This 12-Day Trek From Spiti To Ladakh Is An Amazing Sojourn Through The Mighty Himalayan Cold Desert

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Parang La Trek

Photo of This 12-Day Trek From Spiti To Ladakh Is An Amazing Sojourn Through The Mighty Himalayan Cold Desert by Amrita

Parang La is one of the most famous and remote trek routes of the Spiti region connecting Ladakh and Spiti. This is in fact, an ancient route that connected Spiti with Ladakh across the mighty pass Parang La. This route was extensively used by the nomadic people of Changthang in the earlier days to attend the La Darcha trade fair in Spiti where the Changspa nomads came mainly to barter wool and barley in exchange for salt. Even today, many locals use this foot trail as the fastest and cheapest way to get across between Spiti and Ladakh. Just as the Chadar becomes the highway for connecting the Zanskar people with Ladakh during the winters, this route connects the people of Spiti and Ladakh during the summer.

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Photo of Parang La, Dhar Dum Bachen, Himachal Pradesh, India by Amrita

The Parang La trek passes through the rugged locations of Spiti from the deep gorges and the cold desert environment and also the vast landscapes of Ladakh. This trek also has some fantastic views of the mountains and the Pare Chu Rive. The trek ends at one of the most beautiful lakes Tso Moriri at Ladakh. The varied landscapes that one has to undergo while in this trek and the view of the Tso Moriri at the end of the trek is the most rewarding part of this otherwise difficult trek.

Courtesy: Flickr

Photo of Spiti Valley, Marango Rangarik, Himachal Pradesh, India by Amrita

This remote trail starts from the high altitude meadows of Kibber, the breeding ground of the Spiti horses and also the home of the elusive snow leopards. The trail descends the Kibber gorge and then climbs over the Parang la, the source of the Pare Chu River that flows into Tibet and enter the country again in Spiti. Across the pass, the trail follows a broad valley till the confluence of the Pare Chu with the Phirtse Phu at Norbu Sumdo. A river crossing here brings one to an almost incredible change of scenery as we walk towards the Rupshu plains of Changthang, known for the abundance of Kiangs (Tibetan Wild Ass).

Courtesy: Wikimedia (Karan Dhawan)

Photo of This 12-Day Trek From Spiti To Ladakh Is An Amazing Sojourn Through The Mighty Himalayan Cold Desert by Amrita

Detailed Itinerary:

Day 1: Manali – Kaza (8 hours)

The drive from Manali to Kaza will take you through the trans Himalayan roads crossing the famous Rohtang Pass. You will also drive past the Kunzum Pass, another high altitude Pass. The drive from Kunzum La to Kaza is a beautiful one along the Spiti river & one can view Key monastery in the background.

Day 2: Acclimatisation Day around Kaza

This day is usually kept for getting acclimatized around the high altitudes. Since the Parang La trek is a difficult one and you have to trek through high altitude everyday, it is very important to get acclimatized to these environments.

You can visit the ancient Dhankar and Tabo Monastery. Travel around and experience the culture of Spiti. You can also drive to one of the highest motorable villages in the world and visit the ancient Kye Monastery.

Courtesy: Wikimedia

Photo of Kaza, Himachal Pradesh, India by Amrita

Day 3: Kaza – Kibber – Dumla

Drive from Kaza towards the Kibber village, the starting point of our trek. Kibber is a scenic village with Mt. Kanamo towering over the village. Start your trek from Kibber. The trails descend through a gorge and arrives at the last village of the trek, Dumla. You can see Parang La from here at a distance of about 500m.

Day 4: Dumla – Thaltak (4 hours)

The trail follows a slight steep climb over the ridge in front of Dumla, then gradual walk along fossil zone with stunning views of Mt. Kanamo (5996 m) till the campsite at Thaltak. This campsite is a oasis in the middle of the barren land & offers amazing view of the Mt. Kanamo. You will find typical grass in this meadow with Thama bush on the periphery of campsite.

Photo of Kibber, Himachal Pradesh, India by Amrita

Day 5: Thaltak – Bongrojen (8 hours)

This day will be a relatively longer one as you will first descend steeply into the Paralungbi Gorge. Then follow it upstream, cross a river and climb a stony path through a remarkable rocky landscape to Bongrojen at close to 5000 metres. The last stretch is a slightly long and very steep climb up to the basecamp at Bongrojen.

Day 6: Bongrojen – Parang La – Datang Yongma (8 hours)

Make an early start to reach the pass. It is relatively easy to begin with but the last 4 km to the pass are quite steep. The pass is an old trade route joining Spiti and Ladakh. From the pass one gets mesmerizing views of the Changthang valleys in Spiti and Parilungi, a first visible and a distinctive Ladakhi peak. After soaking up the views we trek down to the source of the Pare Chu River. No snow on Spiti side, descent towards the other side is entire on snowfields and glacial channels until you reach riverbed. As we cross over the pass, there is a dramatic shift in the landscape from deep plunging gorges of Spiti to the broad flatlands of Ladakh.

Photo of This 12-Day Trek From Spiti To Ladakh Is An Amazing Sojourn Through The Mighty Himalayan Cold Desert by Amrita

Day 7: Datang Yongma – Rachalamo (7 hours)

Today, you will trek on similar terrains till you reach Rachalamo. The day gets easier as you will lose altitude.

Day 8: Rachalamo – Chumik Shilde (6 hours)

The trail continues beside the Pare Chu River. But the challenge of this day is to cross the river as the river is swift, deep and carries a lot of silt. If we follow the river we go towards the border with Tibet. Instead we cross the river and trek on till we reach one of the most beautiful campsites on this trail with spring water and meadows with plenty of grass for the horses.

Day 9: Chumik Shilde – Kiangdom ( 3 hours)

This day trek across the plains to the southern edge of the oval-shaped Tso Moriri Lake at Kiangdom, named after the kiangs (wild Tibetan Ass) that roam uninhibitedly here. The lake is a nesting ground for many rare migratory birds.

Courtesy: Ashok Goswami

Photo of This 12-Day Trek From Spiti To Ladakh Is An Amazing Sojourn Through The Mighty Himalayan Cold Desert by Amrita

Day 10: Kiangdom – Tso Moriri (5 hours)

Today you will chance upon the most stunning blue lake you’ve ever seen. Nothing spells wilderness like wild animals in their element! Not to worry, though. The oval-shaped lake here breaks into several channels to create a vast wetland, the breeding ground of several rare species of birds. So if you’re a bird watcher, then this is your migratory haven!

Day 11: Tso Moriri – Karzok (8 hours)

Walk along the lake right up to the Karzok village. At times, you might feel that the day is never ending, because it takes around 8 hours to finally reach the campsite. But the walk is worth it with all the flora and fauna that one gets to see.

Courtesy: Wikimedia (Raghavan37)

Photo of Karzok by Amrita

Day 12: Korzok – Leh

After one of the most scenic treks, drive towards Leh at the end of the trek.

Courtesy: Pixabay

Photo of Leh by Amrita

Some Facts about the Trek:

Highest Altitude: 18300 ft

Trek Grade: Difficult Himalayan trek. Not suitable for beginners. Required fitness level is high.

Base Camp: Kibber

Best Time to do the Trek: Mid July to September

How to reach Kaza:

The nearest airport is the Bhuntar Airport. Shared or reserved taxi options are available from Bhuntar & Kullu for Kaza.

The nearest Railhead is Chandigarh. From there, reach Manali. From Manali, shared taxis and tempo travellers are available to Kaza. HRTC bus is another option. The bus starts at around 05:30 AM from Bhuntar & reaches Kaza in the evening. It takes almost 10 hours for the journey.

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