Zanskar River Expedition Itinerary

Day 1

Your Global Descents trip leader will meet you upon your arrival in Dehli at the International airport.  You will transfer to our deluxe accommodations in Dehli and rest for an early departure to Leh the following morning.


Day 2

We’ll catch an early one hour flight from Delhi over the Greater Himalayan range to Leh, a charming mountain town in the northern state of Jammu-Kashmir, region of Ladakh.  After checking into our hotel, today is reserved for resting and acclimatizing.  Tonight we will have our orientation dinner and cover all of the specifics of the adventure ahead.


Day 3

After a hearty breakfast at the hotel, we will have all day to explore the cultural capital of Ladakh.  Check out the extraordinary market center of Leh, where charismatic shops, restaurants, and taverns aligns the streets; where people of at least a dozen different languages and cultures intermingle; and from where one can view spectacular mountain vistas, the precariously perched Leh Monastery, and the Shanti Stupa, a Buddhist icon that overlooks the village. Find your own local lunch or enjoy lunch at the hotel and take in all of the sites of this beautiful Himilayan town.


Day 4

This morning we’ll depart Leh in jeeps and embark on one of the most spectacular drives in the world!  Along the winding course we stop at the Lamayuru monastery, one of the oldest gompas in the Himalaya. After eight hours on the road, we reach Kargil, where we check into a nice hotel-restaurant, have a healthy dinner of Indian cuisine, discuss the river trip and rest up for another day of travel.


Day 5

Heading out of Kargil, we ascend up the Suru River Valley, passing through quaint farmlands stretched out beneath colossal glaciated peaks, the highest of which, Mounts Nun and Kun, reach over seven thousand meters in elevation. Tonight we make our first camp in a vast meadow, surrounded by dazzling geologic formations, high in the upper reaches of the Suru drainage. Three miles across the meadow we can make out the remote Rangdum monastery, perched precariously atop a minute crag at 13,000 feet.


Day 6

The last leg of our drive takes us over 14,500 foot Pensi-La Pass, affording breathtaking views of the Zanskar Mountain Range and of the Zanskar River headwaters. Tonight we set camp at our put-in location on the river, framed by the massive peaks of the Himalayan Zanskar Range, eat a spectacular dinner of Indian fare, and rest up for the river portion of our expedition.


Day 7-11

We spend these days rafting the Zankar River! This is one of the most dramatic river canyons in the world. We begin our downstream journey with small rapids, drifting through spectacular mountain backdrops and alongside remote Zanskari villages. The whitewater becomes progressively more difficult as we move downstream. We’ll navigate several narrow Class III and IV mini gorges; and will scout at least one section aptly named “The Pinch!“ The scenery is spectacular, with massive cliffs opening up to lush side valleys, waterfalls streaming directly out of the canyon walls, and glimpses of glaciated mountaintops in the distance. Each afternoon we’ll set up camp on the riverbank and work together to create delicious meals. Every camp allows opportunities for hiking and for further exploration of the gorge and its many side canyons. We’ll also spend one layover day exploring Neiraq, an ancient Zanskari village and monastery accessibly only afoot.


Day 12

Today we encounter the last of the Class III and IV whitewater, and float past the enormous and dramatic confluence with the Indus River. We take-out, load up, and drive a short distance and hike up to the thousands’ year-old Alchi Monastery. After a quick visit we drive back to Leh (1 hr.) and to our deluxe accommodations. Tonight, at a local restaurant, we will celebrate with our final expedition banquet and party!


Day 13

Today we return to Delhi by way of a short domestic flight and transfer to the airport for your return flight home or onto your next destination in India.


Global Descents reserves the right to change the order of activities or even some of the activities due to changes in weather, transportation or other unforeseen events.