Time Required : 9 days
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Located on river Bhaga, Darcha is a small Lahaul region in the Himachal district of Spiti. Whereas Padum is among the two primary capital cities of the Zanskar society. There are plenty of camping sites en route, spread across a variety of nomadic sites travellers would pass by.
The Darcha-Padum stretch is about 127 kilometres and would take at least 10 days to complete this trek. However, the duration is subjective given any possible deviation during the trail. Witnessing incredible mountain ranges, expanses of absolutely quite lands, a couple of mountain animals and small streams are some of the guarantees on the Darcha-Padum trek.
Rail: Jogindernagar serves as the nearest narrow guage railway station to Kasol. It is situated about 135 kms from the base camp. You can hire a cab or ride at bus to reach there. Another option is Chandigarh, which is the broad guage railway station situated at a distance of 310 kms. Cab or bus are easily available till the base camp.
Road: Manali being the base camp for the trek, you can easily commute to the city through Delhi via several bus services. You can also reach Manali from cities like Shimla (247 km), Chandigarh (285 km), Ambala (331 km) and New Delhi (521km) through state owned transport services or private cabs.
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Base Camp : Darcha
Difficulty : Medium to Challenging Gradient
Highest point of trek : Shingo La, 5080 m
Nearest Airport : Bhuntar
Nearest Railhead : 140 km
Region : Ladakh
Starting point of trek : Darcha
Day 1 : Manali to Darcha via Rohtang Pass to Chalang Tokpo
Arrive at Manali and rest for the day to rejuvenate your energy. From Manali, drive further next day towards Darcha which lies about 140 kms away. Make sure to begin early in the morning to reach there on time. A simple and gradual walk of 5-6 hours will lead you to your destination of the day Chalang Tokpo.
Day 2 : Chalang Tokpo to Rumjak
On your second day, you will be heading towards Rumjak, the trail passing through rocky terrain gradually throughout the way towards Zanskar Sumdo. The trek is a bit tricky and tiring, however, perfectly exhilarating owing to the mesmerizing scenic beauty all around. Another few kilometers into the trek will finally take you to the destination of the day, Rumjak, a small quaint village which also your campsite. Pitch your tents for the night amid the land of sheer beauty.
Day 3 : Rumjak to Shingo La to Lakham
Depart from the beautiful village of Rumjak to trek further towards Shingo la. Initially cross the stream as you leave the village behind and ascend through a zig zag track up on the mountain side. Once again after passing through a rocky terrain and gradual walk on the glacier, you will arrive at Shingo La Pass flanked by mesmerizing Yak Pastures. Cherish the verdant greenery all around you before departing for the final destination of the day and the campsite of Lakham. A simple trek of few hours will ultimately lead you to Lakham Village. Retreat to your tent for the night.
Day 4 : Lakham to Kurgiak
On your fourth day of trek you will be heading towards Kurgiak. However, make sure to depart early in the morning in order to reach your destination before the day light runs out. The trail that ultimately leads you to your nest stop runs along the River Kurgiak flanked by the walls of Mani on the other side. Finally you arrive at the lovely village of Kurgiak, which is also the home of a beautiful Gompa perched at the top of the village hill.
Day 5 : Kurgiak to Purni
Today, you will be heading towards Purni passing through one og the most beautiful part of the trail. As you depart from the village, you go through the other villages of Tanze, Kuru, Testa and Yal, where you can see farmers cultivating their fields. The lovely barley fields and the flowing flower meadows add to the beauty of the place waving along the melodious tunes of Zanskar. Steeped with the religious culture and traditions is quite enriching experience. Situated on the confluence of the River Tsarap and Kargiak Chhu, finally you arrive at Purni. Enjoy your night stay amid the sheer beauty of the place.
Day 6 : Purni to Phuktal to Purni
In the morning, climb up the hill right next to the Kargiak River passing through a gorge leading tom the Tsarap River. A short walk ahead will take you to the strikingly situated Phuktal Gompa, perched at an altitude of 3,850 m. The manostery belonging to Gelugpas is situated on the mountainside and serves as a treat to your eyes. The architecture was built around a holy spring and was once visited by one of the first Europeans to visit Zanskar in the 1820's, the Hungarian, Csomo de Koros. Apart from that the trek to the place is also quite exhilarating offering stunning views of the nearby peaks. After enjoying the panoramic beauty, return back to the campsite of Purni for an overnight stay at your tent.
Day 7 : Purni to Ichar
Depart early in the morning from Purni to trek along the river. After trudging along the trail for 5-6 hours, you will arrive at the small rustic village of Ichar with a small population. Camp here for the night besides the beautiful lake.
Day 8 : Ichar to Mune
Today you will be trekking along several ups and downs in the terrain, finally leading you to your final destination of the day. Offering beautiful and serene surroundings, you will camp for the last time on this trek making you feel tired and equally excited to arrive almost to the end of the trip.
Day 9 : Mune to Padum
Finally trace back your way to Padum and make sure to explore the extremely old Bardan Monastery mostly known for its 180 cm worship wheel. Follow a sandy track leading to Padum. Drive back to Manali spending the night a Kargil and Leh as per your schedule.