Zanskar is a small Tibetan Buddhist Kingdom, lying just north of the main Himalayan range and about 120 miles long. It is part of the former Kingdom of Ladakh, and up until relatively recent times, its two ‘Kings’, or Gyalpos (precious rulers) mediated local disputes and in ancient times collected taxes for the main King of Ladakh.

Zanskar’s scenery is powerful and dramatic; gorges, aluvial fans, snow-capped mountains, villages perched above precipices, cliff temples, old fortresses, prayer-flagged passes, chortens, cantilevered Tibetan-style wooden bridges and there even still exist a small number of the traditional suspension bridges made entirely from birch twigs. In the winter conditions are harsh, with temperatures dropping to -30oC, or worse, but in the summer it is dry and sunny and Zanskaris work hard to grow and harvest their crops of barley, buckwheat, peas and some potatoes. Zanskar itself is closed in the winter by snow-bound passes of over 4,900m/16,000ft.

It is a land of mystical content; every village has a gompa or lakhang (monastery, or temple) and hermit monks (Yogins) still live in caves. In the summer, a rough single track road opens over the Pensi La Pass to the main township of Padum. Apart from this one township, Zanskar’s people live in small villages and hamlets, whose houses are traditionally made of mud bricks with flat-topped roofs and are painted white, or ochre. The people carry on a rural way of life, much as they have done down the centuries.

Our Zanskar trek takes us completely off the beaten track, trekking through very remote country. Starting near Mount Nun, we gradually make our way through the mountains to Zanskar, before trekking up through a series of gorges leading to the highest peak in the Zanskar range, Kang Yatse, 6,400m/21,500ft. These gorges can only be navigated in September when water levels are low, as there are many river crossings, beyond which the Zanskar trek reveals mysterious hidden landscapes. This is a full-on, challenging trek and will rank alongside any of your life’s best achievements!

Join anthropologist and professional photographer, David Bathgate, for an adventure of a lifetime to the outer reaches of Ladakh - Zanskar. Itinerary and full details at the premier British adventure travel expert - Mountain Kingdoms.

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