Zanskar River Expedition

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Zanskar River Expedition

Image Credits: Gopal Vijayaraghvan

Zanskar River Expedition to the river Zanskar is truly a lifetime experience.

Zanskar River Expedition covers most of western Ladakh, monasteries, palaces, towns and villages and a hike through three rivers. You take a flight through the Trans Himalayan region of Ladakh.

Doda River is the commencing point for the rafting trip. It is a tributary of the Zanskar River. Drive over the Pensi La (14,500 ft), which enables grand views of the Zanskar peaks at the bottom of which is the Drung glacier. Raft to Remala via Karsha Gompa, near Padum, where you will be surrounded by 6000 meter high peaks.

Raft from Karsha up to Pidmu, where the stretch is approximately 30 km with Class II and III rapids. Settle down into the camp and explore the nearby villages of Pidmu and Hanomil. Take another route to reach to Nyerak, a Class III section, where the gorge narrows in on the river.

Raft down to the Nyerak village. Rafting section will take you Lamaguru, through the core of the Zanskar, where the river presses between gaps of approximately 18ft. You will be stopped by waterfall at the confluence of Markha River with Zanskar. Raft about 40 Kms, from Lamaguru to Nimu, the confluence of the Zanskar with the Indus River. Rafting expedition will take you to the last leg of this escapade “ Alchi through few rapids, walk up to the centurys old monastery to view the beautiful frescoes and woodcarvings.

Major Attractions

Doda River: The river of Jammu and Kashmir in northern India, Doda River streams through the state of Ladakh. The Drang Drung glacier is its main root. Doda River falls into Valley of Padum.

Karsha Gompa: Set in the village of Karsha, Karsha Monastery is the largest monastery of Zanskar. The monastery comprises of many of shrines and has some of the most beautiful wall paintings, by the Lama Dzadpa Dorje. The festivals also include the concert of the holy dance. Karsha Gompa is the habitation of around 100 monks.

Alchi monastery: This monastery comprises of exquisite oldest wall paintings. These paintings replicate artistic and religious facts of Buddhism and Hindu as well.

Image Credits: Philip Larson

How to get there

By Air: Indian Airlines and Jet Airways have regular flights to and fro Leh. Leh airport is linked with important cities like Delhi, Srinagar and Chandigarh.

By Road: Regular state transport bus services run between Srinagar and Leh and Manali and Leh. If you do not prefer traveling by bus, the alternative available is jeeps.

By Rail: Jammu is the closest railway station and is 734 km from Leh. From here Buses take two days to reach Leh.

Best time to visit: July to September


  • For rafting, permissions are needed in some areas.
  • If you have no fear of water, then rafting can be a sport for normal and healthy persons.
  • There are trained rafters to guide you during your expedition.
  • Disposable waterproof cameras are available to take pictures.
  • Use nylon cloths and simple swim suits as rafting wear.
  • Bring extra pair of clothes.
  • Grade III and IV rapids make the Zanskar an ideal way to explore.

Things to Carry

  • Medical Kit- such as inhalers, bee-sting kits, insulin etc.
  • Carry dry bags or boxes to secure small personal items.
  • Do not carry your car keys, wallets, cell phones etc. with you for the rafting trip.
  • Keep sunscreen lotion, sunglasses, and a camera.

Other Attractions in the Vicinity

Stongdey: The monastery of Stongdey is located around 18 km to the north of Padum.

Penzella: It divides the Zanskar valley with the Suru Valley. Penzella Pass offers exceptional views of the grand mountains and the enchanting rural area.

Karsha: A human settlement is a must visit. It reveals the significance of the region and their lives. The Gelugpa monastery at Karsha is the main attraction.

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