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Zanskar River
About Zanskar River

The Zanskar River is a north-flowing tributary of the Indus. In its upper reaches, the Zanskar has two main branches. 
First of these, the Doda, has its source near the Pensi-la 4,400 m (14,400 ft) mountain-pass and flows south-eastwards along the main Zanskar valley leading towards Padum, the capital of Zanskar.
The second branch is formed by two main tributaries known as Kargyag river with its source near the Shingo La 5,091 m (16,703 ft), and Tsarap river, with its source near the Baralacha-La.
These two rivers unite below the village of Purne to form the Lungnak river (also known as the Tsarap or Lingti). The Lungnak river then flows north-westwards along a narrow gorge towards Zanskar's central valley (known locally as gzhung khor) where it unites with the Doda river to form the main Zanskar river. This river then takes a north-eastern course through the striking Zanskar Gorge until it joins the Indus near Nimmu in Ladakh.

Zanskar River Branches

Zanskar River has two branches of origin. One of them takes birth in Ropshu area and flowing west-ward reaches Zanskar town. The other branch is formed from the waters of the glaciers of central Zanskar and flowing south-east reaches Padum. From this place it turns to the north and collecting the waters of Khurna River empties into the Indus River. Another stream called Zora flowing to the north from the southern boundaries also joins Zanskar river.

Zanskar River Rafting

Rafting the Zanskar River in Leh is a journey that includes non-stop action on the river with many exciting rapids. Many of the rapids in the Zanskar river are of the Class IV variety, making them quite exciting. Zanskar river rafting expedition is one of the top few, exotic and remote, river trips in the world.

The river trip starts from Padum (11,450 ft ), which would qualify as the highest rafting put in locations possible on the planet. The river journey flows through deep gorges and traverses across harsh inhospitable geography of Ladakh, in one of the remotest and thinly populated regions of the world.

The journey starts as a road journey from Srinagar or Leh, and travels through scenic landscape to Kargil, and further to Padum. From Padum the river trip flows through the amazing sheer gorges of Zanskar right up to Nimo where the river convergences with Indus. The expedition ends at Leh, and can be further enhanced by taking up few exciting road excursions around Leh as per individual interests.

Zanskar Rafting Expedition

This is one of the most striking rafting expeditions in the world. The expedition on the Zanskar river is totally self supported, and passes through the steep gorges carved out by the river over countless years. The Zanskar gorge has been referred to as the 'Grand Canyon' of Asia by many explorers.

The river is graded as Class IV, and it passes through very remote and difficult to access terrain of Ladakh. The river's water is very cold (around 7 degrees Celsius) wet suits etc are necessary here.

In the winters, the Zanskar river freezes, and the local inhabitants use it for accessing the outer world. Amongst trekkers also this is well-known as the 'Chadar Trek'.


Lower (northern) sections of that gorge are popular in summer among tourists making rafting trips, usually from Chiling to Nimmu. In winter when the road to Zanskar is closed by snow on the high passes, the only overland route to Padum is by walking along the frozen river, a multi-day hike that is now sold as an adventure activity called the Chadar ('ice sheet') Trek. This trek will ultimately be rendered obsolete once the road from Chiling to Padum is completed.


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