Apricot Valley - yes, that is the other name also by which Sham Valley goes. It is home to the Apricot flowers that bloom during the season of winter. Sham Valley trek is spread across the ancient land of Sham Kingdom of Ladakh. Located amidst the Ladakhi Himalayas, and bounded by the Karakoram range in the north, the trek begins from the village of Likir. This ancient village, which dates back to as far as 15th century, is the abode of a monastery which whispers the myths and legends of the bygone past. Lasting for 4 days, Sham Valley trek ends at the village of Temisgam.
The entire trail is splashed with sparkling streams and willow canopies, Cedar vines and Barley fields, narrow gorges and mountain passes. This is not all; bestrewn throughout the trail are mystical gompas and antique museums, golden Buddhas and mysterious deities, rarest thankas and Tibetan scrolls; makes this trek a perfect combination of nature and culture. Being a hub of ancient Tibetan Buddhist rituals, Sham Valley trek helps you gain the best first-hand teachings and experiences of Tibetan Buddhism: their rituals and cultures, languages and traditions, lives and histories.
Where is it?
Sham Valley trek begins from the village of Likir. About 58 km from Leh by car. Leh is about 2 hours from Delhi by flight. Leh to Likir is the drive-able part of this trek. Nearest airport is the Kushok Bakula Rimpochee Airport of Leh. About 54 km from Likir. Nearest railway station is the Jammu Tawi railway station. About 680 km from Leh.
Sham Valley trek often goes by the name Baby trek on account of being one of the easiest treks of the Ladakh region. Even being a high-elevation trek, this one is devoid of tough trails or steep climbs. Chief share of the entire trail follows gradual ups and downs once in a while. Although the paths go through high-altitude mountain passes and narrow gorges, the extreme easiness of the steady gradient makes Sham Valley trek ideal for beginners and families.
Yes, it is certainly a do-it-yourself trek. Being an off-beat trek of its kind, Sham Valley trek, as far as I am concerned, is arranged by few organisations. In any way, the easy gradient makes it lot better for trekkers - even for beginners. Sizable part of the trek is a straight-forward trail, through steady uphill and down. Guides and porters are available at Leh.
When to do it?
The best time to do Sham Valley trek is between the months of May and October. During this period, the valley radiates wide range of colors from wild roses and willow trees to barren hills and contrasting greenery of meadows and pastures, and vines and orchards.
Sham Valley trek begins from Likir. About 58 km from Leh. Leh is about 2 hours from Delhi by flight. The trail from Likir follows the Likir Monastery and ascends to Phobe La through barren lands. Phobe La is located at an elevation of about 11,745 feet. Further uphill trek after a slight descent leads you to Chagtse La at an altitude of about 11,900 feet. Moving along the motor-able road, amidst the Ladakhi ranges, you reach the settlements of Yangthang. Next comes Tsermangchen La through the village and valley of Ulley and Spango, respectively. Tsermangchen La is located at an altitude of 12,300 feet. Downhill trek from here follows Hemis Shukpachen - famous from Cedar vines. Next comes the Mebtak La, at 12,200 feet elevation. En route falls the Rongtil La. Marked by prayer flags and chortens, Mebtak La makes way for Temisgam. Adorned by apple and apricot orchards, Temisgam is a village of utmost beauty. The logical trail of Sham Valley trek ends with a car journey back to Leh. Alternatively, one can stay at Ang, relatively a smaller village, instead of Temisgam.
This is the route of Sham Valley trek:
Leh* > Likir* > Yangthang* > Hemis Shukpachen* > Temisgam* > Leh*