India Zanskar River Rafting Tour

The Grand Canyon of the Himalayas & Culture in Ladakh


The last truly lost horizon of our planet awaits in Zanskar, 'the land of white copper,' where a pristine river canyon snakes through towering mountains. Traveling west from Leh (11,483 feet), feel the Tibetan spirit of the Ladakh region. Roam Buddhist monasteries and gompas, bustling markets, ancient palaces, and remote villages in the embrace of the Himalayas. At the Stod River, begin a multi-day river adventure down the remote Zanskar River Gorge. Paddle Class III and IV rapids through narrow passages, flanked by sky-high mountain walls, all the way to the fork of the Indus River. Experience Ladakh's warm hospitality and rest at riverside camps under starry night skies. This adventure celebrates MT Sobek's first descent of the Zanskar in 1979!

12 Days

From: $3,795

The last truly lost horizon of our planet awaits in Zanskar, 'the land of white copper,' where a pristine river canyon snakes through towering mountains. Traveling west from Leh (11,483 feet), feel the Tibetan spirit of the Ladakh region. Roam Buddhist monasteries and gompas, bustling markets, ancient palaces, and remote villages in the embrace of the Himalayas. At the Stod River, begin a multi-day river adventure down the remote Zanskar River Gorge. Paddle Class III and IV rapids through narrow passages, flanked by sky-high mountain walls, all the way to the fork of the Indus River. Experience Ladakh's warm hospitality and rest at riverside camps under starry night skies. This adventure celebrates MT Sobek's first descent of the Zanskar in 1979!

Highlights


  • Explore Ladakh's ancient monasteries, palaces, and villages steeped in traditional Tibetan culture

  • Have fun rafting big-volume whitewater over six days in one of the world's most spectacular river canyons

  • Spend comfortable nights at remote and scenic camps -- with all meals included

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

India Zanskar River Rafting

Start: Leh, Ladakh, India  End: Leh, Ladakh, India

Start/End locations may vary. Do not book flights until your trip details are confirmed.

Itinerary


  • Arrive in Leh, Ladakh

    Day 1

    Welcome to Ladakh, India's northern region, and its largest town Leh. Known as the 'land of high passes,' the region is often called 'the Little Tibet' for its well-preserved Buddhist culture and stunning scenery. Spend your first day enjoying this scenic town nestled in the mountains and acclimatizing to the elevation of 11,483 feet. In the evening, meet your MT Sobek trip leader for an orientation and group welcome dinner.

    Accommodation: Hotel Leh

    Meals: Dinner

  • Explore Ancient Palaces, Buddhist Monasteries, & Markets in Leh

    Day 2

    After breakfast, explore the sights of Leh. Start at the monumental Leh Palace, a former royal palace built in 1600 that offers impressive views of Leh in the Indian Himalayas. Next, roam monasteries and Tibetan religious structures called gompas, including Shey, Thiksey and Hemis. Wrap up the day at the ancient Leh market, the most colorful place in town, where you can get anything from jewelry to spices. Share your impressions of the day over dinner with your fellow travelers.

    Accommodation: Hotel Leh

    Activity: 6-hour city tour

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Visit Caves & Forts on a Scenic Drive from Leh to Kargil

    Day 3

    Set out toward the town of Kargil in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Along the way, marvel at the striking painted caves of Saspol, the mud-brick fortress of Basgo, and the Lamayuru monastery, one of Laddakh's largest and oldest gompas. Past Nimu, the confluence of the Zanskar with the Indus, travel over the 13,500-foot Fotu La pass, and reach Mulbekh village, famous for its rock-carved Buddha. In Kargil, settle into the hotel, enjoy a shower, and then prepare for the great outdoors.

    Accommodation: Hotel D’Zojila

    Activity: 6-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Journey High into the Himalayas

    Day 4

    Today, enjoy a spectacular drive past the magnificent Panikkar and Parkachik Glaciers that hang off the slopes of the imposing 23,000-foot Nun-Kun massif. Admire Balti settlements surrounded by lush fields filled with crops and fruits. The road swings past the last Muslim settlement of Parkachik, and travels to the 18th-century Buddhist Gelukpa monastery of Rangdum. An optional hike through the huge surrounding meadow can be added should you wish to stretch your legs.

    Transportation: 6-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Cross Pensi-la Pass & Descend to the Stod River

    Day 5

    Journey over the 14,000-foot Pensi-la pass, known as the Gateway to Zanskar. Marvel at the imposing Zanskar peaks that tower over the Drang Drung glacier - a long river of ice and the source of the Stod River (a tributary of the Zanskar). Descend down to the Stod, and travel past remote villages and Padum, the capital of Zanskar, to Remala, a pretty beach of sand and pebbles where your rafting trip starts. Enjoy the first night under open skies at your riverside camp.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek – Zanskar River Camp

    Transportation: 6-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Paddle from Padum & Hike to Karsha Gompa

    Day 6

    Rise today to start your rafting adventure! Near the town of Padum, set out to raft among the grandiose 20,000-foot peaks. You will paddle for some four to five hours, and stop midway for a refreshing lunch with hot beverages. This whitewater section features Class II rapids, and is a great warm up and a good introduction for first-timers. In the afternoon, settle into your camp, then consider a long walk around the camp or an optional hike to Karsha Gompa, Zanskar's largest Buddhist monastery.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek – Zanskar River Camp

    Activity: 4-5 hours/19 miles rafting and optional hiking

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Raft Easy Rapids from Karsha Camp

    Day 7

    Enjoy another day of easy paddling on Class II and Class III rapids, just perfect for mastering your stroke and tuning into the rhythm of the river. After a late morning start, set out to raft 15.5 miles from Karsha Camp to Honyo/Pidmo, a beautiful grassy and flat campsite. As you relax listening to the river in the evening, recharge your body and spirit for another big day of whitewater rafting ahead.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek – Zanskar River Camp

    Activity: 4-5 hours/15.5 miles rafting

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Experience the Zanskar's Grand Canyon

    Day 8

    Today, charge over an exciting Class III whitewater section as you raft towards the remote village of Nyerak (10,780 feet). As you progress, the gorge gets narrower, until it eventually forms a series of rapids just after the last village of Honimul, at the entrance to the canyon. As these cascades churn the turquoise waters of the Zanskar, and mountain walls rise thousands of feet up in the air, you'll see why they call this the Grand Canyon of the Himalayas. Enjoy a relaxed evening by the campfire in the gorge just below Nyerak.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek – Zanskar River Camp

    Activity: 4-5 hours/15.5 miles rafting

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Relax, Recharge & Visit the Remote Nyerak Village

    Day 9

    Today is a well-deserved layover day. Take time to relax and soak up the gorgeous mountain scenery from underneath willow trees. You can also choose to hike to the remote Nyerak Village, which can be reached only by rafting expeditions in summer or trekking over a frozen river in winters.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek – Zanskar River Camp

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Raft Classic Whitewater in the Zanskar River Gorge

    Day 10

    Get ready for the most exciting rapids so far. Warm up over Class III whitewater as you charge through the very heart of the majestic Zanskar River Gorge. Eventually, the gorge narrows down to a mere 18 feet and the rapids turn to an adrenaline-boasting Class IV. Savor a lunch by a sky-high waterfall, then paddle a bit more to the camp at the confluence of the Zanskar and Markha rivers. Along the way to Lamaguru at 10,465 feet, soak up the extraordinary colors and take in monumental rock formations.

    Accommodation: MT Sobek – Zanskar River Camp

    Activity: 22 miles/4-5 hours rafting

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Meet the Fork of the Indus River & Return to Leh

    Day 11

    Your last day on the Zanskar is the grand finale of your journey! Over the 25 miles between Lamaguru and Nimu villages, enjoy the rush of Class III and Class IV rapids. Just past the village of Chilling, the rapids plunge out of the canyon to meet the Indus River. Where the Zanskar and Indus come together, take a moment to reflect on the past days and plot to take on the Indus next. After a shuttle ride to the hotel in Leh, enjoy a hot shower and one last group meal.

    Accommodation: Hotel Leh

    Activity: 25 miles/4-5 hours rafting

    Transportation: 1-hour private van transfer

    Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

  • Depart from Leh

    Day 12

    Say your farewells early in the morning, then take a shuttle to the airport.

    Meals: Breakfast

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Dates & Prices


  • 2023
  • Go Custom
  • Inclusions

2023

Scheduled Dates


The earlier you book, the more choice of available dates you’ll have and once you book, your price is guaranteed.

Go Custom

Create Your Very Own Adventure


Dreaming of an adventure designed exclusively for you? With insider access and decades of experience, our travel experts create custom tailored adventures that are perfect for families, couples, and large groups. MT Sobek's custom adventures are designed to our exacting standards and led by our award-winning adventure guides.

When to start planning? Earlier is always better when designing a custom trip. More time allows for better availability of preferred accommodations, guides and your desired activities. Ideally, start the conversation with us at least 6 months before you want to travel. If you are looking for a custom trip that departs within three months, chances are greatly diminished in securing requested accommodations and the best guides.

*Custom trips require a 25% non-refundable deposit once an itinerary is agreed upon.

Start Planning

Inclusions

Price Includes


  • Expertise and services of our experienced adventure guides
  • All accommodations as noted in the itinerary
  • All breakfasts, almost all lunches and dinners as noted in the itinerary
  • Snacks and water between meals
  • Additional regional guides and experts on many trips
  • Comprehensive Trip Planner with detailed pre-trip information
  • Private guided tours at historic sites, museums, wineries and other select attractions as noted in the itinerary
  • Special events and other select attractions as mentioned in the itinerary
  • All gratuities at hotels and restaurants
  • Equipment and experienced guides for activities as described in the itinerary
  • Park and other entry fees (unless otherwise noted)
  • Fares for trains, ferries and other modes of travel as listed in the itinerary
  • Select transfers as mentioned in the itinerary
  • Baggage transfers and porterage

Price Does Not Include


  • International airfare, airport taxes, and excess baggage fees
  • Alcoholic beverages (MT Sobek provides wine at select events)
  • Gratuities for MT Sobek guides and guide-drivers
  • Travel Protection Program
  • Personal expenses

Contact An Expert


800-974-0300

Need help picking your next adventure? Call us to answer your questions.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Your Guides


The best people to immerse you in a destination are the ones who live there, which is why we feature local Adventure Guides on our trips. Here are a few that you might meet on this adventure.

Kevin McDermott

Kevin McDermott

Kevin McDermott-a.k.a. "Thirsty"-has been guiding since he was 17 years old and has been an integral part of MT Sobek's Arctic rivers program for decades. His laid-back manner puts everyone at ease, and he has a wealth of knowledge about Arctic rivers. Although he normally spends his winter months in Colorado's Telluride ski area, he has climbed Denali three times, reaching the summit in 2000. Thirsty is a legend in the MT Sobek circle and endears himself to travelers with his expertise, calm demeanor, and sense of humor.

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Say your farewells early in the morning, then take a shuttle to the airport.

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Activity Level


This trip is rated activity level 4. Big-volume, moderate whitewater rafting, with Class III to Class IV rapids, between 15 and 25 miles a day. Riverside hikes are easy to moderate, with some steep and potentially slippery sections.
Learn more about activity levels here.

Activity Snapshot

Day 2

6-hour city tour

Day 3

6-hour private van transfer

Day 6

4-5 hours/19 miles rafting and optional hiking

Day 7

4-5 hours/15.5 miles rafting

Day 8

4-5 hours/15.5 miles rafting

Day 10

22 miles/4-5 hours rafting

Day 11

25 miles/4-5 hours rafting

Accommodations


Comfortable hotels for five nights and riverside camping, with tents and sleeping bags provided, for six nights.

Hotel Leh

Close to Leh's main market and in an area where shops and restaurants abound, Hotel Leh makes it easy to explore the town. Its classic northern-style exterior with wooden detailing has rooms designed in a traditional local style, with wooden paneling and flooring, comfortable beds and Tibetan décor. There are several open-air terraces, and multiple indoor lounges.

Hotel D’Zojila
Hotel D’Zojila

With a motto 'home away from home,' Hotel D'Zojila is a cozy, welcoming hotel in a quieter part of Kargil, located one mile from the main market. Organized in two blocks, its 55 doubles and six single rooms come with en-suite bathrooms with hot and cold water, and most with LCD TVs. Wi-Fi service is available on the property.

MT Sobek – Zanskar River Camp

Weather


Expect moderately cool days in September, with temperatures ranging from the 65ºF to 75ºF.

 
Aug
Kargil 
High
Low
Kargil
62
42
Leh 
High
Low
Leh
74
47

FAQs


When will an MT Sobek representative meet me?

An MT Sobek representative will meet you the evening of arrival for a pre-trip orientation at your hotel in Leh, India on Day 1. At this time, we will meet, share details of our trip, details regarding Day 2 and answer any questions you may have. Our group welcome dinner will follow.

How many rafts will be on the trip?

This will vary depending on the number of people on each departure. Most trips will have four oar boats (to carry supplies, camp gear, and guests) and one paddle boat for more action.

What kind of camping gear is provided?

We provide comfortable dome tents, sleeping bags and sleeping pads. All on-river meals as well as snack throughout the day are also provided.

Is this a good trip for families?

Yes, this is an excellent trip for families with young adults aged 15 and over.

What is the toilet situation at the campsites?

We will provide a portable seated toilet set up in a private setting at each campsite, with toilet paper and hand soap.

Download Itinerary

Click here to download the Detailed Itinerary.

Guest Reviews


"Great experience every time with some of the most knowledgeable guides in their fields. We always come home with wonderful memories of the people we meet and things we see."

Bob J.
MT Sobek Guest

"I have taken 12 trips with MT Sobek. Each has left a positive imprint on me-widening my view of the world and its peoples."

Jane B.
MT Sobek Guest