Lamayuru has been the historical departure point for trekks towards Chilling.
As we were willing to do our own trek, without a guide, we chose to wander around, starting from Lamayuru.
From Lamayuru, our first stop was in Wanla, a 3 hour walk away, up and back down the Pirkiti La. A good way to get started and to get your body warmed up for the next few days. Canyons and a nice view from the top of the pass. From Lamayuru, go towards the Moonland (take a good look at it on the way!), and follow the path leaving from the three stupas you’ll notice afar in the fields. At the crossing point, after maybe an hour walk, take left in the canyon, indicated by small rock heaps, and not up the mount, which is a goats way. Then up to the pass, and back down the canyons, where you natural instinct will lead you on the only path available.
At the way out of the canyons, back on the road, take right towards Wanla.
Wanla is a relatively big village, with a river flowing by, an old fortress at the top of the hill, under restoration by a swiss association, one or two campsites, a quite big and comfortable homestay, …
Like I said, we didn’t have any guide with us, so we were free to go any direction we wanted, which was our main reason for our choice.
Therefore, we decided to walk on the Yapola valley route, towards Hanupata. Impressive cliffs with the river down below will follow you all along the way, with, upon arrival, mountains that seem to be made of several layers of different colors, magnificent.
We spent the night in the tiny Hanupata village, where a guesthouse was more difficult to find then usually. Indeed, nobody greeted us upon arrival, and we had to ask questions around to find a place, but one or two were available. Don’t expect showers, nor western facilities, only Ladakhi.
We didn’t go further on, as this route is the traditional direct way up to Zanskar, a 12 day trek, and we were not equipped for that. But, we could’ve gone all the way to Photoksar, as the route seemed to continue on being amazing.
Instead, we came back down to Phanjila, and took the other route up to Hinju.
This leg was a bit less impressive, but easy enough. Hinju is a cute village with a stream from where villagers pump the water, and where you’ll go for a refreshing wash up.
The villagers take turns as to which house will host you, so don’t be surprised when they won’t leave you a choice (and even fight each other a bit over whose turn it is).
From Hinju, our original plan was to have our next stopover in Changlung Do, and then skirt the two passes to get to Chilling by taking the other route to Sumda Dho.
But, for that, one had to cross rivers. Talking to a couple coming from that way, they told us the rivers were too high and that the crossing points were too difficult, and that they wouldn’t advise anyone to do it. Once again, as we had little equipment and knowledge, we decided to stay reasonable and walk back to Lamayuru.
But not before spending one more day trekking, in order to go up the 4900m high Kungski La!
As we had decided we were coming back for the night, we didn’t take any backpacks for this physically streanuous experience, apart from the small ones for water.
We left very early, around 6am (although, the life rythm being organized by sunlight and electricity hours, you quickly get used to having a good night’s sleep and waking up early), and started our walk up following the canyon and the many yaks we met on the way.
After about 3 hours walking started the difficult part, as the path gets steeper and steeper getting closer to the pass. Your breath gets really short, and the muscular effort forces you to stop very often to recover it.
But the outcome is worthwhile, with a somputous view from atop, on the valley towards Chilling, and white, red, or also green moutain tops. So much you want to go on. But our decision was made to go back, and our bags were down in the village, which we didn’t regret not having, when we saw other people coming with their bags, tottering on their shaky legs…
On the last day, we came back to Wanla, and from there took a car back to Lamayuru. Don’t try to go back on the main road by foot, as there is an few kilometers long hill back up to the village towards the end. You might want to go back through the pass if you really want to walk, but it is steeper than the other way around.
This really was a wonderful area to do some trekking on our own, I really recommend it, with somptuous nature, small villages, very nice villagers and not many tourists. The 4900m physical challenge was an experience to try at least once, and if you want to go further, come mentally, physically and materially prepared, or with a guide.
Apart from that, the villages are close enough for one-day excursions, and it is not too difficult, with an average 6 hour long walk.
As you can see, we didn’t bring much gear, apart from good shoes and adapted clothes. Always take enough water, and the local homestays will provide you with a lunchpack. Have a light enough bagpack.
Therefore, personnally, I think we made the right choice not to hire a guide, but that’s only personal.