Beginner’s guide to the 3-day Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India

A quick itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India. It’s the perfect short trek in Ladakh, and also known as the “Baby Trek”. This guide includes tips on what to pack, where to stay, and how to get there.

 

The stark landscapes of Ladakh in northern India draw all kinds of travelers. Some are happy simply walking around Leh, while others spend weeks traversing some of India’s toughest terrain.

We fall… somewhere in between. We’re far from expert mountaineers—the only mountainous expertise we have is getting lost—but we did spend a smidgeon of time trekking in Ladakh before our unexpectedly early departure.

The Sham Valley trek—also known as the “Baby Trek”—is a short 3-day trek perfect for beginners, or those hoping to do a bit of warm up before a more strenuous adventure. Don’t let the name deter you; though one of the easier treks in Ladakh, the Sham Valley trek is tiring at times due to the altitude, and you’ll certainly break a sweat. A basic level of fitness is still required, but we highly recommend it for anyone looking for a short or beginner trek in Ladakh.

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - Starting area of the Sham Valley Baby trek - Lost With Purpose travel blog

And so the epic begins.

There are plenty of tour agencies offering organized trips to Sham Valley, but we did the trek independently. So long as you’re not averse to asking around if you get lost (villages can be confusing), you should be fine. The path is generally quite clear, and there were usually people around to ask if we weren’t sure of the way. In the name of helping out a fellow wanderer, here’s a quick itinerary and guide to independently doing the Sham Valley in Ladakh, organized by day.

 

Want to independently trek in Ladakh, India? Here's a guide and itinerary to the short 3-day Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, the perfect beginner or warm up trek for your trip to northern India.

 

Itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India

Sham Valley trek basics

  • Highest point: 3,874 meters (12,710 feet)
  • Difficulty level: Easy to moderate
  • Distance: 27 kilometers (16.78 miles)
  • Food and accommodation: Village homestays
  • Trekking time: 3 days, 2 nights (with options to extend)

Sham Valley trek itinerary

  • Day 0: Arrive in Leh
  • Day 1: Organize transport in Leh
  • Day 2: Lekir – Yangthang
  • Day 3: Yangthang – Hemis Shukpachan (8 km)
  • Day 4: Hemis Shukpachan – Temisgam – Leh (10 km)

 

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - Monastery in Leh at sunset with prayer flags - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Being stuck in Leh ain’t so bad, eh?

Day 0: Arrive in Leh

We flew into Leh from Kolkata with the budget Indigo Airlines, and thus needed to take several days to acclimatize to the massive change in altitude. Unless you drive (or hitchhike!) in, you’ll need to do the same. Never fear, there’s plenty to see and/or gawk at around Leh.

Use this day to wander around the city, checking out the local markets and enjoying some time in the numerous cafes and eateries.

Accommodation in Leh

Leh has plenty of accommodation, from dirt cheap backpacker jaunts to luxury hotels. It helps to book ahead in high season, and in off season it’s possible to score great deals online at mid-range and luxury hotels.

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - Sunrise over Leh, Ladakh - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Sunrise over Leh

Day 1: Chill and arrange transport to Likir

Use this time to continue wandering around Leh and arrange transport to Lekir, your starting point for the Sham Valley trek.

We opted to hire a car, as we were able to share the cost with friends. Private cars can be rented through any travel agency in Leh. There’s a standard price list for all rides, so make sure the travel agent shows you the rate sheet (rather than pulling a number out of thin air).

We booked a ride from Leh to Likir, and from Temisgam back to Leh three days later. Leh to Likir was 1703 Rs for a small car, and Temisgam to Leh was 3708 Rs for a Sumo. So, 5,411 Rs in total.

Note: If you’re looking to squeeze some pennies, you can likely find local transport passing close to Lekir from the Leh bus stand, or try hitching a ride in that general direction.

 

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - Traditional home in Likir with purple flowers - Lost With Purpose travel blog

A traditional home in Likir

Day 2: Leh to Lekir to Yangthang – 9 km, 4-5 hours

The drive from Leh to Likir takes about two hours, so make sure you leave early enough to ensure your trek ends before sunset.

The trekking path begins at the edge of Likir village, heading down, over a stream, and back uphill before you’ll need to veer right and head out of the village. After that, the path is quite clear, occasionally running close to a road. It might appear as though the path splits at times; never fear, the separate paths will eventually rejoin.

Trekking from Likir to Yangthang should take around 4 to 5 hours. You won’t be passing any places to stop for a meal, so be sure to pack some food from Leh to last you until you reach Yangthang village (3630 m).

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - View out a homestay window in Yangthang village - Lost With Purpose travel blog

You’ll know you’re in Yangthang once you summit a hill and are greeted with endless homestay signs. All of the homestays are 800-1000 Rs per night including three meals, though they vary in quality and hospitality. If all of the homestays in the village are full, try heading through the village and down the hill. There are several more homestays in a very pretty location near the stream.

Note: If you arrive early, or have time to add an extra day in Yangthang, the Ridzong monastery is in a gorge south of the village. To reach the monastery, walk along the path beside the stream below the village south for one or two hours.

 

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - View while trekking out of Yangthang village - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Leaving Yangthang is such sweet sorrow…

Day 3: Yangthang to Hemis Shukpachan – 8 km, 2-3 hours

Today’s walk is a short—if uphill—trek. You’ll be gradually weaving your way up to Tsermanchang La pass (3750 m). Once you reach the top of the pass, it’s all downhill sailing into the idyllic greenery of Hemis Shukpachan village, our favorite from the trek.

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - View from front door of Fakir Homestay - Lost With Purpose travel blog

If that’s not motivation to step out the front door, I don’t know what is.

Homestays sprawl all over the village. The further you venture into the village, the better the quality of the homestay. We stayed at Fakir Homestay for 800 Rs per person, and it was perfect. The host is very sweet, an excellent cook, and the rooms were very cozy and atmospheric. To find the homestay, look for the (relatively) newly painted black and white signs along the main path through the village.

 

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - Stupa in the green village of Hemis Shukpachan - Lost With Purpose travel blog

So pretty, I can’t even

Day 4: Hemis Shukpachan to Temisgam back to Leh – 10 km, 4-5 hours

The walk to Temisgam leads you through some of the most epic vistas of the trip. When we went in August, purple flowers lined the trekking trails, and the weather was brisk, perfect for walking.

There’s one more mountain pass for you to conquer today: Mebtak La (3750 m). Unlike the other passes, the ascent to this pass is steep, but the views from the top of the pass are guaranteed to make up for the long and breathless slog.

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - Panorama view from the top of the last mountain pass - Lost With Purpose travel blog

After Mebtak La, it’s all downhill. Follow the trekking path down, and you’ll walk past Ang village, another possible stopping place if you have extra time. If not, continue down the road out of Ang village for several kilometers (about 1-2 hours), and you’ll eventually reach Temisgam village, the end point for this itinerary.

If you recall, we arranged for a private taxi to pick us up ahead of time. These taxis will wait on the roadside across from the village center, where shops line the left hand side of the street. If you didn’t arrange transport ahead of time, however, no worries. There are a few taxis hanging around in the area that can bring you back to Leh, and if you continue on for several more kilometers to the main highway, you can almost certainly hitch a ride back to Leh.

The ride back to Leh will take about 3 hours, so sit back, relax, and pat yourself on the back for successfully completing the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh!

Looking for more trekking near Leh? Check out this Leh to Nubra Valley road trip!

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - Alex and Sebastiaan independently doing the Sham Valley baby trek in Ladakh - Lost With Purpose travel blog

No guides necessary!

Tips for independently doing the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh 

  • Book your tickets to Leh in advance. Leh gets busy during the summer high season, and flights and trains fill up quickly. We used the budget Indigo airlines to fly there from Kolkata on the cheap.
  • Get the phone number and license plate number of your driver for the ride to and from the valley if using private transport. We had some issues finding our driver for the way back.
  • Don’t worry about electricity. The homestays all have places to charge your phone and camera, though electricity might not always be working.
  • Know the homestay prices include 3 meals. If you arrive in your homestay well after lunchtime, you’ll receive a packed lunch for on the way the next day.
  • Take your time! There’s no rush, distances are not far, and high altitudes can be hard on the body. Pay attention to your body’s symptoms, and don’t hesitate to take a breather if things are getting difficult.

 

Short 3-day itinerary and guide to the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India - Milky Way and stars at night - Lost With Purpose travel blog

Hello, beautiful.

What to pack for the Sham Valley trek in Ladakh

 

Want to independently trek in Ladakh, India? Here's a guide and itinerary to the short 3-day Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, the perfect beginner or warm up trek for your trip to northern India.

 

Still dreaming of a Ladakhi adventure? Try out our tale of hitchhiking the Leh – Manali highway!

 

Yay transparency! There are affiliate links in this post. If you buy something or another with our links, we’ll make a bit of extra change at no extra cost to you. It’s how we maintain the costs of running the blog.

Alex

American by birth, British by passport, Filipina by appearance. Addicted to ice cream. Enjoys climbing trees, dislikes falling out. Has great fondness for goats which is usually not reciprocated.

More about Alex

13 thoughts on “Beginner’s guide to the 3-day Sham Valley trek in Ladakh, India

    Zoie says:

    Hi! I just found this blog, and I love how your focus is on destinations that I don’t see many bloggers discussing about. Even though I’ve never been to Ladakh, India, reading this post gave me a lot of insight on what traveling in this place might feel like. I’ve hiked a lot in the mountains and high-altitude climates in the U.S., but never in a place where I’ve felt like my body needed more time to adjust to the higher altitudes. What does needing to let your body acclimatize to a higher altitude feel like, and is there anything you would do to help with this process? Thanks, and I enjoyed reading your post!

    Sebastiaan says:

    That’s great to hear. Always glad to hear when people like our post. Adjusting to high altitudes differs from person to person, but mostly involves being more tired and being out of breath more easily. Headaches are common, too

    Superb. very nice blog post and i like this picture .i found Kerala Tour Packages and Travel Agents in India and i go to your site.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Very glad to hear that.

    desert trips morocco says:

    Thanks for this great post! keep up the great work! I really enjoy reading your article! very great photos of ladakh! Nice Trek

    Sebastiaan says:

    That’s very nice of you, thanks you!

    Let's Fly Travel says:

    I like this picture, superb.

    Sebastiaan says:

    Thanks a lot.

    IndoPacificHolidays says:

    Wonderful! After reading this blog, I will go for trekking in Ladakh, this is really an amazing place. Thanks for sharing this article.

    Sebastiaan says:

    You’re most welcome. Have fun in Ladakh!

    Lynda Rahman says:

    Hi Alex

    I planning backpacking to Leh next year. I’m interested to do 3day track at Sham Valley. I read your blog regarding it and it ery interesting. One question, do you use local guide for the trekking or your just go by your self.

    Alex says:

    Hi Lynda. We just went on our own, the path is relatively clear and you can always ask a local to point you towards the next village so long as you know its name.

    Rajdeep Bhattacharyya says:

    HI Lynda! looks like Sebastian hasn’t gotten around to replying yet, but I’m doing this trek next month with my wife (and no guide)! I’ll let you know how that went!
    And great job on this blog Sebastian!

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