The Sham Valley Trek, “Baby Trek” of Ladakh

17 December, 2020 | Reccy Guide

As one of the shorter treks of the Ladakh region, the Sham Valley Trek has been dubbed the “baby trek”. Lasting between 3 and 4 days, this expedition will be just physically challenging enough for you to be proud of yourself after completing the trek, but not enough to leave you feeling completely exhausted. Opened during the months of May to October, the trails also offer great weather conditions and you can be sure that you won’t be taken aback by sub-zero temperatures. So is this trek for you, and what does it take to complete it? Keep reading to find out.

Explore trip Itineraries, accommodation, transport, required gear, fitness plan, insurance and more

A Day-to-Day Itinerary

The Sham Valley Trek is a short 3 to 4 days trek that will take you up to 3900m. As with other treks in the region, it is recommended that you spend a couple of days before starting your expedition in Leh, in order to let your body acclimatize to the altitude. Leh is 3,400 m above sea level, so it is not much lower than the highest point of your trek and by taking extra care of your water intake, you should be able to avoid altitude sickness. In Leh, feel free to walk around and mingle in the local life by visiting the market or learn more about Buddhism by exploring the many monasteries in and around the city. After having taken your time in Leh, this is what your next four days are going to look like:

Monastery around LehView of a Monastery around Leh

DAY 1: Leh – Likir – Yangthang.

You will start off by driving to Likir, a two-hour drive from Leh, where the trailhead is located. Transportation will be arranged by your tour company, but if you are trekking solo it is also possible to hire a private or shared taxi from Leh. If you are on a budget, you can ask locals at the bus stand which bus will take you closer to Likir or even hitch a ride with someone. This might take some time away from your day, so make sure to have an early start.

In Likir, you can spend some time walking around the monastery; but you will soon have to start hiking the first leg of the trail. This leg will take you over Pobe La (3,550 m), Sumdo and Charatse La (3,650 m) passes, before arriving in Yangthang 4 to 6 hours later depending on your pace. During your hike, you will get stunning views of the Stok range and of Stok Kangri in particular, then a bit later of the Zanskar range. You will spend the night in Yangthang, likely in a homestay with a local family.

DAY 2: Yangtang – Sarmanchan La – Hemis Shukpachan.

The second day will cover a shorter distance but might be more challenging because of the steeper terrain. You will spend the night in Hemis, a picturesque village offering unbeatable views over the mountains around and a peaceful atmosphere that might make you want to extend your stay. 

Stunning views during the trek

DAY 3: Hemis Shukpachan – Mebtak La – Temisgan.

From Hemis village, you will head out on your last day of trekking and the views will probably make you want to come back for more. The first section, until Mebtak La pass, will be uphill and might be challenging; but once you are on top it will be all downhill until Temisgam. On the way, you will pass the village of Ang; this can be an additional overnight stop to your itinerary if you have sufficient time. From Temisgam, you have the possibility to stay overnight or return to Leh that same day.

DAY 4: Return to Leh

The drive back to Leh will take you around 3 hours. If you are traveling with a guide, he will have arranged for a taxi to pick you up. If, however, you are traveling solo, you will have to arrange your own. You can arrange it ahead of time and before the start of your trek, and while this is very practical it also limits your flexibility. If you have not done so, a few taxis are always in the area so you should be able to find a ride back quite easily. And in the worst-case scenario, you can walk to the main highway and hitch a ride there.

Stunning views during the trek

Is this trek for me?

The Sham Valley Trek is considered an easy option amongst the multiple treks of the region and is suitable for adventurers without prior trekking experience and for families. It would be a mistake, however, to think that this is just a walk in the park. Because of the steep sections of the trek and of the high altitude, you will need to be physically fit and ready to hike for 3 to 6 hours a day. Be sure to prepare accordingly beforehand, so you can enjoy the hike and the views as much as possible.

The Sham Valley Trek is a great expedition for anyone wanting to spend a few days in the mountains and discovering the Valley’s villages and culture. Whether you want to take part in an easier trek or want to prepare for a longer adventure while exploring the region, this trek will not disappoint.

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