Ladakh & Zanskar to Kishtwar over the Umasi La Pass Trek

  • Duration
    16 Days
  • Region
  • Category
  • Best Time
    • June - September


Trek Grade: Difficult

A fairly demanding high altitude trek, starting with first arriving into Leh in Ladakh, driving to Zanskar, then over the Umasi La pass (5,300 meters), this trek takes you into the lesser known Sumchan valley. End the trek in the Kishtwar region located between Jammu and Kashmir after crossing the Great Himalayan Divide Ranges which separate the Himalayas from the Zanskar and further, Karakorams.

Starting with the Buddhist Lama culture of Ladakh and Zanskar with their beautiful monasteries and then crossing into the mixture of Hindu culture with their temples and Muslim culture with their mosques while in Kishtwar, gives a great cultural immersion too on this trek. With Ladakh and Zanskar being a cold high altitude desert and Kishtwar a green meadows and forests of Oak, Fir, Pine, Spruce, Deodar, Wilows and Paper Brush, makes for a great contrast. Along with the vast wilderness and natural beauty of the region makes this trek both challenging with spectacular views of the Himalayan Ranges and a kleidoscope of cultures. This trek route was also used by medieval armies to cross over from the regions of Punjab and Jammu to go on their path of conquest into Zanskar, Ladakh and Western Tibet.

After crossing the Umasi La pass and passing through the Sapphire and Emerald mines end the trek at the village Machail, pass many beautiful villages with traditional Paddari home i.e. Garh, Kundel, Chishoti, Jashail etc located in the Paddar region. Crossing Machail the Buddhist culture starts to appear which has a close links with Zanskari for centuries.

All through the trek you will get amazing views of peaks like Mounts Kishtwar Shivling (5,935 meters), Hagshu (6,515 meters), Barnaj (6,327 meters), Chiring (6,559 meters), Nun (7,135 meters), Kun (7,077 meters) and many more lesser and unnamed peaks.

Destinations Covered

Detailed Itinerary



    After clearing Customs and Immigration, step into the receiving area, where our representative will meet you and escort you to the hotel.

    On arrival, check into the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (No Meals)

  2. Day 2 FLY DELHI – LEH

    Leh Ladakh

    Early morning departure from Delhi airport on the spectacular flight to Leh.

    Depart Delhi 08:00 Hrs. GoAir Airlines # G8-225
    Arrive Leh 09:30 Hrs.  

    Depart Delhi 08:00 Hrs. GoAir Airlines # G8-225 Arrive Leh 09:30 Hrs. You arrive at Leh airport, step into the receiving area where you will be met by our representative and transferred to hotel.

    Rest of the day at leisure for acclimatization to the high altitude and rarefied air.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)


    Leh Ladakh

    After breakfast explore some of Ladakh's ancient Monasteries. A picnic lunch is provided.

    Hemis Monastery is situated west of Leh and by the Indus River, Hemis Monastery is one of the biggest in Ladakh. The monastery belongs to Dugpa Kargyutpa order and is built on a green hillside hidden in a gorge. Most of the complex is well maintained and the temples are ornately built. Some of the artwork and images inside the temples are recent.

    The Monastery relates to the Gyalwang and Drukpa family. Drukpa is believed to be the sacred image of the Hemis Monastery. The two important elements of the Monastery are Dukhang and Tshongkhang. Many festivals are celebrated in this Monastery. The Hemis festival is related to Lord Padmasambhava’s appreciation for the dance performed at this Monastery, which showed re-embody of the Buddha. Main attractions of the festival are the striking masks and the beautiful Tantric dance performed by the Lamas.

    The Monastery also has a Museum providing a rich display of artifacts.

    Thiksey Monstery It belongs to the Gelukpa order. The monastery is also known as ‘Mini Pota La’ of India as it resembles the Palace of PotaLa which is in Lhasa, Tibet. In whole of Ladakh, probably the most striking statue of the Maitreya (future Buddha) is located here and covers about two floors. Secondly, it provides a spectacular view of the landscape including the Indus River. The Monastery has many temples including the protected temple, the Tara Devi with many very precious statues and artifacts.

    Shey Gompa and Palace is situated south of Leh and was the seat of power of the first king of Ladakh, Lhachen Spalgigon, who constructed the hill top fortress. The ruins can be seen further above the present Shey Palace. There are hundreds of Chortens (stupas) and Dresthang Gompa built around the palace, which are under the Thiksey Monastery. King Deldan Namgyal built Shey Palace in the beginning of the 17th century AD. The main image in the monastery is the three-storey statue of Buddha Shakyamunimade of copper guilt, which was made by Deldan Namgyal in the memory of his father Singay Namgyal. The statue is the only of its kind in the region. Dresthang Gompa near the palace was built during the reign of King Singay Namgyal, with a three-storey statue of Buddha. "SheySrubla" festival is also held here at Dresthung Gompa. The Rock-carved statue of five Buddha can be seen below the palace on the roadside, which was probably carved during the reign of Singay Namgyal.

    Return to the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  4. Day 4 LEH – MATHO – STOK – LEH

    Leh Ladakh

    After breakfast explore some of Ladakh's ancient Monastery & Palace.

    Matho Monastery on the picturesque Indus Valley, Matho Monastery is a Tibetan Buddhist monastery built under the Saskya Monastic Establishment. It was constructed around 500 years ago. It was established by Lama Dugpa Dorje in 1410, who belongs to Sakya order. It houses a marvelous collection of ancient Thangas and known for its Matho Nagrang Festival. It is an annual festival which takes place in the first half of March. It is a nice place where you can understand Buddhist teachings and philosophies.

    Thereafter, visit Stok Monastery, known as one of the most famous monastery of Leh, is just 15 km away from the main city which used to be the royal residence.

    Stok Monastery belongs to yellow – hat sect of Buddhism. The entrance veranda has beautiful mural paintings of the guardians of the four directions. The main assembly hall is decorated with thangkas and banners. One of the large halls in the palace is converted into Museum, which has a wonderful collection of Thangkas, royal crowns, dresses, coins, antique ritual objects, ceremonial sword, precious stones and traditional head dresses worn by Ladakhi women.

    The courtyard at Stok Gompa consists of a large number of prayer wheels. Situated above Stok Palace, it was founded in 14th century. Its walls are decorated with images of Tara (the Saviouress), Vajrapani, Sakyamuni (Buddha), Nangyamal and Amchi (Medicinal Buddha) and Avalokitesvara (with 1000 hands and 11 heads in the painting). This monastery is famous for its big library. The library has a complete set of the Kandshur, the 108 volumes of the Buddha’s teachings.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  5. Day 5 DRIVE FROM LEH TO PADUM (3,670M) (Approx. 150 miles | 240 Kms | 8 – 9 Hours Drives)


    After an early breakfast, we will drive towards Padum. Following the Indus River till Lamayuru, we take the newly built road crossing the Shingi La (4,872 Meters) and the Sisir La (4,760 Meters) high altitude passes arriving into the Zanskar River Valley at Padum.

    On the way visit the Lamayuru Monastery, founded by Rinchen Zangpo is situated in Ladakh, in between Bodhkharbu and Kha-la-che, on a steep rock mountain.

    The Lamayuru whose monastery dates back to the eleventh century and was founded by Mahasiddhacharya Naropa and belongs to the red cape sect, this monastery is home to more than 150 monks and houses a rich collection of objects, paintings, thangkas, statues, carpets and an impressive image of 11 heads and 1000 eyes depicting the image of Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion who in his present reincarnation is the present Dalai Lama.

    This remote monastery is a favorite among photographers and travelers. Thereafter continue drive to Padum.

    Arrive Padum and check-in to the hotel.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  6. Day 6 ACCLIMATISATION DAY AT PADUM (Approx. 3 Hours’ Drive)


    Take this day to get acclimatised to the high altitude.

    After breakfast, visit Karsha Monastery which is the most important monastery in the Zanskar region.

    Also, visit the Zangla Fort ruins.

    Post lunch take a short hike to Staqringmo just above Padum town and offers a great view of the Zanskar River Valley.

    Evening for leisure.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)

  7. Day 7 DRIVE FROM PADUM TO ZONGKUL (3,859M) (Approx. 38 miles | 60 Kms | 2 Hours Drives) & TREK FROM ZONGKUL TO DOKSA (3,670M) (Trek for 10 Kms taking approx. 3 Hours)


    After breakfast at the hotel, drive from Padum to Zongkul monastery for 36 kms for one and half hours. Dzongkul is an ancient cave monastery attributed to Naropa who was a Buddhist yogi (956-1041 CE). It is said that Naropa had meditated in one of the two caves. It is definitely worth a visit before we begin our trek.

    From here we will begin our trek after loading up of our equipment on the local porters. Today will be a short distance and an easy trail along the river stream.

    We will arrive by lunch time and setup camp at Doksa for the night.

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  8. Day 8 TREK FROM DOKSA TO PULLO/BASE CAMP (4,482M). (Trek for 5 Kms / Approx. 4 Hours)


    We will continue our upstream trek towards the Umasi La base camp near the Haptal glacier. The trail is a gradual ascent after crossing a rock bridge.

    We will set up camp by the stream close to the terminal moriane of the glacier looking back across the Zanskar River Valley.

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  9. Day 9 TREK FROM PULLO TO RUWA CAMP (4,537M) VIA OMASI LA (5,314M) (Trek 9 Kms taking approx. 8-9 Hours)

    Ruwa Camp

    Today is the hardest and the most rewarding day of the trek.

    We will be starting very early after a healthy breakfast. Ascend starts by approaching extensive boulders and moraines on a wide glacial valley for the first couple of hours, which is a bit tiring followed by a steep and challenging ascent till the top of the Umasi La pass (5,314 Meters).

    Enjoy the views while approaching and after crossing the top of the pass with the surrounding Zanskar Ranges to the West and the Kishtwar Ranges to the East. Walking over glaciers and snow fields and snow slopes, the descend towards Kishtwar is again very steep and along a glacier. It involves trekking on snow fields and negotiating a number of crevasses along the glacier which is why ice craft becomes indispensable during the descent. The trail emerges near a rock shelter known as Ruwa, a small portion of dry land surrounded by glaciers.

    We will halt here for the night and if weather conditions permits and group members feel up to it, we will have desend further down another 12 kms.

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  10. Day 10 TREK FROM RUWA CAMP TO KACH PANSAR (3,981M) (Trek for 14 Kms taking approx. 7 Hours)

    Kach Pansar

    Today the trek involves crossing yet another glacier and then a long drawn traverse through boulder fields and moraines.

    We will need to start the trek early. Trail starts with a kilometer long steep descent from the campsite onto the glacier. A 3 kilometer traverse on the glacier will bring you to a boulder field which is about 2 kms long. From here on, it is an easy descent till Kach Pansar.

    You will be able to see breath-taking views of the tree line and meadows of Paddar valley with oak and ceder trees.

    We will camp here for the night, just above the tree line leaving behind the Zanskar River Valley East of Umasi La and entering the Changra Bhagga also called the Chenab River Valley.

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  11. Day 11 Rest Day.

    Kach Pansar

    Enjoy a day in the greenery of the Paddar Valley leaving the cold deserts of Zanskar and the snow and ice of Umasi La behind.

    Ideal to just relax in camp on the alpine meadows or, take some side hikes if wanting to do so.

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  12. Day 12 TREK FROM KACH PANSAR TO MACHAIL (2,792M) VIA SUNCHAM (3,187M) (Trek for 21 Kms approx. 6-7 Hours)


    The last two days of the trek, we will be covering more distance but it’s an easy descend all the way down. Today we will be descending into the tree line from Kach Pansar to Machail which is the headquarters of Paddar valley. The first section of the trail from Kach Pansar to Bhujas starts with a steep descent through long meadows and then onto the Bhujas plains lined with birch trees gorwing alongside the valley. Another few kilometers through the valley and we will arrive at Suncham village which is the first settlement after crossing Umasi La.

    In Suncham the famous Saphire mines are situated at a distance of 3 kms hike in the opposite direction. The trail ahead from Suncham to Machail is through thick forest of Oak, Fir, Pine, Spruce, Deodar, Willows and Paper Brush trees along with a variety of herbal plants.

    Also known as the Bot (Buddhist in Kashmiri language) Nala, there are many Buddhist settlements along the opposite end of the trail such as Losani, Daga and Dangali. There are two monasteries as well in Losani and Halot. We will arrive at the campsite at Machail by evening and set up camp here for the night amidst the lush greenery.

    You could visit the famous Chandi Mata Temple in Machail in the evening.

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  13. Day 13 TREK FROM MACHAIL TO MASSU (1,983M) (Trek for 21 Kms approx. 8 hours)

    Massu Village

    Today is the last day of our trek and we will again be covering a long distance. But this trail will be a mix of walking along a foot trail as well as along a dirt road (which has been constructed recently).

    However, vehicular movement on this section of the road is not frequent. Trail till Massu is mostly gradual descent with breath-taking scenary through lush green forests and interesting villages.

    There are plenty of beautiful camping locations in Massu where we can setup camp for the night.

    Celebrate your success with the team in the evening!

    Overnight at Camp (B, L, D)

  14. Day 14 DRIVE FROM MASSU-GULABGARH-KISHTWAR TO JAMMU (Approx. 175 miles | 280 Kms | 9 Hours Drives)


    From Massu days drive passes through the town of Gulabgarh in Tehsil Paddar in the District of Jammu and Kashmir State. It is the junction point of the Paddar Area. Gulabgarh which is the district center is like a plateau and believed that it got its name after the name of Maharaja Gulab Singh.

    Doda is a district in the eastern part of the Jammu Division in the Indian union territory of Jammu and Kashmir. Patni Top is a famous hilltop tourist location situated in the Udhampur district of Jammu and Kashmir. It is in located on the Jammu-Srinagar National Highway, 112 km from Jammu.

    Before reaching Jammu cross another major town which is Udahmpur.

    Overnight at hotel (B, L, D)



    After breakfast check-out from the hotel and drive to Jammu airport to board the flight for Delhi.

    Depart Jammu 09:45 Hrs. Indigo Airlines # 6E-6078
    Arrive Delhi 11:05 Hrs.  

    Arrival Delhi airport, our representative will meet & assist you to transferred to the hotel.

    Afternoon we set-off for sightseeing of the city.

    Delhi is a dynamic city where the past coexists with the present. While historic evidence shows that the area around Delhi was first occupied around 2,500 years ago, Hindu mythology predates that by another 500 years. The British captured the city in 1803 and when they decided to make it the capital of India in 1911, they commissioned Sir Edwin Lutyens to draw up the plans. The result is slightly surprising with spacious tree-lined avenues punctuated with architecture which is among the most striking in the world.

    On the tour of “Old Delhi,” you will head out to explore this exotic locale with its narrow dirt roads, myriads of people and inexpensive and colorful bazaars that keep alive the traditional workmanship for which Delhi has always been famous.

    Drive past Red Fort and visit the Jama Masjid, one of the largest Muslim mosques in India. A bicycle rickshaw will take you into the heart of Chandni Chowk (the silver square - so named because of the silver merchants).

    Drive past India Gate, a 42-metre archway built in memory of Indian soldiers killed during the First World War and Rashtrapati Bhawan, built in the early 20th century as the Imperial residence of the Viceroy. Today, it is the official residence of the President of India.

    Conclude the day by visiting the Delhi's most striking monument, The Qutub Minar, which looms majestically across the wide plains of Delhi, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was constructed in 1192 by Qutub-Ud-Din Aibak. Built in red sandstone and marble, it has a height of 72.5 meters (237.8 ft) and contains 379 stairs. A Soaring conical tower, it is an exquisite example of Indo-Islamic Afghan architecture and is the tallest minaret in India.

    Overnight at hotel (B)



    On time, check-out from the hotel and drive to Delhi International airport to board your flight for you’re onwards destination.


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