Turn up and go backpacking - all the research and supplies preparation already taken care of!
Wouldn't it be wonderful to trek without the horses, crew and paraphernalia? Is it even possible without getting lost, and where to begin? That is where we come in, having trekked and explored the region for more than a dozen years.
Our Skypack treks are backpacking in Ladakh carrying your own gear, including tent and meal supplies, mostly on trails less trekked. Previously, trekking caravan-style with horses and kitchen crew really made sense, and is still best on longer remote routes. However, with new roads crisscrossing the region, backpacking with a resupply every four to seven days means backpacking Ladakh becomes possible and can even be fun.
Our first trek in 2017 trek went amazingly well and we discovered a classic route. The plan is to run another one or two trips in 2019 and perhaps from 2020 onwards offer both guided and unguided but supported trips.
Each trip is a true adventure encompassing the local Buddhist culture, trekking through traditional local villages however spending the bulk of the time trekking in Ladakh's expansive wilderness. We handle the preparation so that you can enjoy.
Ladakh is simply glorious trekking, we have explored the region and feel
privileged to introduce this very special place to you.
Our trek itineraries are unique and so original that we don't publically publish them just yet. Here is an overview of the basic format though. All trips start in Leh with a couple of days for acclimatization to the altitude.
If you have been training, put in your last hard training session just before you leave as you have many days ahead to recover.
Delhi airport transfer and hotel, but we can advise
tipping and other items of a personal nature
Tips & extra cash
allow approx $150 for Leh meals
we suggest $100 per trekker for the local crew tips pool
(Day 0 - arrive Delhi / early Leh arrival)
Do plan your arrival time well, considering your flight to Leh, see Delhi-Leh travel.
We are happy to assist planning, and with early arrival provide transfer and
This is a 22 day itinerary, however, any length from 14 days to 24 days can work.
Day 1 - meet in Leh 3480m
We meet you at Leh airport (code IXL) and now you can relax after the long flights to get here. During the day we show you around and start on the preparation. We have a late afternoon team briefing and then dinner together.
2 - Leh 3480m
Today and perhaps tomorrow are for sightseeing, acclimatization and further preparation. These couple of days in Leh really allow for winding down and adapting to the timezone change.
3 - Leh 3480m
By now you should be feeling better at altitude and we will take a hike up to the Peace Stupa and perhaps further. On some trips that start at a similar or lower altitude to Leh, or if people are well acclimatized already, we may drive to the trek start today and camp at the road end.
4 - leave Leh and trek
After a hearty breakfast, we drive to the trek start (if we didn't yesterday afternoon). It is time to leave roads behind and shoulder our packs, moving at a moderate pace with plenty of microstops. Our first section is only a couple of days to the next resupply so that our loads are not too heavy, and also we keep at moderate altitudes while we get fitter.
4-5 - trekking
There are few flat, moderate altitude trails in Ladakh so we will cross an approx 4600m trekking pass as part of our initial warm up section.
6 - resupply
We meet a road and our wonderful resupply crew who cook a delicious big meal and break open some beers.
Our camp should be off the main road though in a nomad camp or quiet area. (For one of our resupplies, we only have lunch with the crew, and take dinner with us as we continue trekking for half a day.)
7-11 - trekking
Now recovered and stronger, we can really get out there. We revel in remote wilderness camps, putting in decent trekking days but not overly long.
12 - resupply
We meet our crew again for a feast and clean up. (Or on shorter trips, we could return to Leh...)
13 - rest day
A cooked breakfast - luxury! We refuel, having a rest day to aid recovery. We have a shower with us and this could be a good day for washing clothes too.
And we get high as well.
20 - trek to roadhead and drive Leh
Its a morning drive back to the hotel where we can shave and scrub clean with endless hot water. Cafes and coffee shops beckon. We have a farewell dinner together.
Day 21 - trip ends
You are free to leave or hang around longer to clean up.
Esther jumping for joy atop a pass - Jamie McGuinness
Saving data; use your phone in landscape to see the detailed itinerary and more photos.
Here is an album of our 2017 trek (and yes, I took my big camera but a single lens).
Perhaps surprisingly, we will do some real exploration on some of our backpacking treks, here is a little background.
We have had a slow, ongoing love affair with exploring the greater region, really, truly exploring, and we know more of its secrets over a wider area than anyone else alive. Seriously, over a decade we have trekked east to west and north to south and still have a few more passes to go, all the while running very memorable trekking trips. Previous exploratory treks in Ladakh-Zanskar include:
2017 Great Divide: From Tso Moriri we climbed 6230m then crossed our 2004 pass linking to the Takling area, and there linked with the forgotten pass we found in 2014. Then we linked to the standard but intimidating Parang La (and ended with Shimla). This was another most awesome trek.
The 2017 Great Divide team, Mike, Esther, John, Phil, Ranjan, Ralph and Alan - by Jamie
2017 Backpacking: Rather ambitiously for our first ever Ladakh backpacking trip, the first two parts from Shang Sumdo to Tso Kar were entirely exploratory, crossing no less than three passes unmarked on maps (!), and now disused by locals too.
Lesa, Tomie and Esther - photo by Jamie
2016: Ladakh Peaks, Passes & Lakes, after success on Dzo Jongo Ri, we did successfully cross that 5865m pass (below), dropping us into the most amazing area where we climbed a handful of peaks. We continued on the rather busy Rumtse route but finished with a pass that few trekkers ever take to Pang, meaning we have now crossed every pass along the Mentok range.
2015: Ladakh Peaks & Passes, after success on Dzo Jongo East we topped out on a mysterious undocumented 5865m pass (but didn't cross) and will return to this delightful area in the future (and we did, the following year).
2014: Exploring the Great Divide including peak 6230m (finally!), the elusive Pangpo La, Tsarap Chu headwaters and forgotten pass, and the old Spiti pass to the Paralatse region. One of the all time classic treks.
The 2014 Great Divide team atop the remote Pangpo La, a satisfying achievement.
Lobsang, Luca, Tod (hidden) Demet, David, Arabella, Len, Helena, Jussi and Jamie
2014: We summitted Mentok II the easy way and found that tough unmarked-on-maps 5950m pass (Lungser Kangri was closed).
2013: We 6000m explored between Tso Kar and Tsomoriri then climbed Lungser Kangri again, after a decade's break, for wonderful views of our
elusive 6230m peak.
2012: Changtang Passes, we explored the Ladakh Range from Ligche; high passes,
straightforward peaks and amazing green grass camping.
Some high exploring
2012: Our Kanji trek was a Great Himalaya Trail (GHT) exploration to those
elusive Ralakhung villages, although difficult terrain thwarted us for the final
goal. The Dibling-Zingchan traverse was still a first for trekking groups.
2009: As part of a long private Zanskar traverse we crossed the
Paralatse area to Chandra Tal (lake).
2006: planned for elsewhere, this turned into an attempt on Kang Yatse.
Serious about it, we had everything set up and it rained records, we were about the only people that didn't abandon our trek, even if we didn't have a chance to
2004: Caravan 6000 exploratory with Eric, Brian & Andriya: we climbed the sharks fin,
my 2nd to last of the 6000m Mentok peaks and branched off an already minor route to cross the "Rupshu ice field" -
we now know some of its secrets. We didn't find the "unknown" peak however we crossed two virtually unknown passes, including the disused 5300m Takling La.
Descending the Takling La, making our own trail
2003: Caravan 6666 exploration with Richard and Nicola: we
climbed five (!) 6000m peaks, including the devilish 6666m, some Mentoks and
spied this "unknown" peak again (below), and some of the mysterious "Rupshu ice field", as pilots call it.
Richard on our pseudo-traverse of one of the Mentoks
2002: Caravan Explorer 6000: from Pang we pioneered our classic Caravan
HIGH route - the lowest passes were around 5700m, the highest was 6000m and a couple of us peaked over 6000m. September was cold!
2001: Caravan 6666: in retrospect it was this 39 day trek that started my fascination with
the region. We eyed many peaks (climbed on later trips) and climbed Chamser Kangri 6622m and Lungser Kangri 6666m. An all time classic