At a towering 12,467ft, Indus Valley enthrals you at its very first glance. Otherwise known as Ladakh's backbone, the reticent Indus River sustains dizzying pinnacles, unfathomable valleys and the major towns of Shey, Leh, Basgo and Tingmosgang on its banks. Typical to the moonscape, the valley's vista is bewitching – layers of snow shimmer away like a thousand little suns, frost-laden monasteries greet you at sporadic intervals as you trek past one too many nondescript frozen lakes reflecting the impossibly blue skies. One of the most thrilling treks you could ever embark on in India, these nine days walking the frozen Indus River will stay with you long after you've left its snowy terrains.
Where is it
The basecamp for the trek is located in Leh. To acclimatise yourself with the altitude and weather, you will be staying in the accommodation provided by the tour company you're travelling with.
Reaching Leh –
By air: Regular flights are operated by the Leh Airport, that is well-connected to all major cities of India.
By bus: Daily buses ply from Jammu and Kashmir and Manali, and if you're starting from Delhi, it will take you a total of four days.
By car: If you're feeling adventurous, take your bike or SUV along Rohtang La via Keylong and Sarchu to reach Leh.
The moderate grade trek spans 450 kilometres, and on your way you will pass through campsites and the scenic villages of Chumathang, Mahe and Tso Moriri. Taking nine days and eight nights, the maximum altitude reached is 3,800m.
DIY or not
This trek's steep slopes and unforgiving terrains can't be charted independently and should be embarked upon with the help of a tour company.
The Indus Valley Trek is organised by numerous tour companies. We recommend Trip360º, who along with their expert guides and OELs (Outdoor Experience Leaders) also believe in sustainable tourism.
For a single person, the trek costs ₹39,500, including transport from Leh and back if you are travelling with Trip360º. This includes accommodation in camps and home-stays, all meals, logistics for the trek and transfers to and from the base camp.
When to do it
The first season for the trek would be between January and February. This is the duration when the hills are blanketed with snow and the Indus River is frozen. The second season starts from mid-June and goes on till September, when the weather is pleasant and temperatures range from 20-30°C.
The nine-day long trek's basecamp lies in Leh and comes to an end at the Korzok Village, lying on the banks of Tso Moriri. A 138-kilometre drive from Leh takes us to Chumathang, from where the trek actually starts. Thereafter, we'll make stops at various campsites along the Indus riverfront and the village of Mahe.
This is the route for the Indus Valley trek:
Leh – Chumathang – Mahe – Tso Moriri – Leh
This is the itinerary that's usually followed if you are travelling with a tour company: