Thursday, September 27, 2007

London to Leh, 2nd Zanskar River Trip

The shirts they had made for the trip.

This season was a good one. Getting onto two trips down the Zanskar River. The second one was with a group of kids from the Laburnum Canoe Club in Hackney, England. They where aiming to be the first group of youth to kayak/raft down the river with the youngest one 15 and the oldest 19. They had the past year raising 24000 pounds to get the eleven of them and there 3 leaders over to India.
I meet them all a little past Kargil on there first night driving to the Put in. This was because after finishing my first trip, I jumped into a Sumo Jeep with all my gear and the last Harry Potter Novel and got driven back up to the top of the river.
Meeting up with the group was great. All were full of energy and some sang all the way to the river. Some great sights on the way over as well. Eventually you just stop counting glaciers.

It was a great five days on the river and with only six swims, I would say they did quite well. Enjoy the Photos.

Leaving from Remalla on the first day on the Stod river which eventually converges with the
Tsarap Chu to make the Zanskar.

Local kids checking out kayaks at the Put in.
The rafters enjoying the mellowness on the first day.
Kitchen tent set up at the windiness camp in the world. Not Kidding!
Drakes was one of the sponsors for the trip.
Snack stop in the midst of the canyon, day 3.
Sanjay, Sam and one of the cooks rocking through 18 down, a place where a couple of rafts went over. Thus causing 18 people to swim.
Pulled over at a waterfall for lunch that comes out of the rock cliff.
Matt Tidy in the lead heading down the centre of the river.
Terry surfing it up in the Dagger( another sponsor) Mamba.
The kayakers in the red canyon of the Zanskar River.

Rafters and gear boats enjoying the late afternoon sun.
Photos by David Prothero

Nayar River, India

The ride that got Bishnu and myself to the Put in.

A couple of weeks ago Bishnu and myself hit up one of the tributaries of the Ganges near Rishikesh. It was running a bit low but it was float able and made a nice change from the larger Ganges River.
We drove 15kms up river from town. Arriving at Bijni we proceeded down to the river though the village, a word I use loosely as there were four houses. From the put in we found a few grade 2-3 rapids that would be a bit more fun with 2-3ft more water in them. That is for another time.

Just before the walk down to the Put in. Chilling in the sun.

Bishnu doing a Pooja on the boats before we head down stream.

The good luck of the incense and coconut.

Local fisherman on the river.

Bishnu boofing in one of the small rapids.

On one of the longer ones.

Cruising under the bridge just before the confluence with the Ganges River. Photo by Bishnu.

Bishnu heading over to the Ganges.

Downtown Rishikesh transport back to the rafting shed. Tuk Tuks rule.

Photos by David Prothero.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Zanskar River, Ladakh, India


The confluence of the Zanskar and Indus rivers, looking up the Zanskar Valley.
The Zanskar river. What a great place.

After leaving Leh and driving toward Kargil, leaving behind Stok-Kangri massif, we headed off on what would be a 3 day drive to the put-in. Kargil was an interesting first stop with an 80% Muslim population, and a place that has been on the map of wars in the not to distant past. Being able to see some of the old marks of the wars was interesting.
After the night in Kargil we headed off along the Suru river on which they are currently building a dam. Heading into the Zanskar valley means that we would be crossing Pensi La, at just over 14000ft, to reach Padum, the administrative centre of this area. This road was originally built in 1979 and you can see the effects of tourism as they are now building a shorter route to Padum directly through the Zanskar gorge.
We spend one night in Rangdum which is a beautiful valley with mountians of amazing geology surrounding you and the Rangdum Gompa standing in the distance. The next day crossing the pass and following the Stod or Doda river to Remala before it and the Tsarp Chu converge to make the Zanskar River.
From this point onwards will be on the river for the next six days of relaxing, eating, enjoying the view and doing some excellent rafting.
Enjoy the photos and check out Aquaterra Adventures or Water by Nature for more info on this trip.

Looking up the valley at Rangdum, 13000ft of elevation above sea level.
Passing one of the check posts in this area.

Drang-Drung Glacier greets you as you head down from the top of the pass. The put in is not further along.
Evening activities on the rest day. Do be careful with burning objects.

Dave H. spinning it up with Poys made out of petzel headlamps.

Village kids from the village of Nyerak on the rest day.

Raft rigged and ready to go on the 2nd day.

Third day camp, not a bad view, Eh!

Truck driving past some nice mountains near the entrance to the Zanskar Gorge.

Mule on the move at the third day camp.

Safety Kayaker in the Gorge.

Photos by David Prothero.

Leh, Ladakh, India 2007

Tsemo Gompa perched above the hills of Leh.

Leh is the capital of Ladakh, located up in the remote area of Jammu and Kashmir, India at 11,500ft. It spreads itself out from Shey Palace, loads of mud-brick housing and concrete buildings out towards the Indus river and the irrigated farm land that resides beside it.
It has a huge military presence due to its location within Kashmir and the position of the Line of Control and China. I say it is remote because the road is only open a few months out of the year and flying there can be difficult to not possible in the winter. During the winter it is mostly the military and their families who are a mainstay of the locals, as tourists hardly ever come.
I had the opportunity to drive there and fly out this year, and both where quite exciting. It is a great place because besides the military there is a huge Buddhist contingent, with the Dali Lama living here off and on throughout the year.
Ladakh was originally opened to foreign tourists back in 1974,. not that long ago and now as I found out reading The Times of India they are about to do a trek on the Siachen Glacier, the second largest glacier in the Karakorm, with civilians, formerly the worlds highest battlefield.

Gompa in the hills near Leh.

Monk looking down on the visitors at the Tikse Gompa.

Candle from the inside of Tsemo Gompa.
Tikse Gompa in the morning sun.

Leh itself has lots of options of things to do. From going to the Nubra valley over the worlds highest motor able pass at 18320ft, heading up to and visiting multipule gompas and stupas, to going rafting on the Indus or Zanskar rivers, or you can go walking to some amazing valleys. If none of that interests you there are a multitude of restaurants, cafes, and shops to spend time at while relaxing at in town.

At the top of Khardung La on the Water by Nature trip. And yes it was snowing.

Young monk at Hemis Gompa.
One of the many Stupas around Leh.

Shanti Stupa, Leh.
Prayer flags overlooking, Leh.

The boys cooking dinner.

Prayer flags dancing in the wind.

Photos by David Prothero.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Rishikesh to Leh, by Qualis, Tata and Truck.

After hanging out in Rishikesh for a few days, getting in one high water day on the Ganga we loaded up all the gear for the season up in Ladakh into the Qualis, Tata, and Pickup. At 4am we loaded up and headed off to Manali. From Manali we would then make our way over a couple of high passes. Now the total length of this drive was just over 500kms. Not that far by most driving standards. However this being India the drive would take us, with chai and food breaks a little over 50hrs over three days.
The scenery on this drive is phenomenal. On this drive you head over a couple of high passes. The largest being 17512ft.
After leaving Manali we camped at Sarchu that night at 15800ft. That was interesting due to the fact a few of us had small bouts of Altitude Sickness. Wouldn't recommend camping there.
Other than that it is a great way to get to Leh if you have the time.

Roasted corn a nice snack to eat on the way.

The convoy lined up at the crossing from Uttranchal to Himachal Pradesh.

Mani stone.

Well dressed man on one of the passes as we had a bit of entertainment watching trucks try to make one of the corners.

One of the road crew protecting herself from the dust and sun.

In between the two high passes on the section of road that is like a desert.
Photos by David Prothero.