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Trek to the Red lake and the Blue lake

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Number of days

3 or 4 days


Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct

Max altitude

5570 m


Moderate to difficult

Introducing the Trek to the Red Lake in Zanskar

Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscape of Zanskar lies the picturesque village of Photoksar, once a classic stage on the iconic Zanskar trekking route. However, the narrative has evolved over time. Today, the allure of the trek has diminished due to the advent of a newly constructed road. While Photoksar remains a sight to behold, the future of its residents hangs in uncertainty, as tourism, once a lifeline for the village economy, has dwindled.

In 2022, Himalayan Ecotourism took decisive action to rejuvenate Photoksar’s economy by reintroducing sustainable ecotourism to the valley. Our mission was clear: to craft engaging activities that would entice trekkers and eco-tourists back to this enchanting region. Remarkably, we didn’t need to venture far to find a new trekking gem—the Red Lake, nestled alongside the azure expanse of the Blue Lake, emerged as an enticing destination accessible solely from Photoksar.

Embarking on this trek is not overly challenging, yet the lofty altitudes demand careful acclimatization. Moreover, navigating several river crossings renders the trek virtually impassable before the onset of June. Join us on an unforgettable journey to rediscover the beauty of Photoksar and its surrounding treasures, where every step is imbued with the spirit of conservation and sustainable adventure.

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Tso Marpo trek features

Duration of your trek

Day-min : The minimum number of days required for the trek (from Leh to Leh)
Day-max : The maximum number of days you can spend on this trek. Prolonged itinerary can be discussed with our team.
AWTD : Average walking time per day (<3 : easy, 3 to 5 : moderate, >5 : strenuous)

Altitudes of your trek

Min : Minimum altitude of your trek.
Max : Maximum altitude of your trek.
Ascent : The total ascending difference of altitude on the trek.
Descent : The total descending difference of altitude on the trek.

Difficulty of your trek

Stamina : The physical effort involved during your trek. Rated from 0 (easiest) to 100 (most strenuous). If you have an average fitness you can consider all the treks up to 50. See here for more details
Technical : Difficulty of your trek in terms of exposure to danger and required experience.
0 to 20 : No difficulties,
20 to 40 : Walking on good mountain trails,
40 to 60 : Some walking on difficult mountain trails (steep slopes, rocks, etc.),
60 to 80: You are exposed to some dangers (void, snow, falling rocks, etc.),
80 to 100 : Experience required (please inquire).
Overall : Average between Stamina and Technical rating.


Day-min : 4 0
Day-max : 5 0
Average walking time : 6 to 7 hrs 0


Min : 3170 m 0
Max : 4907 m 0
Ascent : 2300 m 0
Descent : 2500 m 0


Stamina : 75 % 0
Technical : 65 % 0
Overall : 70 % 0
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Tso Marpo (Red Lake) trek map in Zanskar

Trek map, red lake, Tso Marpo, Zanskar


This trek starts from Photoksar. The climb towards the red lake is gentle but involve several river crossing.

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Tso Marpo trek (Red Lake), best time to go

Best time to trek in Zanskar is from May to September.
You can also consider January and February for the famous Chadar trek on the frozen Zanskar river or for observation of the Snow Leopard.










You may go


Best time to go


Best time to go


Best time to go


Best time to go


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Day One : Departure to the Wilderness

  4 hours


   in a homestay
We meet at the homestay to embark on the journey. Excitement fills the air as preparations are made for the adventure ahead. We start the trek from the homestay, leaving behind the village and its surroundings. After crossing the road that connect Lamayuru and Padum, we traverse through the Himalayan wilderness, characterized by a river flowing through gentle slopes surrounded by barren rocky cliffs with glaciers atop. We arrive at the basecamp near Pu Spang Chen Mo by lunchtime, we set up camp, and we can go explore the surroundings in the afternoon. We spend the evening by the bonfire under the amazing starlit sky of Zanskar before going for a good rest under our tents.

Day Two : The red lake and the Blue lake

    8 hours

 +1300m / -1300m

    under tent
We start trekking as early as possible as we have a long and strenuous day. We can leave our main gears at the campsite since we come back at the basecamp for the night. We ascend through the same valley to reach the breathtaking Red Lake, marveling at its crimson hue amidst red mountains and glaciers. We can then continue the climb via a much steeper slope to reach Manthang la pass, the highest point of the trek (5570m), offering panoramic views of surrounding peaks and glaciers. The pass gives way to a beautiful glacier. We descend on the glacier towards the Blue Lake lying at the foot of the glacier. We halt before reaching the Blue lake to avoid any risck due to glacier hazards. We come back to the basecamp via the same way.

Day Three : Exploration of Kangri Mermer Glacier

  4 hours

 +500m / -500m

   under tent
This morning, we embark on a morning trek to Kangri Mermer Glacier, passing through scenic landscapes. There are good chances that we encounter yaks and pashmina goats on the way, as the villagers of Photoksar used to come to these meadows to graze their animals. We reach the glacier in two hours. We have plengty of time to enjoy this unique place and to observe grandeur of the glacier. We return to the base camp for the last night.

Day Four : Back to the village Photoksar

  3 hours


 in a homestay
We trek back to the village, enjoying the descent and reminiscing about the memorable journey.

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Himalayan Ecotourism in Ladakh (in French, please enable the sub-titles for English)

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