Tsarap Chu,
August 24, 2024

Tsarap Chu

A intrepid journey down the “The Grand Canyon of Asia”

Trip overview

  • 20 days ~ India
  • 11 days whitewater rafting the Tsarap Chu and Zanskar Rivers (Class III/IV+ rapids, 04 portages, oar boats, paddle boat option)
  • Drive over Taglang La, elevation 5,328 meters (17,480 ft)
  • Optional day hikes and easy touring
  • 16 nights camping, 04 nights hotels

Dates 25th August 2024


  • Enjoy exhilarating whitewater and rapids through a Grand Canyon–like gorge, spectacular high altitude arid desert landscapes and amazing vistas of 19,000-foot peaks.
  • Discover the rich Buddhist culture, sights and sounds of monasteries, drums and fluttering prayer flags at remote hilltops.
  • Visit attractions that gave rise to the myth of Shangri-La

This is a river adventure like none other. A two-week expedition that will give you an opportunity to discover little seen parts of western Ladakh. Get ready for sights and sounds of monasteries, drums, fluttering prayer flags, canyons and white water that is far beyond your dreams and expectations.

The trip begins with a flight over the Himalayas into the Trans-Himalayan region of Ladakh in the state of Jammu and Kashmir to Leh town, this is where we can explore ancient palaces and monasteries. Drive past 7000 meter high mountains and spectacular glaciers, to begin the river run in the Zanskar valley at 12,000 feet. Spend the first two days enjoying the moderate white-water where you get an opportunity to enjoy the beautiful scenery and natural surroundings. Zanskar offers spectacular physical features, unlike anything you have seen in all of India or the world. At the end of the Zanskar valley, get ready for the spectacular Zanskar Canyon, also referred to as the Grand Canyon of Asia. The walls of the Canyon travel up thousands of feet from the river bed giving you the feeling that you are tiny and so isolated (which you are) from the rest of the outside world. The Zanskar canyon is a grade 4 section and offers amazing white water for rafting and kayaking.

Spend most of your days on the Zanskar floating past all this natural beauty before stopping to camp in the late afternoons. Enjoy great meals by the river and laze in the afternoon sun or stroll & explore the surrounding area. Enjoy a spectacular star filled nights sky filled while you sit around a camp fire and listen to stories of the many runs our guides have done on their favourite rivers. You will also discover the rich culture and history of the natives as we make our way down the Zanskar, and take back memories that will keep you thrilled for a long time to come.

Detailed Itinerary

  • Day 01: Fly New Delhi to Leh. Rest & acclimatize. Hotel 1.
  • Day 02: Drive – Leh. Sightseeing. Hotel 2. Acclimatize, visit Hemis, Thikse monasteries & Shey Palace.
  • Day 03: Drive – Leh to Sarchu. Camp 1 . 6 to 7 hours drive over the Taglang La (pass), elevation 5,328 meters (17,480 ft)
  • Day 04: River – Sarchu to Camp below Taka (Canyon 1). Camp 2 . Float trips with few grade 2 to 3 rapids. Raft through the first crux – canyon 1, on the river. Short overhang canyon.
  • Day 05: River – Camp below Taka to Satak (Canyon 2; Portage). Camp 3 . Raft till ‘The Crux !’, line up/portage the long canyon, raft grade 2 to 3 rapids till Satak.
  • Day 06: River – Layover @Satak. Camp 4 . Hike & explore the abandoned village & the surroundings.
  • Day 07: River – Satak to Zara chu. Camp 5. Raft grade 2 to 3 rapids; negotiate a few constrictions to reach the confluence at Tichip.
  • Day 08: River – Zara chu to Yarshum/Marshum. Camp 6. Short section on the river. Hike & explore the villages.
  • Day 09: River – Yarshum/Marshum to Phuktal. Camp 7. Raft through the thick of the stunning Tsarap Canyon, grade 2 to 3 rapids.
  • Day 10: River – Layover @Phuktal. Camp 8. Hike & explore the Phuktal monastery & the surroundings.
  • Day 11: River – Phuktal to Pepula/Ichar. Camp 9. Raft grade 4 section to the road bridge at Ichar & camp.
  • Day 12: Drive – Pepula to Mune. Camp 10. Portage the section around ‘Reru Fall’ till Mune. Load vehicles. Hike & explore the Mune/Bardan monastery.
  • Day 13: River – Mune to Padum. Hotel 3. Raft grade 4 section till Padum. Drive 10 minutes to the hotel.
  • Day 14: Drive – Layover @Padum/Karsha. Camp 11. Optional: Drive to Stongde, Karsha monastery. Camp below the Karsha monastery.
  • Day 15: River – Karsha to Honia. Camp 12. Raft 3 hours, take in the amazing sights of the Zanskar range and the Greater Himalayan ranges as the valley starts to narrow down.
  • Day 16: River – Honia to Nyerak. Camp 13. Raft 4 hours, grade 3 to 4 rapids. At Honimul, the last village, we enter a breath-taking Zanskar canyon. The banks of the river now give way to mountain walls that rise thousands of feet above.
  • Day 17: River – Layover @Nyerak. Camp 14. Optional hike to the Nyerak village, mingle with the locals and visit their homes, or relax and enjoy a break under the Weeping Willows, splash about in a stream around the camp.
  • Day 18: River – Nyerak to Tilath. Camp 15. Raft through the core of the Zanskar canyon. Encounter grade 4 rapids. Break for lunch at a beautiful site by a waterfall from the canyon wall. Paddle further through the stunning Red canyon at Tilath. Get ready to be amazed by some of the most extraordinary sights and colors today, all courtesy of Mother Nature.
  • Day 19: River/Drive – Tilath to Nimu. Hotel 4. Drive to Leh. Raft grade 4 rapids till the take out at Nimu. Past the Chilling village we will encounter excellent whitewater as Zanskar prepares to meet the Indus at Nimu. This is the end of your river journey.
  • Day 20: Leh to Delhi. Trip ends. Flight back to Delhi will take you over the Great Himalayas and allow you to bid farewell to the mythical land of Ladakh until next time!

Dates and Prices

Cost: To be announced

Please note:

  • Rates quoted are per person, based on sharing double accommodations.
  • Single Supplement—Rs 6000 for ‘requested’ singles; Rs 5000 for ‘forced’ singles. If you prefer single accommodation, you must pay the Single Supplement Fee. If you’re traveling alone and wish to share accommodation, we’ll try our best to find you a roommate.
  • Costs include: Transfer from Leh airport to the hotel, sightseeing and activities as noted in the itinerary.
  • Accommodation in hotel/inns in Leh and villages. Monastery entrance, rafting & camping fees. Expert leadership, rafting equipment – life jacket, helmet, splash jacket, wet suit, raft guide, safety kayaker. All arrangements in the field, including camp meals, cook staffs and group gear.
  • Cost excludes: Airfare, expenses of personal nature (sodas, alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, laundry, etc.) insurance (we strongly recommend you purchase the supplementary trip insurance which includes trip cancellation insurance), etc. Any costs arising out of unforeseen circumstances such as bad weather, landslides, road conditions or any other circumstances beyond our control.

What to bring?

  • A pair of river shorts or swimming costume.
  • A pair of Chacos or similar sandals. Trainers are also okay.
  • Long sleeved shirt to wear under your life jacket.
  • A baseball cap for under the helmet to keep sun off.
  • Wide brimmed sunhat.
  • Sunglasses.
  • Chums for fastening your sunglasses to your head.
  • Nalgene or similar water bottle.
  • Carabiner for fastening water bottle to your boat.
  • Thermal Top Medium weight – Heavyweight Capilene or polypropylene is the best.
  • Waterproof sunscreen and lip balm SPF15 minimum
  • Lightweight long trousers.
  • Lightweight long Sleeved shirt.
  • Fleece jacket.
  • Down jacket
  • Ladies should bring a long skirt or sarong to cover your legs whilst in the company of locals.
  • Underwear.
  • Glasses or Contact lenses. Disposable lenses are ideal.
  • Toiletries. Toothbrush, toothpaste, biodegradable soap and shampoo.
  • Forget the cosmetics and hair dryer! But we do suggest moisturizer.
  • Hand wipes
  • A 3-season sleeping bag and thermarest sleeping mat
  • Travel Pillow.
  • Small pack towel.
  • Headlamp or head torch and spare batteries.
  • Shoes or boots for the trek.
  • Insect Repellent.
  • Any medication you may be taking.

Optional Items

  • Your favourite book or a journal for recording your river memories.
  • Sketchpad.
  • Photographic or video equipment. We recommend bringing your own waterproof casing and a cleaning kit as sand gets everywhere. Bring a spare memory card or plenty of film. Also bring spare batteries for your camera.
  • Waterproof disposable for the “action” on the raft shots.
  • Swiss Army Knife or Leatherman.
  • An iPod or other music preferences. We have speakers.

Personal Spending

  • The only money that you need to bring is for meals in town, souvenirs, DVD, personal items and the beer kitty for the raft trip if you drink. Please remember that many of the countries we visit do offer Credit Card and ATM facilities and for a small charge you can withdraw cash either from your account or Credit Card for convenience.
  • If you wish to pass on a gratuity to your guide we leave this entirely up to you.
  • Basically, we advise you to keep things as light as possible, without skimping on the essentials.

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