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Zanskar River Rafting


Expedition Highlights

  • The magnificent Zanskar Gorge
  • 7 day Rafting Expedition
  • Houseboat stay in Srinagar
  • Monastery visits
  • Sightseeing and shopping in Leh
Slideshow of the MHE Zanskar Rafting Expedition 2007
Click to see 
a slideshow on the
Zanskar Rafting Expedition

Introduction

Starting from Srinagar and finishing in Leh (with a lot of road and river adventure in between), the MHE Zanskar Rafting Expedition takes you through some of the most breathtaking landscape on the planet, from the green hills of Kashmir, high up through the rocky terrain of the forbidden kingdom of Zanskar, rafting down three high altitude rivers of Stod, Zanskar and Indus, and landing up in the ancient Ladakhi capital of Leh.

We start off with a splash of luxury in an overnight stay on a Srinagar houseboat, before taking to the road for three days and then packing our equipment in the rafts at Remala and heading off on the most exciting part of the trip. For the next seven days we are on the river, negotiating rapids up to grade IV and camping on small riverside campsites in the Zanskar gorge until finally reaching Nimmu the confluence of the Indus and Zanskar rivers before driving to Leh, the magnificent capital of Ladakh.

All our guides are fully certified with years of experience behind them, and food is prepared by our tried and trusted expert camp chefs who can rustle up a tasty feast even in the isolated wilderness of Zanskar.

Location Chart

Delhi / Mumbai – Srinagar - Kargil - Rangdum - Remala - Karsha - Pidmu - Nyerak - Lamaguru - Nimmu - Alchi - Leh - Delhi / Mumbai

rafting expedition in ZanskarDay by Day Itinerary


Day 01 :  Fly from Delhi / Mumbai to Srinagar (1730 m)

  • Fly to Srinagar where we spend a night in a deluxe houseboat on the Dal Lake. Over a sumptuous dinner and a few drinks you get to meet your fellow expedition members, and we brief you on what to expect from the upcoming adventure.
  • Overnight in houseboat.

Day 02 :  Drive from Srinagar to Kargil  (3201m / 10,500ft, 220km, 6 hours)

  • Today is the first leg of the drive to our rafting start point, where we drive 220 km. On the way you will pass through the alpine village of Sonamarg, the snow bound pass of Zoji La (ht ??) and the coldest inhabited place on earth Dras.
  • Arrive at the frontier town of Kargil where we check into a small but very comfortable guest house for the night.
  • Overnight in guest house.
 

Day 03 :  Drive from  Kargil to Rangdum (12,000ft, 105kms, 5-6 hours)

  • Today we leave the Srinagar Leh highway behind us and enter in to the heart of the Zanskar area. A spectacular drive past Panikar and Parkachik, with magnificent views of the Nun and Kun massifs (7000m), hanging glaciers and large meadows. We stop to make camp in the lush green meadows near the Rangdum monastery. This is our first night in tents.
  • Overnight tented camp.

Day 04 :  Rangdum - Remala (3,365m 11,925ft. 95km, 5 hours)

  • We drive over the Pensi La which at 14,500 ft. is the highest altitude we will reach on the expedition. The pass offers spectacular views of the Zanskar peaks, at the bottom of which lies the Drung Durung glacier that feeds the Stod and Zanskar rivers.
  • We set up camp at Remala, which is the start point of our rafting expedition.
  • Overnight in tented camp.

Day 05 :  Raft from Remala to Karsha (3,496 m / 11,466 ft, 40 km, 5 hours)

  • After breakfast we will gather around for a detailed safety briefing after which e pack up the camp and load up the rafts. We raft approximately 40 km in 5 hrs which includes a break for lunch and a hot drink.
  • Today’s rafting section is a scenic run down the Stod River surrounded by 6000 m high peaks and the stark barren landscapes that make Ladakh so unique. The stretch includes a grade II section providing an ideal training ground for first time rafters. The rafting finishes at Karsha early in the afternoon so that we can hike to the ancient Karsha monastery near Padum, the capital of Zanskar, after which we return to camp for a hot dinner and campfire.
  • Overnight in Camp.
 

Day 06 :   Raft from Karsha to Pidmu (3,361 m / 11,000 ft, 30 km, 4 hours)

  • Breakfast is followed by a scenic run down from Karsha to the small hamlet of Pidmu, getting into camp by mid afternoon. In the early evening trek to the nearby villages of Pidmu and Hanumil and return to camp for dinner.
  • Overnight in Camp.

Day 07 :  Rest day in Pidmu

  • Following the non-stop action of the past week, we take this day off for rest and relaxation, for interacting with the local people in Pidmu hamlet and for short treks around the area. Alternatively we can even raft a short distance to the village of Honyo and set up camp over there for the night and take a short trek up and down the Honyo gorge.
  • Overnight in Camp.

Day 08 :  Raft from Pidmu to Nyerak (3,286 m 10,780 ft, 20 km, 4 hours)

  • Revitalised after the rest day at Pidmu, today is an action packed day with a series of grade III rapids. The river takes on a different beauty with the walls narrowing in with towering rock sprees on each side, because of which the Zanskar Gorge is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of India.“.
  • We stop for the day to pitch camp in a small field below Nyerak village, before walking up to the village to enjoy local hospitality in Ladakhi homes. Today is a good opportunity t o buy local hand woven Tibetan rugs and pullovers.
  • Overnight in Camp.

Day 09 :  Raft from Nyerak to  Lamaguru (3.190 m / 10,530 ft, 35 km, 5 hours)

  • Each day gets more exciting than the last. Today we raft through a series of grade III rapids and a few grade IV rapids. Rafting through the heart of Zanskar several sections offer non-stop action with continuous rapids, and at one point the entire river squeezes through a gap of 16 feet. Our lunch stop today will be at the base of a breathtaking waterfall that surprisingly gushes out of a small hole in a cliff. The brave-hearted can enjoy a shower in its cold waters.
  • Raft another couple of hours to the confluence of the Markha and the Zanskar rivers where we will set up camp for the night.
  • Overnight camp at Lamaguru.

Day 10 : LAMAGURU – NIMMU – ALCHI – LEH

  • We raft 40 kms of Class III/IV white water from Lamayuru to Nimmu todaY. Finish the trip at Nimmu and drives to Leh 60 kms enroute visit Alchi.
  • Alchi Monastery: 66 Km west of Leh, this monastery consists of six temples, which contain chorten, seated Buddhas and exquisite paintings. Over 10 centuries old, profusely painted walls depict the events of the Buddha’s life, lamas and musicians. Its murals, dating from the 11th and 12th centuries, pre-date the Tibetan style of painting that is present in all the other gompas. Some of them are reminiscent of the paintings of the far-off Ajanta caves and are presumed to be almost the sole survivors (along with some in Phuktal Gompa in Zanskar and Tabo in Spiti) of the Buddhist style current in Kashmir during the first millennium AD.
  • Overnight in hotel.

Day 11 : Shopping and sightseeing in Leh

  • Our return to civilisation is a return to the friendly and charming city of Leh, the capital Ladakh. There is plenty of time to visit nearby monasteries as well as do some last minute shopping. Leh was at one time was a major stop on the Asian “Silk Route”. A stroll along the main bazaar, observing the varied crowd and peering into the curio shops, is an entrancing experience. Chang Gali, behind the main bazaar is less bustling but has intriguing little shops selling curios and jewelry like pearls, turquoise, coral, malachite, lapis and many other kinds of semi-precious stones, as well as curiously carved Yak-horn boxes, quaint brass locks, china or metal bowls etc.
  • Overnight in hotel.

Day 12 : Fly from Leh to Delhi / Mumbai

  • After breakfast drive to airport on time to connect flight for onward destination.

Cost includes

  • Local transportation.
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner on each day.
  • Rafting equipment: rafts, wetsuits, life jackets, helmets, dry bags.
  • Camping equipment: tents, camping mats.
  • Group escort, guides and safety kayakers.
  • Accommodation on twin share basis in either tents, guest house or hotel as per itinerary.

Cost excludes

  • Airfare
  •  Service tax
  •   Alcoholic beverages
  •   Expenses arising from unexpected fuel hikes, and other situations beyond our control such as landslides etc
  •  Medical or travel insurance
  •  Costs towards evacuation of customers for medical or any other reason

Transport

Transport from Srinagar to Remala (the rafting starting point), and from Nimmu (the rafting finishing point) to Leh, will be either in jeeps or coach.

Equipment

Our tents are high comfortable and quality imported weatherproof expedition tents. You will also be provided with your own camping mat and you may prefer to bring your own sleeping bag, although we can also arrange sleeping bags for you on prior request. On the river you will have dry bags, which are attached to the rear of the raft, in which to keep your luggage. All expedition members are equipped with wetsuit, life jacket and helmet.

Expedition Staff

Your escort stays with you during the whole trip from take-off to landing from your city of departure. There is one rafting guide for each raft, and we also have expedition safety kayakers at a ratio of one safety kayaker for every client raft. It is said that nobody loses weight on an MHE trip and our expedition cooks are there to make sure of that. 

The River

The icy Zanskar river originates from the high altitude plateau of Sarchu on the border of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Originally known as the Tsarap, the river gorges a path out of the rocky mountains of western Himalayas, dropping in a continuous torrent of grade V rapids. The river then eases into the forbidden Kingdom of Zanskar and slowly flows past the capital at Padum. Here it joins with the Stod river which flows down from the Pensi La pass on the road from Kargil to Padum.

It is from this confluence of the Tsarap and Stod rivers that the mighty Zanskar takes birth. This expedition starts on the Stod river and moves in to the Zanskar Gorge. The river expedition takes you through one of the most breathtaking gorges in Asia. The stark, barren and rocky massifs are interspersed with colorful bands of mineral deposits, which run through entire mountainsides giving it a picture book finish.

The waters of Zanskar are cold at 6 – 7 degrees Celsius, making wet suits mandatory. A series of grade III and IV rapids make the Zanskar an ideal way to explore this river.

Medical

Flying into Srinagar means that, unlike expeditions starting from Leh, we do not have to spend the first couple of days inactive acclimatizing to the high altitude, as the climb to the rafting departure point is more gradual. It is recommended, however, that you do take it easy for the first few days at high altitude.

If you suffer from any medical condition you must notify us well in advance of your departure.

What to pack

(Please note that on the rafts we will be wearing wetsuits. You will only need other clothes for the 6 days we are not rafting, as well as something to change into at the camp)

  • Sweater/pullover, t-shirts, comfortable trousers/track pants
  • Thermal underwear and woolen or cotton socks
  • 1 pair walking boots/trainers and 1 pair any closed shoes/trainers for rafting (which will get wet)
  • Good water resistant jacket
  • Ski hat and gloves
  • Sunglasses and cap/brimmed hat
  • Sunblock and lip balm
  • Toiletries
  • Water bottle
  • Flash Light
  • Camera
  • Small Daypack

Please carry only soft bags, not hard suitcases.

Why go with MHE?

Mercury Himalayan Explorations is India’s oldest and most experienced specialist adventure travel company. Started in 1982 by Col. N. Kumar (Bull), India's most decorated mountaineer, Mercury Himalayan Explorations has lead the first ever descents down the following rivers:

  • Bhramaputra (Tsang Po) in Arunachal Pradesh. (Filmed by BBC) (1991)
  • Sindh and Lidder Rivers in Kashmir. (1989)
  • Shyok and Nubra Rivers in the Karakorams. (1999)
  • Teesta River in Sikkim. (1998)
  • Suru River near Kargil, Ladakh. (2000)
  • Narmada River in central India. (1997)

Our impeccable safety record over the years is due to our insistence on the highest safety standards: imported world class rafts, 1 safety kayaker for every client raft, experienced and fully certified rafting guides, and all standard safety equipment (life ropes, life jackets and helmets).

Alongside this insistence on safety, the cheeriness of our expedition staff make the trip so much more enjoyable and we also bring an element of home comfort to our expeditions, with excellent food and warm comfortable sleeping arrangements.

Bookings and Payments

Bookings are confirmed on advance payment of 10%, with the remaining 90% to be paid at least 30 days prior to departure. Payments can be made by cheque, credit card or demand draft.

 
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