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Off Roading in the Himalayas

Until recently, the only motorable route from Manali to Padum, the capital of the Zanskar valley, was via Leh and Kargil—a distance of 870km and our guide from Perfect Adventures - Manali found another way through Darcha on the Manali-Leh road. There is an old trail that crosses the Great Himalayan Range at Shinku La or Shingo La and enters the valley from the south under the shadow of the Massive Gumbok Rangon Massif in the Kurgiakh plains. The distance from Darcha to Padum on this route is just 135km though the going is really rough and the "road" can only be traversed by a 4x4 off roader vehicle. Nikhat and I were travelling after months of lockdown and we had plans to hire a Bolero Camper and maybe drive all the way to Padum, however, we were also determined to find unexplored roads and when we heard about this “shortcut” we decided to dump the safe tarmac long road to Zanskar or turn on to the dirt trail and head up the “shortcut to Zanskar”. So while we were ready to take the Bolero and head up we met Rahul Raj from "Perfect Adventures" who managed to trade in a Toyota Fortuner for the same hiring charges as a Bolero Camper!! He surprised us with this massive upgrade when he rendezvoused with us at Jispa, the rest was a trip made so much more memorable because of the sheer power and sturdiness of the Toyota Fortuner, and let us not forget the comfort. After the precarious journey across Shingo la at 16,700 feet we headed into nothingness and we met these bikers who were stuck trying to ford the Tsarap Chu which was flowing high and fast because of the late morning snow melt. #bucketlist

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