Nubra Valley – Alchi / Ule – Kargil – Sonmarg – Srinagar
  • Leh – Pangong Lake – Leh – Khardung La
  • Manali – Jispa – Pang – Leh – Pangong Lake – Nubra Valley – Leh

Best time for motor biking: June to October

Jeep Safari

Ladakh’s enchanting landscape calls for jeep safari. Blessed with high passes, ancient monasteries, fairytale lakes, remote villages, and spectacular scenery and more, it’s a wonderland. Jeep safaris in Ladakh offer exciting adventure in a convenient and affordable way of exploring in a large group. You can plan smaller trips for a day or a whole tour in an open jeep, basking in the beauty and bliss.

Best places for jeep safari:
  • Pangong Lake
  • Manali to Leh
  • Tsomoriri Lake
  • Zanskar and Suru Valley
  • Nubra Valley

Best time for jeep safari: June to October

Camping

Imagine staying in a camp in the mountains under open skies with only stars for company; sounds amazing! You too can experience the amazing with camping in Ladakh. The favorite adventure sport in Ladakh, camping is an ideal way to get close with nature. The rugged terrain of Ladakh possess a challenge, therefore is quite an exhilarating experience.

Escape the cities, crowds and let the majestic beauty of Ladakh enamor your senses. Camping in Ladakh is a way meditation, exploring and an experience that you cherish a lifetime. Camping sites in Ladakh are found in abundance. You can go for pre-arranged camps sites by the famous Pangong Lake, Tso Moriri and the monasteries or you can pitch your tents with permission from villagers and local authorities.

Best places for camping in Ladakh:
  • Pangong Tso
  • Tso Moriri
  • Thiksey Monastery
  • Nubra Valley

Best time for camping: June to September

Quad Biking

Coming on to the next exciting adventure sport in Ladakh, we have Quad biking. A favorite for thrill seekers, the quad bikes also known as ATVs are a fun way to explore the beauty of Ladakh. Riding the 4X4 beast with chilly wind in your face, navigating through rugged terrain is amazing. You can try out the sport in the Nubra Valley, the home of the dunes of the cold desert. It is the exciting way to enjoy the scenic desert landscape by yourself.

Best places for quad biking:
  • Nubra Valley
  • Magnetic Hill

Best time for quad biking: May to October

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking in Ladakh is perfect for some hard core adventure. If you are a biking enthusiast you will be enamored by the meandering roads, the chilly wind, the level of effort and concentration. It is a must try in the ‘Land of High Passes’.

Think of passing through spectacular scenery of rugged mountains, bluish alpine lakes, monasteries with colorful flags fluttering in the wind on your cycle. You could not have asked for a better way to enjoy the scenery in such an adventure-filled sport.

Though quite a big challenge of fitness, stamina and will power, mountain biking in Ladakh is one of the most popular sports that brings visitors from all over the world.

Best routes for mountain biking:
  • Khardung La
  • Pangong Lake
  • Along the banks of Zanskar or Indus River
  • Nubra Valley
  • Thiksey Monastery
  • Spituk Monastery

Best time for mountain biking: May to October

Camel Safaris

Camel safari in the mountains sounds incredible? Well, this is Ladakh for you. Amid the high mountain passes, there lies a cold desert complete with sand dunes and camels. Other incredible fact about Ladakh’s camels are that these Bactrian Camels have two humps and it is the only place in India where you can enjoy a camel safari on a camel that has 2 humps not one! Camel safaris across the sand dunes around Hunder in Ladakh is one of the must try adventure sports.

Best places for camel safari:

Nubra Valley, Hunder Sand Dunes

Polo

Polo is a popular sport in Ladakh. The sport is anyway high on adventure and when played in Ladakh, the thrill amplifies. Challenge yourself for a game of polo. Riding the sturdy Zanskari ponies need tactful mastery while you also need to hit the ball with mallet. There are usually 6 men in a team while the exulted cheer of crowds gives life to the game. Ladakh also dedicatedly celebrates the Polo Festival usually in the summer (July- September).

Best places for polo: Polo Ground, Leh City

Best time for polo: May to October.

Archery

Archery is a traditional sport of Ladakh and one must not miss to try the sport. There are frequent archery contests held regularly in villages and also in the Leh City. The Nawang Dorjey Stobdan Memorial Park Archery is also known the National Archery stadium in Leh. Archery contests are accompanied by festivity including drinking singing, dancing and betting on the result. Watching an archery contests is sure to offer an interesting adventure into the cultural life of the Ladakhi people.


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