Across Zanskar

Click Map to Explore Trekking Route in Google Maps

We’re off again on yet another trek, and this one will be our most challenging adventure yet. We’ve decided to walk across the remote region of Zanskar from Darcha to Lamayuru via Padum, a 20 day, 275 kilometer odyssey through mostly roadless territory.

Not only is the path long, but hard. This route across Zanskar runs mostly through river valleys but also crosses nine passes in the Greater Himalayas as well as the Zanskar range. That’s nine passes climbing up to 5,100 meters (16,700 feet). That’s a whole lot of up and down. What’s more, Continue…

Emma and Richard – Superheroes

If Superman and Wonder Woman got together, they wouldn’t be as cool a couple as Richard and Emma.

These Contemporary Nomads are witty, intelligent, successful and adventurous while somehow remaining incredibly modest and down to earth. (Am I gushing?) And luckily for me, they’re well prepared and generous as well. During our Stok Kangri episode, Emma lent me her spare pair of gators, which allowed me to hike back down the snowy mountain trails in relative comfort.

But being well prepared for a climb should come as no surprise as these two Brits are nomads with a twist. Continue…

Stok Kangri – Spectacular Failure

Although it might seem that we move from one adventure to another with relative ease, we thought that we might take a moment to share one of our super-duper failures with you. It’s a tale of poor timing and bad information coupled with uncharacteristic shotty preparation on our part.

One of our goals here in Ladakh was to climb Stok Kangri, the 6,000+ meter (20,000+ foot) giant which towers above Leh and the Indus River Valley. It was meant to be a huge personal achievement for Thomas and me as well as an exciting addition to our blog, our first foray into mountain climbing.

Our first mistake was having given away our Continue…

Bye, Bye Ariel and Amit

After two and a half months and many adventures through northern India, Thomas and I had to say goodbye to Ariel and Amit in Leh, Ladakh.

As of this posting, they are the official ContemporaryNomad.com record holders for the people we have traveled with the longest since we started in Hong Kong. And it has been pure joy, laughing and telling stories and debating the universe ( and being Jewish in the universe). What am I going to do on those terrifying bus rides without Ariel to calm me down?!? Amit was just beginning my Hebrew lessons! Who are we going to hike with? How can we go on?

Amit, Ariel, you guys are going to be sorely missed – that is, until we come visit you guys in Israel 🙂

Leh and the Ladakh Festival

Our latest video takes in the sites and sounds of the Ladakh festival in Leh, a showcase for Ladakhi culture. Traditional dancing, polo, masked Chaam dances at Spituk monastery, and more.

The festival takes place in September every year, and, although it is clearly geared towards tourists, it is a great way to catch a glimpse of the various ethnic groups of Ladakh and their spectacular clothing. And it’s not just the dancers, many older Ladakhis, dressed in their finest, come to watch the festivities – great for people-watching.

Click play to watch video

The video begins with an overview of Leh and its surroundings. The first dancers in the video wearing the distinctive turquoise-studded peraks are Ladakhi and Zanskari, whom might be considered the “true Ladakhis.” The people wearing the flower headdresses are Dha Hanu, also known as the Dards, from the border regions near Pakistan. (We often see them in the markets selling dried fruit, they’re absolutely fascinating.) The women wearing red veils represent Muslim Ladakhis, most of whom live in the west near the border with Kashmir.

Please see our note about the posting delay.

French Thomas is Back

Guess who we ran into in Leh. You might remember French Thomas, who we met last year in Sichuan. (I’m probably Thomas allemand in his world.) In the spirit of recalling good times, these pictures are from last year and show him at the Hadi nunnery, a 3-hour walk from Dargye Gompa, one of our favorite places in China.

The Buddhist nuns at Hadi Gompa were obsessed with French Thomas. Being jewelery-starved women, nuns or not, they all wanted his silver rings. That day, he almost lost a finger when the nuns Continue…

Sophisticated Isolation

Leh is not exactly what we were expecting. Considering the 2-day odyssey to get here, we were completely taken by surprise to find a booming tourist town nestled in a sea of military development at a breathless 3,500 meters above sea level. The valley is not the unspoiled Himalayan kingdom portrayed in tourist brochures and travelogues, but rather a Continue…

Road to Leh

After being thrown into the hustle and bustle of Manali, we were ready to head up to Buddhist dominated Ladakh in the northernmost state of Jammu & Kashmir. This was as far north as we could go in India without crossing over the border into China or Pakistan.

Since all the bus companies in Manali were convinced that only one driver was needed for the 22 hour drive to Leh, we decided to hire a jeep with three other travelers and split up the journey into two days. We just weren’t in the mood for our driver to fall asleep, not to mention Continue…

A Note about our Posting Delay

As we have mentioned before, from time to time when we are in remote regions away from Internet access for extended periods of time, we delay postings to cover our absence. We do this because we do not want the blog to go weeks without any updates. This was necessary while traveling in Tibet and also while trekking in Nepal. Once again we have allowed the gap to increase to cover extended treks in Ladakh and Zanskar.

For this reason, it is necessary to realize that the date the posting appears in the blog is not the date the posting was written or, of course, the date the activity took place. We do not want our blog postings to cause confusion for people who are planning their own trip to the Ladakh region. The season for travel to Ladakh is June to early October.