Junglam Trek

Ladakh Expedition No of Days


Ladakh Expedition Higest Point

ZALUNG KARPO LA (5190m), KONGMARU LA (5150m), CHAR-CHAR (4950m)

Ladakh Expedition Grade


Ladakh Expedition Attraction


One of the most challenging treks through remote trails of deep gorges and over high passes linking two prominent valleys of Zanskar and Indus in Ladakh. At several points the trail leads over to around 5000m high passes. In between the absence of any villages until you reach the Markha Valley, deter all but the most adventurous trekkers.

Before heading on the trail, a day or two at Padum making arrangements and spending some time visiting the ancient monasteries in the vicinity, provides you with a convenient base. You’ll have ample opportunity to rejuvenate yourself at Padum. It is the administrative centre of the Zanskar Valley.

Padum is a paradise for any trekker. It is named after Lord Padmasambhava (also known as Guru Rinpoche), the founder of Tibetan Buddhism. Historically, the lineage of a royal family ruled over Zanskar from Padum as well as Zangla. However, consequent upon the conquest of Ladakh in 1834 by a general named Zorawar Singh of the Dogra army of Jammu, the powers of the royal families in both Padum and Zangla were reduced to a nominal status. Today Padum is inhabited largely by people who follow Tibetan Buddhism. A sizable Muslim community have also their presence being felt in Padum since the 17th century.

Living at the town of Padum is a magical experience. It transcends you out into a new reality away from the mundane chaos of modern life. It is scenic and known for its Spartan splendour. There are several monasteries and villages situated at the vicinity of Padum that acquire different hues with the change of season. The confluence of the Stod and the Tsarap Rivers at Padum forms the Zanskar River which ultimately drains in the Indus.

Junglam Trek - Trip Detail
  • 01


    Padum (3669m) to Karsha (3650m) – Zangla drive 4 hrs
    • A short stage, the route is clearly visible from Padum. If you choose you will have the option of going by car at this stage. Otherwise, follow the trail from Padum to Pipiting village bypassing the prominent Dogra Fort of Zorawar Singh. Cutting across the fields, you will reach the bridge over the Stod River. A steady climb for 1km to Karsha village (3650m). Visit the largest monastery in Zanskar and enjoy the panoramic views of the Zanskar Valley. Founded around the 10th century when the Gelukpa order of Tibetan Buddhism was popularised in Ladakh, the monastery attracts monks from many of the surrounding villages. The trail from here leads for 35km to Zangla by car and it takes you around 3 hours to reach Zangla. Visit the village and camp overnight at a huge grassy campsite with a spring.

  • 02


    Zangla (3370m) to Sumdo (3800m) (3 hours, 9km)
    • A day to enter the wilderness where no villages or settlements are there until you are within striking distance of the Indus Valley. The trail follows deep gorges and high passes. Past the dilapidated fort and stupas at Zangla, the trail enters a side gorge and then descends. Trailing 1km on the right, you will face the first of many river crossings. The trail cuts through willow thickets for about 6km and the gorge widens into a broad valley called Sumdo. Camp overnight at a flat but non-grassy campsite (3800m).

  • 04


    Sumdo to Camp (4000m) via Char-Cha La (4950m) (6 hours, 13km)
    • The trail ascends eastwards into a dry silent valley and gradually winds up a series of ‘scree steps’ before cutting out of the valley to the final 200m to 300m steep climb to the Char-Char La pass (4950m). Ascending the Char-Char La is the first challenge of the trek which is not without compensation. The numerous views of the ridges and gorges of the Zanskar and the Himalayan Ranges treats your eyes as far as it can see.

      After savouring the view, the trail descends and follows the course of the Tilat Sumdo stream and winds up at some points where the gorge is too narrow to negotiate. You will have to wade through the stream at more than one section where the trail actually follows the stream. At the confluence of two gorges, you will find the campsite (4000m) which is a legacy of many migrations to Zanskar. Time from the pass to camp is around two to 21/2 hours.

  • 05


    Camp to Tilat Sumdo (3750m) (6 hours, 16km)
    • At this stage, the thought that only a handful of trekkers will follow this route each season will give you a unique experience because here the remote gorges, constant wet boots and numb toes appeals to your true adventure spirited senses like no other. To reach Tilat Sumdo, normally it takes six to seven hours but in late summers you have to split this stage as the water levels get higher after 10 am.

      From the camp the trail reaches after about 11/2, at the confluence of a tributary from where the gorge widens but constant twists and turns and river flows into the main gorge makes it hard to get a true indication of your location. Further 2km, you will reach to the confluence with the Khurna River, where prayer flags offer you a welcome sight. Crossing the silent waters will reach you to the campsite at Tilat Sumdo.

  • 06


    Tilat Sumdo to Base Zalung Karpo La (4680m) (5-6 hours, 15km)
    • The third day through the narrowing and widening of gorges is just as remote and challenging as the previous two. As you come to grips with the true dimensions of this vast wilderness region, it feels just as spectacular!

      It’s a cold start as you wade up the Khurna River in waist-high water. Initially, it’s just a matter of following the course of the gorge, switching from one river bank to the other as the terrain dictates. Around 20 river crossings and about two hours, you will reach the confluence of the Khurna River and the river flowing from the Rubrang La. Sight of prayer flags and small fire before heading up the side gorge provides much relief. The trail then winds through particularly narrow side gorge and high above the river bed until it descends and the gorge widens. Ascending gradually for about 31/2 to four hours, there is a grassy, flat and a comfortable campsite (4680m). Here, you could see the Himalayan Blue sheep (also known as Bharal), grazing the scant vegetation above the camp.

  • 07


    Base Zalung Karpo La to Camp (4680m) via Zalung Karpo La (5190m) (6 hours, 14km)
    • Another challenging stage. Heading up the valley from the camp for 3km, the trail ascends a small side gorge. A steep ascent until the gorge widens out and the pass can be seen. Heading up the trail to the peak of the pass. The Zalung Karpo La (5190m) affords views across the vast region of Rupshu and the 6000m snow-capped peaks in the vicinity of Nimaling. Leading the trail in the opposite direction of the double pass, where the other trail leads to Rupshu Valley, the trail descends to a steep side valley and a small gorge. About 4km down the trail, a grassy sheltered campsite (4680m) awaits you in warm anticipation after all of those challenges.

  • 08


    Camp to Thochuntse & Nimaling (4000m) (5-6 hours, 16km)
    • A relatively straightforward stage, heading down the broad valley, the trail passes through a narrow gorge. To the east of the valley, the summit of Kangyaze (6400m) looms large. Keeping down the main valley and crossing the streams, you will reach the confluence of the stream from the Zalung Karpo La and the river from Nimaling (4000m). Crossing the bridge and turning up, the trail leads to an established campsite at Thochuntse.

  • 09


    Nimaling to Shang Sumdo via Kongmaru La (6-7 hours, 18km)
    • The final stage ascends the Kongmaru La (5150m) before the long and steep descent to the settlement of Chokdo (3800m). At Chokdo you will meet the motor able road where the car will pick you up and drives you to Leh. It takes you around one hour to reach to the town of Leh.

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