After our beautiful treks in Kashmir’s Great Lakes region and the Suru Valley, with views of the magnificent Himalayas, we decided to walk through the Sham Valley. This three-day trek is known as Ladakh’s ‘Baby Trek’ although our first day was anything but!
Having caught the daily bus from Leh to Likir Junction, we walked 3 km into town to enjoy lunch next to the monastery. After some tasty momos, we eventually found the path and started walking through the desert valley. We’d been walking for a while when we came across a map of Sepocheh, and seeing it appeared en route to Yangthang on maps.me, we decided to follow the very clear blue arrows.
These arrows would take us over a steep three-peak pass with the final peak being just below 4000m. We think this a trekking route to try to see the elusive snow leopard in winter and while we enjoyed wonderful views in the afternoon sunshine, it was an unexpected and incredibly tough climb!
We eventually made it to the village but as there were no home stays in town, we had to continue to Yangthang. We blitzed 7km in 1h15, finishing all of our snacks en route, and with the full moon rising we wearily arrived in town and found a homestay just in time for dinner. Everyone else at the homestay had enjoyed a lovely gentle walk up through the valley!
The following day’s climb over the Tsermanchang La (3850 m) wasn’t too steep or too long and there was a magnificent view from the summit with prayer flags fluttering in the breeze. We then dropped down to the lovely village of Hemis Shukpachen, a wonderfully pretty pocket of green in amongst the barren, desert rock.
On a recommendation from a friend we had met in Leh, we stayed at the wonderful Fikir homestay. Aside from climbing onto the roof to see the family’s beautiful temple and popping down the alley to admire the huge Buddha, we didn’t venture too far that afternoon preferring to read our books and enjoy maby cups of chai.
Like many families in Ladakh, the homestay grew their own vegetables and the food was some of the best we’ve had in Ladakh (the vegetable momos and chutney for dinner deserve a special mention). We also really enjoyed our evening chatting to the family – mom, dad and their daughter who was home for the holidays from university in Jammu.
The final day took us over the Meptek La (4030m). It wasn’t a tough walk as we decided against dropping into the valley and stayed up high on the jeep track. There’s now a road through the valley and a few people almost put us off the walk for this reason. Given the lack of cars, we didn’t feel that this affected our trek although traffic may increase in the next few years. It’s a super cool road, though, so it would be really fun on a motorbike if you didn’t fancy walking!
We continued through the villages of Ang and Temisgam and then for a further 5km to the highway where it didn’t take us long to hitch a ride back to Leh in a shared jeep.
This trek is a very accessible (it’s close to Leh and on public transport) and reasonably priced walk with super views. Both villages are lovely and it’s sociable staying in the homestays (plus you don’t need to carry a tent or any food). Given the altitude of Leh and its many treks, it’s also really good acclimatisation. All in all, it’s a trek we would definitely recommend.
- Day 1: Lekir Junction (3500m) via Sepocheh to Yangthang (3640m); 20 km, 6h15
- Day 2: Yangthang to Hemis Shukpachen (3660m); 6 km, 2h45
- Day 3: Hemis Shukpachen via Ang (3480m) to Temisgam (3230m) and to Nurla on the highway; 16 km, 5 hours
Practical Information (£1 = INR90)
The daily bus from Leh to Likir cost INR80/person.
There a few homestays in both villages and we stayed at Tongspon in Yangthang and Fikir in Hemis.
Tongspon was incredibly accommodating seeing as we arrived so late while Fikir was really lovely. Homestays charge a fixed INR 1,000/ person (which includes dinner, breakfast and a packed lunch).
Our hitched shared jeep back to Leh was INR300 each.