Travel Alert: The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office recommends against all travel to this area, please check with your relevant national government.
When it comes to splendid isolation, Zanskar is about as isolated as you can get. This rugged Buddhist valley can only be reached by an arduous week-long trek or a 14-hour drive along a pitted and potholed track along the Suru River. Although Zanskar is administered from Kargil, the people of the valley are predominantly Buddhist. The valley even has its own king, though the role is mainly ceremonial.
From November to May, Zanskar is cut off entirely from the outside world. Ice chokes the mountain passes and the valley sits under a silent blanket of snow. Farmers in the valley spend the whole summer storing up fuel and food for the long winter months. A few hardy travellers trek here in winter along the frozen Zanskar River to see the valley at its most beautiful and uncrowded. For more information on activities in Zanskar.
Zanskar’s days of isolation are numbered. A road is slowly being built along the valley of the Zanskar River, linking the capital, Padum, to Nimmu on the Leh–Kargil road. When it opens, it may change the mood of the valley forever. However, most locals are looking forward to a shift of administration from Muslim Kargil to Buddhist Ladakh.
Trekkers can find limited provision in the villages along the valley. There are no petrol stations in Zanskar, so motorcyclists should bring all the fuel they need in spare cans. Trucks may pick up hitchhikers for a fee.
Last updated: Jul 17, 2012
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