Thursday, August 09, 2012

Padum to Lamayuru Trek.

Padum-Lamayuru trekking route (data generated by by GPS Logger)
The Padum to Lamayuru trek has to be one of the most challenging treks in India. Cutting through the remote Zanskar region in Ladakh, the trek goes through several high mountains passes (some reaching as high as 5000 meters). It is a fantastic trekking option if you:

  1. Are physically fit.
  2. Not scared of heights.
  3. Do not suffer suffer from HAS (High Altitude Sickness).


The first 2 points are easy to figure out, but how to know if you might suffer from HAS?. The best way would be to travel to Leh (altitude 3,500 meters), and acclimatize by staying there for 2-3 days. If you don't get sick, you can proceed with the trek.

While it is possible to do the trek from Padum to Lamayuru, it should be noted that rough (but motorable) road links Padum to Pishu (marked in blue line in the map above). At the other end of the trek, there is a motorable road from Photoskar to Lamayuru. So in reality, the actual trek can be made from Pishu to Photoskar, and you can arrange to have a car pick you up in Photoskar. So instead of it being a 10 day trek, it can be reduced to 5-6 days.

Our actual trek was from Pishu to Hanupatta (after Photoskar). The reason we trekked all the way to Hanupatta was that we had not made any arrangements for pick-up at Photoskar, so we had to continue an additional day of trekking to Hanupatta, where there are cars available that can take you straight to Leh.

To start the trek, we had to first travel to Padum, and the only way one can reach Padum, is via a very long and unpaved road from Kargil. The journey from Kargil to Padum takes approximately 10 hours by car (which can you hire in Kargil for about Rs. 12,000). The road winds through some fantastic Ladakh scenery, and gives you a taste of what you will encounter during the actual trek.

Long and winding road from Kargil to Padum.
Some people prefer to do the trek from the other side (i.e. from Lamayuru to Padum), especially those who travel directly to Leh, as Lamayuru is just a few hours drive from Leh, while Padum is a 2 days drive from Leh (via Kargil). Also the Lamayuru to Padum route is a bit more easier since you are coming down from a higher altitude to a lower altitude, but it is just as challenging. And you still have to do the 2 days drive from Padum back to Leh, since there is no other motorable route out of Padum.

Since we were travelling from Srinagar, it made more sense for us to start the trek from Padum, and then travel to Leh. We first travelled from Sringar to Kargil (Elevation : 3,800 meters).

Kargil is a bustling town. We managed to find a decent hotel and decided to hit the bed early, in order to prepare ourselves for the very long journey to Padum the following day.

Kargil
Our driver came to the hotel early in the morning at about 5 A.M. We quickly loaded all our luggage and hit the road. The road is bad and your body keeps bouncing in the car, like a roller coaster.

On our way to Padum
The views, on the other hand, are fantastic.

Darang-Durung Glacier on the Kargil-Padum Road
My first view of a Gonpa (Buddhist Monastery) in the Zanskar valley. Rangdom Gonpa.
The road goes over the very high Penzila Pass (14,000 feet or about 4,300 meters above sea level). Stop here for a few minutes to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Zanskar.

Penzila Pass (approximately 4,300 meters above sea level).
Finally, at around 4 p.m., we arrived (tired and stiff) in Padum. Padum is a small town that sustains itself mostly from trekking tourism. It is a starting point for either the Padum-Lamayuru trek, or the more popular Padum-Darcha trek. There are a number of hotels and restaurants with facilities for telephone and internet.

Padum Town.
We managed to find a room in the Tourist Hotel, which provides cheap but decent rooms. Our plan was to find some horses in Padum, and then commence our trek the following day.

As it turned out, things did not go exactly as we planned. Details of that will follow in the next post.

2 comments:

Valerio Conti said...

Can you get me the GPX file of the trek?

Thanks

Valerio

Valerio Conti said...

Can you get me the GPX file of the trek?

Thanks

Valerio