Three weeks in India: Such a long long time to be gone and a short time to be there…
India is beautiful, chaotic but beautiful. Three weeks in the Indian Himalaya is simply not enough time to experience the place and I’m sure I will be back as often as time and money allow.
Roads blocked by landslides on the road to Leh – this should have given us a hint of things to come…
Five of us flew out to India at the start of August with the intention of paddling the Zanskar river and it’s major tributary the Tsarap Chu. The Zanskar is in turn a major tributary of the Indus river, carving it’s way through the Zanskar range of the Himalayas before providing the Indus with the bulk of it’s water when it joins just below Leh, in Ladakh.
Ladakh was wet, very wet. As a result, the Tsarap was high, very high. Altitude sickness isn’t fun and long portages over treacherous skree slopes at altitude are horrendous. During our fours days on the Tsarap we encountered large holes, enormous waves and some incredible big volume whitewater. The incredible hospitality of the monks living at the Buddhist monastery nestled in the cliffs at Phugtal is a special memory that will stay with me for a long time.
Monks at the Phugtal Monestary
The Zanskar was similarly high, but instead of making the river harder this seemed to wash out many features whilst creating some enormous boils and whirlpools. I’m not sure that words can really describe the beauty of being in the stunning gorge that the river has cut through the mountains so I won’t try.
Day 1 in the Zanskar Gorge
So we just about survived the Tsarap and Zanskar rivers. We were a tired, broken and relieved bunch when we reached Leh. Three of us just about had time for a run down the monsoon-swollen Lower Beas river in Manali before heading home and the other two blagged a lift to Nepal for more adventures.
Waterfall beach, Day 2 in the Gorge
A few things I learned from the trip: it’s wet in monsoon season, Indian food is fantastic, expedition food is appalling, hunting mice for food is just silly, it’s amazing what smiling sweetly can achieve with airport check-in staff.