The trekking season in
Ladakh starts somewhere around June and now extends unto September every year.
These busy months at this Mecca of adventure are just about enough to give us
some of the most exciting stories and unforgettable moments from the journeys
of travelers. Be it bikers setting off on their breakaway trips, backpackers on
a cultural journey, glamping enthusiasts on their luxury holidays or trekkers on
some of the best trekking trails around the world in Ladakh, story of every traveler
has its unique charm.
If you’re looking for an
unforgettable experience trekking in Ladakh, then the route from Rumtse to Tso
Kar should definitely be on your bucket list. This beautiful hike on the
Changthang plateau lets you experience the isolated highlands of Ladakh as you cross through
three high passes and an avenue of stunning sights.
Joining us for the trek this
season were Anant Golyan, Ranveer Singh and a trio of mothers, Aditi Hirawat, Sumedha Singh
and Kohinoor Agarwal. Sumedha is a baker and a mother of two from Calcutta
running her own cafe in the city. Aditi and Kohinoor are both from Kathmandu,
Nepal, mother of two kids and are into retailing and arts, respectively. This
summer was all about ticking the box in their bucket list for these young
mothers as they trekked from Rumtse to Tso Kar in Ladakh crossing some incredible
high altitude passes Kumur La (4900m), Mandalchan La (5000m) and Shibuk La
Seeking motivation for
new adventures in life is essential. Tell us what motivated you to go for this
Kohinoor: When I landed at the airport in New Delhi, on
being asked the reason for my visit, I told the officer that I was here to
participate in a trek. They asked me if I was a student and to their surprise,
I told them that I was a housewife. It was indeed a shock for the officer and
he didn’t hesitate to convey his surprise to me. If anything at all, it was
this incident that motivated me to complete this trek even before I started it.
Aditi: When the idea of this adventure
trek was first proposed to me, it sounded pretty exciting. I had never trekked
before and my curiosity about this new experience was a big reason that I went
ahead with it. As a first-time trekker, I was apprehensive about the comfort
and facilities available during the trek. I would say that we lucked out with
UFO Adventure Travel. Throughout the trek we had clean and comfortable tents
with chemical portable commodes. When the organizers take care of nuances like
that, it simply elevates the outdoor experience.
How did you train
yourself for this trek?
Sumedha: UFO had given us prior information detailing
that at least a basic level of fitness and training would help us enjoy the
trek better. I had been going to the gym for a year and this trek pushed me to
train even harder as I had something to aim for. 2 months prior to the trek, I
focused on strength training, cardio workouts and breathing exercises.
Spending a few days in
Leh is essential for acclimatizing. What are your fond memories from the city?
Kohinoor: We spent the first two days acclimatizing in
Leh and visited the beautiful Shey Palace, Thiksey and Stakna Monastery near
Leh. The visit to these gorgeous sights was essential in giving an insight about
the region before we started for the trek. We were told that going on a picnic
was part of the local tradition in Ladakh, so UFO organized a barbecue picnic
in Shey village keeping up with this tradition. Sitting on the grass, in the
midst of trees with the Indus river flowing nearby, was truly something
special. We also got a chance to interact and get a sneak peek into the lives
of the locals. My chats with Jigmet, Head Operations (UFO) and his sister Padma
achi, are experiences that I really
adore. This was our first chance to personally experience how beautiful the people
of Ladakh are at heart and I feel that they are somehow innately hospitable.
Why trekking in Ladakh? What motivated you to say yes?
in Ladakh are known for the instant landscape changes that leave you spellbound.
Such dramatic landscape changes were indeed a mesmerizing aspect of walking on
this trail. When we began the trek from Rumtse, I was completely taken over by
purple mountainsides, glowing in the sun, on the pebble trail and I was keen to
collect the stones too. But by the time I made up my mind to do it, we’d
already entered a green track and the pebbles were nowhere to be seen now. The
changing trail with patches of greenery and the unending cold deserts were something
I wanted to witness for a long time and it truly gave me a sense of how
beautifully diverse landscapes in Ladakh can be.
You crossed three high
altitude passes during your trek to Tso Kar. How challenging was it for you,
both mentally and physically?
Sumedha: The high passes were both mentally and
physically challenging for my husband and me. Sometimes you just have to keep
your head down, breathe and put one step after another. I didn’t keep my knees
flexed while walking and my knees were jammed before we could reach Tso Kar. Kohinoor
helped me out with the knee guards that helped me reach the next camp. We
also had an extra horse with an oxygen tank along with the guide in case anyone was
very tired or an emergency. So we had the necessary arrangements if anyone had any problems.
Travels, and especially
high altitude treks, are always beautiful in retrospect. How do you remember
this trek to Tso Kar?
Kohinoor: It is said that travel is not about the
destination but the journey and this trek proved it right for me. The view of
the Tso Kar was breathtaking and indeed unforgettable but throughout this
entire trail from Rumtse to Tso Kar, we were bowled over by the stunning vistas
that unfolded before us day after day. Be it the changing colors of the
meandering rivers, the herds of yaks or the local people we encountered, every
experience simply renewed our energy to keep moving forward.
Sumedha: For me this trek had been about a search for a
place where I could find perfect quietness and Tso Kar was a perfect
destination in that respect. When we reached this majestic mirror lake, there
was no other trekking group around us. The lake was beautiful in its reflective
glory! Enjoying this sort of peacefulness away from the city and the
civilization was what made it all worth the effort of tireless hiking for days.
What do you have to say
about the UFO Adventure Travel support staff on this trek?
Kohinoor: By the end of this trip, we felt like a family
walking together. We all walked at a different pace but somehow we would always
find someone from the support staff walking alongside. UFO Adventure Travel has
a 1:1 staff client ratio and this is an important reason why I would return for
another trek with them. It’s incredible how after the long day of walking
uphill, the head chef Kazi Dai, assistant chef Dawa and other helpers
would hardly rest and get on with setting up the camp, greeting us with
juice/tea and hot/cold towels and preparing for bonfire and dinner. Our guide,
Tashi, had his own tricks to keep us motivated to walk and
complete this dream of a trek.
Aditi: We were definitely well taken care off during
the entire trek. I remember the first day when I had a bit of a headache and
I’d stop after every 30 to 40 steps, I would always find someone from the team
by my side to walk along. At that high altitude it was unbelievable how
comfortable our sleeping tents were. We were using 5-person tent on twin sharing
basis and had a separate lounge tent for playing games, reading books and
socializing throughout the trek. Other than a mess tent and kitchen tent, we
also had a chemical portable toilet, which is something I have never heard any
other adventure travel company using in their itineraries. The staff understood that the devil is in the details and from clean
and comfortable tents, portable commodes to impeccable hotel facility in Leh, UFO staff took very good care of us.
How important do you
think it is for women to venture into the outdoors?
Aditi: In the past whenever my kids went out on
camping trips, I would always be curious about it. This trek gave me an
opportunity to understand their outdoor experiences better and I certainly go
back with a better understanding of travel and exploration. As a mother, it
simply opens a new dimension for me to connect with my kids and introduce them
to newer experiences in life. I hope that i can go trekking with my two kids in the years to come and encourage them to step outdoors more often.
Sumedha: This was
my first trek and it was both empowering and reassuring to see Aditi and
Kohinoor on the trek as it was a completely new experience. We were very
comfortable with each other and got along well since the beginning. Interestingly,
each one of us is a mother to two kids so we had a lot to discuss about! Talk
about having things in common. City life can get stagnant and uninspiring sometimes and getting out in nature is an instant reset. I feel active and rejuvenated now as i am back with my family and more than ready to face the challenges of running a business. Kohinoor and Aditi in the group and UFO taking
care of the logistics certainly played a major role at making the entire
experience really memorable for me.